“06880” Readers Pick The Worst Signs In Town

The other day, I posted a photo of my choice for Worst Sign in Westport. The message — “When Flashing School Bus Stopped Ahead” — is both grammatically challenged and bizarre. In Westport, a school bus is always stopped ahead.

I asked “06880” readers to send in their least favorite signs. A wide variety get our goats — and for many different reasons. Here are a few:

(Photo/Eric Bosch)

The Little League diamond on North Compo is not exactly Eric Bosch’s field of dreams. He says:

“There are 64 of these large advertising signs (specifically positioned for maximum road traffic visibility) on Westport town property. I guess the town’s rules aren’t enforced when business ads make money. Get ready to see the political banner-size signs to go up in this space soon.”

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

Chip Stephens does not care for this faded, passive-aggressive sign near Whole Foods near the Norwalk border, “welcoming” drivers to Westport.

(Photo/Brian Porter)

Brian Porter admits that the sign above — at the steps to Old Mill Beach, off Hillspoint Road — may not be the worst. However, it is confusing. “If you ignore one sign, please comply with the other and clean up after Fido,” he writes.

An anonymous contributor sent the image above, from the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. I agree: You should definitely not park that way, ever.

(Photo/Chris Woods)

For over a decade, this sign — and the accompanying traffic light — near the VFW at the Riverside/Saugatuck/Treadwall Avenue intersection has been Chris Woods’ pet peeve. Chris adds, “The 3-lights-for-2-lanes going the other direction are equally confusing.”

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

JP Vellotti offers this innocuous-looking sign, from a recent Levitt Pavilion show. He explains: “The au pairs all sat together. The woman in charge brought the sign. Funny, because I’ve been in big groups there. We figured out how to sit together without something that looked like a free ad. At least it wasn’t a politician running for office meet-up!”

Thanks for all the submissions. But I still think mine is the worst:

13 responses to ““06880” Readers Pick The Worst Signs In Town

  1. Ernie Lorimer

    Not the Clinton Ave stop sign?

  2. If the signs at the North Compo Little League field are emplaced as they are in my current town, they signify the generous business contributors who make each season possible by their support and donations to the League, as good citizens of Westport. Whether they make money for these supporters is moot, but each season is possible only because of their community involvement, and I suspect part of the town’s permit or license to the League allows these “ads”.

    • If Little League can only be possible when it is an advertisement for something other than its core mission, then education, boy/girl scouts, and government will not be far behind for “pay to play”… Chris Woods

      • Addison Armstrong

        I honestly don’t know where to begin. However, I do have some experience with advertising signs on public property at sporting venues. Under town law, there is a high bar to placing these signs. If you don’t like it, then try to get the rules changed. But you should know that fees generated by the ads benefit the little league and ensure that all children and families can participate regardless of ability to pay. Surely, that is a laudable outcome in a town the professes itself to be open and welcoming.

        • I hear you, Addison. But where I began was to recall a time when I played Little League and Babe Ruth without advertisements and no one was turned away. I have been involved at higher levels of youth soccer and lacrosse more recently without ads and no one was turned away.

          Making everything a “business”, particularly youth sports and education, leads to all sorts of problems. Take the money out of youth sports and it gets back to its mission, not the other way around.

          Westport baseball is not a town entity, correct? Man-charged-with-embezzling-40K-from-Westport-5509949.php I’m not sure how many youth sports leagues are run by the town any more.

          • David J. Loffredo

            None of the organized sports are a town entity – not sure they ever were even back in “your day”.

            PAL is a non-profit, Little League is a non-profit and has been operating in Westport since at least the 70’s when I was a “Ram” (1976 World Series Champs BTW). Westport Soccer Association – volunteer run non-profit.

            They all are….

            In the 70’s the RAMS were sponsored by NRG LTD – owners of 3 Mile Island – so the sponsors have probably always been there in one way or another.

          • Chris, back in the 1950s in Fresh Meadows, Queens, where I spent the first part of my childhood, there were local commercial and non-profit sponsors of FM’s version of Little League and their names were put on the kids’ uniforms. I don’t think that type of “advertising” was unique in Little League back then.

            And the New York Life Insurance Company, which built the Fresh Meadows apartment complex, paid for the installation of fences and backstops on the baseball fields that were located behind the local public elementary school.

            I don’t recall anyone viewing these types of sponsorships back in the day as having been problematic.

  3. I understand the 64 signs located at LOCATION to be in violation of Town of Westport (“Town”) Planning and Zoning rules, specifically §33 Signs (last revised 03-09-12).  These rules are available on the Town’s website at http://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=467.  The 64 signs are in violation of §33-3.16, which states “All signs and other advertising devices shall be prohibited except as they refer to products sold, and/or services rendered to business conducted on the property on which such sign is located” (emphasis added).  The advertising businesses do not select products and/or services at the Town’s ball fields. 

    The signs (which are affixed to chain link fences 24-hours per day, 7-days a week for at least 9 month) should be considered permanent, and do not meet any of the exceptions for such signs listed in §33-4 (e.g., they do not relate to government notices, traffic control, danger and/or public service).  However, even if the signs are considered temporary, then they are in violation of all provisions of §33-5 (e.g., they are not located on residential property, do not related to building construction, are not removed at the conclusion of baseball games and are not political in nature.) 

    It is worth noting that I was informed by the Recreation Department that the Town of Westport believes the signs fall under the category of “Sponsored Plaques.”  While we might disagree on meaning of the words “plaque” and “sign,” §33-5.2.2 (which applies to signs “permitted without a Zoning Permit in all non-residential districts”) permits “Special Advertising devices for new businesses such as plaques, … provided they are in place for not more than thirty (30) days”. None of the signs pertain to “new businesses” and all the signs will have been “in place for more than thirty (30) days”.

    I believe what is transpiring in the Town of Westport, despite our strict zoning laws outlawing the practice is a special-interest organization is selling advertising.  To look the other way in this instance, invites other special interest organizations to do the same and invites violation of other zoning regulations.  Indeed, I understand other organization have been required to remove their signs, at the conclusion of their events.  Why the exception in this case?  If the Town of Westport wants to revise the laws, then so be it.  But as it currently stands, these signs are in volition of our local ordinances.  

  4. Jeff Mitchell

    The very first Little League game ever played, on June 6, 1939, was between Lundy Lumber and Lycoming Dairy. Thus began a worldwide tradition of local businesses and organizations (e.g. Police Athletic Leagues, American Legion Posts) supporting youth sports. You would be hard-pressed to find any town in the US that doesn’t have businesses that hang plaques of the local teams they sponsor, nor local teams that proudly hang banners in appreciation of their support. Particular to Westport, those banners are why no resident will be denied a spot on a team for monetary reasons, and it’s silly to think the town would risk certain and severe backlash for even contemplating ordinances that may prevent this.

  5. That is exactly right, Jeff. Not only is the league able to waive all fees for financial aid recipients, we do not charge Challenger division players, which is a program for special needs children. The ad revenue goes to good use!

  6. As a parent of a Challenger player, and family indebted to Little League for their support, we take pride and are dearly thankful for those Little league sponsorship plaque-signs – Given all of this free press, (Thank you Dan Woog) I am hopeful The Westport Little League Commission will now double their signage sponsorship rate, since the community will be taking a good look at the “plaques” now – Let’s play ball!

  7. How about the campaign yard sign that Greg Kraut sets up at a table *inside* Starbucks? (Not to mention the one on his bicycle that he plants right by the front door, but at least that’s outside.)