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Resignations, Recriminations Over Proposed Bluemont Bocce Court

by ARLnow.com | October 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm | 7,665 views | 145 Comments

Mass resignations. Emergency votes. Back-and-forth accusations. FOIA requests. Email flame wars featuring words like “duplicity,” “acrimony” and “gang-rape.”

It’s not a battle over the federal budget or abortion or any other hot-button topic of national, state or regional consequence. It’s the rancor over a proposal to build a single bocce court in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood.

On one side of the fracas is former Bluemont Civic Association President Judah dal Cais and his supporters. On the other side is a group of civic association members critical of dal Cais’ leadership and his bocce court proposal.

The Bluemont bocce/petanque court idea has been in the works since dal Cais first brought it up in 2010. While members of the Bluemont Civic Association voted, narrowly, in April 2012 to approve the idea of a bocce court somewhere in the neighborhood, the exact location of the court has remained controversial.

Dal Cais has insisted that the only viable location is along the Bluemont Junction Trail, between N. Emerson and Illinois Street — a central location that he says will serve as a meeting place for neighbors and ensure that the court is well cared for by residents. Many opponents of the bocce court say they don’t oppose the idea of a court, just the location; the green space around that section of the trail is narrow, they say, and the court would necessarily be located close to the yards of adjacent homes.

Opponents have cited parking, traffic, noise, litter and other concerns when arguing against the bocce court. Some also believe the court will attract outsiders and, perhaps, organized play by local bocce leagues.

“There were and continue to be significant concerns from neighbors at large and adjacent to the sites Judah proposes that a Bocce Court will be a destination for folks outside of the neighborhood,” said Maura Quinn, who has helped to lead opposition to the court. “Parking, trash, noise, lack of restroom facilities, and proximity to homes were all brought up over many months at BCA meetings. 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.”

Dal Cais said all would be free to use the court, but doubted that it would be a suitable location for bocce leagues, especially with plans in the works to build multiple bocce courts in nearby Metro-accessible Ballston. He also cast doubt on fears of excess noise, traffic and littering, given that no more than 8 people can play bocce at one time and given that he predicts it will be played mostly by older adults who live in the neighborhood.

Opponents have suggested a number of alternative locations, including Fields Park, the area around Fire Station No. 2, the empty behind the Arlington Forest pool or the open space near the red caboose in Bluemont Parks. Dal Cais, who lives within walking distance of his preferred bocce court location, says the court will not be utilized and maintained properly (volunteers are to take care of the court, not the county) if it’s not in a central, “high visibility” location. He said the property owner closest to his preferred location has singed a letter of support in favor of the court.

The issue came to a head in September when it was revealed in the neighborhood newsletter that dal Cais was planning to submit an Arlington County Parks Enhancement Grant (PEG) application — asking for $15,000 to cover a contractor’s fee for building the court — as a private citizen. Opponents of the bocce court said dal Cais would not release a draft of the grant application to them — so they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Arlington County, which was eventually granted.

By this time, a petition opposing the proposed bocce court location was circulating among neighbors. Organizers say some 50-100 residents signed it. Opponents also say two people resigned from the Bluemont Civic Association’s bocce task force in protest of dal Cais’ private grant application. Then, on Sept. 27, the intrigue reached its height.

At a general membership meeting of the civic association, Dal Cais relinquished the chair in order to present a brief report on his grant application. Bocce supporters then describe an “ambush” of “hostile” questioning followed by a unadvertised motion and vote to send a letter to Arlington County opposing the bocce court location. The motion was allowed by the acting chair, passed and a letter was sent to County Board Chair Mary Hynes and several parks department officials.

In response, dal Cais’ supporters called an emergency meeting of the BCA Executive Board on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to “examine the unadvertised motion” and discuss the “tone and the lack of civility the audience directed at [dal Cais].” The meeting apparently did not go as hoped. Afterward, dal Cais, along with the civic association’s treasurer, webmaster, and parks and recreation liaison, all announced their resignations.

“In the last 2 years, the rancor and incivility [within the civic association] have reached new levels,” wrote the webmaster, in a resignation email to executive board members. “I’ve been personally attacked, accused, and even yelled at by email and at meetings… When you all behave like this, it drives away the people who don’t want to fight and just want to help the neighborhood be its best.”

“BCA has become the county govt’s favorite punch line (owed in large part to a FOIA request over a bocce court),” wrote the parks liaison. “I’m tired of apologizing for BCA’s behavior and distancing myself from its new reputation.”

Though the immediate catalyst for the latest fracas was bocce, tensions have been brewing for at least a year and a half. In April 2011, dal Cais unveiled a hypothetical development plan commissioned by the civic association as part of its long-range Neighborhood Conservation planning process. The plan, which presented a theoretical option for redeveloping the current Safeway supermarket on Wilson Boulevard, was immediately controversial.

