From the Council President

8/23/2021

Q&A: Is Council Considering Getting Rid of the Castle Icon Throughout the Borough?

I am pleased to see that many of our residents are proud of Castle Shannon’s history – there is a lot to celebrate.  On this topic, I want to clarify precisely what Council is considering, as the rumor mill has created an inaccurate impression of some important projects for our neighborhood.

Q: Are we getting rid of the castle logo?

A: No, the castle icon is part of our community history and will have a place in our neighborhood into the future.  There will likely always be references to the castle throughout our community.

Instead, Council is working on the creation of a new wayfinding system throughout the borough.

Wayfinding is a system of identifying and directional signage that makes clear to residents and visitors where our resources, businesses and amenities are throughout the neighborhood.  Here is a link to an article about what wayfinding is and why it is important for neighborhoods.

It is no secret to our residents that we have a difficult-to-navigate neighborhood.  Our hilly terrain can hide assets like our parks and ball fields, and the T line cutting through out mainstreet makes for difficult traffic patterns.  We commonly hear from visitors that they cannot easily find parking to patronize our businesses – a wayfinding system helps with those concerns and gives our community a fresh, vibrant look.  Everyone benefits from an investment in wayfinding.

Q: I haven’t heard about this project – did you just decide to do this?  When will I see the plan?

Our 2021 Budget (passed in December of 2020) includes the wayfinding project, and we have discussed the wayfinding project throughout 2021 in our public Council Meeting conversations about the grant-funded Streetscape renovation that is currently out to bid and close to being underway.  The wayfinding plan itself is currently in design phases, but the proposed wayfinding system will be shared with the public once it is completed.  We haven’t shared the designs with the public yet because the plan is not finished – we only share completed plans when the costs and details are fully-vetted.

As I had mentioned on social media, we are also happy to host a non-Council meeting forum on this topic so that residents can view the plan and share their feedback.  Normally, we conduct our business publicly at our regularly scheduled Council Meetings, but for topics that garner a lot of community attention, we are happy to expand access to the conversation.  We have done that repeatedly during my time on Council, on topics such as annual budgeting, stormwater fees, downtown parking, and community revitalization.

Q: What about this Celtic knot design I heard about?

It is true that our wayfinding system may make use of new visuals.  And yes, among the considered designs is a tasteful Celtic knot design, consistent with our borough’s Irish history.  Celtic knots are emblematic of togetherness, strong bonds, and celebrating our local culture.

The inclusion of a new visual into the borough’s overall brand is not the same as “replacing” the castle logo.  Rather, it gives us a refreshed design that we can use strategically to communicate the excitement and vibrance of our community to a new audience.  This is not uncommon – many communities create new brand opportunities to generate new energy behind their business community and neighborhood offerings.  Castle Shannon competes everyday against other neighborhoods for shoppers, home buyers, business owners, development opportunities, transit reinvestment dollars, and more.  If we don’t take advantage of opportunities to freshen up our perception, we risk losing the attention of our prospective new businesses, neighbors, and patrons.

Q: Is this happening because Council believes the castle icon is offensive?

A: Absolutely not.  That notion has never entered the discussion, and the castle icon is proudly displayed throughout the borough on our trucks, signs, and parks.  We would not display that image if we found it to be problematic.

Q: But what if I like the castle icon and I don’t want another icon to be used at all?

A:  I understand this sentiment.  I have also seen several residents comment something to the effect of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

It is important to recognize that an investment in wayfinding and potentially the use of some new imagery creates value in new and necessary ways.  Here are a few reasons why:

1) Our community needs to enhance its brand over time to better relate to new audiences while still embracing our origins.  Our current logo has been in place for decades in some form or fashion, so we are due to consider enhancements.

2) Many of our existing community partners use the castle icon and will continue to into the future.  Our wonderful Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department uses that icon, as does the Castle Shannon Revitalization Corporation with a stylized castle icon.  Creating new ways for the Borough to identify allows for other community partners to distinctively embrace the castle icon and use it for their benefit.

3) As you can see on this website that we created to attract a new borough manager, we are already reinvesting in our community in a number of new ways.  A new parks master plan is forthcoming, a new 311-style app will allow community members to share maintenance concerns with the borough more easily, and several other initiatives are mentioned on that website. We should leverage this momentum and consider new branding opportunities, otherwise we lose the chance to do so.  This wayfinding investment is a “once in a generation” type opportunity to try something new, and it would be wasteful to miss out on that chance.

Q: Will this cost the borough money?

A: As mentioned, the design work for this project was budgeted in this year’s budget in December 2020, so this is not an additional expense.  The streetscape project, a $2.2MM project that is largely grant-funded by PennDOT, assumes that the investment in wayfinding will take place in the downtown areas.  Costs for the fabrication and installation of all new signs is forthcoming but is well worth the investment for all the reasons above, not least of which is making our community more easily navigated for business patrons and visitors.

Mark Heckmann
Council President

 

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