ARLINGTON — This month marked the end of more than three years of work by the city of Arlington and the Arlington Arts Council, as the fifth and final gateway sign to Arlington was installed at the intersection of State Route 9 and Burke Street.
According to city of Arlington Recreation Manager Sarah Lopez, the welcome signs are part of the city’s economic development strategy, and were fully funded through Snohomish County tourism grants and the Arlington Arts Council.
“The Arts Council spearheaded this project by installing the first sign at Island Crossing in 2011,” Lopez said. “From there, we got tourism grants of about $10,000 each for the remaining four, with the Arts Council pitching in for all of them. The signs at Smokey Point and the roundabout at 172nd Street and Highway 9 were installed in 2012, and the sign at Twin Rivers Park on Highway 530 was installed in 2013. The last sign was supposed to be installed in 2013 too, but we just had a hard time finishing that one up.”
Arlington Arts Council President Sarah Arney estimated that the Arts Council invested two payments of $3,000 each for the art elements of the remaining four signs, which ultimately fell just shy of covering their costs.
“We came up with the original design, so that each sign could have the same structure with different art,” Arney said. “Marguerite Goss and Lance Carlton were instrumental in coming up with something that was reflective of Arlington as a place, and flexible enough to serve as a backdrop for a variety of art.”
Arlington artist Caroline Sumpter provided the artwork for the final sign, which pays tribute to the farm and horse country north of town, as well as for the signs at Smokey Point and the roundabout. Fellow Arlington artist Shinobu Kawaoka made the heron artwork on the State Route 530 sign at Twin Rivers Park. Cuz Concrete made all the concrete monuments.
Arney said that the completion of the welcome signs frees up monies that the Arlington Arts Council can now devote to other projects, but she also saw it as the completion of a dream kept alive across the decades.
“This city has been talking about entryway signs since at least 1995, and probably long before that,” Arney said. “Every art element is emblematic of its location. The herons could have gone anywhere, since we have so many of them flying around, but I love to see them on my drive to work,” she laughed. “I’m very proud to have been a part of this.”
Lopez added that the city would like to install destination signs within the city itself, directing motorists to locations such as the Byrnes Performing Arts Center.
“Arlington should be proud of this,” Lopez said. “This is truly monumental. It’s a nice welcome to visitors entering this city, that shows them our culture and who we are.”