WELCOME GUEST  |  LOG IN
clubhouse, east hampton, indoor, tennis, cornhole, bar, happy hour, bowling, mini golf
27east.com

Story - News

Oct 17, 2019 3:28 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Board Will Replace 'The Springs' Signs

Oct 22, 2019 3:28 PM


The East Hampton Town Board will rebrand two road signs that say, “Welcome to The Springs” to say only “Welcome to Springs” — dealing a blow to those who had preferred the age-old colloquialism for the hamlet.

The decision, at a Town Board meeting last Thursday, drew criticism from members of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, which had asked the town to simply refurbish the signs the way they are, as well as from the original creator of the signs, which are on Three Mile Harbor Road and Springs-Fireplace Road.

The chairwoman of the Springs CAC, Loring Bolger, called the move a “slap in the face” to the committee.

“Our request was specifically that the signs be replaced as they were designed about 20 years ago,” Ms. Bolger, who called herself “a Springs girl” who doesn’t use the “The,” told the board on Thursday. “I find this troubling … If the Town Board will not take the unanimous recommendation of the Springs CAC on welcome signs, what are we doing? Why are we meeting every month? Our board members put a lot of thought into bringing the Town Board recommendations. This resolution, totally ignoring our recommendation, seems like a slap in the face.”

Ms. Bolger said that Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez had told her that she didn’t feel the CAC represented the full demographic of the community.

“This is a very small issue that illustrates a very large problem,” Ms. Bolger said in an email to committee members on Friday morning.

The most vocal proponent in recent years of the use of “The Springs,” resident David Buda, resigned from the committee in protest on Thursday night, and Ms. Bolger said she is considering abandoning her role on the committee as well.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, a Springs resident and liaison to the Springs CAC, said that she had spoken to numerous residents around the community and that the overwhelming sentiment had been that simply “Springs” is how they refer to the hamlet. Based on that, she decided that when the signs are refurbished, they should be changed to the one-word name.

“I appreciate their comments and I honor their opinion but at the same time, the Springs CAC, they are a tremendous group of folks … but it doesn’t really represent the entire Springs community,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said on Thursday night, pointing to the mostly retirement-age committee members in a hamlet that she said has an average age of just 38. “I had a lot of people in the community that came to me and said, ‘Kathee, I really feel that I’d like that sign to say ‘Welcome to Springs.’”

Mr. Buda was particularly critical of turning to the views of younger members of the community, which may not be based on historical information.

“This is a question of history, it’s a question of accuracy,” he said. “If you were to propose putting up a sign that says, ‘Welcome to Bonac,’ you might get a majority vote from the students of East Hampton High School. We shouldn’t be putting this to a popular vote of the parents of students at the school.”

Brad Loewen, a former town councilman, said that he could only recall his family — which dates back centuries in the area — calling the region, simply, “Springs.”

“I find it a little disturbing that we’re even discussing this,” he told board members on Thursday. “Anybody can call it anything they want. Changing the sign is not going to change anybody’s name for it.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said she had consulted Town Historian Averill Geus and Town Crier Hugh King, who had both said that both names were found throughout history. On Thursday Ms. Geus spoke, weighing in that she prefers the one-word version, for non-historical reasons.

“I really object to ‘The Springs’ because it sounds like some wackadoo spa that just sprang up,” she said. “I don’t think it really makes one heck of a bit of difference.”

There were three of the signs originally, but one on Accabonac Road was knocked down at some point and never replaced. Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said the town will craft a new one for Accabonac Road. She also said the existing signs can probably be restored and new lettering used to remove the “The” from the salutation.

The original signs were made by former Springs resident Chris Harmon in the late 1990s — nobody seems to be able to remember exactly what year — at the behest of the Springs Improvement Society and installed by the town’s Highway Department.

Mr. Harmon said on Monday that he thought the move to change them was an insult to the older Bonackers who had put a lot of thought into what the signs should say.

“The people that made the decision of what those signs should say were the old folks from Springs, that were born and raised there and who did a lot of thinking on what they should say,” Mr. Harmon said. “It was Milt Miller and Stuart Vorpahl and Estelle Hulse and Allene Talmage. They brought in the really old maps that all said ‘The Springs’ and ‘Bonac Crick’ on them and they made the decision that the signs should say ‘The Springs.’ Ferris Talmage’s book says, ‘The Springs’ right on the cover. Now the Johnny-come-latelys want something else.”

In 2018 the two roadside signs were the focus of a mostly light-hearted squabble between Mr. Buda and another resident, Martin Drew, who had been staunchly critical of the use of “The Springs.” Ms. Bolger had bumper stickers made up that said, “I [Heart] Springs” and “I [Heart] The Springs” so residents could show which they preferred (she has both on her car).

But the debate never reached any real conclusions.

Whether the signs says ‘Springs’ or ‘The Springs’ shouldn’t matter, offered Springs resident Chris Tucci on Thursday night:

“I think the most important thing on that sign is actually the ‘Welcome.’”

You've read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Springs
By Woods woman (145), East hampton on Oct 17, 19 3:39 PM
Unfortunately, our Town Historian must have missed the "Antique Maps of the South Fork" at the Clinton Academy Museum, East Hampton Historical Society. There she would have seen many of the maps of THE SPRINGS from the years 1836, 1844, 1857, 1870, 1873, 1902, 1916 and 1929 that consistently described our hamlet as being "The Springs." David Buda
By davbud (127), east hampton on Oct 19, 19 5:29 PM
According to the first hand account of Chris Harmon, the volunteer craftsman who built and paid for the WELCOME TO THE SPRINGS signs made from clear redwood, they were erected by The Springs Improvement Society only after conducting a careful and deliberative process that included consulting with “all the old-timers, the original born there, died there Bonackers, such as Estelle Hulse, Stewart Vorpahl, Alene Talmage, and Milton Miller, who took the time to bring the maps and take an evening ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Oct 19, 19 5:45 PM
According to the first hand account of Chris Harmon, the volunteer craftsman who built and paid for the WELCOME TO THE SPRINGS signs made from clear redwood, they were erected by The Springs Improvement Society only after conducting a careful and deliberative process that included consulting with “all the old-timers, the original born there, died there Bonackers, such as Estelle Hulse, Stewart Vorpahl, Alene Talmage, and Milton Miller, who took the time to bring the maps and take an evening ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Oct 19, 19 5:49 PM
East Hampton Town Code: "The Springs Historic District contains a mix of nineteenth-century farmhouses, barns, community buildings and commercial buildings in a rural setting."
By davbud (127), east hampton on Oct 19, 19 6:01 PM
East Hampton Town Code: "The Springs Historic District contains a mix of nineteenth-century farmhouses, barns, community buildings and commercial buildings in a rural setting."
By davbud (127), east hampton on Oct 19, 19 6:48 PM
Personally I think it should just say "Springs" but if there are old maps as referenced above where it says "The Springs" then maybe it should stay that way.
By Rich Morey (378), East Hampton on Oct 22, 19 9:33 AM