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City takes over graffiti cleaning trailer

The city of Springfield will take over ownership of a graffiti cleaning trailer after the county learned it cannot use money from the Clark County Waste Management District for it.

County officials spoke with the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year and it was determined the unit cannot be paid for by Waste Management.

“Graffiti does not meet the definition of solid waste,” said Waste Management Director Alice Godsey. “It’s not proper for us to use solid waste funds on graffiti.”

County commissioners agreed April 9 to donate the trailer at no cost to the city, effective immediately. City commissioners accepted the donation last week.

The unit is under new ownership, but that won’t change its usage procedures at this point. The unit is still available to other government organizations, they’ll just contact the city instead of the Waste Management District.

Keep Clark County Beautiful purchased the trailer in 2009 after collecting about $23,000 in donations from the Springfield Foundation, Clark County Juvenile Court, the Waste Management District and the city.

The unit has been used at least 50 times since then, according Carly Woodrow, community relations specialist. She said it’s hard to track how much use the unit received from other governments, such as townships and other organizations.

Godsey said the unit hasn’t been used since last fall due to the weather. The city has been the primary user of the unit since it was purchased.

The unit is able to blast away or cover large areas of graffiti. The trailer uses a generator, air compressor and blaster to quickly remove paint from surfaces using a mixture of water and baking soda.

The Clark County Waste Management District would train employees of other government organizations before using the unit.

Also, once freezing temperatures arrive, the unit must be put back into storage.

“It’s pretty much a spring, summer, fall thing,” Woodrow said.

The city uses the unit only on public property and in the public right-of-way, according to Springfield Service Director Chris Moore. It has used the unit on brick, asphalt, concrete and metal surfaces in the past.

He also plans to test the unit on different surfaces.

“We don’t want to cause more than harm good,” Moore said.

He’ll work closely with Springfield Law Director Jerry Strozdas to iron out details on the possibility of private organizations using the unit, and said any program regarding private property is still in its infancy.

“We just have to figure out the best ways to do that,” Moore said.

City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill urged city staff last week to be cautious regarding how it loans the unit to private groups or residents.

“Anybody that has tools can tell you, you don’t loan your tools out,” O’Neill said. “It’s just usually one of those things where they don’t give them back, or it comes back broken and it ends up being an expense.”

Commissioner Dan Martin asked city staff members to have some urgency regarding the policies. He believes graffiti is again becoming an issue as the weather gets warmer this spring.

“It’s pretty noticeable that graffiti is coming back,” Martin said.

The city must also figure out how to work out complications with the code enforcement department.

“I would be very careful with what I’m proposing regarding public buildings and private buildings,” O’Neill said. “I think they’re two different animals.”

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