Spring Green finds new location for StoryWalks, looks to revisit signage ordinance

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

The Village of Spring Green met for its bi-weekly meeting June 23, where the board discussed the continued, temporary placement of village library StoryWalk signs in North Park. 

The board voted to continue allowing the temporary signage for the StoryWalks in the park throughout the summer, provided the library, Parks and Recreation Committee and Village President Robin Reid sign off on varied locations for the signs within the park. 

StoryWalk at North Park. Photos by Taylor Scott, Managing Editor.

This approval comes with the stipulation that each different StoryWalk throughout the summer will be in different locations in the park, and will not be in that location for more than four weeks. 

Trustee Michael Broh voiced concerns about potential visual obstructions of any temporary signs in the village that are placed in the same area for an extended period of time, and brought forth a discussion about updating the current village ordinance pertaining to temporary signage. 

Broh said he believes the current ordinance is easy to evade and lacks clarity, and limiting the use of temporary signs to four weeks at a time would be helpful. 

“I think it’s pretty easy to abuse the idea of temporary signage, and avoid the systems we have in place to regulate signs throughout the village,” said Broh. “Temporary signs are a valuable tool we all have as residents. We must have a way to put up the occasional political sign, garage sale sign, support for high school sports, etc. I don’t ever want us to lose that ability. At the same time, we have, upon occasion, seen temporary signs used to get around the sign ordinance, usually for businesses.” 

Broh said he supports three different locations with four week time limits specifically for the library StoryWalks and believes the current location in the park is reasonable.

The Village Plan Commission will take a look at the temporary signage ordinance at it’s July meeting. 

“I’m looking forward to developing some clarity around how and when we approve temporary signs, and how we enforce the ordinance,” said Broh. 

Trustee and Parks and Recreation Committee Chairwoman Jane Hauser recommended moving the StoryWalk signs to a different location within the park, to create a more immersive and permanent experience for the readers. Currently, the StoryWalk signs line the road leading into North Park. 

“I love the idea of the story walks, AND appreciate the concern about the visual obstruction to green space that we discussed at the meeting,” said Hauser. “I think we can create a space that would enhance the experience of the story walk and isn’t lining the road into the park. I’m hoping that in the future, the Library can provide a more attractive, more permanent way to present the Books.” 

Spring Green Community Library Director Lisa Renier Thomas said she would like to consider a more permanent option for StoryWalks in the village in the future, and emphasized the temporary story signs this summer were put together with limited time and resources, as the village focused on outdoor programming that can be safely enjoyed during the on-going pandemic. 

“As you are aware, vaccinations have not been approved for children under the age of 12. This has resulted in some area families being reluctant to come inside our building,” said Renier Thomas. “The benefits of Story Walks are well-documented. They encourage reading, creativity, physical activity, and spending time outdoors. The benefits of Story Walks are well-documented. They encourage reading, creativity, physical activity, and spending time outdoors.” 

Renier Thomas said she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and was excited to hear that some village board members are interested in a more permanent StoryWalk option. Renier Thomas said while she worked in Mauston, the library placed permanent StoryWalk signs along the riverwalk. 

Mauston Story Walk Panel (Photo contributed by Lisa Reiner Thomas)

“It has been a huge hit for the community as a whole, drawing people to the downtown, library, and Riverwalk,” said Renier Thomas. “I would love to see a more permanent Story Walk in Spring Green at some point, whether on library grounds or elsewhere in the community, and would work with the village and library boards in doing so.” 

Permanent signs would look similar to interpretive signs in state parks, and would include 4×4 wooden or steel posts and removable plexiglass, said Renier Thomas.  Storywalks can be found in North Park, featuring a new story in July and August.

Visit www.springgreenlibrary.org for more information on StoryWalks and other summer, pandemic-safe programming.