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Queens Chronicle

LED sign removed from Bayside High

Four-year battle won by community

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 10:30 am

It took four years but the unpopular LED electronic display sign at Bayside High School has been taken down.

When it was erected in 2009, residents who live near the school called it an eyesore that beamed into their homes at night and was a potential traffic hazard.

It is estimated the sign cost $37,000 with funds raised by students in 2006. It took three years to get permits and the proper approvals from the city.

One of those complaining was then-Community Board 11 member Ed Braunstein, who is now the area’s assemblyman, and whose parents live near the Corporal Kennedy Street school.

He was elated about the development when contacted by the Queens Chronicle last week. “I did notice it was gone,” Braunstein said. “I’m glad it’s gone.”

The assemblyman said he spoke to the principal, Michael Athy, last winter about the display board and was told the school was trying to sell it. Athy confirmed the offending display is now at another school.

In an email, he said, “It has been moved to another high school where apparently they will not have issues with its installation.”

CB 11 member Frank Skala, who is also president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and the Bayside High School New Alumni Association, also opposed the sign. “It was illegal and never should have gone up,” Skala said. “This was overkill and never served a purpose.”

He got the word out about the display, which he called “the casino sign,” four years ago and is elated it’s down. CB 11 also took a stance against the sign.

Janet McEneaney, another CB 11 member, wondered why an LED sign was a priority for the school. “It would be nice to teach people to live without using massive amounts of electricity,” McEneaney said at the time.

After receiving the initial complaints, Athy changed the sign’s hours to run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. rather than around the clock. But that did not satisfy the neighborhood. Shortly afterward, the sign was turned off for good.

Such signage is illegal in residential neighborhoods and the Department of Buildings referred the case to its enforcement unit.

Now the sign is gone but the money to buy and erect it is also gone. Braunstein noted that the situation is “unfortunate,” but all the money will not be recouped. “The school was responsible,” he added.

Skala said the high school had an old-fashioned bulletin board with notices that could be replaced. He would like to see it returned.

“Other schools, like Cardozo [also in Bayside] have thumbtack signs,” he said, noting that his alumni group donated to the sign fund, “but I didn’t know it was going to be an electric sign.”

Although the community board got involved in the controversy by decrying the sign, the installation did not have to go through CB 11 for approval. According to the DOB, the engineer who installed it also self-certified the work.

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