Photo by TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER

Signage system experts have been at the Oak Park Farmers Market, Thursday Night Out, and a number of other public events in Oak Park over the summer in an effort to gain a better understanding of the village and its history and how it gets from point A to point B.

Sasaki Associates is poised to release its early findings this month at a Community Design Commission meeting, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at Oak Park Village Hall, according to Sasaki’s creative director, Philip Barash. 

The village board of trustees approved a $135,500 contract in June for the Watertown, Massachusetts-based wayfinding planning firm to develop a strategy for signage in the village. The group has been around town most of the summer talking to residents and passing out questionnaires to collect data for the signage overhaul.

It’s been about 13 years since the village undertook a comprehensive update of its signage.

In a recent telephone interview, Barash said don’t expect a “bland” meeting.

Sasaki will present “a strong point of view” based on its findings, he said, adding, “If we did our job right, they will be opinionated and even a little bit contentious.”

After speaking with residents, CTA workers and others in the village, Sasaki learned that much of the signage in Oak Park is focused on vehicular traffic.

“We’re learning that that’s not how a lot of people are experiencing Oak Park,” he said, noting that more often these days, Oak Parkers are navigating the village at a slower pace. “We know people are experiencing Oak Park at a speed that is significantly slower than 40 miles per hour.”

In addition to a better understanding of residents’ concerns, Sasaki has been looking at other communities’ signage systems throughout the country for innovative systems that could work in Oak Park.

Barash said the meeting is not only intended to present the findings but spur debate and discussion about the wayfinding project.

“We’re hoping people will be getting out of their chairs and agreeing or disagreeing and pointing their fingers and shaking their fists,” he said. “This is participatory.”

In addition to its fact-finding mission, Sasaki has been conducting a complete inventory of the village’s signage. The group is expected to present its final report to the Oak Park Board of Trustees later this year.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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