More Pictures Needed For Communication and Information:
Pictures are very important in our “Screen Age” to attract readers or skimming browsers (i.e. “lookers” as we all are). Obviously, inserting pictures would be a way to enhance the text of this Communication commentary. However, to the concerned citizens of our Cascade groups, it may be possible to make your brain light up with your own virtual pictures because you know the places I mention.
Kelly’s Whitewater Park Signs: Visitor Information Road Signs
The entrance road signs to KWP have been enhanced with Blue Visitor Information signs attached to the same roadway posts. Northbound and southbound, the Brown signs, as mentioned in recent postings, were not the most noticeable indicators by themselves (brown being a common background color; other bright colors being foreground colors of visual arousal). Now together, the Blue signs help guide the visitors’ eyes to the Brown KWP Entrance signs. This is especially perceptible on the Southbound route, where drivers must negotiate on or over the RR tracks to make a left turn.
The meaning of Visitor Information does not of course mean just Kelly’s Whitewater Park information, for posters, flyers and brochures are helpful guides to Cascade and Valley County events, recreation sites, and Chamber of Commerce-related materials . Furthermore, friendly Visitor Information personnel are on hand daily to serve visitors, to help with questions and to suggest places to go and things to do.
Problem: Location and Signage of Visitor Information Depot
The placement of the Visitor Information Depot, an artful brown cabin-like ”shed” with green trim, is somewhat problematic. It stands quite far to the left of both main KWP gate entrances, the first leading into the walkway and towards the Borbonus Veteran Memorial, which then guides the visitor down toward the Welcome Center. Some have perhaps thought the Welcome Center to be the Visitor Information venue. (In my experience, more than a few people have thought so, because there are some informational handouts inside the center.) The second gateway leads around to Kelly’s Memorial statue and garden area. It is natural that most visitors will begin their tours through the large gateways. Therefore, the Visitor Information Depot is probably not initially noticed, but noticed later and then visited after tourists have scouted the park and river and enjoyed the Welcome Center.
From the main entranceways there is no signage that is clearly visible to announce the Visitor Information building as an important Depot. The brown and green background coloration of the sign on the south-facing facade (i.e. front of building) does not stand out, is not legible from the near-gate, and therefore does not clearly announce itself as “The Visitor Information” site. Presently a thin, plastic banner hangs across the porch doorway, labelled with snacks, drinks, information, etc. Besides being too long a string of words, the font-style chosen for the label names is not a clean, clear advertising font choice. The wording is barely legible from a few, let alone many, yards away. Close by, the banner is too high above the entering visitors to be necessary. Once again, the aesthetic choices of Signage must be carefully, deliberately made–eye-arousing color visibility (reds, blues, oranges), bold-sized, easily decipherable fonts (clean lettering, non-ornamental), and careful placement for attracting the eyes of park newcomers. In a world of greens and browns, the natural colors fade into the background.
During the U.S. Freestyle Kayak Competition in July 2011, the Depot had an opportunity to see visitor flow and attention from hundreds, daily, and thousands, overall. Reme Maple’s Tea Leaves N Coffee Beans concession, housed in the Depot over that weekend, tested the business opportunity of the KWP venue. Unhappily, even with large numbers of visitors,the coffee concessions did not succeed to cover her expenses. Perhaps inadequate signage was partly the reason for the low-frequency of customers, but the distant, off-to-the-side location of the Depot may also have kept people from finding the concessions. Another possibility is that the active kayakers and their hangers-on, a low-budget, thrifty population, had brought their own supplies and were focussed more on the river sport rather than on information booths, beer gardens, and coffee concessions. Discussion on these topics by Cascade vendors and the KWP Visitor Information staff may help to account for low visitor turnouts and sales revenue. When consideration is given to vendoring another event at KWP, better planning is needed. Moreover, major consideration of signage and foot-traffic patterns is needed to increase visitor flow for recreational information and local advertising purposes.
One Solution: Parking Lot Views
People drive southward entering the parking places: some choose to face west across the old mill site; others park on the east side facing the KWP due east, towards the fenced area and beyond the Visitor Information building down toward the south end of the grassed areas, with the Tube Sales Markee beyond it.
1. One major VISITOR INFORMATION sign can be painted (in LARGE white lettering) on the west-facing facade of the Depot, high enough to be visible above car-tops for people emerging from their vehicles on that side of the parking lot. An accompanying LARGE white arrow would also help to catch visitors’ attention. Another sign (smaller perhaps) could be painted on the east facade noticeable to those already in the KWP grounds.
2. For those who park facing east, a sign visible from their point of view, such as the blue road sign, could be placed closer to the Depot building, but high enough aboveground to be seen above trucks and cars. This is not something I can dictate at this time. Nevertheless, if the directions and the Depot Visitor Information sign are not visible from a distance, they are ineffective as communication directional markers.
What happens to Cascade’s KWP VISITOR INFORMATION DEPOT when the season has finished? Will the Information Depot be available throughout the winter? During the long, cold seasons when winter sports and all other Cascade and Valley County sites are available to attract visitors, such an informational venue will still be needed to help tourists find their local stopping places.