This playground honors Deputy Inspector Joseph DiGilio (1929-1986) who served in the New York City Police Department for over 30 years. Inspector DiGilio began his career as a foot patrolman in the Bronx in the early 1950s. After ten years in the Bronx, he was assigned to Brooklyn’s Kensington community, and in 1970, appointed deputy inspector of the 70th Precinct. Celebrated as a dedicated police officer, Inspector DiGilio’s is most remembered for his devotion to the police department’s anti-drug programs.
During his tenure at the Lawrence Avenue stationhouse, he organized Operation Closedown, an initiative designed to eliminate smoke shops, and instituted SNAP, the Special Narcotics Abatement Program. Inspector DiGilio also served as assistant to the NYPD Chief of Operations. After three decades of serving and protecting the citizens of New York City, his life was cut short when he succumbed to cancer in 1986.
The City of New York acquired this land, located on McDonald Avenue and Avenue F, in 1960 and transferred it to NYC Parks to begin construction. Previously unnamed, this playground was named DiGilio Playground by Local Law 2 in 1987. After a renovation of the playground in 1987, a ceremony in April of that year officially dedicated the site to the memory of Joseph DiGilio.
The reconstruction included the renovation of the roller hockey rink, handball court, play equipment, comfort station roof, and the addition of an adult sitting area with game tables. In 1996, the playground was reconstructed and in 1998 the sidewalks, paths, and pavements were refurbished. In 2018, DiGilio Playground reopened after a massive renovation that was the result of extensive community input, which included brand new play equipment for toddlers and children of all ages, as well as adult fitness equipment to help teenagers and grown-ups stay in shape. Game table seating for passive recreation and security lighting on the comfort station were also added. New colorful landscaping and trees help to reduce outside noise and create a cozy environment for kids and parents.