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 Police Department anti-drug programs.
Reducing drug-related problems in the Kensington community was one of Inspector DiGilio’s main concerns. 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 Parks to begin construction. Previously unnamed, this playground was named DiGilio Playground by Local Law 2 of 1987. After a $395,000 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, repairs to the plumbing, and the addition of an adult sitting area with game tables. In 1996, Council Member Noach Dear funded a $495,000 reconstruction of the playground, and, in 1998, the sidewalks, paths, and pavements were refurbished with $77,000 allocated by Mayor Giuliani. Today, the playground features two handball courts, swings, five spray showers, and modular play equipment.