Cleaning up Ferry Point Park has become a rite of passage for ninth graders at Millennium Art Academy in Castle Hill.
Each spring for the past four years, freshmen from Millennium Art have kicked off the clean-up season by spending a day in Ferry Point Park and on Friday, April 15, the schools newest batch of students did their share and enjoyed a nice barbecue as well.
For a group of high school students tackling the debris, the students had a great time. Although the temperature was in the mid-40s, the young learners enjoyed the chance to spend the day outside rather than sit inside their classrooms.
“I like it because we’re helping the earth,” said 14-year-old India Gill. “I’ve never seen so many Corona bottles in my life.”
The park does have an issue with litter. People frequently leave empty bottles on the ground. There are no recycling bins, and there are no bathrooms either. Students also found old shoes, and dead animal remains.
“I’ve never been here before,” said 14-year-old Nathanial Duverge. “But it’s obvious that help is needed.”
Students were assisted by workers from the Department of Parks and Recreation with putting trash into bags and then loading them into garbage trucks.
“To be honest, it helps. This park is in really bad shape,” said Park’s worker Sorrell Rodriguez. “We could clean up today and then Saturday or Sunday it looks the same again.”
The cleanups are organized by Dorothea Poggi, president of Friends of Ferry Point Park.She said collecting the bottles was the main concern, especially since it is a waterfront park.
“Fish use these inlets to breed,” Poggi said. “And they eat the plastics from the bottles, which have PCBs. They swim out into the Long Island Sound, we eat them and then we end up ingesting PCB. I believe this park needs recycling bins.”
The cleanup program also turns new people on to Ferry Point Park, who might never have ventured out that way.
“It’s 100 kids more that know about our park,” Poggi said. “Some of them will come back with their parents. People only really use it now for cricket and soccer. We want everyone to use it.”
Even though the kids were out of school, the day was still a learning experience.
“It’s great to show them the resources in their community,” said algebra teacher Jocelyn Hall, who also helped with the cleanup. “And we get a lot of stories out of this that we can share.”