By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
Parking will be a little more tricky for fans of the Mt. Pleasant baseball and softball teams this summer, but the school hopes the end result will more than make up for the headache in the next few months.
Construction began on the parking lot on Monday, May 14 with plans to have the parking lot fully ready to go by August 6, which would be less than a month before football season begins.
The lot has been gravel since the late 1970?s when it was built. The bumpy grounds and lack of marked out spots often cause confusion during sporting events, occasionally leading to fans getting parked in.
Mapleleaf is home to a handful of Mt. Pleasant and Iowa Wesleyan sports. Both football teams play their games at Mapleleaf in the fall. The Panther track and field teams host multiple track meets a year in the spring. IW has baseball and softball going in the spring and Mt. Pleasant baseball and softball takes up the early summer.
Due to the number of sporting events held at Mapleleaf, there isn?t a time during the year to get the job done without working around a sports season. The lot will be closed down all baseball and sofball season due to the construction, but Mt. Pleasant Athletic Director Scot Lamm says fans will be happy with the project when it?s all said and done. They just have to deal with the change this season.
?It?s going to be a major inconvenient, there is no way around that,? Lamm says.
Lamm explains that players and coaches will be able to park inside the fences along palm avenue as long as it is dry. The public will not be able to park inside the fences due to the possibility of headlights interupting the games, but it should open up more space for fans.
Lamm says he has worked on opening up other parking possibilities for spectators, stating that the field is close enough to Iowa Wesleyan, and Arbor Court is willing to let fans use their space.
Tickets for baseball will be sold at a walk-through fence on palm avenue, which is closest to the baseball field. Softball tickets may be taken there as well, but there is a possibility of opening up an area on the softball side of Mapleleaf, which would make it a shorter walk.
The parking lot will be paved in color, which Lamm says will make Mapleleaf mesh with the rest of Mt. Pleasant and will make the complex more asthetically pleasing.
?It?s an opportunity for us to tie Mapleleaf into the look of the rest of the community,? Lamm says. ?It will be similar to uptown. It?s made up of a different material, but that is kind of the idea, to make it connect with the town.
The project also created an opportunity for new boundaries to be drawn around the Mapleleaf area. Superintendent John Henriksen says the school needed to be sure they weren?t building anything on private lands.
?We had the whole thing surveyed to find the original boundaries,? Henriksen said. ?When we found the original boundaries, we found that the boundary is actually about 10 or 12 feet east of the trees.?
The trees Henriksen mentioned are lined along the outside of Mapleleaf on the east and north sides. Henriksen says the community has always seen the tree line as the boundary, but that wasn?t technically correct.
People around the area agreed to re-draw the boundaries and avoid any legal spatting over the land. The school gave up some land off to the east, where residents had built on land that technically belonged to the school. On the other hand, a Mapleleaf fence was technically built on private property to the north, but the residents in that area agreed to move the boundaries back to give those areas to the school.
Henriksen also talked about the parking challenges upcoming for Panther baseball and softball fields. He says that he understands that there are going to be some challenges for parking, but that the entire parking lot has to be clear in order for the contractors to get the job done by football season.
Although the baseball and softball teams usually draw pretty big crowds, the lot is more packed during football season and home track meets. During the fall and spring, the lot is usually completely filled to capacity. And while this summer will make for some extra walking, Lamm and Henriksen both hope fans see that it will be all worth it when the fall season rolls back around.