HarborLAB was delighted to participate in the Hallets Cove Waterfront Festival produced by City Council Member Costa Constantinides (now Environmental Chair) and the Waterfront Alliance. HarborLAB had intended to provide free kayaking at the cove, but heavy rains on Thursday overwhelmed the sewer system, which overflowed into our waterways. Fecal bacteria counts measured by the NYC Water Trail Association spiked Thursday morning, even before the heaviest downpours, so HarborLAB felt it would be profoundly unwise to put children into the water for at least several days.
Instead HarborLAB volunteers undertook three primary activities:
- Made native seed balls with the public to educate about the importance of coastal vegetation for habitat and to stabilize dunes and shorelines. On Saturday we focused on milkweed, which is vital to Monarch butterflies. We will distribute and plant these seeds as we paddle, and in the off-season we gather the seeds as shore walkers.
- Gathered 100 signatures for a petition to retire the combined sewer overflow pipes at Hallets Cove by absorbing rain with green roofs and increased ground-level plantings, as well as cisterns and containment tanks. This is just the beginning of HarborLAB’s push for Hallets Cove to be safe for kids even after rainy days, and petitioning was a great tool for engaging the public in environmental education.
- Documented the cordgrass (or spartina) growing in the cove as a habitat restoration. It was planted by the NYCDEP many years ago and is thriving in the northeast corner of the cove. We should expand upon this.
Waterfront Alliance coordinated a beach cleanup that hauled over 20 pounds of plastic trash from Hallets Cove, and some HarborLAB volunteers were happy to participate in that too. Other activities included a touch tank that encourages hands-on interaction with marine life, sand art and other crafts, a bouncy castle, games, and more! Speakers and educators also enriched the day.
A huge thanks to volunteers Gil Lopez, Diana Chang, Scott Wolpow, Erik Baard, Anatoliy Zaslavskiy, Grace Magee, Phillip Borbon, and Patricia Erickson. Great thanks to Waterfront Alliance and Council Member Constantinides for their invitation and hard work to make the day a success!