New York Times – July 10, 2008 – GREENWICH, Conn:

Vincent Provenzano, 16 years old, experienced his Kevin Costner moment one Sunday afternoon in May after a thrilling day of Wiffle ball in a friend’s backyard. He came home, gazed at a field of weeds, brush and poison ivy in an empty lot off Riverside Lane, turned to his friend Justin Currytto, 17, and proclaimed: “If we build it, they will come.”

After three weeks of clearing brush and poison ivy, scrounging up plywood and green paint, digging holes and pouring concrete, Vincent, Justin and about a dozen friends did manage to build it — a tree-shaded Wiffle ball version of Fenway Park complete with a 12-foot-tall green monster in center field, American flag by the left-field foul pole and colorful signs for Taco Bell Frutista Freezes.

But, alas, they had no idea just who would come — youthful Wiffle ball players, yes, but also angry neighbors and their lawyer, the police, the town nuisance officer and tree warden and other officials in all shapes and sizes. It turns out that one kid’s field of dreams is an adult’s dangerous nuisance, liability nightmare, inappropriate usurpation of green space, unpermitted special use or drag on property values, and their Wiffle-ball Fenway has become the talk of Greenwich and a suburban Rorschach test about youthful summers past and present.

“BACK before we lost our collective minds and began shrieking with horror at the thought of kids having fun on their own (as in not part of an official league or otherwise organized activity), they used to do things like find a vacant field, turn it into a makeshift diamond and spend glorious hours in the summer sun,” the local newspaper, Greenwich Time, wrote in an editorial in support of the youths on Wednesday.




  1. bobbo says:

    “It turns out that one kid’s field of dreams is an adult’s dangerous nuisance, liability nightmare, inappropriate usurpation of green space, unpermitted special use or drag on property values…”

    And isn’t that true?

    If this story appeals to you in the manner intended, you are an unthinking hypocrite.

  2. JimD says:

    This is just a CORPORATE FASCIST ATTACK ON BASEBALL !!! See, no one is making any money on this, so IT HAS TO BE DESTROYED !!!

    Let the kids play !!! The kids ought to get a medal for clearing out the empty lot, for crying out loud !!!

  3. Improbus says:

    Who doesn’t hate “bureaucrats, lawyers, noisy neighbors, and red tape”? That is as American as apple pie and whiffle ball.

  4. brendal says:

    I say, we find a country that we want to see collapse. Gather up all our lawyers & bureaucrats, and send them to that country.

    It’s gotta work, they’ve destroyed the U.S.

  5. SN says:

    “And isn’t that true?”

    No.

    an adult’s dangerous nuisance

    Everything is dangerous, people drown in their own bathtubs.

    liability nightmare

    In our culture everything is a liability nightmare. Crossing the street, drinking coffee, petting a dog… should we stop doing everything?

    , inappropriate usurpation of green space,

    How are kids playing sports inappropriate? What exactly is your definition of inappropriate?

    unpermitted special use

    So simply permit it, that’s easy. Problem solved.

    or drag on property values…”

    Do you have actual data proving this? I certainly don’t. And, even if it does, who cares. It is not the government’s job to protect investments.

    And if you don’t like what your neighbor’s doing, buy sufficient property not to have neighbors, problem solved.

  6. the answer says:

    If I had cash i’d buy that piece of land and let the kids do what they want, and probably hire some graffiti artists to tag the outside walls to piss off the neighbors even more.

    The sad part is actually having a lawyer (or anyone for that matter) look at what the kids did and still want to stop them. Da fuck is wrong with you people?

  7. Paddy-O says:

    Truly sad…

  8. Cinaedh says:

    On a positive note, think how much the children are learning about civics in America! 🙂

  9. UNKN says:

    If this super endurance athlete neighbor who does charity work across the globe is so happy to give up his time for everyone, why not try to find another lot for the kids instead of just getting them to leave?

    That’s from the article, about the neighbor that is.

  10. bobbo says:

    #5–SN==defending your post? Well done. My main point is simply that the law makes property owners responsible for what takes place on their property and can be sued for any accidents. You don’t like that, I don’t like that.

    Yes, I agree the laws should be changed. But every blessed parent who gets an injured or dead child will sue the property owner and the city too and often win.

