Alfredo now waits at home

Alfredo, the waiter sculpture that stood for years in front of Wiley's World of Pasta in Ashland, has been banished for good.

The axe fell Tuesday when the City Council decided to ban all three-dimensional objects in front of stores except those in the downtown historic area, where they must be no more than three feet tall and located on private property, not on the public right-of-way in front of stores.

Terry Wiley, co-owner of Wiley's, took the decision in stride, saying the statue would remain in front of his Medford home, where it draws plenty of stares and double-takes.

"I have so much else to think about in this economy," Wiley said.

Alfredo was carted away from the restaurant last summer, when the city suddenly began enforcing sign codes that forced the removal of a much-loved bear in front of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a giraffe in front of Bug a Boo and stone lions at the doors of the Black Sheep Restaurant, all on the Plaza.

An outcry from merchants prompted creation of a downtown task force to recommend changes to the sign code. Meanwhile, Jeff Compton, co-owner of Rocky Mountain, said "We're going to keep making fudge. We're a business and we have to make money, but the city thinks that's a bad thing and they want to tell me how to run my business."

Renee Hallesy, co-owner of the fudge store, said Councilman Greg Lemhouse supported business, and some of the other council members have been "anti-business."

"The city has let people know they don't care what people think," Compton said.

Councilman Eric Navickas said the proposed liberalization of the code could lead to large, garish signs.

"We have to be careful about what we allow to clutter our landscape," Navickas said.

Councilman Lemhouse spoke for a more liberal code.

"We're assuming signs are going to be garish and corporate," Lemhouse said. "We're in economic times when businesses are struggling. I don't anticipate a huge Bob's Big Boy sign on Ashland Street."

Wiley said the city "should do everything it can for small business unless they're harming something. Alfredo has been good at catching people's eye in a pleasant way and it's helped our business."

Wiley and Hallesy both said customers constantly inquire about their missing mascots and urge them to be returned. Some customers said that with the controversy and the task force, they thought the figures would be back in place someday.

"We've received nothing from the task force of any benefit," Hallesy said. "I had no idea we'd end up just listening to the city administrator telling us what we had to do. Now they're telling us how much signage we can have in the window."

The City Council Tuesday amended the proposed ordinance to allow three-dimensional objects downtown with a volume of three cubic feet , or about the size of a barber pole, said Brandon Goldman, senior city planner. The flower planter at the front of FlowerTyme will be permitted, he added. The old ordinance, drafted in 1968, allowed no three-dimensional objects.

The package approved Tuesday scrapped the proposed 20 cubic foot limit for three-dimensional objects in commercial areas outside the historic downtown, a proposal that would have allowed Alfredo's return.

The council loosened the sign code to allow circles and triangles, incidental signs like menu boards, and more signs during construction, as well as allowing signs on a third and fourth store frontage, if each side has entrances. It also removed public art from the sign code.

The revised ordinance will have a final reading and vote at the next council meeting, scheduled for April 21.

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