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Residents Decry Bocce Presence, Procedure

by Karen Goff — September 26, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,238 21 Comments

Cabots Point ParkTraffic. Parking woes. Drinking. A direct disregard for the principles of Reston and infringing on green space.

Those were some of the comments from residents of Reston clusters close to Cabots Point Recreation Area at Reston Association’s regular board meeting on Thursday night. Nearly two dozen residents of South Bay, Cedar Cove and Cabots Point spoke to or sent in comments to the board in opposition of the bocce court that the RA Board approved last winter.

The plan calls for a 60-x-12 foot court, with the projected $2,500 cost to be paid for by Friends of Reston. The court would be built in the open lawn area of the park, which is used for a variety of activities such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball and simple running around. The remainder of the park contains benches and playground equipment.

In July, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson proposed taking bocce off the table and starting over because “proper notification and opportunity for public input or a hearing was not made regarding the proposed project and change in use of the recreation area.”

But after explanation from South Lakes Director Richard Chew that proper procedures were followed, Fulkerson’s proposal was voted to be taken off the agenda prior to the July 31 RA meeting.

The residents of the nearby clusters are not at all pleased with Chew, who lives in Cedar Cove. Many speakers at the meeting say the director reached out to one of the clusters but not the other, and that the project was pushed forward without the clusters’ knowledge.

“I object to this project for many reasons, including that the approval processes were blatantly ignored,” said Chuck Cascio, a longtime South Bay resident. “This was an appallingly self-centered breach of trust.”

South Bay cluster president Bill Parker said that mail to affected parties in the clusters was never delivered and was returned to RA. He also said that the field was recently marked off — but at 80-by-55 feet the space is much larger than the application approved by the Design Review Board in June.

“That will take up 4,400 square feet — almost half the park,” said Parker, adding that that those plans were not in the original application.

Parker also said the refusal to accept an appeal was improper and the listing of Cabots Point, Cedar Cove and South Bay clusters as affected parties and subsequent revocation of affected party status was misleading and incorrect. He added that Chew’s role in project and subsequent actions should preclude his further participation in it.

Other speakers appealed to the board that the bocce court would dramatically affect the area in a variety of ways. Among them:

Loss of green space. “Restonians can engage in impromptu, unstructured activities at the park.” South Bay resident Faye Cascio said in an email to the board that RA president Ken Knueven read. “Disrupting the tiny park’s natural appeal in order to install bocce would be a major violation of what Reston is all about. There are precious few places anywhere these days where parents and children can run and play in an unstructured environment.”

Adults at the park. “There is a real possibility that bocce can draw in less than desirable behavior, litter, crime, and drinking,” said a Cedar Cove resident . “That will interfere with families with young children that would enjoy the tot lot.”

Another resident pointed out that a NPR.com story that called bocce “a social game at a social gathering.”

“It’s a civilized game that brings people together … it’s mostly for the booze,” one recreational player says of bocce in the 2013 article.

Safety. Several speakers reiterated that South Bay, on the left side of the entrance to the park, has narrow streets and very limited parking. If more than a few cars parked there, emergency vehicles would be unable to get through, creating a public safety hazard.

Expense. While RA says the total cost of the project is $2,500 and will be paid for by Friends of Reston, one resident said that builders would likely have to level the slightly sloped lot. That could cost as much as $50,000, the speaker estimated.

“I would suggest RA spend its money elsewhere,” said one resident. Another resident suggested via e-mail that Reston spend its money on becoming a bat haven in order to better control insects.

RA has learned from the bocce issue. The association said in August that a new development review process has been established that will better involve residents before projects are approved.

Photo: Cabots Point Park/file photo

  • Mike M.

    If the original plan had included the use of bonsai trees to line the alleys of the bocce courts we would have had no objections over the loss of green space. So lets press fwd

    • Mike M

      Wha?

  • AJ

    I was initially very excited about Bocce Courts in Reston, especially so close to my home. I thought this was a unique fun idea that would embody to the spirit of Reston. Each neighborhood seems to have various parks and recreational opportunities and I thought Cabots Point’s contribution of a Bocce Court would be a nice addition. My toddler son already knows what Bocce is and likes to play the game.
    Soon I realized the horrible truth. I was taking my son to the swing set at Cabot’s Point when I saw a small group of angry people holding signs and inviting the media and speaking angrily about the impending Bocce courts. One man was visably upset and making strong statements about corruption. He has clearly made it his life’s work to stop the treachery that is Bocce. He was passionate about doing anything in his power to stop the installation of a game where the participants gently toss big balls towards a little ball. This anti-bocce hero has developed a passionate small following. I am confident his following will prove that this impending bocce court will lead to the end of times as we know it.

    • Knotso Much

      When I grow up, I want to be an RA Board Member! That way, every whim that I have can be made to happen and opponents can be silenced with some parliamentary sleight-of-hand and a dollop of bloviating.

