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Police, Boro Prez Marshall introduce anti-graffiti plans

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Queens North Police Chief James Tuller made the announcement several weeks ago, during a meeting with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and community board district managers, Marshall's office said.

The meeting preceded an announcement from Marshall's office that work has begun to remove graffiti from Woodside portions of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that are currently under construction.

Graffiti can affect businesses by making neighborhoods seem unappealing to would-be shoppers, said Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Luke Adams. He said he sees no artistic value to it.

"It's disfiguring a building. It makes a neighborhood look rundown. I hate it," Adams said. "It makes the area look like a war-torn area and this is not a war-torn area."

In the past, Adams said, he watched a quiet battle unfold as neighborhood businessmen worked to remove graffiti from the walls around their shops only to have the painting pop up again days or weeks later.

"The next day you'd wake up and there it was all filled," Adams said. But he said the problem seems to have subsided in many Sunnyside areas thanks, in part, to the actions of the Sunnyside United Neighborhood Network, a volunteer group sponsored by the chamber.

In a statement, Marshall praised the state and city Departments of Transportation for their efforts to clean up the stretch of the BQE near 31st Avenue and 68th Street.

With the graffiti removal underway - and slated to be completed before the renovated section of road opens at the end of this year - Marshall urged the state DOT to look into applying a protective coating that would make the walls more resistant to graffiti and easier to clean.

"The graffiti vandalism committed on the BQE was extensive and horrific," Marshall said of the markings which have now been painted over. "Already the improvement has been dramatic."

Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, said the DOT was already testing six different surface treatments and was expected to select a product to be applied to the walls bracketing the road shortly.

The contractor, she said, has also taken steps to limit access to the road in an effort to cut down on graffiti in the area.

As part of the $245 million project, three bridges and six miles of retaining walls between 25th Avenue and Broadway have been rebuilt. Work was originally slated to be completed by September but has been delayed until the end of the year.

Police have stepped up surveillance in the area to minimize new graffiti attacks, said Marshall, who is moving to squash graffiti on all fronts.

In addition to police and Department of Transportation moves to crack down on graffiti, Marshall has instituted a task force.

Since its inception, Marshall's Anti-Graffiti Task Force has coordinated dozens of clean-up events, including power washing and paint-overs, her office said.

"Groups receive paint, rollers, gloves and brushes in our combined effort to wipe out graffiti vandalism committed against public and private property," Marshall said.

Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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