La Jolla Rec Center board OKs bocce court installation: Donates $7,000 to get the balls rolling

In what could end up as an early holiday gift to the community, the La Jolla Park & Rec, Inc. (LJPR) board voted to approve the purchase of bocce ball equipment (not to exceed $300), and the funding and installation of a bocce ball court (not to exceed $7,000) at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

With approval at its Oct. 25 meeting, acting LJPR chair Mary Coakley Munk said: “We can get moving on this in the next month or so.”

In the interim, Rec Center director Nicole Otjens will acquire a tournament set of bocce balls for adults and a play set for children, which can be checked out like other recreational equipment (ID required) with the games played on grass. The next step is getting the court constructed.

The tentative location will be the Rec Center front lawn, parallel to the Draper Avenue sidewalk. Coakley Munk said in order to get people there “who really want to play the game” and to create enthusiasm for the sport, the LJPR board needs to “put it in a prominent place — and there’s nothing that says we can’t put it somewhere else when we redo the playground.” In the event of a Rec Center festival or special event, the bocce ball court could be covered and secured, and effectively become a stage.

Early cost estimates, according to Coakley Munk, are $5,000 to $12,000. LJPR will contribute $7,000.

La Jolla residents who attended the September LJPR meeting, and who regularly play bocce ball in Little Italy, have reportedly committed to donations for some of the cost. Costs could also be mitigated by having Boy Scouts donate their time to construct the court as a service project. It would likely be made with a decomposed granite to ensure a smooth surface.

LJPR trustee Hobe Schroder questioned why the court could not be made of grass, to further reduce costs. “I play bocce ball on grass and this is a lot of money to commit. I don’t think we should rush into this. I agree we should have it, but let’s start with a court on grass,” he said.

In response, bocce supporter Lee Carver said, “While bocce is playable on grass, if we’re trying to introduce people to the game, having an actual court adds something. If you play on un-bordered grass, you don’t get the same feel. In tournaments, you want to play the rails. It adds a whole new dimension. The smoother the surface, the better the game.”

A motion to support the financing and installation passed 6-2-1.

— More information and a progress report will be given at the next meeting, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29 (a week later than the regularly scheduled meeting to accommodate Thanksgiving) at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

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