City Councilor David Hall noticed the graffiti and broken lights on the newly opened Comeau Bridge.

HAVERHILL — The new Comeau Bridge is not yet a month old, and it’s already been hit by vandals.

Someone spray painted drawings and symbols on a portion of railing overlooking the Merrimack River, and two of the antique light fixtures have been damaged, city officials said.

“It’s very discouraging to wait five years for this beautiful bridge and see a couple of kids try to ruin it already,” said City Councilor David Hall, chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “It doesn’t make sense what goes through some of these kids’ heads.”

The newly constructed $19.8 million Comeau Bridge opened to traffic Aug. 30 for the first time since the old span closed five years ago, creating another needed route to Bradford from downtown Haverhill. The 800-foot span is named in honor of the late Joseph Comeau, a World War II veteran and local youth baseball coach who died in 1969.

While the state paid for the bridge, the city paid for the antique light fixtures, Hall said.

Police have reported a surge in graffiti, also called tagging, and other vandalism in recent months, especially downtown and in public parks. Veterans monuments, such as the Comeau Bridge and the World War I monument in Gale Park, Haverhill Stadium and even businesses and automobiles have been targeted.

Hall said the Police Department is preparing to set up video surveillance cameras in areas targeted by vandals. He said the city is working with National Grid to install as many as 10 cameras on utility poles.

“These City Council candidates who are talking about stiffer penalties for graffiti need to get a clue,” said Hall, a former police officer. “It’s a criminal offense. It’s called malicious damage to property, and it’s a felony. What we need to do is start catching a few and prosecuting them. We need to make an example.”

People convicted of “tagging” can be sentenced to up to two years in jail and fined up to three times the value of the property that was damaged, police said. A judge also can suspend the person’s driver’s license for a year.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he is making arrangements to remove the Comeau Bridge graffiti. The mayor also said he is working to set up a graffiti hot line that residents can call to report vandalism to public property.

Last month, the letters “YO” were painted on the World War I Memorial in Gale Park, and several walls at Haverhill Stadium were recently hit with graffiti. In July, several vehicles near Mulberry and Primrose streets were painted by vandals.


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