Longest Tenured City Employee Talks Gators and More at JF Gregory Park

Harvey Lashley

Harvey Lashley, 58, is the longest tenured employee with the City of Richmond Hill.  The mayor was Richard Davis 27 years ago when he hired Lashley to work in the Public Works Department. The job came at the right time as he was looking for stability and insurance to support his young family and had a strong work ethic.  From public works, to trash collector, to street sweeper and finally, parks department, Lashley has done it all. 

Born and raised in Richmond Hill, Lashley loves this city and knows how great it is. When asked what he likes most about Richmond Hill, he answered, “This is a great city with a lot of community involvement. Anytime I’ve needed help, I have always had people volunteer to help me. Not to mention, the landscape is gorgeous and the fishing is great!”

Lashley directs JF Gregory now, but would you believe he really wanted to be a chef? That’s right, Lashley loves to cook. He would take a steak and shrimp on his own grill over any restaurant in town. However, when he does go out to eat, he loves La Nopalera. He also loves hunting, fishing, reading, watching documentaries, listening to classic rock, and “dancing the night away”.

The park that Lashley now oversees was first acquired by the city from the Stafford family. They then decided to name it after Henry Ford’s caretaker, Jack Fleming Gregory. What began as a virtual swampland has turned into acres of lush trees, and jogging trails. There is even an observation deck where you can see bald eagles, osprey, gators, fish, and more. Lashley has been there to manage it all.

When asked about the gators in the park, Lashley takes a firm stand, “Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. I’ve seen kids and adults alike throw rocks at the gators, feed them and harass them. They were here first and they will likely be here long after we are gone.”

Before any major event at the park, Lashley calls Jack Douglas, better known as “Trapper Jack”, to come and remove the gators. At a cost of $75 per gator, Douglas removes them with a surf rod and hook, then transports them away from the park.

While they do everything they can to remove the gators, should you come into contact with one at JF Gregory Park or anywhere else in the city, you can call the non-emergency number for the police department and ask for the GA DNR Dept.

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