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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jul. 12, 2018 5 days ago

Welcome to Plant City

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As you drive through downtown Plant City you will soon notice a colorful addition to several of the prominent lampposts around town. Thanks to the Arts Council, 50 red and green banners will be beckoning visitors toward the historic district.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

When you drive through the streets of St. Petersburg, the variety of murals and sun-themed light pole banners easily catch the eye, letting visitors and locals alike recognize they have arrived at an interesting location.

During hockey season or major holidays, downtown Tampa erects flags and window displays so everyone who goes for a jaunt along the Riverwalk, or crosses Franklin Street toward the Tampa Theatre, feels like they are part of a community.

Plant City is ready to join the movement.

Thanks to the Arts Council of Plant City, 50 banners will soon be erected throughout historic downtown to draw recognition to the area.

“We tried to select high traffic areas in the city to erect the banners,” Marsha Passmore, president of the Arts Council, said. “They will start at the library and go throughout downtown as part of the Lamppost Banner Program.”

The banners will feature artwork that symbolizes Plant City. Currently, they will feature a red and green background with a

train locomotive behind the words, “Welcome to Historic Downtown Plant City.” At the top are the Arts Council and the City of Plant City logos and at the bottom is a picture of fresh strawberries.

Paul Hetrick’s Hand Lettering created the graphic design and Benito Lubrano of Lubrano Designs mapped the proposed banner locations. The Arts Council met with City Manager Bill McDaniel, General Services Director Carla Rhoades and Planning & Zoning Manager Julie Ham to make sure there were no existing city codes or ordinances to prevent the new project.

Rhoades said she believed the brackets required to hang the banners could be installed in one to two days. Each year the Council uses funds from the City Budget to bring the J Seward Johnson Sculptures to town. This year, the $6,000 will be used for the new Lamppost Banner Project.

Passmore said this does not mean the sculptures won’t be coming. She hopes it will be back in town in either late fall or early spring. This request for aid from the city is a one-time ordeal, according to Passmore. The reason being the “tremendous cost for the sign brackets and the initial cost related to getting the project implemented.”

Each bracket costs more than $100 and the total cost of this project is estimated to be between $7,500 and $8,000. The Council earmarked $3,000 to make the banners a reality, which Passmore said will help draw more people to Plant City.

Once the ball is rolling, the Council believes they will be able to raise enough via fundraisers to keep the project up to date. The material for the banners allows them to easily last 12 to 18 months and the group plans to purchase additional banners in case of detrimental weather that could wreak havoc on the cloth-like material.

In the future, new designs could easily find a home on the ever-rotating artwork so the city stays fresh and the pieces reflect the current happenings downtown.

When it was presented to city commissioners on Monday, Commissioner Mary Mathis said she hopes to see the project expand out of downtown to also highlight other sections of the city. Passmore said they hope to one day bring it toward midtown and other areas, but they view the current map as a great starting place for the project.

The commissioners believe the new program is a great addition to the beautification of downtown, which McDaniel has taken as his own special project as city manager.

“I can kind of picture having those bright, colorful banners downtown,” McDaniel said. “It ties in to the repair currently underway. We’re trying to dress up downtown. We’ve power washed the sidewalks, restriped the roads, added the greenery to the planters. Soon we’ll be tackling repairing some of the parking lots. Downtown is undergoing a transformation. It’s an important business corridor to the city and anything like these banners that will draw people downtown is a great addition to the city.”

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