Mini-Sundial signs finalize season’s downtown improvements

By Curtis Riggs | November 26, 2008

Eye-catching, efficient and effective
CAREFREE – The final segment of this year’s downtown improvements was completed last week when new directional signs, which resemble min-sundials, went up.

carefree signsTown of Carefree officials, with help from downtown merchants and representatives of the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, worked hard over the summer and fall to improve access to the downtown Easy Street, creating an environment that will attract visitors and locals to downtown.

The Carefree Town Council approved spending $400,000 to install right-turn lanes into the downtown/Easy Street area, create a downtown Carefree gas lamp district and place the information/ directional Sundial signs, which make it easier for people to find downtown.

Town officials were delighted when the project designed to increase tourism and sales-tax revenue came in $80,000 under budget. The right-turn lanes, which were completed in September, cost $100,000. The gas lamp design and installation cost $160,000. The new signs, which were designed by local architect and Carefree resident Gene Watson, cost $60,000.

The downtown improvements were completed just in time for the busy holiday season. The changes could be put to the test in mid-December for the Carefree Christmas Festival. The festival, which will be held under the new gas lamps and in the Town Center Dec. 12 through 14.

The four new signs are located at Tom Darlington and Lucky Lane, Wampum Way at Tom Darlington, Carefree Drive and Cave Creek Road and at Hum Road and Cave Creek Road.

Carefree Town Councilman Bob Gemmill headed up the downtown improvement projects. He said the new signs will be “very effective” in drawing people to downtown.

“The Town has already received many positive comments,” he said.. “The locations of the new signs are critical. Much time went into ensuring they were efficient and in effective locations.”

The corten steel signs will change to an orange/rust color once they become weathered. The roof on the new Carefree Fire Station is made of corten steel. The lettering, on both sides of the signs, are made of a white powdered coating. The signs are lighted with low-voltage lights on both sides.

Mayor Wayne Fulcher said the signs make a “high-quality statement” about downtown Carefree.

Carefree Planning Director Gary Neiss said the new signs are “unique and striking” and “blend well” while being a symbolic element of the Town’s Sundial.

“They will definitely catch people’s eye when they drive down the street,” he said.

Neiss said $250,000 of the cost of the new improvements came from development fees.
He added that the new downtown lighting will allow merchants to stay open later at night during the winter months.

“They create more character for the Town Center and allow for the expanding of hours for Town Center functions,” he said. “There probably wouldn’t be a Christmas Festival without the new lights on Easy Street.”

Courtesy photo/Bob Gemmill