Bocce Player Anthony Sozio standing in the puddles of the newly renovated courts. "When it rains all the water comes in and makes holes all over the place," Sozio said. "After the rain we come over here and work, we do all the maintenance. The Parks Department doesn’t do anything for us — we do everything ourselves.” Prior to the redesign, they were able to sweep water of the courts through drains, Sozio said.
Add shoddy bocce court work to the growing list of botched Parks Department capital projects in Juniper Valley Park irate critics say.
Barely a year old after undergoing an $850, 000 renovation to repair the deteriorating courts Bocce players are furious at city over the conditions caused by the design flaw. They say the design of the canopy-like structure over the courts, which includes slanted glass panels, allows for rain to fall unevenly on the dirt courts, creating an uneven playing surface. Players say the courts are in worse shape now than before the renovation.
The Parks Department's Capital Division installed plexiglas shade structures made from recycled materials they say to let the rain flow through it, which players say has caused the problems.
In March the contractor blamed the problem on the Parks Department Capitol Division, “the designer didn’t design it properly. We picked up the drawings from the Parks Department.”
A Parks' spokesperson tried to blame the players and the Community Board for the poor design.
“The new bocce courts were designed in collaboration with local bocce players and the final plans were approved by both these players and Queens Community Board 5.”
The Parks Department said it will now install covers.
- Geoffrey Croft
A rendering of the bocce courts project at Juniper Valley Park.
Bocce ball players in Queens say a city redesign ruined their courts at a park in Middle Village, according to WCBS news in a segment called, Whose Bright Idea Was This.
The Parks Department spent $850,000 to renovate Juniper Valley Park — but the canopies above the courts, which were designed to block out the sun, funnel rainwater onto the courts, creating holes in the playing field and flooding which takes days to dry out.
Paul Maucelli and Anthony Sozio, both retired, play bocce almost every day at the location off 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard. “We don’t need this, the way they did it,” Maucelli told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “We can’t use it, waste of money. They gotta do something.” Bocce, an Italian ball sport, is typically played on a flat court. Players take turns rolling colored bocce balls towards a small, white ball on the other side of the playing field. Players receive points based on whoever can get their set of balls closer to the target.
Prior to the redesign, they were able to sweep water of the courts through drains, Sozio said.
“After the rain we come over here and work,” Sozio said.
“All this maintenance, Parks Dept. doesn’t do anything for us — we do everything ourselves.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is pushing the city to fix the situation.
“We want to make sure that we continue to keep courts in high quality standards and that has to do with maintenance,” Crowley said.
The NYC Parks Department said it will install covers. “An initial attempt to install Plexiglass did not yield results that fit our standards,” the Parks Dept. said in a statement.
“We are exploring alternative materials and we how to have the project complete by early next year.”
A tournament this summer brought more than 500 players to the Middle Village courts.
CBS - November 9, 2015 - By Meg Baker
Queens Chronicle - March 26, 2015 - By Mark Lord