WAVERLY — In the last 60 days, the effort to build new fairgrounds and ball diamonds in Waverly has netted a little more than $457,000. They’ve gotten the land, designed and engineered a plan and gotten agreements for the work to begin.
But if Terry Hinrichs doesn’t raise $1 million by the end of 2018, the land they want to build on will revert back to the city, and Champions Ridge will have been nothing more than a pipe dream.
“Either we reach our goal and start (excavating) in the spring, or the dream’s gone,” he said.
That’s not to say Hinrichs, the consultant on the 142-acre project to be built west of Waverly on Highway 3, isn’t optimistic — or thankful to his many donors.
To date, the $8 million project has raised nearly $2.4 million, not including in-kind donations and to-be-determined Vision Iowa grants, and that’s thanks to the Waverly-Shell Rock Summer Baseball and Softball program, Dr. John and Edna Brunkhorst, Brent and Sarah Jones of Baja Trucking and several others. Hinrichs just needs several more.
“This is going to be driven by a lot of gifts,” he said.
Champions Ridge began in 2007, when the city was looking for a new home for the Waverly-Shell Rock baseball and softball diamonds as well as a new home for the Bremer County Fairgrounds. In 2011, landowner Neil Smith offered the city of Waverly 142 acres of his land at a fraction of its value, if they promised to use it for youth programs, Hinrichs said.
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“I’ve been involved with fundraising for 27 years, and I’ve never worked on a project that will benefit so many youth as Champions Ridge,” Hinrichs said, noting an estimated 1,800 kids in Bremer County could use the facilities between playing ball, 4-H and FFA.
The fairgrounds will more than double in size, growing from fewer than 20 acres at their current Memorial Park-adjacent location to 40 acres. Twelve baseball and softball diamonds are slated to be added, replacing diamonds spread throughout Waverly. In the future, Hinrichs said the plans are to include a 100-site campground on the site.
Because it’s on land near a city well — and because Smith, Hinrichs said, is big into conservation — Champions Ridge also will include many water-quality features in its design, such as selective plantings, bioswales, bioreactors and several retention ponds to filter pollutants out of the water before and after it hits the ground.
The effort, named the Neil Smith Conservation Water Quality Initiative, will educate the public on all of those elements at Champions Ridge, Hinrichs said.
“It doesn’t add to the cost as much as it gives us the opportunity to help stabilize the water quality for Waverly’s city well,” he said. “It also is a way for people to help support that.”
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The dream is big. But as long as people keep believing in it, Hinrichs knows he can hit $1 million by Dec. 31.
“Yes, I am confident,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world we will reach it.”