NewsLocal News


Billings Parks and Rec testing out new anti-graffiti measure after recent vandalism

Billings Parks and Recreation sign at Pioneer Park
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 12:22:56-05

BILLINGS — Billings parks have recently seen a wave of graffiti vandalism and are testing out a possible solution to the problem.

With the unusual warm weather Billings saw in December, the city's parks were hot spots.

"I'm just happy that it's unseasonably warm today," said Chase Crosby, a Pioneer Park visitor, on Tuesday.

Chase Crosby
Chase Crosby

But not all visitors were there for good reasons.

"It’s just disappointing that people need to have the need to destroy stuff that’s beautiful,” Crosby said.

This weekend, Pioneer and Stewart parks were tagged with graffiti.

Stewart Park graffiti
Stewart Park graffiti

"The weather’s so nice, kids are out or people are out graffiti-ing structures,” said Mike Pigg, the director of Billings Parks and Recreation, on Tuesday. "At Stewart Park, it looked very young person-ish. A big heart. This one (at Pioneer) wasn’t. They actually think this was some gang activity."

Thanks to good Samaritans who reported the crime, the Pioneer Park vandals were caught, according to Pigg.

"We caught the kids that did this graffiti so that’s great," Pigg said. "One less group doing that. But yeah, if you see somebody doing it, call the police."

Tuesday morning, Parks and Rec crews were hard at work cleaning up the paint.

Pressure washing the graffiti
Pressure washing the graffiti

At Pioneer, the cleanup was made easier thanks to a new anti-graffiti measure.

"Sherwin Williams is who actually mentioned there were anti-graffiti coatings available and started our research into them. Upon research by the Parks & Rec team and the paint contractor, we discovered a product called PerformaSil 200 Anti-Graffiti Coating from ICD High Performance Coatings + Chemistries. We repainted the building with ICD’s pigmented anti-graffiti coating, it’s basically paint and protection all in one application," Pigg said. "This product choice also saved the taxpayers money because we only had to paint the building once with one product, instead of purchasing two different products...which would result in twice the labor for two applications as well. ICD’s product is also eco-friendly because it’s water-based and has ultra-low VOCs, which is the best choice for the environment. The anti-graffiti coating makes it really easy for us to wash off the graffiti."

It’s a way to save time and taxpayer dollars.

"Cleans off really fast and saves my staff countless hours of time,” Pigg said.

Mike Pigg
Mike Pigg

This weekend’s wave of vandalism is nothing out of the ordinary.

According to Billings police, in 2022, 79 reports of graffiti came in. In 2023, only 51 were reported.

Regardless of prevalence, the city is working on solutions—one being the new anti-graffiti coating. While it can’t be applied to all surfaces, it’s already making a difference.

"We couldn’t put it on a playground or just even like a raw brick building because it doesn’t work on those," Pigg said. "But it works on painted surfaces, so ones like this that are very vulnerable and get graffiti-ed quite a bit."

Pioneer Park graffiti blurred
Pioneer Park graffiti blurred

Pigg wants residents to know that if they witness any broken or vandalized park property, they can call his office number to report it directly to him. If you see vandalism in the act, Pigg asks you to call law enforcement.

"If you do see it in the parks, call me. My office phone number, (406) 657-8373, call me anytime," Pigg said. "We’ll get in here and get it cleaned up. We get to it that much faster."

Park-goers have some advice for the vandals:

"If you want to express yourself, do it in another way," said Travis Moe, who was at Pioneer with his family on Tuesday. "Do it in a positive way if you have to. Don’t tear up places that me and my family and other families get to enjoy."

Travis Moe
Travis Moe

Pigg wanted to add that Billings Parks and Rec is now taking reservations for park building and shelter reservations.

“This is when we open up our shelter rentals and our building rentals. Very big time of the year, especially for people who want to book for graduation parties or weddings," Pigg said. "If you know you got a wedding coming up and you’re wanting to do it in the park, get a hold of us now because spaces fill up. Those registrations opened up on the first. We’re taking them. Our office has been very busy today."

 To learn more about reporting vandalism, click here.