Many neighbors were incensed by the idea of a four or five story development along Bluemont’s low-density commercial stretch of Wilson Boulevard. And they were upset that dal Cais commissioned the plan with little community input or notice. Dal Cais said that the plan was generated (by a recent college graduate on a volunteer basis) in order to gather community input about ways to “guide” development, which dal Cais argued is inevitable.

Earlier this year, as civic association members criticized dal Cais’ leadership, the Safeway plan came up again in an email among the association’s executive board members.

“The fact is you have done your best to ensure that we get gang-raped by developers and the county,” one member wrote of dal Cais. “Maybe some people find your behavior to be helpful and ‘caring.’ I, and quite a number of others, do not.”

The member also accused the organization’s webmaster of “duplicity” and “enabling Judah to do what he has done to the membership.”

Following the resignations this month, a member of the civic association’s Safeway task force also stepped down.

“After the events of the last month, the Association is no longer functional,” the member wrote. “With the Association’s current reputation within County Government, ANY communications will be counterproductive. ANY attempts to influence developments on the Safeway site will not work! I no longer wish to waste any time with the Task Force.”

Critics of the bocce court, meanwhile, are vowing to move on.

“Those people that are left, and there are quite few, are determined to move on, put this behind us and we will be better for it,” one opponent of dal Cais told ARLnow.com, on the condition of anonymity. “We are all people of good will. We’re going to operate in a very open and inclusive manner. Hopefully nothing like this will ever happen again.”

The Bluemont resident added that dal Cais’ main problem stemmed from trying to force the bocce court through above objections of residents, while also initially representing himself as a representative of the neighborhood in his private grant application.

“It’s not about bocce, it’s about the process that’s being used,” said the resident. “It’s basically about trust.”

Dal Cais, for his part, said he will be formally relinquishing his position in the civic association at its next meeting, later this month. He’s continuing his efforts to obtain a PEG grant.

“I am moving forward with it,” he confirmed to ARLnow.com. He’s planning to make a presentation to the county’s Parks and Recreation Commission on Oct. 23, before the commission considers his application later in the year. If successful, it will be presented for County Board approval in January.

Of his critics, who opposed his efforts to guide the Safeway redevelopment, dal Cais predicted disappointment.

“They really don’t want change,” he said. “They’ll find out in due time that they’re wasting their time.”

Photo (top) by Victorgrigas via Wikipedia. Photos (below) via Google Maps.)

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  • Quoth the Raven

    Never mind road construction, vehicle roll-overs, or bike accidents. In the future, it’s bocce that’s going to cause all of Arlington’s problems!

    • Charles

      Mmm, I hope this serves to show people in Iraq and Afghanistan just how terrible some people’s lives are in America, too.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Wow!

  • Calver DeForest

    Had to check the URL a few times to make sure I didn’t hit the Onion bookmark.

  • Mary-Austin

    Will alcohol be allowed?

    • YTK

      fine Gallo Chianti is the bev of choice..

      • nom de guerre

        Suitcase, bro.

  • Garden City

    Boy, does this show ever call for more popcorn.

    • Orville Redenbacher

      Get yer popcorn, heaahhhh!!

      • YTK

        Cannolis.

  • Allan

    Dal Cais said that the plan was generated (by a recent college graduate on a volunteer basis) in order to gather community input about ways to “guide” development, which dal Cais argued is inevitable.

    Inevitable? I didn’t know they were planning a streetcar up Wilson Blvd too!

    • Ballston

      My development is inevitable!!!!

  • SteamboatWillie

    All of that drama over. . . . . bocce. Good grief.

    • Bocce Bad Boys

      Hey, some of us take out bocce very, very seriously…..it can be a “blood sport” as it is played here in Arlington !!

  • 4 Craig

    I think a Dumb and Dumber quote works perfectly here…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxLpOmRHJlI

    • Ren

      And then, there’s George Carlin’s take. Carlin, on Neighbors:

      “The best thing about living at the water’s edge: you only have [EXPLETIVE DELETED!] on three sides of you, and if they come this way, you can hear them splash.”

  • B22201

    Really? Traffic is a concern when building a bocce court (among the other concerns)? My main concern would be will anyone EVER go and use the thing? Also, where does Arlington get these contractors? $15k for that? It’s like the $1.5 million dog park.

    http://www.ibocce.com/court_pix.html

  • Neighbor

    Exactly why I moved out of a development with a homeowners association and into a neighborhood without one. The people who do not want to do anything inevitably make it too much of a headache for those who do. Or, you get a power-hungry group in charge who try to ram their ideals down everyone’s throat to the detriment of neighborhood relations. It’s a no-win situation.

    • Arlingtoon

      I’ve often felt that if you want a position like this, that fact alone should disqualify you from serving.

      • Bocce Bad Boys

        ++100

    • Michael

      This isn’t a Homeowner’s Association. It is the Civic Association, which is county government.

