Officials hope to erase town’s graffiti problem

Program would remove markings within 24 hours


Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – – Grant money may help the borough purchase equipment to remove graffiti, which has become a growing concern among residents.

The state Department of Environmental Protection last month gave towns in the 19th Legislative District a total of almost $190,000 through the Clean Communities Program, with Sayreville receiving $38,601 of that. The grant money can be used to finance road cleanup campaigns and litter abatement programs, as well as graffiti removal.

“These programs go a long way toward cleaning up our environment and making our towns and cities better places to live,” state Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) said.

Borough Councilman Stanley Drwal said officials want to find out if some of the funds can be used to purchase a graffiti-removing device called the Farrow System, at a cost of $6,000 to $8,000.

“I am not sure yet if we can use [the grant money] for that,” Drwal said. “We are researching how to fund it. If we can, we may take it out of there.”

The Farrow System, developed in Europe, uses water and a nontoxic compound called Green Clean, Drwal said.

The product can be used to remove graffiti on a variety of surfaces and to erase road markings, according to the Farrow System Web site.

“It is used on historic buildings to get rid of graffiti,” Drwal said. “It works on taking graffiti off without damaging surfaces, even on fragile surfaces.”

Borough officials are working on a strategy for cleaning up areas of town where police and residents find graffiti and illegal dumping to be a growing problem, Drwal said.

“The general concept is to start a multipronged attack on graffiti and to clean up the town,” he said.

The borough’s Conservation Corps begins its new season of work next week. Drwal helped to form the group of high school age employees and adult volunteers to get garbage off borough streets and maintain the grounds at the Julian L. Capik Nature Preserve, Bordentown Avenue.

“What we want to do is present a better image to people, not only the citizens who live here, but the people who want to invest in town,” Drwal said.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the borough’s public works and police departments each have a role in the effort, Drwal said, adding that the borough is looking at a program to get rid of graffiti within 24 hours and remove large objects that are illegally dumped within 48 hours.

“There would be public works people whose job it is to respond to graffiti within 24 hours,” Drwal said.

When asked about any added costs of having employees perform this function, Drwal said the only cost planned so far is the purchase of the Farrow System.

“We are now looking at how we allocate our manpower and we can use people we already have on the payroll and supplement them with the Conservation Corps,” Drwal said. “We don’t have any added cost, except for buying the equipment for graffiti removal.”

Local officials will host a demonstration on how the Farrow System can be used to remove graffiti in the next few weeks.

The demonstration is not formally planned yet, Drwal said, but officials are considering two graffiti-marked locations in the borough for the event – a bridge on Bordentown Avenue near the apartments off Winding Wood Drive, or the Garden State Parkway overpass on Washington Road.

The state’s efforts to remove graffiti on the parkway overpass have not brought a significant improvement to the appearance of that area, Drwal said.

“Sometimes the covering of [graffiti] looks just as bad as the original graffiti,” Drwal said. “This [Farrow System] restores it to its original surface.”

The state’s manpower is limited, Drwal noted, so if the borough purchases this equipment, they may get a partial reimbursement from the state and the county for cleaning up sites such as Bordentown Avenue and Washington Road.

“The key to getting graffiti under control is to get rid of it immediately, and enforce the law so that [the culprits] find another target,” Drwal said.