Plans for a new digital sign and a park that features a Bigfoot 4x4 monster truck display overlapped at the Pacific Tourism Commission meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Board members discussed how to pay for each project and the best way to go about starting them.

The existing electronic message board, which the tourism commission installed in 2009 at a cost of $58,834, has outlived its use, members said.

Capable of simple word messages, the sign also has outlived the state-of-the-art technology that now drives electronic signs.

The new park will stretch from the parking lot opposite Hoven Drive at Pacific City Hall to the mound where the electronic billboard stands.

The spot was selected after MoDOT gave its approval.

“I think along that (sign) and Bigfoot, that if we’re going to do them, they should be done at the same time,” said Tourism Commission Chairman Bill McLaren.

However, the cost for each project is higher than what the commission estimated. The new electric sign will cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

Daktronics, which supplied the electronic portion of the existing sign, could create a larger, more versatile display, at a cost of $55,000. That was the last estimate obtained in July. The firm also provides training and videos to operate the message system.

Posts for the existing sign, which are set in 11 feet of cement, could easily accommodate a size with an electronic message board twice the size of the existing sign.

High Costs

“The biggest thing is we’re going to need to talk about how we’re going to pay for the sign,” McLaren said. “If we do the sign and Bigfoot at the same time, that’s really going to dig into our budget.”

The city contracted with DG2 Design, landscape architects located in Eureka, to create a concept plan for the park at a cost of $2,900. DG2 Design engineer Kristy DeGuire was at the meeting to discuss those plans and hear from board members about their ideas for the park.

She said that estimates for the current plan would be $110,000. That doesn’t include the cost of the new digital sign near city hall or extra funds needed to pay for updates to the actual Bigfoot 4x4 monster truck that would be displayed.

McLaren said that for both projects, the tourism commission is estimating at least $200,000 would be needed to fund them. Officials want to complete both at the same time in order to have consistency in the designs.

McLaren’s idea would be to feature Pacific’s Route 66 attractions.

“We’re looking at someone who comes along Route 66 that might not be into Bigfoot,” McLaren said. “Someone who is into the Civil War may not be into Red Cedar. But if we could get them here and use the four places we have along Route 66, and say, ‘while you’re here, would you want to visit this?’”

Red Cedar Building 

That leads to the Red Cedar building.

The city purchased the 1932 building in September 2017 for $290,000 and has budgeted $100,000 in the 2019-20 spending plan to begin renovation of the structure.

The city wants it to become the Red Cedar Inn Welcome Center, History Museum and Genealogy Library. There is no set timetable currently, but according to McLaren, the tourism commission has money budgeted for that project as well.

Mayor Steve Myers was in attendance and gave a tentative update on the time line for the welcome center.

“The nature of the Red Cedar building lends itself very nicely for grant applications,” Myers said. “But those take time to get approved, as you know, so that’s why my gut feeling is that it’s going to be a couple of years before the Red Cedar is going to be ready to open.”

McLaren did say it lessened the blow to the tourism commissions budget that grant money will help with the Red Cedar project along with the two year timetable.

Forging Ahead

McLaren reiterated that the commission will need to figure out a way to fund the new park and new digital sign.

“The thought is, that if we are the only funding source, I don’t think that’s a reasonable situation,” McClaren said. “Our cash cow is going to drop a lot of the way. Yes, there is money sitting there right now, but we’re talking about basically spending everything we have this year if we funded this entire project. We need to figure out a way to do it over a period of time. That’s the smartest thing to do.”

In the meantime, the commission agreed to contract DG2 Design for the construction plans for the new park to push planning along.

“What we can do procedurally, is that if the commission agrees, we could at least commission a contract with (DG2 Design) for the construction drawings,” City Administrator Steve Roth said. “Then at the next meeting we can have that. The tourism commission can look at (the drawings) and make a recommendation to the board of aldermen, so that we are at least moving forward.”

The commission also agreed to have Roth present the current updates for the new park and sign at the next board of alderme+n meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.