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Evergreen gets a new backyard

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By The Staff

Bergen Meadow Elementary was built in 1969 with a giant, flat gravel patch for a backyard. The 115,000-square-foot gravel patch was a perfect rectangle, already graded, and in a central location in our community. School administrators, park and rec personnel, sports clubs, and parents all recognized the great potential of the field. But for 39 years, Evergreen kids played recess games and sports in the dirt.

This year, thanks to the generosity of the community and leadership of the Evergreen Park & Rec District, Bergen Meadow now has a soft, grass backyard the size of one and a half football fields. Schoolkids are already playing on the green grass at recess, and young soccer players are practicing on the field after school.

It’s been just over a year since the Bergen Meadow field project first took shape. The rec district jump-started the project in June 2007 with a commitment of $100,000 toward building the field, along with responsibility for project management. Jeffco Public Schools entered an intergovernmental agreement with EPRD to allow after-school sports programming on the field. These commitments inspired five local sports clubs — Stingers Soccer, Mountain Lacrosse, Mountain Area Midgets Football, West Jeff Girls Softball and West Jeff Baseball — to contribute $33,000 more. In late 2007 Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the project a $200,000 grant from state lottery funds. By spring 2008, the project had legs, with $333,000 in funding.

Field construction took place this summer. Pat Shea, athletics supervisor for the rec district, masterfully managed the project with a tight budget and compact timetable. He delivered the Bergen Meadow field on budget and on time in August.

The Bergen Meadow backyard now hosts two baseball fields and one large (or two midsize) soccer/lacrosse/football fields. No doubt Bergen Meadow’s new backyard will be great for recess and school activities. But the school also looks forward to sharing it with the community for after-school sports programming.

This summer, the Evergreen community embraced the project and added $50,000 more for field improvements. That included a $20,000 contribution from the Bergens’ PTA Buffalo Stampede in May, when more than 500 Bergen students ran laps to collect money for bleachers. Then, Catamount Constructors, EMA Partners and five Evergreen families put up a match to raise more funds in the community. Just last month, the Jefferson Foundation awarded another grant to the project to assist with field enhancements. The additional funding allowed for the following upgrades to the field:

• 25 percent more topsoil than originally planned, meaning better growth and lifespan of the grass.

• Premium infield mix designed to maximize wear and minimize wind erosion.

• Two sets of 27-foot bleachers, one near each ball field, for use at both sporting and school events.

• Upgraded, vinyl-coated backstops, dugouts and sideline fencing.

• Additional perimeter irrigation to support future plantings and landscaping.

• And finally, a new preschool play area, with safer play surfaces and equipment, situated next to the school to help teachers manage the little ones.

The enhanced topsoil, premium infield mix and perimeter irrigation already have been installed. And the other field improvements are under way. In the last two weeks, a landscape retention wall was completed, infields were rounded off, sod was relayed above the wall and in foul territory, posts were set for the preschool play area fence, concrete was poured for the bleachers, the sod was re-fertilized, some sprinkler heads were moved, and ball-field fence work began. We’re moving fast because we hope to complete these improvements this fall while the weather is still cooperative.

The Bergen Meadow field is a tribute to cooperation and grassroots initiative in Evergreen. Thank you, Evergreen families, for your generosity toward the Bergen Meadow field project. Special thanks to the Evergreen Park & Recreation District for its commitment to the project, and to Pat Shea for his skill and dedication in managing it. We hope you can come play with us on Evergreen’s new backyard.