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Feb 4, 2009 11:44 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

County Road 39 signs removed

Feb 4, 2009 11:44 AM

Suffolk County workers last week removed from County Road 39 two 35-mph speed limit billboards featuring the life-sized image of a Southampton Town Police car and an officer wielding a radar gun, pointed at traffic.

The signs had been controversial since they were installed last year, and after they were defaced several times by vandals, County Executive Steve Levy promised the town that the county would remove them.

Critics said the signs, placed at the so-called “gateway to the Hamptons,” were not welcoming, in part, because it appeared that the officer could have been pointing a handgun at passing motorists.

“We heard from members of the public that they didn’t want these signs, and we accommodated their request,” Mr. Levy said through a spokesman Tuesday.

Both signs had a concrete pad in front of them, where, from time to time, a real police officer would park in front of the life-size image to catch speeders.

Suffolk County Department of Public Works employees took down the first sign, on the eastbound side of the road, at 9 a.m. on Thursday. The second sign was removed an hour later. Several motorists driving by honked and waved at the Department of Public Works workers who were taking down the signs. A six-man crew removed the signs and used a payloader to load them on a flatbed truck, which hauled them away.

“Nothing will be put in their place,” said Mr. Levy’s spokesman, Dan Aug, on Tuesday. The signs will be stored in the county public works yard in Westhampton and eventually reused, he said. The breakaway posts will likely be reinstalled elsewhere and the billboards will be cut up to make new signs, he said.

The DPW installed the billboards in May as part of an effort to enforce a reduced speed limit that went into effect after the county widened the road and installed a second eastbound lane.

The signs were immediately the subject of public disdain and ridicule.

In July, the image of the Southampton Town Police officer’s head was covered with an image of actress Angie Dickinson, who starred in the 1970s television series “Police Woman” as Sergeant Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson.

Many residents, including Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, argued that the billboards were not only unsightly but unnecessary. “I’ve always been opposed to the signs,” Ms. Kabot said last month. “They have drawn a lot of hostility from the beginning.”

Last Thanksgiving, under the cover of darkness, vandals painted over the police cruiser and officer in white and spray-painted “Please” on the eastbound sign, at the corner of Shrubland Road. The westbound sign, across from the Lobster Inn, was also whited out, and had the words “Thank-you” spray-painted on it.

A few days later, DPW workers spent about three hours cleaning the signs, which have a graffiti-resistant surface.

Ms. Kabot sent a letter to Mr. Levy after the signs were vandalized over Thanksgiving, requesting that he give Southampton a holiday present and have the signs taken down.

“I’m thrilled the signs are down...” Ms. Kabot said Wednesday morning. “The county did the right thing.”

She also thanked Mr. Levy for fixing congestion on County Road 39 by adding the extra lane and said long-term plans for the roadway call for making it safer with sidewalks, shoulders and bus stops among other measures to improve safety for motorists and pedestrians.

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I wonder what the total cost was of putting up and removing these eyesores.
Any ideas???
Was it part of the millions of dollars spent to widen the roadway or was it extra?
By WHBYankee (17), Westhampton Beach on Jan 29, 09 10:57 AM
Maybe real cops would work better.

Anyway, I feel sorry for the officer in the picture. He was viewed by thousands everyday. Now, he's just another forgotten face in a pile of scrap metal.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Jan 29, 09 11:02 AM
I remember reading that it was $1,500 per sign just to buy. On top of that the Town had to put down asphalt and labor to put it up. A couple clean ups and meeting regarding this matter, I'd say it's a good $10,000 wasted.
By landarchi (33), Southampton on Jan 29, 09 3:07 PM
im gonaa miss that guy
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Jan 30, 09 7:21 PM
It's about time the billboard regulation was respected in the town. How ugly and how stupid those signs were.
By harbor man (47), sag harbor on Feb 4, 09 9:34 PM
I have seen A LOT of cops on morning traffic patrol on that 35 MPH stretch lately. In SH Village, too. Great way to start the day. Go after the working stiffs.
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Feb 5, 09 9:04 AM
OK. You remove the signs. Its still a 35 MPH zone. So the local police are going to have a field day giving out tickets when people who were more apt to slow down when the large warning signs were up don't give the smaller speed limit signs as much respect. ( Rolls eyes ). LOL.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Feb 7, 09 4:25 PM
Hey eddie420421 the sign had a cop pointing a radar gun NOT a handgun. (Rolls eyes)
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Feb 7, 09 4:28 PM