Private-public electronic billboards make debut
By Bob Okon email@example.com
Views of the new electronic sign (top right) at the southeast corner of Larkin Avenue and Theodore Street in Joliet. | MATTHEW GROTTO ~ SUN-TIMES MEDIA
JOLIET — The first of the private-public electronic signs on city sites has gone up without complaints in spite of the controversy that greeted the plan months ago.
Actually, the feedback has been pretty good, said Ben Benson, communications manager for the city of Joliet.
“I’ve been getting nothing but favorable response,” Benson said this week.
The sign, which features a series of graphic images, went up two weeks ago on the northeast corner of Larkin Avenue and Theodore Street.
The sign carries changing commercial messages and public service announcements, a combination that helped get approval for putting the signs on landscaped city sites like the corner of Larkin and Theodore.
But not all signs were approved. Public opposition stopped plans to put the signs on Six Corners (the intersection of Plainfield Road, Ruby Street and Raynor Avenue), a section of Center Street near the Patrick Haley Mansion, and a corner of Black and Bronk roads.
Benson said the city is avoiding residential areas in site selections. One new site was approved last week at the corner of Essington Road and Hennepin Drive outside of the Westfield Louis Joliet mall.
While some said the signs would spoil city sites that feature monuments and landscaping, the city did work with Impact Outdoor to have the first one mounted on a brick support that Benson believes helps blend the technology with the landscape.
“I think people are pleased with how we worked it into the brickwork,” Benson said.
Impact Outdoor is paying the cost for the signs in exchange for getting the prime locations. Not all sites are city property. Eight locations have been selected so far, and up to 12 sites could be approved.
The signs are 6 feet by 12 feet, which makes them smaller than billboards but bigger than most electronic signs seen around Joliet now at schools, businesses and other locations.
There is one billboard, too. Impact Outdoor has an arrangement with the city for an electronic billboard that went up recently along Interstate 80 at the Des Plaines River bridge facing east. It also flashes public service messages.
Some of the public service announcements that have been on the Larkin and Theodore sign so far have included announcements about last weekend’s GR2012 sustainability festival and the upcoming Taste of Joliet.
Benson said the signs seem to be effective, too, because he’s hearing from businesses that want to advertise. Benson says he sends those inquires on to Impact Outdoor.
“I can’t believe I’m forwarding sales leads,” he said.