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Preserving the safety and security of a local youth hot spot was the center of Congressman Joseph Crowley’s mind when he awarded a $10,000 grant to the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership on Wednesday, September 3.

Crowley allocated the Federal anti-crime funds to aid in the development of a public safety program to help monitor the skate park on Balcom Avenue, behind M.S. 101.

“It’s all about reducing crime in the community,” Janit Bliss, coordinator of community programs for TNCAP, said.

In its third summer of operation, Bliss added that while the skate park, which opened two years ago as the community’s first unsupervised skateboard park, continues to offer outdoor entertainment for local youth, it’s also fallen victim to graffiti and improper usage.

To rectify the situation TNCAP is dedicated to establishing a sense of responsibility among those closest to the park – its skaters.

“The ones that use the park, they use it religiously,” TNCAP community organizer Julia Geronimo explained. “We want to have the kids have an investment and help monitor the park.”

Through a MySpace invite and outreach to Bronx Underground, she said TNCAP is hoping for a large response from youth looking to preserve the integrity of the space.

To sweeten the pot, Geronimo suggested the organization might also host a logo design contest, where the winner would have their design printed on relevant TNCAP materials.

“We’re hoping that the contest will get kids involved as well,” she said.

Pleased to see such progress begin, Crowley presented TNCAP’s executive director, Frances Maturo, with a check to initiate the program at the afternoon press conference.

“I want our children to be proud of their local hangout, and these funds will allow them to keep the park free from graffiti, vandalism and crime,” he said.

Assemblyman Mike Benedetto further commented on TNCAP’s successful neighborhood influence.

“They have a positive influence on our entire community, trying to keep our children headed in the right direction. And we thank them for that,” he stated.

Not only will the planned public safety program include a graffiti removal initiative, but it will also provide support and guidance to the active neighborhood youth through routine interaction with the TNCAP staff, guiding them down a path toward future successes.

“They’re a worthwhile group in the community that does great work,” said Anne Marie Anzalone, district chief of staff for Congressman Crowley.

Geronimo explained that the program’s planning efforts are currently underway.

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group