An infusion of cash in 2009 has resulted in the diminution of an urban scourge — graffiti — across a swathe of southern and western Brooklyn.
State Senator Marty Golden allocated $50,000 to finance a graffiti removal truck to work across his district, which stretches from Bay Ridge to Marine Park, taking in Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Gerritsen Beach as it meanders.
The onset of the program, stressed Golden, marked “a period of zero tolerance for graffiti in this community. You can tell, as you walk up and downthe streets, as you shop, as you dine, and do your errands, that there is, infact, less graffiti on our walls and gates. Our quality of life has been getting better since this program started in May.”
The harm caused by graffiti is far-reaching, Golden contended. “Graffiti is not only an eyesore, but it damagesproperty, causes stores to close, people to lose jobs, and creates a sense that we have given up on keeping our community strong,” he said.
The program, operated by City Solve, kicked off in May, and by the end of the year, graffiti had been removed at a whopping 646 sites, some more than once, said John Quaglione, a spokesperson for Golden.
The program started in response to a perceived increase in the incidence of graffiti vandalism, he explained. “We don’t know what the impetus was for the rise,” Quaglione went on, “but there were some spots where you took it down, and it went back up, you took it down and it went back up. That’s how a community begins to deteriorate, when you let the little stuff go.”
Included in the program — which incorporates maintenance of cleaned locations — were numerous shopping strips across Golden’s district:
*Third Avenue, between 72nd and 82nd Street, where 23 sites were rendered graffiti-free;
*Fifth Avenue, between Senator Street and 94th Street, where 78 sites were cleaned;
*Avenue T, between McDonald Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, where 48 locations were targeted;
*Quentin Road, between Marine Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, where 51 sites had graffiti removed;
*18th Avenue, between New Utrecht Avenue and 65th Street, where 128 separate locations were cleaned;
*86th Street, from 14th Avenue to Bay Parkway, where 128 sites were targeted; and,
*Kings Highway, between Stillwell and McDonald Avenue, where 71 locations were cleaned of graffiti.
In addition, 109 locations throughout Golden’s district reported by local residents were also treated, said Quaglione.
A key to the program’s success is the maintenance aspect, he added. “They track it, look at the spots where they had removed it, and, if it comes back, remove it again.” Quaglione said.
As a result, he averred, “We’re winning” the fight against graffiti.
The current grant runs through May and, said Quaglione, Golden has already begun lining up funding to continue the program for another year.
“It’s a priority to renew the program,” he stressed, adding that area residents could call Golden’s office at 718-238-6044 or send an email to golden@ senate.state.ny.us to report locations that need to have graffiti removed.