By Julianne Cuba
Bocce’s back, baby!
Avid bocce ball players cheered and applauded as Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell Silver and other community leaders snipped the ribbon to open the long-awaited new bocce courts in Marine Park on May 11.
The Parks Department started construction on the Fillmore Avenue courts in 2015 — after years of city agencies squabbling over funding and the play area’s aesthetics — and the athletes had to be cordoned off to temporary, smaller-than-normal courts in the meantime. But now, they are finally ready to get rolling on the beautiful regulation-size courts, said the president of the Marine Park Bocce Club, which was founded in 1996.
“This is a full-size, it requires a little training. We should get used to it because it’s 108-feet long. The other was 60-feet,” said Marine Parker Angelo Ippolito. “We are very happy.”
The three new courts — equipped with overhead shade structures and lined with benches — were part of the city’s $5.45-million overhaul of Marine Park’s eponymous green space, including new basketball, tennis, and handball courts, and exercise equipment.
The greensward is actually the borough’s largest park, so it attracts kids and families from all over Brooklyn — and even from distant states, said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park), who funded the overhaul along with his predecessor then-Councilman Lew Fidler.
“The playground is packed on Saturday and Sunday, the field is covered with cricket players and baseball players and football players,” said Maisel during the ceremony. “Everybody comes here, people come from the north, from the south, east, from the west. I met people from New Jersey once in this park.”
And park-goers are already loving the fitness equipment and new basketball courts, said one Mill Basinite who had to trek to Brooklyn Bridge Park just to shoot hoops before they re-opened.
“They were closed right before the summer last time, so that kind of sucked,” said Kevin Sebili. “It’s really nice.”
Parents won’t be able to pull their kids away from the green space with all of its new amenities — but that’s the way it should be, said Commissioner Silver, before cutting the ribbon.
“As I always say, you may sleep in your home or apartment, but we live in our public spaces, and I can tell that this is one that’s well-used by the community,” he said. “Enjoy this wonderful park.”
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