Q: How did Neenah get the large billboard along the Main Street overpass removed? Did the city end up making a “deal with the devil” to get rid of it?
A: Neenah didn’t make a deal with the devil, but the removal of the billboard was the culmination of a deal signed by the city more than a decade ago.
As part of the $11 million Main Street overpass construction, Neenah had to purchase property and pay relocation costs to acquire the right of way needed for the project. The city offered Orde Advertising of De Pere $14,000 in relocation benefits for a billboard at 333 Main St., but Orde sued for $32,000.
The two sides eventually reached a settlement in October 2002 that required the city to pay Orde $13,000 in relocation costs, 90 percent of which was covered by federal funds.
In addition, Orde was allowed to construct a replacement billboard on city-owned property at 417 Main St. Orde paid the city $1 annually for the use of the land under a 10-year lease. At the time, the city resisted Orde’s attempts to make the lease renewable.
As the 10-year lease was about to expire at the end of November, Orde’s successor, Lamar Outdoor of De Pere, asked for a one-month extension of the lease through Dec. 31. The city agreed to the extension in exchange for $100.
Lamar subsequently removed the billboard from the city’s property.
“Due to weather conditions, removal was delayed to mid-January, but the billboard is now down,” City Attorney Jim Godlewski said.