Graffiti and trash a “slap in the face,” says resident

Bensonhurst residents say they are tired of looking at trash and obscene graffiti along 18th Avenue, contending that it is diminishing their quality of life.

Carmine Lomonaco has lived in the neighborhood since 1961. He said that his 11-year-old daughter should not be subjected to the vile graffiti written on the boarded up door of a Chinese restaurant near 65th Street on her way to St. Athanasius, where she attends school.

“This is unacceptable. I like to spend my money on the avenue, like taking my kids for ices,” Lomonaco said. “But I will go elsewhere.”

Lomonaco, who owns two homes on the same block, said he is actively boycotting local stores that do not take care of their property. He said he no longer shops in the neighborhood and goes to 13th Avenue or even as far as the Woodbridge Mall in New Jersey to shop.

“At night, when they [store owners] go home for the day, I still have to look at it,” he explained, referring to the graffiti that is on the walls of corner properties and that extends onto the side streets. “It’s like a slap in the face. If people don’t care about the neighborhood it will go down the tubes.”

Lomonaco added that he is also speaking on behalf of his neighbors, many whom are immigrants. “Maybe they are intimidated…I don’t know. But, I want to be their voice,” he said.

John Petito, a member of Community Board 11, is neighbors with Lomonaco.

“There is trash blowing down our block and we constantly have to sweep,” Petito said, contending that the trash can removal pilot program that was enacted along 18th Avenue from 65th Street to Bay Ridge Parkway is a contributing factor.

“So now they throw garbage everywhere, especially from fast food places. I have no idea why they took them [the trash receptacles] away,” he said. “The feast [of Santa Rosalia] is coming and I don’t know if they will have pails out for it.”

Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11, acknowledged the issue, but contended that the pilot program was working.

“We have seen an improvement with the household and commercial waste being placed out at the wrong time. But we are seeing a lot of pedestrian litter throughout the whole district,” she said, adding that problem corners include places where there is a receptacle. “We need people to take pride in their community and help us keep it clean.”

Kathy Dawkins, a spokesperson for the Sanitation Department, told this paper that the agency is aware of the situation and is working with CB11 to “rectify litter conditions.” She added that members of Sanitation’s Enforcement Division are out on patrol.

“When violations are observed, summonses are written,” she said. “Those who break the law, especially litterers, will be caught. So far this month, Sanitation has written 22 summonses for either littering, dirty sidewalk, sidewalk obstruction, failure to store receptacles, and failure to clean 18 inches into street along that corridor.”

Elias-Pavia added that there is already a request in to the city to remove the graffiti along the avenue. “Graffiti is an ongoing problem and they tend to tag commercial areas,” she explained. “Unfortunately, as soon as we have it removed, it gets hit again. It’s a blight on the community.”

Lomonaco had some advice for those who are making graffiti. “Fame comes from how successful you are,” he said, adding that tagging the neighborhood “makes you infamous. It will just get you in jail. If you live here, take pride in your neighborhood. Don’t mar it.”

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