A&P still looking for solution to sign installation
By John Rech
“Sign, sign everywhere a sign.” That lyric from the Five Man Electrical Band’s 1971 hit, “Signs” would be music to the ears of West Memphis A&P commissioners. The A&P has long sought options for welcome signs along the Interstates at all ends of the city. Efforts thus far have proved futile, and commissioners expressed frustrations at a recent board meeting. According to tourism and hotel representatives on the commission, travelers exit the Interstate and utter a common question: “Where am I?” Much of the confusion travelers experience, they contend, would be eliminated with some well-done and well-placed signs at the ends of the I-40/I-55 interchange in West Memphis. Those in the local tourism and hospitality industry want to be heard and have legal concerns to welcome sign placement worked out. Commissioner Troy Keeping sees Marion moving ahead with welcome signs and asked West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson to help find a way to work though all the legal concerns expressed by City Attorney David Peeples. “Mayor, I haven’t told you personally,” said Troy Keeping. “The city of Marion is contracting with land owners to put their welcome signs in. In the leg work done a while back we had land owners willing to work with us but said if the land was ever sold we may have to remove the sign. I don’t think that is a reason not to do the sign, especially when Marion, Arkansas apparently can do it faster than we can. I want a welcome sign before I die.” Keeping pointed to signs elsewhere and called them “gateways.” “As I travel, I see all these great signs with the community motto and it makes a great impression on me,’ said Keeping. “I cognitively make a stop in Conway and Carlisle because I feel welcome. We don’t have welcome signs coming into our community. We have got to have welcome signs here, but we can’t have them because the attorney says we might have to remove the signs.” Bang for the buck is not even part of the equation. “Given the amount of money this commission has — for the intrinsic value it would create for the perception of our city — I’m not worried about something that might happen. I’d like to get signs installed so that if we have deal with that (removal) we’ll deal with that later,” Keeping said. Other commissioners expressed agreement with Keeping’s sentiments. “We have land owners willing to work with us,” said Keeping. “From our standpoint, whether you agree with the city attorney or not, we are pretty well bound by his opinion in legal matters,” replied Mayor Bill Johnson. “It is his opinion that there is exposure,” said Keeping. “That doesn’t mean we cant do it. If we spend the money to install it and at some point we have to remove it, then we spend the money to remove it. The amount of money to remove a sign is nominal for the amount of intrinsic value it creates for the community now.” The mayor promised to re-approach the City Attorney.