Briarwood cleaned of graffiti

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Armed with blue latex gloves and spray guns, elected officials and community activists last week launched their war against the graffiti they said has long been a blight on the Briarwood neighborhood.

City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) were joined last Thursday by the NYPD’s McGruff the Crime Dog to remove the graffiti that covered a retaining wall along the Grand Central Parkway service road between 134th and 138th streets.

“I’m happy to do my part in removing it,” Gennaro said of the graffiti. “If the vandals decide to tag again, we’ll clean it again, breaking their resolve, each time attacking it as a disease until it’s forever gone.”

Gennaro has partnered with CitySolve, a group that works with officials throughout the borough and city to remove graffiti, to tackle problem areas throughout his district. The legislators and Briarwood Civic Association President Seymour Schwartz said they were relieved to bid adieu to the illegal lettering on the retaining wall, which has long attracted vandals because of its high visibility.

“We have worked hard over the years to combat the persistent wrong-doers, and we are grateful to Councilman Gennaro for his promise to keep it clean,” Schwartz said.

CitySolve President Bruce Pienky said his group has removed graffiti at four major shopping hubs in Gennaro’s district, including Kissena Boulevard between the Long Island Expressway service road to Union Turnpike, Union Turnpike from Main Street to Francis Lewis Boulevard, 164th Street from Union Turnpike to the Long Island Expressway service road and Parsons Boulevard from Hillside Avenue to Union Turnpike.

Now, Pienky said, they are turning their attention to more residential areas, like the wall along the Grand Central Parkway service road.

“Graffiti is a symptom of crime and negatively affects the quality of life of all citizens through decreased property values, increased taxes and a financial burden on affected businesses and homes,” Brown said. “City officials and anti-graffiti activists have done a remarkable job over the years in cleaning up New York City’s image as a graffiti-scarred city.”

The lawmakers, Brown and Schwartz all took turns in eradicating the graffiti using spray guns and in less than half an hour the lettering was gone.

“We’re here to make a concrete visual difference,” Lancman said. “The quality of life in each neighborhood is of utmost importance.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:50 pm, October 10, 2011
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