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Miami Springs works hard to keep graffiti at bay


Special to the Miami Herald

Taggers and other miscreants who mark their turf in Miami Springs with graffiti are finding that the city’s code and Public Works departments respond quickly to cover it up.

“This city does a great job at keeping the area clean and respectful,” said Juan Alvarez, of Hialeah, who likes to park his truck near the canal and watch people fish.

What Alvarez does not know is that residents bombard the city’s code enforcement team with emails and phone calls at the first site of offensive markings.

“Attached please find offensive graffiti that is located on the walkway by the high school,” says an internal email, dated July 8, to the code team. “Please let me know when it has been removed.”

The resident did not have to wait long.

“All of the concerned areas plus a couple more have been painted over,” wrote Public Works Director Tom Nash in an email reply dated July 9. “Job complete.”

Miami Springs has its own graffiti ordinance, as well as an anti-graffiti trust fund. If someone is caught marking up public or private property, he or she can face stiff penalties that include removal and other administrative costs, the code shows.

However, these penalties can only be enforced within the city’s 3.3 square-mile boundaries. Lately, taggers have ventured outside of the city and just barely beyond the reach of the city’s laws.

For example, Alvarez, 75, a retired laborer, pointed to graffiti he can see from his truck along the railroad tracks and underneath an adjacent bridge.

“Someone should clean that up, too,” Alvarez said.

The problem is that this property, located along North Royal Poinciana Blvd., belongs to the Florida East Coast Railway. To complicate matters further, the short track of railway that has seen a lot of defacing in recent weeks intersects the cities of Miami Springs, Medley and Hialeah.

A spokesperson for the FEC did not return an email seeking comment about how the railroad responds to complaints about graffiti.

The FEC markings, which are starting to spread like mold, have been held at bay at the Miami Springs border. And for those tags that end up on county-governed areas, like along the catwalk at the high school and light poles along the busy Northwest 36th Street corridor, the city does what it can to control it.

“I have painted over some graffiti on those [light poles] in the past myself,” wrote Tex Ziadie, the city’s code inspector, in a July 9 email to a resident who filed a complaint about a defaced light pole.

Behind the scenes, the code and public works crews will continue to team up to keep illegal tags out of public sight.

“That is why I come here,” said Alvarez, who pointed to someone using a city trash can with an emblem that reads, “Beautiful Miami Springs.”

“People are cleaner when you keep the place clean.”

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