LETTER: Lamppost Banners on Greenwich Ave Commercialize Our Previously Charming Town

Letter to the editor submitted by Edward F. Smith

To the editor,

I write in reference to the advertisements on banners hung on the lampposts on Greenwich Avenue.

I was born in Greenwich and have loved growing up and living in this beautiful community. Like many other residents who live in and love our Town, I am dismayed by what can surely be called the commercialization of Greenwich.

It is worth noting that of these 64 advertisements:
• 23 promote the use of a lone real estate company
• 14 remind us of an annual Greenwich Economic Forum coming in November
• 14 are from ThinkGreenwich.org (“Celebrate, Protect, & Build The Brand of Greenwich)
• 10 are from ThinkGreenwich.org (“Invest in Greenwich”)
• Three remind us of the existence of the Bruce Museum

It is unclear to me how the 23 real estate ads are meant to benefit the public or the Town by improving our image. Assuming they are meant to, it is also unclear to me how these signs improve our image.

The banners, brackets and the labor are apparently paid for by one realtor and by “Think Greenwich” but does the Town profit? I hear numerous angry reactions from both citizens and local businesses fearing that the Town is losing its ambiance and small-town feel. It is baffling to me that such a decision could have been made in the best interests of our Town.

Recently, the Representative Town Meeting voted against contributing money to this commercial group.

Who approved a decision which is contrary to both our Town regulations and the vote of our governing body? Section 6-170 of our Municipal Code reads “The exterior uses of pennants, banners…special promotion signs….may be allowed for a seven-day period under a permit issued for special events.”  A year is a few days longer than a week.

Section 6-166 reads that “all signs that are on the public right of way are expressly prohibited except those signs erected by or on behalf of a governmental body to convey public information or direct pedestrian or vehicular traffic”. The ruling continues to describe that it includes signs for bus stops, hospitals or non-commercial signs under guidelines issues by the Office of the First Selectman.” Am I to believe that advertisements selling buildings is non-commercial?

My question for our residents or businesses is, who believes that these signs improve the image of our Town? And what is the goal of “Think Greenwich”? The charming baskets filled with cheerful flowers which hang on the 32 old-fashioned lamps have added grace to Greenwich for thirty years, courtesy of non-profit Greenwich Green & Clean, as well as the many stores and landlords who provide and tend planters filled with lovely flowers.

Please, let’s stop commercialization in our previously charming town.

Edward Smith