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Bluemont Bocce Court Saga Continues As County Responds to Concerns

by ARLnow.com — November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am 3,967 143 Comments

The controversy surrounding a 650 square foot bocce court proposed for the Bluemont neighborhood shows no sign of letting up.

A month after several leaders of the Bluemont Civic Association resigned after catching heat for their support of the bocce court, Arlington County staff is now being criticized by bocce opponents.

Last week, county staff sent a letter in response to concerns about the proposed bocce court raised by Bluemont residents. The letter, below, attempts to answer nine specific specific concerns.

Some bocce opponents, however, were incensed by the county staff letter, and saw it as proof that the county is predisposed to approve the bocce court despite their objections.

(The bocce court was proposed by Bluemont resident and then-Bluemont Civic Association president Judah Dal Cais. It is being considered for an Arlington Park Enhancement Grant. The Parks and Recreation Commission has received 12 PEG applications and will make funding recommendations on Dec. 18, according to Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. The County Board is expected to have the final say on the park grants early next year.)

An anonymous bocce court critic wrote the following critique after receiving the letter.

The Parks Department ignored the fact that the PEG application was applied for by Judah Dal Cais without the permission of the BCA and the BCA had submitted a letter stating that it did not support the application. The application was therefore a fraudulent misrepresentation. Diane Probus of the county delayed release of the PEG application under a FOIA request because she stated that Judah Dal Cais had requested that he be permitted to replace some submitted documents.

A letter of opposition by over 100 adjacent neighbors was also rejected by the county.  The planned bocce court exceeds the allocated budget.

The attached letter from the county shows the clear bias of the Parks Department.

Below is the county staff letter in question. Kalish says the letter does not portend county approval of the bocce grant.

“There’s lots of misunderstanding going on in this issue so the more facts we can get to more people the better,” she said. “It is NOT a letter saying a decision has been made.”

Bocce/Petanque Court Petition in Opposition to the Bocce Court
Staff Response
November 20, 2012

Bluemont Junction Park Context

The Bluemont Junction Park has recreational facilities to serve the community and offers a balance of developed recreational features and undeveloped areas. The park has one rectangular field in it which is programmed for youth sports, a railroad caboose with interpretive exhibits, as well as a trail that connects from Bluemont Park to the Ballston area.

The petition submitted by the group of Bluemont residents who oppose the project listed nine objections to the project which are listed below. Staff has provided a response to each objection.

1. No Parking areas for people visiting the court, creating parking hazards and inconvenience in front of the neighbors’ home.

Response: The proposed bocce court would be a neighborhood facility and easily accessible for residents within a 5 – 10 minute walk. On street parking is available along public roads such as Bluemont Drive, and at the end of several of the cul-de-sacs bordering the park for those park users who drive. Since there would be only one court which would not be programmed for team use, the site is unlikely to attract bocce clubs who desire large spaces in urban settings to play.

2. Narrow area roads that cannot accommodate increased traffic from visitors.

Response: See response above.

3. Violation of privacy by players and observers lingering for prolonged periods directly in front of area homes.

Response: Bluemont Junction Park is a public park and is already utilized by the public for bike riding and for various recreational activities in the open space which can be noisy for short periods of time. Landscaping could be installed to create a buffer between nearby houses, if needed.

4. No public restrooms.

Response: A park recreational facility of this type and size does not qualify for a temporary or permanent restroom facility. A park must meet several criteria before the county will consider building a restroom facility in a park. A few of the criteria the county uses for determining the need for restroom facilities include:

  • A park which will have a large number (150+) users at one time;
  • The level of routine and scheduled use of the facility;
  • The type of facility which, if not programmed, attracts a dense grouping of people
  • A park with a dense grouping of facilities of a certain type.

5. Increase in trash and litter.

Response: Staff anticipates a minimal increase above what is found at the site currently from bicyclists and other activities in the park. Staff will adjust maintenance schedule should there be an increase in trash output at the site.

6. Use of scarce tax dollars for building and continual maintenance.

Response: The County Board allocates $100,000 per year towards the Park Enhancement Grant program to be used towards small park improvements such as is proposed in the application for the Bocce/Petanque court. The Commission and park staff evaluate the maintenance needed for each proposed project and factor that in when deciding on which project to recommend for funding. The applicant has committed to providing routine maintenance of the site.

7. Loss of green space, open space and multiple recreational uses at site of bocce court.

Response: A 13′ x 50′ (650 sq. ft.) court will remove less than .5% of open space in the 14.5 acre park. The court should be sited appropriately to minimize the loss of open space routinely used for informal recreation.

8. Neighbors along the trail severely impacted by noise and increased traffic from out-of-neighborhood visitors.

Response: See response to concerns #1 and #3 above.

9. Other bocce courts exist or are in development in easy access nearby, such as at Upton Park, Union Jack’s and Glebe-Randolph park.

Response: Union Jack’s in Ballston sets up a temporary indoor bocce court on Tuesday evenings for a bocce group to use. This bocce facility is private and has very limited availability. The Upton Park bocce courts are located in an isolated area of this park and have not been maintained adequately by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to keep them usable. Two new bocce courts will be built at the Glebe and Randolph Park and they may be available for use by the community in late 2013.

  • Bocce

    Let there be Bocce! And there was Bocce, and it was good.

    • http://URL P

      Sì, Bocce è buono!

  • Chris Slatt

    The first 8 of those 9 could be put on a letter entitled “Reasons we don’t ever want any recreational facilities added to Bluemont Park” and they would still make sense. #9 seems the only one that’s bocce-specific.