    It is hypocritical to pass those laws and then complain about the direct and intended effects? So, report the situations as you do but mention in passing that its done by design?

    I have often thought there should be a whole range of liability reforms to allow/encourage property owners to let their property be used by the public gratis and liability free==kind of like “good samaritan laws” passed for much the same reason–but NO AMERICAN JURISDICTION has such protection and property owners/civil entities are on the hook==aka “attractive nuisance.”

    A real alternative would be for the community to have more community parks–but that would raise taxes.

    In the main, I think I responded to all your points. If I missed one, repost, and I’ll give it a go.

  11. Things like this illustrate how much freedom we have lost. And how this has gone unnoticed because we have grown used to it.

    When I was small (80’s) mucking about in an empty field, playing soldier (pew pew) with rocks and sticks, wasn’t frowned upon. Nowadays, you’ll have the police chasing you off within half an hour and panicking parents condemning the violent influences on their children on Fox News.

    How dare we complain that the youth isn’t playing outside anymore? We have destroyed it for them.

  12. TVAddict says:

    I don’t know…If I was a property owner that bought a piece of property next to an area that is supposed to be a wild area because it is in a flood plane and then this thing appeared one weekend I might be pissed. We did this kind of stuff when we were kids but we lived in the sticks so no one cared.

  13. Ultraslug says:

    In just a few years, which to any adult will pass way too quickly, these kids will disperse to the winds and the lot will be reclaimed by nature. Moreover, the lot will only be used for a few months each year, and not every evening. Are these adults so self-absorbed they can’t endure children having fun near them for any length of time?

    I have often thought there should be a whole range of liability reforms to allow/encourage property owners to let their property be used by the public gratis and liability free==kind of like “good samaritan laws” passed for much the same reason–but NO AMERICAN JURISDICTION has such protection and property owners/civil entities are on the hook

    Please educate yourself: http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_issues/land_liability.html

  14. liunam says:

    From the article: “People think we should be home playing ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ ”

  15. bobbo says:

    #13–ultraslug==thank you. Looks like I’m mostly wrong? Law has been changing since around 1993 even in my own state. Interesting given my normal routine that I wasn’t aware of this, but I did give up mountain biking a few years ago?

    Still–reading the statutes would make any owner skittish over the attractive nuisance and children. You can always be sued and its an expense to defend yourself. What constitutes an “unsafe artificial condition” would be very relevant to the baseball structures in the picture. I could see one free accident putting the owner on notice of an unsafe condition, and the second accident being one of liability.

    “Assumption of Risk” for the little kiddies is not favored in law or in the publics attitude. And that why the kiddies have no where to go, are constantly underfoot, fat, stupid and lazy. We make them that way.

    Thanks for the update. We should encourage even stronger language.

  16. green says:

    Go play in a park or get tased. DONE. Empowered little shits.

  17. FFS says:

    A friend recently built a house near Durango, CO and up the hill behind him another guy bought something like 35 acres and is making a rough and, AFAIK, unofficial and private mountain bike trail system. I hiked up there to see some of it, and it’s really amazing, but all the time I was wondering how public it would be, and when the first lawsuit would come because some random fucktard hiker saw what looked like a bike trail and brought his bike up, and ended up crashing or falling off a 20 foot drop and losing an leg. The trails were truly impressive, and I support that guy in his endeavor, but I sure hope he’s got all his bases covered.

    If it were my property, I’d be thinking about enclosing the whole thing in a 10 foot fence with warning signs, and consulting a lawyer to make sure my ass was covered. Making anyone who did decide to go for it would have to sign a waiver of liability.

    How sad that the world has come to this.

  18. The Monster's Lawyer says:

    You damn kids get off of my lawn!

  19. David says:

    I guess private property rights are just about dead. Just like individual responsibility and childhood in general.

  20. Angel H. Wong says:

    Isn’t it interesting that the neighbord did not complaint when the kids were cleaning the yard?

  21. Wally the Engineer says:

    #20
    Of course not!
    I own a lot next to my house that has powerlines over it. The local power company will occasionally come bushhog it, but mostly, it gets overgrown. a neighbor bordering on one edge of it, comes and mows it inbetween because he’s afraid of snakes. I couldn’t care less if snakes live in it. I don’t go there! If kids wanted to play wiffle-ball on it, I’d say more power to them!

  22. deowll says:

    Sad.


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