Springfield spent $700,000 out of its capital improvement budget to put up signs with helpful arrows to Downtown, the Battlefield Retail District, Bass Pro Shops, and so on.
Granted, I can understand why you might need a sign to indicate downtown, since there are few buildings over four stories tall in Springfield and a visitor might not realize that this cluster of short buildings is downtown. But does it really need signs indicating the Battlefield Retail district? You’re on Battlefield Road and there are shops. I suppose if there are tourists who cannot figure that out, we do need to point them to the right places to part them from their money. And Bass Pro Shops? If you’re someone who’s going to Bass Pro Shops, you’re someone who knows where it is.
Here in the Somewhat Bigger Town, we confined ourselves to pointing to downtown stuff. I’m surprised there’s no pointer to Bass Pro Shops, inasmuch as they got a nice little subsidy to locate in Lower Bricktown, but then again, anyone likely to be going there already knows the way.
Did Springfield get this idea from us? Probably not, but this seems inarguable:
[T]he wayfinding signs are just a pretty way to spend money and to bow to peer pressure of other cities that have wasted money putting these things up. I can’t be the only one to notice that candidates for office often stress that they’ve lived in an area all their lives and know the solutions the region needs, and then they go on a junket I mean fact-finding mission or conference trip to some fabulous location and come back with a bunch of imported ways to spend money to make this city look like that city.
We have no shortage of would-be hipster urbanists who want this town to look exactly like [fill in name of municipal role model] only completely different. Whatever the hell that means. And I admit to my own occasional bedazzlement with cool urban stuff: I think it’s really neat that we’re going to weave a streetcar line into the central-city fabric, even though I suspect that for the same $130 million or so we could buy something like a ’99 Ford Taurus for each and every person who currently rides the bus, and then get out of the transit business entirely. Then again, where are they going to park? Bass Pro Shops?