More upgrades at Swan Park
Youth baseball donates $75,000 toward improvements
By Angie Landsverk
Shade structures at three fields and artificial turf in a batting cage are the latest improvements at Waupaca’s Swan Park.
Donations by Waupaca Youth Baseball and Waupaca Youth Softball respectively made them possible.
“There are a lot of improvements out there because of the boards and their work,” said Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Whitman.
The department appreciates the boards and what they give back to the park.
“They’ve both done a lot to make it a premier park in the area. They put a lot of time and effort in the summer and donate to make projects like this happen,” he said.
The boards of both organizations hold tournaments at Swan Park on numerous summer weekends.
The two organizations have donated thousands of dollars to the park.
“Waupaca Youth Baseball is proud to have donated over $75,000 to Swan Park since 2013,” said Jay Krcmar, Waupaca Youth Baseball president. “The hard work of our board and the parents of our traveling program has allowed us to run some of the largest tournaments in the state. People are always impressed with our facility and enjoy spending the weekend in Waupaca. Many restaurants, hotels and campgrounds benefit from us bringing 50 to 60 teams from around the state and some from Illinois to Waupaca for our tournaments. Besides our local community benefiting, our board has always wanted to give back to continue to improve Swan Park.”
Josh Peterson is the caretaker of the city’s parks.
“The boards have wanted to do something out there for shade a while,” he said.
“With limited shade areas at Swan Park, we felt this improvement would help the many parents, grandparents and young kids that use our park every day during the summer,” Krcmar said.
He said it took a couple years to save the funds to purchase the structures.
“We would like to thank Carl Anderson and Wisconsin Public Service for helping us drill the 11-foot holes needed to set the footings to support each structure,” Krcmar said. “I would also like to thank Aaron Jenson and Andrew Whitman for researching the best shade structures to install and Josh Peterson from the Waupaca Park and Rec who coordinated the install of the structures. Without each of them, this project would not have been possible.”
The shade structures went up around the end of summer.
Peterson said the original plan was to put them up in the spring.
“The April (snow) storm backed up all the work in the parks,” he said.
Waupaca Youth Baseball purchased the structures, and the Parks and Rec Department put them up with the help of the Street Department.
“The first big event it was up for was the Battle of the Badges,” Peterson said.
That took place in August.
The structures are now down and will be put back up next spring.
Waupaca Youth Baseball hopes the shade structures and other improvements it has done at Swan Park are enjoyed by many now and in the future, Krcmar said.
“Every year we hear from teams that come to our tournaments how lucky we are to play at such a wonderful facility on a daily basis. We have bigger cities like Green Bay, Appleton, Wausau, Milwaukee and Madison all saying they wish they had facilities like Swan Park in their community,” he said. “We feel blessed to be a part of a community that supports active lifestyles and a wonderful Park and Rec Department that maintains each of these facilities. The Waupaca Youth Baseball Board is proud to donate to Swan Park and be a small part of this wonderful community.”
The Waupaca Youth Softball Board feels the same way.
“It’s easy to get inspired with a cause you truly care about – and it’s rewarding to see your direct impact as a group and how the Waupaca community and youth sports benefit from it,” said Eric Brehmer.
He is the board’s president and said Waupaca Youth Softball has donated approximately $45,000 to Swan Park over the last three to four years.
The board donated new batting cage nets, a new artificial turf surface in a batting cage, added turf surfaces to surrounding dugout areas and restained and painted the concession stand pavilion, Brehmer said.
It and the boys baseball board also donated money to add new drainage and soil conditioners to certain fields.
Brehmer explained why the board decided to put artificial turf in one of the batting cages.
“The softball board had a discussion early last year that the sport court that was installed in the batting cages was coming apart and was causing some concerns with the quality and performance,” he said.
As a result, the board agreed and voted to install a new artificial turf surface that would hold up to the weather elements and benefit both youth softball and youth baseball events.
“We had a lot of positive feedback on the new surface after its first season in use and will be looking into purchasing another one for next season,” Brehmer said.
He said the softball board raises funds through its Comet Classic Tournaments held annually and through donations from local businesses that sponsor the youth softball programs and recreational teams.
“I can’t thank those local businesses enough and the volunteer time our board members put into meetings, planning, tournaments and into our youth softball program,” Brehmer said. “Over the last three years, our tournament has grown from a two-division tournament to a four-division tournament spanning over a two-day weekend.”
Projects the board wants to support in the future include a new turf surface in another batting cage, new softball pitching machines for batting cages and new helmet and bat holders for all fields.
The board wants to make an impact, he said.
“Looking to make a real, lasting difference to Swan Park is a great start to great youth programs and build for the future,” Brehmer said.