Sign in Somerton goes missing again

A sign of trouble: A second sign at Bustleton Av­en­ue and Tre­vose Road has van­ished.

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. •• 

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