Arlington, VA

Some seniors in the right place at the right time helped to stop a fire in Ballston.

A group of seniors from the Arlington Neighborhood Village program were playing their weekly bocce match Monday (Aug. 5) at the courts near the Ballston public parking garage when they noticed a distinctly smoky smell.

“All of us kept smelling smoke, but at first we couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” Gary Eiserman, one of the players on the green team, told ARLnow in an email. “Then I noticed smoke rising out of the bushes near the bocce courts.”

As the players approached, they poked around and saw smoke coming up through the mulch at the base of the bushes.

“We stomped on what embers we could find, then doused the area with water from one of our water bottles,” Eiserman said. “We figured the fire was out, and went back to the game, but shortly after that we smelled smoke and saw more smoke in the bushes.  We didn’t have more water to put on the fire, and it was very close to a large transformer, so at that point we decided to call for help, telling them that it wasn’t an emergency, but someone should come and put it out.”

Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Ben O’Bryant said firefighters from Engine 102 were able to extinguish the smoldering fire with a fire extinguisher. Firefighters at the scene told the players that the dryness of the mulch meant it was a good thing the seniors called when they did, according to Eiserman.

“We were very impressed with the firefighters,” Helen Onufrak, one of the players on the red team, said. “It certainly added excitement to our weekly bocce game.”

The group posed for a photo with the firefighters, before the ACFD squad departed. The game then continued, with red team beating the green team 16 to 7.

While recounting the eventful bocce outing to ARLnow, Eiserman offered some headline ideas.

“I also have a couple of suggestions for titles: ‘Great Bocce Balls of Fire!'” Eiserman said, “or: ‘Bocce Ballers Battle Burning Bush, Blaze Beaten By Ballston’s Bravest.'”

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Do you know DC Bocce League? You should — we like to make ball jokes and new friends over the game of bocce.

Bocce is Italian lawn bowling — it’s easy to pick up and you never have to put your drink down to play. With DC Bocce League all teams make the playoffs so there is plenty of time to learn the finer points of the game during the season. Join us to toss balls, crush beers and score all season!

We have four NoVa locations in our spring line-up:

Looking for a DC Location? Choose from five:

  • Tuesdays: Columbia Heights
  • Wednesdays: Brookland; Capitol Hill; the W Hotel downtown
  • Thursdays: Dupont at Rose Park

Driven by the desire to make friends out of strangers and fueled by Peroni & Blue Moon specials, DC Bocce League offers weekly bocce ball matches played between multi-person, co-ed teams. The season includes weekly raffles after games at our sponsor bars, a city-wide end of season party and tournament, and the best team t-shirts in DC social sports. Plus, unlike most other rec leagues, you stand on the same side of the court as your opponents, so socializing is the norm.

If this sounds like the game for you, head over to DC Bocce League’s website to register your team or sign up as a free agent and be matched with a team. Register for the spring season for $50 when you enter promo-code NoVa20 during check out. The spring season runs from April 19th to June 11th.

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If you’re not a DC Bocce League player by now, why not?

Did you know that you can win weekly contests after your bocce game at our sponsor bars? Have you heard that you don’t need to break a sweat to participate in this rec league? Maybe you just haven’t found the right DC Bocce location to sign up for? If that’s the case, then check out the DC Bocce League summer season, featuring four new 2015 locations:

Driven by the desire to make friends out of strangers and fueled by Peroni & Blue Moon specials, DC Bocce League offers weekly bocce ball matches played between multi-person, co-ed teams.

The game isn’t difficult; just about anyone who can palm a ball can have fun playing. Plus, unlike most other sports, you stand on the same side of the court as your opponents, so socializing is the norm — what better way to distract the competition than with a well-crafted ball joke?

If this sounds like the game for you, head over to DC Bocce League’s website to register your team or sign up as a free agent and be matched with a team. Register for the summer season for $50 when you enter promo-code ROLL20 during check out. The summer season runs from July 20 through September 12.

The preceding post was written and sponsored by DC Bocce League.

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Are you looking for a week night activity that’s super social and easy to join? The traditional Italian sport of bocce just might be your answer. It turns out that in addition to game’s appeal as a relaxing backyard past-time, it also provides a framework for the perfect date. Just ask the young professionals of the area’s own DC Bocce League.

“Bocce is the perfect way to make new friends and meet that someone special,” says Sarah DeLucas, a co-founder of the DC Bocce League, the nation’s largest organized bocce organization. “Bocce provides a great medium for meeting new people. There is a natural flow of conversation deciding whose ball is closer to the pallina and the game can be picked up by people of all abilities. Plus it can be played in your best date outfit – no need for gym clothes.”

