Growing appreciation
Seniors beautify rooftop at towers
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter Staff Writer
Sep 23, 2012 | 4549 views | 0 0 comments | 215 215 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FOREVER – Rocco Impreveduto Towers resident Paulette Spellmeyer tends to a forever plant in one of the planters on the rooftop of her building.
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Secaucus has three senior citizen buildings, each with its own personality shaped by the residents. The seniors take their time to make their apartment units feel like home, and for some, the effort extends into the hallways and shared community rooms, especially during the holidays like Halloween and Christmas.

For Rocco Impreveduto Towers resident Paulette Spellmeyer, 65, sprucing up her surroundings is an extension of her own craftiness and creativity. Her apartment has zebra stripes in the kitchen and a leopard pattern on a rug in her living room. When she moved in more than three years ago, she also came across a bare and neglected rooftop.

Let’s plant

“They were just three empty pots and there was garbage in the other three empty ones,” said Spellmeyer last week. “And I decided, let’s plant.”

The first year she planted grass in the middle of the planters along with marigolds but after the first year she sought a stronger plant that could withstand the winds.

“I wanted something that was strong that would come up every year,” said Spellmeyer.


“The people who come up here enjoy this.” – Paulette Spellmeyer


Her niece gave her a small forever plant and from that plant she sprouted more than 60 forever plants, which she gave away.

“I spread the forever,” said Spellmeyer. She also planted geraniums, coneflower, and pansies among others.

“The people who come up here enjoy this,” said Spellmeyer.

More than a view

On a bright, sunny day with a slight breeze, Spellmeyer pulled weeds out of one of the planters as her older sister and fellow Towers resident Charlotte Reiner looked on. Several planters, pots, and baskets had lined the edges of the rooftop. A flower pot was tied down to each outdoor table where residents can place umbrellas in the summer. Reiner comes out to the rooftop from time to time with her sister to have coffee.

In the distance, the view of Hudson County to the east and the New York City skyline is expansive.

“My sister is up here all the time,” said Reiner, “She is a sun baby.”

“The view and the alone time,” said Spellmeyer about what compels her to spend time up on the rooftop. “It is perfect for sun if you can get that breeze.”

Spellmeyer is not the only one who has invested time, energy, and money into beautifying the Towers rooftop.

“Vinnie got involved and then everyday there was a new plant!” she noted.

“I’m like the water boy. Paulette is the designer,” said Vincent Laurie, 74, a resident of the Towers. He said that the mums, which he bought several bushel baskets of, will blossom soon.

Making it easier to water

While Laurie enjoys watering the flowers up on the rooftop, he said a hose would make a huge difference for him since he has to carry the water in watering cans that he fills from the men’s bathroom.

“I’m 74 and I’m lugging those water containers to water these things,” said Laurie. “We do a couple of gallons at a time from the sink.”

The watering cans are tied down on the rooftop.

“We can’t put a hose up on the roof,” said Secaucus Housing Authority Executive Director Christopher Marra last week. “The hose could freeze.” Marra said that he was worried a hose connected to pressurized water could leak and do damage to the apartments below the roof. And while Marra supports the gardening efforts, he said, “I have to think of people below [the roof deck].”

Mayor Michael Gonnelli said last week, after hearing about the need, that he ordered two rain barrels for the Towers, to collect rain water. Gonnelli said that a hose can be attached to the rain barrel because it is not pressurized water.

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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