      • Neighbor

        Same concept in either case: thankless job on the one hand; PITA on the other.

      • speonjosh

        In what way is a Civic Association “county government?”

        • No way Joe

          The President of the Civic Assocaition has received favored treatment from the county, so it si effectively an extension of the county governemnt.

          • drax

            Oh, come on.

  • Arlmom

    “They really don’t want change,” he said. “They’ll find out in due time that they’re wasting their time.”

    Most neighbors want the Safeway to be improved – that is change. It’s the size and scale that is in question..

    As for bocce, it’s the location that the neighborhood is objecting to, not a new court.

    • But not wise decisions

      They want the Safeway improved, but limited in scope so that no developer will take on the project. What’s wrong with 4 or 5 stories anyway? It could be great for property values around the area if more people lived in the area, since other businesses would want to locate there.

      It seems like the Bluemont neighbors don’t mind change, but complain about everything to the point that nothing happens. Maybe they should be more proactive. I haven’t heard about Dal Cais before, but it sounds like he was very proactive and that scared his neighbors.

      I don’t care about a bocce court, but i hope he gets what he wants.

      • Orange Rider

        Your making a wrong assumption.

        Case A: Safeway decides to upgrade their own store. Benefit: you get an upgraded store, and you don’t need to find a developer because Safeway is paying for it. Example: Glover Park Social Safeway.

        Case B: Safeway abandons that store location, leaving the whole lot available for redevelopment. Safeway sells it to a developer who has plans to build something there. Example: almost every tear-down project in Arlington in the last 30 years.

        What am I missing?

  • http://Beth Beth

    Is it odd that the dal Cais lists President of BCA as his current job on LinkedIn? Isn’t volunteer work the type of additional information that you put at the bottom on your profile?

    • ABIC

      Should be a disqualifying factor for the job! Has way too much time on his hands, but that’s also true of people scouting other people on LinkedIn.

  • RosRes

    Good grief!

  • Bluemontsince1961

    “Most neighbors want the Safeway to be improved – that is change. It’s the size and scale that is in question.. ”

    Exactly, Arlmom! That Safeway is just plain sad and pitiful. It wasn’t much better way back when either.

    • Explain the rational

      Obviously the Safeway needs improving, so why are so many Bluemont residents opposed to the size and scale? Wouldn’t a bigger Safeway development be better for everyone around? I really don’t get the opposition to having 4 or 5 levels of residential units. Just let the developers do their jobs and attract money to the neighborhood.

      • drax

        “So many” aren’t – the ones right up against it are though. I can’t blame them.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        See the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor…….some residents fear that the same thing will happen, too much development, too much traffic, parking a cluster, etc. Upgrading that poor sad Safeway is one thing, I believe most Bluemont residents want that.

        • Mr X

          Those residents are pretty silly not to want that. Property values along Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have gone through the roof. Highly desired real estate now. Bluemont, not so much.

          • Observer

            Property values in Manhattan are way higher than Ballston. Why don’t we develop all of Arlington to Manhattan density?

          • Mr X

            I’m not disagreeing with you.

          • Observer

            Check your sarcasm meter.

          • drax

            Property values shooting up sucks if you want to stay in the house a while. It just means higher taxes.

          • darsasx

            It’s okay because we have the lowest tax rate in the region – as you have repeatedly stated, that’s all that matters. They shouldn’t complain if they are getting richer, even if they have to move in order to realize that.

          • puzzledinFFX

            if thats a widespread problem the county could put in a circuit breaker to lessen the pain, eh? A limit on assesment increase per year(unless the property is sold or otherwise transferred).

          • Hell Will Freeze Over

            Hell will freeze over before the Arlington County Board would put any kind of limit on the revenue that they can collect !!

      • Limit growth

        Your comment reveals how little you understand of other people’s concerns. How would you like people parking, and driving back and forth searching for parking, in front of your house until 10PM or later every night? Of course, you probably don’t live that close to the Safeway, so you don’t care what happens to “them.”

  • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

    More on the PEG grant application, from Arlington County:

    “An application for a grant to support a Bocce court was submitted. Applicants will be able to present their application proposal at the Park and Recreation Commission’s October meeting. The Commission will carefully evaluate all of the applications in November to make sure they meet the criteria listed in the PEG guidelines. When the Park and Recreation Commission evaluates the final applications in November they will base their decision to approve or deny funding for the project on how well the project meets all the PEG criteria.

