Scenic America has presented town officials in Middletown, Rhode Island with an award for “Excellence in Leadership” for removing billboards along one of the main gateway roads into the town. (Click here to watch video of the award presentation).
The removal of East Main Road billboards (seen at right in before/after photos) came earlier this year after the town’s lease with the billboard company expired. Despite some pressure to retain the billboards, town leaders decided it was more important to improve Middletown’s visual environment by removing the billboards.
Scenic America Board Chair Ronald Lee Fleming congratulated Middletown Town Council President Christopher Semonelli for his commitment to preserve Middletown’s scenic character and for town leaders’ resolve in pursuing the matter. The town council has been trying to figure out how to evict the billboards since 2009. Last year, in a 4-2 vote, the council voted to let the contract expire and remove the billboards.
“There were three others that formed the majority in the vote,” said Semonelli as he accepted the award. “It looks so much more beautiful. Now there isn’t a billboard, there is a beautiful trail that leads off to the forests.”