Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — There will be a monster in the outfield in the future for Washington Demon baseball games. It is on the building schedule, and it’s just a matter of time, but there are plans for a right field wall that replaces the fence at Dick Sojka Memorial Field.
The Green Monster is a popular nickname for the 37-foot-2-inch-high left field wall at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. The wall is 310 feet from home plate and is a popular target for right-handed hitters.
Washington’s will be a brick monster two stories tall, a little more than half as high as the Green Monster.
“That’s the idea they are going to go with,” Washington baseball coach Nathan Miller said. “It should be different, especially for this area.”
The Washington school board recently voted unanimously to build an addition to the high school to replace the district’s aging middle school. Funding for the building project is subject to a September bond election.
The project will install a 19,000-square-foot wing onto the high school building with classrooms to host grades six through eight, extend 9,550 square feet of gymnasium space, and renovate another 52,500 square feet of the existing high school building.
It will build a 21,000-square-foot, two-story extension of the high school that will take part of the baseball field away. The building will not be behind the fence, it will replace the fence for a significant distance until the fence curves away toward center field. At that point, it will be fence again. The actual building will become the outfield wall.
“We are going to make that into something like the Green Monster,” Washington Superintendent Willie Stone said. “We already have that in plans. We’re going to put brick up that is the same then we will put pads on the bottom so nobody will get hurt if they run into it.”
Stone said that construction would begin in 2023, and that while the building and all additions would be usable by 2025, some aspects of renovations, such as window replacements, would come as late as 2029.
The plans show that the addition is going to infringe on the baseball field. Windows will be important on the addition facing west as part of the building will be the outfield fence. The windows along that will be shatterproof.
“It’s not going to be huge, but it will be an infringement,” Stone said.
The amount of infringement by the building addition will cut the current distance of 315 feet down the first-base foul line to under 300.
“We figured it would be something different, and it doesn’t infringe a lot on the field, maybe around 15 feet,” Stone said.
If it had taken a bigger piece of the field out, there would have been a study into how to move the field or other possibilities.
"Since it is not taking a huge chunk, we went with this plan, and it will be unique for our district,“ Stone said. “It should be unique to play on.”
The building will amount to roughly 100 feet of the right field fence. An outfield fence from foul pole usually measures more than 500 feet so only a fifth of the fence would be wall.
The goal is to have a single different colored brick running across at the level it needs to be at for the home run marker.
“It should be a really neat place to play and a neat thing to have for our district,” Stone said.
The construction will add more places to play with an additional gym that will be built east of the current gym. It will be high school size. The current gym will still be the main one. The new gym will seat 300-400 people. The high school gym holds roughly 1,300. There is a hallway east of the current gym and south of the auxiliary gym. The new gym will be east of that hallway.
The current gym will remain the main gym. The current auxiliary gym will be the third option for gym use, mostly it will be a practice facility, but there will be junior high games in there.
The parking situation will be addressed as well. With the additions, more parking will be needed. There will be more accessible parking created next to the current gym, adding between 80 to 90 spaces.
“Parking has been a problem at the building for several years, so that will be a welcome renovation,” Stone said. “The additional parking will cover the teachers but as far as events, when there are games and something happening in the auditorium, it is jam-packed. When we’re using all of our facilities the parking has been a problem, and we’re going to try to make that better.”