Bocce Courts Proposed for Tiny Ballston Park

by ARLnow.com May 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm 8,393 56 Comments

A pair of bocce courts may soon be coming to a small strip of green space near Ballston Common Mall.

Arlington County park planners have proposed a set of improvements to a barren, triangular park at the corner of N. Randolph Street and N. Glebe Road, adjacent to the Ballston public parking garage.

The proposal includes two side-by-side bocce courts, benches, a handicap-accessible walkway, bike parking, meadow plantings and a designated food truck/cart area. The cost of the improvements is estimated at $150,000. The park design is described as temporary, and is intended to be “easily… displaced if a long-term use is identified.”

Park planners met with community members on Tuesday to discuss the proposal. The final design for the park is expected to be firmed up by early summer, with construction beginning in late summer or early fall.

  • CW

    Makes enough sense since the bocce league plays across the street.

    • Chris Slatt

      Especially since Mosaic Park will undergo construction later this year and won’t really have space for Bocce in the new design.

  • DarkHeart

    Meanwhile the bocce and horseshoe courts at Upton lie fallow.

    • Keith

      These probably will too. It’s a loud, smelly intersection with all the buses and cars moving through that intersection.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Yea we need a new term for this – a park is stretching it. Maybe a Green Lot since so we can distinquish it from a Vacant Lot – cause that’s about all it is.

  • JamesE

    $150k seems like a bargain based on recent activities.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      You got that right. I was expecting in the $10 million range.

      • John Fontain

        Well, maybe they’ll decide to do an impact study for a few million bucks to determine the proposal’s impact on the environment, traffic, etc. There’s still hope!

      • WeiQiang

        It is, after all, a human AND bocce park.

        • drax

          Nah, this is just a bocce park, no humans will be involved.

  • Corey

    Residents of this area are SICK of overdevelopment and change. We homeowners NOT stand idly by and let the County shove this game down our throats.

    • drax

      And think of the traffic and crime!

      • Corey

        No encroachment!!! Everything must stay the same, forever.

    • Randy

      It’s because of the yuppie generation saturating Arlington, VA, and so they have to find ways of generating revenue—where’s the additional parking spaces going to be?

  • Lawn

    I’d rather see lawn darts make a comeback and it be used for that.

    • Dart

      Easy for you to say.

      • speonjosh

        I think this would have worked better if it was the lawn responding to the dart. Just my bloviation, though….

  • YTK

    Wonderful- now just watch out for the usual Ballston crazies who will probably wander over there.

  • JohnB2

    I like this idea more than the ones discussed in the other thread. It has a purpose but does not completely dominate the space. 150k isn’t too terrible, relatively speaking.

  • Rick

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the courts turned 90 degrees? Seems like folks underhanding metal/hard plastic balls should be throwing them at 3 lanes of traffic instead of 7, should one make its way over that plantar pictured between the courts and Glebe.

    • Jon

      It looks like from the drawing that the courts will be depressed below street level, or at least have a wall at either end (behind the bench, for example)

      • Rick

        Yeah there’s a planter/seatwall parallel to Glebe, but if amateur hour and rush hour are at the same time it could get dicey.

    • speonjosh

      Ow! My fasciitis!!

  • chipotle_addict

    Was I the only one who had to look bocce up?


    • Scott


    • Mark P.

      Yep, don’t be ignorant.

  • WeiQiang

    You realize, of course, that Arlington Code requires a concomitant increase in ADA-compliant crosswalks near bocce courts.

  • Elmer

    This bocce court will be strictly BYOB (Bring Your Own Balls)- bocce, that is.

  • Ted

    Open space? What open space? Has anyone ever computed how much all this specialized sports and recreation infrastructure is going to cost to maintain and replace?

  • sunflower

    meadow plantings? we used to call them cow pies……….

  • AnnaSheehan

    I am probably alone in this, but I honestly don’t see why anything needs to be put there. It is not exactly a pleasant intersection where I would want to sit and have a leisurely lunch or coffee, or play a game. I understand the desire for a common area in Ballston, but I think we can aspire to somewhere better than this.

    I would just leave it as is, but maintain it a little better.

