Community members and neighbors of Crane Park joined the Parks and Recreation Commission Wednesday evening to voice their opinion regarding the proposal of adding permanent Bocce Ball courts to the community park. The meeting, which is normally held at City Hall each month, was moved to Crane Park in order to provide a more convenient location for neighborhood residents to attend the meeting.
The Bocce Ball Court Proposal for Crane Park comes from The Rotary Club of Turlock, who wishes to demonstrate more efforts in providing meaningful contributions to the City of Turlock.
“We’ve been challenged to take on projects of a more meaningful fashion,” stated Rotary Club member Michael G. Dini, who has fore-fronted the project. “We want to do something that is more than writing a check, something of substance and something physical.”
Bocce Ball was chosen as a project for the community as there is currently no other Bocce Ball Court in the Turlock area, besides in the City of Modesto, and the sport is gaining in popularity, thus creating a demand by local community members to have a public court closer to home.
Bocce was also considered as it is a minimal impact sport that only permits up to 4 players per court, and would create minimal noise in the area. The Rotary Club also considers Bocce Ball to be a fun sport for people of all ages and disabilities, thus encouraging families with small children and grandparents to enjoy the sport together.
The Rotary Club of Turlock wanted to choose a Community Park for the project, rather than a Neighborhood Park, as Community Parks are those that also acquire Public Restrooms. The two Community Parks in Turlock currently are Donnelly Park and Crane Park. Rotary members felt that of the two, Crane Park was more suitable for the Bocce Ball Project as it is centrally located, visible to the public, acquires picnic areas and other recreation amenities such as basketball and tennis courts, and is near Turlock High School, as Jr. Rotary Club members from THS could become involved with construction and maintenance of the project.
Neighbors of Crane Park, however, do not believe that Crane Park is the best location for the project, as the park is currently already “over-used” in their opinion with not enough parking to introduce new amenities to the park.
Turlock resident Irene Jaureguy, who has lived across from Crane Park for 24 years, voiced her concerns about adding the project to the park.
“I enjoy that we have a park and that people can use it,” stated Jaureguy. “However, the noise, the alcohol, and the traffic have increased over the years.”
Jaureguy also stated that the park was originally a neighborhood park instead of a community park, and that although she understood that the City has grown over the years, she believes that everything has already been compounded at Crane Park.
“It’s just one more thing,” stated Jaureguy. “That corner has so much congestion as it is, and I have no problem with Bocce Ball or the Rotary Club, but there is no more room at this park for any more attractions.”
Approximately 14 more neighbors of Crane Park stood up to speak against the project being placed at Crane Park, all echoing the same opinions that the park already has too many attractions as is, the already existing parking problem the park generates in their neighborhoods, increasing noise levels and alcohol problems at the park, and the desire to maintain the open space that would be displaced by the project at the park.
Rick Harden, a retired Parks and Recreation Division Manager of the City of Turlock, shared his experience working with Crane Park while working for the City and his reaction to the proposed project.
“Every time we thought about making improvements to this park, we were always very sensitive to the needs of the neighbors of people in this area,” stated Harden. “When we designated this as a community park, we did it because we only had one community park in this City, and the idea was to break the City into 4 quadrants with a Community Park in each one. And we made this decision to call Crane Park a Community park knowing that it didn’t really meet the requirements size-wise.”
“I’m supportive of rotary and bocce, but this is not the park,” stated Harden. He also suggested that Curt Andre Park near Pitman High School would be the ideal location in his opinion, for the project.
Perhaps the only individual present at the public hearing in support of the project was senior citizen Chuck Adams, of the Sons in Retirement group of Turlock. Adams serves as the Activities Director for the group, which is made up of older gentlemen, from the ages of 60+, that live in the Turlock area.
“We’ve been looking for a Bocce Ball Court in the Turlock area, and there are not any open in the public around here,” stated Adams. “I think this is a great opportunity for Turlock to be able to promote something like this in the neighborhood.”
As far as the complaints from neighbors regarding noise and traffic issues, Adams stated, “There are only 4-8 people playing at a time, and we’d be quiet. We’re all retired professionals, and we would all act within community respect. We would really like to see this progress.”
After the public hearing closed, the commission members were required to make a vote on the resolution on whether or not to recommend the location at Crane Park to the City Council for the Bocce Ball Project.
Commissioner and City Council Candidate Steven Nascimento made a motion to keep the project at Crane Park, however, this motion failed as no other commissioner seconded it.
The Commission then discussed various options they could take regarding the issue, as they were no longer certain if Crane Park was the right location for the project due to the neighbors disinterest in having the project located there.
“I’ve received a ‘not-in-my-backyard’ sort of attitude from this meeting,” stated Commissioner Brent Bohlender. “And I did have questions about the open space, but I have to admit that being a life long Turlocker and also listening to Rick, as an expert on these things, has made me think twice about this park as being the one used for this project.”
Commissioner Andrew Davoodian also shared sentiments of understanding the neighbors’ concerns, and stated the comments from the evening helped him understand that the park may be indeed over trafficked as is.
After much discussion, Rotary Club member Michael Dini made a comment to the audience stating that the Rotary Club would be open to considering other park options, and that the public participation in the matter had been appreciated and beneficial to their decisions regarding the project.
“The goal here wasn’t to make a decision, but to get your input,” stated Dini. “I think Curt Andre Park is a great option, and so I really appreciate all the comments you’ve made here.”
The Commission then voted unanimously to table the motion and readdress the issue at a later date, as more discussion would have to be made between the City and Rotary Club regarding other possibilities for the location of the Bocce Ball Project.
Turlock Rotary Club Looking to Build Bocce Ball Courts at Crane Park