We Do Not ♥ Signs

Remember those giant “Welcome to New York” signs that appeared in Montauk two summers ago — only to be taken down after the public pointed out that they were not just ugly but totally pointless? They were part of a campaign funded by the state that was supposed to boost tourism by informing tourists who’d already arrived that, yes, you could eat and drink in New York, and visit unspecified “attractions,” and fill your days with delight by accessing an I ♥ NY app.

We didn’t know whether to laugh or kick something last month when we read in The New York Times that the remaining billboards from this boneheaded campaign — more than 500 of them still flank state highways — had cost taxpayers about $15,000 apiece . . . and the Federal Highway Administration was insisting they were illegal and had to go: “The hundreds of big blue ‘I ♥ NY’ signs that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had installed beside the state’s highways have cost more than $8 million,” The Times reported. “New York was given until Sept. 30 to bring the signage into compliance, or face a $14 million cut in federal funding for its roads and highways.”

The governor, who was quoted elsewhere as calling his pet-project signs “a tremendous success,” continued for a few weeks to insist they were fantastic before crying uncle. The New York State Department of Transportation announced that all the signs would either be reworked or taken down, their materials repurposed to reduce the material waste of this already wildly wasteful interlude.

Our thoughts now turn to the county and state-sponsored signage on our roadsides here in East Hampton. It has, we think, gotten out of hand. (How many times does a driver need to be alerted to the location of Cedar Point Park?) The “Litter Removal Next 1 Mile” signs alongside Montauk Highway are the worst. For starters, they’re not fooling anyone: Volunteer anti-trash activists pick up more garbage than the government crews funded by corporate sponsorship. These litter-removal signs are terrific advertising for the sponsors — making it look like Town Pond is the domain of Morgan Stanley and Woods Lane is affiliated with an “accounting and success consultancy” firm from Oyster Bay — but they’re not doing much for the rest of us. Who do we have to complain to to get them gone?