In August 2016, the Smithfield Town Council approved The Wayfinding System Plan to eliminate sign clutter and to create consistent branded signs and styles throughout the Town to help visitors find their ways to key locations.
In 2019, under Phase 1 of the project, a $182,270 bid was awarded for several signs ranging from $1,935 to $12,050 each. A second phase, totaling $67,780 in additional signs, were later awarded.
On April 6, 2021, the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation (DSDC) returned to the Smithfield Town Council asking for a third phase of wayfinding signs. This time the DSDC, in conjunction with the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, wanted to install 13 additional signs at a cost of $81,340. Seven of the proposed parking kiosk signs would be approximately 7 foot tall and nearly four foot wide. The seven signs amounted to $40,075, or about half the total cost of Phase 3.
Councilman David Stevens said the large signs might be “overkill” for the downtown area.
Mayor Andy Moore said he remains concerned about too many signs and sign clutter, especially with 7 seven-foot tall signs. Moore said there are already signs in the downtown area that point to parking. Two of the large signs would be located at the North Third and North Fourth Street entrances to the Land Use Center Parking Lot. Another large sign would be located at the Courthouse parking lot near Second and Johnston Streets.
Councilman Travis Scott made a motion, seconded by Councilman Roger Wood, to approve the six smaller wayfinding signs at a cost of $41,265 and to eliminate the seven larger signs. Coucilman Scott asked DSDC Director Sarah Edwards, who was present at the meeting, to bring back a new proposal in place of the seven large signs.
Phase three wayfinding project is being paid for with the Town’s two percent tourism funds, collected by the Visitors Bureau through the motel/hotel occupancy tax.