By Rich Bockmann
Rosie Moyano reached down into a crevice in the jetty sticking out into Little Bay Sunday and pulled out a plastic flower. The day’s raw, rainy weather had not dampened her sense of humor.
“I imagine someone had a romantic moment,” she said, displaying the faux floret for Victor Reyes, a Flushing fisherman who was looking forward to a season casting off in the waters for blue fish, stripers and flounders.
“Looks like it,” he said with a smile as he stuffed a trash bag with spray paint cans and beer bottles.
Reyes and Moyano, the parent coordinator at the Queens High School of Inquiry in Hillcrest, were two of a few dozen volunteers who scoured Little Bay Park during the Bayside Anglers Group’s 18th annual Waterfront Day, which organized similar cleanups around the Bayside Marina as well as the Joe Michaels Mile bicycle path along the Cross Island Parkway and Little Neck Bay.
Peter Pabone, president of the Bayside Anglers Group, said by living in New York City people have misconceptions about the waters surrounding them.
“We live on islands, but most people don’t realize that. People think the water is disgusting, but it’s cleaner now than it’s been in over 100 years,” he explained. “The fish are healthy and, yes, you can eat them without getting sick.”
On its web site, the state Department of Health lists advice about fish consumption. Those most sensitive to common contaminants are women under 50 and children under 15.
Pabone said the annual cleanup, held during Earth Week, teaches an important lesson about environmental stewardship.
Melissa Martinez, a 15-year-old student at the Queens High School of Inquiry, said she had not thought much about caring for the environment before a teacher recommended she spend a semester at the Coastal Studies for Girls School in Maine.
She said that before she attended the program, she would not have thought about participating in a cleanup event, and now she wants to go to college and eventually be an environmental lawyer.
“I had to pick up a huge rock and get a tire underneath it,” she said with excitement. “I mean, if you can change just one law, think of the impact that will have.”
Martinez joined about 20 or so of her classmates from her school’s Ivy Society, members of which dedicate themselves to community service.
“We’re always doing activities in school, so it’s great to get outside,” said 17-year old Kunal Ramchandi as his fellow society members walked up and down the jetty, their genuine enthusiasm in stark contrast to the day’s gloomy weather.
“We’re trying to change the world!” shouted Ahra Sung, 15, her feet clad in rubber boots as she carefully maneuvered around the jetty.
Ivy Society President Kyle Cangialosi said he participated in the cleanup last year as a student at Bayside’s Bell Academy, and he shared some tips he had picked up with his classmates.
“I told them to bring bigger bags,” he said as he tossed another onto a pile of about 20, which he looked at with pride. “I like knowing that when people come here in the summer, they’re not going to have to see the stuff we are cleaning.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.