    • http://URL Arlingtonian

      All people who would like to express their support or opposition to the proposed bocce courts in Bluemont Junction Park need to submit their comments to the Arlington County Parks and Recreation Commission within the next two or three weeks. You can do this by e-mail or snail mail. Address your comments to:

      Park and Recreation Commission
      Attn: David Miller
      Department of Parks and Recreation
      2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 414
      Arlington, VA 22201
      Phone: 703-228-3336
      E-mail: dmiller@arlingtonva.us

      • Brian K

        I will be e-mail him to show my support for the bocce court, and additional bocce courts as long as they are not in my neighborhood.

        • http://URL ChefJ

          LOL – I propose a Donaldson Run Bocce Stadium!

      • Arlingtonian

        The Park and Recreation Commission will make its recommendation regarding the bocce courts at its meeting on Tuesday, December 18. People should send their comments to the Commission before that date.

  • BooHoo

    Cry me a river BCA. You all sound like a whiny bunch of punks. If your whining doesn’t work you can team up with the taxi drivers and say AC is racist.

    • drax

      Wow, you completely don’t get it at all. The BCA is split on the matter. So which BCA are you yelling at?

      Your post’s obnoxiousness is inversely proportional to your understanding of what’s actually going on.

      • BooHoo

        Um, no the civic association is on record opposing it.

        http://www.arlnow.com/2012/10/16/resignations-recriminations-over-proposed-bluemont-bocce-court/

        Drax, I think it is you who do not understand. Nothing new for you, I know. Apology accepted. Thank you,

        • drax

          Uh, no, you still don’t get it. The BCA is now on record opposing it, but the old BCA’s application is apparently still pending.

          Just tell us which one you’re bashing.

          • bob

            Uh, you’re both highly annoying!

          • Me

            The linked article says the PEG application was filed in the guy’s capacity as a private citizen. This article does imply he claimed to have support of the BCA. I think that’s an important distinction.

          • drax

            Don’t like the heat, Bob? You know what to do.

        • Captain_Obvious

          Where’s deadite to declare “BOOM !, you’re done !” ??

          • Westover

            Posted right under this

        • drax

          Oh, and forgot to mention that the complaints in the article do NOT come from BCA.

          Read the article, carefully, then comment.

        • Former Webmaster

          BooHoo, you’re incorrect. BCA supported a court earlier this year. The current leadership held an underhanded, unannounced vote to nullify that support a couple of months ago.

        • Bluemonter

          The real split in the BCA is over the location. While it’s part of Bluemont Junction Trail, the area where the court will go is on a small strip of park that runs alongside people’s houses. In the past, requests for a playground along this area have been rejected in favor of keeping some open space. Put the court in the large part of Bluemont and POOF, controversy gone.

  • Susan Kalish

    I’m Parks and Recreation spokesperson. I think when this process is over the community will have better faith in the County’s processes. One of the criteria for receiving a PEG Grant is neighbor and community support of the project. When the Commission makes its recommendation in December for this grant application, it will be based on neighbor and community support for the project or lack there of. The checks and balance is that the County Board will also review the application under this lens. Let the process run its course. If the community finds it didn’t work at the end of the process, it should then address the issue. It’s the Arlington Way.

    • Me

      The PEG guidelines state that eligible applicants are limited to “: Civic and homeowner associations, community non-profit organizations, civic service clubs, school-related groups, and ad hoc neighborhood-based groups.”

      Given that the BCA does not support the request, why is the County even spending resources processing it? Is there even an eligible applicant?

      • Real Americans For Bluemont

        Hell. We haven’t even seen the long form of Mr. dal Cais’ birth certificate. Are foreigners eligible?

        • Captain_Obvious

          eligible for what ?

      • Forward not Backward

        Can you provide a logical explanation why the BCA opposes this PEG Grant? I understand a letter from the then VP now BCA President George Rovder on 9/28 to Mary Hynes only states “The BCA will notify the County by September 30, 2012, that the BCA opposes the PEG grant being awarded in the October 2012 round.” There was no substantiated reason and explanation in this letter why the BCA opposed the PEG grant.

        • Me

          I don’t have any connection to BCA or this issue other than reading about it today. It just seems bizarre to me that the County appears to be spending staff time on what appears to be a PEG request from an individual.

          Maybe this article isn’t clear and that isn’t what is going on, but it seems like if I sent in a request and said I wanted a PEG for some personal hobby, the County would just dismiss my request. Based on the background that’s been given, I don’t get why this is even an issue.

          • Mr Wright

            You are totally right.

            However, if someone in the Parks Department promised it to you, and you sent supporting documents from the Civic Association without the knowledge of the Civic Association, you’d get it.

            The PEG proces offers no direct input from residents.
            The public meeting on Tuesday was to get input from the community (5 fr, 5 against), and the letter in the ArlNow article was written a week earlier (before teh meeting to listen to community input).

            Given my experience with the PEG, it should be called the Personal Enjoyment Grant.

      • Bocce is not a crime

        I *demand* to see Mr. dal Cais’ birth long form certificate!

    • ACDC

      ” It’s the Arlington Way.”

      Is that anything like the “Pirates Code” ??

    • No Way Jose

      ‘If the community finds it didn’t work at the end of the process, it should then address the issue.’

      So, the community should complain about the court after it is built?

      They should complain about Safeway after it is built?

      We should ask for our money back after the trolley is built?

      So, you are basically telling us to shutup and trust you.

