Banners back in business

SALEM – Nearly two months and several conversations after Salem Renaissance decided to hang up plans for new banners, group president David Schwartz announced getting the green light for the final design.

“We’re very comfortable with the design, which is very similar to what was originally submitted, but with a few tweaks,” Schwartz said Tuesday.

The project had been temporarily deep-sixed by members of the Salem Renaissance banner committee in late April/early May in response to changes requested by Mayor John Berlin and members of the city’s Design Review Board. Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Audrey Null had also expressed her opinion.

There has been a lot of back and forth dialogue since then between Design Review Board Chairman Ginger Grilli and Schwartz, who both met with designer Kristina Danklef of Sourballpython Studios of Salem to hammer out the final version of the banners. Danklef donated her time and effort for this project.

A company in Burlington, Vermont will produce the banners to be hung on light poles throughout downtown Salem, replacing the original banners Salem Renaissance purchased a dozen years ago. The group decided to pursue new banners due to the old banners becoming worn.

All involved expressed their satisfaction with the final banner design, including Berlin, who had a concern about a previous design version which he said made the script Salem look like satan. He said the script Salem is more legible in the final version and he liked the gradient shading of the orange coming into the white on the banner. He offered his thanks to the Salem Renaissance members.

“I think this looks great. I’m glad they were willing to work with the Design Review Board,” Berlin said. “I think it looks wonderful.”

He noted that lots of dedicated people serve on Salem Renaissance who also serve their fellow residents in other capacities on other boards, such as Salem Beautification, Salem Preservation Society and the Salem Tourism Board. “They’re very dedicated to the betterment of Salem, so I’m happy Design Review Board and Renaissance were able to make it work,” he said.

Null said it was good to have a lot of different groups’ opinions to get a broader perspective. In an email, she thanked everyone involved.

“This particular project is appreciated and the banners will be an outstanding addition to the landscape of

Salem,” she wrote. “Having a collective opinion about the final design has shown collaboration and cooperation that are needed abilities to leverage shared goals and spur innovative approaches to community projects that are large and small.”

Throughout the many requests for changes, Schwartz kept the designer in mind and in several emails thanked her for the work and time she’s put into the project. He said everybody got a little bit of what they wanted and everybody compromised.

“I think they look really nice. I think they read well,” Grilli said.

The Design Review Board had wanted more emphasis on historic downtown Salem, but Salem Renaissance stressed the banners were to represent the entire city, not just the downtown. Grilli was happy with the modifications. She said banners for the city should portray what the city wants. She said it was important for the city to have a say.

Schwartz had shown Berlin an earlier version of the design which employed the colors red, white and green. Berlin asked for some opinions and requested a special meeting of the Design Review Board members in April to hear their thoughts.

During the special meeting, requests were made by the board and the mayor for changes in the color scheme, from red, white and green, to just red and green, asking that a line going through script Salem to separate the colors be removed and that the words Historic Downtown be placed in larger typeface above the word Salem. The original proposed design included three background colors, with red at the top, then white, then green. Salem Renaissance proposed that orange be used instead of red.

In the end, the colors became orange, white and green, with the same basic design using the dove, sun, trees and script Salem and some compromise on the use of historic downtown Salem on a separate banner.

“This is something everyone can endorse and feel good about,” Grilli said.

Schwartz said the original plan called for 115 banners using a grant of $3,000, but he wasn’t sure if the price may have gone up. He couldn’t give a timetable for when he expects the banners to be ready, but said he expects them to be hung this summer.

He had hoped previously that they could have been hung in time for the Salem Super Cruise, which was this past weekend.

Members of the banner committee besides Schwartz included Lois Mountz, JeanAlice Fehr, Elaine Rousseau Kothera, Jack Kothera, Hope Theiss and Elizabeth Thatcher.