    • Mike M

      My feelings exactly, AJ. So when are they going to install my pogo-stick race course. Oh! And my giant chess set. Oh! Oh! And a May Pole!

      On second thought, maybe your kid can play bocce at your house.

  • Eric

    I feel it is time for me to speak up against these plans to add this reckless and dangerous past time to our planned community. bocce=ISIL. First off, bocce is not a sport, and anyone who says so is wrong. Secondly, bocce is known to be played mostly by Italians and Croatians. Do we really want a bunch of Italians hurling heavy objects so close to a tot lot? They will have pizza parties and get red pepper flakes everywhere. Pizza! In your park! Think about it! Let’s stop the madness before it begins.

    Another thing, how will we ensure that every ball meets exact international standards for weight and size? Will Reston need to hire a full-time monitor and referee to avoid pallino disputes? Who will pay for that?

    This is clearly going to lead to end times. Let’s save ourselves, say no to bocce!

    • AJ

      It will basically become an organized crime meeting place.

    • Will Lipford

      I suggest that we use the tennis monitors to regulate the the international standards, then simply increase the association fees. We should also consider a bubble for the field so they can eat pizza and play in the winter.

  • Knotso Much

    Boo hoo. Guess what? You don’t need a court to play bocce! You can play on grass. Go up there right now with your shiny new Crate and Barrel bocce set or go to the court at 11600 Sunrise Valley drive. We have so many more important and expensive issues to face. Any expenditures of our dollars towards a bocce court seems ridiculous.

    • Boccia Monitores

      Please ensure wherever you decide to play bocce to bring your RA issued Bocce court pass. Once bocce season is in full swing we will have monitors checking greenspaces and other designated locations for any infractions. Recommended bocce colors are green, spiked shoes are mandatory.

  • Paul

    No doubt the Koch brothers and Fox News are funding this in some way, we should get Ken Plum involved.

    Seriously though, the RA is heavy handed and it appears there is a clear issue with nearby residents. What is the harm with starting the process over?

  • Barkley

    It seems to me that Bocce is being opposed by a vocal and irrational minority. This is clearly a good idea and i’d hate for it to get derailed because a few people cant find a better issue to oppose than Bocce.

    • Knotso Much

      Well, if an RA Board member decides that he or she wants to take a park that your kids like to play in and cut it in half, and leave you to buy some set of gear at around $60 then I hope you vote for him. It’s not about the bocce. It’s about a board member who gets an idea and rams it through unopposed. And it’s about a board that scratches each other’s backs. Your voice, especially here, means nothing. Have you ever spoken with your district representative? If this goes through in defiance of state POA laws then RA will spend your money on legal fees, since they stand in abject disobedience of those laws. Is that the kind of freedom you’d like to give to board directors? If so, we should prepare crowns and tiaras for all of them. They already get commemorative benches (go to Cabots Point park and you’ll see Richard Chew’s.) What next?

      • Billy Smith

        Not that you don’t have some good points but board members do not get commemorative benches, I believe that there is a program where any citizen can purchase a bench. Its a cost SAVINGS to the community. If people would stick to the actual facts that would be enough, there’s no need to add to the considerable dis-information.

  • J P

    My neighbor has a backyard full of trash (including, at times, mattresses and old appliances) and, most likely because I live in a neighborhood primarily inhabited by immigrants, RA does absolutely nothing about it. They do spend many hours agonizing over dead tree removal and bocce. Messed up priorities?

    • Mike M

      You just described RA in a nutshell.

  • Adrian Havill

    Bocce is a really, really bad idea and it’s in an area frequented by small children.

  • Restonms

    My husband and I live in Reston but also spend a lot of time in VT. While we aren’t Italian, we belong to the VT ITALIAN CLUB (VIC), a non profit organization whose mission is to discuss, learn, share, and celebrate the cultural history of Italy and Italian Americans.

    Bocce is an Italian game and one of VIC’s activities at a park in Burlington, VT. Imagine our chagrin to learn that those delightful members including families participating very well may be undesirables. Furthermore, since it is an activity of the group, it sound like all of us may be undesirables. What about Italians and Italian Americans living in Reston who think Bocce a good thing. Are they undesirables too?

    Reston is a place to live, work, and play as long as it isn’t Bocce.

    • Knotso Much

      It’s not about bocce. It’s not not about Italy. I have Italian-Sicilian family. It’s about RA rules and the violation of them. What is undesirable is the unlimited power of the RA board members. It’s about a plan calling for a 60′ X 12 ‘ court and turning it into a 55′ x 80’ space without any notice or approval from affected parties. My bocce playing family says that 12 X 60 is huge.

  • Shamuz Alonzo

    We should also keep in mind that the story of man-made global-warming is a conjured narrative of fortune tellers and sooth-sayers.

  • BC

    Say “NO” to Bocce! Many bocce players are Italian (organized crime). Italians also like to drink wine and smoke crack. Maybe RA should just build a crackhouse instead of a bocce court!
    If the mafia wants a bocce court in Reston then let them pay for it with their own money!

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