McClellan Highway Billboard Battle Heats Up

Logan Communications’ John Perline talks about the proposed billboard on McClellan Highway at Monday’s OHNC meeting.

Logan Communications’ John Perline talks about the proposed billboard on McClellan Highway at Monday’s OHNC meeting.

By John Lynds

The developer of the Hilton Garden Inn on McClellan Highway, First Bristol Vice President James Karam said he could not recall agreeing to the Impact Advisory Board’s request to not place any large signage on the property.

At Monday night’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) meeting regarding Logan Communications proposal to place a 14’X48′ digital billboard on the Hilton’s property, Karam recalled a discussion about the Hilton’s brand signage but nothing else.

“We made an agreement with the community to not have any large Hilton signs and I think we complied with that request with only one Hilton sign on the back of the hotel facing McClellan Highway,” said Karam.

However, IAG member Mary Berninger recalled an entirely different conversation. Berninger said the IAG requested there be only low profile signage on the Hilton property and Karam is now using a clever interpretation of the agreement with the IAG to only include Hilton signage and no other potential future signage on the property.

“We requested that no ‘large’ signage of any kind be placed on the property,” said Berninger. “I sat on the IAG and I disagree with (Mr. Karam) because I had a problem back then and still do now with injecting any large signage or billboard of any kind into our community. This proposal of putting a billboard on the property is exactly the impact we talked about and did not want. We agreed that the property would only include low profile signage. ”

This was the second OHNC meeting on the propsal. At the previous OHNC meeting the plan pitched by Andrew Goldberg and John Pelrine of Logan Communications drew immediate criticism from the crowd, especially those who sat on the IAG while the Hilton was being built on the corner of McClellan Highway and Boardman Street.

Former Boston Mayor, the late Thomas Menino, put a moratorium on billboards being built within the city limits. Menino, at the time, argued that billboards added unnecessary visual pollution and blight to neighborhoods and many here in Eastie agreed.

With a new administration at the helm, Goldberg and Logan Communications are banking on Mayor Martin Walsh being more open minded to billboards.

Both Goldberg and Pelrine said Logan Communications would be required under state law to give 15 hours per month for state public service messages. Logan Communications is still awaiting a prescribed amount of hours the city will request if the billboard is approved and Goldberg said the billboard company would also allot several free hours per month for Eastie non-profit use for free.

While Logan’s charitable contributions to the neighborhood have been very generous over the years, Berninger said being a good neighbor does not excuse the fact a pledge was made to the neighborhood by Karam and the Hilton.

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