      We are saying “Open your ears and listen”.

      • http://URL Susan Kalish

        This is Susan Kalish with Arlington County again. I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. Arlington County will announce the PEG grant decisions once the Board has voted. If community members do not agree with the County Board’s decision, the County Board is open to their input. A good example is the Rocky Run Park design. For two years the County worked with community on the design. After the final design was announced a small group of residents came forward with concerns. Both B oard and staff met with them and changes were made as appropriate.

        • drax

          Changes? No, they want no Bocce court at all. Waiting until after it is approved is pointless if you don’t want it approved in the first place.

    • http://URL Susan Kalish

      To better clarify, the neighbor and community support is just one of nine critera that needs to be met for a grant. The complete list 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).

    • http://URL Distant Neighbor

      That sounds nice and all–but what does that mean specifically? You say “neighbor and community support” will affect whether the court is approved or rejected. Does that mean neighbors get to vote? And if so, neighbors where? Just the ones who live adjacent to the park, or within a certain radius? Do the votes of those who live closest to the park count more than those who live farther away?

      I know what you really mean–that the County will subjectively consider public comments in the aggregate. But any two people can have widely divergent views on those comments. And shouldn’t those with the most to lose have the most influence? (I don’t live near that park–so why should my views on it count as much as those of someone who might see their property values affected, in either direction?)

      There needs to be a subjective, transparent, predictable way that decisions like this are determined, not a happy-talk phrase.

  • Mitch Michaelson

    Yes!!!! Bocce. Finally some real problems! I love this site and Arlington. Seriously, who like bocce that much? Isn’t it today’s horseshoes?

    • B22201

      No, today’s horseshoes is called corn-hole. It’s the safer/easier alternative for today’s youth.

      • TCE

        … as Lawn Darts was a safer alternative to horseshoes in my youth!

  • Josh S

    Seem like very reasonable responses to the expressed concerns. Also, the total impression given by the expressed concerns is of a group who oppose change in order to oppose change and who are grasping at straws in their attempts to find a reason to oppose change.

  • Former Webmaster

    I take issue with the statement:
    “A month after several leaders of the Bluemont Civic Association resigned after catching heat for their support of the bocce court”
    Most of us resigned because of the uncivil behavior of the current Board around these proceedings, not because of the issue itself. I don’t personally support or oppose the bocce court. What I do oppose is adults behaving like children which, as you can see, seems to be continuing on.

    • Uncivic

      All civic associations and homeowner associations should be outlawed. They’re all comprised of a bunch of busybodies who like to get into other peoples’ lives and business. Every one of them.

      • drax

        Civic associations are not at all like homeowner’s associations. Don’t lump them together. Civic associations in Arlington have no governing power. They do a good job, usually, of bringing neighbors together and getting their input. They write the neighborhood conservation plans, for instance, with more input from citizens than most county-wide projects get.

      • Captain_Obvious

        You must paint your mailbox the same color as everyone elses ! And your address numbers are 1 font size to big ! Fix it now !

        • drax

          That describes homeowner’s assocations well. Civic associations are not homeowners associations. They have no such power. They are a completely different thing.

          • Captain_Obvious

            its a joke and comment about HOA’s. I thought my overuse of exclamation points inferred that.

          • drax

            Sorry, Capt. Obvious. Wasn’t obvious enough. Get more obvious. :)

        • Glebe Roader

          Not in Arlington, C_O.

          • Sam

            Well it does happen in some condo buildings with requirements around street facing window treatments, what can be displayed in hallways, etc. I’ve also seen some requirements in a few of the townhome subdivisions. But yes, you are correct that it doesn’t happen in the SFH neighborhoods.

      • Neighbor

        Tell your legislators. It’s the state that sets up these bodies and gives them so much authority so that municipal governments don’t have to provide as many services. There are a lot of control freaks who serve on these boards. I think there are probably more who are just stuck with serving because no one else will, which is fine until there is some sort of contentious issue and suddenly everyone becomes an expert at assigning blame to people who really are blameless. Keep in mind that they also get to deal with the deadbeats that each community has. It’s a thankless and grinding job. I moved from my last community just to get out of the HOA game.

        • drax

          The civic associations have no actual power though. You’re mistaking them for homeowner’s or neighborhood associations. This is not what we’re talking about. Arlington does not have HOAs as far as I know, not counting condo boards of course.

          • Neighbor

            Arlington has a ton of HOAs and they have a lot of power. Try not paying your dues in one and see what happens. They govern townhouse communities as well as single family home subdivisions; that little group of houses that is beside the post office on Glebe (close to Columbia Pike) is one. They are different from the civic associations, of course, which I did not argue.

          • Quoth the Raven

            It depends where you live. Our HOA is great and I have no issues with it whatsoever. But complaining about the HOA is sort of like buying a house next to a train station and then complaining about the noise. You know about the HOA when you buy the house. If you don’t like it, don’t buy. Or, take an active role in it and try to change it from the inside. But complaining about the “power” of HOAs rings a bit hollow.

          • Neighbor

            You know that an HOA exists, but you have no idea how it is run or the personalities of the people running it. Most people focus on what services the HOA provides and how much that costs. Some people will look at the financial position of the association to make sure there are no special assessments in the near term.

            You also do not have direct control over the leadership changing quite suddenly. All of this is dependent on the association’s governing documents, but, if you have a board with five members and three are up for reelection, it is not hard to get enough votes together to gain a majority, and that majority can inflict a lot of damage during the time it takes to regain control from bad actors.

