Childcare expansion projects seek permits (4/22/10)

Board OKs one expansion, tables another

April 22, 2010

By Greg Elias

Observer correspondent

The Development Review Board last week considered a pair of projects that could ease Williston’s child care shortage.

The board, at its April 13 session, approved an expansion for one childcare facility but delayed action on a second proposal amid parking concerns.

Nadeau’s Playschool received a permit to enlarge its Marshall Avenue facility, making room for about 20 more children.

Ken Belliveau, Williston planning director, said the board unanimously approved the project. Conditions of approval included a requirement to move storage trailers in the child care’s parking lot.

Judy Bergeron, director of Nadeau’s, said that the facility now has about 7,000 square feet and can accommodate about 75 children. The 1,760-square-foot addition will help the facility cope with a long waiting list.

“Oh yes, there is a demand,” Bergeron said, noting that the wait is more than a year for openings for the youngest children. Approximately 25 to 30 families are on the waiting list.

The facility, which accepts children ranging from 6 weeks old to 10 years old, largely serves parents who work in Williston but live elsewhere, Bergeron said.

The expansion is expected to be completed by late summer.

The board delayed action on another project that would double the capacity of a childcare facility at Sports & Fitness Edge, located on Wellness Drive off Marshall Avenue.

The expansion involves converting an existing ball field used for tennis, basketball and other sports at the fitness center’s field house into additional child care space, according to plans filed with the town.

But parking concerns stalled a vote on the project. Belliveau said some board members have children at the facility and think parking is inadequate to accommodate the comings and goings of parents.

A majority of the board must vote for a project, regardless of how many members are actually present, for it to gain approval. Just four of the board’s seven members attended last week’s session, meaning the project would have needed a unanimous yes vote to receive a permit.

Belliveau said a Sports & Fitness Edge representative requested that the vote be delayed until a future meeting, reasoning that with more board members present the project might win approval.

Town planning staff had recommended that some of the 188 total parking spots at the fitness center be set aside solely for the childcare facility. Belliveau said some board members might want to go further, perhaps by mandating the parking lot be expanded.

The project would expand Sports & Fitness Edge’s childcare facility by 12,000 square feet and increase the number of kids it can accommodate to 160, according to club manager Laurie Adams. The preschool now has about 80 children ranging from infants to 5-year-olds.

The facility has a waiting list for child care, but Adams did not know how many families were on the list.

The board is tentatively scheduled to further discuss the Sports & Fitness Edge project at its May 11 meeting.