Field of Dreams plans fire up Dyersville residents - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Field of Dreams plans fire up Dyersville residents

Matt Mescher addresses the Dyersville City Council Tuesday evening Matt Mescher addresses the Dyersville City Council Tuesday evening

The Field of Dreams expansion project prompted some emotional comments at the Dyersville City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

A group of neighbors have expressed concerns about the proposed $38 million development of All Star Ballpark Heaven, a national youth baseball and softball tournament facility.

More than a dozen people got up to comment on the project. Remarks got emotional and even tense.

Wayne Ameskamp is a farmer and Field of Dreams neighbor.

"Don't let them build these baseball diamonds out in the country and take our farm ground out of production and ruin our piece of heaven," he said from a prepared statement.

About 75 people packed the council chambers at City Hall, in a standing-room-only meeting where people expressed both concerns and support for the Field of Dreams expansion project.

"I talked to other communities, and they would love to have this opportunity, absolutely love it, and to have this fall in our lap is one in a million," Karla Thompson, Dyersville Chamber of Commerce Director, said.

Neighbors expressed concerns about extra flooding in nearby Hewitt Creek.

"My biggest concern about building 24 baseball diamonds is the runoff water from the rain," Ameskamp said. "I feel this is going to cause more flooding issues to my family, neighbors downstream and the City of Dyersville."

Denise and Mike Stillman are the Chicago-area couple looking to develop the land. They own investment group Go the Distance Baseball and have a purchase agreement with current Field of Dreams owners Don and Becky Lansing.

Denise Stillman was in town Tuesday evening for the city council meeting and sat down with KWWL earlier in the day for an interview.

"Our hope, really, is that we'll be able to re-engineer a lot of where that water flow is," she said, addressing the flooding concerns. "Certainly, we can't move the creek, that's against the law, but what we can do, with underneath all that land, is create tunnels that will move water away from the creek and help it flow where it needs to go, away from where the neighbors are."

Some neighbors at the council meeting, like Matt Mescher, proposed alternative locations.

"If the Stillmans' numbers are correct, their business model should work anywhere," Mescher said.

"The project, in my opinion, should be built in town or close to a major highway," Ameskamp said.

Neighbors also expressed concerns over the increase in traffic and decrease in peace and quiet.

"A traffic study needs to be done," Stillman said. "We want to be good neighbors. The lights will be dimmed. We won't be playing games until one in the morning. These are little kids, these are eight- to 14-year-olds."

The Stillmans said they're listening to neighbors' concerns.

"I know, in my heart of hearts, we'll do this the best way we can so it's the least impact for the neighbors, the best project for Dyersville and, most importantly, a wonderful experience for the families that will come, so they'll continue to keep coming, and will keep that Field of Dreams site alive," Stillman said.

Some neighbors, however, said the site is fine just the way it is now.

Stillman said by late summer or early fall, she and her husband hope to close on the purchase from the Lansings. Until then, Stillman said, they can't move ahead with developing the land.

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