Vet's Field will see new concession stand this fall

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The concession stand at Vet’s Field in Guttenberg no longer serves its purpose for the youth league games played at the field. It will be replaced with volunteer labor in October. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

In 1997, a used concession stand was pulled north from Dyersville to Veteran’s Field in Guttenberg. After almost two decades of use, the structure is in disrepair and no longer meets food safety standards – so a group of local volunteers have decided to take action.

“The building has needed to be replaced for a long time,” said Dan Pierce, Water Operator and Public Works employee for the City of Guttenberg. Pierce served as the city’s recreation director from 1998-2000, and as a volunteer member of the recreation board from 2008-14. When his grandmother, Betty Schmitt, died several years ago, the family decided to donate to help build a new concession stand in her memory.

Donations were also received from the River Park Cruisers and through a fundraiser done with signage at the field. But organizers ran into a problem.

“For three or four years, the big hang-up was what we’d do with the waste water – it’s just doing dishes and washing hands. Right now, there’s a pipe that sticks out of the back of the building. The closest sewer line is hundreds of feet away,” Pierce explained. He recently struck a deal with Harter Portable Restrooms of New Vienna, which already services the nearby portable restroom. “Finally we decided to get a holding tank, which Harter will empty when they clean the port-a-potties.”

With that obstacle out of the way, Pierce and other volunteers have begun plans for the new building. The first step will be removal of the current building, which was purchased by Emma Blume, 14, of Guttenberg for use as a chicken coop. Blume will give new life to the aging building and hopes it will help expand her egg sales. 

Local electrician Paul Andregg offered to help remove the building, and will also volunteer his time to help wire the new construction. Rec board members Jason Hefel, who works as a contractor, and Alex Finch of Meuser Lumber have also volunteered to help. Other volunteers include Pierce, his brother T.J., and Thomas Vogt, family members of Betty Schmitt who all have contracting experience. City employees will connect the new building to city water on nearby DeKalb Street and will pour cement for the new construction.

The current building allows plenty of access for rodents, bats, and bugs, its doors are rotting, and it has been broken into multiple times. “It’s just not feasible to keep clean anymore,” Pierce told The Press. “The biggest thing is with the food inspectors. There are things we had to quit doing because the building just isn’t up to standards. Now everything in there is prepackaged, but we used to do brats, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sell beer.” The structure now uses sandpoint for water and does not have a working water heater, nor does it meet requirements for sinks.

“The new concession stand needs to be bigger,” said Pierce. One option for construction is to build beneath an existing shade structure, using its roof for the new concession stand. Organizers expect to start the project this October. 

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