Highlands Ranch signs wearing out

Metro District begins discussion of options

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After 30-plus years, time has taken its toll on the four “Highlands Ranch” monument signs along the southern landscape of C-470.

The signs, built by Mission Viejo in 1981 near the exits of Lucent, Broadway, University and Quebec, are all beginning to chip and fade, and some of the foundations are crumbling.

The Highlands Ranch Metro District, which maintains the signs, began discussing options of what to do with them at its Nov. 27 board meeting.

“There’s not any funding set aside for this project right now, but it’s something that we are going to have to address,” said Carrie Ward, director of parks, recreation and open space for the district. “The paint is really fading, a lot of the plastic is starting to fall off, outlines around the letters are starting to fall off and the Plexiglas is starting to fall apart. Things are just deteriorating.”

Ward said the decision needs to be made whether to touch them up or take them down and start from scratch given the condition of the foundations. The lights on the signs were turned off permanently a year ago because the electrical system became too old and worn out and the district could not keep up with maintenance.

According to Ward, painting and patching would cost between $3,500 and $6,000 total for all four signs, whereas replacing them would cost between $40,000 and $60,000 per sign. Ward said the board of directors could approve using operational funds to paint and patch in 2013; otherwise any long-term replacement fixes would have to be discussed, and budgeted in advance.

She also discussed the possibility of coming up with a new design and working with the Highlands Ranch Community Association to come up with something together.

Board member Nancy Smith suggested that they keep signs at the boundaries near Lucent and Quebec and remove the other two to save money.

Fellow board member Carolyn Schierholz said her “personal opinion would be to make it a priority to come up with a new design in 2013 and stick the signs in the budget for 2014.” She said if they don’t have enough money to replace them all immediately they could touch up the current ones and then replace them later.

Board members Allen Dreher, Vicky Starkey, Kelly O’Sullivan and board chairman Rick Owens all said they would like to just see the signs touched up.

“They’ve been there for 30 years and they are part of our community,” Dreher said.

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