Owners Of I-196 Billboard Promoting City Of Douglas Offer To Sell It To DDA
Douglas city officials say they will be holding talks with the Douglas Downtown Development Authority (DDA) about whether or not the organization wants to—if it even has the resources—take ownership of the highway billboard advertising the City of Douglas, near exit 30 on northbound I-196.
At Monday night’s meeting, some Douglas City Council members advised against the city ownership, but wondered about the case for DDA ownership.
Funded by means of incremental property taxes collected from downtown properties, the agency is responsible for many improvements to the downtown district.
The discussion was spurred by a letter from sign owners Larry Gammons and Carl Jennings to the city and the DDA, wherein they inform officials they are no longer interested in leasing the billboard to the DDA— as they have for the past 14 years— but do want to know if the organization is interested in purchasing it at a 40 percent discount.
“Obviously our efforts to help the make downtown Douglas successful has gone unnoticed, unappreciated…,” informs the June 21 letter by Gammons and Jennings, claiming they have been very generous while the DDA in years past has failed to pay for the lease for two or three years—which the sign owners say they have forgiven.
Additionally, however, the men say the city has failed to maintain the landscape, as it was originally stipulated in the original contract.
City officials said they will look into paying any lease dollars owed to the Gammons and Jennings through the DDA, and noted that the original contract is something they don’t have and will be looking to find.
“I don’ think the city should own it—should we?” Douglas City Council Member Greg Harvath asked his colleagues.
Some spoke against the idea of city ownership, while others - themselves members of the DDA - said they couldn’t speak on behalf of the DDA, but they should ask it.
“Maybe they’ll say it’s worth it,” said Douglas City Member Gerald Schmidt.
Gammons and Jennnings’ letter goes on, in part, to claim: “At the recent DDA workshop we were asked what could be done around the sign as the brush was beginning to grow up.
“I advised that the city should do it, but we knew that they wouldn’t so we would take care of it. Apparently this was not good enough since a few days later, we received a curt, short, demand letter from the city manager (Bill LeFevere) stating that we had until July 1, 2015” to clean up the area.
“By the time we received the letter from the ‘City of Friendliness’ we had already hired a crew to complete this task which as of this writing has been done.”