Section: LOCAL,  Page: B2

Date: Tuesday, September 13, 1988

City parks workers hope today to finish cleaning graffiti off the city's 60-year- old Spanish-American War monument, which was discovered defaced late last week.

Deputy Parks Commissioner Richard Patrick said the vandalism involved markings that have proved difficult to remove, tying up the city's top masons and other city workers who are into their third day of attempting to clean the monument. "Every day it's on there it's a victory for whoever put it there," Patrick said.

Workers, he said, have attempted to waterblast the base of the monument and have tried various solvents with some success, although the marks were only beginning to fade Monday. The damage to the statue included a change of spelling on the monument from "Porto Rico" to "Puerto Rico," said Patrick, who speculated that the act might have been a "misguided patriotic gesture."

"Porto Rico" was once an accepted spelling for the island, which became a U.S. territory after the Spanish-American War.

Workers on the project, Patrick said, include Nicholas Mesiti, a mason employed by the city, and construction workers pulled off other city jobs.

Mesiti, he said, is handling the job to avoid damaging the 20-foot monument, which was acquired by the city in July 1928 and features a bronze soldier designed by sculptor David Lithgow of Green Island. The monument, located on a small triangular park at Northern Boulevard and Central Avenue, commemorates Albany residents who died in the Spanish- American War.

The damage was discovered Friday, Patrick said. He said he and police consider it unrelated to a window-smashing spree in Washington Park Sunday night and early Monday morning. Police spokesman Robert Wolfgang said eight cars parked around Washington Park along Willett, State and Hudson streets and the interior park road were discovered with windows smashed between 6 p.m. Sunday and into Monday morning.

Thefts of a credit card and about $5 were reported in two cases, he said.