Bethlehem to Remove “Welcome” Signs
By Fred Furnace
Published May 24th, 2015
BETHLEHEM – The Town of Bethlehem is even a little less friendly now that it has announced it will remove all “welcome” signs by the end of the summer.
The move, said one local official, is being made so that area signage “conforms more accurately to the evolving views of our residents toward outsiders.”
“We can’t keep the dregs of society out of our neighborhoods altogether,” stated Bethlehem Councilman J. Morrison Forrester IV. “But, there is no law saying we need to welcome them.
“If people from places like South Colonie, Troy, Cohoes and Watervliet want to visit our pristine neighborhoods, well I guess that’s their business. But whether we ‘welcome’ those kind of people here is our business. And as of today, we are no longer willing to play that game.”
The non-profit group Citizens for a Less Welcoming Bethlehem has been lobbying for the removal of the signs for months. On Thursday, the council voted 5-0 in favor of the measure.
“This is a small but significant step in the right direction,” said Geraldine Johnson, a Bethlehem resident and mother of two naturally gifted children. “I feel a twinge whenever a car with a ‘South Colonie High School’ bumper sticker drives through my neighborhood. Maybe we can’t stop them from visiting, but I’ll be damned if I’m actually going to welcome them.”
Most Bethlehem residents support the measure, but a few – including Siena College sophomore and long-time Bethlehem resident Claire Muncher – oppose the move.
“I just think it sends the wrong message,” Muncher said. “I don’t like people from Troy any more than the next person. And don’t even get me started on Cohoes. But I think we should at least be courteous to those visiting our community. Even if those people happen to be scumbags.”
Town officials said the welcome signs on Routes 85 and 9 are expected to be removed by the end of June. All others should be removed by Labor Day.