Norcross City Council Split on Digital Reader Board

The proposal to replace the city's current announcement board downtown with a digital display reader brought some heated discussion among the council at Monday's policy work session.

The proposal for a digital display reader caused a heated discussion among Norcross City Council members at .

For the past few months, the council has been considering by the railroad tracks on Jones Street (next to ) with a digital display reader.

Estimated to cost $21,873, the digital reader would be a black-and-white LED screen that would show stationary messages and images. While the current announcement board requires someone to physically take out and switch letters to change messages, the information on the new board would be updated instantly through a wireless remote.

at the city council meeting earlier this month so that the Architectural Review Board could deliberate and give a formal recommendation. It was announced at Monday's work session that the ARB recommended moving forward with the new reader, and a new city ordinance was added to allow digital signage.

The council agreed to bring it back to the floor at the September city council meeting to hear more citzens' input, but not before discussing it at length in the policy work session.

Many pros and cons were thrown around during Monday's meeting, and the nearly $22,000 price tag was one of them. Councilman Charlie Reihm, who favors the new reader, pointed out that the city would only pay for a portion of the price because of a $10,000 donation from an anonymous business and $6,000 from the Downtown Development Authority.

Riehm also said that the board would save the city $3,000 to $4,000 a year through the convenience of changing messages wirelessly. Because of its ability to change messages quickly, the digital board could be used now for emergency notices, too.

"The motive is to get more efficient, readable and cost-effective messages to the public, not just to 'go digital,'" said Riehm in an email to Patch.

Additionally, downtown's reader would not resemble the brightly lit moving sign at off North Peachtree Road; instead, the words on the sign will be stationary, and the brightness can be altered through its remote.

Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Hixson admitted to having no problem with the digital reader itself, but he believes the sign should be placed elsewhere so that the city could have two working announcement boards. One location Hixson suggested was the corner of Holcomb Bridge and Buford Highway, which has been discussed at past work sessions in unrelated agenda items.

"I don't think it's the best use of resources. If we have a sign there [on Jones Street], then why not put a digital sign further away?" said Hixson. "That actually makes more economical sense that we're not having someone drive out there with the letters."

Mayor Bucky Johnson noted that the anonymous donor of $10,000 would only give the funds if the reader was placed in the Jones Street spot, which brought some concerns from Hixson and Councilman David McLeroy.

McLeroy voiced opposition to the new board entirely. "I'm not sure how this is going to be accepted or not accepted [by the public]," he said.

, many commenters were against the reader, saying it would be a waste of funds and distract drivers.

But at Monday's session, the mayor pointed out that a group of locals want to see the city move forward with the proposal.

"You have the Downtown Development Authority, which is all citizens, [who] are willing to put up $6,000," Johnson said. "I think that tells you something there."

What do you think about the proposal to add a digital reader? Tell us in the comments.

See also:

LilZ August 21, 2012 at 01:09 PM
I think it's a good idea but the price is ridiculous!
Neva Spell August 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Charlie Riehm August 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Neva, note that with $16,000 donated for the LED sign, it only cost the city $6,000 and thus pays for itself in cost savings in less than three years! Also, the cost is a quote; we'll try to negotiate a lower price. I do agree with you on employee parking--but what we need is a proposal to curb it that doesn't cost $50,000! We're working on a few still...


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