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photoKen Rice said, “I have a chainsaw and I’m not afraid to use it”… help improve the baseball field near the Twisp Airport.

Play Place
Twisp Sports Complex

More than 30 volunteers, including some of the youngsters who stand to directly benefit from their efforts, took up tools and invested some sweat equity in the future Twisp Sports Complex this week.

The June 23 work party was organized by Gary Erickson, a member of the Winthrop Kiwanis Club, which chose the athletic field site as the group’s “Fund A Dream” project for 2013.

Owned by the cash-strapped town of Twisp, the existing baseball field behind the Twisp Airport had deteriorated and the adjacent future soccer field space gone to weeds. But with a $5,500 boost from the Kiwanis club and a whole lot of cooperation from town officials, the business community and the volunteers who are pitching in, progress is being made.

Erickson reported that Sunday’s volunteers trimmed trees, pulled brush, spread a truckload of topsoil, re-seeded grass, moved a supply of salvaged cyclone fencing and got a donated storage shed in place.

He said anytime “you mention the public and kids…people really step up to the plate.” Andy Oosterhof, for example, donated the truckload of topsoil. Twisp Feed and Rental gave a deep discount on the grass seed. The Shafer Museum donated the storage shed.

Erickson said Margo Peterson-Aspholm from Balance Associates has volunteered to draw up a design plan that could be used for grant applications and another volunteer has gathered all the technical data needed for the site plan.

photoBob Ulrich’s backhoe is put to work, moving rolls of cyclone fencing from the field next to the baseball diamond to a better storage area. People have long-range plans to make the uneven, weed-filled area into a soccer field.

As for his fellow club members, Erickson said, “We have a lot of guys who like to play in the dirt. Some of the older guys have a bit more time than the ones who have to work every day.”

The sports complex plan includes baseball and soccer fields fit for AAU tournaments, bleachers, bathrooms and concessions.

The original ballfield and irrigation were built by the now defunct Twisp Kiwanis Club in 2003-2004, said Erickson, who spearheaded that project, too. He said his own kids were Little League Baseball age, but at the time the only non-school ballfield was in Winthrop.

He added that the earlier project took several years and involved moving up to 10,000 yards of earth to get the baseball field level. Historically, the land has been used for rodeos, horse and buckboard races and stock car races, the latter requiring a banked track.

photoThe trees between the baseball diamond and the Twisp airport got a trimming.

Erickson took a job in Spokane and was out of the valley for a time. When he returned he found that Twisp had been unable to maintain its own Kiwanis Club and its few remaining members had become part of the Winthrop organization. The Winthrop group, which welcomes women as well as men, actively supports youth activities throughout the valley, which is one reason the Twisp Sports Complex became its 2013 project.

In recent years baseball and soccer have been played at the site. Joggers, walkers and dogs have done laps on the oval track, which is slated for grading at some point, Erickson said. “Right now we’re just trying to improve what’s here and get it working.”

photo Three volunteers stand in what may eventually become a soccer field as they study the situation last weekend: how best to improve the existing baseball diamond. In the background is Ross Darling’s dumptruck, donated for the day’s work.

A few weeks back the town installed a power pole at the site and the Kiwanis Club fund paid to move a transformer. The baseball field sprinkler system, which has at least 100 sprinkler heads, was hooked up to the irrigation ditch and put into working order.

On the wish list is a scoreboard, purchasing aluminum bleachers, providing potable water for drinking fountains and building bathrooms as well as concession stands. But those amenities are in the future.

“We wanted to get the field cleaned up, ” said Erickson, who also wants to get “a full adult soccer field” laid out. “We have to find out how much we’ve spent before we go ahead,” he cautioned.

However, he said there likely will be another work party scheduled. And, he added, “We will buy some bases before Little League starts up in the spring.”


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