Fifteen locations cleaned in two weeks
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Take that, graffiti vandals!
When Councilman Vincent Gentile gave his constituents a chance to fight graffiti, they responded in overwhelming numbers, according to an aide to the lawmaker, who said a hotline number he set up to report the crime has been inundated with calls.
Sara Steinweiss, a community outreach aide to Gentile, told Community Board 11 on Thursday that in its first two weeks, the councilman’s new anti-graffiti program has been responsible for cleaning 15 locations.
Under the program, which Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) set up with the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst Beautification Preservation Alliance, Inc., a group of civic minded business owners, and CitySolve, a graffiti removal company, residents in the 43rd Council District can call a special hotline number to report a graffiti location. CitySolve responds to the location within days to remove the graffiti.
The hotline number is 718-748-5200 ext. 201.
Steinweiss said Gentile is encouraging even more people to call. “You’re our eyes and ears,” she told the community board.
Gentile announced the district-wide graffiti cleaning program at a press conference last month. The target area crosses two community board areas: 10 and 11.
“Graffiti is a blight on our communities and affects our quality of life. It increases store vacancy rates, decreases property and presents a sense of chaos and disorder on the streets while negatively impacting our civic pride,” Gentile said. He called the initiative “the most aggressive graffiti cleaning campaign ever initiated in southwest Brooklyn.”
The immediate goal is to make all of the major commercial corridors in the 43rd Council district graffiti-free.
“Graffiti continues to be a source of frustration and concern for the business owners and residents of southern Brooklyn,” said Patrick Condren, executive director of the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst Beautification Preservation Alliance, Inc.
“Graffiti vandals cost our community tens of thousands of dollars in removal and clean up each year. With the assistance of all concerned merchants and residents we can enhance the image and esthetic value of our beautiful neighborhoods,” Condren said.
“Graffiti is an all too common quality of life complaint received by Community Board 11. A few taggers are causing a lot of damage,” said Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11. She said Gentile is “sending a message to these vandals that we’re taking our neighborhood back and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
“Graffiti is more than just an eyesore and a nuisance – it costs business owners and homeowners a lot of money to remove,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “Reporting graffiti vandalism and getting rid of it just as soon as it goes up will send a clear message and will deter vandals from using our storefronts and residential areas as their canvas.”
Surfaces to be cleaned include roll down security gates, building side walls, fences, doors, mailboxes and storage boxes. After the first cleaning of these corridors is completed, they will be kept graffiti-free via monthly graffiti inspections and maintenance, Gentile said.