Thursday, June 18, 2020

Canton residents urge venue reopenings

Canton Township officials heard from supporters of baseball, softball, LaCrosse and soccer along with the director of aspiring young thespians during a special meeting last week.
Several members of the community made their displeasure regarding the continued closure of the Canton Sports Center and the Village Theater known to members of the township board during the meeting.

Dan Krafft spoke to the members of the board during the first in-person meeting of the board in several months due to COVID-19 required safety precautions. The meeting took place at the Village Theater and board trustees were socially-distant on the stage.
Krafft and several other township residents urged the board members to reopen the softball and baseball fields in the township before the planned Aug. 1 date.
Krafft asked the trustees to prepare a plan for the reopening one of the largest ball field complexes in the state. He said that the continued closure of the facility was affecting local businesses and that it was possible to adhere to social distancing while using the fields.
He suggested a phased opening of the fields first to league play and then for children. He told the board members that the Canton baseball teams have been going to Ohio and Indiana for tournaments, rather than playing in the township. He added that to date, none of those traveling to play baseball have been affected with COVID-19.
His remarks were echoed by Marc Smith, president of the Greater Canton Youth Baseball & Softball Association. He, too, urged the trustees to reopen the sports center. He urged the trustees to return to some level of normalcy for the young players and assured them that there were already safety guidelines prepared and volunteers ready to enforce them.
Also urging the reopening was Ed Anderson who directs the C1X Lacrosse who told the board his camps and clinics have been forced to move to Plymouth after 10 years in Canton.
Jim Harkins of the Canton Soccer Club also urged the reopening of the sports venues.
Not only youth sports was addressed at the meeting. Currently, there is no date set for the reopening of the Village Theater, a situation addressed by Barbara Bloom, managing director of Canton's Spotlight on Youth performing arts organization. She said that if the theater isn't opened soon, the young participants would lose an entire year of performance experiences.
She, too, said social-distancing and safety measures were in place and could be exercised for both the young thespians and the audiences which could be limited to ensure safety.
Bloom's request was opposed by Village Theater House Manager Carla Lenhoff who said she did not feel the reopening of the theater is timely or appropriate. She said that she wanted the theater reopened “more than anyone in this room” but that she did not feel it was safe in light of the use of dressing rooms, concessions areas and restrooms which would allow for only two occupants at a time.
Members of the board agreed to schedule a study session to devise safety procedures in an effort to reopen the theater and the sports center. No date for the meeting was announced.