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On the ball! Marine Park bocce players excited for new courts

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They’re ready to roll!

The Parks Department is rebuilding Marine Park’s bocce courts, and local bowlers are ready to get off a smaller-than-normal, temporary court and back playing the game they love at full size. The reconstruction is part of a larger green space fix-up that took nearly a decade to get rolling, but three brand-new bocce courts will be ready for players by March 2017, and area hurlers couldn’t be more excited, one player said.

“Oh yeah, these are going to be beautiful courts,” said Al Bitelli, a member of the Marine Park Bocce Club who lives in Bergen Beach.

The Parks Department expects them to be completed by March 2017, and members of the Marine Park Bocce Club can’t wait to throw out the first “jack” after waiting long enough for their snazzy new courts, one club member said.

The Parks Department is constructing three bocce courts, which will all be equipped with overhead canopies and lighting — so the game never has to stop — said a department spokeswoman.

And making way for the new courts was a feat in and of itself for some players, who didn’t want to give up the sport for the major $6.15 million overhaul to the park. But the Parks Department kindly provided the temporary — albeit a little smaller — court so athletes would not have to lose but one day of practice, said Bitelli.

“The temporary court is not really regulation size, but it was nice of them to do it for us so that we could play until they fix this up,” he said.

And one 95-year-old member of the Marine Park Bocce Club, which formed in 1996, has been keeping a close eye on the construction to make sure everything goes smoothly — and he’s hoping work finishes before he’s too old to enjoy the game, he said.

“I’m hoping that they progress a little quicker,” said Frank Motondo.

In addition to the new bocce courts, the Parks Department is installing six new handball courts and renovating four, fixing up 15 existing tennis courts, and four basketball courts. The $6.15 million project — funded by Councilman Alan Maisel (D-Marine Park) — also includes an exercise area, landscaping, benches, fences, and a garden, said a spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 3:26 am, June 10, 2016
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