DeLucas’s league has operated in various locations across Arlington, DC, and Bethesda for ten years and boasts at least nine known couples who met playing and ended up tying the knot. If your interest is peaked by the idea of bocce games with other singles and young professionals, sign up for DC Bocce’s special brand of bocce this spring in one of three Virginia locations:

  • Alexandria on Thursdays at Braddock Park (600 N Henry Street)
  • Ballston on Tuesdays at Maury Park (3550 Wilson Blvd)
  • Columbia Pike on Wednesdays at Walter Reed Park (2909 16th Street)

Registration for DC Bocce’s spring season is currently open through Sunday, April 5th.

Teams play every week for 6 weeks. At the end of the season everyone participates in a single elimination tournament culminating in the crowning of a champion team. Bonus: everyone makes the playoffs so you don’t have to be an expert to get started. After games, players congregate at a nearby bar that offers exclusive discounts on food and drinks to bocce players. Unlike other social sports leagues you may have encountered, scoring off the courts is just as important as winning the game.

To get in on the bocce action, use promo code ARLNOW10 to save $10 on your registration.

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This sponsored post is satirical in nature. It was written by the DC Bocce League.

Bocce, a sport long linked to elderly Italians that is now popular with the young, urban set, continues to expand its influence in Arlington with a new location along Columbia Pike at the revered P. Brennan’s.

At the helm of this expansion sits the DC Bocce League, which is leading the sport’s march into the South Arlington neighborhood to make way for its upcoming Winter 2015 season. Long rumored to “ruin the lives of children” and known as a gateway for “dads to get drunk,” Arlington residents will find it even more convenient to fall into the clutches of this supposedly nefarious activity.

“Ruining the lives of children is what bocce is best known for,” explains League president, Sarah DeLucas. “And the DC Bocce League will do what it can to forward the sport’s ultimate mission.”

Yet with this new indoor location, it remains unclear how the bocce leadership intends to carry out its scheme as all players must be at least 21 years of age.

For 10 years, the DC Bocce League has transformed itself from a 50-member club into a social sports empire, running bocce leagues all over D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Previously, the League operated only in the Ballston and Clarendon areas within Arlington. However that will change on January 21st, when bocce makes its debut along Columbia Pike at P. Brennan’s. Outfitted in color-coordinated t-shirts and supplied with food and drink specials, weekly prizes, and free parties, bocce players in the DC Bocce League should have no problems enjoying themselves on a Wednesday night.

“And ruining the lives of children,” insists DeLucas.

Yet no evidence exists of this claim. In fact, the opposite was found to be true, as the DC Bocce League commits a percentage of revenues to charity, including organizations that benefit children. When pressed, Ms. DeLucas declined to cite the number of children whose lives were actually ruined in pursuit of bocce glory. It seems only time will tell if the sport’s true mission will ever come to pass in Arlington.

* * *

The DC Bocce League invites Arlington to join us this Winter at P. Brennan’s on Wednesdays for good times, great people, and bocce starting January 21st. Bocce does not actually harm children. The only harm this League might inflict is on the livers of its 21 and over participants. Sign up here: www.dcbocce.com

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Morning Notes

View of R-B corridor from the Washington Monument (courtesy photo)

Alexandria Murder Suspect in Arlington Jail — Charles Severance, who’s charged in the murders of three Alexandria residents, has been transferred to the Arlington County Detention Facility in Courthouse. The transfer is intended “to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest,” since Severance is charged in the murder of the wife of a former Alexandria sheriff. [Washington Post]

Roadside Sunflowers Chopped Down — A patch of sunflowers planted at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Powhatan Street has been cut down by VDOT after someone complained to say the flowers blocked her view while turning. The resident who has been planting the sunflowers for the past seven years mounted a sign in the flowers’ place saying “hope you are happy!” [Falls Church News-Press]

Bocce Produces Outcry in Reston, Too — Remember the neighborhood kerfuffle over a single proposed bocce court in Bluemont? Well, it turns out Arlington isn’t the only place where people get steamed about the sport. In Reston, residents are complaining about potential traffic, parking woes, drinking and the loss of green space after a bocce court was proposed. [Reston Now]

County Seeking ‘Human Rights Heroes’ — Arlington County is seeking nominees for the 16th annual James B. Hunter Human Rights Awards. The awards are intended to honor residents, community groups, non-profits or businesses that have made significant human rights achievements. [Arlington County]

Courtesy photo

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A new, temporary park at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Barton Street in Courthouse is about a month away from opening.

The park, built on land leased gratis to Arlington County by the Korean embassy, is expected to open — weather-permitting — by the end of May, according to Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

The tiny park will include accessible paths, landscaping, and a rectangular multi-use area that can be used for bocce, cornhole and other activities.

The park was designed after the county sought input from community members. Other ideas floated for the park that didn’t make the cut included miniature golf, game tables and demonstration gardens.

“The community wanted us to create something that’s flexible so they could enjoy the area in the manner that suits them,” Kalish said.

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Editor’s Note: This post is written and sponsored by DC Bocce.

