City to work with Muscatine CSD on baseball-softball complex

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Sept. 8, the Muscatine City Council unanimously consented to working out a purchase agreement with Muscatine Community School District that would allow the district to purchase Tom Bruner Field and create their own baseball-softball complex incorporating the current Kent-Stein Park Field One in exchange for building a new softball diamond elsewhere in the park. Though the city has yet to develop and sign off on a purchase agreement with the district, they expressed generally positive feelings towards the project.

At the Aug. 4 Muscatine City Council meeting, Muscatine Community School District representatives, including Superintendent Clint Christopher, outlined the district’s plans for the baseball-softball complex, which would allow high school teams to practice as needed without interfering with other baseball and softball teams wanting to use the park for play or practice. The new complex would include Tom Bruner Field, which the district has had the use of from the city and which they have put $75 thousand in upgrades into over the last three years, as well as Field One, which features a softball diamond. Additionally, the district would have self-contained restrooms and concessions, cutting down on extra traffic elsewhere in the park, as well as batting cages for teams to practice in. To make room for these additions, the district has offered to work with the city to move the existing segment of bike trail and the horseshoe pits to more advantageous locations. A new parking lot built by the school would also improve traffic in the park and on surrounding side streets.

City council elected to revisit their decision on whether to move forward with creating a purchase agreement until after the school district held their public hearing on it. At the school board’s August meeting, members voted to move forward with the project and no community members petitioned against it during the 14 day challenge period that followed the meeting. Moving forward, the district will work with Russell, a construction company, to draft and approve a contract for the project.

Before deciding to move forward with creating the purchase agreement with the district, several members of council had questions about how the agreement would look. Council member John Jindrich favored giving the district Tom Bruner Field as a gift due to the years of work they have put in to maintain it. Council member Peggy Gordon expressed an interest receiving a more formal payment to make record keeping easier. Council member Dennis Froelich wanted to explore if the city could retain ownership of the property until construction wrapped up, while council member Jeff Osborne thought they should learn if that would create a legal liability for the city. Even before construction started, Nadine Brockert encouraged the district to start holding community meeting to inform neighbors of what changes to expect and to gather questions and concerns.

Despite some of their concerns over crafting the best deal, council members seemed to largely support this new upgrade to Muscatine High School’s ball playing facilities and to making Kent-Stein Park easier to navigate and enjoy for all who use it, as well as for neighboring community members. “I can tell you, everyone is on board community-wise that I have talked to,” reported Council Member Angela Lewis.

“I think it’s great that we’re cooperating as major parts of the city, and I appreciate that the solution was brought forward,” added Jeff Osborne.

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