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Port Jefferson, Orient ‘Welcome to New York’ signs removed

One of the state's new tourism signs was

One of the state's new tourism signs was erected near the ferry dock in downtown Port Jefferson on July 2, 2016. Port Jefferson officials have asked the state to remove this sign and two others, following similar moves by officials in other communities. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskeas

Two more Long Island communities are cheering the removal of unpopular “Welcome to New York” signs that critics derided as unattractive and oversized.

Six of the big, blue signs — three in each community — have been taken down in Port Jefferson and Orient after officials complained to state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office. Officials in Montauk had earlier announced that seven of eight signs in that hamlet had been removed.

Remaining signs — one each in Montauk, Port Jefferson and Orient Point — will be replaced by smaller signs, officials said.

Local officials have said they were not told in advance about the signs, which first appeared shortly before July 4 on Long Island streets.

“I said, ‘We had no input,’ ” Port Jefferson Mayor Margot J. Garant said, recalling a conversation with a Cuomo aide. “We’re working really hard on cleaning things up, and you can see from these signs, they’re ugly.”

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said signs in Orient were “counterproductive” because they blocked scenic views.

“It literally was right in front of a preserve, and that should not be the first thing you should see when you come to New York,” he said.

The signs had been erected by Empire State Development, the state economic development arm, to promote the “I Love New York,” “Path Through History” and “Taste of New York” tourism campaigns.

Sixteen signs remain along the Long Island Expressway. Four each remain on the Northern State Parkway and at Jones Beach and Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. There are no plans to remove those signs, an Empire State Development spokeswoman said.

“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,” Empire State Development officials said in a statement.

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a statement the signs “do not fit with the character of our towns and villages, and were installed with no notification or input from local officials. . . . I am hopeful that the new signs are more in keeping with the rural nature of the East End.”

Garant said she had sent a “scathing email” to state lawmakers after she first saw the signs shortly after they had gone up. She said she lobbied for the signs’ removal when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Port Jefferson on July 8.

Garant said she was gratified that state officials quickly agreed to remove or replace the signs.

“Three weeks is pretty good time for the governor’s office,” she said. “We were thrilled that the signs came down.”

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