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Town Common Electronic Sign Vote Postponed 

Town Meeting voted to postpone an article for a new electronic sign on the Town Common at the corner of Bedford Street and Cambridge Street.

The assembly heard a proposal to amend the zoning bylaw regarding signage to install an electronic sign. The new sign would reflect the Town Hall aesthetics and replace the wooden poles where informational banners are hung. 

Select Board Chair Nick Priest presented that modernizing to an electric sign would allow for multiple messages to be displayed as well as real time updates and emergency notifications. There is demand for use of sign posts for notices and event promotion and the banner system can only carry one message at a time. The banners that hang there can have poor visibility and are subject to the elements. 

The Select Board, who voted in favor, have appointed an Advisory Committee to work out the general design for the sign. The Planning Board also voted in favor with questions on how the sign would be administered. The Land Use Committee, although believing the sign a good idea, voted 0-8-1 against it due to a lack of details. The Bylaw Review Committee voted 8-0 on the electronic sign however cited safety concerns.

Town Administrator Paul Sagarino addressed  the driving distraction concerns.

“When the Select Board came up with this idea the first people we talked to was the Police Department Traffic Division and they determined that it was not a distraction in that location for that type of sign,” said Sagarino. “We’re committed to working with them as the sign is developed in determining brightness, the number of times per day the sign will change and anything else that could potentially be a distraction to a driver.”     

Assistant Town Administrator John Danizio explained to the body that funding for the sign would come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). 

“The town got about $8.5 million worth of funds, and we have until halfway through FY 2025 to spend it. We’ve updated the Select Board a few times on some funding we’ve used to date but the bulk of that money is still there.” 

Town Meeting felt postponing the article would allow for more discussion and well as finalizing a design and user policy.

Currently there is a trailer-style digital sign parked across the street from the Town Common at Simonds Park for traffic updates and the like. This signage would be deployed elsewhere in town if the new electronic sign is approved.