Winthrop welcome sign gets cold shoulder

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Winthrop-University Hospital’s plans to erect a new “Welcome to Mineola” sign atop the Station Plaza Diner in the Mineola Long Island Rail Road station plaza recently got the cold shoulder from the village Building Department.

Mineola Building Superintendent Daniel Whalen said he rejected Winthrop’s application because village code prohibits rooftop signs. 

“The village has a code that specifically states that no rooftop signs can be permitted,” he said.

But, Whalen said, he expects the hospital to seek relief from the village zoning board of appeals to get the permit for the sign, which would replace a weathered sign that now sits atop the building.

“They’ve given me what they want to put up. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. The backbone is already out there,” Whalen said.

The hospital has proposed two banners 36 feet in length. A top banner, which would be three feet in height, would bear the words “Welcome to Mineola.” A bottom banner eight feet high would bear the Winthrop-University Hospital name on it. An American flag will be placed between the two banners, he said.

“This is conceptually what they want to do at this point,” Whalen said.

Whalen said he expects Winthrop’s plan will include a clock atop the current sign to replace one above the current sign, which has not been functioning for the several years.  

Winthrop spokesman Ed Keating said the hospital is going through the “appropriate channels” on the project and hopes to mount the new sign by the end of the summer. 

“We will be erecting something soon,” Keating said. “It’s going to replicate as much as possible the sign that was there.”

Keating said the background color of the sign’s banners will be blue, replacing the red background on the current weathered sign. 

The current sign was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, with the “Mineola” on the top banner now missing. 

In addition to obtaining the zoning board approval, Winthrop must strike a deal with diner owner Nick Liakonis to rent the space atop the diner. Winthrop and Liakonis have been in talks since late last year.

Efforts to reach Liakonis for comment were unavailing. 

Winthrop first proposed the sign last fall after the hospital begun construction of an  $80 million diabetes and obesity research center at the corner of Mineola Boulevard and Second Street that village officials have said will be a “gateway” to the village’s downtown area.

Village of Mineola Scott Strauss has expressed confidence in Winthrop’s judgment for the design of the sign, which will face northbound traffic above the railroad tracks on Mineola Boulevard.

“Winthrop does tasteful stuff. They’re a class act. Whatever they do is done properly,” Strauss said recently.

The current Winthrop welcome sign was erected by the Going Sign Company in 1940. The company was then based in the building on which the sign sits, but relocated to Plainview in 1974.

Whalen said he has not reviewed the practical engineers’ report on the structural viability of the diner roof to carry the new sign. 

If the roof will sustain the structure, he said, the metal struts of the current sign structure will need  to be tightened, painted, and rust-proofed.

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