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Martinsburg resident asks for 'unified' policy to wipe out graffiti

July 12, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A resident urged Martinsburg City Council on Thursday to adopt a “unified” anti-graffiti policy that could allow residents as well as the city workers to wipe out gang-related markings and other illicit writing and drawing within hours after they are discovered.

Kimberly Nelson of Boyd Avenue suggested the city could generate money to pay for a more vigorous response to the vandalism by establishing a street sweeper schedule and fining residents who fail to adhere to it by temporarily moving their vehicles.

Nelson cited instances where graffiti in Martinsburg had not been quickly removed, which she said only attracts more “tags” by other gangs marking their territory or other individuals.

Nelson said she would like the city to change the city’s ordinance to allow for graffiti to be quickly covered up so “there’s just no leaving it” to attract more degradation.

Mayor George Karos, who thanked Nelson for her comments, noted the city already discovered graffiti along parts of the yet to be opened extension of Raleigh Street.

City Attorney Floyd M. “Kin” Sayre III conceded to Nelson that the city’s code enforcement process for addressing vandalism and other violations can sometimes be “lengthy in nature.” Sayre told city council members that he would be willing to look at possible ordinance changes that could be made within the parameters of state code.

Examples of graffiti cited in the discussion with city officials Thursday were negative statements made about the police and gang tagging, among others.

n In other matters Thursday, the city council unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Mark Baldwin to apply for state funding to replace the Oak Street bridge.

The city would pay 20 percent of the bridge cost through the state Department of Transportation’s bridge replacement program, which Baldwin told council members does have funding available for the project.

Based on a number of assumptions, state officials estimated the bridge would cost $1,295,400, with the city’s share being more than $250,000, according to Baldwin.

An agreement prepared by the state for the city to consider still needs to be finalized and it will include a new estimated cost, Baldwin told the council.

Baldwin said he would work to protect the option not to proceed with construction of the bridge should new cost estimates be too expensive, but the city would still be responsible for its share of the design work.

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