Main St. banners intended to wave in customers

Soft fabric banners along Main Street could soon flap in front of pedestrians, adding a little visual splash to the downtown while providing a heads-up when searching for a business.

The City Council has approved installation of eye-level banners that will jut out from the side of shops at a uniform height and size.

"It would be very pretty when you would look down the street and see these ribbons of fabric," said Nora LaBrocca, owner of Downtown Market Co., who is on the promotions committee for the Heart of Medford Association.

LaBrocca, who runs both a restaurant and market on Main Street, designed the signs more than two years ago to create a more visually interesting downtown.

"It's been a long process," she said.

The banners also will make it easier for customers searching for a business who sometimes crane their necks at the curb to look up at the front of the building, she said.

Before approving the new signs, the council appeared disinclined to support the ordinance because the bottom of the banners signs would be 41/2; feet off the ground.

"I'm going to vote no for tall people," said Councilman Jim Kuntz, who happens to be tall.

But council members' concerns were allayed when the language in the ordinance was changed to insert the words "soft fabric" in describing the type of sign allowed.

"The whole intent is to draw attention to businesses," Councilwoman Karen Blair said.

She said she preferred the soft fabric banners to the sandwich board signs that could trip up a pedestrian.

The ordinance will require businesses installing the signs to sign a waiver holding the city harmless in case of accidents.

LaBrocca said, "If you bumped into a little piece of fabric, it's not going to hurt."

The 30-inch brackets for the signs will be installed 71/2 feet above the ground. The banners will hang down 36 inches and will be 18 inches wide.

The signs can be installed only on sidewalks that have an additional five feet in width of clearance to allow enough room for pedestrians.

LaBrocca said it will cost roughly $100 for each merchant to buy the bracket and banner. Merchants will be allowed to silk-screen their own logos and information on the banners.

The target area for the signs will be on Main Street from the bridge over Bear Creek to the railroad tracks.

LaBrocca said arrangements will be made to install the brackets at the same height to achieve a uniform look.

The banners will also be easy to install.

"Every morning merchants will take them out and in the evenings, they will take them down," she said. "We just want to keep downtown alive."

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

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