Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen announced on Thursday that her administration has replaced 107 signs from town parks with ones that will no longer feature former Supervisor Anthony Santino’s name, fulfilling a campaign promise to cut down on taxpayer-funded self promotion of elected officials.
“Today we put an end to a practice that has drawn the ire of so many in the town and throughout Long Island,” Gillen said at a press conference at Newbridge Road Dog Park in Bellmore. “A practice that dates as far back to the Roman Empire, made infamous by Julius Caesar who commissioned statues and monuments to himself throughout the city of Rome.”
Gillen said it is important for the public to know who their elected officials are, which is why she said those names can still be found at Town Hall, on official government documents and on temporary signage for special events.
As for the old signs, they’ve literally “gone to the dogs,” Gillen said.
The signs were repurposed into dog park equipment by members of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The equipment includes a walk ramp, that would typically cost about $2,500, a grooming station that would cost about $500, and a puppy playhouse that will be the “the envy of every mutt from Manhattan to Montauk,” Gillen said.
Replacing the signs cost a one-time expense of $4,600, Gillen said.
“These new signs leave little room for politicians to add their names to in the future, and remove the expense of constantly printing up new stickers and repainting,” Gillen said.
It will save about $3,000 every time new primer and paint needs to be purchased to change the names, she said.
The Democrat said that since taking office on Jan. 1 her administration has taken Santino’s name off of various items across the town including san tan lotion dispensers, bike storage units and bumper stickers promoting the town’s helpline.
Gillen added that it’s difficult to “strike the right balance” between keeping the public informed about their representatives and spending their tax dollars.
She said her administration will continue to review past policies on a case by case basis.