Six months after Baltimore County sealed off the pedestrian tunnel connecting Hammonds Ferry and Sulphur Spring roads, community leaders are hoping to erase the final traces of vandalism around the area.
On May 12, volunteers from the Lansdowne Improvement Association painted over the graffiti that covers the walls of the stairwells that lead to the 45-year-old tunnel.
Chris Koloski, first vice president of the Lansdowne Improvement Association, said the project will cost a few hundred dollars.
The paint is of a special variety that allows graffiti to be easily washed off and the color of the paint will match the concrete around it, Koloski said.
Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the 1st District, which includes Lansdowne, and his aide, Pete Kriscumas, was among those who volunteered to join the effort.
Quirk's Catonsville financial services business donated money to the project.
Koloski, who has worked for six years to have tunnel closed, credited the efforts of Quirk and Del. James Malone, who represents District 12A, which includes Lansdowne, for having it sealed off.
"There were multitude of problems," Koloski said, citing the tunnel's graffiti, smell and rumored criminal activity.
Since the closure in late November, Koloski said the area has a more welcoming appearance.
"We've seen less graffiti, and the graffiti that was there has been cleaned up," she said.
Jackie Jones, who owns the Corner Florist shop near the tunnel's entrance, doesn't want to jinx it, but said she too thinks things have gotten better.
Just six months ago, Jones estimated she and her husband, Fred, spent $200 a year to remove spray paint from the walls of their 18-year-old flower shop at 2619 Hammonds Ferry Road.
But since the county sealed the tunnel that runs underneath four sets of railroad tracks across the street from her shop, the vandalism has stopped.
"It's been very quiet," Jones said.
"I almost hate to say that," she said, fearing that talking about the problem will make it resurface.
Though sealing the tunnel has eliminated some problems, it's not a perfect solution, Koloski said.
"They weren't able to cover it over completely. The stairwells are still open," she said. "The one detriment to not being sealed at the top is it's being used as a dumpster."
Koloski said her husband, Gary, the president of the Lansdowne Improvement Association, has cleaned up the litter at the bottom of the stairwells several times since the tunnel was sealed.