State water grant gives boost to Field of Dreams

It’s one of three projects that were awarded a total of $38 million

By: - January 28, 2022 3:36 pm

Members of the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees take the field prior to a game at the Field of Dreams on Aug. 12, 2021 in Dyersville, Iowa. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Dyersville will plumb drinking water and sewer service to its Field of Dreams attraction this year with the help of $11 million of the state’s new Water Infrastructure Fund, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday.

The eastern Iowa site of the 1989 film has long been a tourist attraction but has gained renewed interest in recent years for hosting professional baseball games. The Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Yankees in an inaugural game there last year, and the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are set to play in August.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announces water infrastructure projects Jan. 28, 2022 at the water treatment plant in Sioux City. (Screen shot from governor’s office livestream)

The infrastructure project “will allow us to maintain the momentum after the incredible success of last year’s major league baseball game that was held at the Field of Dreams,” Reynolds said Friday. “What an amazing reflection of who we are and what we are. It was so fun.”

The site lies about two miles northeast of town but was annexed by the city about a decade ago along with a zigzagging tract of land that connects the two.

The project will included about 15,000 feet each of water main and wastewater pipe.

“From the day it was annexed into the city, we’ve been working to find funding sources to get public infrastructure to that site,” said Mick Michel, city administrator for Dyersville. “This is an Iowa showpiece. The game has just demonstrated how special Iowa is.”

He said about 250,000 people visited the Field of Dreams last year. The games are played in a stadium that is separate from the original ballfield and holds about 8,000 spectators.

The state grant is expected to cover the total cost of the project. Construction is set to begin this year but is not expected to be complete by the August game.

Other projects

Reynolds also said two other projects in central and far northwest Iowa will get grants from the Water Infrastructure Fund, which was created with $75 million of federal pandemic relief money last year.

Up to $15 million of it will fund a project to eliminate a treacherous low-head dam on the Raccoon River near downtown Des Moines. It’s an initiative of Iowa Confluence Water Trails, which seeks to rejuvenate the metros waterways to accommodate people in canoes, kayaks and inner tubes and other water recreation.

People who venture too close to low-head dams can get caught in their powerful, circulating flows.

“They’re death traps,” said Rich Leopold, executive director of Polk County Conservation and a board member of the trails group. “Down here on the Raccoon, we have a really big one and it needs to go.”

It will cost an estimated $28 million to reshape the span of river near Fleur Drive, said Maggie McClelland, director of the water group, which is also known as ICON Water Trails.

The current dam has the functional purpose of raising the upstream river level where nearby Des Moines Water Works draws water into its treatment plant. During times of low river flow, workers manually place panels in the dam to maintain the higher level.

The proposed project would create a more gradual dam a bit downstream that will include automated panels. The new dam is expected to have two navigable routes with rapids or calmer water for varying degrees of difficulty. Fish will also have an easier time traversing it.

“The $15 million is a great investment to get us started with the project,” McClelland said.

The group will seek the remaining $13 million from private downers and other grant programs. The reshaped area will have places to enter or exit the river and might be complete by 2026.

The final grant recipient is the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, a group of 20 cities and rural drinking water systems in northwest Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, including the Iowa cities of Hull, Rock Rapids, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center.

It will get up to $12 million to expand the system’s water capacity by 15 million gallons of water per day.

“We can’t be more pleased,” said Troy Larson, the water system’s executive director.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.