“Graffiti is a pet peeve of mine. It's not art, it's an eyesore,” said Ulrich to a small crowd gathered outside Comco Plastics at 101st Street and Jamaica Avenue, where several tags stained the brick exterior. “It's one of the most visible signs of urban decay.”
The cleanup contract was awarded to Ridgewood-based Magic Touch Cleaning, who demonstrated their techniques by removing one of several tags on the outside of the building. Magic Touch president Joe Militello explained that they are able to remove graffiti using a combination of eco-friendly substances.
“It's all biodegradable,” he said of their cleaning solution. “Once it's in contact with water, it neutralizes it,”
Militello also said that the graffiti removal substance is not harmful to vehicles, should they be exposed to it while parked near a graffiti cleanup site.
Comco president Michael French said that the graffiti on his building has often been a problem when potential clients visit his location.
“We deal with a lot of Fortune 500 companies,” French said. “Sometimes it's an awkward conversation to deal with this graffiti.”
Ulrich said one of the reasons he was able to secure the line of funding to augment graffiti cleanup efforts was due to existing efforts championed by local activists such as Maria Thompson, executive director of the Woodhaven BID.
“Because of her, we were able to expand,” Ulrich said.
Thompson's efforts have been successful within the confines of the Woodhaven BID, but she is not able to fund cleanup in the areas surrounding the district. She lauded Ulrich for finding the funding to expand removal efforts to include all of Woodhaven.
“Everyone cares about the communities here in this vicinity,” she said. “I am so thankful for our councilman to fill that gap.”
Cost of cleaning up each individual tag runs anywhere from $150 to $300, though Ulrich said additional funding will be provided should the initial $25,000 run out.
“If it works very well, we will expand this program,” Ulrich said. “We all want to see clean, safe neighborhoods.”