CHARLES CITY, Iowa - The Charles City School District is raising money to fund the construction of a new baseball and softball complex on the North side of town.
The current complex at Sportsmen's Park is in a flood plain, leaving it periodically under water, meaning games and practices have to be moved to other fields or venues, or cancelled altogether. The new complex is expected to cost around $1.4 million, and will be located north of Sportsmen's Park on Grand Avenue at the city limits, with the district hoping that construction can begin as soon as possible, depending on funding.
Dana Sullivan is an assistant softball coach, and her team practices and plays at the park's Mark Fluhrer Field. This year posed some challenges for her team.
"We had parents that were bringing sump pumps and shop vacs and all sorts of things in order to clean our field in order to play."
Her team, though, was adamant about wanting to play at home.
"We had a senior girl that was so dedicated. She was told very strictly, 'Hey, go get your uniform on, you have to leave the field conditions to us from this point forward.'"
According to the district, more than 200 home games have either been cancelled or moved to an away location in the last eight years. And with that, Sullivan adds that the need can no longer be ignored.
"You can't look away. You can't close your eyes or pretend that the need isn't out here because that's unfair. And it's so obvious that I personally feel like we need to do something, and for us this seems like the right direction to be going."
Todd Forsyth is the Activity Director for the district, and one of six people (along with Sullivan) on the committee heading the project. During the height of flooding in June of this year, the baseball team was only able to use Sportsmen's Park six days out of the whole month. And it takes a community wide effort, and then some, to make sure student athletes can play ball.
"Tons and tons of hours by kids, by parents, by community members, by coaches. When we have to reschedule, surrounding communities allow us to use their facilities, so there's been overwhelming support by the communities around us. Rescheduling umpires, umpires have been great and excellent in that process as well."
Since their fundraising campaign began in November of last year, Forsyth says that the efforts and donations are growing, including a recent $10,000 grant awarded from the Minnesota Twins as part of their "Fields for Kids" program.
"They're really trying to put on a big push to see if we can reach our goal."
Pending fundraising efforts, construction on the new site could begin next summer. For those interested in donating, and for more information about the project, you can donate through the school district's website at CharlesCitySchools.org.
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