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Bronx ‘Welcome’ sign an eyesore

Bronx Times

The signs they are a’changing - hopefully.

Locals say a “Welcome to the Bronx” sign atop a billboard is falling apart and an eyesore on civic pride.

The billboard, visible to drivers on the Bronx-bound Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, has also been empty of ads.

The 20-foot by 80-foot billboard and the Bronx sign above it are owned by New York-based City Outdoor USA.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Carr said that the billboard has been there since the 1950s.

The company is in the process of getting a new permit from the Department of Buildings so they can place ads on the billboard.

“Basically [the permitting process] has not been completed yet because it takes a bit of time,” he said, noting that the billboard has had steady local and regional ads from the 1950s through the 1970s.

But the Bronx sign atop it has been a vicitm of the slow recovery in media companies after the recession, he said, as well as the permit issue and stiff competition for ad dollars from other billboard locations.

“When it is all legally permitted and such, we will begin reselling the board,” he said. “It is a really good board as a feeder to the Bronx - to Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo...car dealerships, restaurants, and the whole local community. That is probably where it will have its greatest impact.”

Throggs Neck resident Anthony Susi, who uses the RFK bridge five days a week, called the Bronx sign “an eyesore to say the least.”

“To those of us who live here, it certainly is an embarrassment,” Susi stated in an e-mail. “It’s unfortunately the first impression that people get of the Bronx, and in a time where first impressions are just about everything, this sign certainly misses the mark.”

Bronxites need to take some pride in where they live and “‘welcome’” a change, he added.

John Bonizio, Westchester Square Business Improvement District chairman and local businessesman, has also noticed the sign was in poor condition and an eyesore.

“Somebody of means who is in the Bronx and concerned about the image of the Bronx should make sure that something like this never happens,” he fumed. “This is an image problem - which is the problem of the Bronx in general.”

He said the sign needs to be painted because some of the lettering is missing from the word “available”.

A spokesman for the Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said that he is already involved in making this space look more becoming.

“Our office has reached out to the billboard owner several times, and we have not heard back,” said spokesman John DeSio. “We would like to start a conversation with the owner. It is the first thing people see when they come to the Bronx, and we want it to look nice.”

If anyone is interested in the available billboard, they can call City Outdoor USA at (718) 292-6080. It normally is rented out on a month-to-month basis.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group