La Pelusa, who has owned the family-operated Gary La Pelusa Landscaping for the past 30 years, said he is “happy to lend a hand” to beautify the county parks. His company has worked largely on private projects, installing flower beds, planting trees, and maintaining various beautification projects, mostly in Bayonne and Jersey City, but the rest of the county as well.
La Pelusa will step away from the day-to-day operations of his landscaping business. His son will take on a larger managerial role, which the family had planned to do eventually anyway.
“The county has a really big need to spruce up these parks and to have someone who knows what they’re doing take care of them,” said La Pelusa. “They have a limited number of people with the professional know-how to do that. It’s a good fit for me.”
Taking on a full-time job is no easy task for La Pelusa, but he said he’s up to it. Council people in Bayonne are part-time workers but often put in full-time hours.
“To be honest, I don’t think there’s a real lot of change. I’ve always maintained a full-time job,” said La Pelusa. “This is nothing new. Millions of Americans work a full-time and part-time job.”
“You have to know what plants fit in what area, or next year we’ll be ripping it all out.” – Gary La Pelusa
The nine Hudson County parks require constant landscape maintenance, and their uses are changing over time. Architects and designers are often involved in those improvements. La Pelusa will have to work closely with them by bringing his botanical expertise to the table.
Inside the fountains in Lincoln Park, for instance, plants that don’t’ drown or get waterlogged will need to be maintained. La Pelusa will be in charge of coordinating the acquisition of appropriate plants and making sure Hudson County parks employees maintain them correctly.
Other areas of the parks will need plants that create shade for picnickers and those who want to relax in quiet spaces. Not just any plant will do the trick.
“You have to know what plants fit in what area, or next year we’ll be ripping it all out,” La Pelusa said. “Different types of lawns and turfs and all these things need attention. You can’t just throw someone in the mix if they don’t know what they’re doing.”
In Bayonne, maintenance of Stephen R. Gregg Park is a huge job in and of itself. In April of 2017, the county invested $3.7 million in park improvements that included new turf fields, LED lighting, and soccer fields. A few months later, the county invested another $1.7 million to drain the manmade pond on the northern side of the park to add a new sodium bentonite layer to keep it from draining. Several flowers beds and new trees were also planted.
“There are many different types of lawns and turfs now in the parks,” said La Pelusa. “And all these things need attention.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.