Dunphy School students pitch ideas for Greenway path entrance

Staff Writer
Published: 3/12/2021 6:00:30 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Imagine seeing the March Hare and Mad Hatter at the entrance of the Greenway bike and pedestrian path.

That’s how Morgan Culver, a student at the Anne T. Dunphy School, began her presentation to the Mill River Greenway Committee and other interested parties, where she pitched an “Alice In Wonderland”-themed opening to the Greenway.

Morgan was one of 18 fifth graders who gave presentations to the committee last week in which they shared their ideas for what an entrance for the in-development bike and pedestrian route would look like.

“We were dazzled,” said Gaby Immerman, chair of the Mill River Greenway Committee. “It was truly inspiring.”

Some of these ideas included a pretzel stand, handcrafted benches and a Porta Potty that is “top quality and smells like donuts.”

“I think it was really fun for them to use their imaginations,” said Katie Joyce, the students’ teacher at the Dunphy School. “That was really helpful for them.”

Getting to speak before adults they didn’t know was also a new experience for some of the students, Joyce said.

The presentations weren’t just an academic exercise, however. The Mill River Greenway Committee is considering the ideas the children have presented for the Williamsburg entrance, as they look at what this future path between Williamsburg Center and Haydenville may look like.

“The committee will be submitting a PDF of the kids’ ideas directly to the project engineers,” Immerman said.

Those present, which included state and local officials and the engineering firm designing the project, also made sure to give feedback to the students.

“I love the idea of handcrafted wooden benches,” said Reid Bertone-Johnson, a Smith College educator, on Olivia Lockwood’s idea for benches that could be used by both people and dogs. “It really plays into the crafty nature of Williamsburg.”

Luca Guerra’s pitch, meanwhile, which featured both a doughnut stand and a doughnut-smelling bathroom, left an impression on Carol Berner, an educator at Smith College.

“I will never forget the idea of a doughnut-smelling bathroom,” Berner said.

Immerman said the hope is to break ground on the Greenway project in 2025 or 2026. 

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

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