Historic Preservation Commission approves graffiti park

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 11, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s graffiti wall area will soon get an upgrade.

The Historic Preservation Commission on Thursday approved the creation of a graffiti park at 329 S. Main St.

Right now, there are two temporary graffiti walls on the undeveloped lot. The lot is located in the Downtown Historic District.

Stephen Brown, acting as an agent for the city, said they wanted to expand the concept into a park.

The new park would start with nine 4-by-8 feet wall panels and large rocks for artists to paint. There will also be pit gravel walkways and shade trees added.

He said the wall panels would be installed in a way that they can be removed if the city decided to sell the lot.

Brown said eventually they want to expand the number of wall panels to 21 and add gravel off-street parking.

“What’s been the outcome of this is there’s less graffiti in town … Those walls change sometimes daily,” Brown said. “So, with what we have with the nine and expanding to 21, they have more room to do their graffiti work on, their artwork.”

Some of the wall panels will be placed along the side of the property on the opposite side of East Horah Street, with a few in the middle of the property and two placed closer to East Horah. The rocks will be placed on the far side of the property on the opposite side of South Main Street.

Brown said some of the wall panels will still be facing South Main Street after a question from commissioner Sue McHugh.

“Whoever’s doing it wants it to be seen,” McHugh said.

Brown said there will be open green space in the park to use for future events like Art in the Park.

The park will have signage and rules for the graffiti posted. The rules including no hate speech, pornography, drug or gang references or profanity.

“We monitor the walls pretty much daily and if something does show up … we go up there and basically take a roller and white it out,” Brown said.

McHugh mentioned the original intent of the graffiti wall panels was help stop graffiti from being painted on buildings in the city.

She said there are those in the city who love the panels and there are those who hate it.

“Some people really don’t like it but it has been a successful solution. And I think … integrating it into a purposeful park will just enhance that and maybe turn over some of the haters,” she said.

Jon Planosvsky, vice chair of the commission but serving as chair for the meeting, said the panels and eventual park will encourage artwork in the city.

“In reality there is a difference between graffiti and tagging,” he said. “Graffiti is an art form. Tagging is gang work. And I think what this encourages is graffiti.”

Dan DeGraaf stated the findings of fact and made a motion for approval, and the commission approved the park unanimously.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved the removal of a large oak tree that was leaning toward a property at the 300 block of West Bank Street.
  • Advised that an applicant who wanted to remove wood siding on a section of his property at the 100 block of West Thomas Street and replace it with SmartSide panels to replace the siding with similar wood siding instead. The applicant said he would withdraw his application and do that.
  • Conditionally approved the replacement of windows at the 1100 block of North Main Street.
  • Approved a 90-day demolition notice for a church property at the 100 block of Ridge Avenue.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.