BARSTOW — A sign company involved in the construction of a gateway monument sign along the southbound side of Interstate 15 at Avenue L recently came under fire by the City Council.

Despite the concerns with the unfinished sign, the Council approved a lease with Sater Oil and sublease agreement with Petra signs on a 3-1 vote during its Dec. 19 meeting. Councilman Richard Harpole wanted to table the agenda item until January and voted no. Councilman Merrill Gracey was absent. Harpole wanted Petra Signs to show up in January and promise to finish the sign.

"I don't have any confidence they are going to get the work done. And frankly, I'm tired of looking at it incomplete," Harpole said.

The agreements are expected to result in a positive net fiscal impact to the City of Barstow amounting to 15 percent of the net leasing revenue from the gateway monument sign, according to the staff report.

The 2013 disposition and development agreement between the City of Barstow and Sater Oil includes a provision for construction and operation of a gateway monument.

Under the proposed agreements, the half-acre city-owned parcel upon on which the sign has been constructed would be leased to Sater Oil, which would sublease the property to Petra Signs for the purpose of operating and maintaining the gateway monument sign.

The sublease provides Petra Signs will install, at its expense, the LED panels and will maintain all elements of the sign at a level acceptable to the city. In return for this work Petra Signs will be entitled to income generated by the sale and leasing of advertising on the sign, including sign panels and LED messages.

The agreement also provides for the City of Barstow to receive 15 percent of net rental income and for Sater Oil to get a portion of rental income as set forth in the sublease.

"It's my understanding that the sign management company who is the subleasee on this agreement is the same company building this sign," Harpole. "We raised the issue about the gas pricing portion of the sign. We complained about it. They have been pretty unresponsive. They were unresponsive to the city manager when the Science on a Sphere sign was sputtering in the wind. They said they were going to have this finished in March."

City Manager Curt Mitchell said staff tried to solicit other companies, but none were interested.

"They didn't think there was enough activity on Avenue L to justify the investment," he said.

Councilman Tim Silva also was concerned the gas pricing on the sign was so bright it wasn't clear enough to read.

"We have been working with the sign company on that," said Gaither Loewenstein, the city's economic development and planning manager. "We were in communication with them this morning.

"The lack of clarity had to do with the brightness of the lines. You can set those one to eight. Consequently, it could be viewed by the space shuttle. So what we have done now is turn that down. The sign company has turned it down to five."

Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or mlamb@desertdispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.