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Does Amherst have 'sign pollution?'

Debate over a proposal to install road signage for public libraries in Amherst sparked a wider discussion among officials Monday night about whether the town already has too many signs of all kinds.

The town Highway Department maintains 16,000 signs throughout the town, Highway Superintendent Patrick Lucey told council members during the Town Board's afternoon work session. There is a review underway to make recommendations on which ones may be unnecessary, he said.

Councilwoman Deborah Bruch Bucki had proposed installing at least nine signs bearing the universal library symbol around town directing residents to the nearest public library. Other towns in Erie County use the signs, but Amherst doesn't, she said.

"I think it's important that we support this cultural treasure," she said, noting the director of the Amherst Public Libraries was in favor of the signs.

But Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein objected, saying the town has fallen victim to "sign pollution."

"I can see signs to Emergency Rooms and hospitals," he said. "I can see signs that have a public health and safety benefit. I can't see signs to the libraries anymore than I can see signs to other businesses."

Deputy Supervisor Steven D. Sanders said he didn't personally object to signs for libraries, but thought maybe they should be part of a new system for directing people to all the town's cultural institutions, such as Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. His motion to table the resolution until the Highway Department's review is complete was defeated.

"Maybe part of this review would come up with some sort of guidelines as to when we should have signs and when we shouldn't," he said.

Bucki's resolution passed with the support of the board's Democratic majority, 3-2.

The signs, for $90 each, will be installed at locations including the intersections of Hopkins and Klein roads; Maple and Hopkins roads; J.J. Audubon Parkway and North Forest Road; J.J. Audubon Parkway and Dodge Road; Main Street and Burroughs Drive, pointing in both directions; Main Street and Harlem Road; Main Street and South Cayuga Road; Main and Evans streets; and the entrance to the Police/Court/Senior Center/Library Complex on Audubon Parkway.

"I think Amherst is becoming a more diverse community," said Councilwoman Ramona Popowich. "We also have new people coming into the town, so I think the signs are warranted."


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