In Fight To Remove Graffiti, It’s MTA Versus Murrow H.S.

Part of the Murrow High School's back wall, as seen from the street.

Commuters have been assaulted by graffiti splattered along the back wall of Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L) for almost as long as the school has existed. But cleaning it up has been a multi-year effort pitting the school against the MTA.

For starters, the cleanup of Murrow High School’s graffiti-covered wall could cost the school an unnecessarily large sum of cash, according to the school’s principal, Anthony R. Lodico. The MTA refuses to allow access to school officials — and says they must pay inflated prices to the agency’s contractors if it wants the job done.

Founded in 1974, the high school and its back wall have been the center for conflict and controversy for about two decades, according to Lodico. This graffiti has even survived the wear and tear of time and New York’s drastic weather changes. And, in his opinion, one of the biggest ongoing issues the school faces is not budget cuts or classroom sizes, but trying to get the wall cleaned up.

“It has been an uphill battle that we have not won,” he said.

Part of the problem is that the wall is located adjacent to the Avenue M stop on the Q train. In order for the high school to clean or paint over the wall, the MTA would have to supervise, since they would be entering its property.

According to Lodico, the Department of Education and some local senators have joined in the effort in the past, attempting to help form an agreement about a cleanup. Lodico said most of these efforts occurred under his predecessor, Saul Bruckner, who passed away in 2010, and that he was unsure of which elected officials or contacts at the Department of Education were involved in those efforts.

What he does know is that the MTA has continued to be an obstacle at least over the past 10 years.

Besides restricting access to the school’s own property, the MTA insists that the high school hire one of its own contractors. According to Lodico, that would mean inflated prices that aren’t feasible for the school’s budget. Lodico could not provide the pricing.

The MTA declined to comment on Lodico’s assertions. The public relations representative Sheepshead Bites spoke with, Charles Seaton, said he was not familiar with the issue, but that he would look into it and has requested that the school provide the contacts they worked with in the past.

With the Q train line currently under construction, Principle Lodico figures this is the perfect opportunity for the MTA to allow the cleanup of this less than appealing vandalism.

And if not, he knows how he could save some taxpayers some money.

“We can definitely just get some kids on ladders to simply paint over the wall,” he said.