Neighbors of PS 144 in Forest Hills are up in arms because they say teenagers are hanging out around the elementary school after dark, spray painting buildings in the area and generally causing a raucous.
The gates around the school at 93-02 69th Ave. are never locked and the teens are ruining the quality of life in the area as they loudly gather in large groups, smoke marijuana and litter, residents complained.
Capt. Charles Stravalle of the 112th Precinct said the police keep an eye out for graffiti artists, but he had not heard of an overwhelming problem near PS 144. He urged residents to call the citys quality-of-life hotline when they see teen troublemakers.
For lack of a better word, theyre punks, said Gina Carroll, who lives in an apartment on 69th Avenue. Theyre angry. Theyre violent. Theyre going to bring down the value of the neighborhoods.
There have been ongoing problems around the school, said James Bell, who lives on 69th Avenue. Weve always had a problem with graffiti ... You see it everywhere.
School officials said there is no one left at PS 144 when the kids arrive at night so there is little they can do except paint over graffiti on the school as soon as possible.
As for locking the gates at night, teens would simply cut through the fence and continue with their business, said Jeff Davis, director of prevention programs for School District 28, which controls PS 144.
Davis said judging from the graffiti symbols left on the school, the spray painters are not members of a gang and probably live within a few blocks of PS 144 themselves.
Carroll and her husband Frank said residents in the area and local civic associations have spent countless hours repainting buildings and mailboxes and cleaning up graffiti teenagers have painted around the neighborhood.
Bell said one neighbor, whom he did not name, was assaulted with a bottle when he tried to tell some loud teens to quiet down and Frank Carroll claims he has seen kids performing sexual acts around PS 144.
The mayor, much like his predecessor, has made cracking down on quality-of-life crimes a high priority and last week he urged community groups to join with the citys anti-graffiti task force to put an end to the petty crime.
Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2002 Community News Group
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