“Sometimes in the spring we have a backlog of graffiti,” Van Dam said. “We are ahead of the curve in terms of removal. If it isn’t removed quickly, it tends to grow.”
Goudreault supervises a crew of inmates from the Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence who volunteer for the work and, through good behavior, have earned the right to participate in this community service effort.
The crew travels in a Sheriff Department flatbed truck carrying a commercial pressure sprayer that washes away symbols painted on properties.
The crew uses a high-pressure spray of water mixed with environmentally safe baking soda to remove tags. Goudreault said the baking soda acts as an abrasive, while the water keeps dust in check.
Goudreault said his crew spent hours removing tags from the outside of an old abandoned gas station on the Bradford side of the Comeau Bridge, as well as tags that were on retaining walls along Railroad Avenue near the Skateland roller skating rink and a stretch of new metal guardrail that runs along Laurel Avenue.
“It was pretty recent tagging, from what I was told,” Goudreault said.
His crew of workers also made a stop at the public library, where they used the high-pressure spray to remove graffiti from a concrete staircase on the Summer Street side of the building, across from City Hall.
All communities in Essex County are eligible for the graffiti removal program, which is offered through Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins’ office.