Midwest Democracy | Kansas City using $110,000 to fight graffiti

A new fund will have $110,000 to help Kansas City neighborhoods remove graffiti and in some cases replace it with artistic murals, city officials said Tuesday.

“This is important for our businesses and neighborhoods,” Councilman Scott Wagner said in announcing the graffiti abatement program.

The city has budgeted $100,000 in community development block grant funds to provide neighborhood groups with training, chemicals, power washers and other equipment to remove graffiti and discourage future vandals.

Another $10,000 is coming from Kansas City’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation to identify and support artists who can paint murals over unsightly graffiti. The city’s public arts administrator and the Municipal Arts Commission will collaborate on that effort, Wagner said.

The graffiti initiative is one of the first efforts of the Gateway Crimes Task Force, which considers graffiti, prostitution and other illegal activities to be “gateways” to more violent crimes.

The city will have 10 power washing machines and other supplies, and will provide training to neighborhood organizations needing to remove graffiti. While Wagner said the program is available citywide, the biggest problems exist on the East Side and in the Northeast, near Independence Avenue.

Businesses in the West Bottoms already are aggressively targeting graffiti and are making a difference, said Tom Roberts, a Central Industrial District board member. On Tuesday, Roberts pointed to a wide swath of gray paint on the concrete base of the 12th Street Viaduct. He said two volunteers and people doing community service spent four hours recently using that paint to cover graffiti that marred the bridge.

The goal, Roberts said, is that any graffiti found in the West Bottoms before 9 a.m. is off by 5 p.m.

“This new graffiti removal equipment will help us restore the unique charm and historic character that Kansas Citians love about the West Bottoms,” he said.

Neighborhood groups wishing to sign up for the program can call the Public Works Department at 816-513-9841. More information is available at