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May 11, 2018

Councilman proposes bill that could put digital billboard in Fairmount Park

Curtis Jones wants to rezone a small part of the park for digital advertising

City Council Fairmount Park
Stock_Carroll - I-76 and the Schuylkill River Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

I-76 and the Schuylkill River in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Councilman Curtis Jones has introduced a bill that would amend Philadelphia Zoning Maps in Fairmount Park to allow billboard advertising in a narrow section of the park.

The bill outlines a proposal for one single, double-sided digital sign bound by the Schyulkill Expressway, Greenland Drive, Martin Luther King Drive and Montgomery Drive.

Jones is the sponsor of the bill that would convert the existing zoning map from “Parks and Open Space” to “Medium Industrial.” Because this narrow strip of the park sits next to the Schuylkill Expressway, opposition is arguing that this would violate the Highway Beautification Act, introduced by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 “to promote the safety and recreational value of public travel, and to preserve natural beauty,” of highways.

As of Friday afternoon a petition opposing the bill had gotten 627 signatures.

“What a shabby thing to do – just to make billboard fees. The Fairmount Park system is one of the great gems of Philadelphia that distinguishes our city from other major, top tier cities. We are green and we should keep it that way!” one comment on the petition says.

The Philadelphia’s Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the bill on Tuesday.

Jones did not immediately respond to a call for comment and details on the bill.