Volunteers gather for annual Owl’s Head Park ‘Greenup’

Despite an overcast sky, a group of hearty and helpful volunteers gathered at Owl’s Head Park at 68th Street and Colonial Road in Bay Ridge for the annual park “Greenup” event. 

Families with small children and adult community leaders joined forces to help clean up and beautify the park now that spring has sprung and summer is on its way.

The event was sponsored by Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis who provided the water and arranged for the gloves, garbage bags and other materials needed to help clean and beautify the park. 

The “Greenup” takes place at least twice a month starting on Earth Day, but because Earth Day fell on Easter this year, the first day of the cleanup was pushed to Saturday, May 4. 

According to Susan Frances, community liaison for Owl’s Head Park Volunteers, the “Greenup’s” have been taking place since 2013. “The idea of the ‘Greenup’ is to create nice gardens for the kids,” said Frances. “We start early in May over here because by Memorial Day they open up the sprinklers and weeds start to grow rapidly. So we want to clean this area up early. The program runs until October, when the weather is still nice and you can still plant.”

The volunteers include cub scouts, boy scouts, girl scouts and students from various schools in the community like Fort Hamilton High School, Xaverian High School and Fontbonne Hall Academy.

Other parks in the area also have volunteer cleanup programs including Shore Road Park, Leif Ericson Park, American Veterans Memorial Pier and Fort Hamilton Athletic Field.

The Parks Department has assigned Joseph Rivera, Jr. associated parks service worker, to help take care of Owl’s Head Park. 

“This is my first time at this site,” Rivera told this paper. “I’m originally from Queens and I have a lot of horticulture experience because I used to deal with the green house. I’m here to assist in any way I can in order to help maintain the beauty of this area especially for the children.”

Rivera stressed the importance of having someone like himself who knows which plants should be pulled. “Children may pull the wrong plants or dangerous plants that start growing at this time of year,” said Rivera. “We let them know which ones should not be disturbed and the ones that will ultimately flourish during the season.” 

Katie Wu, president of the Brooklyn Chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America, explained that her organization has been involved with the program for 16 years. “Annually AREAA day allows us to give back to the community,” said Wu. “So, this year we’re so happy and proud to partner up with Owl’s Head Park.”

Mike Napolitano, owner of Re/Max Edge, attended the cleanup with his wife Lauren and their son Sam. “We’re located in Bay Ridge and we really care about the community,” Napolitano told this paper. “Our brokerage firm is centered around community and to volunteer here and to make sure we give back is one of the core parts of our business.”

Philip Guarnieri, CEO of Empire State Bank participates in the program every year. “Empire State Bank is extremely happy to work along with the Brooklyn Chapter of AREAA in reaching out and helping the community, and in this case cleaning up one of the local parks that the community uses, said Guarnieri. “It’s a beautiful park and we’re just happy to be here and to be part of it.”

Malliotakis will also be sponsoring another “Greenup” at Owl’s Head Park on Saturday, May 11.

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