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4/6/2010
Councilman Weiner's Citizen Brigade to remove Route 141 graffiti - News Journal

Volunteer painters all will be working professionals directed by Mike Ansul, of Ansul Construction, who is a captain with the Citizens Anti-Graffiti Brigade organized by Councilman Bob Weiner. Rep. Deborah Hudson, New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner and Sen. Michael S. Katz have recruited a team to paint over the graffiti at the end of May. Weiner plans to use part of a New Castle County police grant that he spearheaded to help underwrite the out of pocket costs.

Brushing away a longtime eyesore
Graffiti-marred rail bridge slated for painting
BY IRA PORTER • THE NEWS JOURNAL • APRIL 6, 2010

For Greenville-area residents traveling along Del. 141, seeing NERD HUMOR and some other undecipherable graffiti in large letters on the rail bridge south of Del. 52 is anything but humorous.

"It's very offensive," said Rep. Deborah Hudson, R-Fairthorne. "When you look at it, you have to wonder how anybody got up there to do it."
Hudson, New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner and Sen. Michael S. Katz, D- Centreville, have recruited a team to paint over the graffiti at the end of May. Included in the effort are Delaware Department of Transportation  officials, youths ordered to do community service, contractors and railroad personnel.

Hudson drew applause at a recent Greater Hockessin Area Development Association meeting when she announced that the graffiti, which she estimates has been there for 15 to 20 years, will be covered. She tried to get the state involved, but painting the bridge was not in the budget.

New Castle County land-use codes fine companies for not keeping their properties clean, but the railroad bridge is exempt from the code because the county doesn't have jurisdiction over federal regulated utilities, Weiner said.

Lawmakers reached out to East Penn Railroad Company, which owns the bridge, but again, money to paint it was not in the budget. They persisted, letters were written, and eventually Hudson said DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks wrote a letter to the railroad on behalf of 141 Bridge Alliance. In November, the railroad agreed to let the group paint it as long as all safety precautions were taken.

"This is just always on the minds of people," said Hudson, who lives close to the bridge. "I'll see them in the grocery store and they'll say, 'I drove under the bridge. Can't you get it painted?' "

Hudson expects the project will cost at least $15,000, and she has created a tax ID and a post office  box in hopes that residents who want to beautify their neighborhood will contribute. The group wouldn't disclose how much it has raised so far, but Weiner said he plans to use part of a New Castle County police grant.

Volunteer painters all will be working professionals directed by Mike Ansul, of Ansul Construction, who is a captain with the Citizens Anti-Graffiti Brigade organized by Weiner. The team will work for four to six nights in crews of four to six to paint the 212 1/2-foot bridge. DelDOT officials have agreed to shut down a lane of traffic during the hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. while painters work.

Ansul and his painters will be lifted in hydraulic lifts and paint by hand. Most of the equipment for the job has been donated to the group. Money raised will pay for engineering and other cleaning costs.

"It's not going to be something elaborate," Ansul said of the design. "We thought about something blue and gold, a lot of things to represent the state. But we thought if we made it elaborate, that would make it a target for these taggers."

Ansul said preliminary colors the group is thinking about are beige or green. "That way, it's easy for us to pop back out there so we can paint back over their tags" if it is defaced again.

Ansul said the group is hoping the railroad company will come up with a few thousand dollars to put up four chunks of fence with barbed wire to keep taggers off the property.
Bob Parker, president and CEO of East Penn Railroad, said the company wants to stop the taggers, too.

"When they are painting, they are trespassing on our property, and we will prosecute," said Parker, whose company purchased the bridge in August 2007.

"It's unsightly and it reflects better on the community and the railroad to have it looking nice," Parker said. "We're grateful that the committee has stepped forward and we're happy to cooperate with them."

Glenn Barnhill, a resident of nearby Westover Hills, lives close to the bridge. He has seen kids walking on train tracks and has seen some of the graffiti they leave behind. He thinks there should be harsher penalties for the youths and their parents. But, for now, he will take a community effort to beautify the area.

"Our neighborhood has pledged some money toward it. If every neighborhood puts up a couple thousand dollars apiece it will certainly help," Barnhill said. "I think any neighborhood -- I don't care what side of town you're from -- any neighborhood has vast improvement if you don't have graffiti. It degrades any type of neighborhood."

Anyone interested in donating to getting the bridge painted can send checks payable to 141 Bridge Alliance to P.O. Box 1401, Dover, DE 19903

 

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