On September 17th Catalyst gave a mini-presentation at the Board of Supervisors monthly meeting and then again on October 1st provided a full presentation. You can view it here and skip to the presentation.
I contacted the board, as a resident, to ask some questions but did not hear back. So, from what I can gather, it seems that Catalyst threatened a lawsuit over the way billboards are treated in the township. The Board is looking to come to some sort of agreement instead of fighting it. Phoenixville Borough was in the same predicament, fought Catalyst and won.
It also appears that the township (taxpayers) gets nothing financially out of the deal. Clear Channel recently acquired control of the majority of the assets owned by Catalyst Outdoor Advertising. According to the Clear Channel website, their advertising rates for digital billboard advertising in the Philadelphia market for a 4 week run, can range from $104,040 to $212,420. What does the township get? The ability to have occasional free advertising. We, MainLine Neighbors, provide free advertising to all of our local townships, districts, community organizations and local charities and we have for years- so that doesn’t really impress me. Just sayin’!
The project plan includes the demolition of an original R. Brognard Okie house to build the digital billboard structure. The house is not an official historical house, but it dates back to the 1900s and was built in the Colonial Revival architectural style. It was built to replicate a toll-house, which was originally located on the site. The building’s design was by American architect R. Brognard Okie. The Clockworks building is a prized building by many and meaningful in the architectural development of the township.
We need to think hard about destroying our little bits of history and the architectural treasures that dot our landscape.
We also need to think about the impact of outdoor advertising on our public space. Web, TV, magazine, radio, and digital publication viewing are a choice. You can opt-out, turn off, not watch. You can’t opt-out of outdoor advertising.
You also can’t control what ads are shown. Outdoor advertising forces private values onto ‘public’ spaces with a one-way flow of information. The digital billboard will be on private property yet broadcast into shared spaces, raising such questions as:
Who owns the road and the broadcast space around it? Whose interests should prevail in controlling its use and appearance?
In my humble opinion, the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors needs a plan for outdoor advertising. The plan should consider appropriate zones, appropriate sizes, digital vs. static – so it will not detract from the beauty and history of our towns. We don’t want to be stuck in the past, but we also don’t want to destroy it. The plan should give consideration and not neglect the cultural and aesthetic consequences of a commercial visual spectacle in our public space. It’s a slippery slope! I love visiting Disney World, I just don’t want to live there.
If you are concerned about this billboard you can sign a petition here.
Also please share this post below so people in our community are aware of what may happen.
You can also make your voice heard by emailing the board or by going to the next board meeting on 10/22/ at 7:00 PM.
Co-Founder MainLine Neighbors