Neighbors put high pressure on graffiti in Peoria


PEORIA —

After an insurgence of graffiti in a Central Peoria neighborhood, residents gathered to come up with a solution to remove it.

After meeting with police officers and neighbors, members of the Altamont Park Neighborhood Association began researching ways to get rid of graffiti, which led them to Hanson Industrial in Bartonville.

“I gave (Hanson) a call and went out there to talk . . . about what we needed,” said Paul Wilkinson, president of the association. “Basically, it’s a big pressure washer.”

After finding the machine and local distributors for the chemicals needed, Wilkinson said they found out it would cost about $7,000 to get everything running, which meant they had to find that much money.

“When Joan Krupa was running for state representative, she came across this broad grant for the Rotary Club,” Wilkinson said. “So Bill Krokos (owner of Hanson Industrial) wrote a grant to the Rotary Club.”

Despite initial monetary concerns, the Rotary Club was able to fund about $4,500 of the machine through two different avenues. Money also came from leftover funds from Krupa’s campaign and CEFCU.

The association hosted a demonstration Saturday morning for the project’s donors at the Peoria City/County Health Department.

“It works,” Wilkinson said. “We painted on some concrete and a metal square. … The chemicals melt away the paint. It’s kind of like wiping off a dirty window.”

The machine won’t be hosing down just the Altamont Park neighborhood, either.

“We’re going to make it available to any other neighborhood association or organization,” Wilkinson said. “This is an expensive piece of equipment, so it seems to be a waste to use it for just one neighborhood. And we found it was cheaper to buy than rent, especially if it’s made available to different neighborhoods.”

The Altamont Park association sent letters to property owners in the neighborhood on Friday. The letters will ask permission to clean graffiti off their property.

Once that neighborhood is cleaned up and Wilkinson and his team have documented any “hurdles,” as he put it, the machine will be made available to other areas in the city, which should be after Aug. 1.

“Our goal is to help other neighborhoods and organizations get this done,” Wilkinson said. “It’s going to be an ongoing problem, so we should be able to keep the machine pretty busy.”

An important aspect of the project, Wilkinson said, is that it wasn’t funded by tax dollars.

“We’re not asking for city money,” he said. “This needs to be a community project.”

Posted Jul 18, 2009 @ 09:32 PM

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