Saturday, May 16, 2009

Of Common Sense, Local Signs and Helping our Local Businesses

There is a situation going on in Copake that many may not be aware of. I will try to explain.

Last year The Copake Falls Day Committee sought and received verbal approval from the town board at a Town Board meeting for the installation of a new hamlet sign for Copake Falls. The response from the Board was that the project sounded like a great improvement to the appearance of our hamlet. The only request from the town board was that approval should be received from the Department of Transportation and Copake Highway Superintendent Larry Proper. Those were proper requests, and in fact, the approvals were received from both the DOT and the Copake Highway Superintendent without any reservation, other than that the new sign should not hinder traffic viewing angles, which it doesn't.

The idea was to remove seven rather unattractive DOT individual signs on the hamlet triangle and replace them with one single attractive Welcome to Copake Falls sign. It is important to note that what was removed were local business directional signs. You've all seen them around town and across the county. Those seven signs, for which our merchants must pay a fee to the Department of Transportation, were removed and replaced with a single very attractive sign.

The internal problem here in Copake is that Deputy Supervisor Joe LaPorta feels that the new sign is a violation of town zoning law and so far has been very insistent than the new, attractive, merchants’ directional signs must come down. I think that Joe is missing a few key factors.

First and foremost the triangle is not under Copake Zoning law just like the road signs along Route 22 aren't, because Copake zoning law is superseded by the State DOT whose Route 344 completely surrounds the triangle. This is a NY State Department of Transportation concern, and they have already given their complete blessings.

Second, the Copake VFW gave their enthusiastic endorsement to the newly cleaned up triangle and sign, which gives back the prominence to the VFW memorial that it so richly deserves. The memorial proudly states, "In grateful memory of the services rendered by the men and woman of this community in order that the principles of this republic might be preserved." This memorial site has been cleaned up and is now properly adorned with flowers in the growing season.

Third, and no less important, here is a situation where a group of citizens grabbed the bull by the horns and cleaned up a section of our town, all on their own, at their own cost. We all talk about revitalizing our various communities -- here is a prime example of what can be done. The Copake Falls Day Committee made their section of town much more beautiful, and for that they have my personal thanks and gratitude. Perhaps we can all learn a lesson here.

Last, I would suggest that town officials should all be using their energy to help our local merchants, not hinder them in these precarious times. This matter will be discussed at the next Copake Town Board Meeting, which is May 14th at 7:30 PM in Copake Town Hall. Anyone who has an opinion or a stake in this should attend.

Bob Sacks
Copake Town Councilman