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Islip's anti-graffiti initiative kicks off

Raymed Neptune of CitySolve cleans up graffiti on

Raymed Neptune of CitySolve cleans up graffiti on the side of a building at 1802 Fifth Avenue. Assemblyman Phil Ramos announced a $40,000 in grant to clean up local graffiti. (May 12, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

An anti-graffiti initiative that has cleaned up more than 700 properties in Brentwood, Central Islip, and Bay Shore kicked off its second year Thursday.

The program, started by Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) and the Urban League of Long Island, funds the routine removal of graffiti from private and commercial buildings. The initiative also provides funding for educational workshops and mentoring to keep young people from joining gangs and becoming graffiti artists.

This year, Ramos secured a $40,000 federal grant administered by the state, which came from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, a provider of federal criminal justice funding, officials said.

CitySolve, a Brooklyn-based company, will receive $25,000 of the grant to continue monitoring and painting over graffiti. The remainder will go to education programs run through the Urban League.

“The main thing that has happened is that the community feels empowered,” Ramos said. “As a result of them speaking out, they saw government and its agencies respond to their concerns and bring measurable results.”

Last year, Ramos and the Urban League started the campaign with a $40,000 state grant.

“You drive around and you see such a huge difference,” said Ruth Martinez, president of Brentwood Residents Against Violence Everyday. “With a cleaner community and less graffiti, it sends a powerful message that we are not going to tolerate people taking parts of our community and tagging it.”

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