Field of Dreams project not to be "thrown out with bath water" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Field of Dreams project not to be "thrown out with the bath water"

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DYERSVILLE (KWWL) -

With three new council members and a new mayor elected Tuesday in Dyersville, many people are wondering about the fate of the Field of Dreams development project.

Nearly 40 percent of the city's registered voters cast a ballot, the results of which unseated three current elected officials and filled an open council position.

Developer Denise Stillman, through her company Go the Distance Baseball, plans to build a 24-field youth baseball and softball tournament facility adjacent to the Field of Dreams movie site.

Some people in the Dyersville area have welcomed the project as an economic boon, while others oppose it, saying it threatens the area's rustic charm and rural way of life.

Now, however, people on both sides wonder whether new city leadership will mean a change of course for the plans.

Current mayor Jim Heavens told the Telegraph Herald Tuesday night he believes the incumbent-ousting is a sure sign Dyersville voters don't want the project to succeed and that it's virtually killed.

Stillman, on the other hand, told KWWL Wednesday Heaven's comments couldn't be further from the truth. She said just because the elections didn't go his way doesn't mean the development project's future is in jeopardy.

Mayor-elect Alvin Haas said he's not against All-Star Ballpark Heaven, he just wants to learn more about it.

"I don't think we should throw it out with the bath water," Haas said. "I think it deserves a conversation. I think with a new council, a new mayor, maybe a new perspective on it, we can get there."

Haas ran for mayor also in 2007 and 2011 and said he's excited to finally start tackling some of his top agenda items.

"Getting a handle on the debt is probably the biggest thing that I was concerned about," Haas said, adding he also wants to see revitalization in Dyersville's downtown area. "Not everything we have up at City Hall is bad, but there are some things that I have a concern about."

Ward 1 council member elect Teresa Bockenstedt said she wants to add more openness and public input as Field of Dreams development plans unfold.

"I'm ready to listen to see what (Dyersville citizens) want me to present, because to me it's not sitting up on the city council and making decisions that I want. It's going to be what the people of Dyersville want," Bockenstedt said.

Both she and Haas emphasized they did not run on a "Field of Dreams platform." Both of them, in fact, insist lowering the city's debt is one of their top priorities.

Data from the city of Dyersville show the municipality has $12.1 million in outstanding debt. That's just under 73 percent of its total debt capacity. The city is paying that off at a rate of about $1 million per year.

The new mayor and council members will assume their positions Jan. 1.

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