    The criteria for the approving projects is that the project is
    :
    1. Be consistent with or support Arlington County policies, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) mission, and current standards and construction codes;
    2. A stand alone project (not contingent upon other projects);
    3. Provide long term service to a substantial number of citizens and always be available for general public use;
    4. Be on property that is either 1) owned or leased by the County, 2) state owned with an existing use agreement or 3) privately-owned with an existing public use easement which allows for open space improvements;
    5. Is consistent with the community’s current Neighborhood Conservation Plan, if one exists;
    6. Demonstrate that timely notification has been given to adjacent property owners, renters
    and other interested parties;
    7. Employ a sound environmental approach as well as best practices;
    8. Demonstrate the consent or support of affected residents (adjacent neighbors, local
    neighborhood groups, citizen associations, PTAs, recreation center advisory boards,
    business and service clubs, and houses of worship); and
    9. Include detailed cost estimates (10% contingency required to be included in the estimate
    for each project)

    Community members who have concerns or other feedback about the proposed project are welcome to send comments to the Park and Recreation Commission to the attention of Mr. Paul Holland, Chair, through David Miller the staff liaison, via the website link, mail or by phone. All comments will be shared and considered when the project is reviewed and evaluated by the Commission.”

  • Pentagonian

    Bocce is a gateway sport. First bocce, then shuffleboard. Then we’ll start seeing small groups in the morning doing tai chi.

    Madness.

    • Catherine

      so correct!

    • anne

      Now you truly get get the madness that has gone on.

  • George Splat

    “Applicants will be able to present their application proposal at the Park and Recreation Commission’s October meeting.”

    The PEG presentation in October only provides for one person to present: the applicant. The Guidelines state:

    STEP 5: PRESENTATION TO COMMISSION (October 23, 2012)
    After final applications are submitted, applicants are expected to make short, informal presentations to the Park and Recreation Commission at their meeting on October 23, 2012. The presentation should provide an overview and highlights of the proposed project, and should be no more than 5 minutes in length. The presentation may also be followed by a brief question and answer period with Commission members.

  • A phenomenal example of…

    A white persons’s problem.

    • Alex

      Chuckle…

  • WeiQiang

    Not to harsh the article or break all GGW, but it’s “FOIA”.

    http://www.foia.gov/

    • Freddie

      thankyouverymuch

  • Ex Webmaster

    As the webmaster-in-question, I can tell you that most of the “controversy” as presented here was entirely drummed up by those opposing Mr. dal Cais. His resignation was the catalyst for the other resignations, but not the reason. I honestly don’t even have an opinion on the bocce court, and I live right next to the proposed location. In the end, it’s the lack of civility toward hapless volunteers that was the problem. All I ever did was post minutes and newsletters to the website, yet somehow I was involved in some shady conspiracy where Judah was the puppet-master. Laughable.

    Fact: BCA is in such gridlock that it hasn’t even approved the minutes from its April meeting yet. I got criticized last month for not “providing them online in a transparent fashion” when, in fact, the Association hasn’t even been able to pass their approval in 6 months. So, as you can see, something’s got to change.

    On a side note, this is all really too bad. BCA has/had one of the best web presences of any CA in the County. No longer…

    • drax

      Submitting a grant application on the side is really fishy.

  • James Madison

    Civic Association members file a FOIA rquest with the County to get documents submitted by the association’s president, and for a letter which he can’t remember if he submitted on association letterhead?

    Really?

    • drax

      No, not really – I don’t see anything about letterhead. Did I miss that?

      • ABIC

        When someone at the meeting said she was concerned that dal Cais couldn’t remember whether a letter was signed in an official or personal capacity, dal Cais responded “You should be concerned.”

  • Freddie

    … and I thought we had drama at Drag Bingo on Wednesday nights.

    • Courthouse Diva

      sorry i’ve missed that!

  • Arlmom

    The Safeway neighborhood has Arlington Traditional School on one side, Route 66 on one side and the Safeway on another side. If developers, and not Safeway, develop the site, it impacts the neighborhood in a big way.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    One main take-away here – is that the PGA process is obviously flawed – and should be modified such that any application should be forwarded by the county to the Civic Association where the project is proposed( and any within a reasonable distance) – just for good open government. It shouldn’t have required a FOIA. A process that allows an individual to hide proposals from the CA till the last minute when the board consider’s it, is ludicrous

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Sorry PEG not PGA

    • Norm

      It does seem like an end-run around the process, but then I’m thinking that if it is part another process, why didn’t they just go this route in the first place?

    • WeiQiang

      Given the volunteer nature of the CA’s, it is prone to lapses in transparency and to other shortcomings. The CA’s are – by human inclination I think – staffed by folks who are more engaged and perhaps more interested in certain projects than in others. If there aren’t other CA members or interested neighbors who can moderate the position of some perhaps more singular-minded CA members, decisions can seem to be railroaded or less than transparent.

      In my neighborhood, an adjacent CA president went around convincing residents to submit applications to put sidewalks in front of other neighbors’ houses, outside of his CA. The adjacent CA president then facilitated the submission of the applications for endorsement by the CA in which the homes are located. Further, the adjacent CA president convinced the County to eliminate the requirement for affected homeowners to sign concurrence on the application. The ‘proper’ CA blithely went along with the application.

