City sells ad space on parking meters to raise money


Downtown parking meters soon will be sporting new advertisements -- and making a little money for City Hall -- under an agreement approved yesterday by the Baltimore Board of Estimates.

Parc-Ads, a Massachusetts firm, was given a one-year contract -- with four renewal options -- to rent advertising panels on downtown meter posts. After a three-month start-up period, the city will receive 25 percent of gross billings, a share expected to exceed $20,000 a month.

Under the contract, Parc-Ads will rent three-sided advertising panels on meters within an area bounded by Fort Avenue, Martin Luther King Blvd., North Avenue and Broadway. Advertisers will be charged $54 a month per pole, said Tony R. Lockwood, Parc-Ads president.

"We need to see if it will bring a few extra dollars to the city," said Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean.

But the deal, which had been delayed by objections of communitygroups, was not approved until the neighborhood leaders won some say over where the new ads will be placed and what products they will be pushing.

Yesterday, the board amended the agreement to require a 30-day notification period before any ad panels can be installed, to allow elected officials and community leaders to protest if they disapprove.

And ads for alcohol or tobacco will be rejected.

Barbara Ferguson, of Coalition for Beautiful Neighborhoods, said the organization "can half live with that."

"The city really doesn't need any more advertising anywhere," she said. "We're trying to upgrade our city and make the neighborhoods more inviting."

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said he wanted the ad panels limited to commercial areas, and Mr. Lockwood said he does not plan to bring the advertising into residential blocks -- despite the fears of neighborhood and historic preservation groups.

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