During his successful campaign for mayor in New Windsor last spring, Jack Gullo Jr. acknowledged that the town's adolescents had a point when they complained they have nothing to do, especially during winter weekends.
In response, Mayor Gullo has just proposed something he calls the Town Youth Partnership Experiment. The mayor -- no pensioner himself at age 25 -- hopes the program will provide the town's teens with some activities that will reduce their idleness and, in turn, reduce the incidence of juvenile pranks that have aggravated relations between New Windsor's younger and older sets.
Mr. Gullo recognizes the problem arises among youths who are between the ages of 9 and 16, who are too young to drive and must find recreational opportunities within town. Mr. Gullo also recognizes that these kids need structured activities and a little community awareness. Instead of launching a grandiose scheme that might fail and worsen relations, the mayor suggested an incremental plan designed to build on small successes.
His first stage calls for holding Saturday night movies on four successive weekends. While most of New Windsor's youths could easily watch movies on television at home, that's not the point; they need a place to safely congregate.
Mr. Gullo's plan acknowledges that adolescents are social beings who are testing ways of interacting with one other and with members of the opposite sex. When New Windsor's movie theater closed down more than a quarter of a century ago, the town's youth lost the major local outlet of natural, youthful interaction.
These movie showings, according to Mr. Gullo's proposed rules, won't be free-for-alls. There will be sign-ins, chaperons and curfews. Disruptions will be handled by the town police.
If the four-week experiment is successful -- a site must still be located -- Mr. Gullo proposes adding a youth coordinator and encouraging service clubs to sponsor special events for the children.
In a town that complains about youthful indolence but hasn't offered solutions or alternatives before, Mr. Gullo's program is a refreshing change. In fact, if this program is successful, leaders in other Carroll County towns might do well to replicate it.