Children center

Pendleton Children’s Center focuses on Stillman Park | North West

PENDLETON – As the Pendleton School District closed the door, the Pendleton Children’s Center found a window.

The nonprofit daycare dropped its proposal to acquire a block of bare land east of the Pendleton Early Learning Center and refocused its efforts on constructing a building that would provide care for infants, all- toddlers and preschoolers.

At a meeting on Tuesday, August 11, the Pendleton Parks and Recreation Commission recommended that the city approve the rental of a section of Stillman Park, 413 SE Byers Ave., to the children’s center. After the meeting, Kathryn Brown, the centre’s secretary-treasurer, said the nonprofit aims to open its new facility next summer if Pendleton City Council gives the project the green light.

Brown is also a commissioner and vice chairman of EO Media Group, the parent company of the East Oregonian.

Brown said the center was drawn to the property because of its playground and proximity to the InterMountain Education Service District’s early intervention / special education program.

The center plans to place a modular or prefabricated building at the current location of the park’s tennis courts. Liam Hughes, director of parks and recreation, said the courts have had a tough time.

“They are in bad shape,” he said. “They need maintenance. Something has to happen there.

Hughes said he does not generally support dividing up park properties, but the children’s center would solve the Stillman tennis court problem and comply with the department’s services, which include an after-school program and a summer camp. .

Brown said Stillman’s facility would serve 60 to 70 children, a number lower than the center anticipated when it sought to partner with the Pendleton School District.

In June, Brown offered the Pendleton School Board to rent the property near the Pendleton Early Learning Center, land that once housed the district central office and Hawthorne Alternative High School, but which has been empty since the passage of the 2015 bond. Under the proposal, the children’s center would pay nominal rent and place a new building on the property that would serve 150 children.

The board did not commit to the centre’s proposal, but will discuss it later in private at a later meeting. The board did not provide a public response until August 10, when the board voted to formally reject the proposal.

In a note to board, Superintendent Chris Fritsch wrote that the property was valued at $ 375,000 in 2018 and that its value would likely increase in the future. The district is forecasting installation costs of up to several million dollars over the next five to seven years, a figure that could be offset by the sale of the property.

“Renting out the property to a third party for development would be essentially ‘donating’ public property,” he wrote. “Once developed, the property may be of little use to the owner. district to district in case the project fails to identify sustainable funding for ongoing operations.

The children’s center board tried to preempt the school board vote by writing a letter on Aug. 7 rescinding its request for school ownership.

But the school board decided to vote on the matter regardless, broadening the language of the action to indicate that the district would not be accepting any offers on the property at this time.

The centre’s potential partnership with the city would also end the nonprofit’s pursuit of building space at Blue Mountain Community College.

The center had discussed launching its services at BMCC as an interim measure while it raised funds for a permanent facility, but Brown said the Stillman facility would provide more space than BMCC had available.

Brown added that the children’s center would still like to move to a larger facility, but the Stillman Building would provide Pendleton residents with solid proof of concept that affordable child care deserves an additional investment.

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