The list of potential sites for two proposed bocce ball courts has been, quite hesitantly, narrowed to two: Bristol Park and Dale Pinkney Park.
Turlock Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs Commissioners reluctantly named the two finalists on Wednesday despite misgivings about each proposed location. The commission will now notice nearby landowners and hold a public hearing in May to discuss which park would best host the courts, which would be donated by the Turlock Rotary Club.
Rotary members argue the impacts on either park would be minimal. The courts would take an approximately 70 foot by 30 foot plot of open space. At most, eight people would play on the two courts at any given time, causing little increase in traffic.
“It's limited in sound impact,” said Mike Dini, of the Turlock Rotary Club. “It's not known for rowdiness.”
Yet neighbors of any proposed location seem to be united in opposition to the courts.
“Generally, people like this project,” Dini said. “They like the idea of bocce ball courts. The concern is focused on where we should put it.”
Crane Park was first chosen as the best location for the courts. But in July, 2012, neighbors came out in droves to fight the development, saying there was no community support for the courts.
On Wednesday, Parks, Recreation, and Community Programs commissioners removed Crane Park from consideration at long last, after the City of Turlock and Rotary alike agreed that the park is already overused.
But while complaints about Crane Park were considered legitimate, other parks seem to have complaints more along the lines of “not in my backyard,” Dini argued.
“Frankly this is, literally, our backyard,” said Turlocker Ken Weisel, who lives near Bristol Park, by the intersection of East Tuolumne Road and North Daubenberger Road. “… We share the park as our communal community backyard.”
And that backyard is already crowded, Weisel and others said, with not enough free space as there is. Daily soccer and baseball practices fill the three open spaces completely.
If the bocce ball courts could only accommodate eight players, Weisel argued that leaving the space open would be a better use. Or, if the courts are popular, then they would be a better fit for a larger community park, like Donnelley Park.
But Donnelley Park won't work for Rotary, Dini said, due to concerns with duck overpopulation and its distance from local high schools; Rotary hopes to have its high school Key Clubs maintain the courts. Numerous other parks were vetoed for similar reasons.
Residents near Dale Pinkney Park, located near the intersection of North Berkeley Avenue and East Christofferson Parkway, expressed similar concerns to those voiced at Bristol Park. Turlocker Jorge Ruelas said he bought a house near Dale Pinkney Park specifically because of its serene, idyllic nature.
“If something comes in, it's going to kill that,” Ruelas said.
After hearing testimony from residents, none of whom were supportive of siting the courts near their homes, no commissioner would make a motion to name any park a frontrunner.
“I guess we table it again and keep looking,” commission chair Barney Gordon said.
Then, after further discussion, Gordon himself made a motion to move forward with only Bristol Park, which failed when no one would second his motion. Unwilling to end the meeting with no direction for the project, Gordon urged his fellow commissioners to take action.
“We need to make a decision on a location and then have a public hearing to discuss it,” Gordon said.
Commissioner Brent Bohlender then suggested moving forward with both Bristol and Dale Pinkney Parks, a motion which carried 4-1. Commissioner Jeremy Rocha cast the lone vote in opposition.
To comment on the proposed bocce ball court locations, visit https://www.facebook.com/turlockrotary.bocceballcourt.