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Rec area effort under way on Main Street in Champlain village

A playground and tennis court would complement the community garden just off Main Street, said Champlain Village Mayor Gregory Martin.

A playground and tennis court would complement the community garden just off Main Street, said Champlain Village Mayor Gregory Martin. Photo by John Grybos.

Though he was looking at a long-vacant lot that’s now simply a grassy lawn, Champlain Village Mayor Gregory Martin saw a family-friendly play spot that could add life to the downtown scene.

With the playground at the old Champlain village school long decayed, the only place for local kids to play is the St. Mary's Academy playground. The village board wants to give kids another option and take some of that burden off the Catholic school.

Just off Main Street, where an A&P grocery store once stood and close to the current community garden, Mayor Gregory Martin said they'd like to pave a spot for a combined tennis and basketball court. He's also working on getting grants or rebates on playground equipment there for village kids. The paved spot could be used for a skating rink, too. It would be about where the village skating rink was poured for its short season this year.

“It’s a shame to just let the land sit here and do nothing,” said Martin.

The community garden really took off last year, with all the plots filling up fast. This year, people around the village keep asking him if they’ll get a chance to dig in the dirt. Martin’s been surprised by residents’ enthusiasm.

“I don’t want to be a skeptic, but it was more successful than I thought it was going to be,” said Martin.

After seeing that response, building a recreational area for families there seemed like a natural development. Kids were already playing there while their parents tended to their crops. And the village hasn’t offered a play place in years, leaving the Catholic school as the only option.

St. Mary’s playground

St. Mary's has allowed the public to use their unfenced playground as long as Sister Marie Cordata, St. Mary's school principal, has been there.

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