Within five years, Lawrence residents and visitors headed into town along all major thoroughfares may be greeted by "Welcome to Lawrence" signs crafted by local homebuilders.
"We've had some real interest in doing some things to improve the community, and this was one of the easier things we came up with," said Bob Santee, president of the Lawrence Homebuilders Assn.
Lawrence city commissioners will consider a proposal from the homebuilders Tuesday to coordinate the sign design and furnish materials and labor at no cost to the city.
The meeting will begin at 6:35 p.m. in the city commission meeting room in city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
The sign project would be a cooperative effort among the homebuilders, the city and local designers, Santee said.
The association would ask design firms to each create a version of the sign.
"ONE OF MY paranoias is coming up with a design everyone can agree upon and is real professional and easy to maintain," Santee said. "This way, you get a little competition going and give folks three or four choices."
The homebuilders would create the signs. "I think the building industry in Lawrence is large and has a lot of resources, and I don't think we'll have a problem getting it done," he said.
"The main commitment we want from the city is maintenance and the (public land) easement," Santee said.
Improving the look of city entrances is a major concern of the city commission, Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said.
"I think it's an outstanding idea," she said. "I think it's a perfect model program for participating with the city."
The help from the homebuilders gets the city out of the bind of using public dollars to pay for "welcome" signs.
"IT'S A WANT, not a need. If we wanted to pay for it, everybody would say it would be frivolous," Martin-Smith said.
The Department of Parks and Recreation would help shepherd the project, said Fred DeVictor, department director.
"If the city buys into this, we would sit down with them and work out the project and designs," DeVictor said.
In earlier talks about the project, the city and homebuilders pinpointed several prospective sites for the signs.
The builders would install signs near the city limits on such major roads as Clinton Parkway, U.S. Highway 59, Kansas Highway 10, U.S. Highway 40 and both the Kansas Turnpike entrances.
Santee said the homebuilders planned to install the first sign by the east turnpike entrance, "hopefully by next spring."