By Katie McEvoy
LOWELL -- Students, parents and visitors, rejoice. UMass Lowell is making some changes.
New, permanent signs will soon dot the city landscape, making it easier to get around and locate buildings on what Deborah Poodry, executive director of facilities management and planning, describes as a "unique campus."
"The university has planned a coordinated system of signs," said Poodry. "This will be a huge advantage to people coming to UMass Lowell."
At the moment, it's no walk in the park for visitors to find their way around campus.
"It's a challenge when people come to UMass Lowell," admits Patti McCafferty, the university's chief public affairs officer. "Where are you going? Well, it depends. We hope our plans make it easier for commuters and people visiting."
The university's blueprints are extensive.
"You have to do it right, and you have to do it comprehensively," said McCafferty.
UMass Lowell is making sure all of its ground is covered. Kiosks will be posted around campus. Signs denoting each building will go up. Guideposts around the city of Lowell will denote how to get from campus to campus. UML is even working with the state Highway Department to get signs on the Lowell Connector.
"Directions, shuttle routes and directions to buildings will also be on certain signs and maps," said Poodry.
"Anyone who comes to visit the city of Lowell will certainly know how to get to UMass Lowell," said McCafferty.
The project is expected to cost about $600,000, with the money coming from stimulus funding.
Poodry said the new sign project is a necessary task.
"I can't remember when the last project was done," she said.
The first phase begins this summer. UML hopes to first integrate the signs in and around Lowell, working its way toward campus.
Unfortunately, Poodry noted, "we can't do it all at once."
She predicts the project will be completed within three to four years. The last phase of the campaign will involve internal signing in buildings, which is primarily for student use.
"This is a key part of integrating the campus into the community," said Poodry. "We think it's going to make a big impact."
"I think we've done a good job of effectively branding these new buildings," such as the Tsongas Arena and former DoubleTree Hotel, said McCafferty. The university will continue to include the blue-and-white UML logo on all signs to maintain consistency.
While new signs will help commuters and visitors find their way around campus, ultimately UML hopes the project will also impact school spirit.
"When you come to the community, you want to see your school present," said Poodry. "It's one of those little things that makes a huge difference."