AN INSIDE LOOK - Commentary and opinions on local politics and life in general in Southeastern Massachusetts! Featuring the writings of Bill Gouveia, newspaper columnist for the Sun Chronicle and local cable TV talk show host. Feel free to read, comment and enjoy!
Friday, September 26, 2014
No Confusion Between Foxboro and Vegas Signs
This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, September 26, 2014.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
never know what can wind up being controversial in a small New England
town.But there are some things that always
raise the anxiety level in seemingly every community.
a leash law on the Town Meeting warrant and watch the fur fly.Try cutting sports from the school budget and
be prepared to see some hard-hitting action.Discuss spending money on a new town hall and feel the walls closing in on
right behind those is another soul-searching issue currently making the rounds
in Foxboro, with voters perhaps being faced with determining its fate
soon.Yes, we are talking about the
highly subjective and always sensitive issue of – signs.
specifically billboards in this instance, with technology adding fuel to the
fire.Be they political, business or
just general signage, these advertising tools always seem to capture a somewhat
disproportionate section of the attention spans of town officials and residents.
may be emotionless creatures, but the feelings they can stir in others are
amazing.They tend to be highly personal
to both those who own them and those who merely have to look at them.
a political sign in your front yard and watch what happens.Malls and restaurants depend on unique and
colorful signs to draw people into their locales.A few years back in Norton, there was much
ado about a rather ordinary CVS sign not blending with that community’s
now digital and LED signage has risen to become the focus of the Foxboro debate.The town already has such a billboard,
located on Route 1 near North Street in the shadow of Patriot Place.A proposed new sign bylaw would allow for
others, but pretty much restrict them to the Route 1 corridor.
those unfamiliar with the concept here, these digital billboards are extremely
clear and colorful.In some cases they
are almost like large televisions.They
certainly do draw a lot of attention.
might think this would be the perfect area for the latest in advertising
technology, given the amount of commercial activity and traffic drawn to the
area.Route 1 – especially in the
general vicinity of Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium – has not projected the
image of a small town for decades now.And it is no stranger to billboards.
fact, the town itself is involved in a complicated and bitterly contested
arrangement with the Kraft Organization in which both make money from renting
out billboards.But some in town are
much more concerned with the aesthetic impact upon their community than the
be sure, there are legitimate concerns about electronic signs and everyone is
more than entitled to their own opinion.Some believe they are a safety hazard and a distraction, although
between the GPS screen, satellite radio, mobile phones, digital dashboards, and
back-up cameras, that might be a little difficult to swallow.
believe they are simply in bad taste.Foxboro calls itself “The Jewel of Norfolk County”, but many officials
and citizens would not like to see jewelry ads actually moving on a billboard
as they drive the busy Route 1 roadway.
Advisory Committee chairperson Tracey Vasile recently revealed that a strong
majority of her committee members “had concerns about additional electronic
billboards on Route 1.”Committee member
Larry Thomas expressed his disapproval of additional electronic displays,
reminding everyone “This is a New England town, not Las Vegas.”
a good thing he cleared that up.At the
Patriots game Sunday people were getting confused and asking for directions to
The Strip and Caesar’s Palace.I mean,
seriously?Is there anyone who really
thinks the stadium section of Route 1 could possibly look like a small New
England town anymore?
truth is electronic signs fit the character of Route 1 in the stadium
area.A handsomely made wooden sign with
colonial overtones would actually look out of place.
of both change and technology is not new.But when you allow an area in any town to become a commercial shopping
destination and home to an NFL team, it is hard to continue to accept the tax
revenue it produces and at the same time ban the signs that help raise it.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official.He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at