Monday, September 21, 2015
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Inmate Bruce Irene looks on as Officer Dan Joslyn cleans graffiti
off the bandstand with a high pressure solution of crushed walnut shells.
Northborough – Residents of all ages enjoy using the town’s Ellsworth-McAfee Park on South Street (Route 135). So when the small playground located there was recently defaced with graffiti, some of it pornographic, it was particularly distressing. But thanks to Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis’s office, the playground is once again fit for children. And the best part of all? It did not cost taxpayers a dime since the work was done by a minimum security inmate from the Worcester County Jail and House of Corrections.
On Sept. 17 Lt. Steven Hynes of the sheriff’s Community Service Department received a call about the graffiti at the park. After assessing the situation in person, he made the arrangements for the department’s graffiti truck to take care of the problem.
Early the next day, Hynes, Officer Dan Joslyn and inmate Bruce Irene arrived at the park with the truck.
Joslyn explained that the truck has a special tank that is filled with finely crushed walnuts that are then sprayed onto a surface.
“It’s a powerful spray, 120 lbs. per square inch,” he said. “It can blast almost anything off.”
Because it is such a strong force, in some cases other types of cleaning agents may be used instead, so that the paint or another finish is not destroyed, he said. In the case of the Northborough park, the walnut solution was not used on the playground equipment – only on the brick bandstand and concrete sidewalk.
“Each material is different so sometimes it just takes a little trial and error to see what works,” he said.
At the Northborough park, vandals had defaced the bandstand, sidewalk and most of the playground equipment with pornographic images and strange, random phrases.
Inmate Bruce Irene attempts to clean graffiti off a piece of playground equipment.
Noting the pink paint that was used, Hynes said, “This was probably the work of teenagers. This was not a gang at work here.”
The sheriff’s department purchased the graffiti truck last spring, Joslyn said, and since then, it has been used to clean properties once or twice a week. The unit has helped both private businesses and public entities free of charge, he added. One or two inmates work at each job, he said.
“Graffiti is an eyesore no matter where it is,” he said. “It’s in the public’s best interest for it to be removed, whether it’s a private or public place.”
“Using inmates gives them a chance to learn some skills and is a way for them to give back to the community,” he added.
According to the Sheriff’s office, there have never been any problems reported because a walnut solution is used since the department began using it.
For more information on the program, contact Hynes in the Community Service Department of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at 508-854-1938.