Mt. CB continues with wayfinding makeover

Phase 2 slated for summer 2024

By Kendra Walker

The town of Mt. Crested Butte is getting a sign makeover, as 12 new auto directional signs have popped up over the last several weeks. Seven additional signs are scheduled to be installed in the next few weeks, electrical connections will be finalized this spring and the Mt. Crested Butte town council has okayed Phase 2 signage slated for summer 2024. Additionally, the council emphasized that the wayfinding program is focused on directing people to public spaces and turned down a request to add additional emergency services signage to a private urgent care clinic. 

During their January 2 meeting, the town council approved an updated plan for the town’s Phase 2 wayfinding plan, which includes 12 electrical and non-electrical destination signs that will continue the theme of the new ski and leaf cut-out design. The cost estimate for Phase 2 is $483,000; however, the final cost will be determined once the town selects a contractor this spring. 

Beyond Phase 2, Phase 3 signage will consist of 29 pedestrian directional and trail signs, and Phase 4 will include street name signs, transit and bus stop signs.

Originally, Phase 2 also included a new Gateway/Welcome sign at the town’s entrance, but town staff has recommended moving that element to Phase 4 due to another town project updating the pedestrian crossing at the rec path slated for 2026.

“Due to the nature of that project, the current location of the Gateway/Welcome sign may change, but we will not know the extent of the work for a while,” said marketing communications officer Marisa Maudsley. “Staff is also hopeful moving this sign to this phase will allow for some cost savings since another project will be happening in that area simultaneously.”

Maudsley and town manager Carlos Velado noted that the rec path/pedestrian crossing safety project is still in the early design process, so they are unsure what exactly the construction will entail on that corner where the current welcome sign is located. The town has contemplated an underpass or moving the crossing and rec path farther down to a flatter section of road. 

“Some designs may require the realignment of Gothic Road there,” said Velado. “We don’t want to put a sign somewhere where it might be affected by a potential road alignment.”

“It’s not a pick-up-and-move-it type scenario,” said Maudsley. “We want to ensure there is nothing that’s going to interfere with that big of a sign.”

Maudsley noted that they could perhaps move the welcome sign earlier into Phase 3 if all the planning for the pedestrian crossing project is done in time. “But we think it’s best to move it to a different phase once we know what’s happening with the safety crossing,” she said. 

Councilmember Michael Bacani expressed his concerns with waiting while costs go up in the meantime.

“I’m scared that in two years it could more than double what we originally thought. I want to make sure we’re prepared for that,” he said. The town had already scaled back on Phase 1 designs due to sign fabrication costs coming in higher than originally estimated.

“It could. It’s really hard not knowing,” said Maudsley. 

Bacani suggested looking into an alternative to lock in current prices, have the sign parts manufactured and stored until ready for installation. 

Staff said that the town currently does not have a place to store such large signs, but that they would continue to explore options. 

Velado also noted that the town is planning some community outreach regarding the welcome sign. “That might be the most sentimental sign in town. It’s a popular picture place and sentimental for many reasons.”

The Phase 2 scope was approved by the council and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and it will now move forward with a request for proposals (RFP). Upon selection of a Phase 2 contractor, the town will finalize the sign designs and costs and set an installation schedule for summer 2024. 

Emergency signs

During public comment, Dr. Thomas Moore of Moore Orthopedics and Urgent Care voiced his concerns that the town’s “Emergency” blades on the new auto directional signs only direct people to the Gunnison Valley Health (GVH) Crested Butte Mountain Clinic for emergencies. 

“I was very disappointed in viewing the signs for Mt. Crested Butte, and our clinic was left off. There was not even a discussion about getting our input. We’ve been here for 26+ years including off-seasons…the Gunnison Valley Hospital Clinic is only a part-time clinic. They’re not available after 5 p.m.” he said, noting they also only operate during the winter and summer seasons. “We answer the phone 24/7,” he said, explaining that while his clinic does not handle emergency services, someone is always on call to answer the phone after hours, available to come within 10 minutes, and help facilitate calling 911 and getting someone to the hospital in emergency situations.

“I would just be happy with a sign that has a red cross and an arrow,” he said.

Grant Robbins, a physician’s assistant at Dr. Moore’s clinic, also spoke. “In the off-season, people end up at the other clinic because signs redirect them. Signs would be beneficial since there are two clinics at the base area.”

The council further discussed the emergency sign topic during their January 16 meeting.

In a memo to the council, town staff explained the reasoning. “The Gunnison Valley Health Mountain Clinic is an urgent care emergency center connected to our regional hospital (GVH). It is a publicly operated not-for-profit organization that operates as the ‘emergency center/clinic’ for the Town of Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte. The decision that was made to point ‘Emergency’ signage to the Gunnison Valley Health Mountain Clinic was intentional for the reason mentioned above. The purpose of these auto directional signs is to direct and move traffic safely through Mt. Crested Butte, to avoid confusion and to ease access to public spaces. These auto directional signs are not meant to direct traffic to private businesses.”

The memo continued, “To point vehicular traffic to more than one emergency location for a town our size is not advised, is not common practice, and goes against the recommendations of our consultant. Lastly, since the Gunnison Valley Health Mountain Clinic is an arm of the Gunnison Valley Hospital, it operates as such and focuses on emergency and urgent care services. The clinic has robust client offerings as it relates to urgent care and emergencies.”

The council agreed it might be problematic and confusing to direct people to two different locations, but expressed concern that the GVH clinic is not open year-round while the Moore clinic is. However, after lengthy discussion, a GVH representative informed the council that moving forward the GVH mountain clinic will be open during off-seasons as well. They also emphasized that the GVH clinic is the only licensed emergency department in Mt. Crested Butte. 

“They’re now going to be open year-round and have an elevated level of care,” said councilmember Roman Kolodziej. “I’m inclined to focus on one facility and the facility that has the highest level of care available.”

“I’m looking at it from the perspective that [Moore’s clinic] is an additional service that is important to provide,” argued councilmember Dwayne Lehnertz. “Having directions to medical care that is available within 10 minutes, 24/7 is a very beneficial service to provide directions to.”

“It feels like we’re dealing with two different services,” said councilmember Steve Morris. “This is a private entity and it’s urgent care, not emergency care.”

“The key thing here really is this is a public program and use of public right of way, which is pretty constrained to public purposes and government purposes,” said town attorney Gerry Dahl. 

“What you’ve got here is a public wayfinding program specifically designed to advance public goals: traffic, parking, major public facilities. I sympathize with Dr. Moore’s location, it’s a little tricky to get people to. However, I would advise that you apply a public purpose theory to it and emphasize that it’s a publicly funded program, not a business development program,” Dahl told the council.

“Why weren’t there signs to help get people to your clinic prior to now? Have you tried to do that, have you talked to other property owners on Treasury Road?” mayor Nicholas Kempin asked Dr. Moore.

Moore responded that he had tried before, but nothing has been done recently. He noted that there were signs directing traffic to his clinic in the past, but they got taken down at some point. 

The town does manage a sign approval process for businesses; however, town manager Velado noted it is more for business façade signs or event signs. “We don’t typically approve signs in the rights-of-way. It’s a slippery slope because then you could allow your right-of-way to be inundated with various signs,” he told the council. 

The council agreed not to make any changes to the new auto directional emergency signs directing to the GVH clinic. They asked Dr. Moore to go through the town’s formal process for requesting signage and if the outcome is not satisfactory, they could revisit the topic with him in the future. They also suggested he work on website SEO and other creative avenues that could help patients find his clinic beyond just signage. 

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