Turlockers may be bowled over by one local park's newest amenity.
Two bocce ball courts might soon be built in Crane Park, should the Turlock Noon Rotary receive city approval.
Bocce ball is a traditionally Italian sport similar to bowling, where players roll balls down lanes. Rather than aim for pins, however, players strive to place their own ball closest to a separate, target ball, while knocking opponents' balls farther away. The game has spread worldwide, due to both the ease of competing for players of all ages and the depth of the game's strategy.
"It's a fun activity for all ages, it's not currently available in Turlock, and it's a low-impact sport," said Rotarian Mike Dini, one of the project's advocates.
The project has its roots in a nationwide Rotary initiative, challenging member clubs to complete more meaningful projects. Rather than simply writing a check, the national organization hopes to inspire clubs to create something with the potential to grow.
Rotarian Jeremy Benjamin quickly came up with the idea of bocce ball, currently growing in popularity but absent from Turlock. In some other communities, primarily in the Bay Area, entire bocce ball complexes exist. Leagues play nightly, providing a fun activity for children and seniors alike.
The Turlock Noon Rotary is planning two parallel courts alongside Berkeley Avenue, each 65 feet in length - a touch shy of the traditional 90 foot court length. Benches would allow spectators to sit, while fencing would prevent children from running into the field of play and potentially becoming injured.
The courts would be limited to daylight usage at first, with costly lighting delayed until a later date.
"We're just trying to get the courts built at this point," Dini said.
The courts would be complementary to existing uses of Crane Park, Dini said, such as picnicking and horseshoes. And city maintenance would be low, with Interact Clubs at Pitman High and Turlock High - the teen branch of Rotary - volunteering to help out.
Costs for the development have yet to be finalized, as the Rotary is still determining building materials and some other aspects of the courts. And final city approval has yet to be granted.
The Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Commission first heard about the bocce plan at their March meeting, where questions of noise, safety, and accessibility for disabled persons were raised. On Thursday, members of the Turlock Noon Rotary addressed those concerns, leading the commission to unanimously approve moving to the next step of the city approval process.
Rotarians will now return before the commission within the next two months to present final plans at a public hearing on the project. Nearby residents will be notified of the hearing, and given a chance to comment.