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Communities battle neighborhood graffiti

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In certain circles it has been called art and a true form of expression, but in northeast and southeast Queens, graffiti has several communities up in arms over the defacement of their neighborhood.

The communities — Queens Village, Bellerose, Floral Park and Little Neck — have been fighting a losing battle against graffiti taggers for years. Residents, the 105th Precinct and business owners paint over the wall scrawl, only to find new spray paint designs the following morning.

“Every time you go out you see graffiti,” said Christina Tubridy, who has lived in Queens Village on the border of Bellerose for 40 years. “It is terrible. Something has to be done with the graffiti.”

She also complained that much of what is written is vulgar and rude. Outside Creedmoor on Hillside Avenue, she said, a person wrote: “I am outside and I am waiting to get in.”

An annoyed Tubridy said the scrawl bothers many of the area’s residents and destroys the beauty of the surroundings. She said she cannot understand what possesses people to deface public and private property.

“The people of Glen Oaks, Bellerose and Queens Village must be getting tired of covering up the [mess].” Tubridy said. “How many times can you paint over a wall? To me it is a disgrace.”

Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13, said there is too much graffiti in the neighborhoods covered by Board 13 and it is difficult to remove it as soon as it is put up. He said many businesses in the area have painted over the graffiti, but the roll-up metal gates outside small shops are a prime target.

“It makes everything look terrible,” he said. The graffiti vandals have hit FedEx boxes, mailboxes and numerous stop signs. Graffiti on stop signs has to be removed or the sign has to be replaced, which cost money.

Former Borough President Claire Shulman used to have a graffiti task force to help communities “deal with the problem,” he said. Hellenbrecht has not spoken to Borough President Helen Marshall, but he hopes she will continue the task force.

“It is almost impossible to catch them.” he said. “They are too fast and do it at night. You could have a clean building and 20 minutes later it is covered.

“It has a devastating effect on how the people look at the community where they live,” he said.

The 105th community affairs officer, Pete Dwyer, said the precinct tries to combat graffiti with its Explorer Program. He said the youth program run by Officer Shirley Kirkland holds paint-overs during the warmer months. Using donated paint, they try to cover up as much wall scrawl as possible.

“A good beat cop should know the players, who does what,” he said. “That’s how the graffiti task force works. They get to know the tags.”

Rev. Joseph L. Cunningham, of the St. Gregory the Great Parish in Bellerose, said it has been a problem in the area and a severe blight on the neighborhood.

In addition to the graffiti on road signs, he said, one of the major problem areas is the pedestrian walkway at 88th Road that goes under the Cross Island Parkway, which cannot be kept clean.

“I have been fighting it for 10 years.” he said. “It is a losing battle.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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