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Facing a huge funding gap on the Emerson/Green Bay intersection project that includes the replacement of 55 light poles, City staff suggested a novel solution that builds on naming rights used to help fund other project around the City – corporate sponsorship of many of those 55 light poles.

“We have a real opportunity to pay for the project, and perhaps generate a continuing revenue source into the future,” said City Corporate Sponsorship Czar Pearl LeBlanc. “Each new light pole presents a new opportunity for Evanston’s gain.”

Sponsorship could be implemented by way of retractable banner poles that extend from the light poles themselves, displaying banners indicating the sponsoring body. “The retractable aspect just adds to the revenue possibilities,” said Ms. LeBlanc. “Some sponsors might not want to be displayed in the morning, such as alcohol purveyors or producers. Others might not care if their banner disappears between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. We can have two, three, even four banners per pole, rotating.”

A skeptical public tried to shout down the idea from a volatile City Council chambers. “This is advertising, pure and simple,” said an obviously enraged Alberto Incognito. “City property cannot be used for commercial purposes like this. It just can’t.”

“Think of the children,” said resident Sally Rimsby. “What effect will these banners have on brain development? Has anyone done a study on the impact on children’s brains?”

Others appeared more receptive to the idea. “We face increasing pressure to fund projects,” said 10th Ward Alderman Sam Frump. “The State still has no budget. We can’t count on the State for anything. I don’t see anything wrong with this.”

Council appeared unsure how to proceed. “The program would work like the proposed parking meter sponsorship [story on page 12],” said Ms. LeBlanc, “only on a much grander, and more lucrative scale.”

Ms. LeBlanc said all the pieces were already in place. “The light-pole manufacturer has promised they can create exactly what we are looking for, provided we give them the green light on or before April 1,” she said.

Seeing Council members and City staff with dollar signs in their eyes, residents await further developments. This is an April Fool story.