Residents fume after graffiti artists vandalize sections of Rockaway boardwalk


NEW YORK — Vandals went wild with spray paint over the weekend on a large section of the Rockaway boardwalk, and that had residents demanding an immediate cleanup.

On Wednesday, city crews were out in force with power washers, and as CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, they’re promising a swift response to graffiti on the newly built boardwalk.

Far Rockaway resident Michael Blomquist sees the Rockaway boardwalk as his escape to natural beauty, but on Saturday he came upon gasp-worthy ugliness.

“I’ve never seen that much graffiti in one place, and this is such an important place for us, for the community,” Blomquist said.

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He and others took to social media to share a community outcry — to not let what happened stand as the new normal on a five-mile boardwalk just rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.

Graffiti tags, at least 100 of them, with profanity, were sprayed across the entire width of the concrete boardwalk, from Beach 54th Street to 55th Street.

“Someone else will say, ‘That’s a good idea,’ and every block will be marked up like that,” Far Rockaway resident Methun Singh said. “They hurt the whole family, the neighborhood, everybody who lives here.”

“I don’t know what they were thinking. Some people just don’t like to see things looking nice,” resident Helen Jackson added.

City officials say this was a job for a special detail, and on Wednesday morning sent in the big guns — its borough-wide graffiti removal squad.

“This was a whole block of the boardwalk with spray paint, so it’s that much more visible, that much more obnoxious, and that much more problematic and troublesome,” NYC Parks administrator Eric Peterson said.

The quick and complete cleanup sends the message that graffiti will not be tolerated.

“If you know your work is going to be erased immediately, hopefully you’ll be less inclined to do the graffiti and damage the park,”  Peterson said.

Peterson said keeping up with illegal tagging is a challenge.

“We are continually out here sanding it off, washing it off, erasing with a chemical remover. We’d be pressure washing on concrete. It’s unattractive. It’s a nuisance. It can be an invitation for more vandalism,” Peterson said.

Residents said they hope it stays that way.

“It’s part of New York. It’s all over the place now. I’m more impressed that they’re cleaning it and not leaving it for five years,” one resident said.

The parks department said there are legal and appropriate avenues for street artists, but what happened on the boardwalk is nothing but vandalism and will not be tolerated.

Photos of the graffiti were sent to the NYPD, which has investigators who track graffiti, looking for patterns to charge offenders.  



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