Graffiti tags sour prime shopping area

Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association president Edith Blitzer wants the cops and the courts to crack down on graffiti vandals. Photo by Victor Chu

Months ago, Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association president Edith Blitzer sounded the alarm. Graffiti on Holland Avenue, Cruger Avenue, Brady Avenue, Maran Place and White Plains Road had exploded.

Boo-weep! Boo-weep! Boo-weep! Someone forgot to switch off the alarm. Pelham Parkway South is still awash in graffiti, Blitzer said. There are a number of problem areas: the wall on Cruger and Lydig, next to a Chinese restaurant, the wall on Maran and White Plains, at the CVS, the wall on the south side of Brady Avenue, between Wallace and Barnes.

“You see graffiti in the same places, again and again,” Blitzer said.

Blitzer is a proponent of the “you spray it, you wash it” decree. She’s frustrated with Bronx judges who consider graffiti a lesser offense.

“Graffiti makes the area look dirty,” Blitzer said. “We have people visiting. We have the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Gardens. We have shopping on White Plains Road. Graffiti is deteriorating the area.”

She and other Pelham Parkway South residents want to see sentenced vandals assigned to graffiti clean up. The 49th Precinct has discussed the idea with the Bronx District Attorney, Captain John Greeley said.

Bronx Community Solutions facilitates vandal clean up in eight Bronx precincts; Blitzer and Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. are interested in bringing the non-profit initiative to Pelham Parkway South.

“Under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, graffiti stopped,” Diaz Sr. said. “ Under Bloomberg, we’re headed the other way.”

On June 30, Bloomberg announced that the city would use federal stimulus funds to launch Project CleanUp. Project CleanUp will put vandals to work “repairing neighborhoods throughout New York City,” a press release read.

It’s estimated that Project CleanUp will facilitate 70,000 hours of work in the next year. Participants will be offered links to drug treatment, job training and counseling. Pelham Parkway South did benefit from a graffiti clean up in July; Ahern Painting Contractors, commissioned by the MTA to repair the White Plains Road el, repainted storefronts and utility poles as well – free of charge.

But mailboxes in Pelham Parkway South remain tagged, Blitzer said. In September, the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association will partner with Quality Services for Autistic Children to repaint mailboxes. Property owners and residents in Pelham Parkway South should report graffiti to 311 or the 49th Precinct, said Jeremy Warneke, anti-graffiti coordinator for Councilman James Vacca. Warneke recently sent more than 100 letters to property owners. 49th Precinct community affairs officer Vic DiPierro works with Pelham Parkway South residents to clean up graffiti.

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