Silt soccer gets its kicks; town’s new `Field of Dreams’ ready for action
Silt soccer mom Deanna Bauer has built her own version of the baseball film, “Field of Dreams.” It’s just north of Highway 6 and 24, up the hill and behind the Silt Co-op. There, in the midst of the Flying Eagle subdivision, is 2.5 acres of fresh, green, prime soccer-playing sod, ready for play. This Saturday, Sept. 7, marks the grand opening for Flying Eagle Park and the field’s first soccer game.The game between Silt and Carbondale U-10 boys starts at 10:15 a.m. The Silt Parks and Recreation Department will put on a free lunch and serve free ice cream from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The official grand opening is set for 12:30 p.m.A soccer obstacle course and skills challenge follows for kids 5-13.The Flying Eagle Park has been a labor of love for Bauer over the past year and a half. She had first-hand knowledge of the need for adequate athletic facilities, since she’s been coaching soccer in Silt for the past three years and volunteering for the past five. The mother of two soccer-playing boys, Bauer has also served as the president of the Silt Soccer Club. “It was frustrating for the kids and coaches,” Bauer said of Roy Moore Elementary School’s field – the only other field in Silt where soccer could be played.Because the play area doubled as a baseball field, the regulation soccer fields’ lines overlapped. “It could get pretty confusing for the players,” she said. “It just wasn’t adequate.”After conducting some research, Bauer, an 11-year Silt resident, found the large, empty Flying Eagle lot. “It was just a bunch of weeds,” she said.The Flying Eagle parcel, currently with a fair market value of $325,000, had been sitting empty since 1996, when it was donated to the town of Silt. Once Bauer set her sites on the vacant land, she went to Town Hall to see if she could get funding to develop two soccer fields: a smaller field for younger players and a larger one for older competitors.”We really needed these facilities,” she said. “Silt has plenty of picnic parks and playgrounds, but we really needed proper playing fields.”The town didn’t have the funds to develop the park, so that’s when Bauer’s vision of her own field of dreams – and her experience in public relations and her past work in Boston as a corporate meeting planner – kicked in. “I understood from the very beginning that if this park was going to happen, I was on my own,” said Bauer, who also has a master’s degree in physical education and recreation.She joined the Silt Parks & Recreation Committee, and volunteered to be the general contractor and treasurer for the project.After researching a couple successful local parks , among them, fields developed by Colorado Mountain College and Rifle, Bauer began assembling names of individuals and foundations who might be willing to lend a hand.Bauer would need some considerable help. The budget to survey and design the park, prepare the ground for sod, excavate and irrigate the area ran close to $154,000. “I’d never written a grant before,” said Bauer. Still she applied for three – to Colorado Youth Soccer, the Aspen Valley Community Foundation, and the Gates Family Foundation. She got all three, totaling $76,681. Bauer also received cash contributions from the Flying Eagle subdivision developers and the Silt Recreation Department. And, over 100 Silt soccer players, children, parents and coaches brought in over $5,000. “We did everything from sell calendars to raffle Avalanche tickets” Bauer said.Bauer says three in-kind contributors were key in making the project happen. Nathan Bell, an engineer with Gamba & Associates in Glenwood Springs, served as project engineer and co-general contractor for the park. Bauer estimates his in-kind contribution to be $10,000.Basalt Construction donated its services at a discount of nearly 50 percent, which totaled $25,000. And ColorScape of Colorado installed the water irrigation system and grass sod, donating $4,040 worth of services and equipment at no charge.”They did an awesome, professional job,” Bauer said. Bauer kept discovering contributors willing to give to the park – and to the players who will use it.”People want to do anything to help children,” she said. Other organizations that contributed to the park include Alpine Bank, Caca Loco Compost and Grand Junction Pipe and Supply, Bauer said that although the park will primarily be used for soccer, it will also host T-ball games. “People can go play baseball out there, or throw Frisbees,” she said. “The park has beautiful views. It’s a great place to go out and sit.”The southwestern corner of the park, which is paved, is a prime spot for a skateboard park, said Bauer. However, it awaits an advocate to organize a group to develop it. Now the soccer park is built and ready to host more than 100 of Silt’s youth soccer players – and their Western Slope Soccer League competitors from Basalt to Parachute. “My satisfaction from this project will be to see children playing and having fun together,” said Bauer. “Youth sports teaches the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork. Participating in youth sports gives young children a very productive way to express themselves and enjoy life.”
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