            For the record, my last HOA was okay because there were five of us who were active enough to run it. 99% of the homeowners were fine, responsible neighbors, but there were inevitably the other 1% that caused problems constantly (not paying dues, not following common rules, complaining about non-issues). It’s like being a landlord, except you don’t get paid for the trouble. I got out because there literally was no one else willing to do anything outside of those five people, and I no longer had the time or energy to devote to what was essentially a part-time job. I was in a position to move, so I did. The last I heard, it’s the same four people doing everything because there isn’t a fifth person willing to take on a board role. And the association cannot just close up shop; someone has to arrange for the services it provides because the county will not.

          • drax

            Examples please? I’d like to know where there are real HOAs in Arlington (not condo boards) so I can avoid them.

          • http://URL Neighbor

            http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/countyboard/org/condo.asp

            I can’t believe you’re trying to split such hairs as to whether or not HOAs exist in Arlington. I count at least 18 HOA (non-condo) on this Arlington County site, which is not a comprehensive list. Good enough? They are essentially the same thing (common interest community properties) but condo fees are typically more expensive because the condo board is paying for maintenance of an entire building versus an HOA, in which individual property owners share expenses for things like lawn care, trash & snow removal, and stormwater systems. The bottom line is that they do exist in Arlington. Another example I gave was the group of houses beside the post office on Glebe near Columbia Pike. I know they have an HOA because I almost bought a house there.

          • drax

            I’m not splitting hairs. Civic Associations are absolutely, positively NOT HOAs.

            The issue of HOAs being in Arlington is just a side discussion.

          • drax

            And pretty much all of these are condo boards. Everyone knows those exist in Arlington.

          • Neighbor

            You’re preposterous. You said “Arlington does not have HOAs.” I gave you a link that definitely proves there are. I know there are because I served in one. That means you are wrong. There are no degrees of right or wrong in this case yet you are still trying to argue that somehow you are right. HOAs exist in Arlington. End of story. And I never once said that they were the same thing as civic associations. The original poster of this subthread didn’t say that, either. You’re making up an argument to have with no one who is having that argument. This is why no one wants to engage you in these conversations.

        • Clarendon

          As was pointed out above civic associations have little if any codified power. The only thing I can think of is the county has set up the neighborhood conservation plan as the guide as to how to spend the money in that program and that is developed by the civic association (and I think you are not eligable for the money unless part of a CA). Civic Associations get longer to speak at board meetings (as does any “community” group). There seems to also be an attitude on the part of some individual board members and commission members to weigh more heavily the opinion of the civic associations rather than the individual citizen. They aren’t required to do though – to my knowledge.

  • Tre

    Why not compromise and make it into a goat park?

    • Hogan’s Goat

      I’d go, brah.

      • http://URL Ren

        How about a goat rodeo?!!! Oh dang, that’s what this Thread (and issue before the county) embodies to a T. ;)

  • twocents

    My experience with Bocce is that it is an outlet and excuse for dads to get together and get drunk. I would not want that in my neighborhood.

    • Bocce is not a crime

      In that case, we’d better outlaw all TV watching on Sundays between 1pm and 11pm during NFL season. Oh, and also on Saturdays between noon and 11pm during college football season. Oh, and on weeknights from 7pm to 11pm during college basketball season. Oh, and on weeknights from 7pm to 11pm during baseball season. Oh, and . . . .

    • Captain_Obvious

      So only drunk dads play ?

    • Glebe Roader

      Don’t forget about organized play dates. That’s another excuse for us dads with young kids to get together and get drunk.

      • Glebe

        If you are in the Glebe community – then EXACTLY! I don’t know how many times I have seen the dads drunk or drinking at school sponsored events and sports games. I know I will get grief – but there you go.

        • SteamboatWillie

          Oh the horror!

        • former gleber

          don’t forget the drunk moms. baseball season was verrry long.

          • Glebe Roader

            Since baseball isn’t a real sport, even the players drink.

          • Captain_Obvious

            right, cause other athletes don’t drink at all. And hitting a 90+mph fastball is easy too.

          • Glebe Roader

            I didn’t say hitting a fastball was easy, I just said baseball isn’t really a sport.

          • Captain_Obvious

            oh I understand now. Baseball just requires great hand-eye coordination, speed, agility, stamina, flexibility, etc. Funny, football, b-ball, hockey, and soccer all require the same attributes to be successful. Guess those aren’t sports either…

          • Glebe Roader

            I believe football, basketball, hockey and soccer are indeed real sports. I just don’t think baseball is. And, I played baseball for many years. I also shoot pool, but I don’t think it’s a real sport, either.

          • Captain_Obvious

            Pool and baseball are no comparison. So why isn’t baseball a sport, besides “i just don’t think so” ?

          • Glebe Roader

            In my opinion, you don’t have to be a very good athlete to play it, you only bat 3 or 4 times the entire game, you can play the field and never field a single ball, etc. In other words, you basically can play the game while drinking beer. Don’t get me wrong, I like the “pasttime” but I don’t think it’s a sport.

          • Captain_Obvious

            I think you may be confusing baseball with your coed softball league.

            “not a very good athlete”…tell that to the hundreds, if not thousands, of minor leaguers that never make it to the majors.

            “you can play the field and never field a single ball”…a soccer player may never kick the ball during a game, guess its not a sport. A b-ball player may never touch the ball, guess its not a sport. A WR may never catch a ball in a game, guess its not a sport…fascinating logic.
            Unfortunately, this argument isn’t really subjective, baseball IS a sport. Its ok if you don’t like baseball; I don’t really like soccer, but it is a sport.
            I’m beginning to question your “claim” that you played baseball cause you clearly demonstrate a serious lack of knowledge of the sport.

