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Von Hillern Street billboard could become digital

Posted by Patrick Rosso  September 19, 2013 12:50 PM

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A double-sided static billboard on Von Hillern Street in Dorchester could soon be converted to a digital billboard that would run 24 hours a day, seven days week.

Located on MBTA property at 71 Von Hillern St. the 14-foot by 48-foot traditional billboard, which is owned by Clear Channel, was briefly discussed at a meeting of the McCormack Civic Association Tuesday night.

“When the leaves fall from the trees I just couldn’t imagine having that billboard there,” said Desmond Rohan, a member of the association’s board.

Although conversations at Tuesday’s meeting were brief, a community meeting on the billboard, sponsored by Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Office of Outdoor Advertising, was held September 12, according to the DOT.

No decision has been made by the DOT on the conversion of the billboard, which Clear Channel says will actually reduce light pollution and drive revenue.

“It probably will produce less ambient light than a traditional billboard and it will be auto-adjusting so it will not be as bright at night,” explained Stephen Ross, president of the Boston division of Clear Channel Outdoor. “We think it will open up the spectrum of advertisers who haven’t used traditional outdoor advertisement.”

Ross added that if approved the billboard could be converted by the end of the year, but its overall size would not be altered.

The conversion to a digital billboard would also be beneficial for the T.

Under the terms of an agreement with Clear Channel, the T would receive more revenue than it would with a traditional billboard, according to the T.

The conversion of the Von Hillern Street billboard is also part of a larger effort by the T to convert 18 static billboards around Greater Boston. The T estimated that the conversion of all 18 billboards to digital would double the revenue currently generated by static billboards on T property. The 18 digital billboards are expected to generate an additional $1.4 million annually, said the T.

Neighbors, however, have mobilized against the project.

A letter in opposition has been drafted by the McCormack Civic Association and cosigned by the Andrew Square Civic Association and Columbia/Savin Hill Civic Association. A representative from Senator Linda Dorcena Forry's Office said at Tuesday’s meeting that letters in opposition have also been submitted by the Senator’s office and the office of City Councilor Frank Baker.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.


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