Press release from Mayor Ken Cockayne:
The City of Bristol and Mayor Ken Cockayne (R-Bristol) continue to fight blight in the community. To date, six houses have been demolished that were failing to meet minimal standards. Several more have been put on notice. Code Enforcement has attacked this issue with vigor and will continue to do so.
As a second stage in the blight fight, Mayor Cockayne has instructed Code Enforcement to increase their efforts to address graffiti as well. “If any code official is out and see's graffiti I would like it addressed ASAP. In the past this was complaint driven. This will now be addressed when noticed.” said Mayor Cockayne.
Current statutes call for the removal of graffiti within ten days of notice from the building department. Failure to comply will result in the removal of the offending markings by a private contractor hired by the city. The resulting fees will be placed on the property in the manner of a tax lien which is allowed by local and state laws.
“We will continue to address blighted properties, but I feel we need to continue this fight on other levels as well. Graffiti is a public nuisance and is a criminal act. I for one am very concerned about what it says about our community to people visiting our town.” said Mayor Cockayne. “This next stage needs to be a community effort. I am asking for residents to speak up and report offenders. Educate your children on why graffiti is a criminal act.”
The Mayor is also considering the formation of a Graffiti Task Force, similar to those found in larger cities and urban centers. “I want to be proactive and very responsive to the needs of this community. There are Graffiti Task Forces in larger communities that have taken a very comprehensive approach to addressing this issue, including education, reporting, prosecution, removal teams, and many other functions. The best function though is how they seem to engage the public in addressing the issue. I would like to explore some of them and perhaps modify an existing model to meet our needs.”
One piece of this that the Mayor is hoping to unveil as soon as possible is a clear and effective way to report graffiti to the city. Mayor Cockayne stated, “I would like to see a link on our city webpage in which citizens can report graffiti with an attached photo and location. We can address it than follow up with the complainant when it has been remedied.”
“I look at blight as a quality of life issue and we have only just begun to fight. The tone has been set with code enforcement and the razing of properties not in compliance. We will continue that fight, but we are now taking things a step further and will pay increased attention to other contributing factors as well. The first one to be addressed will be graffiti. This time, my hope is to engage the public as well though. This is our town and we all have a responsibility to work together to improve it.”