PERRYVILLE — The former outlet mall sign – now vandalized with the words “Free Bird” – will be going away soon if town officials decide to spend the money.

In its place, the town would place a sign with the words “Welcome to Perryville” on the same footprint.

Cathy McCardell, assistant town administrator, said she had a conversation with representatives of SamBenHeather LLC, owner of the property at 68 Heather Lane.

“We would lease this sign. We would not be able to purchase it,” McCardell told the mayor and commissioners Tuesday.

The sign itself, printed only on the side facing traffic moving southbound on 222, is estimated at $20,000. That does not include the cost of erecting the sign.

“We are leasing it. Do we maintain the property?” asked Commissioner Bob Taylor. McCardell said the town would be in charge of upkeep around the sign.

“So that’s an additional charge,” Taylor said, indicating that Perryville’s public works employees would likely take on that job.

Commissioner Michelle Linkey proposed a different location for the sign.

“What about using land at Station 16?” Linkey said, referring the the substation for the Community Fire Company of Perryville, located nearby. “We would not have to worry about it changing hands.”

SamBenHeather LLC had plans to build warehouses on the outlet property, which town officials originally approved. After community backlash, the town then denied the plans. Developers took the town to court – twice – in failed attempts to move forward with warehouse plans.

The outlets, which closed in October 2016, had fallen to vandals in the years leading up to and following their closure. Over this past summer, the structures on the property were demolished and cleared. Of concern to the town, more visible than the property at the end of Heather Lane is the former outlet mall sign. It was painted a dull green to remove the outlet mall indicators. Since then someone tagged it with the words “Free Bird” in silver spray paint.

With Great Wolf Lodge under construction and other business due to build up around it, town leaders want something at 68 Heather Lane that complements the tourist haven.

Siting the extra land around the current sign, Mayor Matt Roath said the current or future property owner has other options for signage once a new use for the former Perryville Outlets is determined.

“There’s plenty of space behind it. They can put other signs there,” Roath said. “This will utilize something that is currently an eyesore.”

Roath agreed that $20,000 just for the sign was steep.

“We do have to look at the expense and the risk but I personally think this is going to be a huge welcome to tourists ... and it will invite people to come downtown,” Roath said. “I want to have businesses downtown share in the success.”

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