Two three-sided structures have popped up around town in recent weeks and have many residents scratching their heads.
Standing seven feet tall, the black structures were installed across the street from the IGA in Southold, at the intersection of Main Road and Youngs Avenue, and in Mattituck, near Love Lane and Pike Street.
During a North Fork Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday in Southold, realtor Joan Tyrer asked Supervisor Scott Russell a question that’s been on a lot of people’s minds: “What is it?”
“It is tourist guide that will show you what the attractions are,” Mr. Russell explained. Right now, the information on the kiosks is covered up, but once revealed, it will highlight historic places and shopping areas in the hamlets. There will be three kiosks in all when the project is complete.
The idea for the kiosks emerged more than a decade ago from the town’s Transportation Commission. The initiative received more than $100,000 in federal funding in 2006 to cover the cost of a study of all the town’s signage and for a project consultant.
However, Mr. Russell said, the effort has had a “had a lot of starts and stops” over the years, including the need for New York State Department of Transportation approval for several stages of the project.
As for the recent installation of the two kiosks, Mr. Russell told Chamber members Friday that he “didn’t see it coming.”
While the Town Board had approved a bid from KJB Industries Inc. to install the signs in May, the project needed to be amended by the Transportation Commission and work did not start immediately.
Mr. Russell said in an interview Tuesday that Transportation Commission chairman Neb Brashich had briefed him about the project throughout the process, but said overall there wasn’t “continuity at the town level about staying on top of it.”
“In fairness to Neb, who has been carrying the project, the Town Board really hasn’t stayed on top of it,” Mr. Russell said. “The project started before we all got here and the presumption was that previous boards signed off on it and approved it, and we at the time didn’t see a need to interfere with it.”
Since the kiosks were installed last month, the town has received plenty of backlash from residents about their aesthetics — or lack thereof — and complaints that the one in Mattituck takes up “critical parking spaces,” Mr. Russell said.
The initial plan was to install three kiosks — in Southold, Mattituck and near Karen’s Deli Cutchogue. To date, only the Southold and Mattituck the kiosks have been installed.
But, don’t get used to seeing them in their current places for too much longer, Mr. Russell said.
“We recognize it is not a good place for it,” he said. “We are going to have to relocate them.”
The Mattituck and Cutchogue kiosks will eventually both have a permanent home at the tourist information booth at Laurel Lake on Main Road in Laurel. The Southold kiosk will be moved to the information booth near the Lutheran church on Route 25 in Greenport, Mr. Russell said.
Once the kiosks are relocated, Mr. Russell believes the project will be a positive one for the town. A spokeswoman for the DOT, which administered the federal grant to the town for the project, agreed.
“The DOT has recently paved Route 25 in Southold Town … it was a part of initiatives to contribute to North Fork,” said Eileen Peters of the DOT. She added that the town would have to receive DOT approval to move the kiosks. “This fits within that vein.”