Bocce punks back again

By Helen Klein

They’re back. About a year and a half after members of the Dyker Park bocce club complained about groups of youths wreaking havoc near the bocce courts, the problems have returned. Sal Agosta, who has been a regular at the bocce courts since 1993, told members of Community Board 10, gathered at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 13th Avenue and 86th Street, for their February meeting that, in the park, “There are many fights with gangs breaking out almost every day. There’s lots of drug-selling and dealing. We want that stopped.” Stressed Agosta, “We want some kind of protection on account of the fights breaking out. We want the place where we play bocce enclosed, fenced in. I am very scared of what’s going on there.” Agosta was not the only bocce player at the meeting to express concern about what’s going on near the courts, which are located at 86th Street and 14th Avenue. From the back of the room, another player contended that the problem arises when, “Kids come after school and run through the park.” Nor is the problem with the teens the only one concerning the bocce players. Rather, said Agosta, members of the bocce club are unhappy with the cleanliness of the park. “It’s very filthy,” Agosta contended. “I don’t mean only for drugs. It’s dirty. The park stinks.” Finally, said Agosta, the topmost surface of the bocce court has eroded, so the players are playing on top of a gravel bed – a situation they want corrected. Attention will be paid to the park, those in attendance at the meeting promised. Josephine Beckmann, the board’s district manager, said that the board has already “been working with the 68th Precinct” with respect to the disturbances in the park. “There have been arrests at the park,” she went on, adding, “I will follow up with the precinct.” That follow-up was quick in coming. Indeed, by the end of the meeting, Beckmann was able to announce that she had been told by a representative of the 68th Precinct in attendance at the board meeting that a meeting between bocce players and the precinct had already been scheduled for the following day. Also, she noted, “They are trying to get someone from Narcotics to come out.” In addition, City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who funded the facility in 2005, said he would look into adding a fence and gate. But, he pointed out, because that takes capital funds, it would be something that would have to be included in the city’s next budget. Gentile also told his listeners that he would look into the situation with the court’s surface. “Parks told me that it was a state-of-the-art clay on which people could play in almost any weather,” he recalled. “Now that I know it’s down to gravel, I will talk to the Parks Department heads.” The overall condition of the park is actually reasonably good, contended Arthur DeCesario, a Brooklyn park and recreation manager whose area includes Dyker Beach Park. According to the report card issues by the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, DeCesario said, “We have an 85 percent approval rate for our parks, and a 90 percent rating for overall cleanliness in the district.” Also, said DeCesario, there are one or two Parks staffers at Dyker Park every day to “clean the park and the bathrooms.” As for the surface of the bocce courts, DeCesario told the group that he had, “Acquired two deliveries in the past to maintain it.” Finally, with respect to the fence, DeCesario said that he had told the players, “When I was approached, that we don’t have a capital budget. I said I would support it if the community supports it.”

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