“It’s my fault, I’m the Mayor" says Roat over signage issues

Photo by Alastair Baker Construction work on the Water Rehab Project reflected in a storefront window in Red Lodge this week. All construction will cease over Memorial Day Weekend to allow visitors to shop Red Lodge. This project will be finished by the end of June.

Red Lodge Mayor Brian Roat took the blame for the City for the failure to install adequate signage during the Water Rehab Project that would inform visitors that the town is open and help them to shop Red Lodge. Roat was speaking at the weekly informational construction meeting at City Hall, Wednesday. All businesses are accessible and ready for Memorial Day weekend shoppers. At yesterday’s meeting several owners pointedly told Roat that the City had “dropped the ball” on the signage and he replied, “It’s my fault, I’m the Mayor.” For several months business owners have been concerned by the lack of signage around the town directing visitors towards them. With Memorial Day weekend around the corner signage is still not in place and businesses are getting nervous that this summer is going to “kill us” as one owner put it. It is a concern that has been voiced constantly along Broadway. Commenting on the situation Tuesday, Tom Egenes of Flash’s Photography, argued that the local government should be interested in helping more because the Resort Tax is “going to be way down.” “I don’t get the City in a lot of ways, it seems they don’t give a rip about Main Street and they should. I wouldn’t call the local government pro business,” Egenes said. At the May 15 informational meeting City Works Manager Skip Boyer had stated he had some signs for sidewalks but so far they haven’t gone up. Boyer was notably absent from yesterday’s meeting which peeved off several members of the business community considering the crucial importance of the situation. There has been confusion over who is supposed to apply signage. This comes from the fact that there are two separate projects going on. The Water Rehab Project being headed by the Wilson Brothers did not include signage in their contract, whereas the Highway Project being conducted after by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT) does have signage. As a result of the need to help businesses, Nick Wilson of Wilson Brothers, has stepped up and already asked his sign company to prepare some signage to help the town although this is not his responsibility to do this. The signs will read, ‘Welcome to Red Lodge, all businesses are open throughout the construction process, additional parking on side streets." He added they “won’t be the prettiest signs but we need to get something up there.” The signs will appear at both the north and south ends of town and may be up prior to Memorial Day. If they are not, some business owners volunteered to make signs using any paints and materials they could, including glitter to “bedazzle the heck out of it” said Amber Enos of Sagebrush Sirens. Chad Hanson, Principal of GreatWest Engineering, applauded the idea, saying, “efforts like this go a long way, and offer hometown appeal.” Further suggestions for signage included using a trailer sign and going to Junction 7 for a banner. The last idea saw the city and the businesses working together to pay for it. Crews will be cleaning up Broadway for Memorial Day Weekend, and will have two blocks closed from 8-9th street, with equipment parked there, and from 12-13th street. Both blocks will have detours around them. “We want to make sure the sidewalks look good and people feel welcome,” said Wilson. There will be no construction work on Monday. The Water Rehab Project from Coleman’s Gallery northwards will be completed by the end of June. The entire project will be finished by late July. For Water Rehab updates please see page 3 of the Carbon County News. Also look for notices at the post office and in businesses around town.