Mt. Airy BID spearheads collaborative effort to combat graffiti

In a bold effort to fight a recent scourge of graffiti, the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID) organized a community meeting between representatives of neighborhood civic groups, city officials, police and SEPTA. The anti-graffiti meeting took place this past Wednesday.

The result was “a game plan” on how best to effectively tackle the issue, said BID Executive Director Hollie Malamud-Price.

Also in attendance: Elayne Bender, Executive Director of East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN), Marilyn Cohen, Executive Director of West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN), Kyasha Tyson representing State Rep. Cherelle Parker’s office, Lt. Buchanico from the 14th District Police Department, SEPTA detectives James Gallagher and John Cicala, Ed Wallace, SEPTA Deputy Director of Station Operations and Customer Service, Steve Biggerstaff, Assistant Director of Maintenance for SEPTA and Tom Conway, Deputy Managing Director for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

“The message is, we’re taking this seriously. We consider it a blight on the community,” Malamud-Price asserted.

Malamud-Price called the meeting “eye opening” and said she learned that the City spends over a million dollars each year on graffiti removal. “Imagine what else that money could used for,” she exclaimed.

Neighborhood organizations will soon be sending out email blasts from state Rep. Cherelle Parker’s office asking the public to photograph graffiti incidents and send the pictures to mtairygraffiti@gmail.com as a means to help build documentation in a database that will be managed by community activist, Kelly O’Day. O’Day has been leading the call for action to eradicate the problem.

Malamud-Price said the public will also be asked to report evidence of graffiti to BID, EMAN and WMAN but to refrain from removing the tags themselves. The neighborhood organizations will be reporting once a week to the Community Life Improvement Programs’ (CLIP) Anti-Graffiti Network.

The next step will come in the autumn when the 14th District Police will begin working together with area schools to see if school officials, educators and maintenance staff can help identify the culprits. The thought is that if the graffiti acts are being committed by youth, then it is likely they will have also adorned clothing, backpacks and books with similar tags.

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