Have you heard about the resurgence in bocce ball, a revered Italian tradition? A new generation of players is taking on Italian-American clubs and grandfathers everywhere at their own game at an ever-increasing rate. It turns out that in addition to the game’s appeal as a relaxing backyard past-time, it also provides a framework for the perfect date. Just ask the young professionals of the area’s own DC Bocce League.

“Bocce is the perfect way to make new friends and meet that someone special,” says Sarah DeLucas, a co-founder of the DC Bocce League, the nation’s largest organized bocce organization. “Bocce provides a great medium for meeting new people. There is a natural flow of conversation deciding whose ball is closer to the pallina and the game can be picked up by people of all abilities. Plus it can be played in your best date outfit — no need for gym clothes.”

DeLucas’s league has operated in various locations across Arlington, DC, and Bethesda for ten years and boasts at least nine known couples who met playing and ended up tying the knot. If your interest is piqued by the idea of bocce games with other singles and young professionals, check out DC Bocce’s special brand of bocce this spring in Arlington on two brand new bocce courts at the restaurant La Tagliatella.

Located across from the Clarendon Metro, La Tagliatella built two turf bocce courts on the sidewalk patio of the restaurant last fall. La Tagliatella is the only bar in Arlington that has on-premise, permanent bocce courts and the DC Bocce League is excited to take full advantage of them on Tuesday and Thursday evenings this spring.

Worried that you’ve out-grown rec leagues and meeting your significant other over a game of flip-cup?

“La Tagliatella’s patio and restaurant seating offer players a spot to slip off for quiet conversation over a craft cocktail or a sophisticated wine,” said DeLucas.

Registration for DC Bocce’s spring season at La Taligiatella is currently open through Friday, March 21st. Sign up to play on Tuesdays or Thursdays starting next week. Teams play every week for 6 weeks. At the end of the season everyone participates in a single elimination tournament culminating in the crowning of a champion team.

Bonus: everyone makes the playoffs so you don’t have to be an expert to get started. The bar will offer exclusive discounts on food and drinks to bocce players, and unlike other bocce leagues you may have encountered, scoring off the courts is just as important as winning the game. To get in on the bocce action, use promo code ARLNOW20 to save $20 on your registration.

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Bocce being played (file photo via Wikipedia)A controversial effort to get a bocce court built along the Bluemont Junction Trail has been shot down by Arlington’s parks department — for now.

Supporters wanted a 13′ by 50′ bocce court built along the trail, using $15,000 from a hoped-for Parks Enhancement Grant from the county and “sweat equity” from community members. The court would provide a fun and safe recreational opportunity to local residents young and old, supporters said.

Some who live in the neighborhood vehemently opposed the proposed bocce court, however, saying it would produce noise, trash, traffic and parking woes. Plus, opponents said, there were no public restrooms for bocce players along the trail.

At first, it seemed that Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) staff was supportive of the idea — disputing many bocce opponents’ objections in a letter to community members. But in March, DPR staff completed an evaluation of the bocce court proposal and concluded that the court should not be built along the trail in the neighborhood, but should be built in nearby Fields Park.

View of Bluemont Junction Trail, site of proposed bocce court (via Google Maps)Furthermore, staff concluded that the court should be “standard sized” — 15.5′ by 76′. The cost to build such a court was estimated between $17,600 and $25,500, depending on the type of court surface used (staff preferred a more expensive but less maintenance-intensive synthetic surface). Either way, that brought the cost estimate above the $15,000 PEG grant limit.

“These costs do not include the cost of site work or the cost of additional amenities such as player’s benches or trash cans,” Arlington County Park and Recreation Commission Chairman Paul Holland wrote to bocce supporters. “Since the costs exceed the current PEG limits, a future PEG request will need to identify matching funds.”

But even if supporters wanted to reapply, another PEG grant might not be forthcoming in the near future. The grant program was not funded in the county’s upcoming 2014 fiscal year budget and consideration of new grant applications has been postponed indefinitely.

Bocce supporter and former Bluemont Civic Association President Judah dal Cais said he was disappointed that the parks department picked Fields Park for the location and 15.5′ by 76′ for the size, thus scuttling his application.

Read More

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Park under construction at the corner of Glebe and Randolph (photo by Katie Pyzyk) Glebe and Randolph park planning sketch

Construction is underway on a tiny park near Ballston Common Mall.

The park, adjacent to the Ballston Parking Garage at the corner of Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street, features a pair of bocce courts and enhanced green space. The park is intended to be temporary; the county plans to eventually replace it with a longer-term use.

More about the park from the county website: “Arlington County is constructing interim improvements at Glebe & Randolph Park including two bocce courts, site furnishings, accessible paths, and flowering shrubs that support a variety of butterflies, birds and insects.”

Construction is expected to wrap up “early this summer,” according to parks department planner Scott McPartlin.

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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.

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