Historic District approves signage for MAD


By Tia Lyons

Staff Writer

After several weeks of discussion, the El Dorado Historic District Commission on Thursday approved signage in time for the opening of the Murphy Arts District.

A Certificate of Appropriateness covered wayfinding signs that will be posted at the intersection of Washington and Locust and near the amphitheater on the east side of the Griffin building on Locust.

COAs are required for most exterior projects within the city’s commercial historic district.

Austin Barrow, president and chief operating officer of El Dorado Festivals and Events, Inc., who is developing MAD, said the free-standing signs will have the same design, displaying the MAD logo and name.

One of the signs will display “amphitheater” on the side, he said.

Commissioner Parks Hammond voted against the COA request, saying that MAD failed to address issues regarding repairs in the event of vandalism and materials that are resistant to vandalism.

Barrow said the sign company — Little Rock Sign Company/Conway Sign Company — has assured MAD that the vinyl lettering can easily be replaced.

Additionally, he said the aluminum wrap that will encompass the exteriors of the signs can easily be cleaned with a regular spray-washing.

“I don’t think it will. They’re still aluminum-frame materials, and aluminum is not resistant to denting or mechanical attacks,” Hammond said.

“I take exception to the statement from the sign company,” he continued. “There’s nothing to prevent vandalism from a mechanical standpoint from people getting drunk and beating on the sign or kids tagging it.”

“None of the signs in the historic district meet that definition,” Commissioner Dick James said.

Hammond noted that the MAD signs will be posted in what is expected to be a high-traffic area with an increased intensity of crowds and frequency of events.

“These are going to be people from out of town, so it’s a different situation than with normal events. These are going to be special events,” Hammond said.

Ken Bridges, chairman of the historic district commission, said persistent vandals will damage or deface a sign, regardless of the materials.

“The sign company doesn’t care because you’re going to have to come back to them to buy signs,” Hammond retorted.

Commissioner Linda Rathbun asked Hammond what materials he suggests, and he said concrete or steel.

Bridges asked how soon the signs would be installed.

“It would be installed … well, we open in less than 50 days,” Barrow said.

He said a proposal for a roof-mounted sign on the Griffin building has been tabled.

Rathbun later pointed to temporary signs MAD has posted in its box office on the corner of Washington and Cedar, where tickets are being sold for the grand opening celebration on Sept. 27 — Oct. 1.

She noted that MAD did not notify the commission about the temporary signs, which violate the design standards for the commercial historic district.

“I get it. They’re temporary, and they’ll be gone,” Barrow said.

“There are a lot of temporary signs downtown, and I come and ask you guys a lot, and now, I’m asking for forgiveness,” Barrow told commissioners.

“The (design) guidelines are real clear, and we understand the pressure you’re under,” Rathbun said.

Commissioners also noted that signs that have been displayed for Coco’z Cottage, which recently moved to 108 N. Washington, also violate design guidelines.


Barrow also told commissioners that MAD has developed a plan with Diversified Construction and Design to renovate the exterior of Hill’s Recreation Parlor, 205 E. Cedar.

The work will entail inspecting and repointing mortar joints and cleaning the masonry.

Since the east and west sides of the Hill’s building were once adjoined to other buildings, problematic areas with the exposed bricks will be addressed, Barrow said.

On the front of the building, the awning will also be removed and the existing woodwork, which has extensive water damage, will be replicated and replaced.

Barrow said the property owners will be responsible for keeping up the repairs after they are completed.

He and commissioners agreed that since the project involves maintenance and repairs that will not change the architectural design of the building, a COA is not required.

Airport terminal

The commission approved a contract with CRA Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc., of Indiana and Kentucky, to write a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the terminal building of South Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field.

The project will be covered by a $13,500 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

A Determination of Eligibility was completed for the terminal more than 10 years ago, and the building was deemed eligible for a listing on the National Register.

However, Eggleston said the city did not advance the nomination process.

She said she will attend the El Dorado Airport Commission meeting on Monday to discuss the matter.

The deadline is Nov. 15 for CRA to submit the first draft of the nomination to the State Historic Preservation Office.

The final draft must be completed by Jan. 15, and the State Review Board o the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program will meet on April 4.

The Review Board will consider the proposal, and if approved, the nomination will then be forwarded to the National Park Service for final approval.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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