Sign of the times

On January 30, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

By Courtney O’Keefe
Ward 5 Online

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

They direct us, inform us, and identify places we are looking for. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles, but collectively, they are a significant part of our daily lives. One never really thinks of how important signs are, unless of course, we’re desperately looking for the one we need.

There is a group of residents, business owners and patrons looking for a particular sign here in Somerville. A sign that has been repeatedly replaced after being damaged and finally removed completely to make way for a streetscape improvement project that has left us with increased lighting, wider sidewalks, safer crosswalks, but no sign.


Word reached the Aldermanic Chambers on Thursday January 24 as Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donovan asked, once again, for the installation of a sign identifying and highlighting Magoun Square that could withstand the abuse that claimed the lives of previous signs.


You wouldn’t think that a simple sign would mean so much to a group of people, but this time is different. After two years of construction, newspaper headlines, Board of Aldermen agenda items and watching businesses come and go, all of us ‘gouners want our sign that tells everyone that they are entering our beloved Magoun Square. You’re here! Please stay! Try the Mac N’ Cheese!


This sign may be a budget line item for the City of Somerville, but it’s so much more for Magoun Square. It states who we are, where we are and, most importantly, that we are here and ready for whatever the future has in store for us. It tells the tale of how far we’ve come and where we are ready to go.


Magoun Square is ready for our sign!





14 Responses to “Sign of the times”

  1. Jeff says:

    Nicely said Courtney. It would be a nice conclusion to all the construction in the square.

  2. Linda says:

    I agree-great piece, Courtney

  3. Joe Lynch says:

    Courtney – Could not have said it better myself. As you and many know, the sign for Magoun Square has been on Alderman O’Donovan’s, the Mayor’s, DPW chief Stan Koty’s and the planners at City Hall agenda for many, many years. My first request went in almost 10 years ago. The latest, as you know, 10 days ago. And yes, I still have a copies of all the email’s that went to O’Donovan and the Mayor. I’ve pestered him, the Mayor and anyone else at City Hall about the need for a city installed, wooden sign exactly like all the other commercial districts have. I’ve stated on many blogs and media sites that the signage we place in Magoun, properly placed and well designed, will only serve to enhance the district and attract additional visitors and new merchants. Maybe I should have written a piece for the Somerville News to get folks fired up for a sign. But then again, I thought by incorporating the signage into the plans for the re-do of the square almost 8 years ago, that would have been enough to get it placed there.

    I know there are some who have stated that there was a sign in the square. I’ve asked some folks who have worked and lived there for quite awhile if they remember a sign. No one does. Neither do I. Perhaps if you or someone from the city has a picture of that sign, it would jog my memory. That’s besides the point.

    Signage standardization, great viability, and pleasing graphics are the key to this.

    Thanks for writing this. Saves me yet another round of emails to the Alderman and Mayor.

    Joe Lynch
    Magoun Square Neighborhood Association

  4. Adam says:

    Lynch writes letters for 10 years and gets zip. O’Keefe asks the alderman to submit a order and we have a march installation date mentioned in a previous article. Hmmmmmm……..

  5. j connelly says:

    Ah, the power of a woman. The country had Hillary, we have Courtney.
    Good Old Boy network take note. She’ll be watchin you.

  6. A. Moore says:

    j connelly, go into Home Depot and stand next to a woman and when thee store clerk comes over who is he going to ask to help first?

  7. Joe Lynch says:

    Adam – Interesting observation, but incorrect. O’Donovan submitted the request (for the third time) one day after my email to him. It was submitted as a late item for the next BOA meeting.

    The lesson here is don’t run against the alderman from your ward, or at the very least, create a blog that is transparent in its blind endorsement of same.

  8. j connelly says:

    I try to stay away from Home Depot. Several times that I have stopped by several Home Depots on way home from work (around 5 pm), they have the aisles blocked off so they can work the stock on the shelves. Not 1 aisle but 6 or 7 at the same time, a lesson in management stupidity.

    A. Moore, reference toward the clerks, etiquette would be they address the woman 1st, then again where women justifiably want equality with men for pay, etc. you have a valid point. Meanwhile I can only say to Mr. Moore is, next time you go to Home Depot, wear a kilt…

  9. Jeff says:

    Adam and Joe: Your conversation should be taken elsewhere and not on the bottom of Courtney’s great piece. Joe, I am not sure what you meant by that last line–but it would be nice to maintain some level of class and not insult the good work Court has done for the ward.

  10. Joe Lynch says:

    Jeff – If you care to provide your last name so I know who I’m being insulted by, we can continue our discussion. Other than that, I look forward to your continued on-line slaps at me every time I post something. All the best.

  11. Adam says:

    My apologies to Courtney, but I thought Joe’s comments cheapened her well written article and to go on to make fun of her blog in a later comment was rude.

  12. A Moore says:

    j connelly I will pass, last time I had anything with a draft it was at the Army base in Boston.

  13. Jeff says:

    No, I do not care to provide my last name. And no one is insulting you. I am just asking that you respect Court’s article.

  14. Good morning and Thank You for your comments,

    I too emailed the good Alderman regarding the Magoun Square sign and even met with him to discuss it in person along with the two other items he submitted at the last Board of Aldermen meeting. Hopefully, three times the charm with this issue :)

    Like Joe said, this sign has been a long time coming and the business owners, residents and patrons of Magoun deserve it to be highlighted with its own sign in whatever form is deemed necessary for longevity.

    Joe, I vaguely remember a Magoun Square sign and even reached out to Dan Maher-who also remembers one in close proximity to CVS, but closer to Dunkin Donuts. I researched and was unable to find any pictures, unfortunately. If nothing else, this is a result of not having a sign for so long. Would the Somerville Museum have records or photos?

    Nonetheless, I hope all of this work results in Magoun receiving, well, what ever other section of Somerville has…a nice sign letting people know where they are.

    Should this actually happen in March, I would like to invite everyone who commented on my article for a photo-op with the new sign. You can find my email on my website (my name is linked) or sign up for the Magoun Square United listserv by using the same email.

    ~Courtney O’Keefe

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