The Ottumwa Courier

April 18, 2013

Parks board hears discontent from former council member

By CHELSEA DAVIS Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA — Graffiti may seem more commonplace since it’s become more frequent, but a former council member is saying that doesn’t mean the city shouldn’t put forth an effort to erase it.

Former council member Shannon Addison sent the Parks Advisory Board a letter Tuesday, stating her dismay with comments made by Parks Director Gene Rathje in an article in Tuesday’s Courier, “Graffiti disconcerting but not uncommon,” discussing recent graffiti covering the restroom in Wildwood Park.

“The longer graffiti remains on a targeted building or area encourages more graffiti,” Addison wrote. “...When we have graffiti, we need to immediately seek (not when we have time) to remove and paint over the graffiti.”

Addison referenced several efforts made by the city in the past to reduce graffiti, including a Keep Iowa Beautiful City designation, an effort by Health and Inspections Director Jody Gates to include graffiti in the nuisance ordinance and the Make Ottumwa Shine program.

Rathje emphasized that he drives through Wildwood Park once a week and first noticed the graffiti on Friday, meaning it had to have happened sometime in the few days prior.

“There was also graffiti in the restroom in the Jimmy Jones Shelter last summer,” Rathje said. “I told the campground supervisors about it, gave them some graffiti remover and he cleaned it up that day.”

Board member Sarah Sels said removing the graffiti within a week is completely appropriate.

“When it used to happen, it was so new and different that it astounded everybody,” said board president Bob Beisch. “Now, it’s unfortunate, but it’s an ongoing problem — and it’s an expensive, ongoing problem.”

Those with concerns about graffiti can call the Parks Department at 641-682-7873.