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Signs to mark, organize Big Sky

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By Taylor Anderson, Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

A group of Montana residents and business owners has gathered for the past few months to essentially define the borders of Big Sky, Montana. Well, define it for first-time travelers, at least.

The wayfinding, signage and entryway monument group discussed how and what aspects of the town it would mark at a Thursday, Jan. 19 meeting in the Big Sky Chapel.

The group, accompanied Thursday by a member of the Montana Department of Transportation representative Lee Alt, decided to roughly follow resort tax and zoning district boundaries to begin marking the town.

The discussion revolved around establishing signage that would help new visitors understand the sometimes-complex setup of Big Sky.

“It’s the perception of the community from a visitor,” committee organizer Ryan Hamilton said. “They don’t care if something’s called Meadow Village Center, Town Center, Mountain Village. They just want to know how to get around.”

Big Sky services would be marked on signs starting at the Jack Smith Bridge to the north in the Gallatin Canyon and the Corral and Rainbow Ranch in the canyon to the south.

In the south, where drivers are exposed to more development indicating a town before approaching Route 64, signs will tell drivers they’ve entered the town. North boundary signs will follow the current, DOT-sponsored sign that indicates there are six miles before the town begins.

The group decided it would follow a broad and refined model for signs depending on where they are in town. It is also considering a design model similar to a ski hill: green signs would be broad signs directing visitors to town; blue signs would start indicating that all services were available in the canyon or up Route 64; and black signs would refine where businesses are.

Perimeter markers, the group said, should be generic and easy for drivers to process while traveling the treacherous canyon road at 60-mph.

Rather than mark the road with a sign telling southbound travelers the town is to the west up Route 64, the group hopes to let drivers know they have already been in Big Sky for a few miles in the canyon. Plus, a member said, there are aspects of the town lying south of Spur Road.

Signs should read rather that visitors can find food, lodging, medical assistance and entertainment in the Meadow, Alt suggested.

The town must alsoalso has to follow rules set by the DOT that state advertisements cannot be marked on stateon custom signs. Rather than advertising for the resorts at the mountain, for example, they would read “Ski.” Another member suggested the sign should just read “Fun.”

Hamilton, who said he’s been working on this project for more than a year, was happy to see the community rally behind the idea, and that it’s time the town gets organized with signs.

“We knew going into this thing that it’s not easy,” he said. “If it were easy, we’d have had this 25 years ago.” suggested it was best to let travelers know all services are available if needed.

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