by Lisa Sorg
Downtown Durham, Inc. Executive Director Bill Kalkhof called the Indy today to emphasize that there is "no quid pro quo" between the nonprofit group and billboard company Fairway. He added that the relationship between DDI, charged with boosting downtown interests, and Fairway, which has given DDI space on its billboards, predates the current dust up over a proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that would allow electronic billboards to be erected in Durham.
Kalkhof said DDI worked with Fairway ago for Durham Rising, a 2007 celebration of downtown's renovated streetscape; DDI received free billboard space, but paid roughly $550 for the production of the message posted on the board.
"This has nothing to do with the UDO," Kalkhof said. "It was an excellent marketing opportunity. That has been our relationship."
Per Fairway's request, the DDI executive committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on whether to support the proposed amendment; it will send that recommendation to the full DDI board, which plans to vote on Thursday. Kalkof added that DDI "has not taken a position" on the issue, and insinuations that it favors the change are untrue.
The executive committee, Kalkhof said, can support the amendment, oppose it, defer a decision and seek additional information, do nothing, or strike "some middle ground."
Like many other nonprofits, the board and committee meetings are not public. Kalkhof said he hasn't decided whether he announce the vote result until the amendment is listed on a government agenda, such as the planning commission, city council or county commissioners. "There's obviously a public interest in what we have to say," he said. "Since we were specifically asked by Fairway to do this, we owe them the courtesy of a response."
Note: Bill Kalkhof's name was misspelled in the original post.