WEST BABYLON, NY — Outdoor play is a necessary part of a child's life. But try telling that to Marie Dellafranca, vice president of South Shore Villas Condominium Association at West Babylon, Long Island.
On May 20, she sent a warning letter to condo owners Robert and Angelica Parker. Their 4-year-old son Liam loves riding his tricycle and scooter around the grassy triangle in front of their unit.
"We understand that the weather has gotten nice out but unfortunately, there are rules and regulations in the By-laws," the letter read. "That it is not safe for kids to play on common area grounds. Please take this as a precaution measure so that we would not have to enforce the fine that is association with this. It is $150 per violation."
The Parkers looked through 38 pages of the association's by-laws, but didn't see any prohibiting kids from playing outside. They asked Dellafranca to show it to them. She couldn't.
Dellafranca later said they received complaints from one condo owner about the children of three families playing outside in a "noisy fashion." The Parkers said the two other families told them they hadn't received a letter from the condo board.
"It makes us question why he's the only one, considering other children play outside here all the time," said Robert Parker, who works in law enforcement. "He also happens to be the only Latino child. So that raises questions about the possible motive for something like that."
Angelica Parker, Liam's mother, is from the Dominican Republic.
Vincent Dellafranca, the husband of the South Shore Villas Condominium Association vice president, denies the letter was sent based on the boy's race.
"Don't make it racial," Vincent Dellafranca told reporters. "Everybody else was told the same thing, and they follow the rules."
That's not true. Robert Parker has pictures of other family's children playing outside with Liam.
Vincent Dellafranca also claimed the by-laws were written by the New York State Attorney General's office. When asked why children were not permitted to play outside, he cited the rules set up by the AG.
"We just follow the rules. We don't make them," Vincent Dellafranca said.
A staffer for the attorney general's office denied that it had passed such a regulation.
"The Office of Attorney General does not have oversight of Condo by-laws," the staffer said.
The Dellafrancas say they are concerned about the safety of the children playing and other members of the condo community.
"What if they hit somebody when they're riding or they run into somebody's car by accident?" Marie Dellafranca said.
Vincent Dellafranca claimed the children ride their bikes in the condo parking lot. Not true, says Angelica Parker.
"I'm constantly with my son making sure he doesn't go near anyone's cars," she said.
The Parkers have filed a discrimination complaint against South Shore Villas with the New York State Human Rights Division.
"There's nothing wrong with a child playing outside. It's part of living in a condominium. This isn't an over 55 or a senior community. Children should have the same rights here as anyone else," Robert Parker said.
Liam's ability to continue riding his tricycle outside, like any other 4-year-old child, now depends on the findings of a state inquiry.
This story was originally published by Arnold Diaz on WPIX in New York City.