Gillen wipes officials’ names from town park signs


Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen’s administration has officially replaced every sign in the Town of Hempstead’s 107 developed parks, she announced on Jan. 18 at the Newbridge Road Dog Park in Bellmore.

The new sign format will “leave little room for politicians to add their names to in the future,” Gillen said, describing the prior administration’s practice as “taxpayer-funded self-promotion of our elected officials.”

Gillen said the project cost the town approximately $4,600, but will save taxpayers the roughly $3,000 it cost each time elected officials’ names needed to be changed.

Within a month of Gillen assuming office, her administration has already removed former Supervisor Anthony Santino’s name from public property, according to spokesman Mike Fricchione. Santino’s name was printed on property including parking signs, suntan lotion dispensers and even etching paper used to memorialize victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the town’s memorial, Fricchione added.

The town’s park signs were an example of public property that Gillen fielded complaints about during her 2017 campaign for supervisor, and she said that her administration has fulfilled the promise of replacing those signs.

Gillen admitted that there might still be signs throughout the town that display former local politicians’ names, but her administration has yet to find, assess and potentially replace those signs.

“There is not really a master list of signs in the Town of Hempstead,” Gillen said, “so as we are coming across different signage incidents, we are addressing them on a case by case basis.”

Gillen added that there is a “difficult balancing act” between keeping policies that inform the public who their representatives are, and spending those same taxpayers’ money wisely. However, she then compared the old signs to Roman Emperor Julius Caesar commissioning “statues and monuments to himself throughout the city of Rome,” and vowed not to continue the practice.

“Knowing who your elected officials are is very important, which is why the names of our local elected officials can still be found at places like town hall,” Gillen said in her speech. “But today, we put an end to a practice that has drawn the ire of so many in the town and throughout Long Island.”

Gillen announced that the old signs have either been used, or planned to be used, in the town’s parks as replacement material for sheds, locker and baseball roofs, or will be a part of her administration’s “upcoming projects planned for the Summer.”

Gillen pointed to several dog park equipment pieces made from recycled signs by members of the parks department, including a pet walk ramp, which usually retails for approximately $2,500, according to Gillen, a grooming station and a puppy playhouse.

“I’m really happy about re-using these signs,” Gillen said. “All the signs that came down are being put to good use and not being thrown in the garbage.”