Bruce Pienkny, owner and president of CitySolve, has removed graffiti from gates, brick buildings and storefronts throughout the city since 1995, cleaning roughly 75,000 properties in over 100 neighborhoods to date.
“You can never really stop it because it’s a cultural problem, or like a social problem like alcoholism or a drug addiction,” Pienkny said.
Ramie Neptune, an employee with CitySolve, sprayed a layer of color-matching silicone paint over the front gates to remove an eyesore from Ming’s Laundromat at 110-68 Queens Boulevard, the first of dozens on the short list for removal last Thursday morning.
Pienkny speculated over the possible cause for the growing graffiti problem along Queens Boulevard.
“It comes in waves,” he said. “Last winter we had a blizzard in February, and for whatever reason, at 101st Avenue on Queens Boulevard, in [Councilman Jimmy] Van Bramer’s district in Sunnyside, they went crazy with graffiti. It’s counterintuitive, why they were graffiti-ing through a blizzard is because the cops can’t chase them. The streets were closed and they were running rampant. It was unbelievable.”
Koslowitz teamed up with Pienkny and CitySolve in response to over 20 complaints in Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Rego Park and Elmhurst over the last three months.
“It’s not only a visual eyesore, but it diminishes the quality of the neighborhood,” Koslowitz said. “Partnering with CitySolve is the first step in sending a clear message that any form of vandalism will not be tolerated and quickly removed.”
Steve Melnick, treasurer for the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, has recognized the growing number of graffiti-covered storefronts throughout his neighborhood.
“We’re adamant that the area is presentable,” Melnick said. “People are going to become scared and they’re going to think there’s some sort of anarchy going on around here because nobody’s taking control.”
Melnick said he was relieved to see the council member take a step toward recovering the aesthetic integrity of the community.
“People are invested here,” he said. “It’s important to the neighborhood and to the merchants around here and you don’t want to say the place is not being kept up. Something like this can really harm them, whether you are residential or a commercial businesses.”