A softball solution

An aerial view shows the Monticello Athletic Complex. The diamond farthest to the left would become the varsity softball field under a plan to replace the current softball fields if the bond issue passes Sept. 11. (Photos courtesy of Monticello Community School District)

A new youth baseball/softball diamond behind Shannon Elementary School would be added under the proposed plan.
Entities work together to answer bond softball question
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     One of the biggest questions that has emerged as the Sept. 11 bond vote for a new middle school approaches, has been solving the dilemma of the high school softball fields.

     If the bond vote passes, meaning a new middle school will be built where the current varsity soccer field sits, the building would be too close to the current softball fields.

     Superintendent Brian Jaeger said the problem has been solved.

     But on three occasions – during a facility information session Aug. 9, on the latest video about the bond vote offered on the school district website, and in an Aug. 17 interview in his office – Jaeger said solutions have been reached.

     Jaeger and school board president Bud Johnson met in early August with representatives from the City of Monticello, the Monticello Youth Baseball and Softball Association (MYBSA), and the Monticello Parks and Recreation Department.

     Together, they came up with – and agreed upon – this:

     • The southwest field at the Monticello Athletic Complex – currently home to MYBSA games – would become a single, high school softball field.

     Jaeger said this would create a better atmosphere for high school games, to have baseball and softball close together rather than several hundred feet apart.

     “If we had two games (at the complex) it changes our environment. It creates a really neat atmosphere in the evenings when we’re playing baseball and softball games,” Jaeger said at the Aug. 9 meeting.

     He added that while the high school teams would lose a field, baseball is able to operate with just one field by playing at different times of the day, and if softball practices need to be held at the same time, the other MYBSA field and the prep field could be used for those.

     • A new field would be built on the Shannon School site to replace the one the MYBSA would lose at the complex.

     “They are used to having the two fields out at the sports complex and one at Shannon,” Jaeger said. “So it’s just a flip. Now they’ll have two fields at Shannon and one field at the sports complex.

     “We will build a field at Shannon which is a comparable field to what we have at the complex. We want to improve the concession stand and add restrooms.”

     As for soccer, the hgh school teams would play their matches at Dean Nelson Field, just as other schools – Anamosa and Dyersville Beckman are nearby examples – use their football fields for soccer as well.

     This solution was required when it was determined that the district was not going to be able to purchase additional land south of the athletic complex.

     “That wasn’t in the cards,” Jaeger said. “That land is not available for us to buy.”

     Other solutions were looked at. The football practice and softball fields west and southwest of the high school weren’t options, because they are in flood plain area. Also, there wasn’t enough room to build a regulation high school softball field at Shannon.

     The solution that did come about, Jaeger said, “I think is going to end up being something better for our community in the long run.”

     There are things to be hashed out, he added. The MYBSA field that will become the high school softball field will need to be upgraded with dimensions that match Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union specifications, such as the distance between home plate and the backstop. Also, how concessions staffing and revenue will be divided will need to be worked out.

     Costs for all of these projects are already part of the bond issue vote; they will come from SAVE revenue bonds, Jaeger said.

     “I truly think, landing where we’ve landed is going to be a better solution for our school district,” Jaeger said. “I’m really happy that the City, MYBSA and Parks and Rec were all on the same page with this.”



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