Today’s news:

Neighbor to Neighbor: 105th Graffiti cleanup targets Merrick Blvd.

On the weekend prior to the recent Harmony Picnic a call from the 105th Precinct said there was an opportunity for Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens merchants along Merrick Boulevard to participate in Patrol Borough Queens South’s graffiti eradication initiative. Youth Officer Shirley Kirkland offered the help of Post 2105 Law Explorers, some of the adult advisors and even some police volunteers.

The Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens (LDC/LRS) did not hesitate to accept. We had worked with that group earlier this season on 243rd Street, and were anxious to spread the program and the word that graffiti is a crime, to the Merrick Boulevard area. We are trying very hard to let the young people in our communities know that we want them to have positive futures. We want them to keep out of trouble.

Officer Kirkland asked me to try to recruit area volunteers so that we could have teams of Law Explorers, each with an adult volunteer, working in different areas along Merrick Boulevard. I made and distributed to heavily trafficked areas about 60 fliers, 30 of which were donated by the president of the Valley Stream Civilian Patrol, Joe Locoteta.

Those fliers asked for volunteers to assemble, with parking privileges, on the lot on the southeast corner of Merrick and Brookville boulevards. We appreciate the cooperation of the management of Cross Island Plaza for giving us access to that lot and for giving us permission to start our July 27 graffiti eradication project there.

The next challenge was to be sure we had enough paint and other supplies to accommodate an undetermined number of volunteers. As always, Fred Kress, assistant chair of the LDC/LRS, as well as president of both the Rosedale Civic Association and the Cornucopia Society, volunteered aid from the Cornucopia Society — two gallons each of aluminum and red brick paint, paint mits, wire brushes, drop cloth, roller covers and trays. I worried that even with such a generous donation we might need more paint.

Kress suggested I call City Councilman James Sanders Jr.’s office and ask for help. I am happy to report that there is another source of cooperation and help. Pat White of Sanders’ office told me he would be glad to see what he could do. He did very well. Saturday morning, July 27, four more gallons of paint were delivered, along with well wishes, to Merrick and Brookville boulevards.

We appreciate those willing to lend a hand. Unfortunately, Officer Kirkland’s vvolunteers were the only ones to show up, except for yours truly, although the chair of the LDC/LRS, Bess DeBetham, and her husband, Roy, had beaten all of us to the punch by starting to paint a gate at Big Apple Farm at 6 a.m.

After the work at Brookville and Merrick boulevards was completed using paint donated by the 105th Precinct, we worked on the south side of Merrick Boulevard between 228th and 227th streets and then across to the north side of Merrick to 227th Street.

When Officer Kirkland decided the group should stop because of the heat and exertion factors, I decided to stay on a bit to complete the goal I had set for myself — two more gates. As I was painting, one man passed and said, “I see you’ve turned this into a nice little business for yourself. What do you do, drive around until you see graffiti and then make an offer to paint?” When I told him I was a volunteer he said, “Nice!” Appreciation is a wonderful thing.

By that time, I went home to leave the remainder of the supplies, briefly renew acquaintances with my sister and head for the Rosedale Civilian Patrol meeting and get-together. Although the Rosedale Station bus does not run on the weekends, unfortunately, the event was well worth the walk. Kress and Donald and Janice Herzberger supplied delicious food at the home of the Motts and Herzbergers.

Janice gets a bunch of gold stars for superior baking prowess — especially that chocolate cake. Please, folks, consider volunteering. There are a lot of good, fun people anxious to meet you. Patrol volunteers may call 978-8427.w

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