A plan to relocate Devon’s “Field of Dreams” to make room for a new business zone was presented with optimism but met with worry from residents at a public meeting Monday night.
The Town of Devon is planning to move the baseball and slo-pitch facility that currently sits near the busy corner of Highways 19 and 60 to a more isolated range-road site on the west side of Highway 60.
Local slo-pitch team manager Amy Hodge said the current plan is bad because it doesn’t include power, washrooms or playground facilities and she worries it won’t be ready for the 2021 season as planned.
"Some of the ground-crew was just saying that by the time they lay the rock and build up the ground there’s going to be sinkholes and the (2021) season is a wash. They’ll be no baseball at all," Hodge said.
The ballpark is also moving further away from homes, and would require kids to cross Highway 60 or get a ride from parents, which several residents identified as a safety concern.
But a town official tells CTV News Edmonton that the 14-acre parcel that the Field of Dreams currently sits on is important to the local economy.
"It’s prime highway commercial lands that basically sits vacant nine months of the year. So we see an opportunity to bring some businesses to our community and hopefully some employment opportunities with it," Tony Kulbisky, the town’s chief administrative officer, said.
Kulbisky said the town already has interest from several developers, including at least one international company, which he wasn’t able to name yet.
"We have interest from outside our country in this particular area, just because of the close proximity to the airport," Kulbisky said, adding Devon hopes to announce the new company soon.
As for the ballplayers Kulbisky committed to keeping the current facility open in 2020 and having the new one open in time for the 2021 season.
"They’re going to be playing on the Field of Dreams like nothing ever happened," he said.
Hodge and others at the meeting Monday are skeptical though. She and several of her teammates and local minor baseball coaches raised issues with the location, lack of amenities and the construction schedule.
On top of that, there’s concern replacing 4 fields with 4 fields isn’t enough for the growing town.
"We always have to turn people away. We’re capped every year. It’s the same teams because we can’t accept any new. We only play one night a week," Hodge said.
A public hearing on the matter will be held on Mar. 5 at the Town of Devon Office.