“Big, Ugly & Stupid” is a Bad Combination for NY’s Road Signs

Issued by: Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin

Clavin Renews Call on State to Remove Pointless “I Love NY” Billboards
Signs Now Threaten Federal Aid to NY

Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin is renewing his township’s call upon the New York State Department of Transportation to remove the plethora of “big, ugly and stupid” “I Love NY” tourism billboards that began littering Long Island parkways in 2016. The local official said that the signs were pointless, presented a dangerous distraction to drivers and threaten New York with the loss of $14 million in federal aid if the state does not submit a “complete” action plan for the removal of the signs by September 30th. Joining Clavin at the press conference in front of a mammoth and ugly billboard were Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and Councilman Dennis Dunne, Sr.

“Hempstead officials stood along the Wantagh Parkway in December of 2016 with local neighbors to express outrage over the installation of New York State’s ugly, massive tourism billboards that litter our local parkways,” said Clavin. “In addition to the fact that these signs are a distraction to drivers, supremely ugly and just plain stupid, now our state is facing the loss of federal monies that are sorely needed for road and bridge repairs. Governor, take these signs down NOW before we face additional penalties from the federal government.”

Almost 150 of the signs began appearing on Long Island, starting in June of 2016. The signs festoon area roadways, including the Wantagh and Meadowbrook State Parkways in Hempstead Town. Generally, the signs are clustered, featuring one massive billboard along the roadway with four separate message icons. Drivers subsequently encounter four to five additional big signs that contain individual message icons. The message icons contain phrases such as “Taste NY,” “I Love NY,” “New York State Parks,” “Path Through History.” Neighbors have complained that the icon messages contain no discernible useful information. Specifically, the signs don’t direct drivers to any particular service, location or other destination.

“There is no discernable benefit that these billboards provide to the public, and they need to come down,” stated Goosby. “This is a terrible waste of taxpayer funds.”

“The entire state initiative is completely pointless,” said King Sweeney. “These signs are offensive, and neighbors in my district are overwhelmingly opposed to them.

The Federal Highway Administration notified New York State’s Department of Transportation on Thursday, February 1, 2018 that it was withholding $14 million in federal funds from New York State until the state comes into compliance with the federal government’s requirement for a complete plan to remove the billboards. Federal officials have indicated that the signs are in violation of federal and state laws in that they contain too much information—presenting a distraction to drivers. Additionally, the signs do not regulate, warn or guide traffic as required by law.

Clavin also observed that the billboards constituted a colossal waste of taxpayer money, costing over $8 million for the statewide production and installation of the signs. The Receiver pointed out that the state originally claimed the signs cost $1.76 million, only to reveal the true cost in the face of mounting inquiries.

“As a former NYPD detective, who has seen many car accidents, I can assure you that these signs present a dangerous distraction to drivers,” said D’Esposito. Added Dunne, “I haven’t heard a single constituent say anything positive about these monstrous billboards, and they must be removed.”

“Big, ugly and stupid is a bad combination, especially when it comes to tourism billboards,” concluded Clavin. “Add to those dubious features the fact that these signs are a dangerous distraction and threaten our state with the loss of millions of dollars in federal aid, and it is clear that the signs must come down.”