You typically see them overhead when you drive by Bradford Common or the parking deck on Merrimack Street.
But the large banners that promote events may disappear by the end of this year. The City Council is considering a recommendation that Haverhill stop accepting requests to hang banners across public streets to promote non-profit events.
"There is an actual cost to the city (to hang the banners)," said City Councilor Mike McGonagle, a member of the council's Administration and Finance Committee, which is making the recommendation. "Every time we waive the fee, we are basically spending $600."
McGonagle said the city usually gets 20 to 30 requests to waive the fee each year from non-profit groups. He said using a bucket truck and having two public works employees put up the signs up and take them down generally takes three hours.
Most of the banners are hung near Bradford Common and in front of the Merrimack Street parking deck.
The Administration and Finance Committee polled six neighboring communities to review their policies on hanging banners and found that none of those communities allows banners.
"After speaking to (the other communities), we thought that maybe it would be time to stop that practice,'' McGonagle said.
Gretchen Arntz, chief development officer of Emmaus Inc., said Emmaus asked the city in past years to hang banners for that organization's Cycle for Shelter event. Emmaus ended that request a couple years ago and decided to hang the banners in front of its building.
"It's unfortunate that we are in a time where we need to examine all of these costs," Arntz said. "Those banners are a good mechanism to get information out to the public. I think it would be interesting to survey the non-profits and see which ones would be willing to pay the cost the city pays to hang the banners."
The recommendation being considered by the City Council is to review each banner on a case-by-case basis for the rest of this year if the non-profit organization is willing to pay the fee, and then ban all banners across public ways starting Jan. 1.
McGonagle said the city is looking for alternate ways for organizations to promote their events. One suggestion is to erect a system at GAR Park to attach a banner to two standing poles. It would be inexpensive and require only one city worker and no bucket truck.
"We want to make sure we get it out of a place where vandals can damage them," McGonagle said. "But we still want to have a nice place where people can see the information."
The Administration and Finance Committee will present its recommendation to the City Council at an upcoming meeting. The council will then vote whether to accept, deny or modify the idea.
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