By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
On the Northcoast, chances are a good bet that unless you're of Italian extraction, you've never played bocce.
Italian lawn bowling is hugely popular along the East Coast and in communities across the nation whose residents are Italianos.
Italians also settled in Del Norte County. And among their descendants are fans of bocce who want Crescent City to build courts for the sport in Beachfront Park.
"Crescent City had bocce courts years ago," said Yvonne Cipressi, who founded a Sons of Italy group that meets alternating months in Del Norte and Curry counties. "It was when we had Italian fishermen, but I don't know where the courts were."
Club members revisited their discussion about creating a public facility during their June 5 meeting at Pizza King.
The subject hasn't come up yet in Brookings, however, although club member Andy Drago said bocce players there would use courts here.
"I wouldn't doubt that Brookings players would come to use the courts," Drago said. He resides in Brookings.
If the city built the courts, the effort wouldn't be only to serve the bocce playing communities of the two cities.
Cipressi said that another local organization, one that serves the Special Olympics group in Crescent City, is also interested in the courts.
"We're always looking to expand our sanctioned events," said Kim Yost, area director for Northern California's Special Olympics. "Bocce is one of those sports we would totally be looking at."
City Planner Will Caplinger said that the request for municipal bocce courts came up about a year ago "when we were finishing the Beachfront Park and master plan process."
Several issues tied to the park and the master plan need to be resolved before any decision on bocce courts could be made, Caplinger said.
Among them are whether Crescent City continues to administer Shoreline Camp-ground and R.V. Park after December, whether the city expands its wastewater treatment plant and how far it expands, and the city's budget situation.
"If (Shoreline Park) goes back to being private, there will be no reduction of sites," Caplinger said. "The city is more inclined to cut the number of sites and free up some public land."
A single bocce court would take up around 1,050 square feet about the size of a two-bedroom home.
A decision on a wastewater treatment plant expansion is in an early stage. The center, located at 424 Howe Drive, is about 200 yards from Crescent City Water Pollution Control Facility.
If the expansion occurs, it's possible that work crews would use the amphitheater area near the plant as a place from which to stage their equipment.
"About two years" will pass until the expansion is complete, after which the city will put final touches on the master plan and wait for its approval at state level, said City Manager Eli Naffah
Naffah clarified, however, that the city has the option of working on a partial master plan during the interim period.
"Will (Caplinger) could do something this summer and speed up the process," Naffah said.
Caplinger said the ball is in the community's court.
"If the community wants it, it would be up to the planning department," he said. "When the money comes (for a bocce court), then we would plan it."
A private donation of funding for the courts, he said, would speed the process.
"We have a lot more things to fund first," Caplinger said. "We're juggling maybe about eight projects."
Since it's been at least a year since the issue was broached, Caplinger urged those interested in municipal bocce courts to "approach the planning commission and ask for a bocce court to be part of Beachfront Park."
Bocce would be popular here if it did come, Drago said.
"I always had a bocce court in the back yard," said Drago, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. "In Italy when the kids don't have a bocce game, they use stones to play."
,What is Bocce?
What is Bocce?
The game involves a small white ball the pallino and four larger red and four larger green balls.
After players decide which side goes first, a member of that side tosses out the pallino and rolls one of the team's balls. U.S. Bocce Federation rules state that the first ball will be thrown by the team that originally tossed the pallino. If that bocce ball hits the back board, the team must roll again, or that team does not roll again, until the opposing team has either rolled one of its bocce balls closer to the pallino, or has thrown all of its balls.
Whenever a team gets a ball closer, it lets the other team roll. The other team throws until it beats (not ties) the opposing ball.
This continues until both teams have used all its bocce balls. The team who scored last throws the pallino to begin the next frame.
Scoring is one point for the balls of one color that are closest to the pallino. Scoring is one point for the balls of one color that are closest to the pallino. It's perfectly legit to knock one of your team's balls closer or to knock the other team's balls farther away. It's also legit to lob or bomb a ball into a group of tightly clustered balls and split them apart.
Cornelia de Bruin
What Would It Take Build a Bocce Court?
Excavate, to about 15 inches, a level, rectangular area that
measures the width and length of court. Build up from the
deepest level the following layers:
4-6 inches of pea gravel and a French drain angling slightly
downward to a lower area of storm sewer
4-6 inches 2/AA gravel
2 inches crushed limestone, granite or oyster shell
A thin layer of court clay
Finally, wet it down slightly.
SOURCE: United States Bocce Federation