Progress & Industry: Park and rec progress

Jill Meier, Journal editor
Val Lemkau and Bob Baker cut the ribbon commemorating the opening of First National Bank Field. Also pictured are Brandon Valley Baseball reps Chris Brown (left) and Stuart Peschel   and Andy Baker. Jill Meier/File photo

Savannah Wagner gets some air heading into the Brandon City Pool last summer. Jamie Hult/File photo

FNB Field: ‘For the kids’
Six weeks before First National Bank Field at Aspen Park was unveiled to the community, it was buried under  nearly a foot of snow.
Six weeks later, a community of Brandon Valley baseball fans were clad in T-shirts and sandals celebrating the official opening of the $1 million championship facility.
“For the first time, I am proud to welcome you to First National Bank Field,” said Chris Brown, sponsorship rep for the Brandon Valley Baseball Association’s Field of Dreams project. 
The celebratory crowd responded with a hearty round of applause accented by hoots and hollers. 
“Throughout this entire project, we kept the kids in mind,” Brown said. “Each decision we made was what would be the best for the kids, and we think it turned out pretty nice. We even believe the actual product out-performed the brochure.”
Bob Baker, vice president of business banking for the field’s namesake – First National Bank – said the championship-style field makes him wish he was a kid again.
“It’s nothing like I played on,” Baker said. “We’re just so excited to be part of this wonderful facility. We’ve been partners with Brandon for so long that it’s a thrill for us to be part of it, to be helping those kiddos out with all their day to day activities. And the turf is fantastic. I can’t get over how great the turf looks.”
While it may take a village to raise a child, BVBA board president Stuart Peschel assured the crowd that it takes a village to build a baseball stadium, too.
And Brandon’s field of dreams came to fruition just that way, Peschel explained. The idea came to life on a simple comment: “Wouldn’t it be great if Brandon had a championship field?” Peschel shared. “So, we started dreaming.”
The dream took shape with high-dollar commitments from the city of Brandon and First National Bank, which were enhanced by various levels of sponsorships secured by the BVBA. 
Park board explores bringing community splash pad to Brandon
The Brandon City Council awarded a splash pad study to Counsilman Hunsaker Aquatics for Life on Oct 1. 
Barb Fish, who serves as the council liaison on the park and rec board, said the RFP will look at several locations throughout the city. 
“There is some talk of going east near the golf course,” she said. “They will look at all the opportunities.”
The park and rec advisory board received a request to add playground equipment geared to older children at Tallgrass Park. Fish said it’s the recommendation of the board to relocate one of the two sand volleyball courts at Aspen Park to Tallgrass. 
The city’s investment in the summer rec program paid off, as 1,783 children (involving 129 families) – an average of 58 per day – participated in 2018.
The net cost to the city is approximately $21,000, Fish said.
Fish explained that the park and rec board re-evaluates the expenditure every year and agreed the program is warranted. Summer rec, which is housed at Brandon Elementary, is especially appealing to families with children who are too old to go to daycare and without the program, would be home all day by themselves.
She added the free summer lunch program offered by the Brandon Valley School District “was a nice tie-in.”
Jon Jacobson, chairman of the park and rec advisory board, and city engineer Tami Jansma organized an RFP for 37 acres of land the city acquired for expansion at Aspen Park.
“Hockey wants a place, maybe a bandshell,” Fish said of the possibilities.
Brandon residents Mike Coughlin and Brad VanLeur purchased land positioned between Aspen Park and Oakridge Nursery and Landscaping. Their vision for the property is to create a Brandon Town Square that would be surrounded by housing and commercial endeavors.
Coughlin and VanLeur are in discussion with city leaders regarding town square funding opportunities.



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