(By Brandon Hansen/Editor-in-Chief of the Chewelah Independent)
If you don’t maintain it, you usually end up up losing it.
A common issue we’re finding out in this country and this area specifically is if no money is put into improving and maintaining a building, infrastructure or program, it generally crumbles to the point where it’s unable to be saved when it reaches a point of disrepair.
With the possibility of money left over from the new Snyder Field track project — which has to be the first time this has ever happened in the history of public school building projects — it’s nice to see the new track committee proactive in finding ways to improve the field.
In sort of a piecemeal way, the Chewelah School District has both a lot of athletic fields that could either turn into something awesome, or just continue to be there. The Barbour Complex, I remember as a kid, happened in phases but even a chess nerd like myself used the fields there numerous times over and over.
While Snyder Field gets a nice track and some new turf, let’s not be complacent as to what a public resource this can be for the town. And for goodness sake, let’s not wait another 30 years to pass a levy.
Two things with athletic facilities and facilities in general need to be factored in: 1. What is the use for the facility? and 2. How do you keep it maintained?
Waiting another 30 years to pass a levy to make another improvement to one of Chewelah Schools’ athletic facilities will only make it more expensive. However, if the community could continue to incrementally improve its facilities, then it wouldn’t be looking at a bigger pricetag at the end of the tunnel after a long trip of disrepair.
I lived in Montana for a few years where I watched a small community slowly turn their ballfield into a ballpark for the Legion baseball program. They weren’t flush with money or anything but did fundraising and smartly incrementally improved their field. A new scoreboard one year, two years later a new grandstand cover for the bleachers and a new kid’s area the year after that. Each project doesn’t break the bank, but put together they mean a massive difference to the venue.
This just for a legion program. I would venture to guess that Chewelah Schools’ athletic facilities impact much more kids than one legion baseball team. Small continued improvements to the Barbour Complex ballfields like, say, a press box or a concession stand would go far. Heck, maybe just find a way to pave that road so we don’t have to replay the moon landings getting a parking spot for the baseball game.
There are other questions, such as the baseball field by Snyder Field, and as the new track committee pointed out, the press box at the football field that need to be examined. What current full-time use could that baseball field (and its mammoth outfield that I remember doing seventh grade football and high school track and field on) be used for?
Factor in that there has been some talk of putting a walking trail around town, a simple and much more affordable option might be working with the school district to put it around the Barbour Complex or around Snyder Field. The new track could really benefit the community by being a healthy activity-based facility. Need a place to run that’s not on pavement (which hurts the shins)? Drive down to Snyder Field where you can run on the track or go to the Barbour Complex and tackle the half-mile track that puts you next to a great view of Quartzite.
Also what about the Middle School gym that has a nice full-sized floor? Do we let that just fade away instead of perhaps letting it become a center of activity?
These are the kind of things that are attractive to millennials and young families. Simply running around town can be dangerous in terms of traffic when you have kids and a good running or walking trail is much better than slapping your feet against concrete.
Just a thought. If the town could see these athletic facilities as more of their own community fields as opposed to just something athletic teams occasionally play on, they would begin to benefit our town much more than you could initially imagine.
Unlike some other buildings and structures in town that have been left to just the atrophy of age, let’s not have our public sports fields age to the point where they’re obsolete and beyond repair.