Downtown Signs Have Taken on New Look in Peekskill

Council to continue efforts to improve appearances, educate merchants about compliance with city regulations in historic district

Peekskill officials expressed pleasure – with a note of civic pride –
during a review of downtown commercial signs featuring then-and-now photos of a
couple of dozen locations in 1990 and 2011. Common Council members and planning officials praised the improved, more inviting appearances of the sites but
acknowledged that there are still concerns that need attention.

“Signage Review in the Downtown Historic District” was presented during a
City Hall meeting Monday, May 2, by Jean Friedman, city planner, and
Anthony Ruggiero, director of the Planning and Development Department.
Utilizing guidelines in place since 2002 the city has encouraged businesses to replace undesirable banners, signs and posters with more attractive versions, Friedman said. “Historic preservation does make a difference.”

Continuing concerns, which the city plans to address through education of
merchants, include:

  • “Open” signs. Non-flashing lighted signs are being
    permitted. Many such signs now use light-emitting diodes instead of
    traditional neon gas. Flags and paper signs are alternative tools for
    announcing an establishment is open for business.

  • Paper signs. The city has received complaints
    about cluttered appearances, especially when the signs cover more than the
    permitted amount of window space.

  • Sandwich boards. Council members voiced
    preferences for a historical look and neat blackboards without
    bulletin-board-style clutter. Criticism was directed at white boards and
    contemporary plastic boards.

  • Balloons and pennants, especially near curbs
    where they could affect parked or moving vehicles.

  • Placement of signs on narrow sidewalks so as not
    to impede pedestrians.

  • Cost of bring nonconforming signs into
    compliance with city requirements.

Council members voiced a desire not to be overly restrictive and said
improved, attractive signage can bring more customers to a business.

City officials will prepare a bilingual letter (English and Spanish)
about signage to all merchants in the downtown district, followed by staff
visits to discuss compliance and the removal or replacement of nonconforming
signs. Summonses will be issued if necessary.

Friedman will develop guidelines for district signage, along with a
proposed timeline for compliance, and present them to the council for

Leslie Lawler May 05, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Patty provided kudos to The Flat Iron Gallery on 3/6 in the"The Patch's" article "Shop Locally, On-Line." I also recall a very positive letter she sent to several of the local media regarding the wonderful turnout to The Clydesdale Horses that came to town courtesy of Bertoline's and Budweiser a couple years back. As far as the firehouse project, the meetings netted both: residents with concerns and dissatisfaction (mostly centered around the question of funding the project in a difficult economy) and a lack of residents providing "overwhelming support." Many of the public Common Council meetings over the past few months have also netted residents who have serious concerns regarding the timing and funding of the project. As a lifelong resident, I feel one of the hallmarks of our dear City (historically as well) is that we have welcomed everyone and our population is both diverse, culturally-rich and ecclectic. We are all different and will have different opinions and perspectives, true, but just because folks disagree or don't see eye-to-eye, doesn't mean someone is "attacking" nor does it mean someone is "racist." Sometimes I wonder when that kind of verbiage is thrown around, is it really a smokescreen to keep us all from truly seeing where the common ground truly is. I'm glad that there are some folks that are having positive experiences in our dear City. That's what it's all about when one lives and invests somewhere.
Katie Schmidt Feder May 05, 2011 at 05:29 PM
I appreciate the points you raise Leslie. It is true I didn't experience what you did with the former administration, maybe I arrived too late (2003). All I experience was an overwhelming desire to build, build more condominiums, etc. It turned me off quite a bit. But it is good to hear of these possitives from you. You are right, common ground is the thing to find - As we all do literally share common ground :)
Leslie Lawler May 05, 2011 at 05:50 PM
I understand how you feel, Katie. If I could offer a few specifics for the record -- the Beach Shopping Center took a tremendous downturn after the arrival of the malls in the retail scene. What was once a shopping mecca that brought many customers in from far and wide ("I'm going Christmas shopping at The Beach!") took an unfortunate spiral down once the Jefferson Valley Mall was born. The Beach Shopping Center was deserted and a ghostly near-eyesore. The former administration (and to be fair, Bennett and Claxton were part of the "former" administration) spearheaded a complete revamp which included bringing in Stop 'n Shop and CVS and a completely renovated parking lot. When residents, many of them seniors, asked for a decent grocery store in town that people could walk to, the former administration brought in C-Town. Agreed, condos were built also. But I think (in my opinion, of course) that that would be a good thing so more new folks come live here. I appreciate and enjoyed the dialogue with you, Katie. And thanks again for that great "Seussical" production....it was one of Peekskill's finest moments.
Katie Schmidt Feder May 05, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Thanks Leslie. That is interesting to hear some of the history - like "Christmas shopping at the beach". I laugh - because I can't stand going out to the JV mall -but I prefer little shops and actually do shop downtown Peekskill! I don't like the condo idea because there are so many HOUSES on the market - and sadly, as I understand it, many of the inhabitants of Riverview and Chapel Hill don't send their kids to Peekskill schools - so there seems to be sort of a separatist attitude that is off-putting, but then again, I know many so-called liberal artist types who aren't giving the schools a chance either - so there you have it! Contradictions and, as Patty said, hypocrisy everywhere I guess. But dialogue is good! And thanks for your kind words about Seussical. It was a challenge and I was afraid I had taken on too much by adding the little ones - but somehow it all worked out!
Patty Villanova May 05, 2011 at 10:08 PM
I'm glad to hear that Katie "shops Peekskill" and I sincerely hope that despite my negative blogging, she will come back to my store to see all the great stuff she's been missing! I don't think non-business owners can imagine the frustration and despair that those of us feel who are still trying to hold on in our Downtown. We're talking about businesses , some of whom have literally been in town oveer 100 years, saying they've never seen it this bad. Many of us have to be closed for 3-4 days a week because we've had to find jobs to bring in extra money or worst case, to have to support our stores till things hopefully get better. It doesn't matter how nice the buildings look if nobody is out walking around our streets. Keep in mind that the city is paying lots of money to a host of planning and economic development specialists, most of whom get 6-figure salaries and benefits the private sector can only dream about. Year after year we hear about the latest pie in the sky plan to bring retailers to town, yet it doesn't happen. Why? Because P-skill is not attractive to "real" businesses, even though we have tremendous location, fanatastic buildings, infrastructure and great transportation. There are answers to this dilemma, but they are not an option for politicians who are getting rich by servicing the poor.


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