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Field Of Dreams Master Plan Will Bring Upgrades

FARMVILLE – If you renovate it, more of them will come.

More people to enjoy better facilities.

That is one of the reasons the Field Of Dreams will get some fine-tuning ahead of next summer's state tournament, but renovations are also aimed at local young people, their teams and spectators.

Farmville's Town Council gave its supportive consent to Town Manager Gerald Spates' proposal to hire a consultant to do a master plan design for the Field Of Dreams, which council voted to purchase in March of 2010 from the Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA), with the deal finalized in April of that year.

In an interview with The Herald, Spates had nothing but praise for PEFYA and the way the organization runs the Field Of Dreams and believes those volunteers should not be burdened with raising money for a master plan and renovations.

“I think the key thing is the people that are running the program they're all volunteers and they shouldn't have to maintain the facilities or raise money to do it. I think we ought to help them some with trying to get some of this stuff done,” the town manager said.

“We bought the facility to make sure it remained the Field of Dreams and the Board that's been overseeing the operation they've done improvements here and improvements there and really what we need to do is you really need to have an overall master plan on how that facility can be better utilized,” Spates said.

“And that's pretty much what I want to do and get going on it. We've got the state tournament here next July and I'd like get some of these things in place prior to that,” Spates continued. “Different things that people would like to see out there. Some of the fields are too small. You need to have somebody look at it from the standpoint of an engineer as part of a master plan.”

Spates also said “There's a lot of issues with the spectator viewing areas. Some of them are up on a hill.”

The town manager observed, “I'm not saying this is a bad thing but when they built the facility they put in loose gravel and little kids come out there and play with it, throw it everywhere, so it's just really basically a lot of it is general appearance of the facility. The concession stand, that needs to be modernized to be able to handle a lot more people quickly.

“Fencing and stuff like that needs to be done. Irrigation.

“So to make it more spectator-friendly, aesthetically to make it look a lot better than it does. Kind of like what we did with the golf course, tried to make that facility a lot more attractive than what it was,” Spates explained.

The town manager said, “there's no question” that the Field Of Dreams complex has proved its value to the community. The state tournament next summer will emphasize the positive impact on the local business community and economy.

The state tournament in South Hill this summer proved that point.

“I went to the tournaments in South Hill and also in McKenney. And the number of people there-the town manager of South Hill told me that that generated over a million dollars for the businesses in South Hill with the tournament they had over there,” Spates said, “so it's a big draw. And you think about it, you know that parents and grandparents, everybody's going to come, some are going to stay, so I think it's going to be a big thing for the whole area.”

Relishing the vision, Spates continued, saying, “this is people coming from all over the state, it's not just Farmville, so it's a big draw. We're going to get the taxes off the restaurants, the hotels and motels. It's going to help all the businesses. I know when we had the girls'…tournaments here, you couldn't even get into the restaurants.”

But Spates is also aware of the way area residents enjoy the Field Of Dreams throughout the playing season, justifying the master plan renovation investment.

“Oh, yeah, there's no question about that and you know all during the year, during the season they have teams from other areas come in and play,” he said, “so it's not just local teams playing, it's teams from all across the area so it brings people in from outside all the time.”

Families who come to the facility may be seeing Farmville for the first time and what they see may encourage them to come back for another visit to enjoy outdoor recreation, history, or shopping.

“That's exactly right,” Spates said. “And council's very supportive of it. I think they realize the importance that this facility is for kids in the area. If you go out on the weekend, just during the regular season it's a bunch of people out there.”

And a bunch more expected next summer.