A.J. Chiaravalloti of Boy Scout Troop 25 planned and organized the construction of a walled, circular garden with three six-foot benches at 16th Street Park.
The benches are dedicated to people who have been affected by COVID-19: those who passed away as a result of it; healthcare personnel and essential workers; and community volunteers.
“Everyone in our community has been impacted by the pandemic,” said Chiaravalloti, a Junior at Saint Peter’s Prep. “My idea was to create a space recognizing what a difficult year 2020 has been. The idea was to create an attractive garden and benches for contemplation and enjoyment.”
The project was part of Chiaravalloti’s efforts to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
Consulting the experts
Chiaravalloti worked in cooperation with the Bayonne Department of Public Works and DPW Director Tom Cotter. He consulted Third Ward Council Member Gary La Pelusa about which plants would work well in the circular garden.
“The Public Works department was a great help,” Chiaravalloti said. “I also need to thank Rich Picerno. He really helped start the project and donated the stones used at the site. Councilman La Pelusa helped design the garden.”
Chiaravalloti raised the funds to complete the construction on the lower level of the park. He received several donations to cover the cost, including a major gift from Joel Bergstein of Lincoln Equities.
“In the end, I was really excited about the project and the volunteers from Troop 25 who made it possible,” Chiarvalloti said. “Working on this project and everyone coming together, has really confirmed for me how great a community Bayonne is.”
According to Chiaravalloti, the project was possible only because of the support of the city, especially Mayor James Davis and Cotter.
“Several members of the public have asked about a new garden and benches that are located at 16 th Street Park,” Davis said. “This is a tribute to the Covid-19 victims, health care workers, essential workers, and volunteers. As we continue to struggle with this pandemic, I was approached by AJ Chiaravalloti about an Eagle Scout Project. AJ thought it was important for us to quickly recognize the sacrifices of so many Bayonne residents.”
Davis continued: “It is amazing how quickly this came together. AJ was very focused and was able to recruit scouts and friends to lend a hand.”
AJ is the son of state Assemblyman Nicholas and Nancy Chiaravalloti.
“Obviously, we are very proud of AJ,” said Assemblyman Chiaravalloti. “He has always been a dedicated young man, and he has wanted to be an Eagle Scout for a long time – ever since John Hughes and Larry Sangi recruited him into the Pack when he was in 1st grade.”
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