Feb. 6, 2012 By Christian Murray
The Sunnyside United Neighborhood Network (SUNN), best known for cleaning up graffiti across a large chunk of the neighborhood, is scaling back its operations.
SUNN will no longer be holding its spring and fall cleanups, which used to attract as many as 100 volunteers. These cleanups would typical cover most of the northern section of Sunnyside and volunteers would include representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints to members of labor union 79.
However, in recent times, the 12-year-old organization established by Julie and Lew Story has experienced a decline in “neighborhood participation.”
“The group was formed to bring the community together and to make the area nicer,” said Frank Caropreso, who is the de facto leader of the group, since the Storys left Sunnyside last year for Oklahoma. However, “most of the work is now being done by outsiders.”
The core group, which is now comprised of about 10 Sunnyside residents, will conduct smaller paint jobs—such as clean up mailboxes and lampposts– at varying times during the year. It will also back up the graffiti removal program introduced by councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in 2010 (ph: 718-383-9566).
Van Bramer implemented a $30,000 anti-graffiti program in 2010, where certain streets are cleaned on a monthly basis by a city contractor. These streets and avenues include, Skillman Ave., 43rd Ave., Roosevelt Ave. and Woodside Ave. Furthermore, the public has a hot-line service to call should they spot graffiti and want it cleaned.
Caropreso said the group had received city funding in the past; however, the paperwork to receive it had become so arduous that the group decided not to reapply. Additionally, “Jimmy’s graffiti program has made SUNN no longer as relevant,” he said.
Caropreso said the city funding did help maintain a $250 per month garage space where it would keep its commercial power washing equipment and paint.
The group is looking to sell the power washing equipment—unless it can find space to house it. Some of the paint will be kept in the basement of Caropreso’s house.
While the group is cutting back, Caropreso said: “In an emergency, SUNN will always be there. If there is a swastika painted on a synagogue or a church is vandalized we will be their fast.”