More than four years after its intense, flashing images lit up a beauty college and everything around it on West Park Street, an LED sign that many residents and county officials called a nightmare has gone dark.
It’s not coming back, either, and regardless of the reasons, it’s fabulous news to some.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Butte-Silver Bow Commissioner Cindi Shaw said Tuesday. “It was an eyesore and it was in your face in this quiet, beautiful historic district.”
Darlene Battaiola, a previous owner of the Butte Academy of Beauty Culture, 303 W. Park St., had balked at all the complaints when she had the sign installed in 2014.
She said she had invested more than $10,000 in the advertising sign and had gotten a county permit for it, and it had bolstered business. So it was staying.
The sign, about 5 feet by 4 feet, flashed video-like messages that advertised the college and its deals on such things as haircuts and manicures. The screen was sometimes split into thirds, each showing or saying something different.
County officials got her to dial it down a bit at night but said they were powerless under local laws to do much more, so claims that it was still unbearable went nowhere.
Peggy Dallaserra, who took over ownership of the academy in 2015, has continued to use the sign but says it has had mechanical issues and stopped working in November or December.
“I’m not as technologically smart as the people before me and I had a tough time dealing with it,” Dallaserra said Tuesday. “I knew I needed to get a new sign, and I had to get something that worked for me.”
Dallaserra has retained John Weitzel of Weitzel Signs to design, construct and install a new sign. It will be about 6 feet by 4 feet and will simply say, in one permanent image, “Butte Academy of Beauty Culture.”
The background will be burgundy or dark red, its letters ivory with black outlines. It will be illuminated so it can be seen at night, but there will be no digital, flashing images.
Mary McCormick, the county’s historic preservation officer, has recommended that the Historic Preservation Commission sign off on the new, “much more traditional” sign.
“I think she (Dallaserra) has had nothing but problems with that (previous) sign and I think she’s also aware that a lot of people didn’t like it,” McCormick said. “I am sure that the Historic Preservation Commission will very much appreciate this change and the new sign.”
Dallaserra said the change had nothing to do with complaints.
“The previous owners … just knew how to fix it and make it work and how to program it and I don’t,” she said.
Nobody complained louder about the previous sign than Tony DeZago, who lived in the historic Thomas Lavell home next door to the beauty academy when the sign burst on the scene in 2014.
“It has invaded our property and our home with blinding, discotheque lights that are driving me nuts,” DeZago, who has since moved away, said at the time.
The Battaiolas tried to ease his concerns by dimming the lights and showing stationary images at night, and they paid for custom Venetian blinds for his bay windows to block the glare. But he said it was still out of place.
Shaw says she’s just happy to see it gone, and she’s pleased that Weitzel is making the new sign.
“I know he’ll make sure it’s the best sign for the neighborhood,” she said.