Sign of the times

Cleaning the Earth can be pretty messy at times.

A Sheepshead Bay mom on a mission to beautify her block is embroiled in a war of wills with a looney litterbug who gets a kick out of breaking her home-made signs that encourage neighbors to pick up after themselves.

Yuliya Chernova says the filthy phantom has damaged two signs — snapping one of them from its base. The signs were part of a month-long clean-up project that she, her 5-year-old daughter and several neighbors have undergone on E. 14th Street between Avenue X and Gravesend Neck Road.

The plan, first reported by the blog Sheepshead Bites was simple: Chernova and her helpers put six signs — which the children designed and painted — reading “Don’t Trash the Earth,” “Stop Littering, Save the World” and “Please Clean Up After Your Dog” in tree pits on her block. Her team followed up the sign campaign by weeding and planting flowers inside the tree pits.

But the litterbug surfaced about two weeks ago. He — or she — kicked over two signs — cracking in half the one that read “Don’t Trash the Earth.”

Chernova said there was no way the signs could have been broken accidentally.

“Someone had to physically damage these signs,” she said. “It was pretty malicious.”

Yet Chernova wasn’t going to let the vandal ruin her dream of a clean E. 14th Street. Instead of backing down, she and her husband made the “Don’t Trash the Earth” sign goon proof. It’ll be put back in a tree pit in the next week or so, she said.

“If you kick it, you’re going to break your foot,” she explained. “You’ll have to take a saw to it to knock it down.”

As she continues to spruce up the block, the war will continue, Chernova promised.

“It’ll depend on who’s going to get tired first: the person who wants to do something nice or the person who wants to break things,” she said.

More from Around New York