By Lisa Capobianco
After serving on the Board of Park Commissioners for more than 30 years, Joe LaPorte has decided to step down.
LaPorte served on the board from 1979 to 1984 before taking a five-year hiatus, and became the chairman from 2000 to 2009. He also served on the Town Council for two terms.
Although he enjoyed his involvement with the board, LaPorte said it was time to step down.
“I am 80 years old,” LaPorte said. “It is really time for some new ideas—there are some good people here.”
Calling LaPorte’s decision to step down a “sad day,” David Kanute from the Board of Park Commissioners said he will miss his colleague.
“Joe and I have been together for over 20 years,” Kanute said. “He is not your typical board member—he is a hands-on guy.”
Michael Fasulo from the Board of Park Commissioners said he will also miss his colleague, who always offered him advice.
“I have known him for most of my life,” Fasulo said. “He is so knowledgeable about what goes on.”
LaPorte’s involvement with the community began in the 1960s when LaPorte served as a volunteer coach for his son’s Little League team. Since then, he has contributed to construction projects, fundraising drives and countless meetings. He even started the Southington Youth Soccer League in 1975, which continues to grow.
“It makes me proud that the league has flourished all this time,” LaPorte said.
LaPorte also founded a third local Little League with Don Stepanek and Bill DellaVecchia. By 1970, the Western Little League offered more opportunities to Southington children. As the league outgrew their small baseball field on Mill Street, LaPorte and DellaVecchia started a campaign to use a parcel of land on Spring Street to create a state-of-the-art complex, which serves as the home for the league today.
“Joe was a real asset to the town of Southington,” Kanute said. “He knew when there were needs.”
LaPorte said he is also proud of his contributions to the Southington drive-in site. When Southington bought the site, LaPorte created a pavilion, which turned into a success.
“It is a great facility, and it is getting more use every year,” LaPorte said.
A member of the Southington Sports Hall of Fame as a booster, LaPorte said he will continue to be involved in the community despite his decision to step down. LaPorte will continue his volunteer work at the annual Italian American Festival as well as his special interest in the Southington YMCA.
Although he will miss his former colleague, Kanute said he feels confident that LaPorte will remain active in town. “He is around—he stays involved,” Kanute said. “Joe will still be a mentor for us.”
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By Lisa Capobianco