John Tanner is missing some signs and it’s got him concerned.
The town superintendent of highways told the Granville Town Board on Sept. 9 the recent rash of street sign thefts has him bothered and just a little hot under the collar.
While the problem is not a new one, Tanner said, it is an issue that needs to be addressed from time to time to remind people why they shouldn’t do it.
“It’s on-going; every year we lose a few when kids head back for school or in May when they come back we lose a few, but boy it seems bad this year,” Tanner said last Friday. While the reasons for street sign thefts vary from dorm rooms to camp decorations or souvenirs, it is a costly problem for the town.
The town lost between eight and 10 road signs in the month of August alone this year, and while that is not the most he has seen, Tanner said, it is enough to get his attention.
“Each sign with the post is about $100,” Tanner said.
However, the additional costs that go with each replacement also add up.
“You’ve got our time on top of that, so you’re looking at two guys, not counting the truck, and you’re talking about easily $50 each time,” Tanner said. While $150 might not break the bank, that number was multiplied several times just within the final month of the summer.
The money is not the chief concern for the superintendent. “There’s the cost, yes, but it’s public safety,” Tanner said.
“My biggest concern is some poor person might not get the assistance they need in time just because someone can’t find the right road,” Tanner said.
First responders from EMS to firefighters or police rely on street name signs to navigate within the town and Tanner said it is a very real possibility that help, whether it is a fire or medical issue, could be delayed in a critical situation if the responder can’t find the right road.
“You’ve got a lot of new, young people joining fire departments and the squad and maybe they don’t know the roads like I do,” Tanner said.
Outside of the village driving past a road once or twice could make a substantial difference when responding to an emergency, Tanner said.
“I would hate to have them say five minutes made the difference with a structure or a life,” he said.
Although this is not an issue isolated to Granville, Tanner said, it is something he feels needs to be pointed out from time to time to remind people for whatever reason, stealing street name signs is a serious issue.
“You just have to replace them because young people are that crazy to take them and maybe they don’t realize the ramifications of what they’re doing,” Tanner said.
“This is not just a game or something to put up on a dorm wall – this could be a life and death situation.”
Granville Engine and Hose Co. No. 1 Fire Chief Ryan Pedone, a part-time Granville village police officer and Granville Rescue Squad member, said the street signs can be important because it is not always a Granville first responder heading to an emergency in Granville or it is someone from Granville going to Fort Ann or Hartford or Hebron.
During the meeting last Thursday, Deputy Supervisor Matt Rathbun asked Tanner if he had enough money to pay for the sign replacements within the budget.
Tanner said he was getting close on his $1,800 “traffic control” budget for the year and might have to transfer funds to finish replacing the street name signs despite later finding two of the missing signs scattered along the highway.
Tanner said Adirondack Highways, a Glens Falls company, makes the signs to order for Granville.
As for the sign thieves, Tanner said, they have at least one other option.
“If they wanted a sign, I’m sure they would make them one,” Tanner said.