Westchester Square will no longer tolerate graffiti, sending a clear message to vandals as to warmer weather approaches, by cleaning the Huntington Free Library.
“We are continuing in our efforts to go forward with the revitalization of the Westchester Square businesses and surrounding community. We are going to any length to get as many people on this band wagon and start the steam roller forward for our vision of the future for this Square,” said Joe Regina, secretary of the Westchester Square Merchants Association.
On Thursday, February 12, a Graffiti Free NYC truck, a free service through the Community Affairs Unit of the Mayors Office that uses a biodegradable chemical solution and power washing tools to safely and efficiently remove graffiti, was out cleaning all the markings left from the wintery months. Unfortunately, Huntington Free Library, located 9 Westchester Square, was not on their original list for the day, and the neglected location was one of the Westchester Square Merchant Association’s top priorities.
Through the WSMA, many of the participating stores throughout the square have waivers signed allowing for this service to come in and remove the graffiti, keeping the neighborhood a clean and appealing place for customers to shop. The WSMA contacted Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s Office explaining they had a wavier for the library and hoping to see some results.
“There were about half a dozen locations they were hitting on their list today, and Huntington was added to that,” said Regina. “This is the first phase in what we are trying to do with the Square. At some point down the line we plan to have our own graffiti removal crew employed.”
According to Regina, earlier that day he had seen one truck removing graffiti throughout the Square, and had put in a call to see if Huntington was on the list. Upon hearing it was not on the agenda, he put in a call to Vacca for assistance.
“We were lucky to get a break in the weather. We have been working with the Mayors Office and Community Affairs and their graffiti unit has been very responsive on several occasions to many of the complaints we have put in,” said Vacca.
A second truck was sent to assist the clean up of Huntington, which required both trucks to get the job done.
“This is wonderful. It took us a while to get them going, Cathy reported it, and weeks later still nothing. It looked terrible,” said Ronald Fitzgerald, volunteer at the library. “It really benefits the community to have it clean.”
Fitzgerald was present to allow access to the back and side of the grounds, which had also been covered by the graffiti, including some markings on the second story.
“The library appreciates all the time and effort put in by everyone to help us get this done, such as John Bonizio and the Westchester Square Merchants Association, Councilman Vacca and his office, and Mayor Bloomberg for making this possible,” said Cathy McChesney, librarian at Huntington Free Library. “It restores the building to what it once looked like and we just hope this problem doesn’t arise again. We understand the Square has had some problems with graffiti and hope that it is finally under control.”