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Bath Beach Park

Joseph L. Pezzuto Walkway

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This walkway honors local community activist Joseph L. Pezzuto (1937-1999) who dedicated the last 20 years of his life working to improve this park and the surrounding neighborhood of Bath Beach. Joseph was born on September 26, 1937 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn to Louis, an Italian American, and Evelyn, French Canadian by birth. Joseph Pezzuto and his younger brother Louis attended Lafayette High School. Joseph graduated with honors in 1955. He took night classes at Brooklyn College, while holding many day jobs, including selling hot dogs, driving a cab, and teaching dancing. He even found time to teach at the local church. In 1960 he earned his Associates Degree.

On April 10, 1960, Pezzuto joined the United States Army. He trained at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and was assigned to the Medical Corps with the rank of Medical Specialist. He continued in regular service until he suffered a knee injury in training. He was in the Army Reserve until July 11, 1963 and helater joined the Disabled American Veterans. While in the Reserves, Pezzuto worked towards a Bachelors of Science degree at New York University’s School of Commerce. With a full scholarship, he studied real estate and marketing. He joined the Rho Epsilon real estate fraternity and received his diploma in 1963. Pezzuto attended New York Law School, with a full scholarship, for one year but chose against a career in law.

In 1964, Pezzuto married Marilyn Trovato and joined the appraisal division of the Lincoln Savings Bank, beginning a lifetime of jobs in real estate appraisal. In 1969, the Pezzutos had their first child, Joseph Jr. A year later, Pezzuto took a job with the City of New York Department of Real Estate-appraisal division. In 1972, the Pezzutos had their second child, Christopher. Pezzuto began working for the New York State Banking Department-appraisal division in 1974, and remained there until 1987.

In the hopes of providing services to his community that the City government could not afford in the late 1970s, Pezzuto founded, incorporated, and became president of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association in 1980. This began a period of revitalization in this park and in Bath Beach. Working with Borough President Howard Golden, District Manager Howard Feuer, and Commissioner Stern, Pezzuto labored to improve the condition of this park.

In 1983, Pezzuto organized “Fun Days” in the park consisting of music, refreshments, and games made possible by donations from local businesses. He also organized the annual Bath Beach Beauty contest, complete with a fundraising dinner whose proceeds went to local charities. Beyond the playground, Pezzuto organized 22 block and tenant associations in Bath Beach that served over 2,000 families. He also headed the Bath Avenue Merchants Association.

In 1984, Parks completed a major renovation of this playground, installing the current comfort station, handball and basketball courts, and game tables. The Bath Beach Community Improvement Association also sought the repair of the softball diamond and bocce courts. Parks acquired this property in 1937, and for 50 years residents referred to it as the 17th Avenue Playground. In his continuing efforts as president of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association to promote the neighborhood, Pezzuto asked Commissioner Stern to rename this property Bath Beach Playground.

In 1990, Pezzuto stepped down as president of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association, but continued as a consultant. A year later, he took a job with the Army Corps of Engineers in the New York Real Estate division. He received the rank of Civilian Major and worked for the Corps of Engineers until he passed away in 1999.

Commissioner Stern named this walk for Pezzuto in 2001. The walkway follows the line of 17th Avenue through the park and separates the playground area from the softball field and basketball and handball courts. Lined with London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia), benches, and lampposts, the walk serves as the visual center of the playground while providing a place for people to sit and enjoy a view of the bay.

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    70°F
  • Tue
    Mostly Sunny
    55°F
  • Wed
    Rain/Snow Likely
    41°F
  • Sun
    Partly Sunny
    42°F

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