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Putnam Legislature buckles to public opposition to trailway ads; tables resolution backing Odell’s outdoor advertising plan
Faced with an impassioned opposition, and a petition drive that has netted close to 600 signatures in four days, the Putnam County Legislature dealt a blow Tuesday night to County Executive Maryellen Odell’s plan to have a politically connected start-up company sell advertising on the Putnam Trailway.
The Legislature, which had appeared likely to support Odell’s plan, and planned to do so without hearing from citizens, buckled under public pressure and opened up the floor to Putnam and Westchester residents, who told the panel that they did not want advertising on the county’s rail trail, sold by a company called Bikepath Country.
In a standing-room-only crowd in Putnam’s Historic County Courthouse, the Legislature voted to table the measure, and send it back to committee. Only Legislator Carl Albano, who supported the for-profit company’s efforts to sell advertising in the woods from Baldwin Place to Brewster, voted against the tabling motion.
“It’s fabulous,” said Deb Ramsey, a Croton-on-Hudson cyclist who launched the petition drive on Friday, and handed the Legislature 552 signatures Tuesday night. “It’s wonder to watch the legislative process, and see that they really stopped to consider what we were saying.”
Kent painter Jeff Green, who owns Taconic Arts and writes the News That Matters blog on Facebook, hounded the Legislature from the audience, urging the lawmakers to let the public speak before they voted – which went against the panel’s protocol. Green delivered a spirited speech, criticizing Odell for her promotion of the private firm, and volunteering to raise $1,500 to install mile-markers along the 11-mile trail if public safety was the reason for the signage effort.
Outside the Historic County Courthouse after the vote, Green was beaming.
“I think the public laid naked the legislators, and they tabled it so they could put their clothes back on,” he said.
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