Volunteers wanted for Earth Day litter cleanups

Volunteers are needed for a townwide Earth Day Cleanup on Sunday, April 28.

The effort, organized by the Riverhead anti-litter committee, will run in Riverhead from 9 to 11 a.m. Volunteers will meet at Town Hall on West Second Street. 

Another cleanup, organized by the Wading River-Shoreham Chamber of Commerce, will run the same day from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers for that effort will meet at the Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River.

Gloves will be provided at both cleanups, however, volunteers are encouraged to bring their own supplies as well. 

Cleanup organizers are targeting 35 sites around the towns. 

During a presentation to the Town Board last week, Riverhead anti-litter committee members Deborah Wetzel, Jim Meinecke and Joanne Rizzo made a presentation that included a video highlighting the challenges of combating littering throughout the area.

They said Riverhead has a far worse litter problem than most other East End towns, including Southold and Southampton.

Town Supervisor Tim Hubbard asked if the group could provide data on the areas of biggest concern.

“If you can provide us with a list of commercial properties [in violation] we will, in conjunction with the town attorney’s office, send a letter to those property owners informing them that they face possible town code violations,” he said.

“We’ve gone down that road before,” Ms. Wetzel said, noting that the problem in the past has been that complaints filed with code enforcement have not been addressed because the department is too busy dealing with broader housing issues. 

Mr. Hubbard pledged that will change, as litter issues will become part of code enforcement’s regular responsibilities. “This is a new road,” Mr. Hubbard said. “This is a new board. Let us have a crack at it.”

“We really appreciate the work you’ve done over the years,” Mr. Hubbard told the committee members.

Councilman Ken Rothwell said the committee has the support of the full board and officials are committed to allocating funds to enhance code enforcement.

Mr. Meinecke said he had spoken to town officials in Babylon who have applied for grants to defray some of the costs of cleanup efforts. He also said that the county sheriff’s department sometimes sends inmates to help with cleanups, which the supervisor noted that Riverhead has also done that in the past. 

Mr. Meinecke said another problem they’ve encountered previously is determining who is responsible for collecting litter-filled bags following the cleanups. “We don’t know where to tell people to bring the bags,” he said.

Councilman Bob Kern said that he recalls having volunteers do pick-ups, but Mr. Hubbard said the town highway department was responsible and suggested having the highway department take that on this year.

Volunteers interested in joining the Riverhead cleanup can register by email, individually or as a team, at [email protected] or on Facebook at

Volunteers for the Wading River Shoreham Chamber of Commerce cleanup can register online at