Local bocce ball games may soon move from the Baker Park lawn to professional courts through a public-private partnership between the city of Frederick and two resident groups.
Members of Frederick Bocce, a grassroots group of bocce ball enthusiasts, hope to partner with the Friends of Baker Park and the city to build four courts and amenities on a piece of vacant land adjacent to College Avenue near the tennis courts.
Bocce ball is a popular outdoor yard game that consists of rolling large balls toward a smaller one to get as close to it as possible while competing with other players.
The Board of Aldermen discussed the details of a working memorandum of understanding between the parties at a workshop Wednesday and are set to vote on it at an upcoming public hearing.
Bob Smith, the city’s deputy director of parks and recreation, said that once the agreement is approved, the Friends of Baker Park will begin raising money to pay for the equipment and supplies, while the city’s Public Works and Parks departments will provide the labor to construct the courts.
“It’s kind of a win-win,” Smith said Wednesday. “It’s bringing a needed amenity to the park with help from the Friends of Baker Park.”
Peter Brehm, president of the Friends of Baker Park, said representatives hope to raise about $21,000 to pay for equipment and supplies.
He explained that the established nonprofit is helping Frederick Bocce, which does not have 501(c)(3) status, and that members fully support the endeavor.
“The Friends of Baker Park is enthusiastic about Frederick Bocce’s effort and working closely with us on getting this done,” he said.
Local bocce players, who consist of people of all ages and walks of life, currently conduct games in a grassy area of the park and hope to improve the terrain with the construction of the hard surface courts.
“It will be hard and fast, unlike the grass we play in now,” said Judy Briley, a representative of Frederick Bocce.
Briley and several other members of Frederick Bocce spoke at Wednesday’s workshop about the benefits of bocce and the wide range of players it attracts. She said anyone can show up and play with the group.
“Anybody that comes by, if they stop and show interest in our game, we invite them to play,” Briley said. “I have met people form all over the country and people from all over the world and they played bocce with us. I feel like we have helped to make Frederick seem like a friendly and welcoming place in that way.”
Marc Stachowski, the city’s deputy director of operations for the Department of Public Works, said it should take crews three weeks to a month to construct the courts once the funds are raised.
“We are excited about bocce courts because we’ve never built them before. ... It’s going to be fun,” he said.
Smith said the agreement discussed Wednesday also includes a measure to allow the waiver of park use fees for bocce ball players to use the courts, as the organization is providing funds to construct them.
Mayor Michael O’Connor pointed out the potential for more of those types of agreements to take place as more public-private partnerships are inked between the city and local organizations for portions of city-owned land.