Bocce players at Juniper Valley Park are calling foul on the Parks Department’s attempt to fix aspects of the courts that they feel are not up to par.
Last summer the bocce courts, located near the corner of 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard North in Middle Village, received an $850,000 renovation. But shortly after the courts reopened, players were unhappy with the design of the courts, claiming that they were not pitched correctly, leading to buildup of water on the courts after periods of rain.
The main concern of the bocce players remains the canopies above the courts, which were designed to block out the sun. The canopies are slotted in a manner that allows rainwater to drip onto the courts, creating divots in the playing field, rendering it unplayable.
“People are up in arms over this. This is what we enjoy the most. It is good for our health,” said Anthony Sozio, a longtime bocce player at the Juniper Valley Park courts. “The same issues were had before, we are having now. We need something to be done, they started the work but they never finished. It was much better without those canopies here.”
After the bocce community complained about this perceived design flaw, the Parks Department developed a plan to cover the canopies with Plexiglas to prevent water from entering the playing field.
“They put Plexiglas over one of the canopies as a test,” Sozio said. “They never came back to the do the others. They didn’t seal it right because water still comes down. And we are still having drainage problems.”
The Parks Department said that the canopies above the courts were originally designed to protect players from the sun, but are working to remedy the rainwater situation.
“We are working to install covers over the shade structures to keep water from sheeting onto the courts, so that after a rain the courts are more readily playable,” said a representative from the Parks Department. “An initial attempt to install Plexiglas did not yield results that fit our standards, so we are exploring alternative materials and we hope to have the project complete by early next year.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said she is working with the Parks Department to get this situation remedied.
“The bocce courts [are] a very popular part of Juniper Valley Park, valued by many community members. These outdoor courts do suffer the brunt of different weather conditions, including getting wet when it rains,” Crowley said. “The Parks Department, which is ultimately responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the courts, has taken steps to accommodate the players’ request, and I will continue to work with them until players’ concerns are addressed.”