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Two towns, city team up to clean debris from Hempstead Harbor

On Wednesday, Kevin Braun, the North Hempstead Town planning department and environmental control specialist, spoke about the joint effort of North Hempstead, the Town of Oyster Bay and Glen Cove to clean up marine debris. (Credit: Barry Sloan)

Cleanup crews from North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, and Glen Cove joined together Wednesday to remove debris from Hempstead Harbor, which is shared by the three municipalities.

The collected debris, which included various items -- wood, metal and plastic, pieces of plastic foam, and more -- filled three 30-yard-long dumpsters.  The leftover refuse formed a mounting pile in a North Hempstead Beach parking lot, the base of operations for the cleanup. An estimated 60 tons of debris were retrieved from the harbor, said Kevin Braun, the Town of North Hempstead's environmental control specialist.

“If you live on this water, work, fish, or just enjoy this water — you see it,” said Braun, referring to the debris in the harbor. “It’s a detriment to all the basic premises of the environment and wildlife.”

Braun, wearing a bright orange rain suit while helping the cleanup, assisted with coordinating the effort, which he said took place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m

The Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee and the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor encouraged the municipalities to work together on the project. The Town of Oyster Bay’s landing craft and environmental resources boat pulled the debris out of the water, and Glen Cove’s Harbor Patrol also assisted.

Most debris had been marked in advance by the Town of North Hempstead’s Bay Constable so it could be easily located at high tide, when the removal began.

“These waters are for all of Long Island’s residents, whether they’re the footed kind or the finned kind,” Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said. “So we see the importance of working together, for one Earth, one Long Island, and one waterway. And by pooling our efforts, we can get so much more done.”

North Hempstead’s planning, highway and parks departments, as well as the Bay Constable, helped staff the cleanup. The town’s Solid Waste Management Authority will dispose of the waste, officials said.

“The coordination between the three different municipalities is huge,” said Mallory Nathan, the Chief Bay Constable of the Town of North Hempstead. “Because it opens the door for this to happen again and again.”

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