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Electronic billboards, 100 years later

To the editor:

In 1892, the Adirondack Park Preserve was made Forever Wild. In 1924, Gov. Al Smith signed the 1924 Law, banning advertisements and billboards in the Park. You can see dozens of them from Utica littering the roadside on Route 28 and then they stop (except for Tupper, no idea what the deal is with those?) after entering the Park.

Now flash forward 100 years to 2024. And drive around the Tri-Lakes and see if you can spot the giant digital billboard truck with three sides flashing multiple advertisers’ billboards. Sometimes recklessly parking in the Haystack Trailhead lot in Ray Brook with its rear-end backed up as close to the road as it can legally get for greater and longer visibility from passing motorists. I’ve also been shocked to see a few particular businesses or village-funded agencies that I never would think to contribute to this mobile monstrosity.

I know I think this digital truck company thinks they are being clever and in a gray area of the law, but if you read this relevant text from section 9-0305 of the Environmental Conservation Law, practically unchanged from 1924, you can see that they had the forethought to include the wording “advertising structure or device of any kind” not knowing if there’d be flying cars or gravity defying devices projecting advertisements. I say shame on the folks buying in to the truck and shame on authorities for not cracking down and removing it before it proves “successful” and they bring 10-20 more of them up here.

“In order to conserve the natural beauty of the Adirondack and Catskill parks, to preserve and regulate the said parks for public use for the resort of the public for recreation, pleasure, air, light and enjoyment, to keep them open, safe, clean, and in good order for the welfare of society, and to protect and conserve the investment of the state in forest lands, campsites and other interests in real property in said parks, no person shall erect or maintain within the boundaries thereof any advertising sign, advertising structure or device of any kind, except under written permit from the department. The provisions of this section shall not apply to signs erected or maintained upon a parcel of real property in connection with the principal business or principal businesses conducted thereon and which advertise such business or businesses only, or to signs within the limits of an incorporated village.”

Aaron Hobson

Saranac Lake

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