LITTLE ITALY — A Little Italy park playground has been renamed in honor of a longtime leader's dedication to the neighborhood.
The Chicago Park District Board on Wednesday voted to name the Sheridan Park playground in honor of community leader and retired police officer Joseph M. "Joe" Esposito, who died in August 2011 at age 66.
Esposito served as a Chicago Police officer for 30 years, and was founder and longtime president of the Near West Neighbors Association. Born in the Chicago Housing Authority's ABLA Homes, the lifelong Little Italy resident also served in the Vietnam War, according to a 2011 Gazette obituary.
At his funeral, community activist Oscar D’Angelo said no one had contributed more for the benefit of the Little Italy neighborhood than Esposito, according to the Gazette.
"He devoted hundreds of hours of his time, energy, and insight for the benefit of our community," D'Angelo said.
Heather Gleason, director of the Park District's division of Planning and Development, said Esposito was instrumental in the development of the park and advocated for the park's turf field, playground and field house to be built.
The Sheridan Park Advisory Council, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and neighbors all supported the move, Gleason said.
A stretch of Taylor Street is also named in honor of Esposito.
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