Gene Sarmiento of SparkleWash removes blue graffiti markings from the brick wall the 4400 block of South Yosemite in the Cherry Creek Village community of Greenwood Village on Jan. 30. The city has a minor problem with graffiti as it removes the tags quickly by utilizing professional contractors.
Photo by Tom Barry
Gene Sarmiento of SparkleWash removes blue graffiti markings from the brick wall the 4400 block of South Yosemite in the Cherry Creek Village community of Greenwood Village on Jan. 30. The city has a minor problem with graffiti as it removes the tags quickly by utilizing professional contractors.Photo by Tom Barry
By Tom Barry
The Greenwood Village community erected 8 – 12 foot brick walls beginning in 1988 and graffiti was one of the considerations, as masonry products require less maintenance. The primary factor in constructing these expansive walls was the appearance of the masonry structures that stretch along major roadways in the city.
On Jan. 30, there was a rare sight in the Village – a well-used white service van could be seen on the east sidewalk of the 4400 block of south Yosemite – near the radar speed sign approaching I-225.
Pro contractors utilized
Gene Sarmiento, an employee of SparkleWash, applied an abrasive chemical agent to soak the obtrusive and eye-catching markings. He then used a hot water power wash to remove the remaining markings of the recently tagged blue graffiti on the 10 foot wall.
The graffiti in this incident consisted of an area of about three feet high and five feet long, a relatively typical size for a “tagger.” It took the trained employee with all the specialized resources about 40 minutes to remove the large and highly visible letters. Despite these professional efforts, minor shadowing still exists.
This $150 graffiti cleaning – $10 per square foot tab – was picked up by the city, which contracts with several service providers for graffiti removal.
24 hour goal
“Our goal is to have the graffiti removed in 24 hours,” said John Sheldon, a veteran of Greenwood Village’s Public Works Department. “We coordinate this with the police department to make sure that any graffiti is documented.”
In 2012, the city expended $4,140 in graffiti removal endeavors, a mere pittance compared to many other surrounding municipalities.
Greenwood Village takes care of graffiti on facilities, public rights of way and parks. Commercial and residential property owners are responsible for having graffiti removed themselves.
Each year the city installs additional landscaping to make it harder for taggers to gain easy access to vandalize the walls. This landscaping is done between the road and the wall.
“One advantage we may have is that we don’t have many painted surfaces,” said Sheldon. “A lot of the walls are masonry surfaces and the power washing is very effective.”
Tagging viewed as vandalism
“We view graffiti as vandalism and that could be perceived as a security issue in our community,” said Sheldon, who has worked for the city for 20 years. “We take tagging very seriously and that is why the police department is involved.”
Graffiti tends to be a random occurrence in the city. It has been proven over time that removing the spray paint or enamel markings within 24 hours repeatedly frustrates the vandal who typically goes elsewhere.
“Our surveillance includes the thousands of eyes from observant residents and citizens who know to contact our police department should they see any suspicious activities,” Sheldon said.
Residents and businesses that experience graffiti vandalism are encouraged to call City Hall as soon as possible. The police then go to the scene and photograph the tag and review it for any potential symbolism. A contractor then quickly responds to the scene to remove the markings.
“The warmer the weather – the easier to clean,” said Sarmiento. “Heat is one of the best things to use because it actually makes the paint soft – making it come off easier.”
In the event of a tagging, a Greenwood Village neighborhood services officer personally notifies the property owner of the incident.
Residents take pride
“Historically, on private property, we have never had any problem with private property owners, both residential and commercial,” said George Weaver, Greenwood Village’s director of community development, referring to his 16 years in the department.
The city does not have the ability to fine property owners for graffiti that is not removed in a timely manner.
“There is a judicial process for that and a compliant would be referred to the municipal court,” said Weaver.
“A lot of the florescent spray paint that is used for tagging is stolen from construction sites,” said Josh Whitten, a supervisor at SparkleWash. “A vast majority of the vandalism is done with spray paint and now includes enamel pens from hobby shops.”
There are numerous graffiti removal companies that work with homes and businesses. It is suggested that consumers shop around and receive estimates and referrals prior to having the work done.
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