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Article posted: 3/7/2013 5:01 PM

Metra draws line at selling town names on stations

Daily Herald File Photo Itís going to stay the Arlington Heights Metra station, for now.

Daily Herald File Photo It's going to stay the Arlington Heights Metra station, for now.

 
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They need money -- just not that badly.

During a committee meeting Thursday, Metra directors balked at the idea of renaming stations after retailers or corporations that are willing to pony up cash.

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"I'm not sure how we do this. Let's say Macy's wants a sign ... is that OK?" asked Metra Director Jack Schaffer of Cary. "What about Victoria's Secret? How would that play in Barrington? I don't want to see us changing Barrington train station to the Dunkin' Donuts stop. Not on my watch."

Several directors said switching from naming stations after towns to commercial interests could be confusing for travelers.

"As a principle, I think we should make it as easy as possible for our customers and the public to find their way around Metra," Metra Director Jim LaBelle of Zion said.

Metra Director and Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder said the concept wouldn't fly in her town. "I think we should continue to be a railroad, I know we need other sources of money ... but this would create a lot of problems."

Officials, however, indicated they'd consider permitting secondary panels below the main signs to advertisers with the right credentials.

The idea of allowing institutions, such as a university, to hang a sign below the station name got a warmer reception as did commemorating famous people with ties to a community. Metra already did that in 2011 when it dedicated its rebuilt 35th Street Station on the Rock Island Line in memory of Bronzeville lawmaker Lovana "Lou" Jones.

Committee Chairman Don DeGraff told staff planners to come back with revised recommendations that include suggestions on how to treat for-profit versus nonprofit advertisers.

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