Teens clean beach at Denyse Wharf

On October 20 at 9 a.m., children from all over the borough gathered at Denyse Wharf, in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge, to clean the beach there, led by activist and former Fort Hamilton Assistant Principal Thomas Greene, who currently is an adjunct professor at Kingsborough Community College.

Greene has dedicated years of his life to improving the environment as well as science education for public school students. The cleanup has taken place for 20 years, twice a year, at a site that Greene would like to see transformed into a marine science lab.

“We want the city of New York to build a modest science lab so kids can come and learn firsthand,” Greene said of the wharf, which is owned by the U.S. Army but which the Army is willing to lease the city for a token $1 per year. “They would be able to learn biology, physics and chemistry.”

The road to making this vision a reality has been a challenging one. Over a decade ago, a study was done that found the plan feasible, and funding was allocated, but it was pulled after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Subsequently, the city’s Department of Education back-burnered the concept, despite Greene’s ongoing efforts to promote the lab, which he says is badly needed.

It’s a frustrating state of affairs for a man who just wants to preserve a potentially beautiful part of Bay Ridge while also striving to improve science education in the area. “I care about the environment here. It’s very dirty. It was an eyesore,” said Greene.

But Greene does have his fair share of supporters. Hamilton Chief of Police Mike Canters was in attendance and was thrilled to see the work of the children and Greene. “He’s reached out to get community-oriented. It’s a real team effort,” said Canters.

“There’s a lot of history in this pier. That’s why they want to clean it up,” said Greene. “We are happy to have the U.S. Army giving us access to the pier so that kids can come, help clean and receive a community service hours.”

The children were enthusiastic throughout the entire clean up. Judging by their excitement, it wasn’t all about receiving their community service certificate. They cared about fixing the wharf.

“That’s Harbor Seal teamwork,” exclaimed Greene as he encouraged the children.

“These are kids from the Bay Ridge Harbor Seals [swim team]. There are over 65 of them. They attend mostly middle school but there are high school students as well from Fort Hamilton,” said Green proudly.

Every one that participated received a certificate for community service.

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