Volunteer effort to clean up Amsterdam graffiti

A resident has volunteered to clean up graffiti around the city next weekend. Jose Castro, 28, a

A resident has volunteered to clean up graffiti around the city next weekend.

Jose Castro, 28, a lifelong city resident who owns Castro Contracting, said he has gathered a bunch of the area’s youth and intends to donate his time, during a busy part of his work season, to cleaning up graffiti around the city the weekend of Aug. 14.

Castro said he owns a few properties in Amsterdam and each street where he owns land has been hit by graffiti.

“It doesn’t look good for the community,” he said.

Castro said he has developed a good connection with the area’s youth, calling himself a “big kid, too,” and has gathered about 20 teenagers for his efforts. By getting youth involved, Castro said it would be a good way to let the community know that even though most graffi ti is done by teenagers, not all teenagers in the city are bad.

“It will give the kids something to make them feel good and like they are a part of something,” he said.

Castro has gotten the local movie theater to donate free movie tickets to participating youth. Local businesses are donating food and drinks for the event.

“It seems everywhere I went, people agreed to participate,” Castro said.

Graffiti has plagued the city for quite awhile, and now city government is trying to do something about it by enacting a local ordinance that would force property owners to clean up graffiti on their property.

Mayor Ann Thane said the city and its residents could use Castro’s help.

“We very much admire his efforts and volunteerism,” she said. “This is the kind of community activism that is going to make a significant difference in the city.”

City officials have not voted on the ordinance yet.

Castro had asked that any property owner who wanted to take advantage of his volunteer services call by today, but not many people have taken Castro up on his offer. Thane authorized Castro to clean graffiti on city properties, but before that, Castro said he was thinking of canceling due to lack of interest.

Anyone interested in using Castro’s services can call him anytime.

Castro asks that private property owners provide him with the necessary primer and paint to cover the graffiti. He said removing it would be too much work and he wouldn’t want to subject the youth volunteers to the chemicals.

This is the first time Castro has ever volunteered in the city in this big of a way. He said the growth of the event has surprised him.

“I thought I was just going to do something small. I didn’t know it would generate such a positive thing,” he said. “I guess I was wrong, but I’m grateful for that.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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