Thanks to a little pressure in the right places and a big check from Great Outdoors Colorado, the hard gravel field behind Bergen Meadow Elementary School will soon become a soft green sporting oasis.
“We just found out we’ve been awarded $200,000 from GOCO,” says Jeff Knetsch, president of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District board. “It’s the full amount we asked for, which is terrific.”
Also terrific, that money will join $100,000 from EPRD and another $32,500 put up by various mountain-area athletic leagues for the purpose of reshaping the dusty, 3-acre expanse into a pair of baseball diamonds, plus a full-size multi-purpose sporting field complete with real grass and perfectly suitable for soccer, lacrosse and general horseplay.
“It used to be the least popular field to play on when I was coaching,” Knetsch says. “It was hard, and kids were getting hurt all the time. Now everything’s going to be fresh, new and beautiful.”
Bergen Meadow principal Peggy Miller spearheaded the effort by clearing the project with Jeffco Public Schools, which owns the property, and overseeing the Bergen Leadership Council’s writing of the grant. She then enlisted the enthusiastic support of EPRD, which submitted the request last August.
“I’m out here every day at recess, and I spent the last six years thinking, ‘What a waste of flat land,’ ” Miller says. “I called the rec district and said, ‘We have flat land for you. How can we work together?’ ”
“Peggy deserves a lot of credit for this project,” Knetsch says. “She talked to the right people at the county and really worked hard to make this happen.”
But when it comes to handing out kudos, Miller cedes the floor to the hard-working parents on the Bergen Leadership Council.
“The council was phenomenal,” she says. “They’re the ones who did all the legwork. They just dug in and didn’t stop until they obtained all the necessary approvals and had the grant written. This is really their success.”
In return for performing maintenance and scheduling functions, EPRD will have free use of the fields whenever the school isn’t using them, primarily evenings and weekends. Work is expected to begin early next summer and should be completed before the first school bell rings in late August.
“The cooperation and support for this project was tremendous,” says Knetsch. “We’d like to use this as a model to upgrade the fields at other schools, particularly the elementary schools.”
“It feels like we one the lottery,” Miller laughs. “But, since GOCO gets its money from the lottery, I guess we did.”