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Waukegan streamlines honorary street sign process

Updated: November 21, 2012 2:02AM

Future honorary street designations in Waukegan for “people who have made a significant contribution to the community” must pass through a process that includes a $300-per-sign fee, and the signs will only be displayed for one year before being taken down and given to their sponsor.

Those are among the provisions of new regulations for honorary signs approved by the City Council, a move made after a recent flurry of street designations prompted officials to streamline the process.

“We had no criteria. Anybody could request one,” said 2nd Ward Ald. Thomas Koncan, who chairs the public safety committee. “It got to the point where we were handing them out like candy, and everybody wanted a piece.”

Under the requirements approved by unanimous council vote, individuals or organizations seeking an honorary street sign must fill out an application that will be available through the city clerk’s office.

Applicable criteria listed on the form include cultural impact or historical impact to the city, humanitarian efforts and association with the city. The application includes a request for a specific location for the sign, and the applicant is asked to detail any relationship between the honoree and the chosen site.

The movement toward a formal process began in August when 6th Ward Ald. Larry TenPas requested an honorary sign for the late George Patterson, owner of Louie’s Restaurant on North Avenue. At least two other requests followed, and Koncan said he was concerned that they did not go through his committee for adoption.

“They went straight to the council, and I thought that it was getting out of hand,” said Koncan, who asked for permission to recommend a policy and drew information from measures in other communities.

The version now on the books includes such provisions as a limit of one new sign per year for each of the city’s nine wards, with the public safety committee making the final determination on whether or not an application is accepted. The honorary designations are also limited to one block.

The brown signs marking an honorary street are placed under the roadway’s permanent name, and past recipients include firefighter Morris Moore, police officer Curtis Christian, businessman Fred Abdula and former police chiefs Miguel Juarez and John Della Valle.

Third Ward Ald. Gregory Moisio voiced support for an amendment that would keep the signs up longer than one year to allow out-of-town family members more time to see them in place.

TenPas suggested a two-year period, but Mayor Robert Sabonjian recommended that the one-year limit be kept in place and reviewed if necessary on a case-by-case basis.

“This is brand new. We don’t even know how it’s going to work yet,” Sabonjian said. “I would say we give it a shot as presented by Ald. Koncan then see if it works out and everybody’s comfortable with it, or if there need to be changes.”

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