M/cloudy
5°
M/cloudy
Hi 27° | Lo 20°

Greenfield

Child care location a ‘last resort’

Newly named ‘A Child’s Nature’ looks to move to director’s property by July 1

  • Peggy Waterhouse discusses her plan for a child care center with the Greenfield Planning Board.<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Peggy Waterhouse discusses her plan for a child care center with the Greenfield Planning Board.<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Peggy Waterhouse discusses her plan for a child care center with the Greenfield Planning Board.<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Peggy Waterhouse discusses her plan for a child care center with the Greenfield Planning Board.<br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

GREENFIELD — Peggy Waterhouse’s proposal for a childcare center at a home she owns on Forest Road has received site-plan approval from the Planning Board. But the required upgrades to the property will be expensive and Waterhouse and parents hoping to send children to her new center, to be called A Child’s Nature, Care and Education, are still uncertain whether they’ll move ahead with the project.

“What we’re planning next is to look at construction management bids,” Waterhouse said on May 21, the day after she spoke to the Planning Board. “We still need to get a take on the costs. We’ll have to look at whether it’s financially feasible.”

Waterhouse has been the director of the Pine Hill Child Care Center, located at ConVal High School. The center serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers, but its parent organization, the Pine Hill Waldorf School in Wilton, opted not to renew its contract with the ConVal School District. ConVal administrators now plan to use the space to house students in ConVal’s alternative education program, moving them from modular units on the edge of the high school’s parking lot. In the wake of those decisions, Waterhouse and others formed A Child’s Nature, Care and Education and started looking for other locations. Waterhouse was unsuccessful in finding a site in Peterborough and has described the Greenfield house as a “last resort.”

At the May 20 Planning Board meeting, Waterhouse presented a set of plans for the proposed center. She said the house has space for up to 40 children. She is planning to use two-thirds of the building for child care and a tenant will remain in an apartment in the building. Waterhouse said a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services Child Care Licensing Unit had visited the house and made a number of suggestions. The plans would need approval from the Planning Board and all construction work must be complete before the state will issue her a license, she said.

Planning Board Chair Bob Marshall asked Building Inspector Michael Borden and Fire Chief Loren White for their feedback on the plan.

Borden said he has recommended to Waterhouse that she add an external stairway to the building to provide a second exit from the second floor.

“Every room that a child is in will have smoke detectors,” Borden said. “I’ve asked for a fire alarm pull station on each floor. Between smoke detection, fire alarms and egress, I felt confident this will be a safe environment.”

White said he’d be satisfied if the building is approved as a child care center by the state fire marshal’s office.

“I have a lot of faith in the state guidelines,” he said.

Marshall said he would like to have the state fire marshal’s office make recommendations before work is done on the house.

“Putting 40 children in an old building really concerns me,” Marshall said.

In answer to a question from an abutter about traffic, Waterhouse said the center would be open from 6:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with many children dropped off and picked up by parents on a staggered schedule. She said 40 children is the maximum allowed, because the childcare part of the building will have only two toilets.

“We just did enrollment and 27 to 30 children have enrolled,” she said.

The Planning Board approved the site plan, subject to several conditions, including providing a second egress from the second floor, fire alarms and pull stations on the second floor, installation of carbon monoxide detectors, a safety inspection of the fencing around the building and its playground area and approval of the state fire marshal.

The day after the Planning Board meeting, Waterhouse said about two-thirds of the families who currently use Pine Hill Child Care Center have enrolled their children with A Child’s Nature, Care and Education. Some parents have not enrolled because the Greenfield location is inconvenient for them, she said. The Pine Hill lease on the space at the high school expires at the end of the school year, and Waterhouse wants to be open on July 1 so parents don’t have to go without child care.

“We’ll have to decide soon,” she said. “There’s a lot to do and we’re down to about six weeks.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.