  • Kiffee

    Nice idea – got my vote!

  • We will still lobby for a bocce court between N Emerson and N Illinois St for Bluemont residents.

  • chris

    Are there enough little old Italian men in Balston for a Bocce Court?

  • Tom Smart

    No one remembers that the county got a ton of money from the Capitals and they announced they would use the money to install a a mini golf in that location. But like the county always does, they don’t do what they say they are going to do at the time, use the money for something else, and assume everyone will forget about it. and based on the comments here, everyone here either didn’t know that part of the history or have forgotten about it.

    • Elmer

      Tom Smart, I remember the Putt-Putt one block north at Glebe and Wilson. Cost 35 cents for the first nine holes.The trick was to keep your ball from going out in the intersection where it could be hazardous to your health.

  • ArlingtonWay

    What’s with the recent Arlington government focus on Bocce ball? BOCCE BALL? I mean who besides a small subculture even knows what it is, let alone plays it? It is odd and faddish. I have no doubt in 20 years people will look at these courts the way people look at all of the rusting “frisbee golf” courses installed at many local parks in the 70s and just shake their heads in amazement. This board just can’t stop spending money. And Bocce ball is the poster boy fort their weird, out of touch ways.

    • Espiro

      There is a 40-year-old croquet set in my parent’s shed that is nodding its approval for this post.

    • 5555624

      20 years? More like ten or even five.

    • Arlingtonian

      The Bluemont Civic Association is presently debating whether to ask the County to fund a bocce court in Bluemont Junction Park. That park is not very far from the one that the County is planning in Ballston.

      If the County government really wants to waste its taxpayers money, it will costruct bocce courts in both neighboring areas. People can then use either court in their spare time until the next fad raises its ugly head.

    • Italia

      For some this could be seen as a fad, but in actuality the game has roots dating back to ancient times. Whether or not some of the recently developed local bocce leagues are still around a few years from now is a valid question, but bocce as a sport will persist.

      • ArlingtonWay

        So does curling. And hurling. And vaulting. And Malaysian Kickball, for that matter. The point is not whether there are sports or their history, the point is why the Board is suddenly spending money on such bizarre and obscure things at the very time they bemoan the lack of funding for things like schools and affordable housing. These people need to learn that it’s ok to not spend every single penny sometimes.

        • DCBuff

          They (the board) have already learned how to spend every single penny, because money grows on trees. Or bocce lawns.

        • Italia

          Point taken, although I respectfully disagree with your reference to bocce as obscure and bizarre.

          Whether bocce or not, something needed to be done with this public park. I believe the real issue is one about balance. While schools and affordable housing are clear County priorities, so are parks and recreation facilities. Not everyone will benefit directly from investments the County makes into specific facilities or services, but my measure of a sound community would be one where there is a healthy balance across various areas of community investment that meet a range of public interests. A relatively modest investment to enhance this park, which really needs it (with bocce or something else) can serve as a direct and indirect benefit to the community, if done right.

  • Neutrino

    This would be the perfect location for a small private kiosk to sell food, with public outdoor seating and a small public garden.

  • ArlingtonWay

    Arlington County: Where you can ride the trolley to play Bocce Ball. Sheesh. You can’t make this stuff up.

    • Arlingtonian

      True dat!

    • 5555624

      That’s an idea, have the trolley run down Columbia Pike from Skyline and then head north up Glebe. North Arlington needs the trolley, too!

  • The Jimmy

    I smell the new slogan from the Ballston BID…

    Ballston is for Bocce!

  • JamesE

    replace bocce courts with shuffleboard

  • 5555624

    Where’s the CaBi stop?

  • MC

    If people use it, it could be nice. The ideal would be for the food vendor stand on the street to rent bocce balls for a nominal fee, so that causal players could give it a try. Bocce is a nice cross-generational activity.

  • xtr657

    uggg….was really hoping for the miniature golf course to be built there even if it was very mini

  • airwolf

    Why can’t they stop spending money for a bit to get things under control? $150,000 could easily go towards public safety, education, roads, whatever… Or hell, $150K may only mean one new LED LCD in a classroom.

  • very cool! needs more trees, tho.


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