Graffiti cleanup effort by Senator Klein, community associations and 45th Precinct

(l-r) Police officer Frank Malafronte, 45th Precinct captain Danielle Raia, Senator Jeff Klein, and volunteer John Marano stand at one of the cleanup sites, above a commercial shopping area at Hobart and Westchester avenues.
Photo by Miriam Quin

A stain on the Pelham Bay community was washed cleaned by a group of volunteers.

The 45th Precinct, Senator Jeff Klein’s office, the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association, and the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association all participated in a cleanup of second-story graffiti located above businesses on Crosby and Hobart avenues on Saturday, October 10.

The cleanup included a scissor lift procured by the senator that allowed volunteers to reach the second-story mess near the IRT#6 tracks.

“This is something that means a lot to communities; we have communities that I consider jewels of the Bronx and we are very concerned about our quality of life,” said Senator Klein of the cleanup, adding “If you let things go, like graffiti and quality of life issues, the area deteriorates and more serious crime comes about very quickly.”

Mary Jane Musano, a leader of the WLCA, said that when 45th Precinct graffiti coordinator, police officer Frank Malafronte, called her and told about the graffiti cleanup, she was pleasantly surprised to see that ground level graffiti had all but disappeared from Waterbury LaSalle.

“I could not find ground level graffiti at all in Waterbury LaSalle,” she said. “The little graffiti that we did find was very limited and it was up high, and I think that shows we are accomplishing something.”

Graffiti cleanups have been ongoing in the local area, and she believes they are having an effect, she said, adding it does not seem like the graffiti is coming back, and there could be several reasons.

Because of the lack of ground-level graffiti in Waterbury-LaSalle and Pelham Bay, the group turned its attention to second floor-graffiti on and near Crosby, Westchester and Hobart avenues in the heart of Pelham Bay’s commercial corridor.

Among the sites cleaned were second floors along Crosby and Hobart avenues that had second floors covered in the scrawl, said Michele Torrioni, president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association.

“When you go on the train, you can see it,” she said of the above ground-level graffiti concerns in Pelham Bay, adding “We want to try to have another graffiti cleanup (like this), because it takes a long time, and you need a cherry picker (to reach the second floor).”

Both Senator Klein and Captain Danielle Raia, 45th Precinct commanding officer, stopped by to take part in the cleanup, as did prolific graffiti cleaner and community activist John Provetto, who was described by Senator Klein as a godsend in terms of his work cleaning the vandalism in local communities, and said had words of praise for Officer Malafronte’s work.

When asked about his participating in graffiti cleanups, Senator Klein said that it predates his taking office in 1995, and that he has been involved in hundreds. He indicated that he believes that they work.

“The vandals certainly don’t like coming back time and time again, said the senator. “They get tired and they stop, or we catch them through local law enforcement.”

Torrioni also indicated that she believes that cleanups are worthwhile.

“One of the main things about graffiti is that people always say is to cover it immediately, she said. “To tell you the truth, I think when you cover it right away, it is a deterrent. I am not saying that (the vandals) don’t come back, but it is a deterrent.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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