Plans to point way to improving Walla Walla Valley signage

Consultants will share recommendations for regional 'wayfinding' signs at a meeting Thursday morning.

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WALLA WALLA -- A consultant's recommendations could point the way for a new sign system in the Walla Walla Valley.

A presentation from consulting firm Merje on Thursday morning will provide recommendations for a more effective "wayfinding system" for the Valley. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 1531 Kelly Place.

The presentation brings an end to the first phase of the project -- a study of the regional sign system. But officials from Pennsylvania-based Merje will also present funding options for the second phase: sign design.

The goal for the project, Tourism Walla Walla officials say, is a sign system that brings "continuity, consistency, clarity and a sense of place" that provides visitors and local residents easy direction to places of interest and sections of the communities and region.

Retained by Tourism Walla Walla, Merje representatives of Merje surveyed the Valley in a three-day visit last fall, as well as a follow-up visit that included a status update last month during Tourism Walla Walla's annual meeting.

Merje principal John Bosio said at that time a good system should consider every aspect of a person's travel into the community: from pre-arrival technology, such as locations on Google maps and municipal websites to mobile applications, roadside signs and even visitor centers.

"This is not just a sign project. It's about the experience people have when they come to Walla Walla," he said. "The more people can find their way easily the more they'll want to come back."

About 10 agencies contributed funding to the roughly $30,000 study. They included Tourism Walla Walla, the cities of Walla Walla, College Place and Milton-Freewater, the ports of Walla Walla and Columbia, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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