Since my letter to the editor about graffiti and broken windows in the city of Parkersburg appeared, many citizens have told me their eyes are now opened and they see this ongoing vandalism deserves fresh alarm. That's good - awareness of this cancerous problem is our city's first step.
The current damage is far greater than any single citizen can reasonably clean up. So, for this reason, I continue to request city officials take the lead in crafting solutions. We need broad scale, deliberate action now before vandalism further mutilates our area. When I raised this topic with a city official recently, I was informed, "Parkersburg is no different than any other West Virginia city."
I beg to differ. There are two issues with that excuse for doing nothing. First - even if it were true, even if the rest of the state looked as distressed - that's no reason for us to leave our own place in deplorable condition. And, even more importantly, point two, the visual evidence I've collected shows that the city of Parkersburg's condition is not the norm.
Driving home from Bridgeport last week, west on U.S. 50, I exited at the first downtown Clarksburg opportunity. I drove Pike Street into downtown, crossing over to West Main, traveling its length, then, to the bottom of the hill past Second Street - the gist of their entire downtown area (equivalent to driving down Market, back up Avery streets). While I observed some similarity - vacant buildings needing work - what I didn't see at all - what was missing entirely - was graffiti! Even the large silver junction boxes on their electric poles gleam. No graffiti - none. Driving through the city's parking garage to return to U.S. 50, I saw where graffiti had been, but was now covered. The only place I observed graffiti was along the rear of an industrial building I saw from a distance.
A stranger driving through Clarksburg would observe a fairly clean downtown, with no current graffiti; quite unlike much of the city of Parkersburg. I ask our city officials to investigate how Clarksburg manages this feat. And, then, let's get moving on a citywide graffiti-eradication project, putting some mechanism to monitor areas cleaned thereafter. Only then, can we give meaning to the city's tagline, "a beautiful place to call home."