A Johnstown hotel is forced to take down an advertisement it has displayed for more than 50 years. The Johnstown Holiday Inn has until Monday to remove the billboard seen from the Thruway between exits 28 and 29. The state could lose federal funding if it is not removed, but local leaders argue its removal could damage entire business community. YNN's Maria Valvanis reports.
JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. -- "It would be a tragic loss for us," said Jim Landrio, the general manager of the Holiday Inn.
The billboard for the Johnstown Holiday Inn has directed drivers to exit 28 on the Thruway for more than 50 years.
"We do not have our own dedicated Thruway exit so we rely on traffic from exit 28, so this sign has been very valuable to us for bringing traffic," said Landrio.
However, the state is giving the hotel until Monday to take the advertisement down.
Beau Duffy, the Director of Communications for the Department of Transportation, said, "The sign was constructed in 1959 before the Highway Beautification Act became law, and it was grandfathered in, but the law said if it was changed, or abandoned, or destroyed, it would be a non compliance."
Bad weather in 2006 toppled the original sign, and forced the hotel to build a new sign.
Landrio said, "It's the exact same spot, exact same size, everything is identical."
According to the Federal Highway Association, that was not good enough. The association said the state will suffer if its not removed.
"The penalty for non compliance for the state is a loss of a portion of our state highway aid," said Duffy.
The hotel hired a company to help remove the sign carefully so they have the option to use it again in the future.
"It's not all about us at the Holiday Inn, it's about our region," said Landrio.
Now, legislators are working with the hotel to get the decision reversed. In the 7 miles it takes to get from the Thruway to the hotel, drivers have to pass dozens of local businesses.
"It does drive tourism into the area, and that pumps more dollars into what is an already struggling region up here," Mark Kilmer, Fulton County Chamber of Commerce.