Friends Board Votes February 7, 2018 to Strongly Oppose the Digital Billboards

MBTA Illuminated Outdoor Signs

The Friends of the Public Garden would like to express their strong opposition to the proposed illuminated electronic billboards at the Park Street and Arlington Street Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) stations.

The MBTA is applying for permits to install digital billboards outside at multiple T stations, including Park Street and Arlington Street. The proposed 55 inch illuminated signs will display 15 seconds of service information followed by 30 seconds of paid advertising. This visual and light pollution of this outdoor advertising is in violation of both the Back Bay Architectural Commission Commercial Guidelines and the MassDOT regulations for signage because it is within 300 feet of two landmark historic parks.

The hearing is this Thursday, February 8 at 11:00 am, Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Conference Room 5, Second Floor. Please attend to learn more and express your concerns to MassDOT, Office of Outdoor Advertising.

Please attend the hearing if you can, and/or express your concern by letter or email.

Here is a sample letter to copy, paste and personalize:

February 7, 2018

John R. Romano, Director, MassDOT
c/o Office of Outdoor Advertising
Ten Park Plaza, Room 6141
Boston, MA 02116-3973

Tel: 857-368-9700


Digital Urban Panels at Arlington Street and Park Street MBTA Stations

Dear Director Romano:

I writing to you to register my strong opposition to the proposed installation of the illuminated digital panels at the Arlington Street and Park Street MBTA stations. The application by Outfront Media, LLC should be denied because these digital billboards clearly deface the character of our landmark historic parks and surrounding neighborhoods.

These signs would violate your own regulation, MassDOT 700 CMR 3.00:

“No permit shall be granted for a sign that is within 300 feet of a public park, playground, cemetery, forest, reservation and/or any other scenic or recreational area in excess of 30,000 square feet, regardless of ownership, which is available for public use, or reserved for the public, if any part of the sign or billboard structure is within view from any accessible point of the park.”

In addition, the Back Bay Architectural Guidelines emphasize the inappropriateness of illuminated signs within the historic district.

I strongly urge the Office of Outdoor Advertising to deny this application from Outfront Media and require them to work with residents and neighborhood stakeholders to find an acceptable solution. There are opportunities for indoor placement of panels that can achieve the MBTA’s advertising and informational goals without the visual and light pollution of the current proposal. Given the revenue projections, the negative impact of these signs amounts to selling Boston’s public and historic landscapes for a pittance.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.



Evan Rowe, Director of Revenue
Trish Foley, Government & Public Affairs Liaison for MBTA
Senator Will Brownsberger
Representative Jay Livingstone
Representative Aaron Michlewitz
Councilor Josh Zakim
Joseph Cornish, Director of Design Review, Back Bay Architectural Commission
Liz Vizza, Friends of the Public Garden
Greg Galer, Boston Preservation Alliance
Beacon Hill Civic Association
Bay Village Neighborhood Association
The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay