Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Louis Valentino Jr. Ballfield in Carroll Park

Court Street, between Carroll and President Streets

The property for the park’s ballfield that borders Court Street was acquired by the Parks Department on June 3, 1953. The playground was first built in 1957 and was renamed “Louis Valentino Jr. Ballfield” under a local law introduced by Councilmember Stephen DiBrienza and signed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani on June 25, 1996. On February 5, 1996, Valentino, who grew up in Red Hook, was killed while searching for wounded firefighters in a three-alarm blaze in an illegal Flatlands garage.

Valentino fulfilled his lifelong aspiration to become a firefighter when he joined the Fire Department in 1984. He was assigned to Engine Company 281 where he battled fires for two years. He was twice cited for his bravery, in 1987 and again in 1990, and served with Ladder Company 147 in Flatbush. Valentino was accepted to the elite Rescue Company 2 in Crown Heights in 1993, joining the ranks of the city’s most experienced and versatile. A commemoration plaque on the ballfield fence memorializes that “The Louis Valentino Jr. Ballfield preserves the memory of a man who not only demonstrated selfless devotion to fighting fires and saving lives but was also renowned for his prowess as a member of the Fire Department softball team.”

In 1999, Councilmember DiBrienza allotted $603,773 to refurbish the .90-acre ballfield. The scope of the renovation included paving the park’s field with new asphalt, chain link fencing, single and double gates, benches, new baseball, basketball, and bocce recreational facilities. In addition, the existing perimeter landscape was enhanced with additional plant material to create a grove and community garden.

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