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Community ready for action, School Board hears

Sportsmen’s Park no longer viable option for baseball, residents say

Sportsmen's Park ballfield after recent rain. Press photo by John Burbridge
Sportsmen’s Park ballfield after recent rain. Press photo by John Burbridge

By Amie Johansen |

Roughly 40 community members, parents, players and coaches made up the audience at last night’s Charles City School Board meeting. The topic piquing their interest: Sportsmen’s Park.

Flooding at Sportsmen’s Park has long been a problem School Board members have tried to resolve. Those attending Monday’s meeting announced they wanted immediate action, even if only temporary.

Before opening for public comment, Walker gave a presentation including visual illustrations of the floodplain. Walker utilized a website from the Iowa Flood Center which allowed him to simulate various heights of the river crest. As Walker manipulated the river crest, a blue haze fluctuated over Sportsmen’s Park showing the areas that are submerged during flood events.

“It sounds like maybe the only viable plan is (new property),” Tony Slinger, assistant coach, said. “I’m an action man, so what do we need to do to get this moving? I’ll be on that committee.”

Parent Kim Arndt echoed Slinger’s sentiments.

“To create another committee to talk about it for another year, we are losing money to our community,” she said.

Instead, Arndt purposed people gather to find locations and money to begin building a new complex as soon as possible.

“There are so many grants,” she said. “It’s not just Todd’s (Forsyth, activities director) job to go out and get a grant.”

Arndt noted she found grant possibilities from MLB and various other baseball and softball organizations.

Nancy Simmerson spoke of a complex recently built in Independence. According to Simmerson, much of the initial ground work was completed by area farmers to help lower the cost. She also mentioned the district chose not purchase bleachers until more money became available. The first priority of Independence district was to provide a place for ballplayers to play.

School Board President Scott Dight reminded those in attendance of the Board’s previous efforts to purchase land for an athletic complex.

“We have identified two other properties that would be suitable,” Dight said.

The first of the three properties was located across the street from the Charles City High School campus. Due to city regulations, this property was not approved to be built upon, ultimately causing the School Board to abandon the purchase attempt.

The location of the remaining two properties was not revealed so as to protect the school’s ability to purchase the property. Dight closed the public comment with a plan to schedule meetings with Buildings and Grounds Committee and Finance Committee.

“We will come back to the community sometime in July or August to see where we can move forward from our perspective,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Dan Cox encouraged those in the community who were interested in being part of the solution to contact Forsyth at Roughly 10 of the attendees spoke with Forsyth before leaving the meeting last night.