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Miller thanks LIRR for painting graffiti-ridden trestles

Resident David Turner shows off a graffiti-free train underpass on Cypress Hills Street in Glendale. Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

Glendale residents are required to clean graffiti off of their vandalized property and, it turns out, so is the city.

State Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) succeeded in convincing the Long Island Rail Road to paint over graffiti covering several train trestles that previously acted as canvasses for tags and graffiti.

“In this instance, the LIRR is partially responsible for keeping the trestles clean,” Miller said. “And they were gracious enough to do it.”

The cleaning efforts began during the week of Jan. 3, according to a spokesman from Miller’s office, and covered the LIRR line that runs over Cypress Hills Street and Myrtle Avenue at Fresh Pond Road.

But the Long Island Rail Road was not the company Miller contacted first.

“We worked with [New York & Atlantic Railway] to have it cleaned,” Miller said. “They kept pushing it off and saying that it wasn’t their responsibility.”

And only after NY&A procrastinated, Miller went to the LIRR for help.

“They said they would look into it, and they were able to get a crew out there and paint over or remove the graffiti that was in my district,” Miller said.

“Graffiti has always been an issue for me,” he said. “I’ve been fighting it for years. Every time you passed the trestles you would see it.”

And the mere presence of the graffiti — often simply “tags,” which are symbols identifying the perpetrator — affects the neighborhood in a negative way, according to Miller.

“It’s an eyesore,” he said. “A few people from the community came in to my office and expressed their displeasure about the graffiti.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) is a staunch opponent of the practice.

“Graffiti brings down the value of life in the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s unsightly to look at and it incites crime.”

Crowley also supports another measure that Miller introduced, which is a reward system whereby anyone who gives police information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a graffiti vandal can receive a $500 award.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” said resident David Turner, who added that the aging trestles needed a touch up anyway. “Anything looks nice with a fresh coat of paint on it.”

But Turner also said he does not mind some graffiti. In fact, it reminded him that he lives in New York.

“It wouldn’t be the city without it,” he said.

Jose Rodriguez also said he enjoyed some graffiti.

“I usually like graffiti, but not on the walls,” he said. “I don’t like tagging.”

Officers from the 104th Precinct are clearly not fans of the practice and rigorously pursue vandals who tag public and private property, according to Miller.

“When they go out on patrol, they are looking for graffiti vandals,” he said. “The 104th had numerous arrests.”

In fact, the precinct had the second-highest arrest rate in all of New York, according to the graffiti officer at the 104th.

In 2010, officers collared 174 people.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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