“It is the only sign you can really read driving down Canal Street at night,” he said. “It sticks out.”
Bertini said he might be able to appeal the decision if he decided to move forward with the renovations. “I have a number of customers that say ‘don’t get rid of the sign,’” he said.
Peter Ingemi, owner of Steve’s Quality Market on Margin Street in Salem, said he’s looking to keep the store’s signature blue and red neon sign for many years to come. The glow of the sign can be distinguished from various points downtown. Like the Whittier Motel sign, certain letters or whole words will go dark at any given moment, Ingemi said.
He said water or moisture will often trip the electric ballasts — devices that store power and then release it as needed — or they will simply burn out after a number of years. The sign has had to be repaired many times since it was installed in 1962, he said.
“It is expensive to maintain,” he said, “but I don’t want to give up on it. I like those lights.”