New Salem banners meet with approval

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.

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.

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