The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 7, 2013

Dyersville vote prompts speculation about field complex project


The Clinton Herald

---- — DYERSVILLE — The election of a new mayor and three new City Council members in Dyersville is prompting speculation about what the vote means to plans for a 24-field youth baseball and softball complex near the “Field of Dreams” movie site.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported that Jim Heavens, who lost his bid to be re-elected mayor of the eastern Iowa city in Tuesday’s vote, said his defeat showed the public doesn’t support the project. The proposal has been controversial, with supporters noting economic benefits and opponents arguing it would eat up prized agricultural land and hurt Dyersville’s small-town atmosphere.

Nearby property owners have filed lawsuits against the city, arguing that officials illegally rezoned and approved building permits for the project. On Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled the lawsuits could move forward.

The 40 percent turnout was much higher than other nearby municipal elections.

“It’s kind of a referendum on the Field of Dreams project. People don’t seem to want to do that,” Heavens said Tuesday night. “I think as far as the city of Dyersville goes, I think (the project) is dead. The people have spoken. They don’t want it.”

Heavens said he fears the project won’t proceed and resulting jobs would be lost.

“I think (the Field of Dreams developers) will be stopped dead in their tracks,” he said.

The proposed project, which includes an indoor training facility and lodging, would be adjacent to the “Field of Dreams” baseball diamond, the site for the 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner as an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in a cornfield.

Heavens lost his re-election bid to Alvin Haas, an environmental services consultant who had run for mayor twice before.

The new City Council members are Mark Wagner, Teresa Bockenstedt and Ray Sauser.

Haas said the project’s fate was up to the council.

“We are going to have a new council,” Haas said. “It will be up to them to decide what to do with it, if they want to continue it, terminate it, go forward or backward. It’s up to them.”

Denise Stillman, who heads a group backing the development, said it’s too early to comment on what the election would mean to the project.

“I respect the voters’ decisions, and we will do all that we can to work with the new public officials,” Stillman said Tuesday night. “I’m certainly thankful for all that the previous administration has done for the project, and I look forward to working with the newly elected.”