If it were up to the members of the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association, they would paint the whole neighborhood. But at the graffiti clean up on Tuesday, June 1, eight U.S. Post Office Mail Boxes had to suffice.
More than a dozen members of the PPSNA and Quality Services for the Autism Community, Inc. met to paint over the stylized tags and pictures illegally drawn on mailboxes and post office drop-offs in the neighborhood. They cleaned up eight units, which was as much as they could with the three gallons of green and four gallons of blue paint provided to them by the U.S. Postal Service.
“We’d like to do more, but we can’t,” Edith Blitzer, president of the neighborhood association, said shaking her head. “The post office doesn’t give us as much paint as we’d like.”
To help the effort, the group was joined by Councilman Jimmy Vacca and about 10 members of the QSAC, Inc. Vacca said Tuesday’s efforts were the start of a volunteer effort he has been organizing to address the concerns of the Pelham Parkway residents.
“We are getting people to come together. We’re trying to harness that volunteer effort, and this is one of our efforts,” he said. “Graffiti is one of the most consistant issues, and this is a good start,”
Along with graffiti, Vacca said he hopes to also address the need for soup kitchens and engage the elderly in neighborhood projects.
For Derek Fredericks, a resident of the Morris Park area and member of QSAC, Inc., getting out into the fresh air to help keep the neighborhood clean was a great way to enjoy the day and brighten up the community. Although it was the third time the neighborhood association has partnered with QSAC, Inc., it was the second time Fredericks had painted mailboxes. “It’s fun,” he said. “We like to paint mailboxes... so that it’s all good when people put the mail in it.”
For Miriam Schwartz and Ruth Birenberg, both members of the neighborhood association, the clean up project is a bit more serious because it helps to bring new people to the area and keeps the stores in business. “I live in the neighborhood. I’m anxious to keep it clean and neat and erase the graffiti,” said Schwartz. “I take pride in our neighborhood, if you don’t take pride it goes all the way down.”
For more than two years the group has been meeting to clean off graffiti from public spaces in order to beautify the area. Depending on the amount of vandalism each year, the group generally meets between two and three times annually. Since there is little the group can do to stop the graffiti before it happens, they plan to continue cleaning the area for as long as vandalism is an issue.
“We plan on doing it again in the fall. It’s very hard to do these in the hot summer, but as we walk through the area to see what has to be done we’ll decide if we need to do it another time,” Blitzer said.
Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@