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Community center entrance sign unacceptable to Santa Fe committee

September 25, 2018

An ungainly new entrance sign proposed for the Genoveva Chavez Community Center was panned Monday evening by city councilors on the Public Works Committee as unacceptably unattractive.

The proposed 30-foot sign tower, which would be 10 feet taller than the existing sign visible to drivers and pedestrians on Rodeo Road, is designed to also house six Verizon Wireless antennas inside a triangular screen-paneled top section.

Although those hidden antennas could enhance Verizon’s network capacity for cellphone users on the south side of town — a frequent source of complaints — that uppermost section of the tower, which design schematics show would be visible from a distance, seemed to strike councilors’ aesthetic sensibilities the wrong way.

Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler, who represents the south-side district that is home to the Chavez Center, likened the top-heavy design with metal cross-bracing to a prison guard tower.

Councilor Mike Harris, also a Chavez Center-area representative, agreed: “Looks like a guard tower from any prison movie you’re going to see.”

“I would appreciate us going back to the drawing board to see what other options we have,” Councilor Renee Villarreal said, also critiquing the idea that the new sign would read only “GCCC,” eliding the namesake of the recreation complex, the late Genoveva Chavez, a singer who was known as the First Lady of the Fiesta de Santa Fe. “We should not diminish her name.”

Councilors unanimously rejected the design as presented Monday and encouraged a Verizon representative to reconsider how to permanently establish telecommunication facilities at the recreation complex without the homely tower.

“I don’t know if Verizon has the capacity to be more creative in terms of how it designs its signs,” Councilor Peter Ives said, “but I can’t imagine that they don’t.”

Under the proposed lease agreement, Verizon would pay to build the new sign and chip in $37,200 annually to lease the ground space around the sign.

Anne-Marie McKenzie, an Albuquerque site manager working on Verizon’s behalf, suggested Verizon could simply install a permanent telecommunication tower elsewhere on Chavez Center property and leave the entrance sign alone.

That idea appealed to Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta.

“I’d rather have a [cell tower] monopole than a sign that looks like this,” he said.

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