Friends of Denyse Wharf want to teach kids on pier
A grassroots group that has spent years pushing the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to build a marine science lab on a historic Bay Ridge wharf to no avail is now trying to change its game plan.
Leaders of the Friends of Denyse Wharf said that while they will continue to advocate for a marine science lab, they are currently seeking the DOE’s permission to establish an outdoor environmental education program at the site.
Denyse Wharf, which dates back to the Revolutionary War, is the property of the U.S. Army and sits at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge.
Thomas Greene, a retired assistant principal of Fort Hamilton High School who founded Friends of Denyse Wharf, noted that environmental education programs that were being conducted at the city’s Eco Dock at 69th Street pier had to be halted when the Eco Dock closed for repairs in 2015.
The Eco Dock was built with funding secured by Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) and opened to great fanfare three years ago, but the city closed the dock after structural flaws in the gangplank were discovered.
The Friends group would be willing to fill in the gap by hosting an environmental education program over at Denyse Wharf, approximately a mile away from the 69th Street pier, Greene said.
“With the 69th Street Eco Dock facility being out of commission, Friends of Denyse Wharf would be willing to provide environmental activities at Denyse Wharf, subject to Army approval, while the Eco dock is undergoing repairs. We are requesting the ‘powers that be’ to fund the cost of a small steel container to store lab equipment,” Greene stated.
“Friends of Denyse Wharf continue to advocate for an environmental science lab at Denyse Wharf, with an adjoining pedestrian space containing commemorative historical plaques. The general public can observe students engaged in hands-on activities related to real world problems in water pollution, global warming and climate change,” Greene added.
The goal would be to have students from local schools who are interested in marine science study basic science lab skills and environmental literacy courses.
To help bolster its argument, the Friends group conducted a major cleanup of Denyse Wharf and the surrounding beach on Oct. 23. With the permission of the U.S. Army, nearly 100 volunteers, including students from the local schools, cleared the beach of tires, driftwood, plastics, glass and metal.
Ninety students who took part in the cleanup were presented with community service certificates by educators.
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