New Orleans, La. - Farrow Stephenson moved to the Bywater in 2004 and has watched it grow for the last nine years. But there's a growing problem here, he says: graffiti.
"It really wasn't until we started to become cool that people started saying, 'Oh wait, there's a lot of blank canvasses down, here let's start doing something with it,'" he says,
The canvasses are everywhere: street signs, buildings and a new pedestrian bridge connecting the Bywater with Crescent Park.
The park is still under construction and expected to be complete in the spring of next year. A city spokesperson says the graffiti problem here will be addressed before it opens to the public.
But Bywater Neighborhood Association President Mandy Pumilia says every day the tags remain, and they inspire yet more graffiti.
"You've really got to get to the graffiti and remove it within 24 to 48 hours," says Pumilia. "Graffiti often happens between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. and the faster you remove it, the less of a target you'll be."
The challenge is stopping the problem before it even shows up.
Pumilia says surveillance cameras for the park aren't scheduled to be installed for the next few months. In the meantime, the neighborhood association is working with the construction company in charge of Crescent Park to put up some temporary cameras.
While graffiti on buildings can be covered with paint, the bridge is made of Corten steel and difficult to clean.
"David Adjaye is the architect who designed the bridge at Piety Street and he is probably one of the most accomplished African American architects of our time," says Pumilia. "It really pains me to see this graffiti there."
Bywater resident Adam Newman is a graphic artist and part of what attracted him to this neighborhood is the art evident on every corner. He says there's a limit.
"That line in art between what is art and what is damage, I think a lot of it applies, a lot of it is in the context of where it is," he says.
New Orleans police say they're aware of the problem and investigating complaints of graffiti at Crescent Park.
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