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Brown County Parks says costly graffiti cleanup important for public safety

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jun 12, 2024

HOWARD (NBC 26) — Brown County Parks says it's been busy removing graffiti along the Mountain-Bay State Trail to restore historic spaces but also as a safety precaution.

  • See the graffiti remaining on parts of a historic railway bridge along the Mountain-Bay State Trail in Howard
  • Parks Director Matt Kriese says cleanup has taken away needed funds and hours of employee time
  • Kriese says the graffiti along a bridge could lead to slips from bikers, roller bladers and even people walking

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

This tunnel is one of the spots along the Mountain-Bay State Trail hit with graffiti. I'm your Howard neighborhood reporter Pari Apostolakos. The parks department says this is a big problem, and it's not done cleaning up yet.

Along the Mountain-Bay State Trail, I ran into Rebakah Secord on one of her many walks here. She says she often passes by the bridge and tunnel both recently painted with graffiti.

"It's not the right place," Secord said. "It'd be nice [for] everything to stay clean."

Brown County Parks Director Matt Kriese feels the same way.

"It was absolutely somebody's artwork, and there's a time and place for that artwork," Kriese said. "But, our state recreational trails are not the time and place for that."

He says the graffiti first started showing up in the winter and continued into the spring. Kriese tells me the wrong kind of paint on a bridge like this could be a safety risk, causing bikers, roller bladers or even people out walking to slip.

He says after trying everything from pressure washing to wire brushing, they had to repaint the bridge with a costly non-slip paint, and the graffiti on the historic railway portion of the bridge is still visible.

"It takes countless hours from our full-time staff, it takes our resources away," Kriese said.

Kriese says the person responsible for the unwelcome artwork was given two citations after being caught by multiple surveillance cameras the parks department has set up along the trail.

"Pictures are what they are," he said. "We're able to pinpoint trends and things that leads to the ultimate, you know, the citations that were issued."

Kriese says the more than 100-year-old railway bridge will be painted over some time this summer. In Howard, Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.