Valley Springs ballpark in the works

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By ABBY SOUZA

Six baseball fields, two soccer/football fields, a pool, a skate park, a 10,000-square-foot community center and an outdoor amphitheater are only some of the things a nonprofit group has included in plans for a park at New Hogan Reservoir.

"I think it's exciting. People in my area would love to have it," said Supervisor Merita Callaway, who represents the area above Murphys on Highway 4.

The board voted Monday to support the Foothill Communities Park and Recreation organization's plans to build the park on 45 acres near Wrinkle Cove.

"It's really nice to have their official support," said Judy Allen, a member of the Foothill Communities board of directors.

The idea for the park started two years ago, when community members heard a rumor that the property their kids were playing Little League on, called the "clay pits" in downtown Valley Springs, might not be available.

Girls' softball games are split between fields at the Jenny Lind Veterans Memorial District Park and Valley Springs Elementary, both in downtown Valley Springs.

Because Calaveras County has no county-run recreation district, Allen said families knew they would be responsible for finding somewhere for their kids and the many kids to come to play organized sports.

When a ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called the group about the available land at New Hogan Reservoir, Allen said the group went to look at the property right away.

Foothill Communities then began the process of designing what it hoped the park would look like. Dave Tanner, a golf course designer with young children, drew up the plans for free.

"We probably saved $100,000 so far just on his donated time," Allen said.

Tanner spoke on behalf of the group Monday.

"We have a tremendous shortfall of ball fields within our community," he said.

Some attendees of Monday's meeting disagree.

"Our facilities aren't being utilized," Burson resident Ed Anderson said.

He was one of many audience members who said they don't believe the current ball fields are as packed as the Foothill Communities Park group says they are.

Allen said scheduling could be part of the problem, but, "you can't have 8-year-old kids playing" at 10 at night.

She also said it is hard for working parents to get their children to games earlier than they already do.

The park project is in an "environmental process," Allen said, and could require an Environmental Impact Review.

Foothill Communities Park and Recreation organization has just started working with a grant writer to find money to build the park.

All supervisors voted for the park at Monday's meeting, except Victoria Erickson, who abstained because the item was added to the agenda Friday, which gave her too little time to tackle the issue, she said.

Several audience members also took issue with the late-added item.

"The public has not been properly notified of what is going on today," Anderson said.

However, County Council Skip Batchelder said the item was properly placed on the agenda.

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The Union Democrat
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