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Amityville armada cleans up Great South Bay

Joe Lagano, left, of Massapequa, teams up with

Joe Lagano, left, of Massapequa, teams up with Hal Schad, center, and Village Trustee Ed Johnson, right, both of Amityville, to move wood debris at the Great South Bay Society's cleanup. (Sept. 29, 2012) Credit: Fran Berkman

Under a dense gray canopy of clouds, a ragtag fleet of 25 clam boats, speed boats, skiffs, dinghies and barges set sail from the Amityville Cut on Saturday morning. This Amityville armada ventured into the Great South Bay with one goal in mind — to pick up garbage.

About 100 people, mostly from Amityville and Massapequa, took park in the cleanup, an annual event organized by the Great South Bay Society.

Lifelong boater and fisherman, Todd Brice, 36, said he became increasingly frustrated with the garbage he was seeing in the bay.

“I’ve just gotten dismayed with all the trash that’s been on the islands over the years, and I figured no one’s really going to clean it up so I might as well start something to do it myself,” said Brice, who owns Yacht Services Marina in Amityville.

He decided to form the Great South Bay Society in 2007. To get the organization off the ground, he employed the help of several friends and fellow mariners, Dave Hager, 52, of East Massapequa, Mike Babich, 56, of Amityville, Joseph Sidor, 49, of Amity Harbor and Rich Ubert, 46, of Amityville. Each year, the group cleans up enough garbage and debris to fill two 30-yard trash bins.

Considering the vastness of the bay, and the amount of trash that must be out there, one might wonder if a few trash bins even makes a difference.

“A bag makes a big difference in our minds,” Hager said. “We’ve got to do something because if we don’t take care of it now, moving down the road in 20 or 30 years, our kids aren’t going to have anything to go out there to.”

Volunteers filled black garbage bags with cans, bottles, balls, wrappers and whatever else they came across. They rolled tires and carried large pieces of wood to the shore, where it was all loaded onto barges and towed back to the trash bins.

“My favorite part was when I found a stick ball, golf ball, tennis ball and a softball all in one spot,” said Eniko DeMarco, a volunteer from Amityville.

Another bay advocacy group, Operation S.P.L.A.S.H. (Stop Polluting Littering and Save Harbors), sent volunteers to help out. One of the largest contingents of volunteers, totaling 40, came representing the Coca Cola distribution center in Hauppauge.

Nicole Brown, 17, a senior at Centereach High School was a member of the Coca Cola group. Brown said she goes out on the bay a few times each year, which is why she was spending her Saturday morning “helping out the community.”


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