Mt. Tremper firemen douse sign project

By Jay Braman Jr.
The guys at the Mount Tremper Fire Company are mad.
Monday night several of them wrestled a large road sign into Shandaken Town Hall and dropped it at the doorway of Town Supervisor Peter DiSclafani, thus telling him in no uncertain terms that the sign, a new one announcing the hamlets of Mount Tremper and Mount Pleasant, was not welcome in their community.
The sign, said to have cost taxpayers $1,200, has been the talk of the town for the past couple weeks, ever since it appeared without ceremony on the corner of routes 28 and 212.
The problem with the sign, and the way it appeared, became clear at Monday night’s town board meeting when firemen Ken Berryann and Ted Byron informed DiSclafani that they had dismantled the sign earlier that evening because it had been placed over a sign that the fire company installed 18 years ago.
In 1990 Byron, whose home is located at the intersection, spearheaded the effort that at the time was one of civic pride. The Mount Tremper hamlet, once a thriving locale, was at risk of losing its identity due to a lack of activity. Neighboring Mount Pleasant, had already been lost.
Byron, who operates a property maintenance business, talked to his fellow firefighters about making a nice sign announcing to travelers that they have arrived at the gateway of the two hamlets. They obtained the proper permits from the state Department of Transportation, paid for the sign to be designed and built and installed it themselves.
Ever since, Byron has regularly maintained the triangular grass island where the sign is at a standard considerably higher than the rest of the roadsides nearby. Back in the ’90s then town Supervisor Neil Grant dubbed the area “Ted’s Corner” due to the level of care Byron gave it.
So, when Bryon looked out his window one day to see a different sign on his corner he was shocked.
DiSclafani offered an explanation Monday, saying that the old sign didn’t really direct motorists off the beaten path of Route 28 to the hamlet’s center, which was bypassed in the early 1960s when Route 28 was rebuilt. The new sign has an arrow pointing to the hamlet’s center and wording to let viewers know that shops, services, dining and lodging are there.
Regardless, Berryann called the new sign “offensive,” and said that DiSclafani should have come to the fire company with his plan before moving forward with it.
Some say he should have come to the taxpayers too. While DiSclafani, who owns a restaurant in the Mount Temper hamlet, says the purchase of the new sign was approved by the town board, Councilman Robert Stanley said it was not.
This led to discussion about what one member of the audience called the “questionable process,” that DiSclafani used to get the new sign put in. Some compromise ideas followed, most notably DiSclafani’s plan to have his new sign up only six months of the year.
Charlie Berryann, who was involved with the planning of the original sign, summed up the fire company’s position on any compromise plan.
“Relocate that sign anywhere you want, but not on our sign,” he said.