Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village received an $850,000 renovation for its bocce courts, located near the corner of 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard North, in July. Now, players are saying that more needs to be done to make the courts playable before the one-year warranty on the site expires.
Longtime bocce player Anthony Sozio believes some of the designs of the new courts are flawed.
The panels on the top of the protective canopies “are slanted the wrong way,” Sozio said. “When it rains, the water drips right onto the court,” he explained. The dripping creates divots in the court, leaving it unplayable.
“We are aware that to reverse the panels to face outside the courts is a costly proposition,” Sozio said. However, he has a cost-effective suggestion that would alleviate the problem. Sozio believes a heavy-duty tarp could be placed atop the canopies to divert the rainwater away from the courts.
Icicles also formed on the canopies this winter, posing a danger to players below, he added.
“Last week, one of the players got hit by an icicle while removing snow from one of the courts, thankfully without any consequence,” Sozio said.
Other bocce players, Nick Fazio and Peter Bozanic, agreed with Sozio’s claims and feel something should be done.
“We get no help from the Parks Department with maintenance,” Fazio said.
The players take it upon themselves to repair damages to the courts, having already gone through the 60 bags of replacement soil given to them for maintaining the courts, Sozio said.
The benches alongside the bocce courts pose a problem for spectators. “The benches are so low and the courts are high, so no one can see the game,” Sozio said.
The lighting around the courts do not do enough to illuminate the area when the sun goes down, Bozanic said. “The yellow lights don’t provide enough light,” he continued.
Sozio plans on creating a petition, getting it signed by the bocce players who use the courts and sending it to the local politicians in hopes that they will help fix the courts.
“We are going to petition the City of New York, the Parks Department and our elected officials to prompt responsible people to make proper repairs,” Sozio said.
The group wants the repairs made to be able to keep playing the game they love. “Bocce is very good for us,” Sozio said. “It keeps us healthy. People come from all over to play here and it is how we make friends.”
“The three new bocce courts are great new amenities at Juniper Valley Park, and will allow our community to host citywide bocce tournaments,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who serves District 30. “My office has been working closely with the community members who regularly use the bocce courts at Juniper Valley for years, and we have conveyed their concerns to the Parks Department – which is ultimately responsible for design, construction, and maintenance of the bocce courts.”
The Parks Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.