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Fit for a Hero? Ralph DiMarcantonio Playground Needs an Upgrade

By Gabriella Dragone,

2023-03-14

PATERSON, NJ –Ralph DiMarcantionio Playground, a playground dedicated to former First Ward councilman and World War II veteran Ralph DiMarcantonio, has fallen into disrepair, the namesake's grandson says.

The park, located right across from Commons Field on the corner of North 8th Street and Oxford, was originally dedicated in DiMarcantonio's honor in 1977 and was restored by the Paterson Veterans Council and the Paterson Veterans Association in 2016. However, in November of last year, DiMarcantonio's grandson, Michael Stracco, discovered that the park had been vandalized. The sign was torn down, benches had been destroyed, and the flag was tattered.

Stracco told TAPinto Hoboken that he reported the condition of the park to Mayor Andre Sayegh on November 8, but despite assurances that the situation would be addressed, nothing had been done, he said. Stracco said that Sayegh ultimately suggested that a "FRIENDS of Ralph DiMarcantonio" group be established to support fundraising efforts.

Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson that efforts are underway to improve the park.

"The Department of Public Works has taken action to improve Ralph DiMarcantonio Playground,” Sayegh said. “These updates, including a new sign, properly placed benches, and a soon-to-be freshly painted splash pad, will not only enhance the overall appearance of the park but will also provide a more enjoyable experience for families and children in the community.”

After Stracco's complaints were reported, the tattered flag was replaced by the Paterson Veterans Council, and Sayegh, as well as DPW Director Billy Rodriguez, said that a sign had been ordered and benches have been replaced. Portable bathrooms were also placed at the park, something that had not been done in the 47 years since the park's dedication. Stracco, while pleased with the progress, remains upset that the park dedicated to his grandfather, a combat veteran, had been so badly neglected.

“It’s not only a disgrace to the playground, it’s a disgrace to a veteran and a councilperson,” Stracco told TAPinto Paterson. “We have all these other parks in Paterson, a million dollars here and a million dollars here in Hinchliffe Stadium, which is all well and good, but what about the little pocket playground that was named after a councilman and more importantly, a United States combat veteran? Thankfully we are slowly moving to get it repaired, but it was blatant disrespect.”

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