Replica of vintage ‘Welcome to Greenport’ sign unveiled

11/18/2017 5:58 PM |

The large blue sign that has welcomed visitors to Greenport for more than four decades and fell into disrepair over the years has been replaced with a replica.

The original sign was built in 1977 by Greenport High School students, including the late Timothy Heaney, and is located on North Road near Moores Lane.

In 1988, Mr. Heaney was working at his auto customizing shop in Riverhead when he stepped outside to talk to the driver of a Snap-On Tool truck and was killed by a sniper who went on to wound three other people in Riverhead before he was captured by police.

As pieces of the sign fell off over the years, Mr. Heaney’s family, friends and passersby collected them in hopes that someone would fix the sign, his sister, Maria Heaney O’Callaghan, said at the unveiling Saturday.

She and her husband, Bernie, decided to recreate the sign about a year and a half ago. The new sign was installed Friday night by Mr. Heaney’s nephews, Sean and Tim Heaney, and village workers.

Mr. Heaney’s art teacher Bruce Meirowitz and technology teacher Dorville Finkle, who worked with him and his fellow students on the original sign, attended Saturday’s unveiling with nearly two dozen people.

Ms. Heaney O’Callaghan said the support for her brother’s work was amazing and a testament to the Greenport community.

She searched for old pictures of the sign, many which were sent to her by family and local residents, and did her best to match the original design.

“It’s heartfelt and important to put this back up and to realize how much it meant to everyone,” she said. “I had no idea how much they loved the sign until I saw the posts and questions asking when it was coming back.”

Mr. Heaney’s teachers said they approved her work.

“It’s great,” Mr. Finkle said. “I think they did a good job of restoring it.”

“It was overwhelming,” Mr. Meirowitz added. “Maria did a fabulous job. It’s right on the money.”

The new sign unveiled Saturday. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

He said the sign was an after-school project that a few students worked on in the hopes of creating a statement piece for the neighborhood. His students went before the Board of Education with a small model of the sign for final approval before building it.

“I’m proud that it was something of a primary concern for the community and that it’s become an iconic landmark since it was created by high school kids,” Mr. Meirowitz said. “It’s a statement to the children that built it. I didn’t think it would feel quite so special, but it brought back a lot of memories.”

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