By AMY HEGGEN
---- — CHAMPLAIN — A nine-hole disc golf course will soon become an attraction to the Village of Champlain’s downtown.
The equipment has been ordered, according to Mayor Greg Martin, paid for with tobacco money that is also helping fund a playground.
“People were looking for someplace to take their kids, and this just seemed right,” he said about the playground project, which began about a year ago.
With Champlain Elementary School and St. Mary’s Academy both closed, village children no longer had a playground.
The village’s Community Garden, located between Main and Water streets, has proven successful over the past three years, and it brings people into the village center, Martin said.
He hopes the disc golf course and playground will do the same.
“It’ll brighten up the downtown; it’ll bring more people down,” he said.
The playground will be set up to the east of the garden, with equipment from both schools donated to the village and refurbished in-house.
Some pieces may be purchased, as well, the mayor said.
Fundraisers and money donated from local companies also contributed to the project.
“The Village Board has some flood buyout land, property that floods whenever we have an ice jam,” Martin said. “So it’s laying here undeveloped, and we decided that would be a perfect place for a playground.”
Once a federal buyout has taken place, with the homes and businesses either torn down or moved, no permanent structure can be placed there ever again.
Martin noted that the land hasn’t flooded in about seven years.
“We’ve been in the process over the past couple of months, when time allows, to dig a few holes … we’ve started getting ready to put (the playground equipment) in the ground,” he said.
Disc golfers will begin the course with three holes near the garden, Martin said.
“Then they’ll walk across the Elm Street Bridge,” he said, and find the fourth hole near the beginning of River Street.
Most of that land, now River Street Park, was part of the flood buyout project, too.
Golfers will move along the stretch of park to continue the course, finding hole 7 near the driveway to the wastewater-treatment plant and head back the way they came for holes 8 and 9.
In the game, the player aims flying discs of various sizes (according to range) at chains that support elevated baskets, using them to direct the disc into the baskets.
The idea for the course was inspired by Cadyville’s 18-hole disc golf course on wooded property, Martin said, though the new Champlain course will be wide open, with few obstacles.
Martin spoke with Melanie Defayette, the Town of Plattsburgh’s recreation and youth services director, and together they walked the potential course, discussing where to place the tees and baskets.
It will join others in the area, located in Cadyville, Dannemora, at the ski center at Whiteface and at AuSable Chasm. A disc golf league may also be in the works, the mayor said.
“I think it’ll be very popular in the village. It’s a year-round thing — it’s inexpensive, it’s open to everybody. Anybody who wants to go practice is welcome to use the course,” Martin said.
He also said disc golf is a great way to get exercise that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Martin applied for a grant through the Clinton County Legislature to use tobacco-settlement funds for the project.
And after receiving a positive response from legislators earlier this month, he secured more than $10,000 for the course and adult workout equipment for the playground, including a step-up and sit-up station.
“The day after the money was awarded, I called and ordered the equipment,” he said.
Weather permitting, Martin hopes the disc golf course and playground will be in place before mid November.
“Obviously, it has to go in the ground before it freezes,” he said.
The work is being done by village personnel with village equipment.
Champlain also has plans for a basketball court that can be flooded for a community ice rink in the winter.
The village used asphalt left over from road paving to lay the surface of the court, located on the same grounds as the garden and future playground, adjacent to the What’s in Store? clothing shop on Main Street.
A fence will be put up to keep the basketball from rolling into the street and endangering kids who might run after it.
Martin is delighted with the many uses the village is making reality for land that had long sat empty.
“These things kind of blossom and move from one thing to another,” he said.