The Reasons additional Bocce courts are needed in Benicia.
The Benicia Bocce League started in 2007 with 8 Teams. It quickly expanded to 16 teams in 2008, 23 teams in 2009 and for the past seven years the League has remained at 39 teams which, with two courts, has precluded further expansion of teams, and players, of which approximately 400 play each season. The teams play seven days a week and both individuals and those interested in fielding teams have been turned away. The League has not aggressively promoted additional participation in the sport because there is no additional space to add teams. The Benicia Bocce League is not looking for a gift from the City, but is looking to provide the city of Benicia with approximately ⅔ of the cost to improve a public park and finish it off.
With two courts, it is virtually impossible to run a tournament which would bring additional consumer dollars into the community. Four courts are needed to allow additional citizens to participate in a competitive sport enjoyed by many to the exclusion of others. Upon discovery that no more teams could be added to the League roster, and the City of Benicia’s disinterest in funding two addition courts, the League undertook the effort to privately fundraise the money to build the courts. It partnered with the Rotary Club of Benicia Foundation in order to fund the project. Plans and engineering were completed at an initial cost to the BBL of $7,000 and as of this date an additional $125,000 has been raised by corporate and private donations and private loans in order to build the two additional courts.
The most competitive bid has been by Harold Bray Construction, a second generation Benicia contractor, at $185,500, leaving an unfunded need of approximately $75,000 when the construction of a $15,000 shed is factored in. If the City of Benicia is not willing or is unable to pay for the remaining construction costs this current year, the BBL Board has voted (after 6 years of fundraising) to return all funds to the donors. This will be a lost opportunity to the City, where a public park improvement could have been accomplished made for approximately 35%% of the actual cost with private funds paying for the majority (65%) of the construction costs. We believe that the elected officials of this city should unanimously vote to fund the remaining 35% in order to complete the park.
Funds are available to the City of Benicia in order to complete this Public Park Project
In 2014, Measure C was passed by the voters in this City to support existing City Services and to improve infrastructure needs for Public Safety, Roads and Parks.
In reviewing the 2 year budget (2016-17) we note that of the $4.37 Million allocated for capital improvements, 23% is for park projects, which includes Engineer design for the Clocktower repair, Promenade Railing Replacement, Community Park Playground Replacement and James Lemos Pool Repairs. Only two of these projects are actually parks (pool and community park) which only total 15% of the total capital project budget)
We understand that The City Council has not allocated the $700k surplus from Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget, nor the approximately $700k surplus anticipated for the Fiscal Year 2016-17. There is approximately $1,400,000 in surplus uncommitted funds which pursuant to the terms of Measure C are to be used for Parks. The Bocce courts are in a park and are for public use. $75k investment represents less than 2% of the Capital Project budget. The League seeks $75,000 to which it will contribute $125,000 in private funds for a public park.
In addition, since 2012, the BBL has paid the City of Benicia approximately $19,000 in user fees. Once the two additional courts are completed the number of players is anticipated to increase, thus increasing the user fees paid to the City of Benicia for League play, as compared to the public who use the courts when they are available and who pay no user fee. Based on just the level of current fees together with the increase in user fees the City of Benicia should completely recover the expense of these courts within 10 to 15 years.
Reasons to Support Bocce in the Public Park.
1. Public parks provide citizens with the opportunity to be physically active. Physical activity is an essential part of an individual’s efforts to stay healthy, fight obesity and prevent chronic conditions that lead to coronary disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Bocce is one of the few sports that can be competitively played by any gender or age from the young to Octogenarians. As the population of our community is aging, the City of Benicia must support activities and public space that can be enjoyed by all citizens in the community.
2. Parks have true economic benefit. The proximity of parks to residential areas leads to increased value of private land, a higher tax base and ultimately many economic benefits to a community including increased local and regional revenue from tourism, steady jobs, and numerous small business benefits. Park and recreation areas are economic engines that improve the quality of life and make communities livable and desirable for businesses and homeowners. The area where the proposed bocce courts are to be located is currently under-used and will benefit by upgrading the park to include the two additional courts. There is is an additional economic benefit of bringing more people to the downtown area and to bring in money from outside players into the community when tournaments are held.
3. Parks and the sport of Bocce facilitate social interactions that are critical to maintaining community cohesion and pride. Parks provide a meeting place where community members can develop social ties, and where healthy behavior is modeled and admired. People gather to share experiences, socialize and to build community bonds in common spaces. These public commons are often the glue that holds the community together and the means to maintaining and improving future positive social interactions.
4. Leisure activities such as Bocce improve moods, reduce stress and enhance a sense of wellness. In an increasingly complex world, more and more people are placing a high value on achieving the feelings of relaxation and peacefulness that contact with nature, recreation and exposure to natural open spaces bring. People play bocce to get in a better mood, to reinvigorate themselves and to decrease the anxieties of daily life.
5. Recreational programs such as Bocce provide organized, structured, enjoyable activities for all ages. Bocce offers all Americans the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to successfully and confidently engage in sports. Public recreation leagues and classes offer seniors, adults and children alike the opportunity to interact with others who often turn into mentors and role models. Quality recreational programs facilitate safety, good sportsmanship and community participation.
6. Therapeutic recreation is an outlet that individuals with disabilities have to be physically active, socially engaged and cognitively stimulated. Programs such as organized bocce prevent the onset of secondary conditions due to inactivity; improve physical, social, emotional and cognitive functioning; and slow the onset of regressive conditions.