Brookhaven Town officials and a local community group hope to make Eastport more attractive by removing illegal billboards.
An initiative in Brookhaven would remove all commercial billboards—Town Supervisor Ed Romaine has said there are between 30 and 35—from town, county and state rights-of-way throughout the town. Billboards have been prohibited in Brookhaven since 2004 and they have been prohibited in Southampton Town since the 1970s.
In the Brookhaven Town portion of Eastport specifically, there are three such signs: on Eastport Manor Road near the King Kullen shopping center, on the northeast corner of Montauk Highway and Seatuck Avenue, and on Old Montauk Highway near the Triangle Pub.
“We don’t know who owns the billboards, but we are going to pursue every billboard and through the ownership records and where it is located,” Mr. Romaine said of the townwide initiative. “We will take a look at what existing laws apply and try to work with the county to get them taken down. This will be the first complete census of the billboards that will be done.”
Late last year, members of the Eastport Green Project, a local group working to revitalize Eastport through beautification and community service projects, took up the cause, sending letters to Mr. Romaine’s office requesting that the billboards in Eastport be removed. Now, Mr. Romaine said, his office is working to compile a list of every billboard in the town, its message and its owner, and to determine when and how they can all be removed.
"We just felt it wasn't keeping with our quaint aesthetic to have these billboards here," Stephanie Turano, co-founder of the Eastport Green Project said this week. "A lot of them are in disrepair and the ads on them, like for fast food, are not even relevant within a five-mile radius."
When Brookhaven outlawed billboards in 2004, their owners were given a grace period so they could continue to collect money for them, but were told they would have to come down after a few years. Now, more than a decade later, Mr. Romaine said, the signs are long overdue to come down.
Mr. Romaine clarified that only commercial billboards fall under the law, and that some public service billboards—like those posted for the police or the military—may remain.
“Our goal is to try and identify things that can make this town look better,” the supervisor said. “We want to improve the appearance of Brookhaven.”