      It was nominally a process that went by the book, but it was rife with personal agendas and a lack of transparency.

    • Josh S

      I’d have to disagree. Plenty of citizens have no contact or interest in their local civic association. That should not preclude them from dealing with the county government.
      Also, the civic associations are all too easily captured by small but vocal minorities who may not represent the actual diversity of opinion in that neighborhood.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        But why do you disagree with simply telling more people about what is being proposed?

        1) I agree some people aren’t involved in the CA.
        2) I don’t believe anyone should be precluded from proposing anything.
        3) The point is that those that are impacted should have time to understand, organize and develop consenses. Anything else is just ram-roding.
        4) I think rogue CA’s are the exception rather than the rule – which is easily fixed by getting the community involved. How can they be rogue if most of the residents agree with them. Most of these horror stories are put out by the all change(especially my change) is good change crowd.

      • Allen W.

        I agree with Josh S. The Arlington County government seems to treat civic associations as quasi-governmental organizations that speak for hundreds or even thousands of people in various neighborhoods. To a degree, this effectively disenfranchises people who are not interested in attending civic association meetings. And in order to have any real influence on positions that a civic association takes, a person must devote large amounts of time to attending meetings of various task forces and whatnot. Many people are unwilling or unable to do this. Civic associations should not be presumed to speak for entire neighborhoods on controversial issues.

        • speonjosh

          In addition, you cannot influence the position of the civic association if the clique that controls it doesn’t want to be influenced.

          It is my understanding that some (all?) civic associations won’t let you vote at all unless you have paid your dues. This is not democracy, this is a club. Clubs should not be allowed to participate in the operations of county government.

      • Kimberly W

        I agree with Josh too. I live in Bluemont and have wondered at the statements in the newsletters that “we need to assert that WE are pro/con this or that”. Unless you take a vote of all residents instead of the current “dues paying members who happen to be free on the last Wednesday of the month” system, you cannot say that you represent all residents.

  • John Fontain

    This situation sounds eerily similar to what’s been happening in the Lyon Park Civic Association (LPCA) for the last several years. A small group of people took over the Citizens Association for the sole purpose of ramming a pet project down the community’s throat.

    Many years ago, the neighborhood wanted to make the community center’s bathrooms handicap accessible and had the funds to do it. But a small group of very vocal residents objected and asked for a brief extension of time (approximately 3 months) to more carefully evaluate the plans and see if there were any better plans. These folks then ran for, and were elected to, LPCA leadership roles.

    3 months turned into years and this small group thought it would be “nice” to instead do a $700,000 renovation of the entire building instead. Nevermind the fact that this was an astronomical sum (especially for the work involved), after all, this was going to be other peoples’ money (i.e., donations), so why not shoot for the moon?

    Years and years later, we still have no handicap accessible bathrooms because we haven’t (and likely won’t ever) raised enough money for the $700,000 renovation. It’s sad that this small group of people put their ritzy visions ahead of those with need for handicap access.

    Anyway, reading this article about dal Cais just reminded me so much of the recent association officers in Lyon Park (current President excluded) and how they ran things for their own personal interests. In my opinion, doing that is an abuse of your position.

    • Dave 202

      No it doesn’t John. Quit trying to act like you know everything.

      • John Fontain

        ?Huh?

        • Observer

          The experiences you had never happened and you are not entitled to an opinion.

  • EFC Civic Association

    It is perversely reassuring to know that other civic associations are as dysfunctional as ours….

    • Quoth the Raven

      Yeah – aren’t we getting some 9 story monstrosity at the metro station?

      • FrankGerhry

        Wow, nine stories?!?! thats a HUGE building. I want that commision, any starchitect would want to be associated with such a tall building, it will be in all the magazines.

        • What’s Shakin’

          Plopped down in the middle of a residential neighborhood, it is.

          • speonjosh

            First – I think the 9 stories is an exaggeration.
            Second – the “middle of a residential neighborhood?” I think that’s a stretch. The residential neighborhood is already substantially broken up by a freeway, metro station and parking lot in that area. Not exactly a quiet cul de sac.

          • Quoth the Raven

            From: http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/forums/columbia/pdf/file81237.pdf

            Page 3: “Limit building heights to four to six stories along building frontages, with specific height guidance for the Park & Ride site up to 9 stories”

      • wut

        The bigger the better. There should be ginormous places around metros to cut down on driving.

        • Trent

          Won’t there still be the same amount of people away from the metro stations that still need to drive?

          • Quoth the Raven

            And with the development, they won’t have anywhere to park but in the surrounding neighborhoods.

          • drax

            They won’t need to park as much because they will be taking Metro. And they will have parking garages.

          • Quoth the Raven

            The EFC parking lot fills up before 7:30 every day. Where will those people park once that lot goes away?

