By Paige Cornicelli and Charles Scott
More than 200 runners came together in the first annual Rotary Club color run. The run made over $5000 to counter coastal erosion at the Kings Park Bluff.
During the mile-long run from Kings Park Middle School to Kings Park Bluff, runners were sprayed with green and blue powder as they ran past color stations. By the end of the run, many participants had powder in their hair and covering their white commemorative t-shirts.
The Commack Kings Park Rotary Club held the inaugural color run on October 19th. The money will go to Smithtown’s Department of Environment and Waterways. The money will help maintain and repair the Kings Park Bluff, which has suffered from coastal erosion over the last few years.
“The bluffs across our island are deteriorating,” Alex Rupp, a member of the Smithtown Youth Board said. “The erosion is going at such a fast rate that in the next 20 to 30 years it might not be here, let alone very large.”
Members of the Kings Park and Commack communities gathered at W.T. Rogers Middle School to start the run down to the bluff. Along the mile trek from the school to the bluff, located at the end of the Nissequogue River, participants were splashed with bright colors, turning their commemorative white t-shirts into temporary, neon tye-dye.
“I thought it was great. It was a lot of fun, a lot of great people showed up for a great cause, and you couldn’t ask for a better day, weather-wise,” Caryn Bosak, a participant and Kings Park-Commack community member, said. Bosak was one of many event-goers who enjoyed food trucks contracted by the Rotary Club to sell food before and after the race.
Erosion, which is defined by the National Geographic Society as “geological process in which earthen materials are worn away and transported by natural forces such as wind or water,” is going to happen either way. The National Geographic Society is a nonprofit organization that aims to combine science and storytelling to educate the world.
“The thing you’re always fighting in coastal erosion is longshore drift,” Robert Darling, a professor of geology at Cortland University. “There is sediment that moves down the beach depending on the angle of the waves that intersect the beach.”
The color run aimed to put measures into place to either help repair the bluff or slow down the erosion. The town of Smithtown hasn’t officially announced a plan yet, but all of the money they receive from the event will be put toward measures to counter coastal erosion.
“The problem is, due to coastal erosion, we’ve been losing the bluffs,” Alexander Paykin, President of the Rotary club said. “If nobody does anything, well, the bluffs will be gone.”
The members on the board of the Town of Smithtown decided a solution needed to be put into place after seeing the damage the bluff has already taken. The town and the Commack-Kings Park Rotary Club are working together to fund repair and maintenance solutions. One source of funds was this weekend’s color run.“We’ve learned a lot about how to do a community color run – what aspects needed to be planned well in advance,” Paykan Said.
A representative of the color run, Stacy Sanders, said that the entire amount of money earned would benefit the department. The NYSDEC has not made their plan to build the sea wall public yet, their collaboration with the town will be released soon.
“But the problem [with the walls] is what it does to anybody who is further down the beach in the direction of longshore drift,” Darling said. “If you stop erosion in one place, that means you’re going to enhance erosion down the beach.”
Though erosion cannot be reversed, it can be reduced with help from more earth-conscious humans, or made more stable with reinforcements.Paykin said that the restoration of the bluffs is something that is necessary to both save the earth and because the Kings Park Bluff is something that is important to him.
“Back when I was a teenager, kids used to hang out at the bluffs,” Paykin said. “The bluffs are a beloved little area in the community.”