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Greenwood to sell ads on city signs


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Greenwood is considering placing large electronic signs at locations around the city, including the entrance to the airport, as a new way to make money. The signs would have announcements of city events, but also be a place where companies could advertise. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Greenwood is considering placing large electronic signs at locations around the city, including the entrance to the airport, as a new way to make money. The signs would have announcements of city events, but also be a place where companies could advertise. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal

Greenwood is considering placing large electronic signs at locations around the city, including the new city hall, as a new way to make money. The signs would have announcements of city events, but also be a place where companies could advertise. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal
Greenwood is considering placing large electronic signs at locations around the city, including the new city hall, as a new way to make money. The signs would have announcements of city events, but also be a place where companies could advertise. Scott Roberson / Daily Journal


New signs are planned for multiple locations in Greenwood, which would tell residents about upcoming city meetings and also try to bring in advertising revenue for the city.

The city of Greenwood plans to install electronic signs for promoting its own events, such as the annual Freedom Festival, and sell advertising space to earn money for the city. The city also is considering other advertising options, such as having businesses pay to put their names on water slides and other features at a future aquatic center.

The first electronic sign will be tried out at the new city building, but others likely will be installed on County Line Road near the city airport, at the future aquatic center and another city park, city spokeswoman Molly Laut said. The goal is to increase communication between the city and residents by promoting events such as an Easter egg hunt on the signs and to earn advertising money that can be spent on city expenses, such as for the city’s future aquatic center that a recent study showed would not make enough money to pay its own operating costs, she said.

Businesses would be able to pay the city to advertise on the signs, and a sign’s location would determine what city department gets the income, she said. For example, advertisements purchased on the digital signs in the parks would provide income to the city parks and recreation department.

The signs won’t be digital billboards, which Franklin and other cities and towns in central Indiana have said can distract motorists. The signs would likely be lit with LED bulbs but wouldn’t be as large as billboards.

“None of us wanted more electronic billboards,” she said.

The size of the signs, cost of advertising space and cost of sign construction haven’t been decided yet, she said. Under city rules, a sign on a pole cannot be larger than 200 square feet. A billboard can be up to 750 square feet.

“There’s a lot of steps before that happens, but we’ve got a concept, which I’m excited about, because it’s less of a sign and more of a piece of art,” she said. “It’s beautiful.”

Laut said she wouldn’t describe what they’ll look like because the city hasn’t approved a design yet.

Officials in Greenwood started considering electronic signs when discussing what type of sign to erect in front of the new city hall, Laut said. The city has renovated the former Presnell building at 300 S. Madison Ave. and is moving city departments, including the mayor’s office, this month.

Now, the city is looking for ways to generate more revenue, particularly to pay for operations of an aquatic center, and selling advertising is an opportunity for businesses to get visibility while paying city expenses, she said. The aquatic center, which will feature a lap pool, leisure pool, water slides and lazy river, is expected to earn at least $200,000 less on memberships and fees than the pool park would cost to operate. Construction of the aquatic center is slated to start this year, in time for a May 2015 opening date.

The locations where the city is considering installing digital signs, including the airport and the new city building, need new signs anyway, and the potential advertising revenue makes electronic signs more appealing, Laut said. She added she has not studied what the demand is for advertising on digital signs in Greenwood.

The first sign will go up this year in front of the new city hall, which will identify the city building and publicize information about city events, such as the Easter egg hunt and Freedom Festival. The city currently has one electronic sign design it is considering for city hall but will look at others, Laut said. The board of public works and safety would have to approve any designs for signs the city chooses to install.

Mayor Mark Myers declined to discuss the signs. The city doesn’t know how much money it could earn from selling advertising space on the signs, he said.

The city has been toying with the idea of electronic advertising, as well as other partnerships with businesses, to pay for some of the city’s expenses, Laut said. Among those projects was finding a sponsor to pay for the Freedom Festival’s fireworks. Greenwood also is considering using electronic kiosks in the lobbies of the community center and city building that would provide information about city events. She said the city could sell advertising space on the kiosks.

Officials have talked to leaders of other cities and towns that sell advertising, but residents at a recent parks department public forum further encouraged the idea, she said. At the meeting, one resident asked why the city wasn’t trying to sell advertising instead of raising membership rates at the community center.

“We had the public forum for the parks department and were asked, ‘Why don’t you have Chick-fil-A on your treadmills like everyone else?’ That got us thinking — hmm, why don’t we?” Laut said. “I certainly think there is a shift in the mindset of the (city employees) trying to figure out what’s possible. I don’t think electronic signs will be the only thing we’ll be looking at.”

The type of advertising that would go on the signs would likely be brand advertising, not product advertising, she said. For example, McDonald’s could pay to put its logo and addresses for local locations on the city signs but not special deals on food, she said.

THE RULES

Prohibited

  • Signs with flashing, scintillating, blinking or traveling lights or any other device that doesn’t provide constant illumination.
  • Signs that emit sound, odor or visible material
  • Signs that, due to size, location, movement, content, coloring or lighting may be confused with a traffic control sign, signal or device, the light of an emergency or road equipment vehicle, or that hide from view any traffic or roadway sign, signal or device.
  • Signs that advertise illegal activities, are obscene, contain untrue information, are improperly mounted or erected or represent a traffic hazard
  • A billboard with a screen larger than 750 square feet.

Other regulations

  • The signs may not be located within 300 feet of residential properties.
  • The full sign image or any part of it must have a minimum duration of six seconds and must be static. No portion of the image may flash, scroll, twirl, change color or in any way imitate movement.

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