Neighborhood blogger pleased with SEPTA’s response to graffiti

An activist neighbor said he is impressed with SEPTA’s diligence in removing graffiti from a Mt. Airy train station yesterday. Not only was it a federal holiday, President’s Day, but the incident had only been reported one day before the mass transit organization cleaned it up.

Kelly O’Day keeps a close lookout for graffiti and blemishes at Sedgwick Station, located at Sprague St. and Mt. Pleaseant Ave. O’Day has lived across the street from the station for four years. He contacted SEPTA about the incident via his neighborhood blog, “Devon Village Wall: Helping to beautify E. Mt. Airy one wall at a time.”

On Sunday, when he spotted some lettering sprawled across the wall of the Mt. Airy Avenue bridge and a storage shed near the tracks, he posted photos of fresh graffiti and notified SEPTA of its presence.

“Within an hour of my sending out the notice, SEPTA got in touch with me to let me know [that they’d be fixing it],” O’Day said.

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And less than 24 hours after his complaint, SEPTA slathered fresh paint on the walls, in a grey color that’s supposed to be graffiti-resistant.

O’Day said he’s quick to report these incidents because quick removal of graffiti often deters future vandalism.

“You have to stay on top of this,” he said. “If you leave it for a few days, more tags will come … and soon it’s out of control.”

O’Day uses his blog to urge action from responsible parties when it comes to doing their part of neighborhood sprucing.

He started the blog a year ago as a response to a wall between Devon Village and the train tracks with patches of mismatched colors and a giant hole.

“I had gone to the owner of the development builder of Devon Village, who said they weren’t going to do anything,” O’Day said, adding that he even checked with the Department of Licenses and Inspections to see if there were any code violations. “In the meantime, I started going after the graffiti problem.”

The hole never was fixed, but O’Day coaxed the developer of the townhome complex to paint it.

Disappointed with the results, O’Day was inspired to try harder.

“I became active in saying, ‘We’ve got to do things in fixing the neighborhood,'” he said. “It conveys that people don’t care, and we definitely do care.”

O’Day said that’s why he’s been working closely with SEPTA, in addition to being pleased with their responses to his complaints.

SEPTA painted the bridge — pre-graffiti — which O’Day considered an eyesore, and built two glass shelters for those awaiting the train.

O’Day said SEPTA also has plans to redo fencing between his block and the train tracks, as well as find additional ways to prevent graffiti.

But O’Day added that neighbors should have input into which prevention methods are used. To help keep neighbors involved, he posts photos of ivy-covered buildings in Chestnut Hill to get feedback on aesthetic. Another idea he and SEPTA came up with is to plant rows of trees around walls and sheds to deter further graffiti.

Next on O’Day’s agenda is seeing how he can utilize Philadelphia Water Department’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure plans for his neighborhood, in addition to keeping a watchful eye for new graffiti.

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