SALEM, Ohio- Graffiti has become such a problem in the City of Salem that council has even considered punishing property owners who don't remove it. Now, one group is working to resolve the issue, using a more positive approach.
More than 80 spots in Salem have been vandalized with graffiti. It's a problem Councilman Rick Drummond said is deterring potential businesses from settling in the area.
"I think for the most part people are disappointed that it's there, that their city has kind of slid to the point where it's on the walls and it's not coming off quickly," said Drummond.
The councilman says other cities have passed an ordinance, punishing property owners if the vandalism isn't cleaned-up. The idea was considered in Salem, but met with criticism as residents said, you're basically punishing the victim.
"If you can do it like we're hoping to do it, where the public gets involved, the main point is just to get rid of it quickly and consistently," Drummond said.
To help resolve the issue about a dozen residents have formed a task group. They hope to work with police to report and identify reoccurring markings, work with the schools to educate kids on the harm graffiti can have to community, as well as help victims of the vandalism clean-up.
"If one person does one thing, it just makes the problem so much smaller," said Owner of Salem Fun Factory, Lisa Cartwright.
Without funding from the city, the group hopes donations will help fund their effort. They've discussed offering rewards as an incentive to report suspected vandals and they've requested the courts punish to the full extent of the law.
"So it sets a record for people in the courts to see, if you do this, this is what's going to happen to you as a deterrent," said Councilwoman Cindy Baronzzi Dickey.
The group will hold another public meeting on Tuesday, February 26th at 6:00p.m. at City Council Chambers.
In the meantime, to report graffiti, Salem residents can call their ward representative or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org