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College Point task force targets graffiti

Residents of the College Point area, tired of seeing graffiti everywhere they turn in their small community, have formed a task force to deal with the illegal spray-painting problem.

The group's initial meeting was held Monday at the College Point Board of Trade office. Members met with representatives from the borough president's, state Sen. Frank Padavan's (R-Bellerose) and City Councilman Mike Abel's (R-Whitestone) offices to discuss existing anti-graffiti laws and how College Point should deal with the vandalism.

The trade board has combatted graffiti for years by funding the voluntary cleaning efforts of resident Leo Nicholas, but trade board President Fred Mazzarello said it is not enough.

Mazzarello opened the meeting by reading a summary of a graffiti hearing convened by Padavan in 1991.

Padavan found Community Board 7, including College Point, had a major graffiti problem and the city was not doing enough to enforce existing graffiti laws. Current laws call for up to $500 in fines and/or up to three months' imprisonment for violators. The mayor can also offer a reward leading to the arrest and conviction of graffiti artists.

"In 1991 it was a serious problem," Mazzarello said. "Today I think it's worse."

Last year Mazzarello and College Point civic leader Sabina Cardali attended a court hearing for a local graffiti artist, nicknamed "Shorty 140."

The pair said they were disgusted when Shorty received one year's probation from the judge "after he ruined so much stuff."

Many at Monday's meeting agreed that the courts were too lenient and also said local police precincts were not aggressive enough in investigating graffiti.

Their anger was fueled when they learned the representative from the 109th Police Precinct did not make the meeting.

"The fact the Police Department isn't here is very disturbing," said Dan Bersa from McDonald's Restaurant.

Suzie Metaxes, director of a local senior center, said graffiti artists should pay for the cleanup and perform community service. If young perpetrators cannot afford the penalty, their parents should be held accountable, she said.

Matching the mayor's reward was also suggested.

Mazzarello said businesses are often too slow in removing graffiti, and one spray-painted area soon spreads like a cancer.

Jay Bond, a community board liaison for the borough president, said that office offers free graffiti removal as an incentive to property owners to clean up as quickly as possible.

He also said six rapid-response, graffiti-free zones were established last spring in Jamaica, Flushing, Corona, Forest Hills/Rego Park, Queens Village and Far Rockaway, based on complaints received and community input. Property owners within the zones who sign liability waivers receive free graffiti removal.

Bond said cleaning has only been done in two of the zones because not all property owners have turned in their liability waivers, and the program and zones will be re-evaluated this spring. He suggested property owners in College Point push for a zone in their area.

The lack of activities in town for youth was also a factor many said contributed to the graffiti problem.

Martha Flores-Vazquez, a city council candidate for Julia Harrison's (D-Flushing ) seat, was not at the trade board's meeting, but she has some anti-graffiti proposals of her own.

Vazquez has proposed building a community resource center in the area and one of its goals would be graffiti intervention.

Vazquez said arresting and fining graffiti artists is a short-term solution.

"Long term is to deal with this issue and channel what they're doing into something positive," Vazquez said.

She said one example was a program in the Bronx that takes graffiti artists and trains them in graphic arts. Participants are then hired to paint decorative murals.

A similar creative approach is taken in Long Island City, where managers of the Phun Phactory provide space for graffiti artists to paint and officially display their work as in a museum.

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Reader Feedback

John from Whitestone says:
I use to see shorty140 every were I went , he was up all over the 5 boros. A true graffitti writer I wonder wat ever happened to him
March 24, 2012, 2:22 am
Wow. from Cpoint says:
Mr. Hernandez is still toy to this day.
Dec. 25, 2012, 11:22 am
Eric from Bayside says:
Been doing his thing since early 90s much props
April 2, 2013, 3:54 am
White man from College point says:
I was saw this kid get arrested by 15 cops on 9th ave for jay walking I think this is a simple case of the abuse of the stop and frisk protocol that is going on. Because of this mans race and style of clothes and cars he is being targeted unjustly.
We look at the front page of the news now and justin bieber is being glorified for writing graffiti , while this man is being persecuted.
Nov. 8, 2013, 11:40 am
Alex Diaz from Flushing queens says:
140 was always being harassed by the cops on a regular basis . I witnessed cops pull him over for no reason rip him out the car toss him on the ground they even kicked him a few times . Then they searched his car didn't find anything so they took him in for driving while Hispanic . I salute that kid always looked out for his peoples and the kids a positive role model who made a change but will always be looked upon as a criminal . I hope to see him again one day to thank him for always keeping it real .
Jan. 17, 2:17 am
Annie Wick from college point says:
We all loved Shorty140 he always gave back to the community he loves the kids , he would always look out for people in need. I remember summer of 99 he would always roll nup on my block not sure why but i always thought he was seeing this chick . 140 was always a cutie . He would buy the whole block ice cream for all the kids and give out money . He was kinda like the Robin Hood of college point a good man . Last i heard he was spotted some were in miami sipping on a wet willie dripping in diamonds . . God bless him
Feb. 1, 1:47 pm
Bloody ratchet from South side says:
I was in da bookings with son... I seen his paperwork lil —— got bagged with 30 stacks and no twerk... Dem —— try puttin son under the jail..... And da funny shi was dat son lit up the whole bookings wit dat real good good and wasn't even wettin dat was talking bout he had some ill Jew lawyer was gonna eat da case that's my word .... That dude TRU ..
P.s. And my son was head to toe in Louie
Feb. 17, 9:17 pm
Justin from Ridgewood says:
I herd my man got pinched for some DWI shi
Nov. 12, 5:35 pm

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