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Bright Billboard Battle Intensifies On NYC’s Upper West Side

Nearby Residents Complain Of Flashing Electronic Ad
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The new Duane Reade electronic billboard at 72nd Street at Broadway is impossible to miss and already creating a big buzz - and complaints. (Credit: CBS 2)

The new Duane Reade electronic billboard at 72nd Street at Broadway is impossible to miss and already creating a big buzz – and complaints. (Credit: CBS 2)

davecarlin Dave Carlin
Dave Carlin serves as a reporter for CBS 2 News and covers breaking...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Some residents on the Upper West Side say their homes are being invaded by flashing lights, and they can’t turn them off.

The bright light battle began with this week’s grand opening of a chain drug store, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

The new Duane Reade electronic billboard at 72nd Street at Broadway is impossible to miss, only four days old and already creating a big buzz.

“The constant flashing is almost like a strobe light, so it’s pretty unsettling,” Jill Adams said.

The view out of Adams’ living room is nothing but advertisements, one after the other, bright both day and night.

“It went from a very serene environment to like being in a club,” she said. “When I’m in bed, I can still see the flashes.”

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal is fighting the sign.

“To have such a bright, inappropriate sign that flashes is distracting – and possibly not legal,” Rosenthal said.

The city Department of Buildings confirmed to CBS 2 that an investigation is underway to determine if Duane Reade has the proper permits for this kind of sign. Some New Yorkers say the signs don’t bother them.

“I don’t have to look, I can walk another way,” Upper West Side resident Charlie Lyons said.

A Duane Reade manager would not comment and referred CBS 2 to corporate headquarters, where a representative said the display screen is new and is still being tested, and the settings are being adjusted.

Assemblywoman Rosenthal said the only acceptable solution is to pull the plug.

“I have a bill in Albany that would not allow signs that constantly flash in certain neighborhoods,” Rosenthal said.

The new legislation won’t come a moment too soon for Adams, desperate to move what she calls a “mini Times Square” away from her window.

“I can’t live with this,” Adams said.

This is not the first bright light battle for Duane Reade. In 1999, the company was cited for a sign that was deemed to big and too bright on the East Side.

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