It’s a hazy 85 degrees at around 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, with the sun shining down on the veterans memorial plaza at the corner of William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway in Shirley — the one with the William Floyd statue in the center.
Volunteers from the William Floyd Community Summit’s beautification committee are packing up a little early after spending several hours weeding, pruning and cleaning up garbage.
April Coppola, chair of the committee, which is in charge of maintaining the county-owned property, started at around 8 a.m.
“It’s getting too hot,” she said, her arms covered in dirt. “This is going to be a three-day project. It’s becoming too much.” Especially for only five people, which was the number of volunteers today, including Coppola, of Shirley, and her husband, Rob Fleischmann, as well as first-time volunteer Adrienne Donovan, of Mastic Beach, and a mother-and-daughter duo, Ping and Maggie Hua.
Sitting in the shade on a bench after putting the tools away, Coppola said she’s planning on sending a letter to local businesses and organizations seeking their support to keep up the grounds. Fleischmann, 50, is in charge of raising and lowering the flags.
Coppola is working on exactly how to phrase the new format — it’s not exactly a community garden since people mostly associate that with produce — but the idea is to have them “own it” and say, ‘Look, my business supports this.’”
During the fall, she said there are more volunteers, including from Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and other students looking to do community service.
“We’ve had 10 people here; sometimes it’s just us,” said Fleischmann, a 30-year UPS driver. “We could spend all day here.”
Beth Wahl, president of the William Floyd Community Summit, said some of the group’s members are older and aren’t able to participate, while others have different responsibilities. Still, she’d like to see more people get involved.
Even better, she’d like to see the county contribute funds. “This is, after all, county-owned property,” she said.
The county has agreed to fix the base of the William Floyd statue, which was damaged in May, but there’s no set date for that to happen.
Regarding Coppola’s proposal, Wahl said, “If she can get support from local businesses and organizations, more power to her.
Meanwhile, drivers occasionally give a honk of support while watching the volunteers clean up, which Coppola appreciates, but she hopes for something a little more.
“I always say, ‘Don’t just say thanks. Come around and pull some weeds.”
If you would like to volunteer
Contact: April Coppola, (631) 241-9804
Above: Rob Fleischmann, of Shirley, spent several hours Sunday volunteering to clean up the veterans memorial plaza at the corner of William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway in Shirley.