|As the Graffiti Remediation Program Manager for the City of Springfield, I have witnessed first hand the negative impact "street tagging" has on our neighborhoods. The blatant disrespect for property and outright defiance of the law is running rampant throughout our neighborhoods. This is a quality of life issue that needs to be addressed.|
To expedite the remediation of these malicious acts of vandalism the Graffiti Ordinance must be enforced, holding property owners responsible and accountable for removing graffiti in a timely manner. I know this viewpoint isn't popular with some business owners, who argue "I didn't put it there so I shouldn't have to remove it." My response has always been, "No you didn't and yes you should." There are many business owners who remove graffiti on a regular basis and I'm thankful to those owners who take pride in keeping their properties clean.
I call upon all property owners who have been targeted with graffiti to remove it as soon as possible. I can tell you the city is working hard to remediate these eyesores. Over the last three years we have remediated the equivalent of 3.5 acres. An inexorable message must be conveyed, that if caught and found guilty the court will issue fines or community service.
To those who think it's excusable to deface property under the pretext of artistic expression, you are sadly mistaken; you are not only littering the landscape with "Strange Behavior," you also compromise the credibility of those artists who obey the law and express positive themes through their works.
Having said that, I believe this is an opportune time for the city and Neighborhood Organizations to join forces in taking a pro-active approach in reducing graffiti by providing space where youngsters and street artists can collectively work together in creating murals that would be displayed at specific locations throughout the city. This collaboration would speak volumes in negating the stigma that has plagued this medium.
Creating murals will enhance the aesthetic value of neighborhoods. Youngsters who take part in this enterprise, in essence, will become stakeholders. A sense of pride and a feeling or inclusion will abound. It stands to reason that by encouraging everyone to participate in this endeavor, random acts of vandalism will decrease.
With new leadership come new ideas and vision. "Murals are Visions."
Michael J. Cass