Zerega house is finally graffiti-free

After several years of having her house tagged by graffiti vandals, Joanna Bimonte had enough.

For the past two years, graffiti tags have been spray-painted on her Rowland Street home near Westchester Avenue. When it first appeared, she simply painted over it because it was on a wooden garage door, which was easy to repaint.

Then graffiti began to appear on a stone wall on the side of the house in the winter of 2008-09 and on a concrete pillar in the fall of 2009 that is part of the fencing around the front of the house.

She had called the 45th Precinct twice and reported one of the graffiti incidents officially, but by the third time she was getting fed up because the vandals kept coming back.

“I understand that graffiti is not an emergency,” Bimonte said. “I was just shocked and offended when I first saw it. In fact, I was so embarrassed that I painted over it a few days after it first appeared on my garage.”

The second and third time the graffiti appeared, it was not so easy to remove. Bimonte tried bleach and turpentine, but on the stone the graffiti just faded, and did not disappear. On the concrete fencing in front of the house, the graffiti ran down the pillar, making it look even worse, Bimonte said.

“The first time, I thought I would just take care of it myself,” Bimonte said. “The second time we were able to lighten the graffiti a bit and I put vines on the side of my house to cover what we couldn’t get off the stone, so no one could see it. The third time I was just disgusted.”

Bimonte was in a dilemma about what to do next. She even waited in her driveway one night, hoping to catch the graffiti vandals in the act.After contacting Senator Jeff Klein’s office, she was put in touch with his graffiti removal team at the end of last month. Within a week, a crew was sent to her house and removed all of the remaining graffiti.

“The power wash removed it,” Bimonte said. “My husband and I are very grateful. We have also referred one of our neighbors to the program because they have graffiti all along their fence, and Senator Klein’s office has been in touch.”

Klein said he is working on legislation that has already passed in the Senate that would stiffen penalties for anyone caught spray-painting graffiti. He wants to send a message that it will not be tolerated.

“I have always made graffiti removal a top priority in my district,” Klein said. “Standing together as a community, we will send a strong message to these criminals: we will not let you desecrate our neighborhoods any longer.”

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