2017-12-07 / Life in Leelanau

Missing sign turns up in crosswalk where taken

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

MYSTERIOUSLY RETURNED was this pedestrian crossing sign. MYSTERIOUSLY RETURNED was this pedestrian crossing sign. A pedestrian crosswalk sign that mysteriously disappeared from the middle of M-22 in downtown Suttons Bay last month has – just as mysteriously – reappeared.

Officials of the Village of Suttons Bay conducted an “experiment” early last month to see how people would react to a new street sign urging motorists to yield to pedestrians crossing M-22 (St. Joseph Avenue) in downtown Suttons Bay.

Within hours, however, the sign went missing, along with its weighted, rubberized base. The base was designed to be bolted into the asphalt. But village Department of Public Works (DPW) employees had opted not to use the bolts for their experiment – which turned out to be a mistake.

The sign was put in place the afternoon of Nov. 9 and was still there by 10 p.m. the same day – but by 5:30 a.m. the next morning it had disappeared without a trace.

Village officials filed a report with the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office and vowed to make a point of bolting down the remaining three signs they’d purchased when they are installed in the spring. The signs and bases are worth about $500 each.

Many folks figured that a slimy souvenir hunter had stolen a $500 memento of Suttons Bay that was now hiding in someone’s garage or who-knows-where else. Nobody expected to see the stolen sign ever again.

“But if you happened to be driving through Suttons Bay this Saturday around 7:30 a.m., you would have noticed a pedestrian crossing sign at Jefferson and M-22,” said village manager Wally Delamater.

“My first thought was ‘why did the DPW put another sign on the street?’ I quickly discarded that thought because the DPW would not have put out another crosswalk sign,” Delamater said.

“My second thought was that somebody had returned the sign.”

Delamater phoned DPW head Bob Joyce and confirmed that the DPW had not put out another sign.

“As it turned out, somebody returned the sign to the exact location it was taken from weeks ago,” Delamater said.

An on-call DPW worker was then dispatched to pick up the sign and store it away in the DPW garage before it could disappear again.

The signs are designed to be place in the middle of the state highway where crosswalks are located near intersecting side streets. Technically, motorists are not obliged to stop for pedestrians crossing state highway M-22 unless the pedestrians are already in the road. The signs are designed to be removed seasonally so as not to interfere with snow-plowing.

Village officials said the pedestrian crossing signs will be installed at various M-22 intersections in downtown Suttons Bay next spring after snowplowing season ends.

And the signs will all be bolted down.

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