Bocce Courts Also Sparked Controversy in Arlington

by Karen Goff September 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm 1,037 37 Comments

Bocce Court in Arlington/Credit: ARLnow.comResidents of three clusters close to Cabots Point Recreation Area have said a planned bocce court there will bring trash, parking issues, and ruin the atmosphere of a child-friendly park.

At last week’s Reston Association Board meeting, one neighbor told the board — which approved South Lakes Director Richard Chew’s proposal for a 60-by-12-foot court last December — that the court would “ruin the lives” of children who play at Cabots Point.

Some Reston Residents are also peeved that the plan was approved without adequate notification to affected parties in South Bay, Cabots Point and Cedar Cover clusters.

It turns out bocce, Italian-style lawn bowling, has raised the blood pressure of residents in other communities too.

In 2012, a proposal for bocce in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood led to acrimonious emails, emergency meetings and the resignations of several board members of the Bluemont Civic Association.

The issues sound familiar to the ones voiced by Reston residents.

“There were and continue to be significant concerns from neighbors at large and adjacent to the sites” for the proposed court, Bluemont resident and bocce opponent Maura Quinn told ARLnow.com in 2012. 

“Parking, trash, noise, lack of restroom facilities, and proximity to homes were all brought up over many months at BCA meetings,” she said at the time. “Many also believe that a cinder Bocce Court will cause significant dust/grime issues and will be unsightly in what is now lovely green space. There are Bocce leagues that play on grass throughout Arlington County calling into question the need for tearing out green space and replacing it with cinder.”

The Arlington County Parks Department’s response was that parking wasn’t an issue because most players would walk to the 13-by-50-foot court; that restrooms would not be needed because the park would not have more than 150 visitors at a time; that litter increase would be minimal; and that a public park should be open to the public for a variety of activities.

In the end, though, the parks department shelved the idea for Bluemont Junction Park in May of 2103, when it was deemed other sites would be more suitable. The county also did not think enough money would cover the costs — a $15,000 grant was available, but estimates for the project came in at $17,600 and $25,500.

The Reston project is estimated to cost $2,500, to be paid for by the non-profit Friends of Reston.

Even without the Bluemont court, bocce is alive and well in Arlington, where two courts opened in September 2013 in Ballston and bocce is available in a multi-use space in the Courthouse area. There are also two turf courts at La Tagliatella restaurant in Clarendon and bocce courts at Mosaic Park on Pollard Street.

The latter is the site of the DC Bocce League’s Arlington Division, which opens its season Wednesday night.

Photo: Bocce court in Ballston section of Arlington/Credit: ARLnow.com

  • Barkley

    Karen – are you friends with the obsessed Cascio guy? I am normally a fan of your articles but this partisan alarmist anti-bocce stance seems a bit over the top.

    • Rob

      Agreed, the coverage of this issue has been one-sided, at best.

      • Karen Goff

        I don’t know him at all and I have no strong feelings on the topic either way. If these seems one-sided it is because opinion has been one sided. When 25 people show up at an RA meeting and give emotional and angry testimony, it is a story. Other than the comment below, I have seen very little from residents supporting the proposal. If there were people in attendance at Thursday’s meeting supporting it, of course their comments would be in the story.

        • Barkley

          Thanks for responding. I think the vast majority of people who see bocce as a good idea didn’t realize they had to show up to RA meetings and passionately speak in favor of items that were settled upon, then revisited and resettled upon. The declarations that a bocce court will bring crime, trash, drinking and ruin childrens lives, etc seems a bit laughable to the average person.

          • Karen Goff

            “The declarations that a bocce court will bring crime, trash, drinking and ruin childrens lives, etc seems a bit laughable to the average person.”

            Which is why it is a story! 🙂

        • Rob

          Fair point, well taken. Perhaps a survey here would provide some idea of balance of opinions?

          • Karen Goff

            Good idea. Watch for a reader poll coming soon.

          • Barkley

            Are there measures in place to ensure that the some of the obvious candidates can’t vote multiple (many) times?

          • Karen Goff

            I can make sure one time only voting.

          • Knotso Much

            I hope you’ll provide more than just a yes or no option.

    • Mike M

      It is a little crazy to state that the court would ruin kid’s lives. Reporting that statement isn’t exactly favoring the opposition. But what you ignore is that ram-rodding special interests into common areas is just begging for trouble. That’s the way it OUGHT to be in a Democracy. So, . . . whom do I have to get on my side for that potato sack racecourse?

      • Barkley

        The good news is the more you guys complain the more attention it will bring to this exciting new attraction. The rest of the Reston residents will become more aware thus eventually increasing traffic of Bocce players! I’m excited you guys are increasing interest!

        • Mike M

          What’s exciting, and shiny new to you, seems to have been implemented on the sly. It also seems to be pretty generally unpopular. Does that matter to you? Or is it all about getting your shiny new stuff?

          By the way, I live nowhere near the newly implemented piece of excess exotica. But I am ticked at the RA for their lack of openness and process.

  • montague

    It is crazy to me that someone would say a bocce court will ruin children’s lives. What planet do they live on? Cancer ruins children’s lives, drugs ruin children’s lives, abusive relationships ruin children’s lives. Let’s please get some perspective here. I take my son to Cabot’s Point on a regular bases, and he loves it, and we would both love the bocce addition. If a bocce court has the power to ruin your child’s life, then you need some serious help parenting.

  • Jill Norvell

    This is a settled item. Enough already…when will we see the bocce courts? I live on Cabots Point Lane and I’m 100% in favor. Lasciate che i bei tempi rotolo!

