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Anti-graffiti program gets $20K from Avella

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City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he has allocated $20,000 in discretionary funds to a city business that will remove graffiti from sites in his district immediately after they have been tagged.

Avella said he has employed City Solve, a graffiti-removal business, to clean up all neighborhoods in his district, which includes Bayside, Flushing and Whitestone, after they have been spray painted or marked with etching acid.

"My program has targeted mom-and-pop commercial districts throughout the district," he said. "If you deny vandals the opportunity to see their own work, they give up, which is why we must be persistent."

Avella said College Point's manufacturing strips and College Point Boulevard have been the areas in his district that have been tagged most. He said graffiti vandals busted in his district range from youths to a 52-year-old man.

At a news conference last Thursday, representatives from City Solve spray painted over sexually graphic graffiti on a Whitestone store front on Willets Point Boulevard in a period of two minutes.

"Over the last two years, we have cleaned every shopping strip in Council District 19," said Bruce Pienkny, of City Solve. "We are slowly wearing down the resolve of these vandals and the quality of life for residents has gone up."

Pienkny said City Solve not only removes graffiti, but often paints a building to make it appear as if graffiti had never been on the structure.

Business owners along Willets Point Boulevard said the district's graffiti cleanup program has saved them money.

"There is constantly graffiti over here and it's disgusting," said Kathy Vassallo, owner of M&M Dry Cleaners. "There is nothing you can do about it. It's obscene. But I haven't had to clean it up because of [Avella's] program."

The councilman said he urged district residents to report locations that have been tagged to his office. He said the graffiti would be cleaned up free of charge.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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