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Waterbury Park Gets Boost From Technology

Waterbury Republican-American, Wednesday, July 5, 2005
by Joe Palladino

It couldn't be easier. Log on to www.fairlawnpark.com , click on the Web cam, and instantly you know if there's a game. You also know who's playing. Mom and dad can peek in too.

In the successful attempt to save the basketball court at Fairlawn, Waterbury attorney Joe Summa put together an unusual staff: the kids who use the park. In a place plagued by thugs, area residents petitioned to have the court removed. It was, they believed, the basketball court that attracted undesirables.

But the kids convinced the park board otherwise. The court stays. In about one month construction begins on a $300,000 facelift, with a new court, a new playground, and landscaped play areas. Fairlawn Park will shut down, and reopen in the spring. Until then, find out what's up using the Web.

"We really couldn't do all this without the support of the private sector," he said. "Torrington Supply donated the web cam, The Worx Group donated our web page and hosts the web cam. Bob Garthwait and Clydel Manufacturing were the primary sponsors for our Connecticut Kings AAU Basketball Team and other companies such as CUNO, Rostra Vernatherm, New England Die and Ultimate Services helped out considerably."

Businessmen invested money and equipment, but Summa convinced the kids of invest of themselves in the park. At any one time there are between 50 and 75 of them there. They really do pick up the trash. You really can hear a kid shout, "Hey, pick that up. Take pride in your park."

And they love that Web cam.

"Before I come down I always check it out," said Anthony Ireland. "I like to see how many people are here".

You and I jumped on our bikes to see what was going on at the park, or maybe we did the unthinkable: we walked.

That's old school. Technology rules for this generation.

Tyreese Ferrucci lives close enough that he can hear the ball as it is dribbled. But there's nothing like running to the computer to actually see who is doing the dribbling. The Simpson brothers live around the corner. Technology has spared the youngest sibling a life of drudgery.

"Instead of making my brother come over, I can see what's going on on the computer," said older brother Wayne Simpson, 16. Jermaine, 13, hails the Web cam. "Yes, put that in. Now I'm not ordered around by my brother every time he wants to know what's going on."

Breana Morrison, a 15-year-old Crosby student, does live a few blocks away. She keeps the Web up all day. "I just minimize it on my screen."

When asked if the computer allows parents to keep tabs on them, they agreed that it does, but, they speculate that most adults haven't figured that out yet. That's probably true.

If you visit today you'll not that technology has failed us momentarily. An electrical storm zapped the system, though Summa reports it will be running again shortly.

"Will you forget the Web cam for a minute and look at our real problem here?" asks Jermaine, who has a piercing voice that cannot be ignored, and who will no doubt run for public office someday. "Do you see what they have done to my court?"

That's true Jermaine, they removed a swath of asphalt for test drillings before construction begins. Jim Nemec, Waterbury's parks director, promised to patch the area so the games can continue, that is, until the equipment comes and the work begins. That day is coming soon. It will shut you down Jermaine, but when spring arrives you won't recognize your new park, whether you see it in person, or on the Web.

Joe Palladino can be reached at [email protected]

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Coming Soon - Open gym periods at Waterbury ARC
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