In recent years, new gardens have been landscaped at Hudson County parks. The breathtaking flowers and shrubs are the work of Bayonne’s Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa, Sr.
La Pelusa is the Manager of Hudson County Parks and Grounds. He boasts 33 years of experience in landscaping while running his business, La Pelusa Landscaping Co.
Hired in 2018, he said the county never had anyone solely focusing on gardens and landscaping. The county landscape architect focuses on hardscaping, non-living elements such as lighting and pathways.
La Pelusa introduced the county to a program he calls “photoshop for plants,” which produces digital renderings that help in selecting beautiful flowers that will be in bloom most of the year.
“I can take a picture of somebody’s front yard and superimpose the plants on it,” La Pelusa said. The program also illustrates how plants may look after they’ve been growing for a while.
La Pelusa said that a lot of the flowers and shrubs bloom at different times, providing beauty regardless of the season.
“You need to know like what takes full sun, what takes part shade, things like that,” La Pelusa said. “You can’t just put anything up that you like.”
With a few digital designs in hand, La Pelusa pitched ideas to his superiors.
“If you give me a crew, we can get this done,” La Pelusa told them. Following their approval, he has been landscaping for the county ever since.
“What I basically do is go around and look where I could spruce things up,” La Pelusa said.
He and his crew enhance what is there, sometimes creating something new out of nothing.
There are nine Hudson County parks: Stephen R. Gregg Park and Mercer Park in Bayonne; Lincoln Park in Jersey City; 14th Street Viaduct Park in Hoboken, Columbus Park in Hoboken; Washington Park in Union City and parts of Jersey City; Laurel Hill Park in Secaucus; James J. Braddock Park in North Bergen; and West Hudson Park in Harrison and parts of Kearny.
In Bayonne, La Pelusa has done multiple projects at the Stephen Gregg Hudson County Park, which runs along JFK Blvd. between West 37th and West 48th Streets. Recently, the team installed a garden around the refurbished gazebo.
La Pelusa has also worked with Bayonne Boy Scout A.J. Chiaravalloti on his Eagle Scout project to design a circular garden in Stephen Gregg, with benches dedicated to those affected by COVID-19.
Over the summer, La Pelusa re-landscaped a 91-foot-long walled-in area in Jersey City’s Lincoln Park with shrubs in the shape of the letters “HC” for Hudson County.
La Pelusa noted that people are turning to parks as safe outdoor recreational spaces, so improving aesthetics and adding character to an area only makes sense–as in Stephen Gregg Park.
“Basically, we took something that was nothing and made it beautiful for people to enjoy,” La Pelusa said. “And those things flower probably for a good eight or nine months.”
La Pelusa loves his job and is grateful to those who made it possible, especially the County Commissioners, who approve the projects in each municipality.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.