Di Mattina Playground
This playground is named for Vincent J. DiMattina (1915-1966), a practicing attorney, who took an active interest in the civic and religious affairs of his Brooklyn community. At the young age of 16, DiMattina took his first job working on the Brooklyn Waterfront where he stayed until he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. Trained as a deep-sea diver, DiMattina served with Sea Bee Battalion 104 in the South Pacific until December 1945. At the time of his discharge, DiMattina had earned the rank of Chief Boatswain’s Mate.
When he returned to Brooklyn, DiMattina began to focus on his education. He finished high school, college, and law school, and was admitted to the Bar in 1954. As Membership Chairman of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), he organized 16 Posts in Brooklyn and in 1951, was elected County Commander. His service to the New York State VFW Headquarters included Loyalty Day Chairman, Chairman of the Department Rehabilitation Committee, member of the Department Legislative Committee, Department Inspector, and Judge Advocate.
DiMattina was also Junior Vice Commander, Senior Vice Commander, and by the 1965 election, New York State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. DiMattina served as a United States Government Appeals Agent for the Local Draft Board, a member of the Civilian Advisory Board to the Third Naval District, a Grand Knight of Our Lady of Loretto Council No. 585, and Assistant Counsel to the Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly from 1963-1964. At the time of his death, DiMattina was the Counsel to the Speaker of the Assembly on Military and Patriotic Affairs.
The City of New York acquired the two parcels of land that form DiMattina Park in three steps. The smaller (.52 acre) section bound by Rapelye, Woodhull, and Hicks Streets was acquired in 1941 and 1942, and the larger (1.38 acre) section, bound by Rapelye, Hicks, and Cole Streets, was acquired in 1947. Parks received both parcels from the City in 1947, and a 1967 Local law named the larger section for DiMattina, technically leaving the smaller section nameless. In 1987, Commissioner Stern noticed the oversight and applied the name to both.
In 2001, Parks completed a $783,000 project to improve the play facilities and install a dog run in the larger section of DiMattina Playground. The new construction, funded by Council Member Stephen DiBrienza, provided for new fencing to enclose the dog run, new pavement and foundations, improved water supply lines and a drinking trough for dogs. The largest portion of the funding went to the reconstruction of the play area. Parks installed swings for tots and children, and new steel play equipment with safety surfacing. The site also received a steel yardarm flagpole, World’s Fair benches, a north compass rosette paving stone, and an animal art sculpture.