Spencer ARC Park to see major improvements in next two years
Nestled between the train tracks that run through Spencer, the ARC Park has been a source of fun events for people of all ages for many years. Constantly used throughout the summer months for tournaments and games, the park has been reliable and unchanging. Very soon however, the ARC Park will be undergoing its first changes in years, all to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy the park’s facilities in the same way it is enjoyed today.
Starting in September, the Spencer Community Boosters will begin working on a multi-year project to make improvements to some of the long-standing facilities located in the park. Over the next two years, the group plans to replace the shelter, concession stand and announcer’s booth with new buildings that will provide enough space to meet the park’s needs.
“At the end of the day, we will have a brand new facility down here,” said Becky Gorst, president of the Spencer Community Boosters “This year, we’re taking down the shelter and putting it behind home plate. It will make room for a new concession stand and we will put it into a bigger building.”
Established in 2016, the Spencer Community Boosters has been renting the ARC Park from the village of Spencer for the past couple of years. Under their guidance, the park has been home to several events that run four days each week during the summer months. A lot of people use the park, Gorst said, and the Spencer Community Boosters has taken on the responsibility to care for the park’s facilities.
“At least 200 people filter through this park four days a week,” she said. “It’s been a neglected park for a long time … somebody needed to do something with it. We run the youth softball, baseball and basketball programs, so we just decided to do it.”
Since she and the rest of the Spencer Community Boosters are so involved with events going on at the park, they are all very familiar with the facilities shortcomings. Much of the electrical wiring in the shelter and concession stand is too old to be very useful, she said, and other equipment — such as the concession stand’s walk-in cooler — has a history of breaking down.
“They’re old,” she said. “It’s not really serving our needs, they’re not up to code. The electrical system is old and the walk-in cooler breaks often. We grew out of the facilities.”
Originally built during 1974-75 on top of an old landfill between the train tracks, Gorst said the ARC Park has not seen many upgrades in its long history. Beyond the gradual addition of buildings and equipment over the years, she said not much has been done to make sure those facilities would be able to grow and stay up to date with the times.
“This field was actually built on a landfill between two train tracks, it was useless space,” she said. “It was built, I think, in 1974-75. The shelter came later, and was built over the top of the concession stand. There was no room to grow.”
Now with the project underway, Gorst said the hope is to maneuver the buildings that exist alongside the ball diamond to better suit the space they are in. According to their plan, she said the new shelter will be moved slightly northeast to be placed directly behind home plate. The announcer’s booth will then be built on top of the new shelter, giving the announcer a vantage point directly behind home plate.
“We will build a new shelter with the announcing booth on top, above home plate,” she said.
After the shelter and announcer stand is completed this fall, Gorst said the next step is to build a new concession stand separately from the shelter and announcer’s booth. The new concession stand, she said, will be built in the fall of 2021 and will be larger than the current stand.
“The announcing booth and shelter should be done very early in October and the electrical work in the spring,” she said. “We will be ready to do baseball in May. In 2021 the new concession stand will be built. We will never have a lapse in activities.”
In total, Gorst said she expects the project to tear down and rebuild the buildings at the ARC Park to cost between $80,000 to $90,000. To reach the amount of money needed to complete the project, she said the Spencer Community Boosters has been reaching out to area businesses, organizations and individuals for donations, as well as generating their own funds during the events they operate at the park.
“So we host at least three tournaments or more per year,” she said. “The Brad Bauer Tournament, the youth tournaments, they helped us raise money. We run youth sports, a lot of people are coming here on a regular basis. We had one person pledge $10,000, Spectrum donated and the village pledged $5,000. We’re reaching out to a few other businesses, but we understand it’s hard for them at this juncture in 2020.”
Once this project is completed, Gorst said the Spencer Community Boosters plans to continue to make smaller updates to the ARC Park to make sure the facilities stay up to date. In the future, she said there are plans to construct new bleachers and improve the park’s volleyball courts.
“We’ve been making investments all along, we are investing $6,000 per year in projects,” she said. “We rebuilt the dugouts (a few years ago). Once this project is done, we want to do the bleachers and the volleyball court. There’s a lot of needs, but the community has been very supportive.”
The old shelter, concession stand and announcer’s booth at the Spencer ARC Park on North La Salle Street will be torn down and replaced with new facilities over the next two years. The project is expected to cost $80,000-$90,000 and will be funded by donations and money raised by the Spencer Community Boosters.