Monday, January 28, 2008

Saving Those Banners

Looks like there is controversy afoot over the advertising banners displayed at HCYP's youth baseball complex. The folks at the park say money from the banners supports scholarships, operational and capital expenses and athletic programs.

Here's a letter sent out by HoCo Council chairwoman Courtney Watson. She suggests the concerns could also affect sponsorships at SAC's soccer complex near Centennial High:

Dear Resident,

Recently a complaint was filed against Howard County Youth Program for its display of sponsorship banners on field fences. The Howard County Department of Licensing and Permits has determined through the Howard County Office of Law, that the banners do not comply with Howard County's sign laws. The sign laws are complaint driven, so Howard County will only enforce the law if a complaint is made.

Upon learning of this situation, I consulted with the Office of Law, the leadership of HCYP, its outside attorney Sang Oh, as well as the attorney for the business who filed the complaint.

After gathering all of the information, it was my determination that the best way to remove the threat to this source of funding for HCYP and other similar organizations that count on this type of revenue to help fund youth programs, was to file legislation.

Yesterday, I filed Council Bill 8-2008, which allows certain banners on playing fields on a temporary basis. This bill (pdf) creates an exemption in the sign law for youth sports organizations that operate and maintain fields to hang temporary banners on field fences. To our knowledge, there are two county youth organizations that maintain their own fields either through ownership or lease. One is HCYP and the other is Soccer Association of Columbia. Council Bill 8 would allow these organizations to continue what has long been the practice of displaying sponsorship banners on their fields during the season, thus protecting a revenue source for these organizations. Revenues are used to support the program in a variety of ways including offering scholarships, or waivers to player fees, for children who otherwise would not be able to participate.

It is my belief that all youth sports leagues provide a tremendous service to our community as research shows that children involved in athletics are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, less likely to be involved in youthful criminal activity, and more likely to be successful in school. Where possible our laws should support and assist independent youth leagues that operate without assistance from the taxpayers.

Council Bill 8-2008 will be introduced on Monday, Feb 4, 2008, followed by a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday, Feb 19, 2008 at 7:30 at the George Howard Building. If the bill proceeds without delay, there will be a Council vote on Monday, March 3, 2008 by the County Council.

Citizens may voice their position on the bill at the public hearing on Feb 19th. Please note that the County Council welcomes youth to attend meetings and learn about the legislative process, particularly if the bill is relevant to them. If you have any questions on this bill, please contact me, or my special assistant, Terry Chaconas at 410-313-3110.


Courtney Watson
Chairperson - Howard County Council
District 1 Representative

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know the name of the business that filed the complaint.