Seventy students, parents and members of the community gathered to do some spring cleaning at Denyse Wharf on Sunday, May 22.
The cleanup, which started 27 years ago, has students from local schools and members of the community clear trash that may have washed up on shore. Coordinator Thomas Greene, who started the cleanup, enjoys seeing the students give back to their community.
“It gives the kids the chance to help their environment. They also get certificates afterwards for showing civic engagement,” said Greene.
When the cleanup program began, it was an outgrowth of the ecology club at Fort Hamilton High School, which Greene started when he was a science teacher there. The club wanted access to the water to gather specimen samples for research, and eventually got permission from the Army to start a cleanup.
“When we first started, the wharf was overridden with trash,” said Greene, who subsequently wrote a proposal to create an environmental science lab at the wharf. As well as providing Brooklyn students with a hands-on marine science experience, he envisions that such a lab would create a public space for the community to learn more about science and learn about the wharf’s historical value. However, after briefly flirting with the idea about 15 years ago, the city’s Department of Education has backed off the idea, despite Greene’s persistence.
“It would give a whole educational and environmental platform that the community can benefit from,” said Greene.
The wharf is known to be the main site of the British invasion where the Revolutionary war began. It is now a part of the Fort Hamilton Army Garrison base.
While Greene is still advocating for the science lab, he hopes the students and volunteers that donated their time into the cleanup learned a lot about their environment.
“There aren’t many volunteer opportunities for children. Getting children involved with the cleanup is a way to help them grown and mature,” said Greene.