Bronx Times - By Jaime Williams
Community leaders in Van Nest who were fed up with the graffiti plaguing their neighborhood after months of constant tagging and 311 calls that weren’t yielding results say they are finally seeing improvements now the a state Senator has stepped in.
Staffers of state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D–Van Nest) contacted with the mayor’s office to bring the Graffiti-Free NYC removal program to Van Nest after community leaders raised the issue a few weeks ago.
“My office was able to ensure that the graffiti issue in the Van Nest area was quickly addressed,” said Rivera. “I will continue to work with the Community Board, neighborhood leaders, and our local government to make sure that we continue to get the necessary resources to address graffiti issues throughout the 33rd Senate District.”The program is the same one that responds to 311 calls, but the senator’s office was able to call attention to the long list of tagged sites that community leaders had complied. Five sites were cleaned on Thursday, June 12, and more have recently been visited by the program.
Community leaders said they were glad that the graffiti problem was addressed after they raised concerns.
“Everyone was overjoyed that there was an immediate response,” said Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance. “We’re just very grateful that something was done and that the mayor’s office was involved.”
Still, Ferrara said that a clean up a handful of taggings isn’t enough to make a difference in the quality of life in the neighborhood, claiming that graffiti is a chronic problem, and when a spot is clean it is just a matter of time before it is tagged again.
She said one fence on White Plains Road was cleaned a few weeks ago, and has since been re-tagged.
“It’s going to happen over and over and over again,” she said.
Ferrara said she would like to see more of an effort to catch taggers and to penalize them. She also feels that the city’s graffiti removal program should use materials that spray paint won’t adhere too, but claims she has been told that it is too expensive.
Whatever the solution, Ferrara said employing new strategies to reduce graffiti would benefit all neighborhoods.
“I hope there is serious thought about how to deter this in the future,” she said.