North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Volunteers turn out to clean up Smokey Point area

 

Christopher Andersson

Tina Brackin helps remove graffiti from a fence near J. Rudy York Memorial Park as part of a volunteer effort on May 14.

Two separate volunteer groups both took on projects to clean up the Smokey Point area on May 14, removing graffiti and cleaning up the areas around businesses.

One of the groups held the Smokey Point Community Clean-Up Day, which invited volunteers to help remove trash around businesses in the area.

"We're cleaning up several different locations in Smokey Point," said organizer of the event Jennifer Smith. Those locations included the field behind Safeway, areas around 7-Eleven and areas around the parking lot of the former Food Pavilion building.

Groups came out to pick up old bottles, cigarettes and other trash that was left in the area.

"We hope that it brings people back into Smokey Point, and it will show the community that we care," said Smith.

"Both retailers and the community are out here today to just take back and clean up the disaster that's been going on down here," she said.

In the nearby J. Rudy York Memorial Park another group of volunteers was removing graffiti along the fence of nearby homes.

This was the fourth project that Arlington resident Vikki McMurray has organized since April in combating graffiti in the city.

"I'm done looking at it and knowing what it means, and seeing the problems coming in," she said. "We have to say 'you can't have my city, you can't have my space,'" she said.

McMurray said she had to start doing something about the graffiti she was seeing, and started gathering volunteers to work on the problem.

"I got tired of seeing graffiti and went to see if anyone else was tired of it, knowing what it means and knowing that there's drug-related activity and gang-related activity," she said.

The community around York Park had been trying to remove the graffiti, but we're finding it difficult.

"It's kind of a frustrating thing for people to go back and forth and they don't feel like they're getting anywhere, so we will," said McMurray.

Smith said her Smokey Point Community Clean-Up Day has been met with positive community support.

"We kicked it off in a meeting and there was such a huge public response that we went with it," she said.

"We've got families out here, we got Boy Scouts, we've got high school students, we've got businesses. So that's a lot of community support, it's a great first step," she said.

"I think it's awesome and exactly what you would expect from the Arlington community," said Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert. "I'm amazed to see the families out there, I like that this is a family activity," she said.

Many businesses helped with the day, including Starbucks and Safeway providing drinks and food, Lowe's providing bark, and AMT, Boston's Restaurant and Northwest Credit Union providing employees.

C

Calvin Gant, right, and John Gant look for trash in the Smokey Point area during Smokey Point Community Clean-Up Day on May 14.

Volunteers have also been helping McMurray remove graffiti because they want to help the community.

"Because I care about my community, and we're trying to take it back," said local resident Tina Brackin.

Brackin's neighborhood was actually helped from one of McMurray's previous graffiti removals so she wanted to "pay it forward."

"My girls see this stuff and they know how to read and ask questions," said Brackin.

McMurray said her group of volunteers is just starting out, but they hope to become organized enough to respond within 24 to 48 hours of hearing about graffiti.

"We're kind of grassroots right now. We're just starting up, but that's the hope," she said.

More information about their group can be found at Facebook.com by searching for WIPEOUT Graffiti.

 

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