There was some stiff bocce ball competition at Veterans Memorial Park Tuesday morning, where members of the Riverhead Town Board joined area bocce players to celebrate the opening of the Calverton park’s new courts.
The park is now home to two bocce courts designed according to size and material specifications used by bocce leagues across the East End. The $15,000 cost for the courts was funded by the town Parks and Recreation Department, said Ray Coyne, the department superintendent.
The work was completed in about three months by buildings and grounds workers and features special clay-like material known as Har-Tru, Mr. Coyne said.
Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he was unaware of the popularity of the game, particularly among the 55-plus crowd, until residents spoke about the need for public courts during an October board meeting.
Frank Kelly, a member of a six-person team from the Windcrest East active retirement community in Calverton, said Southampton had been the closest location for a league.
That league is made up of 24 teams and 144 players. Windcrest East is the only Riverhead team. Last year, Mr. Kelly said his team won the league championship.
“When they told us they were the winning team, yet didn’t have a public court to play on here, we said ‘We can’t let that happen,’ ” Mr. Walter said.
The courts were designed to replicate those in Southampton.
“It outshines Southampton’s [courts],” Mr. Kelly said during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Team captain Frank Cavallaro said the team has already been playing on the new courts three or four times a week. The work was completed last month.
He said the hope is to start a league closer to home.
“They courts are beautiful, and they used the best material,” he said. “Many of the retirement communities around here have people playing. Maybe we could get them interested in forming teams themselves.”
If there is enough interest, Mr. Cavallaro said he hoped the town recreation department could run a league.
Anyone interested in participating in a league or playing a game can call Mr. Cavallaro at (631) 369-5288.