          • drax

            No, because, as wut said, more of them will be living around the Metros instead.

          • Westover

            You don’t understand the op’s point. Adding people above the Metro station has no effect on the number of people who need to drive to Metro.

            If you currently have x people driving to EFC, and you add y people in the apartments above metro, you now have x + y people using EFC station.

            MATH

  • Chris B

    Hey ARLNow, this is an excellent article. Nice job.

  • Arlmom

    “No, not really – I don’t see anything about letterhead. Did I miss that?”

    There was an initial draft letter of intent from the BCA on BCA letterhead that only one person saw, thus the FOIA request. The final grant application was changed to come from the individual.

    • drax

      Interesting details.

  • Williamsburg Civic Association

    Ours is, thankfully, pretty quite. Of course, all that could change due to the “Two Schools is too many on N. Harrison” crowd.

    • EFC Civic Association

      Ours was too …… alas !!

    • NiceOne

      O’Connell lights? I wouldn’t call that quiet….

      • EFC Civic Association

        Yup, the operative word was “was”……no that was not quiet at all !!

  • Jeffry

    People raising complaints like this that are so polluted with a NIMBY attitude should be ignored and the court placed directly in front of their homes for being obtuse and selfish.

    • drax

      People who whine about NIMBYs are the ones who should have the courts put in front of their homes. They won’t complain after all. Right?

      • puzzledinFFX

        I live in FFX next door to a park. I would be fine with bocce courts there. When you move in next to a park or trail, you expect activity there. Some people in FFX (and I guess ArlCo too) seem to think the counties put in these parks and trails as their private preserves. I’ve heard of peopke in FFX who live near the CCT saying they wish there weren’t hikers or bikers on it.

        Sheesh man, sure. close the frigging trail. Then let the county sell it to a developer and see how you like that.

      • snicker

        i’m starting the new communtiy group BANANA – build absoultely nothing anywhere near anything. who wants to be president?

  • Village Genius

    Are citizens associations relevant in the 21st Century? They were formed in the 1920s before the internet, before most people had phones, before radio, before copying machines, etc. The purpose, at the time, was to provide two-way communication with an elected board. Seems like the current use of citizens associations has run past its time.

    My Citizens Association is run similarly — no transparency and attacking anyone who questions the lack of transparency. The “executive committee” meets secretly to set the agenda, reformulate voting process ad hoc, and never provides minutes or any type of written history. Money is spent willy-nilly notwithstanding the requirement that the membership approve expenditures. Positions are advocated to the County Board without any formal process by the membership. Even something as simple as a quorum requirement is ignored (even when the requirement is a simple as 15 persons in attendance for a neighborhood of 2,000 persons). Unfortunately, a few people with obvious untreated mental health issues continuously run amok and good people just stop being involved.

    It is time to disband the citizens associations.

    • EFC Civic Association

      Amazing….it must be something in the water !!

      I think that they mainly exist for giving the illusion of citizen input.

      Then again, the same people get elected to the county board with depressing regularity…..so maybe it does not really matter.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      I’ve got to dis-agree. I think the CA improves transparency. The county sends anything pertinent to the CA and our CA just repeats it to the list serve so I don’t have to comb through the county publications constantly. Secondly the board seems to care only about their “image” with only a few demographics and acts to please them even when they live outside the local impact of proposals. The CA should be a forum for developing consensus for local issues and should carry much more weight with the board for anything that isn’t county wide impacting. Fixing rogue CA”s is easy just get folks involved – talk to a neighbor. People that complain about developing consensus typically have agenda’s that they can’t actually “sell” to the constituents.

  • Courthouse Diva

    why can’t these folks just build their own court in their own backyard?

    • Thes

      Depending on the lot size, it may be against the zoning rules. Or just plain too big.

      • BrantleyV

        Really? From what I know about Bocce it only requires a flat area of grass. What part of the zoning law would stop me from flattening out a part of my yard?

      • Jack Sprat

        Welcome to Bluemont.

        This is not indicitive of the community.
        It’s a pretty nice community.

        The civic assocaition has traditionally worked with the community. However, over the last couple of years, the leadership has changed.

        The problem is that now the rest of us have to join and attend just to watch our backs.

        The classic at the last meeting was the suggestion was that to ease pedestrian issues on Wilson Blulevard, we could just take a foot from the front yards of everyone on the road.

        Obviously, those people were not consulted.

        Bluemont is a good community.
        Don’t be misled into believing the issue is about bocce or safeway. There’s a lot more to it than just that.
        Read between the lines.

  • Not in my back yard!

    Don’t ever try and build anything in my back yard! Another example too many people with too much time standing in the way of progress. Change is always going to happen. Deal with it people.

    • drax

      So you will eagerly approve of every single project and idea that is proposed in your neighborhood?

      Let me know, I have several.

