Seventh-grade planners
By: Greg Elias , Daily Times Staff

WASHINGTON VILLAGE - Seventh graders from Knotty Oak Middle School made presentations featuring their takes on the town's comprehensive plan to members of the town council and the planning commission Thursday.
Knotty Oak Teacher Ted Mitchell had his students do a social studies project titled "Our Community" and said last week that the curriculum serves to instill a sense of community pride in the students that take it. He called the presentation a "culmination of events."
According to Mitchell, students took the town's comprehensive plan, along with issues including the town's environment, land use, zoning needs, traffic and lighting and growth and came up with their own suggestions as to the direction in which the town should move.
In all, ten presentations were made by students. Presentation topics included Community Service and Facilities, Circulation of people in the town, a new Teen Center, Open Space and Recreation, Land Use, Natural and Cultural Resources and Economic Development.
The students presented their ideas to Council President Thaddeus Jendzejec (D-Dist. 5) and Councilman Justin A. Pomfret (D-Dist. 1) as well as Russell Crossman and Scott Nelson of the Planning Commission.
One group of students addressed the fact that the police station is located in the eastern part of town, sometimes far from areas in Western Coventry. They put forth the pros of building a station, even a substation, in the area as it having a possible effect on the crime rate. According to that report, Coventry currently has one officer per 900 people in town.
The group proposed putting the station near the intersection of Hall Road and Waterman Road.
The same group noted that the same area of Coventry only has one elementary school. They said that Western Coventry Elementary School is 30 percent over the number of students it should house and said another school could lighten that load in addition to cutting back on pollution from buses.
The group said their proposed project would prepare well for an expected increase in the population.
Other groups presented similar ideas with an eye towards decreasing pollution from vehicles and maintaining safety. One group proposed hiring a crossing guard to be put near the Tiogue Elementary School, while another said Coventry needed another teen center. A number of the groups focused their projects on recreational needs, noting a lack of fields and appropriate facilities for active school-aged children.
Two groups proposed putting their projects at the plaza on Tiogue Avenue that was formerly home to Almacs and Kmart. That fed into other ideas of reusing existing structures for other purposes, including fixing old lots and abandoned building and putting apartments in old, mostly unused mills. One group called on the town to consistently look across the town for possible sites that could be improved. This, they said, would help preserve open space and local flora, helping maintain the townís identity.
After the meeting, the public officials who were present commented on what they had seen.
"We all know there's not enough ballfields," Crossman said, noting how many town officials are also coaches.
Pomfret, whose Western Coventry district was noted in many of the presentations, said that the students "touched on a lot of important subjects," and noted that the fire department owns land near Routes 117 and 102 and had agreed that a police substation could be included if a facility was built there.
Jendzejec spoke mostly about the need for a new teen center during his comments, saying that the town was working, when it had the money, on an area on Phillips Hill Road near the Coventry Center Park to turn a building there into a new teen center.
On the Net: www.mitchellteachers.net

©Kent County Daily Times 2005