JEFFERSON PARK — The first of five massive electronic billboards set to be built in the 45th Ward has begun lighting up the sky near the Kennedy and Edens expressways.
The billboards were approved over the objections of Ald. John Arena (45th), who has repeatedly said the signs will diminish the quality of life in Jefferson Park and Gladstone Park.
The first 100-foot tall billboard to be built in the 45th Ward and one of the first of 40 slated to be built in the city went up this week at Lamon and Wilson avenues and is visible from the northbound Kennedy and Edens expressways.
The billboards are a "blight on our city's landscape," said Owen Brugh, Arena's chief of staff.
However, the billboard at Lamon and Wilson avenues is among the least objectionable because it is separated from nearby homes by a Water Management and Fleet and Facility Services maintenance yard, Brugh said.
Arena's office has not received any complaints about the billboard, Brugh said.
The billboards, approved in December 2012 by the Chicago City Council, are expected to generate $270 million for the city during the next 20 years — minus the cost of constructing the signs.
The bright billboards — which feature a new ad every few seconds — are so close to residential areas that they will lower property values and "negatively affect the quality of life," Arena said in a December 2013 letter to the Illinois Department of Transportation urging the agency to reject permits for the billboards.
Arena has said he is most concerned about the billboard along the Kennedy Expy. at Menard Avenue — 300 feet from a senior apartment complex, and 200 feet from a single-family home.
That billboard will be visible from more than half of the 85 units in the Senior Suites at Jefferson Park, 5400 N. Northwest Highway, according to Arena.
The three other billboards are located at Austin Avenue and the Kennedy Expy.; Elston Avenue and the Edens Expy.; and at Lamon and Sunnyside avenues near the Kennedy and Edens split.
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