Gerard Laurore walks the jetty at the Boynton Inlet, where he serves
as live-in caretaker for the county’s Ocean Inlet Park.
Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Laurore stands in front of the apartment that is provided to him
by the county at Ocean Inlet Park at Boynton Inlet.
By Ron Hayes
You could pay millions for an oceanfront estate that stretches from the Atlantic to the Intracoastal Waterway.
Or you could be Gerard Laurore.
His 11.3-acre spread boasts 600 feet of oceanfront property. His backyard borders the waterway. He has a boat slip, a sightseeing tower, extensive parking, a picnic pavilion and a fishing pier. Two fishing piers, in fact.
And you are paying him to live there.
In January, Laurore marked his first anniversary as the 24/7, live-in caretaker at the county’s Ocean Inlet Park in Ocean Ridge.
If trash cans have been emptied, the restrooms are clean and the barbecue grills in good shape, thank him. If not, tell him. Either way, say hello the next time you visit. He’s a gentle man, and a gentleman.
“There’s something to do all the time, and I like to keep moving,” he will tell you. “A lot of people know me and say they’re happy when they see me working here.”
One of those people is Carlos Duenas, who supervises employees at 22 of the county’s 83 parks, including Ocean Inlet.
“I was on the interview panel when we hired him,” Duenas recalls, “and what I remember was his demeanor. He’s a great employee, and his work is impeccable. If he has to clean up something at midnight, he’ll do it.”
Born in Haiti, Laurore, 50, lived on the island of St. Martin for eight years before emigrating to Palm Beach County in 1995 and finding work with a company that provided janitorial service to the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach.
“Then one of the judges (Circuit Court Judge Gary L. Bonhof of the 15th circuit) told me, ‘You are a good worker, Gerard, why don’t you try to get a job with the county?’ ”
Laurore began perusing county park listings and was hired in 2003. For nine years, he was a maintenance worker at various South County parks, until the live-in opportunity arose in January 2013.
“Gerard is the perfect fit for this facility,” Duenas says. “I have to remind him to take time off.”
Actually, Laurore is on call 24/7, but that doesn’t mean he can’t leave the grounds. He works 10 days straight, 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with four days off. And his schedule rotates with other employees, servicing Gulfstream Park, R.G. Kreusler Park at Lake Worth beach and Ocean Ridge Hammock park, as well as Ocean Inlet.
He’s paid $15.67 an hour and has both medical and dental insurance, as well as participation in the county’s retirement plan.
His Ocean Inlet home is not a mansion. It’s a modest, unobtrusive apartment beside the Boynton Beach Inlet, but it’s rent-free. Laurore pays the utilities, and that’s fine with him.
“I’m not an out person,” he says. “I get home from work and I stay here. Why go out? You just get in trouble.”
He maintains the fishing piers, but he doesn’t use them.
“No, I don’t fish,” he says. “After work, I like my basketball and my football. The Heat and the Dolphins.” And his face falls. “My Dolphins are gone.” He shakes his head. “Didn’t even make the playoffs …”
At sunset, Laurore closes the gates to the south pavilion and central parking lot. Late-night visitors are directed to the northern parking lot, where fishing is permitted 24 hours a day. Night falls, and he is the man in charge.
Sometimes the lot is so full, even at 3 a.m., that he has to turn cars away.
“If someone’s doing something wrong, I just talk to them,” he says, “and most are OK. It’s all in the way you talk to people.”
If it’s not OK, he can contact the Ocean Ridge or Manalapan police, as well as the county sheriff’s deputies. They all patrol the park, and they know him.
“Everyone has my phone number,” he says.
Sometimes, after the games, he will get up and walk around his oceanfront spread in the moonlight.
“No, it’s not really scary,” he says. “No alligators. Just rats and cats.
“I do my job and my boss is happy. And if I’m working for someone who’s happy, I like it, and I’m happy, too.”