The Five Man Electrical Band may never have visited Somerton, but somebody in that tight-knit Far Northeast enclave seems to share the zeitgeist of the 1970s Canadian one-hit wonders.
It’s a mutual disdain for signs.
For the second time in two years, someone has ripped down a “Welcome to Somerton” sign from Bustleton Avenue and Trevose Road, leaving community leaders perplexed. The most recent vandalism probably occurred late afternoon on Monday, June 10, as rush-hour traffic would have been streaming through the busy crossroads.
“It’s tough to want to continue to beautify an area knowing you put time and money into something and it just gets torn down,” said Seth Kaplan, a board member of the Somerton Civic Association and former aide to state Rep. Brendan Boyle.
Boyle’s staff launched the initial project in summer 2011 after identifying a triangular traffic island at the intersection as an eyesore.
“This was a small project that our office undertook a couple of years ago because that island was a mess,” said Boyle.
Knee-high weeds had sprouted from concrete slabs. A contractor had dropped a billboard-style bench in the middle of the island. Funding came from state and city coffers. The initial work cost about $1,000 and included a metal sign and flower bed.The sign lasted about five months, then disappeared. The volunteers’ next move was a no-brainer.
“We decided to do it again. It took a while, but we got it,” Boyle said.
It cost another $500 in public money. A crew installed the new sign in late April. In early June, workers planted perennial flowers in the bed. Days later, the new placard was gone.
Local police don’t have many clues. Capt. Joe Zaffino of the 7th district suspects kids did it. The nearby William Penn Cemetery is known as a teen hangout, he said. Zaffino knows of a similar problem about a mile away at a small patch of woods. Twice in the last five years or so, kids have torn down the “Welcome to Somerton Woods” sign there. Neighbors found the dislodged sign nearby.
On the other hand, there’s still no sign of the “Welcome to Somerton” signs.
“If a parent out there sees a ‘Welcome to Somerton’ sign in their yard, they should know the kid didn’t make it in shop class,” Kaplan said. ••