VCPS Contributes to Charlie Brown Project

During Tuesday night's regular Valley City School Board meeting, Val Moritz spoke of the joy she's experienced watching baseball games at Charlie Brown Memorial Field.
"You talk about a piece of Americana," said Moritz, a member of the school board. "Sitting up there watching a baseball game on a summer night and a train goes over the Hi-Line Bridge — it doesn't get any better than that."
Moritz's thoughts were part of limited discussion as board members unanimously approved giving $18,560 in funding to a project that will replace the lights at the stadium, Valley City's only lighted baseball field.
The project is being led by Valley City Parks and Recreation and work is expected to start this fall.
VCPR Director Tyler Jacobson gave a brief presentation to the board prior to the vote.
He said during the summer of 2011, a storm damaged one of the lights at the stadium and in the process of replacing it discovered the cost to replace them all wasn't much more substantial.
The project was intended to be done without assistance from other entities, such as Valley City Public Schools or Valley City State University, but the project had complications this summer during soil testing.
The light poles were designed to be planted 14 feet underground, but when the testing was being done, a layer of rock was found 10 feet under the field, which requires a change in poles' footing, Jacobson said.
"My original goal was to not have to go to other entities," Jacobson said. "When we hit that 10-foot bedrock, it threw a monkey wrench into my plan, so then I had to come back, and that's where I'm at today is asking the other entities involved if they can help out with the project."
He said the field annually hosts about 75 home games per year, ranging from junior high and high school games to college and mens league.
VCPS Superintendent Dean Koppelman recommended the money be paid out in a single installment from the school district's building fund.
"Parks and Rec has been so gracious over the years — they've not charged the district fees of any sort to use the facility, no lighting costs or anything along the way," Koppelman said. "We've just been good partners over the years and it does make sense to me at this time to help the park district in this effort."
VCSU is contributing a similar amount, and money is also coming from the city's food and beverage sales tax, as well as the park district and local gaming funds.
Jacobson told the board that the project should benefit Valley City for years to come.
He said the poles used in the Charlie Brown project will be the same style as those currently holding lights at Hanna Field and "will last our lifetime and beyond."
He also said that, aside from an occasional bulb replacement, the lights should last 30 to 40 years.
"This project, once it's done, should satisfy the needs of Valley City, at least on the one diamond," he said.