Some Neighbors Oppose 'Field of Dreams' Plan

The Field of Dreams Moive Site near Dyersville is for sale by owners Don and Becky Lansing. Shot on August 24, 2010. (Cliff Jette/Sourcemedia Group News)

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By Aaron Hepker

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Some residents of Dyersville are opposed to a proposed baseball and softball project that would be built at the "Field of Dreams" movie site, saying they don't want the urban sprawl to ruin their dreams of living in the country.

About a dozen people spoke up at the City Council meeting Monday, asking the council to help them protect the city and nearby farms, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported.

"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," said Wayne Ameskamp, whose land is just west of the site.

"In 1988 when I bought my farm from my grandparents, I had a choice to go farming or to get a job in town and move to town. I chose to go farming; that was always my dream," Ameskamp said.

Residents were given the chance to speak on the issue, but no action was taken by the council. About 80 people attended the meeting, far more than usual.

The site is named for a 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner, based on the book "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella. The movie is set on a farm where Costner's character carves a baseball diamond out of a cornfield and brings to life players from the 1919 Chicago White Sox.

The impending sale of the site to Go the Distance LLC, headed by Mike and Denise Stillman, of suburban Chicago, has sparked a lot of interest.

The Stillmans want to build what they say will be the Midwest's largest youth baseball and softball complex, drawing thousands of visitors to the area each summer. Iowa lawmakers are considering legislation that would provide tax incentives for the project, which backers say would create hundreds of jobs.

The expanded site would have 24 fields, an indoor training center and would mainly operate during the summer.

Wayne Vorwald, whose farm is about two miles east of the site, doesn't like the idea.

"Urban sprawl will make it very difficult to farm and significantly lower our ability to earn a living," he told the council.

The newspaper reported Tuesday that the most common concern appears to be over stormwater runoff into a creek that runs across the "Field of Dream" site, which covers 193 acres. It is known to flood. Some residents are concerned that excess runoff from the 24 fields, which the Stillmans have said will drain so well they will be playable within an hour of a storm, will flood neighboring farmland and perhaps even the city.

"Our watershed comes through Dyersville," said Jeff Pape, chairman of the Hewitt Creek Watershed Improvement Association. "My concern ... is if they increase the flow of water coming out of there, we're going to have some real problems with flooding (even more) than we've had before."

Denise Stillman, who attended Monday's meeting, said concerns have been heard and will be evaluated in future studies. She has said she and her husband desire to be "good neighbors."

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