Graffiti degrades our city

Graffiti – I don’t know what it signifies locally, but to me, it exemplifies decay. For years, graffiti was confined to alley ways and obscure locations. Now regardless of where I look, it’s ever-increasing. Graffiti has an insidious quality; seeing it daily desensitizes one; its prevalence almost makes the graffiti seem “normal.” It’s not normal and I’m tired of it. It makes a lousy first impression for a newcomer, and it’s an embarrassment to those of us who live here. It makes no sense to tolerate it in a city wanting to attract business.

A former area resident and his spouse were in town recently and shared that they felt Parkersburg was looking more distressed each time they visited, despite obvious efforts put into improving our downtown. It was hard to see all the good things happening for the obvious vandalism. Among things they cited were broken windows in dilapidated buildings and graffiti along our main roads, making our city resemble an urban area.

I’ve taken a number of photos to document graffiti I’ve seen while walking throughout our city but hesitate to publish them for fear it will only encourage copycats. Driving 36th Street from Emerson toward Broad, several buildings bordering residential neighborhoods are boldly defaced. Traveling Avery Street, from downtown toward 13th Street, most signs, utility junction boxes and a number of buildings are significantly marred.

Having brazenly shifted out of our alley ways and onto our streets, it’s only a matter of time before it migrates even further into residential neighborhoods. It’s already been in some places for years, marking street signs and utility boxes. Without intervention, it’s only a matter of time before this problem worsens. And, with graffiti, next comes broken glass. I’ve watched broken windows appear in vacant buildings downtown almost overnight. Thankfully, at least some of them are boarded up for now. But what follows broken glass? What’s next?

There is no redeeming artistic value to the graffiti currently proliferating downtown; it’s an eyesore; it’s vandalism, pure and simple. I’m calling on our city and elected officials to get a handle on this issue to curtail it. Let the public know how to help; then, let’s all do what it takes to clean up our place and make it one we can take pride in.

Judy Sjostedt