Town of Gypsum looks to take over maintenance of baseball field to benefit school, community
GYPSUM — The reasoning is straightforward. Why build a baseball field in a community that already has one?
That’s the conclusion the town of Gypsum has come to after results from its recent recreation planning effort revealed community support for a regulation baseball field. But as the town looked toward its IK Bar property near Red Hill Elementary and Gypsum Creek Middle schools, officials came to the conclusion that there was a better place for a competitive diamond. That place is where it already exists — Pete Nolan Field at Eagle Valley High School.
“The high school field just needs some TLC,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll.
The town has reached out to Eagle County Schools with its proposal to take over maintenance at the Eagle Valley High School diamond and has budgeted $15,000 in 2016 to begin work. Shroll said the plan simply makes sense because it will be good for the school and good for the community. What’s more, it represents a practical reality that the town is better equipped to handle maintenance at the field during the summer months, when school isn’t in session but Gypsum crews are fully staffed to handle the community’s other park and open space needs. Additionally, a college player summer league competes at the Gypsum field and the facility needs more aggressive summer maintenance to meet that program’s needs.
The first capital project that needs to be addressed at the field is its irrigation system. “Then we can take care of the weeds and dandelions,” said Shroll.
In the longer term, Shroll said he envisions spectator improvements at the site similar to what the town has done at its Second Street park.
“We want to make the field a little more family friendly,” said Shroll.
Ultimately, Shroll said the town wants to look at a concessions stand and restrooms building at the field. But, he noted, even such an ambitious long-term project represents significant cost savings for Gypsum.
“This is a much better alternative than building a field. We have a field,” he said.
What’s more, the existing field has something a new field never would — a history.
“We love that field and I think every young man who has played on that field loves it,” said Eagle Valley High School baseball coach Jesse Meryhew.
On Saturday, Eagle Valley High School players and parents swarmed Pete Nolan Field for their annual work day. Each spring, volunteers get the field prepared for the high school season.
Meryhew noted that there’s great support for town improvements to the Eagle Valley High School field. “There were several members of the community who think we have a great location for baseball here,” he said. “I am just excited for a face lift of what we have here.”
Meryhew said that, over the years, improvements have been made at Nolan field. The Skylar Hootman memorial and donations from the Eagle Valley Foundation built new dugouts and placed a scoreboard at the site. “This proposal is just taking it to the next level,” said Meryhew.
Shroll noted the town is working on an intergovernmental agreement with the school district to finalize the baseball field plan and Gypsum officials and community members share Meryhew’s enthusiasm for the proposal.
“Baseball is America’s game. We need to have a good field for them,” said Shroll.