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Grant possibility could increase police presence in Coventry

4/17/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — How Coventry fiscally could increase its police protection was a question contemplated at the April 10 regular Coventry Board of Trustees meeting.

Coventry’s police protection is provided now through the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The township is one of the busiest communities in Summit County, but allocated funds currently provide for just one deputy to patrol the township at all times, said Trustee David Calderone.

When it comes to an increased police presence, Calderone said the township “needs it.”

He made the community aware of a grant program that could be beneficial to the township and Coventry Local Schools. However, township funding still would need to be available to bring the complete opportunity to fruition, Calderone said.

He explained representatives of the school district recently expressed a desire to jointly apply with the township for the state’s Straight A Grant. If the grant is obtained, the two entities could secure additional deputy patrol and a school resource officer through the Sheriff’s Office, Calderone said.

According to Calderone, the total grant opportunity would be free to the school district and township the first year, but would cost the township $60,000 in the second year. After two years, it would be up to the township and school district to decide if they wanted to continue the opportunity, Calderone explained.

Adding deputies to the township for $60,000 a year would be a “good deal,” he said.

The township would have to figure out how to finance the plan before it signs on for the grant, Calderone said.

However, it later was decided the township ultimately could not participate with the grant because the current police levy does not provide enough money to fund the current policing contract, let alone the increases the township has been notified to expect if the grant is approved, according to Fiscal Officer Joni Murgatroyd. She said the issue was further discussed by the board and Coventry Local Schools Superintendent Russell Chaboudy at a special trustees’ meeting April 15.

Murgatroyd said the board does approve of the school district’s intent to still apply for the grant on its own to obtain a school resource officer and possibly a community policing officer in Coventry.

“If the Straight A Grant is successful, Coventry Township will benefit — at no cost to the township — because the school resource officer will be assigned to the township during the nonschool year and the community policing officer will supplement the current protection provided by the township,” she said.

The Sheriff’s Office would be responsible for scheduling the officers accordingly, Murgatroyd said.

Also during the regular April 10 meeting, the board expressed financial concerns regarding the future of the Coventry Fire Department.

Fire Chief John Dolensky informed trustees the township did not receive $190,000 through the Safer Grant this year. In the past, the grant afforded the township the ability to place an additional firefighter on each shift, he explained. The grant program had been successful in the township during the past five years, Dolensky said.

“So, we are in a pinch,” Calderone said. “When we did the budget, we were hoping the grant would come through.”

He said the fire department was going to have to change the way it “does business.”

The board tabled an issue to replace a full-time fire department vacancy.

“We are not in an economic position to do that,” Calderone said. “We have to be conservative in what we do.”

Currently, the fire department operates in deficit spending, he explained.

“We are in trouble and will be addressing it seriously over the next few months,” Calderone said.

Additionally during the meeting, the board continued to discuss efforts to relieve flooding experienced in the Cottage Grove area. Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer said he continues to apply for significant funding to further the project on to the next phase. Community Development Block Grant money will be used soon to continue the ongoing project, he said. Plans are in the works to stretch funding further to accomplish more of the work in a timely fashion, Stouffer added.

The board and Stouffer also highlighted an ongoing effort to open closed ditches in the township. Calderone said numerous closed ditches in Coventry have resulted in flooding and increased road damage.

“People are not going to want their ditches back open, but our primary responsibility is to make drains work and protect our roads,” Calderone said.

Additionally at the April 10 meeting:

  • The board allocated a total of $21,480 for asbestos removal and the demolition of properties located at 46 Oregon Ave. and 1175 Lockwood Road by Gangle Excavating. Zoning Inspector George Beckham explained the ongoing demolition work in the township is being funded through the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant money and assessments placed on the blighted properties.
  • The board approved a contract with Quality Lawn and Landscaping for up to 30 mows this year at the township’s park grounds and cemeteries at a cost not to exceed $44,100. Stouffer said the local business “goes the extra mile” when it comes to taking care of the township’s properties and did not increase the price quoted last year when the township sought competitive bids for the township lawn care program.
  • The board agreed to renew the township’s agreement with the Ohio Township Association Risk Management Authority. Murgatroyd said this is the township’s insurer for property and liability insurance on township buildings, vehicles and equipment. She said the township participated in the insurance and risk management program since 1992, which has resulted in significant savings for the township. The cost this year is $77,916, Murgatroyd reported.
  • The board allocated $500 to aid a volunteer beautification effort in the township, with the hope more volunteers would come forward, especially with donations so additional areas of the township could be made more attractive this year, Calderone said. The funds would be used to help provide flowers around the clock tower this spring, he said. The goal is for the program to become self-sufficient next year, Calderone said.

During the meeting, Rich King, of MPK Allen Plumbing on South Arlington Road, matched the township’s donation to further the efforts.

The board’s next meeting is set for May 8 at 7 p.m. at Coventry Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive. The board will conduct a workshop beginning at 6 p.m.

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