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Rounding first and heading toward second

Officials pitch dirt for Penn Meadows sports pavilion
City officials, NLYBS volunteers, community members and donors break ground together Sept. 21 to mark the spot for the new sports pavilion and commemorative brick patio that will enhance Penn Meadows Park beginning next spring. (photo by Lori Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– A major project in Penn Meadows Park is in full swing.
A groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 21 marked the spot for the new Penn Meadows Park Pavilion and Commemorative Baseball Diamond, a collaborative project between the City of North Liberty and the North Liberty Youth Baseball and Softball (NLYBS) organization. The new pavilion will include a concession stand, a shelter with seating, a storage area and much-needed restrooms.
NLYBS President Scott Rundle led off the event with remarks about the facility.
“Ladies of the league, you will recognize that we will now have seven bathrooms for you,” Rundle said, “and they’re not the portable kind.”
NLYBS pledged $250,000 to the $500,000 project over five years, with support from The University of Iowa Community Credit Union, the Optimist Club of North Liberty and Scheels All Sports. Scheels donated $25,000 to the project, and many other businesses and organizations have also made contributions.
Paul Roesler of Scheels was on hand to offer remarks about the company’s participation. Roesler is in charge of selection organizations for their corporate donations.
“It’s one of the hardest things I do,” he said. “When this project came to us, it was one of the easier ones to say ‘yes’ to. We like to give back to kids and families, and this project will give back to more than 900 kids. Those are our customers. In the 18 years we’ve been open, we’ve been able to give back to you because you are so kind to come into our store and support us.”
NLYBS has been in operation for 23 years. This past spring, 924 players between the ages of 4 and 13 registered for the program, which teaches not only fundamental technical skills in baseball and softball, but also sportsmanship, teamwork and respect. Most recently, NLYBS partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance to offer information and courses to help coaches focus on developing and encouraging sportsmanlike behaviors in their players.
North Liberty City Council member Chris Hoffman was one of 275 volunteer coaches for the 81 teams in the league’s 2015 lineup. Hoffman attended the groundbreaking to offer comments on the endeavor.
“It seems we are always celebrating milestones in North Liberty, and this is just another example of that,” Hoffman said to the crowd. “This concession stand and pavilion is one of those projects that is the result of a lot of folks being involved. It is going to impact thousands of kids and families for years to come so it is exciting to be part of this from the very beginning.”
The building stemmed from a long-established spirit of collaboration between the city and NLYBS, he added.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch over the years, and this is a perfect example of how our community comes together to achieve something special here in North Liberty,” Hoffman said.
He specifically thanked Scott Rundle and his wife Cindy Hill Rundle for taking the lead on the pavilion project and for their years of volunteer service to NLYBS.
“Their vision and leadership has helped NLYBS grow into a model for other cities to emulate when they look to partnerships like this,” Hoffman said. He also thanked current and past NLYBS board members. “Their service is immeasurable to the success as well. Without them, much of what we see wouldn’t be where it is today.”
Hoffman recognized North Liberty Parks Director Guy Goldsmith and the parks department for taking a role in the construction of the new pavilion, as well as for taking such good care of the parks and maintaining the fields and facilities throughout each season.
Before the groundbreaking, Goldsmith and his staff began the process of putting the pavilion’s foundation in the ground. Plumbing, water and electricity will be stubbed in and ready for the pre-cast floors and reinforced cinderblock walls of the building to be erected in December.
“The plan is for the building to be ready for the season next spring,” Goldsmith said. Over the winter months, the concrete walkways that surround the building and extend under the shelter will be designed and go out for bids. The pavilion will also include a patio comprised of commemorative, engraved bricks that have been part of NLYBS’ fundraising efforts.
“We still have home plate and third base available,” said Cindy Rundle, indicating two spots for additional major sponsors to join the field. Smaller bricks are still available as well, which can be purchased in different sizes, with additional choices for lines of text and a stock or customized logo. Replica and souvenir bricks can also be ordered to give as gifts. Order by Nov. 1 in time for holiday giving. Visit www.eteamz.com/NLYBS for more information.
Cindy Hill Rundle said the pavilion has been a long-held dream for many NLYBS participants and families.
“Finally, we’ll have a real facility,” she said, “and with the splash pad, I think this will be a special place for the whole family.”