One of the welcome signs that recently went up in Nogales.

Travelers entering the City of Nogales are now being greeted by new welcome signs erected last month on the Patagonia Highway near Valle Vista Drive, and on Grand Avenue just south of the Exit 8 off-ramp from Interstate 19.

Between conception, design work that had to comply with strict state specifications, finding the locations for placement and the Public Works Department actually erecting the signs, it took nearly a year and $11,304 to complete the project, according to city officials.

The image on the sign, featuring the city seal, a roadrunner and yellow poppies, is a play on a design created in 2010 for bumper stickers when Mayor Arturo Garino was first elected. He and his wife Cathy collaborated with graphic designer Edgardo Muñoz on the sticker image, which is accompanied by the slogan “Nogales AZ: A great little place to be.”

This one simply says, “Welcome to Nogales, you’re among friends” on a 10-foot by 6-foot canvass.

A location for a third sign has yet to be determined, but Garino said he has his sights on a knoll between the Santa Cruz Center for the Blind and where Interstate 19 begins near West Street.

Solar powered LED lights will be installed later to illuminate the signs, he said.

“What we eventually want are at least two entry monuments constructed either with stone or cinderblock with stucco welcoming people to the city.”

At a meeting in April, Councilman Joe Diaz asked that the sign include a selling point such as “gateway to Mexico.” But Garino shot that down because “you’re offering them to go to Mexico, not Nogales, Ariz. I already looked into that.”

The mayor said he was hesitant about adding the word “historical” because ADOT has strict restrictions and frowns upon any hints of advertising that would be distracting to drivers. In fact, another more elaborate sign submitted to the state agency for its review was rejected for that reason.

Garino said a related project is in the works to refurbish a kiosk located on Terrace Avenue on the ramp that leads down into the pedestrian port of entry. This was one of three installed in 2009 as part of the “Downtown Nogales Wayfinding Plan” to provide visitors with information about important attractions and historical locations in Nogales. The city received a $46,875 grant from the Arizona Office of Tourism for this project, but the kiosks have since fallen into disrepair.

A second kiosk is located on Grand Avenue just steps from the border and another is in Herald Square, at the corner of Grand Avenue and Crawford Street.

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