Hudson -- It only cost vandals a couple of dollars for a can of spray paint, but the city will have to pay at least $12,000 to remove the graffiti on downtown railroad bridges.
During the April 22 Council workshop, members asked about appropriations of $20,000 for painting the downtown railroad bridges to cover the graffiti and $4,000 for the Norfolk Southern Railroad permits and fees related to the painting.
Interim City Manager Scott Schroyer said the cost of paint could range from $12,000 to $20,000, and the $4,000 is a fee in escrow required in case the railroad needs to provide a flagman in the area to stop a train during the work.
Council directed the city to obtain bids to paint three downtown railroad bridges on state Routes 303 and 91. Although graffiti has been on two bridges for years, the recent bright orange block letters added to a bridge on state Route 303 resulted in complaints from residents.
Council President Hal DeSaussure said he worried about painting the train bridges and creating a blank canvas for future graffiti and wondered if it would become an annual expense in the budget.
"We need to think long and hard about trying to match the creativity of students who want to make a mark in the community," DeSaussure said.
Council member David Basil said it was a small minority of high school students involved.
"Some suggest this is a harmless prank, but it's costly," said Council member William Wooldredge. "It does cost the city money."
Others wanted someone held responsible for the vandalism.
"I'm bothered it's 100 percent on our dime," said Council member Keith Smith.
Smith said he would like someone to pay restitution but can't pick out the responsible party.
"I'm afraid it will happen again, year after year," Smith added.
With the estimate of damage between $4,000 and $6,666 per bridge, the vandals could face charges.
"It could be criminal trespassing or rise to the charge of vandalism," according to Jody Roberts, communications manager. "Because it is federal government property, the vandalism charge would be a felony."
Schroyer suggested schools provide a rock for students to paint and encourage them to leave city infrastructure graffiti free.
Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing