TAG Team tackles graffiti

 
 Messenger photos by Rachel Scofield

Members of the Friends of the Hilltop’s committee, Together Against Graffiti (TAG), pose before power washing a vandal’s signature from the side of the Family Dollar at Sullivant and Hague avenues.

 
 Gary Baker, president of Friends of the Hilltop, scrubs a graffiti tag off the wall of the Family Dollar located at the corner of Sullivant and Hague.

To Courtney Dekle, the Hilltop holds the potential to become a premier central Ohio community.

“If you close your eyes and imagine, there’s a book store here and a coffee shop there,” Dekle said.

Although too young to remember, Dekle said she has seen photos of the Short North from 15 years ago when it was less desireable than it is now.

If the Short North and the Arena District received second chances, why not the Hilltop?

Dekle moved to the Hilltop a few years ago after “falling in love with the small town feel,”  but as she began to drive around she noticed the proliferation of graffiti.

“It’s just terrible,” Dekle said. “There is a lot to be said about a community that’s not so positive when the graffiti has been there a while.”

She decided to do something about it.  Dekle and her husband Chris asked their fellow members of Friends of the Hilltop to join them in removing graffiti from various homes and businesses around the area.

 

A committee soon formed that called itself TAG (Together Against Graffiti).

To graffiti vandals, a “tag” usually refers to a signature applied in spray paint to a wall.

With the help of the Hilltop Business Association, the Westgate Neighbors Association, Dave Horn, Schoedinger Hilltop Chapel and the Dekles, the Friends of the Hilltop purchased a power washer and over the Independence Day weekend got to work.

They removed the graffiti from a billboard at the corner of Wilson Road and Sullivant Avenue, and then power washed a large tag from the side of the Alex Market on Sullivant.

On Aug. 16, the group met at the Family Dollar located at the corner of Sullivant and Hague remove a tag and clear trash.

Gary Baker, president of the Friends of the Hilltop, said that TAG is an “incredibly exciting initiative that will help bring about the Hilltop Renaissance.”

“The city doesn’t have endless resources,” Baker said. “They will remove graffiti from city property only. Code enforcement does not cite private property owners if the owners don’t mind the graffiti on their property.”

An unexpected roadblock that TAG encountered was the inability to reach property owners to receive permission to clean their buildings. Before TAG begins a project, the property owner or manager must sign a waiver.

To join the TAG team or to suggest an area where graffiti needs to be removed, contact Dekle at 216-3039 or contact Friends of the Hilltop at www.friendsofthehilltop.com.

“The Westside is the best side and we want to keep it that way,” Baker said.  “Long live Hilltop, USA!”

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