          • Glebe Roader

            So we disagree. No problem.

    • Bad Bocce Boys of Bluemont

      So, it really is a gateway sport leading to all sorts of depravity down the line…we knew that all along !!!

  • Bocce is not a crime

    Good lord. With this kind of NIMBY opposition, you’d think these guys were trying to put a nuclear power plant in Bluemont. Relax, it’s bocce. You might attract a small group of retired old men who play once a week on a Tuesday at 10am. Big freaking deal. Why would you oppose community building in Arlington? What a bunch of whiny dopes.

    • Pamo16

      Like my neighbors, my house is 3 feet from this green space park- 3 feet! No one would want any group to have any organized permanent sport, playground, etc that close to their house. There are plenty of appropriate locations for a bocce court that are not so close to property owners.

      • Il Duce

        Your (a) house or your (b) yard is “3 feet” from the (c) park or the (d) proposed court?

        If this ever gets approved, I’m going to go and play. And get drunk.

        Just to piss you off.

        • Willie

          That’s what we expect.

          • Josh S

            You expect people to do things just to piss you off?

            It’s this attitude that leads people to do things just to piss you off.

      • Nah

        Your house is not 3 feet from the court. That would violate Arlington County setback requirements. “3 feet!” Give me a freaking break. People will not take your concerns seriously if you lie or overexaggerate.

        • Libby

          I’ve told Willie a million times not to exaggerate!

    • CW

      I’d assumed that the opposition wasn’t to old men, but to the hundreds of drunk, loud, young post-frats (also known as “my peers”) who congregate for the DC bocce league, currently next to Gold’s in Ballston.

  • SteamboatWillie

    It seems as if an equivalent example would be if a group wanted to build a horseshoe pit in a park. And if that’s the case, what’s the big deal and how many “outsiders” would show up to disrupt the peace and tranquility of a public park?

    This seems so trivial.

  • BluemountTrailRunner

    I live in Bluemont. I don’t care if there’s bocce or not, but — for this to be a major focus of conversation — is INSANE. How much free time does the anti-bocce group have on their hands to make this an issue? There has never been a better example of #firstworldproblems

  • Clarendon

    Do the Arlington P&R staff ever feel like they are the inspiration for the TV Series?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Knope

    All she wanted to do was make a dirty pit into a park. Good Grief!

  • KARLington

    The large green spaces around the County just turn into neighborhood playing fields, like it or not. Seems to me that you could just play bocce there on your own without all the fuss. But I guess we have to make things more complicated these days…

  • Glebe Roader

    I think that this posting on ARLnow, along with the Oct 16th posting with over 4000 views and 145 comments, has taken up more space than a 650 square foot bocce court.

  • Sickened Sal

    Seconding Former Webmaster. All resignations but one were due to the tenor of meetings over the past year, and the turn of what was once a forward-thinking and civil civic association into just the opposite. Likely — the opposers’ exaggerations and insinuations — if not outright lies — scared park neighbors into signing their petition. Does it sound similar to Safeway redevelopment and those petitions? Because it’s the same people behind these ones.

    • Just one voice.

      I am involved in the bocce issue, and have no interest in the Safeway issue.

      After all, I don’t live near Safeway.

      Just kidding.

      So, you were not sickened by the fact that the President of the BCA told the BCA he had filed the letter of intent for the PEG as an individual and couldn’t remember if the letter of support he submitted from the BCA for his personal application was on BCA letterhead. So, what did you think when these documents (which he did not share) showed that not only had he applied as the BCA, but also that the letter of support was on BCA letterhead? And, on top of that, after telling the bocce task force that he had applied as an individual, he then submitted the initial application as the BCA. That is really something to feel sick about.

      The issue is that a lot of people adjacent to the Bluemont trail were unaware of the plans of the bocce court, even though Judah he said that he had spoken to affected neighbors. Attempts to get answers from the BCA were stalled.

      You seem to think that the BCA is Bluemont. It represents a very small percentage of the community.

      You have stated publicly at BCA meetings that if people want a say in the community, they should attend BCA meetings. When they do, but don’t agree with you, you claim that they highjack the Civic Association.

      Get real, you are not the only person in the Bluemont community, and others are entitled to an opion without it having to be sanctioned by you.

      Just because others don’t agree with you is no reason to claim that they have been making “exaggerations and insinuations — if not outright lies”.

      If you had stoken to ‘affected neighbors’ as you claim and is a precondition of a PEG application, you’d know that this is not the case.

      • Other Hood

        This is the same tenor in my hood. Voice anything slightly different that what the long term board members want and you are ignored or called ignorant, racist or something much worse. It particularly frustrating when the issues at hand impact your house and your family (ie hey -don’t want a 12 story apartment building build against zoning rules in my backyard) and the other folks in the ‘hood strongly condem you (ie – you should have had that site historically preserved like I did for the site behind mine!)

  • Really??

    Folks, seriously — this is Bocce ball. It absolutely amazes me that this is such a political maelstrom. I mean REALLY? There are bigger problems in the world and suddenly everyone’s passion is focused on freaking bocce ball? If this is what is taking up time in your life right now, you are bored. Its an amazing waste of energy…please note that those outside this fracas are getting a hearty laugh at this. Find something important to work on and worry about. This is so ridiculous that no matter whose side prevails its a hollow victory. Cop on and get some perspective

    • Laughing

      It’s true, totally laughing at you BCA. Keep it up, hilarious.

