ORIENT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Fights over new campaign signs are springing up on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, they are not political signs, but rather tourism signs for “I love New York.”
Many on the East End of Long Island called the billboards “massive,” and too out of place in their quaint communities.
Tourists and locals are all smiles as they arrive in Orient Point, fresh off the Cross Sound Ferry.
But the new sign board – standing nearly 20 feet tall – is catching their eye. The sign reads, “Welcome to New York” and advertises ILoveNY.com and the “I Love NY” app.
“It’s getting harder and harder to preserve the sort of small-town and secluded nature of the place,” said Chuck Prato of Orient.
The sign arrived in the tiny, bucolic hamlet as part of a $25 million “I Love New York” tourism campaign that kicked off July 1. The signs are put up by the state and paid for by tax dollars.
“I think we should have input about it if you’re spending our money,” said North Fork homeowner Marion Wipf.
In Orient, Montauk and Port Jefferson, where ferries arrive by the hour, dozens of the massive new blue signs appeared to spring up overnight without notice, installed by the Empire State Development Office.
“A sign of that size would require a building permit to be reviewed by the Building Department and the Planning Board,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “Obviously, the state DOT is exempt from that, but Southold is very sensitive to its signage.”
The Wipf family said the billboard-style signs are out of character in their community, amid lighthouses and wineries.
They said the signs are better suited for the Long Island Expressway.
“When you get a big commercial sign like that, even though it’s advertising New York state, it’s like everybody is, ‘Oh my God!’” said Alex Wipf.
The state said the signs are meant to highlight tourism and tout its attractions.
“I do love New York, having lived here my entire life,” said North Fork visitor Nancy Blasko. “So I see nothing intrinsically bad with having signs like that.”
But others in the quaint community called the signs confusing clutter, and pointless.
“It’s not giving me a lot of information or a website where I could go,” said North Fork visitor Karen Barbente.
“If you want to draw tourists, the place to have the sign is in Kentucky,” said North Fork tourist Sandy Williams.
Town supervisors on the East End want the signs removed. They also want a discussion with the state over goals, and they want to start the tourism campaign all over afterward.
The state has not responded to the lawmakers who are demanding the signs come down.