Local Little League raising money to fix flooded fields

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) The Valley Providence Little League's opening day is scheduled for Saturday, April 13th. That's if they're able to get onto their fields.

"Draining issues obviously here. This pools up every time it rains, there's just nowhere for the water to go," said board member JR Munoz. "This was an entire lake."

He's pointing out some of the damage from recent flooding, where water has pooled both on the Lemmon Valley Park fields, and in-between where the spectators walk and sit. It's an issue they've been dealing with for a few years now.

"The continuous band-aids we've been putting on, and we're putting more dirt in and trying to fix the holes. It's made impressions and divots and little troughs where the water can't leave now," added Munoz.

Members of the Washoe County Parks Department has met with the league twice, and even closed the fields for awhile for safety reasons.

"Based on 2017 and these two consecutive years of historic record-breaking precipitation, we're in a new normal," said Colleen Wallace Barnham, the Washoe County Parks Operations Superintendent. "And we may have to figure out some solutions for the future to make sure those fields remain playable."

In the meantime, the league has been practicing at other fields in the North Valleys. There's a chance they may have to play some games on the road too, which is not a great solution since the home games are where the league makes it revenue.

"We really need the snack bar in order to raise money so we can continue to do this," said Munoz. "Without that snack bar there's no way we could fund this league. And so with us being at other fields, it's kind of a death sentence for us."

The community has stepped up to try and help solve the problem. Several local businesses have donated materials, money and supplies. And over forty volunteers recently showed up to dig trenches and pump the water out to the lake.

"People just kept showing up with shovels and rakes," added Munoz. "You know, they're in knee-deep mud moving stuff out for us to get the fields ready for the kids. It's incredible."

395 Craft Beer and Spirits is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday from 10am-5pm to raise money for the league, while the nearby Grocery Outlet is collecting donations at the register, and will match up to $500.

"Everyone wants to help out in the ways they can, they just don't know how they can help out," said Grocery Outlet owner Dean Biggs. "And we wanted to help facilitate that."

Everyone agrees this is about more than just baseball.

"This is something that brings kids together. In the long run it helps keep them out of trouble, it gives them something to look forward to," said Dianna Wheelen, former president of the North Valleys Babe Ruth Softball League. "And it also helps bring communities together."

Two of their three fields have been cleared for play, but the next big storm of snow melt could close them again. The league is trying to raise money to not only fix the problem, but also completely redevelop some of the problem areas. They need to add cement drainage systems so the fields and stands can rid themselves of water. They also want to make it ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, replacing the muddy surroundings with concrete walkways. And they need to put in new parking beyond the outfield fences.

"Maybe it's in your neighborhood next time and you'll want the help. And then this community can come help you," said 395 craft & Spirits owner Brett Schaeffer. "Everybody has to help each other out and it just makes Reno a better place."

Those who would like to donate can click on this link Donate to Improve Little League Fields