MOLINE. IL — A $775,000 investment in Moline’s Greenvalley Park will ensure it continues to draw big tournaments, a tourism benefit felt by the entire Quad-Cities. The money was used to install new lights at the Milt Hand Softball Complex at Greenvalley Park, including lights for the eight tournament-grade diamonds, the playground and new sand volleyball courts that will open later this year.
Installation took more than two months and wrapped up in December. The state-of-the-art lighting system by MUSCO Lighting is energy efficient, makes the park safer, can be controlled via a smartphone and is supposed to be as bright as daylight, said Greg Johnson, a city landscape worker who leads the maintenance of Greenvalley from March to December.
The project included the lights, steel poles, all new wiring, a monitoring and maintenance plan, and 25-year warranty.
Lori Wilson, a recreation programmer who manages the complex, said the lights that were replaced were original and at least 25 years old, and the wooden poles were starting to lean.
The fields at Greenvalley are heavily used and booked long in advance of the playing season by local teams and regional, state and national tournaments. The tournaments draw players, their families and other spectators, who stay overnight, eat and shop locally, visit attractions and participate in events, generating revenue for every city in the area, Ms. Wilson said.
The lighting is needed because sometimes, a rain delay can cause tournament games to run into the early morning hours, wrapping up at 2 or 3 a.m., Mr. Johnson said. When the parks department received complaints about the facility, it was about the lighting, Ms. Wilson said.
Various organizations rate sporting facilities before deciding where to hold tournaments, and the old lights could have hurt Greenvalley, so it was time to upgrade them, she said. “We want to give our community a quality facility.”
Ms. Wilson said the park department is thankful to the city, which loaned the money from the tourism fund, which is supported by a city hotel-motel tax. The city then grants that money to various events and facilities that spark overnight visits. The parks department is repaying the loan over 10 years. “This project will have a good payback to the entire community,” Ms. Wilson said. “Greenvalley is a driver of tourism.”
In the past two years, the parks department has installed new garage doors at Greenvalley’s maintenance shop, upgraded drainage at each field and spent $539,000 to replace seven backstops. The department hopes to have the funds to replace the last backstop this year.
Moline park recreation director Bernita Reese said the department never will be finished working on Greenvalley or any other park. If there’s not a project to tackle, there is upkeep, and the goal is to surpass what was done the year before.