Editor, The Spotlight:
On behalf of Boy Scout Troop 75, I would like to comment on the Bethlehem sign law. We feel it is too restrictive and should be amended to include a short term permitting process for nonprofit groups to place signs in public areas for up to two weeks. Over the past year, there has been debate on Section 128-59 of the town code, which states, “No signs other than an official traffic sign shall be erected in the right-of-way of any public streets or highway.” While the spirit of the law had merit in preventing signs being left on Route 32 and other public roads for months, it had unintended consequences for Troop 75 and other nonprofit groups (Troops 58 & 71, GSA, BCHS sports teams, youth soccer, Little League, etc.) who routinely give back to the community, and/or benefit all our kids.
Last Nov. 17, we held our 40th annual Sports Mart at BCHS. Sports Mart is a community consignment sale, which provides donations to the Regional Food Bank and is our only fundraiser each year. Our primary means of advertising are the signs that we have traditionally placed on Route 32. They go up nine days before the event and come down the day after. We unsuccessfully petitioned the town for a two week exemption to the sign law and had a significant decrease in equipment drop offs and a nearly 20 percent drop in sales. A number of people approached Troop members afterwards and said things like “aren’t you doing Sports Mart this year, I need to get my kids new skis and clean out my basement.” Sports Mart benefits the community by bringing families considerable savings on sporting goods and a means to pass on outgrown clothing and equipment.
Troop 75 has been a part of our community since 1930, and routinely does service projects to include building park areas and handicapped accessible tables, repairing Little League bleachers, painting school carnival equipment, improving church properties, etc. Over the next month, we will be building signs to clearly mark all the fields at the Town Park and putting mulch in the picnic area at the Brauer Education Area. Other community groups like us do service projects on a regular basis, provide our kids with the kinds of activities that make Bethlehem a great place to live and should be able to responsibly advertise for fundraising activities.