Local groups asking Forest Park to hang banners on Madison Street promoting their events might soon be required to pay for the service, and the village may yet install an electronic sign downtown, similar to the one outside the Howard Mohr Community Center.

Commissioner Dan Novak resurrected the issue at the Nov. 13 village council meeting prior to casting a no vote on one such request. Mayor Anthony Calderone and Commissioner Tom Mannix have made joking references to installing an electronic sign on Madison for years when such requests are made, although Mannix formalized his request for such a sign in March.

“It seems like every month we get a request to put banners up,” Novak said. “I know it’s a minimal cost, but I am voting no this evening to start recouping some of the services in terms of dollars and cents for these banners going up.

“I know staff have been working on looking at ways to address fees and a way we can accrue some additional new money.”

The Nov. 13 request from the West Cook YMCA to hang a banner promoting the organization’s annual Christmas tree sales, was approved 4-1. It was the 12th such request received this year.  

At the March 13 council meeting, after learning the cost for creating and modifying a banner, Mannix suggested the village investigate charging groups for installing such banners.

In response to Mannix’s question, Commissioner Rachell Entler said the cost of creating a banner is $240 and the cost of modifying an existing banner to change information, such as a date, is $40.

Noting those costs, Mannix suggested “legitimately, all kidding aside” that the village charge fees that could be used as a revenue source to pay for a digital sign on Madison.

“If they’re spending $240 for a one-time use banner or $240 upfront once and then $40 every time they have to modify it, maybe there would be some interest from these groups,” he said. 

He suggested telling groups making such requests, “If you want to run your advertisement on our new, fancy, beautiful digital sign, it’s 40 or 50 bucks.” 

Mannix suggested in March that staff research how many requests for banners are made each year and “do a little bit of arithmetic to see if there’s a revenue source that could pay for that sign.”

Novak suggested the village consider charging for placing messages on the electronic sign outside the community center. The village does not currently charge for such requests.

Terming the suggestions “intriguing” and “interesting,” Calderone recommended that staff investigate whether other neighboring communities with electronic signs charge groups for posting messages.

Following the comments at the Nov. 13 meeting, Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he and John Doss, head of the Department of Public Works, determined the village would need to charge $100 to cover the cost of putting up and taking down a banner. He believes the high cost would discourage most groups from making such a request. Gillian said it would be up to village council members to raise the issue at a future meeting.