    • Mike M

      I know Jill, right? It’s fun to speak in a language you know but others don’t.
      And, hey! A pogo stick race course wouldn’t ruin any children’s lives so when is the RA going to whip it out for me? Who cares what opposition it may bring! Process? Schmrocess! Pogo uber alles!

  • Cecil Greybard

    Bocce and CCTV goes together. For $2500, unlikely

    • Mike M

      you meant to say instant replays, correct?

      • Mike M

        Could you please change your name? I’d like to suggest Crazy Mike M. But then maybe that’s not at all necessary.

  • John Curran

    My God, who isn’t offended, my grandmother showed me how to play when I was 6. I have no idea how it hurt my life…

    • Mike M

      So set up your own court on your own property?

  • Pragmatist

    Yeah… my neighborhood put in horseshoe pits into our local park and it was the beginning of the end. All the children became street urchins, the mother’s stopped loving, the father’s never came home, it was as if we had lost our frame of reference. There was no more good in the world.

    Give. Me. A. Break.

  • johnson

    I really do not think it is Bocce that will hurt anyone, but the physical destruction of the green space is the issue. I am Italian and grew up in a very Italian ethnic area. I also lived across the street from a park growing up. Thankfully, Bocce courts were not in the park across the street from my house. They were located at the Italian-American Sportsman Club that we were members. Had they been located in the park across from my house, i would not have been able to play freely the way that i was able to. We played kickball and baseball and frisbee and dodgeball. And in the winter we ran in the snow with no obstructions. It was a great place. THAT freedom of SPACE will be taken by these cinder courts. And really….Let’s get something straight…BOCCE DOES NOT REQUIRE COURTS to play recreational Bocce! I continue to play with friends and family in green open space. Why must this space that serves many different purposes for many more people than just bocce players that require a court, be disrupted for people to play bocce? All of you people that argue you’ll play with your kids…WHY ARE YOU NOT PLAYING NOW, on the lawn? I’m pretty damn sure that the courts would sit there unused for 98% of the time anyway. if you don’t think so, you are kidding yourself. If you’ve been to the park you know there is barely enough parking for the tot lot and park users, let alone for an additional attraction. I do not think parking is the issue though because after a few months, no one will use the courts and the land will sit there unusable for anything else. I also agree with the lack of restrooms. But be careful what you ask for. Next there will be a port-o-john at the park and there will be a little plaque with Richard Chew’s name on it.
    If a Bocce league needs Bocce courts, install them at Lake Fairfax with all of the other “fields”.

    • Barkley

      Good try Cascio

    • Gavin

      Baseball fields destroy green space. Tennis courts destroy green space. Basketball courts destroy green space. Swimming pools destroy green space. Playgrounds destroy green space. Can’t we have 1 bocce court in Reston? One?

      • johnson

        @Gavin: what’s your point about the ball fields and tennis courts? Stating the obvious? ok. I am not opposed to a bocce court in Reston. I am opposed to a Bocce court at Cabots Point park. Why wouldn’t the court work at an area that is designed to handle the traffic and bodily functions of participants such as Lake Fairfax or Baron Cameron parks?

        • Consis Tently-Wright

          @johnson. good point. location location location

          in my mind THE BOCCE COURT SHOULD BE PART OF THE SILVERLINE METRO station. no parking. easy access. play bocce while you wait. plenty of competition. a captive audience.

          RESTON – the universe of bocce. its a done deal the way i see it.

      • Knotso Much

        I’d like to see multiple sites suggested. Wainwright Park, Twin Branches maybe?

  • HP

    Crack is whack. So too is the idea of a bocce court in Reston.

  • TH

    Ruining lives? Boccegate has become a Parks and Rec-worthy storyline. Amazing how these neighborhoods have mobilized to stop a $2500 sandbox. I’ll continue to follow with bated breath!

  • Knotso Much

    “without adequate notification to affected parties in South Bay, Cabots Point and Cedar Cover clusters.” Or cluster across South Lakes drive who use the park as well. One BOD member gets an idea, and RA fails to follow their processes in back to back steps. BOD member silences any discussion and get their wish. Then, the project starts and the true design is revealed and is over three times the size approved. Try doing that with the deck on your property and see what the DRB will do. Is this how all changes to Reston should all be handled?

  • Knotso Much

    If there is video and audio online of a public meeting, how can this site be so inaccurate in attributing and accurately reporting quotes? I know “Now” may not have a budget to speak of, but c’mon.

    • Karen Goff

      Our budget is just fine. Which quotes are you talking about? if they are incorrect, I will fix.

      • Knotso Much

        Your September 26th story quote:”That was not in the original application. Procedures were not followed. The refusal to accept an appeal was not followed. Chew’s actions should preclude any [bocce] action.”

        This sounds nonsensical.

        The actual quote from YouTube: “The proper procedures for notification were not followed. The refusal to accept an appeal was improper. 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. Mr. Chew’s role in the inception and execution of building this project and subsequent actions to override any dissent or discussion should preclude his participation in any Board actions or discussions of this item and he should recuse himself from the same.”

        • Karen Goff

          I will take the quotes off of it since i did some editing and that is one long quote. I am on medical leave as of today. So i won’t be commenting further. Thanks.

  • Observer

    Very revolutionary! Not the bocce court, but the fact that you’re reporting on events in the year 2103!

    • Karen Goff

      It’s quite relevant to what is happening in 2014 in order to add perspective to the issue.


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