The removal of a banner in support of Madison sports teams that included the phrase "One Nation Under God" was followed by the removal of all other banners from train overpasses in the borough because permits were not in place to hang them.
The other banners included ones promoting the Madison Farmers Market and a pig roast fundraiser for the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps on Saturday.
Mike Waresk, a Dodgers sports fan who arranged with the borough to have the Dodger Nation banner displayed, said he received a call from borough hall Tuesday saying the banner was taken down. He said he was told there had been a complaint about the phrase "One Nation Under God," but he did not know more about the nature of the complaint.
The banner said "Dodger Domination" and, below that, "One Nation Under God." "Dodger Nation" is a name that was adopted by an informal group of fans of Madison High School sports. It has a Facebook page with more than 790 "likes."
When Madison officials reached out to NJ Transit to see if there were guidelines for the content on banners, officials realized Madison did not have the necessary permits to hang signs from NJ Transit train trestles in the first place, although the borough had managed such a program for more than a dozen civic groups in town.
Madison's administration office emailed a statement Thursday saying the borough's banner program was over.
"The Borough recently contacted NJ Transit to see if they had any guidelines regarding content of banners placed on their trestles," the borough's statement said. "Transit informed us that the Borough does not have permission to hang banners on the trestle ... In the near future, we hope to find an alternate location on Borough property where banners promoting civic events can be placed."
Courtney Carroll, an NJ Transit spokeswoman, said Thursday permits were not issued by NJ Transit to Madison. Some towns do have banner programs that NJ Transit inherited when it acquired certain railroads, she said.
Waresk said people who are interested in displaying the Dodger Nation banner on their property have reached out to him. The issue generated "good, healthy debate" with passionate voices on both sides, he said.
He had hoped the sign would be put back up, but even by Wednesday evening he seemed ready to move on.
"Enough with all the nonsense.... Lets play some Football - Come out and support the DODGERS," he wrote on the Dodger Nation Facebook page.
The game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, was postponed to 3 p.m. Friday at Dover.Here are some of the groups that had used the banner program in Madison that was managed by the borough:
- Madison Education Foundation
- Madison Environmental Commission
- Madison Rotary Club
- Madison Arts & Culture Alliance
- Graduation Gala
- Relay for Life
- Morris Arts Council Giralda Symphony
- Madison Library/Touch a Truck
- Drew University
- Adult School of Madison, Chathams & Florham Park
- TJ Martell Foundation
- Madison Chamber of Commerce
- Madison DDC
- St Vincent’s School
- Thursday Morning Club
- Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps