Luis R. Lopez Playground
What was here before?
This site was formerly part of the Fox Hills Golf Club, which operated from 1900 until 1935. Nearby Eibs Pond Park was also part of the 18-acre golf course, with the pond serving as a water hazard. The golf course closed in 1935 due to financial difficulties brought on by the Great Depression. It was later used as an army base from 1944 to 1945. Italian prisoners of war were kept here and offered courses in English, hygiene, and military discipline. After the war and into the early 1950’s, the barracks were used as temporary housing for soldiers returning from war.
How did this site become a playground?
Although it was acquired by the City in 1938, the site sat vacant for several decades after it was discontinued as an army barracks. It came under NYC Parks’ jurisdiction in 1993, and the the playground opened in 1995. Two years later NYC Parks added 0.344 acres of adjacent woodland property. The park was renovated in 2021 with improvements to the playground’s basketball courts, play equipment, and infrastructure.
Who is this playground named for?
Formerly known as Fox Hill Playground, this playground was renamed in October 1993 to honor police officer Luis Reynaldo Lopez (1957-1993). Lopez was a resident of West Brighton, and this playground is located in the Park Hill section of Clifton where Officer Lopez patrolled when he worked in the New York Police Department’s 120th Precinct in Staten Island. Officer Lopez later worked in the Manhattan South Narcotics Division and was slain in the line of duty on March 10, 1993 during a drug sting operation in the East Village. A flagpole with three plaques in the playground also commemorates Officer Lopez.
Born in Honduras in 1957, Lopez moved with his family to Staten Island in 1968. He graduated from McKee High School in St. George in 1975 and married Nellie Gonzalez five years later. They had two children, Luis Jr. and Ernestina. Lopez joined the NYPD in 1985, and three years later, he was promoted to detective. Lopez was named the NYPD’s “Rookie of the Year” in 1987 and “Police Officer of the Year” in 1989. He also received a posthumous Medal of Honor in 1995.