A few years ago, Peter Sofio and Richie Polgar made a pact to adopt the LIE wall from 80th Street to 73rd Street. The two met at a Juniper Juniors cleanup where the group joined forces with the Maspeth High School Green Team and cleaned graffiti and litter from bad spots in the neighborhood. The stretch of 57th Ave. between 73rd and 80th streets has been a favorite place for dumpers to leave their garbage and graffiti. So when one of the men sees a problem they get together and break out the paint and get working. Dumping is reported to Sanitation and usually the trash is picked up in a few days. For this, they have gotten the nickname “Graffiti Avengers”.
Another problem the duo took on was complaining about the pigeon poop-filled messy sidewalks under the LIE at 74th and 80th Streets. Repeated calls to Council Member Crowley and Senator Addabbo's offices resulted in getting the NYSDOT to power wash the sidewalks and street and add wooden planks to block access for the pigeons. This has been a big improvement but they feel that wire fencing might be a better answer as it is more effective and costs less to install. Also they want signs to discourage those that leave loaves of bread for the pigeons as it also attracts rats.
There was a similar problem near St. Mary’s on 70th street and 47th Ave where wire fencing was used under the LIRR tracks and it seems to be effective. People have also complained about pigeon droppings at 69th street under the LIRR and they are studying the problem now.
One problem Rich & Pete are having trouble with is having the city remove the Cars for Cash signs which are placed high out of reach with superglue. The city has neglected many calls to 311 and is negligent in going after these businesses that are leaving their signs all over the city.
The other problem area is the 83rd street LIE pedestrian overpass. NYSDOT has been unresponsive to many calls to clean the green space and paint over graffiti. At least they got them to chain the gate and fix the holes in the fence to prevent graffiti vandals from using the area as a hangout. The Graffiti Avengers have asked for a key so they can clean the garbage from the area since DOT won’t do it but they have been met with silence from the agency since last spring.
Peter and Richie encourage others to adopt an area and when they see graffiti or garbage they should remove it or call it in to help keep our neighborhood a little cleaner. Paint and brushes can be obtained from Juniper Civic or from Assembly Member Barnwell.
The Graffiti Avengers have found that if graffiti is covered as soon as it's seen then the vandals will give up and find a space that won't be disturbed. Not many youngsters have as much patience, determination and time on their hands as do two seniors who are retired and care deeply about their neighborhood.