On Sunday June 2, about 80 people gathered for a beach clean-up at Denyse Wharf under the Verrazano Bridge.
Students from Fort Hamilton High School and Kingsborough Community College, members of the Harbor Seal Swim Team, and their parents, joined forces with local activist and teacher Thomas Greene and the Friends of Denyse Wharf to participate in the beach clean-up, which has been taking place for over 15 years now.
The traditional clean-up at Denyse Wharf takes place twice a year, usually in October and June, on the beach located under the Verrazano Bridge on Fort Hamilton Army Base property.
“This year we expanded the clean-up to include water testing and environmental stewardship,” Greene said.
He explained how the kids took water samples for quality testing, and did oyster measurements.
“With the armies approval we would like to create an oyster garden in the cove, but we’re working on that,” said Greene.
Along with that, the children had the opportunity to kayak in the shallow protected cove along the sea wall, while under the supervision of lifeguards provided by the Bay Ridge Aquatics Institute.
After filling the dumpster provided by the Department of Environmental Protection with debris and garbage, every student that participated received a community service certificate.
However, the event was not just to clean the beach and give local students a taste of marine biology, but also to support efforts to establish an Environmental Science Center there. Since 2001 the Friends of Denyse Wharf, with support of local officials, have been striving to get the Department of Education to approve the proposal, but the DOE continues to find reasons to deem it unfit, Greene contended.
Greene explained how valuable an Environmental Science Center at the wharf could be to the community. He said it would serve elementary and middle schools that do not have labs of their own, and students all throughout Brooklyn and Staten Island would have access to it. From a financial standpoint it would save the city millions of dollars in real estate costs, being that the site is owned by the Army, which would lease the property to the City of New York for $1 a year.
Greene said that the Friends of Denyse Wharf would continue to fight for the proposed Environmental Science Center’s approval.