When looking at Staten Island's parks, you may notice that some of their names are quite odd. If you're like me, you have probably wondered how they received their names. Well it may not come as a shock to you, but most of these parks were actually named for people. More importantly, a good number of them were named for prominent residents of Staten Island.
On the North Shore of Staten Island, you will find one of these parks. This would be what is known as Gaeta Park, a triangular piece of land in the neighborhood of Willowbrook. This land is bordered by streets on three sides: to the west you have North Gannon Avenue, to the east is Victory Boulevard, and to the north is Wyona Avenue. The park was named for a politician who was well-known in his day, Anthony R. Gaeta. Its location is significant because this is where Gaeta lived for a good fraction of his life, along with his wife and children.
Born in Staten Island's neighborhood of West Brighton in 1927, Anthony R. Gaeta became involved in Staten Island's affairs just a few years after he had graduated from college. During his years as a public servant, Gaeta's main concern was the well-being of Staten Island's residents. He showed this by improving many of Staten Island's features, such as its roads and schools. Finally, in 1977, Anthony R. Gaeta became Staten Island's Borough President, a title he held until 1984.
The parcel of land which is now Gaeta Park was once owned by the New York State Department of Transportation. This was due to the fact that they were building the Staten Island Expressway and the parcel is quite close to it. In 1991, the site was acquired by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. This was just three years after Anthony R. Gaeta had passed away, and so it was named for him.
It would not be until October 22, 1994 that the official dedication of Gaeta Park would take place. At that time, a plaque was posted on a boulder, which became known as the Anthony R. Gaeta Memorial. The plaque gives a quote by Gaeta himself, which says, "Know what your values are in life-then tough decisions are not hard to make". According to the plaque, Anthony R. Gaeta did not only improve Staten Island's roads and schools. First on the list is his role as a public servant for thirty-nine years of his life. Next, it states that he contributed to the restoration of the Alice Austen Museum, which took place in 1984. Lastly, the plaque states that Anthony R. Gaeta had played a big role in the Greenbelt's official designation, which took place around the same time that the Alice Austen House was restored.
Gaeta Park may only be less than one and a half acres in size, but it really is a quaint but beautiful. Two renovations took place in 1997 and in 1998 to make sure that it would stay that way. The first project included the installation of fences and guiderails, among other things. The second project added play equipment to Gaeta Park. Within the fenced-in park, you have beautiful flora growing all around. Among this wonderful scenery, there are bluestone paths lined with benches for your benefit.