A group of Pueblo parents says the end of its graffiti removal program will hurt the city. But city officials say graffiti removal will continue without the Concerned Parents of Pueblo.
Group co-founder Fred Tripp says the program is over because the city didn't give his group money to pay staff members. Concerned Parents asked the city for about $100,000 from the city's Community Development Block Grant allocation. But City Council decided to use that money to fund other programs.
"Not good news. We're not going to get the graffiti program. It's not going to be funded, so I'm going to have to cut staff and figure out where to go from here," says Tripp.
Officials say the city has run a graffiti-removal program paid for with federal grant funds for four years. In making their decision to zero-fund the program, city council members say Pueblo will not become overridden with “tags.” "We don't think it will effect removal in the city at all," says council President Dr. Bill Sova. He adds that the city actually owns the graffiti removal machines used by Concerned Parents, and operates its own graffiti-removal program. "We're going to get Judge Alexander with Youth Offenders to make them do community service and gear them to graffiti removal," says Sova.
Meantime, hundreds of school-aged kids in the Pueblo area will no longer be participating in this community project. "I've been doing this for 12 years---trying to help the community out and the youth. If they want to slap me in the face---stab me in the back---let them do it. I got broad shoulders," says Tripp.