City Announces Full Time Anti-Graffiti Coordinator

How can you tell your city has a graffiti problem?

When its being power washed off trees at a city park.

Omaha is moving forward with recommendations on tackling the city's graffiti problem.

A consultant recently outlined a 26 step plan and the city is already implementing 11 of those measures.

One very important step was taken today.

Oscar Duran lives in the Deer Park neighborhood which may be considered the epicenter of the city's graffiti problem.

Oscar knows the price tag.

"To have some one come out and professionally remove that you're talking anywhere from $1,500 to $2,800 per incident," he said.

The city allocated $305,000 this year in the war on graffiti which pays for two paint vans, supplies, vehicle maintenence and three full time employees.

And now there's a fourth.

Kayleen Young is the city's new anti-graffiti coordinator.

"We're not kidding any more about it and I think that's been the biggest focus for this program," she said. "The intervention and the prosecution if those things are stronger and there's more intervention the kids will all refocus what they are doing."

Part of that re-focus includes a juvenile court package judges can follow in sentencing and establish mentoring programs to channel the offender's talents.

That means giving graffiti "artists" a legal canvas to display their work.

It's a tactic that works in other cities.

"The community does buy into that and coming up with other activities the youth can be involved in so that they don't get into activities like this," Neighborhood Liaison Elisha Novak said.

Duran thinks having a lead coordinator is a good idea given the number of civic and governmental entities aligned against the spread of unwanted graffiti.

"We have a lot of healthy organizations in Omaha right now that are doing things with the graffiti culture in general and Kayleen is going to have to get familiar with all those groups as well," he said.

Young says she's up to the task.

"There's probably some that we can't fix but hopefully the majority we can," she said.

There are currently three sanctioned programs throughout the city aimed at allowing graffiti artists an urban canvas for their work.

Five other locations are being looked at.

Incidentally, the new coordinator's position is not costing the city any additional money in salary. Young previously worked full time in the public works department.

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