DANVILLE — It's not censorship, just windy conditions that led to the removal of one of two billboards on a city-owned building along East Main Street in downtown Danville.
An anchor point behind one of the billboards, which the city leases to a local advertising agency, broke loose about a week and a half ago, according to Public Works Director Doug Ahrens, causing damage to the brick on the building's west wall where the two billboards hang, facing the busy intersection of East Main Street and South Gilbert Street.
Now, the billboard has been removed from the building entirely, Ahrens said, so repairs could be made to the parapet.
Just last week, the city council approved a new one-year lease between the city and Dan Pipkin advertising agency for one of the two billboards. The current lease for the other billboard, which is leased by Dan Pipkin as well, does not end until April. Per the new lease, the agency will pay the city $275 a month to fill that space with advertising.
But city administration had included language in the lease that would have prohibited the agency from putting political advertisements on the billboard, and some aldermen objected to that restriction, citing free-speech issues, so the paragraph was removed from the final draft of the lease, which the council approved.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said that rather than addressing it in the individual lease, city administration will work on an overall citywide policy concerning political advertising on city-owned property, including the two billboards, city buses and potential advertising spots in city parks.
Ahrens said now that the parapet has been repaired, the billboard is ready to be hung again, but inclement weather has kept Marsters Sign Co. from putting it back up. He said other than that there has been no problem with the billboard, and it will be going back up soon.
Earlier this year, the city purchased the brick building on which the two billboards hang as part of long-term plans to develop the riverfront along the Vermilion River, which is immediately south of that building, and the city wants to continue leasing the billboards to recoup some of its money.