BAR HARBOR — A group of West Street business owners is seeking permission for a new sign on public property at the foot of Main Street directing visitors to the sand bar and public restrooms as well as certain kinds of businesses. They propose to mount it in front of the existing electrical transformer on the corner.
“We’re asked a million questions about where things are,” Denise Morgan of Oli’s Trolley told town councilors June 20. “We almost feel like we work in an information center.” She said the most common questions are about restrooms, the gravel bar that connects the village to Bar Island at low tide, and where to find tide charts. The proposed sign also would direct visitors down West Street for trolley tours, horse-drawn carriage rides and boat tours.
She said they had put out a sandwich-board sign with some of that information, but it was a code violation, and they had to take it down.
Councilors said they understood the need but were concerned about setting a precedent of signs advertising specific businesses.
“Lots of businesses would love a sign at the end of their street,” Councilor Gary Friedmann said. “What’s the process? If there isn’t one, we could all of a sudden have huge signs at the end of every street.”
A comprehensive set of signs installed a few years ago was designed by a committee working with the HUB of Bar Harbor in consultation with the Chamber of Commerce Business Roundtable and paid for through a $240,000 town bond supported by cruise ship fees.
“I would be much more comfortable if this went through the same process,” Councilor Peter St. Germain said.
The business group is offering to pay for the new sign, but in order for a sign to be consistent with existing ones, it would need to be ordered from the same company. The town would order it and be reimbursed by the group. Town councilors tentatively approved the concept and asked Town Manager Cornell Knight to seek a cost estimate for the proposed sign.
Any new sign would likely also need approval from the Design Review Board.