      • puzzledinFFX

        cause you know a bocce court in a place already set aside for recreation is like buidling, I dont know, a coal fired power plant or an 8 lane interstate highway. yeah.

        • drax

          Um, he said “anything.” So I asked him about “anything.”

          I guess you WOULD oppose some things built in your back yard, huh? So you don’t whine about others who do. Good.

      • Dave 202

        I will gladly approve any project in your backyard Drax. But in general do people complain to easily about projects that are near them because they already have theirs, yes, yes people do complain too much. A bocce court is not the end of the world and a year after it was completed people would love.

        • drax

          Good. I propose a coal-fired power plant in your back yard. You will gladly approve it, right?

          Of course you wouldn’t. So enough of this nonsense about NIMBYs. People have a right to complain about things.

          YOU think a Bocce court is okay. Others don’t. So you have a judgement, and they have another one. Nothing wrong with that. Say you think a Bocce court isn’t a big deal – don’t go bashing people for daring to complain about anything or accuse them of opposing everything.

  • Mike Honcho

    Those bocce crowds must be awful rowdy…

    • Bocce Bad Boys

      Don’t mess with us bocce boys !!!

      • Corn Holer Crips

        We’ll humble you.

      • ClarendonSkank

        Can I play with your balls?

        • Bocce Bad Boys of Bluemont

          Pretty forward aren’t you ??

          Then again, for a self dubbed “skank” it might be just “part of the job”….

        • Bocce Bad Boys

          I thought that you would never ask !!

  • drax

    The Safeway debacle was a mistake, but an innocent one. Nobody paid attention to the explanation that it was just a student’s project – they just looked at the drawings and proceeded to freak out.

  • Courthouse Diva

    next they’ll want horseshoe pits!

    • YTK

      I almost died laughing thinking of the possible Spoonerism that could be created from those last two words.

      • Jack Sprat

        There is a bocce court at Upton Hills which is one mile west of the proposed site of the Bluemont bocce court. In the opposite direction from Bluemont is the Ballston Mall, which is planned to have 2 bocce courts.

        The bocce court at Upton Hill is 93 foot long, and thereore a full length court. The one at Bluemont is only 50 foot (although the plan submitted to the county shows 90 feet).

        The Upton Hill court is unused, although it is right beside Wilson Boulevard. There is a horseshoe pit beside it. There is a tree fallen across the horseshow pit, which looks like it’s been there for a couple of years.

  • New Arl Resident

    My wife and I looked at the Bluemont neighborhood and decided against it because it lacks a lot of the conveniences that other neighborhoods in Arlington have (except for the park, the park is great). We ended up in Virginia Highlands. We have bocce courts, softball fields, nice grocery stores, a quiet neighborhood and friendly neighbors. You should try it, Bluemont.

    Also, I wonder why Arlnow didn’t look into some of the business property owners who are against the Safeway expansion. I suspect there is more there if they do some digging.

    I commend Dal Cais for the work he has done and encourage the naysayers to step up and run for office if they do not like what he has done. How many times has Dal Cais run unopposed for his position? It’s easy to show up at a meeting and be critical without actually doing anything to help your community. Bluemont would have been better off if you stayed home and shut up! I hope Dal Cais quits and Bluemont continues to be at the mercy of the the do-nothings…

    • Bleu Monty

      Glad you found someplace you like, but a few gentle corrections about your characterization of Bluemont:

      Nice grocery stores: Bluemont is a 5-minute drive to the Harris Teeter on Glebe and about 10 minutes (via Patrick Henry) to the one at Lee-Harrison. It’s also a quick drive to the newly renovated Safeway at Willston Place, as well as the Target on 50.

      There are HUGE softball fields in Bluemont Park and at least one backstop in Bon-Air Park. (Not to mention lots of bike paths.)

      We also have several good restaurants, including Pupatella and Layalina.

      Most streets are quiet, and neighbors vary as they do anywhere.

      But you are correct that we have no bocce court. We do, however, have frisbee golf nearby, about 10 minutes down the bike path in Arlington Forest.

  • Lauren

    Pretty sure FOIA only applies to Frederal Govt.

    • Wil

      The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located at § 2.2-3700 et seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.

      • drax

        “VFOIA”!

  • Lauren

    Or Federal. Sorry

  • http://Beth Beth

    But, then you would be in South Arlington.

  • Casey

    [...one opponent of dal Cais told ARLnow.com, on the condition of anonymity. “We are all people of good will. We’re going to operate in a very open and inclusive manner. ...]

    condition of anonymity VS. operate in a very open and inclusive manner
    doesn’t bode well for an “open and inclusive” future if you refuse to identify yourself.

  • Joe Hoya

    First bocce comes in, then the neighborhood goes under. That’s when the whores come in. Men laying their trick-money down. “Twenty dollars to pay the rent? Maybe not. Maybe instead I’ll spend it on the whore.”

