SARASOTA (WSNN) - A pilot program for free Wi-Fi in Sarasota parks kicked off today.

The "cord cutting" ceremony happened this morning at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Newtown.

This is the first of four parks where you can now connect to Free Wi-Fi. The other three are expected to be finished in the first quarter of next year. They include Arlington Park, Bayfront Park, and Payne Park.

City leaders say they hope this serves as a potential bridge in the digital divide in some communities.

"As human beings, that's how we're wired," said Kyle Battie, the Mayor of the City of Sarasota. "We're wired for connectivity. That's the way in which we build a stronger community and communicate."

As mayor, Battie says he's focusing on the Four C's: connectivity, communication, community, and controlled change. 

"And we learned a lot during COVID," said Herminio Rodriguez, the IT Director for the City of Sarasota. "By having this resource in our park, anyone can drive up and they can use this for submitting school work, for doing research, for doing eCommerce."

Rodriguez says about 50 people can use the Wi-Fi at the same time.

The $470,000 pilot program is being funded with federal American Rescue Plan dollars.