Anthony R. Gaeta Park
“Know what your values are in life - then tough decisions are not hard to make.”
-Anthony R. Gaeta
Anthony R. Gaeta (1927-1988) served as Staten Island’s Borough President from 1977 to 1984. Over the course of 39 years in public service, Gaeta also held positions as a tax collector for the Real Property Assessment Bureau, as chief of staff to Congressman John M. Murphy, and as a city council member. In every capacity, Gaeta made the interests of Staten Island and its residents his first priority.
Gaeta was born in West Brighton on September 8, 1927, and graduated from McKee High School in 1945. He served in the armed forces for a short time, and afterward continued his education at New York and Cornell Universities. His career as a public servant began in 1949.
As a staffer and an administrator, Gaeta worked to improve roads, sewers, and schools in Staten Island. He also worked on the creation of the Greenbelt environmental program. His many accomplishments and down-to-earth attitude earned him tremendous respect. Known for his ability to transcend party lines and petty politics, Gaeta exemplified a citizen-legislator of the highest integrity and dedication. Anthony R. Gaeta retired in 1984. He died of a heart attack on December 26, 1988.
Gaeta Park lies in Willowbrook, the neighborhood where Gaeta lived with his wife Olga and their two children. The triangular site between Wyona Avenue, Willow Road East, and Victory Boulevard was first acquired by the New York State Department of Transportation in conjunction with the construction of the Staten Island Expressway. It was transferred to Parks in September 1991, and named for Gaeta by a local law.
Ground was broken on the $168,000 project in September 1994, and the park was officially dedicated on October 22 of that year. It features a plaza with a memorial stone and plaque, World’s Fair benches, bluestone paths, a flagpole, and landscaping. The Anthony R. Gaeta Memorial Plaque, paid for by Parks, was made by the Modern Art Foundry. It is of bronze cast and mounted on a slab of Canadian granite. In 1997 and 1998, Mayor Giuliani allotted $55,122 and $8,678 for fences, guiderails, and further sitework in the park.
Though smaller than its sprawling Greenbelt neighbors, Gaeta Park is a prominent feature in the local community landscape. Its towering trees preside over the human bustle below with benevolent majesty. Locals and visitors know the park as an inviting space for outdoor recreation, and as a welcome reminder of the contributions of a dedicated Staten Islander.