Selectmen take no action on sign project

 HOLDING UP JUST FINE — Artist Nelle Ely shows the hand-painted Rufus Porter Museum sign she created 11 years ago. Museum volunteers recently asked her to retouch the sign, and she repainted the gold lettering and the red houses. All the other paint held up very well, with minimal fading, said Ely. The sign was also sprayed with a car finish by Dale McDaniel, owner of Portland Street Auto. This finish, which McDaniel also applied to the municipal signs, makes the colors really “pop,” she said. Rufus Porter Museum Board member Beth Cossey said the museum is “so very grateful to both of them for their generous donations.”   (Gail Geraghty Photo)

HOLDING UP JUST FINE — Artist Nelle Ely shows the hand-painted Rufus Porter Museum sign she created 11 years ago. Museum volunteers recently asked her to retouch the sign, and she repainted the gold lettering and the red houses. All the other paint held up very well, with minimal fading, said Ely. The sign was also sprayed with a car finish by Dale McDaniel, owner of Portland Street Auto. This finish, which McDaniel also applied to the municipal signs, makes the colors really “pop,” she said. Rufus Porter Museum Board member Beth Cossey said the museum is “so very grateful to both of them for their generous donations.” (Gail Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton Selectmen took no action following a Jan. 12 executive session called to discuss delays in completion of a Wayfaring Signage Project by Nelle Ely of Twin Lakes Studio.

A press release issued Jan. 13 by Board Chairman Bernie King said there was no vote taken after the executive session, and made the following statement:

“The sign project is nearing its completion and the town is awaiting delivery of the re-fabricated signs, as well as the signs not completed previously. Once received, the town expects to process an invoice upon receipt from the contractor. This will render the contract successfully completed.”

The press release added that the town expects to install the signs this spring.

The town has paid Ely $18,000 of her $30,000 contracted fee for creating the hand-painted signs, which had a Nov. 30 deadline for completion. Since that time the contract had been in breach, and Ely was given a month, or until Dec. 30, to rectify that breach, according to Town Manager Bob Peabody. The executive session was held so that the board could discuss legal advice it had received from the town attorney on how to proceed going forward.

Ely had to replace lettering on four directional signs that were rejected by the town because there wasn’t enough spacing between words. She said this week that all of the signs are finished and being stored in her Portland Road studio. She said that they will be released to the town once she receives the rest of her contracted fee.

At a December meeting, Sandra Swett of Swett Signs criticized selectmen for awarding Ely the bid, which was four times higher than another bid from an experienced machine-fabricated sign maker. Swett said design specs weren’t prepared for the project, and now the town was paying the price by having to accept signs that were “unprofessional” and did not meet the usual standards for municipal signage.

Ely has maintained from the start that her hand-painted signs last much longer than machine-fabricated signs. This week she completed a touchup of the Rufus Porter Museum sign she created 11 years ago, and pointed out that the colors were still generally vibrant, with only minor signs of fading. She retouched the gold lettering and red houses in the sign. Ely believes it is important to keep the tradition of hand-painted signs alive, and that the town’s use of them will show visitors that Bridgton is a town that is proud of its heritage.

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