Hempstead Town officials called on Friday for the state to remove the controversial “I Love NY” signs from the community, becoming the latest municipality to protest the $1.76 million project.
Supervisor Anthony Santino and councilmembers Dorothy Goosby and Gary Hudes said they love New York but don’t feel the same about the blue signs along the Meadowbrook and Wantagh parkways, calling them “ugly, pointless and a dangerous distraction for motorists” in a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo dated Thursday.
Santino, Goosby and Hudes, as well as South Merrick Civic Association President Joseph Baker and Long Island Planning Council member Cathy Powell, gathered along the side of the northbound Wantagh Parkway in Wantagh underneath one of the infamous blue signs and decried the billboards, which began appearing on Long Island in June.
Santino said the signs do not direct drivers to local attractions and instead just have “meaningless phrases,” such as “Path Through History,” “Taste N.Y.” and “New York State Parks.”
He added that the signs take seven to 10 seconds to read, or as long as the time needed to send a text message — which is illegal for drivers. Hudes said Robert Moses would be “spinning in his grave” over the signs, comparing them to graffiti.
“Mr. Moses intended Long Islanders to enjoy their drives,” he said.
In a statement, Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Holmes said the sign project is a “key part of the hugely successful I Love NY program” to promote the state’s tourism industry.
“This isn’t high crime, but minor disagreements that we look forward to meeting with the Feds in order to resolve,” Holmes said.
Federal Highway Administration officials have said the signs violate federal law and have threatened to cut some of the state’s $1 billion in federal funds for bridge and highway projects if the signs are not taken down.
Federal authorities are concerned, and “given the sharp increase in fatalities on our nation’s roads in recent years, we are committed to reducing scenarios involving distracted driving, and these signs can distract drivers,” Neil Gaffney, a spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, said in a statement.
More than 150 of the 514 signs were made in Arkansas; some were made by the New York State Thruway Authority. In Montauk, Orient and Port Jefferson, some of the signs have been removed following complaints.