Beachy-clean at Denyse Wharf

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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.

The rebirth of Kohl’s

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On the morning of Sunday, April 7, hundreds of shoppers packed the parking lot at Ceasar’s Bay for the grand re-opening of Kohl’s, five months after the store was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The ribbon cutting at the newly reopened Kohl's.

Among those present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the parking lot in front of the store were Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

“The one question I got more often than anything over the past several months from constituents was, is Kohl’s going to re-open? And when is it going to re-open?” said Gentile. “Today is not only a re-opening, it is a re-birth,” he added.

The store manager Brian Blanchard said, “After five months, we are very excited to re-open. We suffered significant damage to the first floor of the building and all repairs have been made for a safe environment for our customers.”

Delia, Juliette Landi, Fay and Olivia Landi (in carriage).

Along with a multitude of sales and discounts, Kohl’s offered a 20 percent off everything sale for customers opening a Kohl’s charge card that day. The staff greeted every customer with a salutation and a smile. Three-year Kohl’s employee Lashawna T. said, “It feels great to be back. We missed the customers as much as they missed us.”

With a lack of major retail stores in the area, local customers were thrilled to be back in Kohl’s. “I’m so happy that they’re open. I got a gift certificate for Christmas from my daughter and now I don’t have to go all the way to Staten Island to use it,” said Virginia Rice.

During the five months that Kohl’s was closed due to damages, repairs on the store were not the only thing happening. Blanchard said, “Immediately after the storm hit, we opened care and comfort centers for our associates.” He also noted that the corporation made a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross.

Blanchard then went on to explain how Kohl’s kept over 200 associates employed during the time that the store was closed by sending them on shuttle buses to work at different Kohl’s locations in the area, mostly in Long Island. Also, just before the store re-opened, the company hired 80 more associates.