The Changing Faces of Cape May Public Works
Cape May City, NJ– Change is inevitable. Cape May Public Works sees some familiar faces departing and new faces coming in to assume caring for the city’s facilities and grounds. Saying farewell is Superintendent Joe Picard, who retired on Dec. 1, and long-time administrative clerk Pat D’Arco welcomed new Superintendent Eric Prusinski.
Picard spent about 25 years in public works in Norristown, Pa., before being hired as the assistant superintendent of Cape May Public Works Department in July 2004. Picard became the Superintendent in July 2014 when Robert Smith retired from the post.
Having worked in public works for nearly 43 years, Picard had a good grasp of what it meant to run the department in the City of Cape May. “You have to keep the town looking good. In Cape May, it’s all about making the town look good for the tourists and residents,” he said.
Picard said running public works is a challenge every day, but that’s what he liked about it the most.
“For doing it for 42 years…when you like what you are doing, it’s not really a job,” he said.
Hired under the administration of Mayor Jerry Inderwies Sr. and City Manager Lou Corea, Picard felt the administration always supported him. He thought he had an outstanding crew behind him. “They knew what needed to be done and when to do it,” Picard said.
Picard feels he left the public works department in good hands, and Prusinski is up to the challenge of being a good superintendent. For the time being, he will be taking up the challenge of a “honey-do” list under the direction of this wife, Julie.
New Superintendent installed Dec. 1
Picard’s replacement, Eric Prusinski, 37, has been working for the City of Cape May Public Works Department since 2006. Originally from Philadelphia, Prusinski and his family moved to Lower Township when he was in middle school. After graduating from Lower Cape May Regional High School in 2002, Prusinski started his own landscaping business and worked summers with the city beginning in 2006. He was hired full-time as a laborer in 2008. He later became a Public Works repairman and then supervisor before becoming the Superintendent of Public Works on Dec. 1.
“The job is essentially to keep on top of everything, make it work, and make sure everything is running safe and smooth,” Prusinski said.
He is aware of what he described as an “all hands on deck” situation in the summer, making sure the beaches, parks, promenade, and mall are all safe and clean for residents and visitors to the community. “The guys underneath me are doing a fantastic job with that,” he said.
Prusinski gives credit to his former supervisor Bob McCloskey and Picard, saying they helped prepare him to step into the position. Prusinski said he is looking forward to working with the city manager, deputy city manager, mayor, and council, saying he is glad to be part of the team, citing the old sports adage, “There is no I in team.”
“I believe everyone is on the same page in terms of ensuring everyone is safe, and nobody gets hurt,” he said.
Prusinski and his wife Amber, a dental hygienist, have twin 4-year-old boys, Nash and Brody.
Long-time Administrative Clerk Retiring
Pat D’Arco, who has worked as the administrative clerk for Cape May Public Works for 30 years, will be retiring at the end of January 2022. Originally from North Jersey, D’Arco moved to Cape May County in 1983 and started working full time for the City of Cape May in 1991, working in the office of then-City Clerk Ginny Peterson. After a year, she moved to Public Works, serving under Superintendent (and later mayor) Jerry Inderwies Sr. Although her title has remained administrative clerk, D’Arco said Public Works is never a boring place to work.
“We do so many different things,” she said.
D’Arco has been the recycling coordinator and the clean communities coordinator. She has been in charge of providing right-to-know information, helping coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when storms hit. She deals with calls for street lights being out, the gas lights, invoicing and ordering, and fielding many calls to Public Works, including requests for parking meter refunds.
“We also do the bench program when people want to buy them,” she said. “The program took off a lot faster than people anticipated.” Memorial benches have been placed at Harborview Park, Rotary Park, the promenade, and the Washington Street Mall.
“It’s always something different — the seasons are all different,” D’Arco said.
Short slow season for Public Works
According to D’Arco, it only slows down for about six weeks after the new year, and then Public Works is busy preparing for the next summer season.
Picard had praise for D’Arco, having worked with her for his entire time in Cape May.
“She was like the backbone of the department. She knew exactly what I had to get done and would remind me every day,” he said.
D’Arco said after 30 years, she is simply planning to take it easy for a while, doing some home gardening, and maybe later do some volunteering. “I want to take time to enjoy life, like not having to get up and get to work at 7 a.m., coming to work in the dark,” she said.
D’Arco said she enjoyed working with former superintendent Joe Picard and all “the guys” in Public Works. “We have a good group. I will miss them,” she said.