  • peacemonger

    sigh.

    showing my bias, i just wish everybody* would try to treat others first and foremost how they would like to be treated. as jack nicholson once preached to martians, “Little people, why can’t we all just get along?”

    [humming kumbayha here]

    *please exclude the sociopaths and massochists from my plea, and those of you in the latter know who you are!

  • Mc

    The good citizens of Bluemont need to chill out and get lives. Bocce sounds like exactly what they need.

  • Bleu Monty

    I don’t live near the proposed site, am not a BCA member, have not been involved at all, and don’t even know any of the involved parties. I don’t think I’ve ever played bocce, but it looks mildly fun.

    That said: Bocce is reportedly played by up to 8 people. Suppose there are two courts. That could be 16 people just as participants–not counting any friends/family watching.

    That’s a lot of cars. If I lived nearby, I too would be concerned about the possible parking problem. And what if the games go into the evening? I could imagine the clack-clack of the balls and cheering from the participants could be quite annoying.

    With so many other, less controversial sites available, why not propose this at one of those?

    I mean, skeet shooting is fun too.

    • Claire

      16+ people means at least 5 dogs too. Poop all over the place.

  • James Mason

    ARLINGTON COUNTY
    PARK AND RECREATION COMMISSION
    2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 414
    Arlington, Virginia 22201
    October 16, 2012
    RE: Park and Recreation Meeting, November 27, 2012
    Thank you for your interest in the FY 2013 Park Enhancement Grant Program. Due to the community’s
    interest in this year’s applications, the Park and Recreation Commission will receive public comment at
    their November meeting.
    WHEN: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
    WHERE: Courthouse Plaza Building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
    TIME: 7:00pm
    Public Comment Procedure:
    The Park and Recreation Commission meeting will begin at 7:00pm and public comments will
    commence after the Chairman’s opening remarks;
    Speakers will be limited to two-minutes;
    Comments on each application will be limited to 20 minutes total due to the number of
    applications;
    Sign up to speak by e-mailing Diane Probus, dprobus@arlingtonva.us, no later than 5 PM on
    Monday, November 19. Include in the e-mail your name, address, whether you support or
    oppose the application, and summary of comments;
    County Staff and the Park and Recreation Commission Chair will review the requests and
    allocate time to ensure balanced speaking time for each project;
    Speaking requests received after the November 19 deadline may be granted if time is available;
    and
    The commission would like speakers to present a new and different perspective on the
    application and to avoid repeating the same comments as other speakers.
    At the October 23, 2012 Park and Recreation Commission meeting the commission will only hear
    presentations from the twelve grant applicants. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to
    comment on the PEG applications at the October meeting.
    The Park and Recreation Commission will not make a funding recommendation to the County Board on
    the 2013 PEG applications until their December 18 meeting. This will allow full consideration of the
    applications and community input.

  • George Smithson

    At the October 23, 2012 Park and Recreation Commission meeting the commission will only hear presentations from the twelve grant applicants. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to
    comment on the PEG applications at the October meeting.

  • nom de guerre

    I want to know if the bocce players will be wearing helmets.

    • WeiQiang

      They won’t need helmets if they avoid the bocce bollards.

    • Bocce Bad Boys

      We don’t wear no stinkin’ helmets…..we are “The Bad Boys of Bocce” from Bluemont.

      Only pansy’s wear helmets when playing bocce !!

  • Jill Jones

    Dal Cais said all would be free to use the court, but doubted that it would be a suitable location for bocce leagues.

    Dal Cais has now contacted the DC Bocce League fro support.

  • Chris

    I’m a new homeowner in Bluemont but have not gotten involved in this drama. However, the community needs to think about how the rest of the county is going to start thinking about us. Bocce? The number of stories for a grocery store? These are truly fictional problems developed by people who have too much time on their hands.

    • drax

      Just guessing – your new home is far from the Safeway or the Bocce court site, isn’t it?

  • Larchmont

    So we won’t be getting slots in Bluemont anytime soon?

  • Jack Sprat

    Welcome to Bluemont.

    It’s actually a pretty nice community. It’s just that we have CA leadership which is self focused.

    At the last meeting, there was a suggestion of solving the pedestrian problems on Wilson Boulevard by taking a foot from all the properties adjacent to it.

    Wonder if they know?

    This is indicitive of the bocce and safeway issues.

    Now, you have to join and attend BCA just to watch your backs.

    Don’t be misled into believing this is all over bocce or safeway.
    Read between the lines.

    Again, welcome.
    Things will hopefully return to normal soon.
    This type of thing is extremely rare here.

  • wut

    The last time I drove through that neighborhood I saw a woman in an SUV back out of a driveway and smash a neighbor’s car parked along the street. Then she left her car blocking the street and ran around in a panic until someone from the house came out and told her to move out of the street. Classic.

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