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Bigger is better

The Snappy Park Complex is growing with age.

With help from several local entities, the City of Detroit Lakes expanded Snappy Park by three fields, as well as adding lights to a previous one.

But the new additions will not just benefit softball teams, which mainly use the facility.

The youth baseball Little League teams, which will use the new fields during their summer season, will also benefit from the expansion.

The idea of adding three new fields -- and fencing -- was spawned from the need of the city to address their water retention problem.

With the three fields at the Industrial Park site, it was decided to use the north one as a flood plain site and keep the other two as Little League fields.

Since the city already owned the land at Snappy Park, there was enough space to construct three fields on the southern end of the complex.

The use of the new fields will begin June 1.

"It's nice for the Little League -- from minor league on up -- that there are also bathroom facilities at Snappy Park," said DL Public Works Director Brad Green. "We also constructed a wellhouse and converted it to the irrigation system which waters Snappy Park."

That means there will be no more city water used to irrigate Snappy Park, which essentially saves the city costs from that.

"It increases our efficiency," Green said of the new wellhouse.

The fields are measured for both Little League and fastpitch softball --  which the DLHS Laker varsity and junior varsity teams will use.

Now instead of using a snow fence to mark the outfield barrier, the Lakers will be able to have real fencing surrounding their field for their spring and summer seasons.

"We finally get to have a regulation field and will get the true bounces during games," said DL head softball coach Phil Kirchner. "Overall, it's good for the community and for Little League, which will play there.

"We already have one of the best facilities in the area, now it's a premier one."

The three fields are measured at 200 feet, with a 20-foot backstop.

All three are finished, seeded and agrilimed, with all the fencing already put up.

With the addition of the three fields, there are now a total of nine -- with one now fitted with lights.

New additions are cost efficient for City of DL

The total cost for the project came out to be $100,400 -- which includes fencing, agrilime, turf establishment, site grading, equipment (bases and benches) and lighting.

The project and city gained donations from the DL Softball Association and the DL School District, each for $15,000.

The City Public Works department provided the labor and in-kind costs, which totaled $21,400.

The final $50,000 was provided by the City Park Dedication Fund, which was set up for the community to recoup money or land at the rate of six-percent on plats and different additions made in the city boundaries.

This City Park Dedication Fund has been established since 2001 and can only be used for new projects, not for maintenance costs.

Broadway Welding also allowed the city to use their parking area as overflow parking, which was made viable through a conditional use permit.

So, in essence, no monies from the city's general fund were used for the project.

Benefits outweigh costs

With the project basically completed, now the city and users of Snappy Park can reap the benefits.

With nine fields, the DL Softball Association can host larger tournaments during the summer and fall months, while also having the advantage of at least one lighted field to play evening games.

Little League teams can also play on regulation fields, while having all the amenities of a good sporting complex with concessions and rest rooms.

"The Softball Association can help generate more income for the community by hosting larger tournaments, which brings in a lot of people," Green said. "It was a good deal for the city, in that it was a one-time expense for development."

Last year's numbers for the Little League -- which is run through the DL Community and Cultural Center -- numbered at 418, while Kirchner has 40-plus softball players who use Snappy Park for his high school and summer seasons.

Count the near 400-500 softball players who play in summer adult leagues at Snappy, and that's well over 1,000 local players, both youth and adult, who will benefit from the project at Snappy Park.