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Montauk loves removal of controversial state tourism signs

Eight large signs were erected at night on

Eight large signs were erected at night on June 30, 2016, on Flamingo Avenue and West Lake Drive in Montauk. The signs were erected at the direction of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office, according to state Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. Credit: Doug Kuntz

Seven of eight controversial “Welcome to New York” signs that were erected in Montauk days before the July Fourth weekend have been taken down, and the one that remains will be replaced with a much smaller version.

A spokeswoman for Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) announced the news in a telephone interview Monday. Thiele and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell worked out the compromise in talks with state officials after the signs went up — to the surprise and disgust of Montauk residents who considered them out of character for the area — on June 30.

Cantwell said Monday that efforts will continue to prevent the smaller sign from being erected.

“I’m grateful the state responded to our concerns,” the supervisor said, adding that the smaller 7 1/2-foot-by-5-foot sign planned for the intersection of West Lake Drive and Flamingo Avenue would be “out of character as well.”

Cantwell said the other signs, which had been placed along West Lake Drive and Flamingo Avenue leaving the dock area near Montauk Harbor, were taken down between Friday and Saturday.

Thiele said Monday that he agrees with Cantwell.

“Montauk just isn’t the right location for the sign, period, but I’m glad the seven have been removed,” Thiele said. “A place for a sign like that is along the LIE or Sunrise Highway.”

The blue signs are part of the Empire State Development office’s “I Love New York” campaign and advertise the state’s attractions, history and restaurants. Detractors have said they are more appropriate for a highway than a quaint hamlet.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with local leaders which addresses their concerns but continues to promote the world-renowned I Love NY campaign,” the Empire State Development office said Monday in a statement. “New York State tourism has generated a record-breaking economic impact of $102 billion across the state, supporting over 894,000 jobs and generating $8 billion in state and local taxes in 2015.”

Cantwell said talks with state officials to have none of the signs in Montauk will continue. Thiele said that if a sign has to be placed in East Hampton that he and Cantwell have asked state officials to consider placing the remaining sign in a more high-traffic area, such as near the East Hampton Airport.

“We’re lobbying for that,” Thiele said. “It would be substantially better.”


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