Not The Same Old Sign

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Hempstead unveils new political signage policy

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen poses with animal shelter volunteers Jill Schuster of Bellmore (left), holding “Mia,” a pit bull, and Chrissy Giuliani of Levittown with “Dara,” a chihuaha mix. The old signs with elected officials’ names are in the background, along with a dog house and grooming station made using materials from the old signs. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

No more shameless political self-promotion.

It’s not codified into law. Instead, it is a new policy enacted by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, who took office on Jan. 1.

On Jan. 18, Gillen appeared at the Newbridge Road Dog Park in Bellmore to announce the implementation of a campaign pledge: Cutting down on taxpayer-funded signage bearing names of elected officials.

“Upon assuming office, our administration elected not to replace the name of my predecessor [Anthony Santino] with my own on many signs throughout the [town] and other things such as suntan lotion dispensers, bike storage units, or bumper stickers promoting the town’s helpline. We’re also removing the supervisor’s name from the etching paper used to commemorate the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks [at] our town’s September 11 Memorial.”

Gillen admitted that the electorate ought to know the names of elected officials, and there were places—such as on forms and at Town Hall, and special occasions and events—where they could still be listed.

“But today, we end a practice that has drawn the ire of so many in the town and throughout Long Island,” she observed, acknowledging that it was a difficult balancing act to find “the right balance between keeping the public informed about who represents them and spending the taxpayers’ dollars to accomplish this goal.”

Gillen said that approximately $4,600 was spent to remove 107 signs from town parks, but attested that the new policy will save $3,000 in primer and paint and other costs associated with removing and replacing names every time there is a change of administration.

Reportedly, the town began replacing the signs even before Gillen took office, bowing to a request from her transition team.

During the press conference, Gillen and her staff unveiled the new sign at the entrance to the dog park. It stated simply, “Welcome To Your Town of Hempstead Newbridge Road Dog Park” along with the town seal and website address for more info.

“It is our hope by redesigning these signs and removing the names from so many pieces of public property, we will save money when there is a change in an administration or elected officials,” Gillen stated. “And we will no longer justify a practice that so many see as unnecessary and shameless self promotion with taxpayer money,” Gillen said.

Old Signs, New Use

Gillen said the old signs have been and continue to be repurposed. She made note of their use to repair sheds, lockers and baseball dugout roofs. Materials will continue to be used for projects planned for this spring and summer.

Further, using in-house laborers in the Department of Parks, the old signs were turned into things like a walk ramp and a grooming station at the dog park, saving approximately $3,000 in retail costs for both items.

Gillen boasted that the “puppy playhouse will be the talk of the town and the envy of every mutt from Manhattan to Montauk. Isn’t that right, Dara and Mia?” she said, gesturing to a pair of Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter dogs on hand.

“They are available for adaption, so we encourage everyone to please consider adopting a new pet from our [shelter],” Gillen said.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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