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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 18, 2024


March 16, 2002 – There's no hockey rink in sight, but anyone who drops in on a St. Thomas beach in need of cleaning may see a man on something that looks like a Zamboni making lazy eights in the sand.
Actually, it's a Zambeachy — "That's what we call it," said John Feola, owner of Beachy Clean, an environmental cleaning service.
Feola says that after visiting the Virgin Islands for about 15 years, he gave up his nightclub business and bought the steamrolling sand sifter, which he rents out to public beaches and resorts for the occasional manicure — er, sandycure.
He was just the man for the job when the University of the Virgin Islands went looking for help in cleaning up the beach at John Brewers Bay. The beach has a scenic shoreline dotted with graceful palms and fringed with cool green foliage, but over the years neglect and nasty habits had turned portions of it into an open air latrine.
UVI Cooperative Extension Service natural resources agent Toni Thomas said the university has been responsible since 1993 for keeping the beach, located on its campus, clean. She said efforts have recently been renewed at the behest of Chancellor Roy Watlington, whose academic discipline is marine science.
"Beachy Clean has donated its services," Thomas said. She said the Cooperative Extension Service has worked with UVI physical plant, student services and chancellor's office personnel to organize beach cleanups.
Four such cleanups were held over a period of two years, Thomas said. Participating students received classroom credit as part of a campus experiences course. But then, university officials decided to get "really serious" about it, bringing in the Zambeachy, she said, and the result has been dramatic.
"The first time we did it, it took about two and a half days," what with sifting out bottle caps, broken coral and other debris. Working with a UVI maintenance crew, he also managed to pull out some of the weeds that were growing wild.
That, he said was about three weeks ago. Beachgoers impressed with the results were singing the praises of the cleanup effort on radio talk shows. A small group of Brewers Beach regulars pitched in with gusto to help keep it clean.
Unfortunately, both Thomas and Feola said, signs of the old Brewers Beach have already begun creeping back. "We're still having problems," Thomas said. "There's no real full-time management, like they have at Magens Bay."
But the Beachy Clean man says he's grown fond of the place, and he and his partner Rick Czarnota are trying to find a sponsor to help defray the costs of regular cleanups. "What we would do is clean up the beach, put out some [trash] cans and put up a sign" proclaiming the sponsor's name, Feola said.
There's been a nibble of interest from one potential corporate backer and other prospects are being pursued, including one of the major beverage distributors, he said.
Feola remains confident that he and the UVI team will find a way to keep their good thing going. "It's a perfect example of a beach that needs some attention and of what we can do to the beach," he said.

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