"I walked passed here four times a day," he said.
He remembers when the site of Dr. David G. Morris Park served as a back lot for Echo Used Cars, and how in 1980, the city took over the property and named it after a doctor who had served Bayonne for more than 52 years.
La Pelusa, who still frequently passes the corner, also noted how few people used the park and how it has deteriorated over the years.
Dedicated twice - once in 1980 and then again when refurbished in 1990 - the park now may hold the key for reviving what many have called the city's "Forgotten Ward" as a possible anchor for public events and a place that will help bring people uptown to shop and dine.
For this reason, the Gary La Pelusa Civic Association is sponsoring a celebration there on Sept. 20 from noon to 4 p.m. as part of an effort to restore the park and to create an annual event for people in the 3rd Ward.
"You have a lot of things going on downtown," he said. "I hope we can make this an annual event for people uptown."
Calling it "a small jewel," La Pelusa said the city will likely work to spruce up the slightly dilapidated park in hopes of doing more extensive upgrades to it in the future, possibly even using Urban Enterprise Zone funds to pay the cost.
"This is the only park on Broadway," he said. "And it is in the UEZ."
Most people, unless it's local residents, don't even know there is a park at the site, partly because it is hidden behind a high fence with tall gates that are padlocked at night.
"People are surprised to see how large a park it is once you get inside," La Pelusa said.
But he also said it needs work.
The city's Department of Public Works has promised to come in and trim trees, paint benches and do other minor repairs ahead of the Sept. 20 event. But other work is needed, such as the repairing of paving stones, fixing decaying wooden seating areas, and restoring rusted metal fences.
The center of the park once had a fountain, which has since been shut off. A drinking fountain also appears to be non-functioning.
But the bi-level park has some significant advantages as the site of a local festival, La Pelusa said.
"We can sit a lot of people here," he said.
The bi-level design - which apparently duplicates a similar park in France - creates a natural stage for performers. The area even has electrical outlets, although La Pelusa said the city would be testing the outlets before the scheduled event.
The 3rd Ward festival will feature four musical acts, including Jose Candelaria, who made an appearance on American Idol last year.
Also performing is another local talent, Nicole Wagner, who may also perform a duet with Candelaria.
The Bayonne Senior Orchestra - which has become very popular at local events - will also be featured, as will a newly formed brass band called the Peninsula City Band. Desert and beverages will be served at the event.
While side streets will be closed to accommodate the festival, La Pelusa said this will only impact a few residents for a few hours.
"The civic association is paying to hold the festival. This includes paying for the insurance and the cost of hiring an off duty cop. We hope to get donations and sponsors," he said.
For more info, contact La Pelusa at (201) 823-1868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
La Pelusa added that Ginger Kemp, the city's coordinator for public events, said the park might serve as a location for other UEZ events in the future.
"I've met with Ginger and the Mayor [Terrence Malloy] here and they seem very positive about this." q