LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Lewisboro Town Board is considering amending the town’s sign ordinance in hopes of providing a better way to communicate with residents during power outages.
Using lessons learned from last year’s blackouts caused by Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm, as well as the recent thunderstorm that cause more than half of Lewisboro to lose it power, the Goldens Bridge Fire Department has proposed placing an LED-lit sign in front of its firehouse that would relay emergency information to passers-by.
The signs would tell people the location of cooling or warming centers, and things such as the location and availability of dry ice, bottled water, and charging stations for cell phones and laptops.
The proposed signs, which may also be placed at the Vista and South Salem fire stations and the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps headquarters, are larger than the sign ordinance currently allows. They stand 7 feet 6 inches tall and 6 feet wide with a 4- by 6-foot display area.
“I have seen these signs, and I don’t feel that they are all that obtrusive,” Town Supervisor Peter Parsons said. “The firehouses have generators to make sure that they stay lit, and the info can be updated quickly. It would be a big step in improving communications.”
Parsons said the Goldens Bridge Fire Department already has money to purchase a sign and the Vista Fire Department has expressed an interest in buying one as well.
“I would encourage the others to follow suit,” he said.
Town officials said they struggled during the recent power outages to disseminate information. They provided updates to Internet news services and local radio stations, but noted that if residents don’t have power, many of them can’t access those media. The signs would circumvent that problem.
“This is something that would come in so handy,” said Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia. “It could tell people that this place or that place is open and where they can find dry ice and water.”
Town Board members said they would look at the possibility of adding signs to locations such as the Town House or Town Park.
However, Town Board member Frank Kelly said that the revised ordinance needs to be specific and spell out exactly the types of entities – primarily emergency services – that could display such signs.
“We want it to be specific. We don’t want some pharmacy to label itself an emergency medical station or something,” he said.
Board members will begin the process of drafting a revised sign ordinance that would allow for the increased size of these types of signs and specify who can display them. A public hearing on the proposal has been set for Aug. 13.