    • Joehoya

      It reminds me of that saying about academic politics being vicious because the stakes are so small.

  • Hollywood

    If only people would put the same effort into opposing the ridiculous homeless shelter

    • Real Americans Against Homeless Bocce

      What about the proposed homeless shelter bocce court? Won’t someone think of the children…an property values?

  • Swag

    First world problems…

    • drax

      As if 90% of this forum isn’t the same.

      • Josh S

        Seriously. I don’t even know what that phrase means anymore. You might as well type gibberish into the comment box. It has the same importance…..

        • duh

          You must be 80 years old if you’ve never heard the phrase “first world problem” – it means they’re not worried about bocce courts in the 3rd world, for instance in the Sudan. They have REAL issues there, not idiotic ones like whether or not to build a bocce court.

          • http://URL drax

            “I don’t even know what that phrase means ANYMORE.”

  • Kyle

    This is literally the whitest complaint I have ever heard of.

    • Josh S

      What does that mean?

      • duh

        It means that they’re not up in arms about bocce courts in Anacostia – they’ve got REAL problems there. Whether or not a bocce court is built is not a real problem by any stretch of the imagination.

  • John Fontain

    1. White people problems.

    2. Regardless of the merits of building this court, gotta agree with County staff on this. Those 9 “objections” are extremely weak. And the staff’s response letter in no way indicates they plan to approve the project.

  • Beth

    I have never attended a BCA meeting, but our household is a member. I don’t know anything about the new leaders or the old leaders (other than that there was discord). However, the new leadership’s outreach seems to be better. I’ve received a number of emails recently that provide useful information about issues facing the area. Maybe new blood was needed?

  • Taking America Back

    Stalin’s favorite hobby was bocce. Just sayin’ . . .

  • Down with the Communist Bocce Plot

    Pol Pot, born Saloth Sar Pol Pot, was a Cambodian Maoist revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge from 1963 until his death in 1998. Pol Pot was also a bocce fan.

    • http://URL Nice

      So you joke about a genocidal maniac who murdered millions of people. Classy.

      • Libby

        It’s about the bocce… Stay on the page.

  • sunflower

    don’t dismiss bocce out of hand as an innocuous pastime……

    “Despite its newfound popularity, bocce faced many obstacles in these middle years.  The Vatican condemned bocce on the basis that it lead to rampant gambling. In 1319, Charles IV, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, outlawed bocce, claiming that is detracted from more useful military-themed pastimes, such as archery and horsemanship, and thus threatened national security.

  • brendan

    can someone do a tldr summary? not going to read all that crapola. would love to see the responses if this was syndicated in Ohio or anywhere else for that matter. what a joke.

    what’s wrong with playing bocce on the grass in any open space… ?

    what the hell do you need a ‘court’ for?

    why do you want other people to pay for it?

    • http://URL Arlingtonian

      One time, I played bocce on grass in my brown flip-flops and twisted my ankle. I was uninsured at the time, so it wound up costing Virginia taxpayers about $20K for my medical bills. Next time I play bocce, I will make sure it is on a proper court and not that dangerous grassy terrain.

  • http://URL Arlingtonian

    Anyone wishing to express support or opposition to the proposed bocce courts in Bluemont Junction Park need to submit his or her comments to the Arlington County Park and Recreation Commission within the next two or three weeks. You can do this by e-mail, snail mail or hand delivery. Address your comments to:

    Park and Recreation Commission
    Attn: David Miller
    Department of Parks and Recreation
    Arlington County, Virginia
    2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 414
    Arlington, VA 22201
    Phone: 703-228-3336
    E-mail: dmiller@arlingtonva.us

  • ICE

    Does the International Bocce Players Union have a say in this???

  • DC Laughs

    I’ve never seen so much rage over a game played primarily by 80 year old Italian men.

    The people opposing this need to get a grip.

    Sincerely, A REAL CITY

    • Love to DC

      Two things: Marion Barry… Go figure. And Arlington is a county not a city. Good luck with your new council chair. I hope he doesn’t get indicted…

      • Captain_Obvious

        WHAT? Arlington isn’t a city, say it ain’t so.

        • http://URL drax

          Arlington is a city, with a county form of government.

  • http://URL Seriously Silly

    Such passion, intensity, anger and drama for such a trivial, non-issue. Wow. Just wow.

  • Dilly Sal

    “A letter of opposition by over 100 adjacent neighbors was also rejected by the county. ”

    The county accepted this petition.

    • Libby

      Did they accept it before or after they rejected it?

  • http://URL JnA

    How many “County Staff” who promote in-fill open space redevelopment in Arlington reside in Arlington County?

    • http://URL drax

      I don’t know. Do you? If you do, share it. If you don’t, go look it up.

  • http://URL BoccePlayer

    Many of them live in Arlington. The Chair of the PEG Commission lives in Bluemont, and is in favor the project. She is the former Parks Liaison for the Bluemont Civic Association, one of the BCA members who recently resigned. There is another person on the Commission who has come out against the project.

  • CW

    Can someone clarify something that I’ve not seen discussed at all? I posted about it above as well. My assumption is that this opposition is not to bocce itself, but to the underlying assumption that a court would draw the presence of the DC bocce league, which consists of hundreds of 22 years who get wasted and throw balls for a couple hours before heading off to the front page. Despite being only a couple years removed from that sort of thing myself, I totally see a legitimate concern for homeowners there. But this is never explicitly stated. Is this not the reasoning they’re using?

