Greenfield’s permanent winter will be no longer.
On Wednesday, the city’s Common Council voted in favor of changing a long-standing agreement with Clear Channel and previous advertising companies that required a west-facing billboard on the eastbound Interstate 894 on-ramp on 60th Street to portray only nature scenes.
For approximately 13 years, thanks to an agreement between Eller Media Company (which has since merged with Clear Channel) and the City of Greenfield, the west side of the billboard, or the side that faces 60th Street, has been a nature scene while the side facing the interstate has been used for typical advertising.
For a long time, however, the billboard has not been changed from its current winter scene.
The council voted 3-2 to change the 13-year agreement, with Alderpersons Karl Kastner and Pam Akers voting against the change. In an unscientific poll conducted by Patch in January, 60 percent of the .
According to Community Development Manager Chuck Erickson, the next step is for Clear Channel representatives to tell the city in a letter what their plan for the board will be. Erickson said the initial proposal is to have the space divided into two advertising spots, instead of one.
“We have to figuratively fill in the blanks and have a clear understanding of what is OK and what isn’t.”
Erickson said one concern was Clear Channel’s lack of effort in changing the outdoor scenes. The original agreement called for the rotating nature scenes based on the seasons.
“For however long they had the contract, they never fulfilled what was expected of that contract,” Erickson said.
Hundreds of cars drive past the location on a daily basis, but only a small apartment complex on the west side of 60th Street faces the nature scenes permanently.
The billboard has an interesting history. It was a hot topic throughout the 1990s, dating back to 1990 when Mt. Carmel (now ) made a request to the city to allow off-premises advertising on the billboard on the northwest corner of its property.
Mt. Carmel and ABC Outdoor Advertising, the billboard’s previous owner, were eventually granted the special use permit and erected the billboard, but issues remained. In 1993, ABC Outdoor even took the city to court because it was denied the request to illuminate the billboard.
In 1997, the Common Council – after a lengthy public hearing and much debate – finally allowed ABC Outdoor to illuminate the sign with stipulations, one of which was for the company to address the west side of the billboard, which at the time was just a metal substructure holding the east side of the billboard in place.
The following year, Eller Media Company, and the city agreed to the nature scenes.