Trustees give proposal for larger HMS signs a read

Nearly five years after opening, Hinsdale Middle School needs to bring some of its external signage up to code.

At a rescheduled village board meeting Monday night, Hinsdale trustees listened to requests by Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 to OK the six signs on the building despite village code limiting the number to two. They also asked for permission to allow the size and height of the Blue Ribbon emblem on the east wall and to fly larger flags.

Under the district’s proposal, the “Hinsdale Middle School” sign on the east side of the building would be relocated to the north side. Kerry Leonard, owner’s representative for District 181, said putting it there will help guide motorists from Washington Street into the upper level of the parking deck.

With a gross surface area of 18.8 feet, the Blue Ribbon emblem is six times the size permitted. The illuminated emblem would be lowered to 39 feet, which is still higher than the maximum 20-foot height under code.

“It will still be lit, but with a smaller light bar,” Leonard said.

The maximum flag size allowed is 24 square feet, but the school wants to fly 96-square-foot flags. A flagpole currently stands on the south side of the building, and the district plans to install a second flagpole on the east side.

“This was a flagpole that was supposed to go on the parking deck, but structurally the parking deck could not handle it. So by locating it here, it’ll be in the ground,” Leonard said, noting a monument sign will also be placed there. “The monument sign, the flagpole and the Blue Ribbon emblem will work together to identify that entry to the parking deck.”

Trustee Luke Stifflear said a neighboring resident had raised concerns about a metal clanging sound from the flagpole at night when the flag is raised.

In response, Leonard said the school has been lowering the flag after school every day and sound deadening equipment may be incorporated as officials plan to install the second pole. He added that lighting for all the school signs will conform to code.

Stifflear said the regulations limiting the number of signs seemed unduly rigid in this case.

“A lot of signage is dependent upon the total square feet of the building,” he said. “Some of restrictions here are based on the front yard side of the property, which limits it to 100 feet. This is obviously much bigger than 100 feet.”

Leonard underscored the point, stressing that the school needs enough signs to correspond to its multiple access points.

“There’s 15 doors on the building, and it actually faces three streets,” he told trustees. “It’s minimal signage for something of this size.”

Trustees are expected to vote on the matter at their Tuesday, Nov. 7, meeting.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean