Dutton digs up funding

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, June 18, 2014
After several months of planning the West Liberty Parks and Recreation Department has just launched a full scale fundraiser to aid the Dutton Athletic Sports Complex.

The complex, which boasts four baseball diamonds, tennis courts and a skate park, was built to accommodate an increased need for diamonds due to the many baseball and softball leagues in West Liberty.

However, the Dutton Complex never quite reached its full potential. The property became available in the mid 2000s and the city jumped on buying it, but now that the complex has been built some serious TLC is needed.

"It takes a lot to keep everything updated, but we don't have that budget to do a whole lot of stuff," said Nick Heath, Director of the WL Parks and Rec. Dept. "To really have nice fields you really need to renovate them sometimes."

However, instead of sitting back and waiting for city funding, the department has decided to take the matter into its own hands. Their fundraiser will both bring in money and promote local businesses.

"Basically, you have a couple options," said Heath. "You can either get a sign put out on the outfield fence, or you can get a field named after you or your company for five years. You'll get a nice big sign on the backstop for that."

The department's goal for this summer is to raise $10,000. The signs range in size and time they'll be left up according to the amount given. They can go from $350 to $1,500 depending on the situation.

As for Dutton Field naming rights, a business can get a field named after it for five years with a $2,500 donation plus set up costs.

"A lot of fields have advertisement on their fields, different complexes around Iowa," added Heath. "They either have a banner or signs up with their local businesses. It was something we decided we need to get involved in."

While they have a donation goal this summer, the fundraiser will continue on into the future. There are several areas in which the Dutton Complex needs improvement.

"The first project is to get new infield mix," said Heath. "Right now it's about 100 percent clay out there."

He stated that the clay in the diamonds turns to mud when it rains and gets rock hard in warmer weather, neither are optimal for baseball.

He'd also like to get lights out on the field, considering many leagues, including men's softball, play games later in the day. When it starts getting dark it becomes hard to see.

Future projects will include installing a proper watering system and possibly moving the concession stand and bathrooms. Right now city employees physically water the field from a fire hydrant, a method that takes manpower, time and doesn't even reach all the diamonds.

As for the concession stand and bathrooms, they're located out in the parking lot. This means players often miss the beginning or large portions of their own games to use the restroom.

However, the ultimate goal is to not only to improve the complex, but to get its name out there as a place for tournaments and other activities.

"Baseball and softball is just growing, with traveling teams and ASA," said Heath. "We could host tournaments if we can get those fields in the right shape and bring more people to West Liberty."

It all starts with this latest fundraiser, an attempt to give T-ball, 12u, 8u, baseball and softball leagues a home of their own. Promoting the fields is key.

"Some people don't even know it's out there," added Heath.

To get involved contact the city or the Parks and Recreation Department. They'll give you a simple form that needs to be mailed back.
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