After staying dormant for months, graffiti removal service returns

After staying dormant for months, graffiti removal service returns
Senator Klein announces return of his much lauded Graffiti Removal Program.
Photo by Eric Soufer

The graffiti attack is back!

A popular clean-up service is up and running again, with it’s first cleanup already completed.

“We have this constant war on graffiti,” said state Senator Jeff Klein as he relaunched his Graffiti Removal Program August 4.

Standing with community leaders in front of a graffiti-strewn wall on Pilgrim Avenue in Pelham Bay, Klein ripped into “taggers” who spray their initials and claim to “phame” on private and public property. “We’re not going to tolerate graffiti.”

The Pelham Bay, considered a “jewel” by Klein, has seen an influx of graffiti vandalism since the service dried up for lack of funding in late 2011.

Pelham Bay was hit hard. Rite Aid, Giordano’s Funeral Home and Lehigh Wines and Liquor store were marred with several spraypainted tags.

“Without the program, you see how rampant graffiti is,” said Mary Jane Musano of the Waterbury-Lasalle Community Association.

Klein managed to find $150,000 in unused state funds through alternate channels.

The program picked up right where it left off – cleaning graffiti hotspots and providing before and after photos to local police.

Unlike the city’s Graffiti Free NYC initiative, where a response runs from seldom to longterm, Klein’s responds within days.

The response time is critical in curbing graffiti, according to Klein.

“We have to keep after those who desecrate our communities,” he said.

During its initial inception, the program repainted 300 graffiti eyesores within Klein’s senate district, including playgrounds, senior centers and houses of worship.

The free work saved several hundred dollars for area business and homeowners.

Overseeing the project is CitySolve, a 15-year graffiti removal service headed by Bruce Pienkny, a professional painter with insight into a graffiti scrawler’s motive.

He listed several reasons why Pelham Bay is often doused with graffiti. A major reason, he said, has to do with the Pelham Bay #6 train.

“Graffiti vandals want their name to be seen,” he said, pointing to the subway. “When the train comes down here people see the wall.”

Pienkny erased all scrawls of paint on the Pilgrim Avenue wall. He worked on several other spots the weekend of August 4, utilizing a heavy duty power washer.

“If you’re not on top of it,” he said. “It spreads.”

Meanwhile, the Waterbury-Lasalle Civic Association is still pushing for repeat offenders to have the “book thrown at them.” Among the loudest supporters is Andrew Chirico, who keeps his eyes open for any fresh spots of graffiti. He and the group continue their Court Watcher’s Program, bringing WLCA members to court hearings of suspected taggers.

Wearing red shirts as a sign of unity, their presence calls attention to the seriousness of a suspect’s violation.

“Repeat criminals should without a doubt serve some time,” said Chirico.

Klein agrees with Chirico, adding violators should also pay a huge fine.

But while those proposals are still pending, Klein looks to get the dirt of the walls.

“Let’s get back to work,” he demanded.

Klein said anyone with a graffiti problem should call his office at (718) 822-2049.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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