The Block Island Chamber of Commerce is making the town’s restrooms and shower facilities in the Dock Master building at Old Harbor more visible to the public.
Per approval of the Historic District Commission, and at the request of the Chamber of Commerce, Sam Bird, the Town’s Facilities Manager, will be installing two signs on the Dock Master building. The signs are white with blue writing. A sign that reads “Dock Master” will be installed on the west façade facing Interstate Navigation’s parking lot, while a “Restrooms/Showers” sign will be affixed to the dockside, or front of the building.
The HDC granted its (4-2) approval on Monday night, with Martha Ball recused due to the fact that she is also a Town Council member. Commission members Mark Vaillancourt and Dennis Riordan opposed, preferring the project as it was proposed: with the two signs affixed to the west-facing side of the building.
Bird said the request for the signage “was triggered by the folks who work at the hospitality center to direct people looking for showers. It comes as a direct request from the Chamber of Commerce.”
“I think it would be good to have a visible way to identify what services are available in that building,” said Bird. “I think it makes sense.” Bird noted that people will have the ability to see the sign from the hospitality center.
“As someone who gives directions downtown,” said Ball, who works at a shop on Water Street, “I agree completely. Make it as visible as you can. People need to be told where to go. It has to be simple. It has to be direct.”
Chair Bill Penn said that for people traveling to Ballard’s the signage will let them know that there are restroom and shower facilities in the building. Penn raised the question of whether the signage should be on the west side, or on the dockside, or front façade of the building.
Commission member Arlene Tunney felt that the signage should be installed on the dockside of the building, so that boaters can view it. Bird explained that the restroom and shower signage would not be as visible to the public from the parking lot area if it were installed on the dockside façade.
Commissioner Clair McQueeny agreed with Tunney, noting that “boaters” are the ones who use the facilities, and they approach the Dock Master building from the dockside after they disembark from boats at the inner basin.
“I think the project should remain as proposed,” said Riordan, noting his preference for the two signs on the west façade, facing the parking lot.
After some back and forth, the commission decided that the Dock Master sign should face the parking lot, while the restroom and shower sign should face the dockside. Commission member Mike Ballard made the motion that was seconded by Tunney.
Lions Club/Ball O’Brien Park
In other actions, the Lions Club was granted unanimous approval (6-0), with Ball recused, to install new signage at Ball O’Brien Park. A commemorative sign will be installed on the park’s pavilion, and an informational bulletin board style sign will be affixed to the parkside façade of the restroom building. The signs will not be illuminated.
Lions Club applicant Bud Martin said the yellow, white, and blue colored sign on the pavilion will state: “The Pavilion — Constructed by the Block Island Lions Club.” Martin explained that the sign ”would be centered and flush to the crossbar” on the pavilion.
“The Lions Club raised about $45,000 for constructing that pavilion — and put the picnic tables in there,” said Martin. “The Lions Club did all of the fundraising — constructed it — and they want to put their name on it.”
Martin said the bulletin board style sign will be placed within a locked plastic frame, which will be used to post information regarding park activities.
The next HDC meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 27 at 7 p.m.