City unites on a national day of cleanup


The sound of wood chippers at the Glen Cove Train Station and the sound of raking leaves near the police station went on for three hours as the city’s Department of Public Works and dedicated student volunteers rolled up their sleeves on May 17 to help keep the city clean. This initiative was part of the Keep America Beautiful® Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program. This annual event mobilizes thousands of communities nationwide to enhance the beauty and environmental health of their surroundings.
The Great American Cleanup, now in its 25th year, marked a significant milestone in 2023. Affiliates and participating organizations across the country joined forces to clean and beautify their communities. The collective efforts resulted in the removal of more than 10 million pounds of litter and debris. Additionally, they cleaned and improved 787,966 acres of parks, public lands, playgrounds, and trails, planted 6,257 trees, and introduced over 65,000 plants, flowers, shrubs, and bulbs.
In Glen Cove, the spirit of community was palpable as volunteers of all ages came together. Among them was 16-year-old Kai Kielcewski, who dedicated her time to help the DPW workers.
“I like to see a beautiful community,” Kielcewski explained. “I wanted to help my community.”
She spent the day digging up loose soil and leaves and placing them in buckets with about 15 other Glen Cove students who were also volunteering their time for community service hours and class credit.

Damion Stavredes, a civil servant for the Department of Public Works, emphasized the importance of such community efforts. “The community always needs cleaning,” he explained. “We’re coming out of the winter months, so there’s a buildup here, overgrowth there, places that get neglected because we’re extremely busy during the work week. So to have the kids come out and contribute to their community, it’s a good thing to see.”
Stavredes’ words highlighted the ongoing daily challenge DPW workers face in maintaining public spaces and the vital role that volunteer efforts play in addressing this need.
The cleanup event was highly successful, resulting in the collection of four tons of garbage from the Glen Cove Train Station and the parking lot behind the police station. This significant amount underscores the ongoing battle against litter and the importance of regular community cleanups.
Ralph Comitino, a civil servant for the Department of Public Works and union president, discussed the daily challenges of waste management in Glen Cove.
“Our garbage man handle about eight to 10 tons a day, and then I do a lot of private roads that the garbage man can’t go in, so you’re talking another one or two tons of garbage,” he explained. “But that’s just garbage. With cleanups, like the Earth Day and Arbor Day events, and there were five tons collected. It’s a continuous effort.”
Comitino also stressed the impact of a clean environment on community perception and safety.
“When people pull in, they don’t want to see garbage or overgrowth; they want to see a pristine city. I think the community feels safe when it’s clean,” Comitino said. “When you go somewhere, and the place is pristine, you feel safe parking your car. But when you park your car where there’s garbage, overgrowth, and broken glass, then you’re a little iffy about it.”
As Glen Cove continues to strive for a cleaner, safer environment, events like the Great American Cleanup serve as a reminder of the power of community involvement and the collective effort needed to maintain and improve public spaces. The dedication of the DPW, student volunteers like Kai Kielcewski, and the supportive residents ensure that Glen Cove remains a welcoming and beautiful place for all.