By Sara Brown
Conversations over pending electronic billboards over the lee burbank highway have been put aside yet again.
Clear Channel is seeking to change their current billboard over the lee burbank highway into a two-sided, 14 foot by 48 foot digital billboard. Clear Channel proposed 10 hours a month for community advertising on the billboard, including a payment of $20,000 ($10,000 per side) for 25 years and $5,000 a year donation to the annual sand castle festival as part of the agreement.
Revere recently accepted the same deal with Van Wagner to change their two billboards into electronic ones. However, residents are now saying Revere can get a better deal.
Ron Champoux of the Revere Beautification Committee cited a Boston Globe story where the state is receiving $95,000 per year per billboard—and that in other states—even more. He also mentioned that the City of Medford has negotiated with companies like Clear Channel with an agreement to only have two electronic billboards in the city.
“What is it about this city that we can get the same deal as Medford? …We are not saying not to negotiate but to negotiate better,” Champoux said.
Revere resident Rob DeMattia believes the council did not do the proper research with the Van Wagner deal. “Shame on the city council for not doing its due diligence with Van Wagner. Here is your opportunity to make up for that,” he said.
DeMattia also said the Van Wagner deal was “poorly negotiated in haste.” Some councillors disagreed with him.
“To suggest that nobody on this council did their homework is false,” Councillor Anthony Zambuto said.
Zambuto also said the current Clear Channel deal is a good one. “There have been many surrounding neighborhoods that have been offered the same exact deal… It’s a reasonable deal, he said. He added that billboards in the Boston Globe story and in Medford were on highways and were not city property, hence the bigger payday.
Other councillors said they were interested in seeing if they could change the amount of money Revere could receive on the mitigation package.
“I am not crazy about billboards and I am in no rush to approve this,” Councillor Brian Arrigo said.
Councillor John Powers said he would not vote in favor of the billboards unless he agreed with the mitigation package.
“The electronic billboards will look less ugly…but billboards do not enhance the city in any way,” Councillor Stephen Reardon added.
However, others thought the billboards will help the city aesthetically. “I took a drive by where they would be and I have never seen a bigger dump in my whole life,” Councillor Arthur Guinasso said. He opined, “This will help that area by making it look prettier.”
The matter has been kept in committee.