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No electronic sign for Auburn

Commissioner agrees now is not the time
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn won’t be seeing an electronic billboard in the near future. Auburn resident Virgil Traynor proposed an LED motion sign at the Jan. 24 meeting of the Auburn Urban Development Authority. On Feb. 14 the authority approved allocating $60,000 of redevelopment funds for the project if City Manager Bob Richardson thought it was a feasible idea. Councilman Kevin Hanley, who was not present at the meeting in which the vote was taken, has said he didn’t think the sign fit with Auburn’s small-town charm. Hanley also said the sign gave residents the impression that the city had a lot of money and was wasting it, and he had talked to a lot of residents who were opposed to the project. On Wednesday, Planning Commissioner Bob Snyder, who was one of the Auburn residents working on bringing the electronic billboard to the city, told City Manager Bob Richardson the group is abandoning the project. “(It was) probably (for) three reasons,” Snyder said. “No. 1, I personally agree with Kevin (Hanley) that the idea of rushing ahead with a project just to spend money so we don’t lose it is a shaky ground. No. 2, there was substantial community objection to the electronic billboard. The third reason is I don’t think there is enough time to pull it off anyway, because it looks like the state is going to be pulling the money away from us in a couple weeks.” Snyder said it’s a possibility the sign could go forward some day, but the city may find other communication options are better. “There is a need, a demonstrative need for our community events to be communicated in some form or fashion, and a community billboard’s a very good way to do that,” Snyder said. “The one we have now is overloaded.” Snyder said the citizens supporting the project never intended the sign to be like the one in Roseville. He said the screen would not have constantly changed, and instead advertisements would have remained posted for at least a day. Snyder said he thinks some day there will be an electronic sign in a town like Auburn, because there is a need to publicize numerous events in a short time period. Residents’ negative reactions to the concept of the sign were too much for this point in time, Snyder said. “The community opposition is real and needs a very long education process and a vetting process that would probably take six to 12 months, and we don’t have that,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com