Graffiti plagues Van Nest

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Members of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance are tired of the graffiti that is a blight on their neighborhood.

Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the group, said that the nabe is plagued by constant tagging on its streets, and that the problem has gotten worse in the last year or two.

She’s concerned that the eyesores are going to negatively affect the neighborhood.

“This is a quality of life issue,” Ferrara said. “Good people are going to move out.”

No Graffiti Program

The graffiti problem has gotten worse in the last year or two, in part, because Van Nest is no longer represented by state Senator Jeff Klein, who has a graffiti removal program for his district. Since redistricting in late 2012, the area is now represented by Senator Gustavo Rivera, who does not currently have a similar program.

But Ferrara said she has been working with Rivera’s office to set up a meeting to discuss the issue, and the senator says he’s aware of the problem.

“My office has been in contact with the local Community Board and the Mayor’s Office to call attention to the growing amount of graffiti in the Van Nest area and I am committed to continue working with our local government to get the appropriate resources into the community to help address this issue,” Rivera said in a statement.

311

Meanwhile, Ferrara said she and other community leaders have periodically been calling in to the city’s 311 service line with lists of graffiti sites for city removal, but that it has yielded few results.

“We’re not getting any response from 311,” she said.

Business owners who want to get rid of unsightly graffiti are then compelled to pay for graffiti removal themselves, Ferrara said.

Anthony Cammarata, a VNNA member, had two buildings of his electrician’s company tagged back in February. He said he called in a request to 311 in early April, but in mid-May paid $750 to have the graffiti removed.

“I didn’t know the time line,” he said about 311’s response. “They could’ve never come, I didn’t know.”

He said a removal team from 311 finally did show up unannounced on June 3.

Enforcement

Ferrara said she would like to see more taggers caught by the police, especially because they seem to return to the same sites over and over during the night.

“If the police know when these guys are out there, then get them,” she said.

But 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Jay Sturdivant said that catching graffiti artists in action can be difficult.

He said police can stop someone if they have reasonable suspicion that they recently tagged something. He encourages anyone who witnesses tagging to call in detailed descriptions of the suspects. Beyond that, he said, “We enforce it if we see it.”

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.
Ferrara, who is fed up with the graffiti in her neighborhood, stands near a tagging on the former St. Dominic school.
Photo by Edwin Soto

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