The glaring, graffiti-scarred, second-story eyesores dotting Pelham Bay will be a part of the past as local community groups and elected officials chart a new strategy.
Over 25 locations were identified with first, second, or third floor graffiti, following a community walk through held on Wednesday, April 22. Members of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association, the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, and representatives from the offices of Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Senator Jeff Klein joined the inspection.
One local business owner, upset over seeing graffiti deteriorate the neighborhood, was excited to learn of the positive initiative for improving the business district.
“I also own property here and I think the graffiti problem is out of control,” said Michael Difigola. “When they catch these kids I think the parents should be held responsible. It’s horrible; it makes it look like New York City back in the 1970s. Even up high it is getting out of hand, and they put it right back once it is removed.”
Klein will be sending out property waivers, allowing access for his free graffiti removal service, and anticipates having the business districts clean over the next six weeks if all parties cooperate.
“Spring is back and so are graffiti vandals. But after 15 years I’ve revamped my free graffiti removal service to be bigger and better than ever,” said Klein. “We have to go beyond the ground floor to keep our community clean and beautiful.”
Klein’s first act will be to restore a 30-year-old mural in honor of the American bicentennial, located on the corner of Buhre and Pilgrim avenues.
Alongside this effort, Vacca and his staff are completing an internal database, linking graffiti locations to property owners. This will be used to approach landlords to raise their awareness and hold them accountable for upholding the law on property maintenance.
“We want to offer as much help as possible to property owners hit by graffiti, but at a certain point our landlords have to understand that they have a responsibility to remove graffiti quickly wherever it appears,” said Vacca.
“We’re counting on property owners to be vigilant in maintaining a clean and safe community.”