If a business owner went to the New Paltz village planning board with this, do you think that it would be approved?

I don’t.

Drive downtown from Manheim. Take in the streetscape. Savor the mountain backdrop. And watch for the garbage bins. You’ll note that you barely notice those. They’re there. Understated. Out of the way, but accessible. Now, somebody went to some trouble to find something that would have exactly that effect, which is to say as close to zero effect as possible.

Now come the gaily painted 55-gallon drums dedicated to the recycling god that will “give our town a chance to express itself.” The only problem is that once the “town” has “expressed itself” no one will be willing to say, “O.K., very nice, now get those things out of here.”

That’s the thing about governments. They can require that every business in town have its signage be a certain size and conform to certain standards, and that’s got to go past the planning board. But no such standards apply to the government, which will do exactly what it would not allow a business to do, redefine the streetscape via somebody’s idea of somebody else’s idea of the “town” expressing itself.

I’d much rather see businesses with a lot of latitude in presenting their storefronts, and have the government find ways to meet its recycling obligations without being noticed. I just can’t get with the notion that the government and its garbage containers are any sort of way, much less the optimum way, for artistic expression.

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