Several times a day, Sandy Krytus, a bus driver for Northwood Local Schools, dreads driving by the CSX railroad underpass on Woodville Road.
That’s because the underpass, located in Oregon, has become an eyesore.
“There’s gang symbols and profanity spray painted out there,” she said. And old tires, she added, are strewn on the sidewalk.
“My route causes me to go down Woodville Road to the other side of Northwood, so I probably go under that underpass with school kids a minimum of four times a day. Oregon and other Northwood buses also have to go by there. It just seems there should be some community pride. I don’t understand why gangs are allowed to do that, and that nobody wants to address the situation.”
Krytus, who lives in Elmore, said she contacted Oregon late last year, and again last month, but the graffiti has remained on the concrete abutments of the underpass. Since then, two old tires were dumped there.
“The underpass on East Broadway is also the subject of graffiti and it gets cleaned up,” she said. “If I ever see graffiti on that underpass, it’s not there for very long before it’s painted up again.”
An abandoned Taco Bell restaurant just blocks away on Woodville Road in Northwood was also quickly cleaned up after it was the target of graffiti, she said.
“So someone is taking some pride and is not letting the gangs claim these places. I don’t understand why Oregon isn’t more anxious to do something about it,” she said.
Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman said the city does clean up graffiti if it is sprayed on public buildings. The city does not clean up the graffiti on the underpass on Woodville Road because it is owned by CSX.
“Sometimes our skate park gets graffiti, and our recreation department ends up coating it with a compound that resists spray paint. But the underpass on Woodville is CSX’s. We don’t maintain it. We would have to contact CSX,” said Roman.
He isn’t confident the railroad will remove it, he added, because the railroad companies are notorious for not returning phone calls.
“I’ve had a lot of things I’ve needed from CSX, and Norfolk Southern, and it’s always difficult to contact them. But I can try,” he said.
“There’s a lot of things we can do to force them to paint over it and we will try and go that route,” said Roman.
The city, for example, could declare the graffiti on the underpass a public nuisance if the railroad doesn’t respond.
“If they simply refuse to do it, then we could do the work and bill them,” he said.
It is something Northwood would also do, said Administrator Pat Bacon.
“Without a doubt, it is a nuisance,” said Bacon. “We had some graffiti behind the Great Eastern Shopping Center. We called the owners and they cleaned it up immediately.”
Owners of the abandoned Taco Bell on Woodville Road also cleaned up graffiti on the building after they were notified by Northwood, said Bacon.
Brentwood Park used to be the frequent target of graffiti until officials installed security cameras, she said.
The city uses a substance that specifically removes graffiti on buildings.
Northwood has also cleaned up graffiti on the concrete columns of the railroad underpass on East Broadway. “We have maintained that,” she said. “It’s not ours. We didn’t build that bridge. But we did take care of it.”
Bacon said the city tries to stay on top of getting graffiti removed as soon as possible.
“When someone enters your community, you want to make a good impression. If they see graffiti, they think there’s gangs and crime in the area. Keeping the community clean is a source of community pride.”
CSX did not return messages left by The Press for comment.