“I think graffiti makes Richmond look like a bad community,” Jillian Fetzer says while sitting on a bench in Campbell Square Park. She is reflecting the thoughts of many Port Richmond residents.
Graffiti has been afflicting cities for decades. It is not just an eyesore; it is vandalism. And for the president of Port Richmond’s Town Watch, Maryann Trombetta, it is a sign of more nefarious activity like drugs and can add to the decline in a neighborhood.
“Who would want to live next to that?” Trombetta says talking about graffiti. “It brings down the whole community.”
The Port Richmond Town Watch are the eyes and ears for the Police Department and the group goes on many walks around the neighborhood to spot any signs of trouble. On these walks Trombetta takes many pictures of graffiti around Port Richmond and submits them to the Anti-Graffiti Network.
The Anti-Graffiti Network is available to all Philadelphia residents. If a resident sees graffiti, he or she can report it to have the group come and remove it by calling 215-686-0000. The group also provides a paint voucher program that provides paint and supplies to anyone who wants to remove graffiti themselves.
Anyone caught doing graffiti in Philadelphia is issued a $300 fine. However, most of the time only the graffiti is seen and not the graffiti artist. While installing cameras to catch the people doing graffiti is one option, Trombetta offers another suggestion.
“Mayor Nutter wants to put a tax on soda,” Trombetta says. “There should also be a tax on spray paint.” Her idea is to provide a fund to help pay for graffiti removal.
Although she keeps submitting the pictures of the graffiti around Port Richmond to the Anti-Graffiti Network, the graffiti keeps on reappearing and she just wants it to stop.
“It makes it look like nobody cares about the neighborhood,” says Trombetta. “And I do care.”