Times Square

Floating LED Billboard Irking NYC Locals Is Illegal, City Says

“My first thought was, ‘What fresh hell is this?’” one Brooklyn resident said of the floating billboard. “I think it’s horrible”

What to Know

  • A brightly-lit floating billboard operated by Ballyhoo Media has drawn the ire of locals who say it's an eyesore
  • The city's Law Department says the floating billboard does not comply with city law
  • Ballyhoo Media's CEO, however, says the company is "legally operating in accordance with all current [NYC] laws and zoning resolutions"

A brightly-lit floating billboard that’s drawn the ire of locals who say it evokes the worst of Times Square is also operating illegally, the city claims.

The 60-foot, double-sided barge owned by startup Ballyhoo Media has been operating near the shores of Manhattan and Brooklyn since October.

And while the advertisements emblazoned on the billboard would fit right in at the Crossroads of the World, New York residents who’ve spotted them from the shore say there’s no place for them on the water.

Bay Ridge resident Tara Strome told News 4 the barge first caught her eye while she was on a walk a few weeks ago.

“My first thought was, ‘What fresh hell is this?’” Strome said. “I think it’s horrible.”

The boat currently sets sail near the Intrepid Museum on Manhattan’s west side before traversing the waters near the southern tip of Manhattan and ending up at Roosevelt Island.

After residents complained about the barge to City Hall, the city’s Law Department sent a letter to Ballyhoo claiming the barge is breaking city law.

The city “prohibits the display of an advertising sign on any vessel in a waterway adjacent to a residential, commercial or manufacturing district and within view of an arterial highway,” the letter sent last week says.

Ballyhoo CEO Adam Shapiro refuted that claim.

“The cited Zoning Resolution does not apply to the waters in which we operate. We are legally operating in accordance with all current New York City laws and zoning resolutions,” Shapiro said in a statement.

The city has given Ballyhoo until Jan. 16 to explain how the company plans to comply with city code.

Shapiro said the boat would continue to operate while he works with his legal team and the city, adding that the company plans to host waterfront movie nights and other events when the weather warms up.

“We look forward to working with the city to resolve this matter shortly, and we plan to continue being a valuable and contributing member of the New York community, just as we have been in Miami for the past two years,” he said.

Locals, however, said they don’t want to see the billboard barge on the water at all.

“They should put an end to it before it gets out of hand,” Battery Park resident Alan Joun said.

“I don’t want it to be [like] Midtown, with lights flashing all over the place.”

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