    • Josh S

      The opposition apparently had an opportunity to articulate their reasons for opposing the court. Those reasons, and the county’s responses are reprinted above. It does appear that concerns were raised about crowds, but not the specific demographics of the crowds, which would probably not be the kind of thing you can raise in a public discussion. In any case, the county’s response seemed pretty reasonable – there are already lots of people using the park.

      • http://URL Bluemonter

        The demographic argument was made and countered with the fact that it is illegal to drink in a public park. End of argument.

        • CW

          It’s illegal to drink on the mall but I assure you that that does not stop the many league participants there during the warm months. Also, it is not illegal to get drunk and then go to a public park, which is what a lot of the bocce league folks would do and which still results in issues of other source.

          I’m not a curmudgeon here, I’m just saying that I think there’s a distinction between a bocce court in a retirement community and in this location, where it’s likely to be used by the rowdy party crowd.

      • CW

        I understand that it’s not allowable or fair to say “we don’t want kids here” or somethning, but I would think that if they referenced the league and behavior that has been associated with it in the past, clearly documented, then that would be fair.

        • http://URL bca listener

          The only comment I remember was a comment at a BCA meeting that the court was needed because there was nowhere for adults without children to congregate.
          It was felt that kids might play on the court and damage it.

          Those opposed to the court at the original proposed site of the rocks objected that it was a site used by kids, and placing a court there would take away a kid resource. Bluemont Trail has no built facilites (playgrounds) for kids.

          So, those opposed to the court didn’t want it near the rocks, for fear of losing that resource.

          Those who wanted the court didn’t want kids messing it up for them. They said that bocce was a game for people of all ages, and yet obviously ALL did not include kids or parents who brought their kids.

          It wasn’t “we don’t want kids’. It was we don’t want kids.

          • CW

            Sorry, when I said “kids” i mean 22 year old drunk young professionals who play in the leagues. I understand the concern with actual kids too.

  • Bluemonter

    No one is against bocce, It’s the location that is the main concern. The location is a narrow strip of parkland near private property. People are concerned about the reputation you mention and about preserving some open space. If the court were in the larger part of Bluemont Park where there are other sports fields no one would be opposing it. The DC Bocce League did speak in favor of this court as there are 1100 Arlington members in that league.

    • It’s a trail, not a park

      The county is now referring to this narrow strip of land as Bluemont Park. This is an attempt to confuse.

      The Bluemont Bike Trail is a narrow bike trail.

      Bluemont is a park with a lot of sports facilities on Four Mile Run.

      Bluemont Bike Trail is also called the Washington and Old Dominion spur. It runs off Bluemont Park to Ballston (and beyond). It actually crosses Wilson Boulevarde at George Mason near the McDonalds It is just a bike trail like many others in the area.

      What the photos don’t show is that a lot of houses actually abut the trail. The problem is that the trail abuts the side of the propertes. Therefore the park is in some cases only 8 feet from people’s living space. There are actually buildings that actually touch the trail (or even infringe).
      When Arlington County purchased the land from PEPCO, they were told that all infringements had been resolved. Arlington County did not check this, and therefore the issue persists.

      The area tends to be busy as both a cycling route to Ballston, with walkers, joggers and kids playing.

      I honestly encourage anyone who wants to understand the issues to visit the site. The issue is obvious once you see where the court will be located.

      The neighbors see it as a nice relaxing park. Others see it as a place they go through on their way to somewhere else.

      It is really a backwater. During the bocce issue, I have spoken to two county oficials (both involved in making decisions about the trail) who had never visited the trail, and one even stated that prior ot teh bocce issue, he was unaare that it existed.

      The county has traditionaly discouraged any attempt to add facilites (such as a children’s playground) to the site.

      That changed about 2 years when the President (now ex-president) of the BCA (Bluemnont Civic Assocaition) decided that he wanted a bocce court built on the trail. His rationale was that it would provide a means of bringing the community together.

      The actual location favored is within two blocks of his house.
      He informed a BCA meeting that the county had told him that if he wanted a court, it would be built. The chair of the PEG commitee is / was the Parks Liason person of the BCA.

      In 2011, the President of the BCA failed to get the BCA to approve a petition requesting the county to fund the court.

      In April, 2011 he narrowly had a motion approved to set up a task force to invstigate the siting of the court with input from those opposed to it. At the first meeting of the task force, he informed the members that he had (as an individual) submitted a letter of intent to the county for a grant to build the court.

      At the September meeting, he informed the assembly that he had made an initial application as an individual (after the letter of intent ) to fund the court. He also stated that he had supplied a letter of support from the BCA, although he could not remember if has used BCA letterhead. He also failed to provide a copy of the PEG appication Although the chair of the PEG commidsion was BCA Parks Liason, the BCA membership and executive was unable to obtain copies of the PEG documents. A FOIA request was filed with the county to obtain copies of documents including the PEG application. (Prior to theis meeting, the president of the BCA stated that he would make a presentation abut his applicaition, that the PEG would not be available, and no comments or questions wuld be taken).

      Because the county thought this application was from the BCA, the BCA was placed with a dilemna. To resolve the issue, the BCA decided to send a letter to the county stating that the BCA did not support granting of a PEG for the court in the current period. This was because it was felt that since the BCA had not seen the PEG aplication, and was unable to actually evaluate the alternatives before the parks department made a recommendation, it just needed to clarify its position (or more correctly lack of one on the issue ). It was not a letter saying that the BCA did not want a bocce court, just one saying that there were things that needed to be resolved before it could decide. It was an attempt to find a solution satisfactory to all parties involved.

