Avid local players say they have issues with the new shade cover, benches and lighting at the courts near the corner of 79th Street and Juniper Boulevard North.
Peter Bozanic, better known to his bocce-playing peers as “The Croatian,” explained the overall consensus is that many aspects of the project were simply overlooked.
“The court is okay, but we have a problem with the canopy,” Bozanic said, pointing up at the new steel and fiberglass structure over the ends of each court. “When it rains, it leaves damage.”
According to Bozanic, nearby benches are too far for onlookers to watch the game, the step to the newly built third court is too high for the elderly players and the lights are too dim to play past dusk.
“I don’t know why the architect designed it like that,” he said. “It looks nice, but mostly people are not happy with this.”
Following the reopening on July 4, Steve Shakarchy, an avid bocce player and coach with the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, said he would be happy with a cheaper waterproof canopy in place of the new shade.
“They did a great job that they fixed it on time, and we’re really surprised, but the problem is they wasted money on the canopy,” Shakarchy said. “They spent thousands of dollars to put this in and they made the courts lopsided. They should have built this without a canopy so the rain just falls straight down.”
He added that the banks along the inside walls of the courts are also in need of repair.
“The ball is hugging the wall,” he explained.
Now with the required three courts to host citywide tournaments, Shakarchy said he hopes the problems are quickly addressed.
“For the past five years we haven’t had tournaments here,” he said. “And now that there are three new courts here, they should be fixed right.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said she has heard their concerns and has been in touch with Parks officials since they were finished.
“I will continue to work with the Parks Department to expeditiously address functionality and any outstanding concerns with the new bocce ball courts at Juniper Valley Park,” Crowley said.
Parks responded to complaints from the bocce players stating that there are plans to meet with players to discuss ways to best improve the new amenities.
“The new bocce courts at Juniper Valley Park were designed in collaboration with local bocce players, and the final plans were approved by both these players and Queens CB5,” the spokesperson said. “Parkgoers vote with their feet, and since these courts reopened they have become a very popular amenity.”
The spokesperson added that lighting at the courts was a fix that was never included in the original scope of the project and that the shade structures and trees were included to protect players from the sun.