Wednesday night marked the one year anniversary of when the Parks and Recreation Commission first heard a proposal from the members of the Turlock Rotary Club regarding their interests in establishing a bocce ball court in Crane Park. Since then, little progress has been made in the matter.
Despite the best intentions of the Turlock Noon Rotary to construct two bocce ball courts as a gift for the Turlock community, protests have been made by concerned citizens at every proposed site.
Last month the city and Turlock Noon Rotary designated five possible sites within three parks that would minimize the greatest impact on trees and building constraints. In order to get the community more aware of the project, the Rotary Club placed signs at Crane, Bristol, and Pinkney Park.
The Rotary also set up a Facebook page to encourage community feedback. Though the Rotary members relayed their perspectives about the positive aspects of having a court, neighbors of the parks were not willing to host the site.
“Although bocce ball courts would be a great addition to Turlock, I have safety issues with having it at Bristol Park,” said Rothbury Court resident Rhonda Young. “I have to drive in the incoming lane to enter my cul-de-sac when a line of cars are parked along Castleview because of the congestion. There are always soccer practices on all three open grass areas.”
Some neighbors were not so open minded about the project and believed that having a court on site would cause further congestion of open space and be a detriment to the parks' aesthetics. One Pinkney Park neighbor stated in a letter to the Rotary Club that placing a bocce ball court “would ruin everything positive the Dale Pinkney Park does for the neighborhood,” and considered the project an “eye sore.”
Despite the opposition, Rotary member Mike Dini believes that the concerns are non-existent, and stated that the courts will only host two to four players per court, which would not propose much congestion to locals. He also stated that there should be no issue noise, and brought in balls that he clacked together to showcase his point.
“They think the bocce ball court would change the character of the park,” said Dini. “We have a limited impact on open areas. The greater portion of the open area on any of these parks would be preserved. The courts are low, and will not be so high as to create a great visual impact.”
The largest number of protesters came from residents near Crane Park, who have been familiar with the project since it was first proposed on April 11, 2012. They were relieved to hear the latest decision by the Rotary.
“We have gathered as much information as possible,” said Dini. “People like the idea of the bocce ball courts, but the concern is mostly focused on where we should put it. There are legitimate concerns in Crane Park, and we would like to see that choice be overlooked.”
A motion was passed by Commissioner Brent Bohlender to remove Crane Park from the listings. After it was carried out, there was a short round of applause from locals fighting the battle since last year.
But that still left the question of where to place the court.
Members of the community proposed Sunnyview, Donnelly Park, or even Centennial Park, but found problems with waterfowl, other proposed projects, or drainage issues. The Rotary also wanted to make sure that the project would be near the local high schools.
Commissioner Bohlender motioned that a public hearing should be set for next month, and identified that site A of Bristol Park and the southeast corner of Pinkney Park would be of further consideration. The commission decided that holding a tour and discussing the terms of the bocce ball courts at the parks would generate a better perception of the Rotary’s project.