Nearly $700,000 Pledged to Bocce Ball/Veterans’ Gardens
Three bocce ball courts and five outdoor landscaped “rooms” at the Palisades Recreation Center are in the final approval stages by the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks. According to the website (veteransgardens.net), ground breaking is planned for February 1, 2019, with a ribbon cutting held three months later on May 5, 2019.
A Circling the News reader had questions about the community-funded project (originally priced at $600,000) that will replace the existing picnic-table area on the north side of the park, adjacent to the maintenance area.
We contacted Robert Harter, a member of the Park Advisory Board (PAB) for answers to several questions including ownership, need, cost and parking.
According to Harter, the location of the gardens and courts, even though funded by private donations, will be on City property and will be managed by Department of Rec and Parks. The northernmost portion of that property (the grassy area next to Alma Real) will be kept available for free play.
American Legion Post 283 pledged $400,000 towards the project’s construction, provided the community contributed the initial $200,000.
The reader asked, “How many Veterans are going to play bocce?”
The number of veterans who may play is hard to estimate, given the sport’s obscurity, but the bocce courts will be open to all members of the community, including seniors, veterans, youth and soccer moms.
One internet site wrote that bocce is gaining in popularity (tosso.com/blogs/news/is-bocce-ball-is-making-a-comeback). “When some people think of bocce ball, they think of older Italian men smoking cigars and playing one game after another in the park. And while those men haven’t stopped their games, bocce ball isn’t just a sport reserved for an older generation.
“In fact, bocce ball is fast becoming a popular game for adults in their 20’s and 30’s at parties, vacations, and especially bars. Bocce ball is fast joining the ranks of pool and darts when it comes to bar games.”
The website lists the reasons why bocce is becoming so popular: 1) Everyone can play—no age limitations; 2) it is a social game; 3) bocce goes well with drinks; 4) bocce is simple and affordable.
Who will pay for maintenance? According to a 2017 story in Post 283 News, of the initial $600,000 projected cost, “About $133,000 is slated for landscaping; $124,000 for walkways; $53,000 for picnic tables, benches and barbecues; $160,000 for the bocce courts; $50,000 for contingencies and $60,000 for three years of maintenance.” (Editor’s note: Just for reference, in a 2015 story, the cost for Rec and Parks picnic tables was $3,500 per table.)
The Veterans Gardens website notes that about $700,000 has been raised, and that if $1 million were raised, it would allow an endowment fund to be set up.
“The Field of Dreams is our model,” Harter said, citing the four baseball diamonds built and maintained at the park with community funds. “Community funding of management and maintenance is our goal.”
The Rec Center staff would rent the bocce equipment, take care of court rentals and monitor the area.
Regarding parking, 25 spaces need to be added to current parking at the Recreation Center to satisfy requirements for Potrero Canyon Park (scheduled to open in 2020).
Gustaf Soderbergh, a PAB member and architect, designed a plan to accomplish the additional parking. “It should be installed within the next two to three years as part of the Potrero Canyon project,” Harter said.
According to the website, in addition to the American Legion’s $400,000 pledge, Tina and Rick Caruso pledged $100,000, Carey and Mike Skinner and Rosa and Bob Sinnot each gave $40,000 as couples, Cindy and Bill Simon gave $25,000 and those giving $10,000 included Jeanne and Steve Robinson, Mary Ellen and Chris Kanoff, Eileen and John Huarte, Mary and Jay Flaherty, Carol and Carl Gregory, Haldis Toppel, Kathleen and Mike McRosky and an anonymous donor. About 50 additional donors pledged different amounts up to $2,500.
Visit: Veteransgardens.net. To donate, contact Jimmy Dunne (310) 529-1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tax deductible contributions (made payable to Your Palisades Park Improvement Corporation) can be mailed to Your Palisades Park Corporation, 732 Patterson Pl., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.