The Village News: Editorials

September 16, 2017

The New Bellport Village Street Signs


EditorialThis past weekend, we took a ride to Smith Point to watch some of the annual 5K Run for Literacy held by the Literacy program at the Shirley Library. On the way back, I wanted to head east on Montauk Hwy so I made a right off of William Floyd thinking I could head northeast through Mastic Beach and Shirley. Big mistake! Have you ever tried to do that? Whoever laid out those roads must have been drunk as a skunk, but I digress.

Anyway, in trying to navigate the Mastic Beach/Shirley maze, I discovered they are already using the white, vertical, street signs that are being proposed for Bellport Village and although I didn’t have strong feelings one way or the other before the experience, I sure did afterwards.

Street SignIn a nutshell, if you aren’t familiar with an area, the signs are almost impossible to read. Sure if you are familiar with the area and already know the names of the streets, like Otis, Colonial, or Maple, you can read the signs more quickly. Certainly not as quickly as you can conventional street signs, but more quickly because you are familiar with them and know what to expect, BUT if you’re not familiar with the area, you’re in trouble. We found the only solution in many cases was to pull off to the right of the road and stop to read the street signs.

If it’s true that “form follows function,” the proposed street signs don’t pass the test. The function of a street sign is to inform you quickly and without error what the name of a particular street is. The proposed new signs do neither. They are MUCH slower to read and you’re MUCH more likely to make a mistake in reading the name of the street.

So, what about esthetics? Bellport Village is beautiful, we all know that. Do these new proposed signs add to the beauty or are they a distraction? I think they are a distraction. Your eye is drawn by the contrast of a very white vertical line against a dark green background of grass, hedges, trees, flowers, and homes. I’d rather my eye was drawn by the grass, hedges, flowers, and homes. I don’t need the distraction of the white vertical lines all over the Village.

And finally, the cost of it all... I’m not sure what the real costs are because I’ve heard many different numbers thrown around, but it ain’t cheap. Somewhere in the $40,000 to $80,000 range seems to be right, but it all depends on who you ask so please don’t hold me to it. It seems to me, the real question is, if we’re going to spend that much money, is a change in the appearance of our street signs the best use for that money? How about reducing our taxes? A Saturday afternoon music program at the band shell in the summers? One or two Bocce courts down at the marina? An expanded Seniors program? An after school program for the kids in town? More bicycle racks around town? Expanded Code Enforcement services? I think you get the idea and I’m sure you could add 20 or 30 items to this list.

So, what do I suggest? I suggest the Village Board think long and hard about this decision. It’s wonderful that the Bellport Village Program Fund is willing to make a very generous offer to cover part of the costs of changing all of our street signs, but wouldn’t their generosity be better used supporting some of the alternative programs the Village Board could come up with? The Bellport Village Program Fund has come up with some wonderful additions to the Village in the past. I just think new street signs aren’t the best way to use their limited funds at this time.



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Larry Sribnick

Larry Sribnick