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Donor-sign policy back to Janesville staff

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
November 12, 2009
— A sign on a bathroom isn’t enough to recognize donors who built fields at the Youth Sports Complex, according to one Janesville City Council member.

The council on Monday directed staff to come up with a better solution to advertising and recognition at the complex.


The issue rose when a new soccer club, the Rock Soccer Club, opted to sell advertising on the six fields it leases from the city. The club consulted with the Youth Sports Coalition and could find no documentation naming the fields in perpetuity. It then removed a sign displaying the sign on a field displaying the name of the original donor, the Damron family, and a defunct soccer group. The Damrons had donated $6,000.


The YMCA and Janesville Youth Football also lease fields but have no plans to remove their donor signs.


Council members were not happy when they heard about the signs being removed.


As a solution, staff proposed mounting a bronze plaque containing the names of the 16 original field donors on the pavilion/bathroom.


The original donor money helped create the fields but does not maintain them, a duty left to the groups, City Manager Eric Levitt said.


Wooden signs don’t last forever, and the bronze plaques would be permanent, staff said. Under the proposal, the original donors would get the first chance to donate again to retain a sign on the field.


Most council members believed the signs recognizing the original donors should remain on the fields.


“I don’t think a bronze plaque on a bathroom is appropriate.” council member Russ Steeber said.


The city wouldn’t do this at Rotary Gardens or the performing arts center, for example. Why would we do it here? he asked.


“To ask if they want to donate again is a slap in the face.”


He suggested the original donor signs remain but groups be allowed to sell additional sponsorships, as well.


A soccer representative at Monday’s meeting said he didn’t believe advertisers would want to share naming rights.


George Brunner said the advertising policy needs work, as well. The length of the advertising contracts is not spelled out. Also, what happens if this current soccer club goes defunct? he asked.


“As I look at this, I see a mess,” councilman Yuri Rashkin said.


He urged staff to better spell out the details, noting that things weren’t clear 10 years ago.


“We’re paying the price now,” he said.



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