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Castle Rock park gets a facelift

Castle Rock's Country Side Park will get a few updates this year, thanks to donations by a Farmington High School student and Farmington Youth Baseball.

A little baseball field tucked away along County Road 50 in Castle Rock is getting some new attention this summer.

The Castle Rock Country Side Park isn't a big park, and it hasn't been used much the past few years, but it's just the right size for youth baseball games. All it needs is a little tender loving care.

This year, the ball field is getting that TLC, thanks to the generosity of a Farmington High School student and Farmington Youth Baseball.

The field has been used by Farmington Youth Baseball this summer. The program had used the field in the past, FYB director of facility and fields John Reed said, but hadn't been there for the past four or five years. However, with this year's youth baseball program registering more than 800 participants, and a shortage of available fields to play on, Reed contacted Castle Rock Township and asked about using the field again.

In exchange for using the field, the baseball program offered to do some general maintenance on the lot, Reed said. Farmington Youth Baseball is putting down ag lime for the infield, fixing the backstop and raking around the infield.

"We love doing that because then our money can go a lot further and they get something out of it as well," Reed said. "It's nice also to invest in the fields we're playing on."

The Castle Rock field is ideal for elementary grade-baseball because of its smaller size, Reed said. By having two sets of bases installed, Farmington Youth Baseball can accommodate games for kindergarten through fifth grade.

This year, games have been held mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Reed sees it being used more once some of the improvements have been made. And Farmington Youth Baseball has more plans for the future, he added.

A pavilion

While the youth baseball program is working on the infield and the backstop, another addition is being planned for Country Side Park.

FHS senior Jon Zakoski was looking for an idea for his Eagle Scout project when he heard about Farmington Youth Baseball's attempts to update the Castle Rock park. When he was younger, Zakoski played on that field, through FYB. He started thinking about what he could do to contribute to the park, and came up with an idea.

He'd build a pavilion. A concrete slab is already in place at the park. It just needs a structure to be built over it.

"When I found out they wanted a shelter, I thought it was a great idea," he said. "It was a great way for me to give back to the places I've been and kind of put my mark on it."

He had to get a blueprint drawn up by an engineer to ensure it was designed safely and could stand for many years. Once he did that, Zakoski had to submit the plan to the Eagle Scout board to get approval for his project.

Right now he's waiting for that final approval, but he's also working on the fundraising that goes along with it. Estimates for materials come to around $6,000; so far, he's collected about half of that.

"The fundraising is the most difficult part, because this is an extremely expensive project as Eagle Scout projects go," he said.

Zakoski is looking to get construction under way in August. He will not be able to do any of the construction work himself. By Eagle Scout regulations, he can only supervise the project. He'll rely on friends, family and fellow Scouts who need service hours to do the construction.

With all of the work planned for the Country Side Park, it's likely the little park will get more use in the coming years.

"It's nice and peaceful. There are a couple of trees. Once they put a pavilion up, it will really be a nice place," Reed said. "We're just thrilled to have the opportunity to have that field."

Anyone interested in donating to Zakoski's pavilion project should send an email to:

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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