Irrigation systems, circuit breakers, open wells don’t mix well with storage of sports equipment. Until now, the Hillsdale Recreation Department has had to cram all of this and more into one room at Field of Dreams.
Now, thanks to generous donations from community members and a $9,134 grant from the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, the Recreation Department is on course to build a new storage facility starting this spring.
According to Recreation Director Michelle Loren, the facility will be used for storing sports equipment, grounds maintenance equipment, and other items. Additionally, it will allow sole use of a smaller maintenance room attached to the concession stand for its intended purposes, such as electrical boxes and the facility’s open well.
“We’ve had to use it for storage,” she said. “But you’ve got kids running in and out of there, and so we were concerned with the safety aspect of it.”
There is currently an additional small shed on the grounds, which the Hillsdale Soccer Club uses for storage. Loren said the Recreation Department prefered to build an existing structure, rather than allow more of these sheds. This will help keep the grounds organized, and will also allow for continuity in the appearance of the buildings.
Without donations, the project would cost an estimated $27,500. The $9,134 grant from the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, however, is helping to offset this.
“This project will benefit the Recreation Department and all of the other groups that,” HCCF Director of Community Engagement Amber Yoder said. “Field of Dreams is an amazing place and a great benefit to both those within the city and outside of its limits.”
Several other local business have committed to helping make the project a reality. Jonesville Lumber is providing the materials for the project at cost, while Kyser Construction, Stoll Construction, and Double A Landscaping and Supply will offer goods at cost and donate labor to the construct the building.
“Everything at the Field of Dreams has been done without taxpayer money, outside of maintenance,” Loren said. “All of that has been built off of donations, tournaments, things like that. So it really does belong to our community.”
Additional funding will come from the Field of Dreams Fund — which is revenue generated from tournaments at the Field of Dreams — the Field of Dreams Endowment Fund, and an in-kind donation from the Department of Public Service.
The building will allow storage of more than helmets, balls, and pads. Loren said she plans to also store field grooming equipment in the shed, such as a tractor and its attachments. Previously, these were stored outside, where they were exposed to the elements, causing unnecessary deterioration, according to the Recreation Department’s grant application to HCCF.
Loren said she hopes to purchase a new tractor for the fields in the near future, now that there will be a suitable place to store it. This will allow for improved grooming and maintenance of the fields.
According to the grant application, this project falls in line with the Recreation Department’s mission of being a “good steward” of the facility through continued improvement, so that all in the community can enjoy the facility.
“It’s a place where people can come together,” Loren said. “It’s really our summer home.”