      In October, the president of the BCA called an emergency excutive meeting to overthrow the members’ vote and the letter sent to the county. Robert’s Rules, which are considered rules of good conduct for associations) states that it is unadvisable for the executive to overthrow votes of membership. Therefore this meeting ended without a conclusion on the letter.

      The information requested under the FOIA became available just prior to the meeting.

      The documents showed that the president (Judah Dal Cais) had files the letter of intent for the PEG as the BCA, submitted a letter of support on BCA letterhead, and filed the initial application as the BCA. Although the reading of BCA proceedings could lead one to conclude hat he could have filed as the BCA, he had informed the BCA that the apppicaton was as an individual both after and before and filing documents with the county.

      After the executive meeting, Judah Dal Cais resigned as President (effective the next meeting) and did Kate Mesches, BCA Liason Officer and Chair of the PEG Commission, resigned as BCA Parks Liason officer. Their complaint was the uncivil nature of the anti-bocce members of the BCA at the September 27 meeting of the BCA.

      The PEG does not provide any direct form of communty input to the process. ‘Affected neighbors’ are permitted to submit ‘comments’.
      A prerequisite of the PEG guideline is that affected neighbors must be contacted. However, despite statesment confirming this, I do not know of one person adjacent to the trail who was notified prior to the PEG submission. The county staff have now stated that this is not a requirement although it is stated in the guidelines.

      Once submitted, the PEG can virtually progress unhindered until approved by the county board.

      Although certain individuals within the county have tried to mediate the issue, there has been consistent bias on the part of certain county staff.

      The letter in the ArlNow main article is the most recent example. The Parks Department agreed for rcommunity members to provide direct input to the PEG commission. There was to be a limit of 5 speaker per side, and each person could only address one issue related to the PEG to prevent duplication. The topics were required to be submitted prior to the meeting.

      Prior to the meeting, at the request of Judah Dal Cais, Parks staff prepared the attached letter basically nullifying the issues that the opponents were invited to present.

      It is very hard to consider that the commission was attentively accepting input from the community, when staff had already prepared a response counterins the arguments that were to be presented.

      Unfiortuatley, this has been referred to a bocce battle. It really has little to do with bocce.
      It si realy about disregarding community input, bias and a personal gift of a bocce court ot a sleect group of individuals.

      Judah Dal Cais stated to the BCA very early in this process that the Parks Department had told him if he asked for a bocce court, they would give him one.

      It’s really no longer about just bocce.

      • Arlingtonian

        Bluemont Junction Park is a linear park that contains a trail, the Bluemont Junction Trail, that follows the course of a branch of the W&OD Railrod between Bluemont Junction and Ballston. Bluemont Park is an entirely different park. Bluemont Park contains County property on the southwest side of Four Mile Run.

        It is easy to become confused (as is “It’s a trail, not a park”, because County does not have an official map that shows the boundaries of each park. Some people consider a caboose and an adjacent soccer field on the northeast side of Four Mile Run and the W&OD Trail to be a part of Bluemont Park. Others consider them to be within Bluemont Junction Park.

        There are no playing fields, courts, buildings or any other development in the area of the park that contains the trail, other than the trail itself. This is by design.

        When the County created Bluemont Junction Park in the 1990′s, County staff held one or more meetings to determine the design for the park. There was a consensus among County staff and members of the public that attended the meeting(s) that the portion of the park that created the trail should contain only trees, wildflower plantings and natural areas. Because of the large number of playing fields and courts available along Four Mile Run, just about everyone agreed that the area along the Bluemont Junction Trail should not contain any facilities for active recreation (such as playing fields, playing courts and playgrounds.) As a result, the County planted a wide variety of trees in the park, and continues to do so. Although people don’t recognize it, the Park is actually a growing botanical garden.

        Throughout the past, people who like playgrounds, playing fields, etc., placed in the park have tried to gain support for such things as a playground, a basketball court, and perhaps other things. Each of these things (including a bocce court) would serve as an impetus to add other forms of active recreation and associated facilities, such as restrooms.

        The original plan has served the public well. It would be highly undesirable to begin eating away at the orignal plan by constructing a bocce court or anything else in the portion of the park that is near the trail. Once begun, the process would not stop, resulting in an increase in impermeable surfaces and space for trees to be planted and to grow.

        • http://URL Arlingtonina

          Correction: The last paragraph in my message above should state:

          The original plan has served the public well. It would be highly undesirable to begin eating away at the orignal plan by constructing a bocce court or anything else in the portion of the park that is near the trail. Once begun, the process would not stop, resulting in an increase in impermeable surfaces and a loss of space for trees to be planted and to grow.

    • http://URL Bluemonter too.

      But they said they had no interest in using one in Bluemont.

    • http://URL oh well second try.

      But they said they had no interest in using one in Bluemont.

  • Hardcorebocceman

    I think the easiest thing to do would be for the neighboring residents to open up their backyards for bocce playing. It would keep the county out of it.

  • http://URL Just get the job done.

    You have to laugh when someone on county staff (PEG) lists their occupation on linked in as:

    Open Space Planner at Arlington County

    And states her role as:

    Analyze site plans to assess open space opportunities or potential impacts to existing open spaces.

    Participate in County long range planning teams to incorporate needed open space in area plans.

    This is even funnier when you realize that the Parks response to PEG opponents confirms that the Bocce will remove open space.

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