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Activist gets graffiti removed in Pelham Gardens

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Thanks to the work of one community activist, graffiti has be painted over on about 20 utility poles in Pelham Gardens.

Joanne Rubino, an Astor Avenue resident who sits on Community Board 11, was discouraged when she saw a number of graffiti tags appear on utility poles near her home earlier in the year. The most conspicuous was the tag “TAME 5.”

Rubino was given the run around when she offered to clean some of the mess up near her home herself, being told by a 311 operator that it would constitute vandalism.

Newly appointed Community Board 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke got permission from Con Edison and Verizon to paint the many of the utility poles, but could not secure paint from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit because the paint was not for a structure.

Eventually, Warneke and Rubino contacted Senator Jeff Klein office, who dispatched a graffiti cleanup crew to paint over the graffiti on Wednesday, June 15.

“As you know, I take graffiti and the harm that is causes to our communities very seriously,” Klein said. “I want to thank Joanne Rubino for standing up for her neighborhood and partnering with us to fight this blight.”

Warneke had reached out to Senator Klein and a number of other companies and organizations after the city turned his graffiti-painting project down.

“Con Edison was originally going to help us, but we are very grateful to Senator Klein’s office for providing assistance,” Warneke said.

Rubino was thrilled that her persistence has paid off, and was even named a “graffiti captain” for Senator Klein’s graffiti removal program for the Pelham Parkway area.

“I am really thankful to Senator Klein for assisting me in this effort,” Rubino said. “I also really appreciate Jeremy Warneke’s persistence from the beginning of my quest, cutting through the red tape and especially for finding out, after everyone else failed, who owned the poles and getting permission to get the job done.”

Stepping into her role as graffiti captain very quickly, Rubino has already spoken to Senator Klein’s office about a graffiti cleanup of storefronts and rooftops along Eastchester Road just north of Pelham Parkway.

Many businesses on Eastchester Road have had their roll-down gates or rooftops hit, and could use a cleanup, she stated.

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