Charlottesville City Council supports changing the city’s logo, just not right now.
The council discussed the logo and a process for changing it during its meeting on Monday.
The logo is a rounded octagon featuring a cannon, Dogwood flower, the University of Virginia Rotunda and the corner of City Hall with statues of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
The logo and seal are used interchangeably, but the seal is a legal image used for certifying official documents. The seal is used by the clerk of council to authenticate documents requiring a formal signature of an authorized city official.
The city adopted the logo after holding a contest in 1971.
The winning entry was submitted by R. William “Bill” Vanderberry and selected on June 6, 1971. Vanderberry died in 2009, according to an obituary published in the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record. He was a picture frame designer when he created the city’s seal, the obituary says.
According to the report, there is no formal process for revising the logo. Interim City Manager John Blair said if the logo is changed, it will come with a cost because it is placed on vehicles, facilities and other city property.
Councilor Sena Magill initiated the conversation by asking staff about the logo.
“I don’t think our current city logo reflects us as a city. We have changed. We have been reexamining who we are and I think a logo is pretty important with that,” she said. “But I do agree that with COVID, with where our businesses are right now, where people are right now, diverting city dollars or diverting staff time when we need to be figuring some other things out, we might need to take a look at this in six months and see where we’re at there.”
The council supported changing the logo, but noted it was not an appropriate time to start the process. Councilors cited the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the budget process and updates to the city’s zoning code and Comprehensive Plan.
“If we didn’t have anything else to be doing, fine. If staff didn’t have anything else to be doing, fine,” Councilor Lloyd Snook said. “But we’ve got a lot of other things to be doing.”
Snook said he’d always been curious why a cannon was included because no combat took place within city limits during the Revolutionary or Civil wars.
Councilor Heather Hill supported reexamining the logo “at the appropriate time.”
Magill and Councilor Michael Payne supported holding another contest for the logo. Payne said it would be an “exciting opportunity” for community involvement.
Blair said he will plan to bring a report on costs to the council around June. He plans to ask department heads for rough estimates on removing the logo during budget discussions in the coming months.