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Construction to start on Hinman Park July 15

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY  —  With nearly $71,000 either in hand or as a firm pledge, construction on the Hinman Park ball field project is set to begin July 15.

The Glenwood City Summer Recreation Board of Directors met February 11 to review the status of fundraising for the project that will completely rebuild the ball fields at Hinman Park.

Nearly two years ago, the City of Glenwood City created a Summer Recreation Board of Directors to oversee the baseball and softball programs.

Ideally, the Summer Rec board would raise $100,000 all together for fencing, excavating, landscaping, dugouts, electrical, plumbing, maintenance equipment, concrete, batting cages and scoreboards.

The estimated base cost of the renovation is $85,000, said Brent Standaert, chair of the board of directors.

The board set a goal of $65,000 by March 1 for demolition of the ball fields to begin July 15,  he said.

So far, $62,900 is ready and available for use. The City of Glenwood City has set aside $40,000 for the project. The Summer Recreation program has set aside another $10,000. The remaining $13,000 has come from the Towns of Springfield, Glenwood, Emerald and the Village of Downing, along with contributions from the American Legion, the Glen Hills Lions Club, and various individuals.

An additional $7,700 is what Standaert said he would describe as “firm pledges” that are expected to be in the Summer Rec bank account within a short amount of time.

“Hinman Park has been a wonderful asset to Glenwood City and the surrounding area for many years,” said Lane Berenschot, a member of the Summer Rec Board of Directors.

“This project will restore and update these fields for many years to come. I know other families can relate, but this park has really been a big part of my family growing up. It brings kids from all over and gives them a positive environment, both on and off the field, to have fun, learn and grow. If you want to help promote our local youth, we welcome any type of contribution to our project,” he said.

Issues that need to be resolved at Hinman Park include poor drainage and the low elevation of both ball fields that leave the fields constantly wet along Oak Street.

The orientation of the fields also does not provide easy access to restrooms, concessions or handicapped accessibility.

In addition, the dugouts are falling apart and are becoming a safety issue, not to mention that they obstruct the view of spectators.

Fences around the ball fields are heaving from the frost and are damaged and becoming a safety issue.

Baseballs leaving the field of play also create a hazard for people using the swimming pool and for spectators as well.

The proposed renovations will change the orientation of the ball fields so that the dugouts are near the concession stand, restrooms and the parking lot.

The fields will be re-graded and fill will be hauled in to eliminate water and drainage problems.

Damaged fencing will be replaced, the backstops heights will be increased, and the foul-line fencing will be increased to reduce baseballs leaving the field of play.

New dugouts also will be constructed to allow spectators to see the players.

All together, nearly 250 youngsters play softball and baseball at Hinman Park ranging in ages from 4K to eighth grade.

The $85,000 does not include scoreboards, Standaert noted.

The Summer Rec Board of Directors has applied for $20,000 in grants through the Milwaukee Brewers and the Minnesota Twins, he said, adding that if Glenwood City is awarded any of those grants, the board of directors will find out the amounts in June.

Registration fees for participating in the Glenwood City Summer Rec baseball and softball program are $20 per student.

The fees have been kept low so everybody can participate, Standaert said.

More than 50 percent of the Glenwood City Elementary students from 4K to second grade participate in the ball field programs.

Registration forms for this year’s program will go out on February 22.

A fund-raising form will be included with the registration, and if people can afford to donate $20 toward the renovation program, “that would be great,” Standaert said.

River Valley Ford is planning a “test drive” program at Hinman Park May 18 and will bring five or six vehicles for people to test drive. For every test drive, River Valley Ford will donate a certain amount toward the Hinman Park project.

To end up with the full amount of $6,000, a total of 300 people would have to test drive vehicles that day, Standaert said.

And while 300 people test driving vehicles in one day seems a little unrealistic, Standaert said he is hoping for 150 people.

Anyone who might be interested in making a financial contribution to the Hinman Park renovation project can make a donation at the Glenwood City Hall at 113 West Oak Street.