August 12th, 2009

Your Logo Here: City Considers Street Naming Rights

Corporate Logos Could Adorn Fixed Sidewalks, Streets

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s administration is looking into whether selling naming rights and other forms of advertising might help the city make needed infrastructure improvements.

The city is billions of dollars behind in infrastructure repairs, and Ballard said he’s considering all options to get back on track, 6News’ Rick Hightower reported.

“Indianapolis has woefully underfunded its infrastructure needs,” Ballard said.

The city might let companies or everyday citizens do more than just adopt highways. It might offer to sell naming rights for sewer caps and/or sidewalks.

Ballard scheduled meetings to address the infrastructure funding issue, which seems to be far beyond what taxpayers would be willing to pay for.

City streets, sidewalks and sewers are crumbling far faster than the city can afford to keep pace with, and officials want public input as they weigh their next move.

“As long as it’s not too wacky, as long as it’s not too far out of the box and really hurts the character of the city, we’ve got to look at it,” Ballard said.

Some cities, such as Louisville, have gone so far as allowing KFC to brand potholes and help pay for repairs.

Tuesday night’s meeting on the subject was short on solutions and long on problems, Hightower reported.

“East Washington Street is not congruent with our values of pedestrian friendly,” said resident Tracy DeMartinez. “We would like you to spend your money wisely.”

“You have nobody from these committees working with you,” said resident Amy Harwell. “So, you really don’t know what’s happening.”

Design engineer Bob Bullware offered a different solution—using 50 percent fresh water in homes and utilizing more greywater, which he said could cut sewage demand in half.

“There are some systems and technology out there that ,using greywater, recycling lavatories, shower, everything but the kitchen and the toilet waste, that recycles it back into flushing the john,” Bullware said.

Ballard said ideas for sponsorships, partnerships and privatization are endless, but he’s not sure if anyone would be willing to fix a crumbling curb so they can put a corporate logo next to it.

The Environmental Protection Agency mandated that the city spend $1.7 billion to fix the sewer system by 2025, which could quadruple consumers’ sewage bills if alternative solutions aren’t found.

Ballard said every legitimate cost-cutting idea will be considered, because the money budgeted for infrastructure repair is nowhere near enough to meet demand.

Indianapolis currently needs about $4 billion to cover its needs, but about $20 million was dedicated to repairs in the 2010 budget, up a bit from the 2009 budget.


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