The Oak Ridge City Council will consider selecting the Scarboro Park as the site for a new preschool on Monday.
The Scarboro Park site, off Carver Avenue in central Oak Ridge, has already been unanimously selected by the Oak Ridge Board of Education. The board endorsed that site during a February 27 meeting.
The other option had been Elm Grove Park in east Oak Ridge.
Elm Grove Park had been identified as the preferred site after a preschool report was published in October 2015. But there has been opposition, including a petition drive, to building the new preschool there.
Meanwhile, the Scarboro community has welcomed the idea of building the new preschool at Scarboro Park, officials said.
Other than that, the two city-owned sites are relatively equal as measured by a number of factors outlined last month by BOE Vice Chair Bob Eby, including learning environment, building and transportation costs, safety and security, expandability and impact on parks, and community and City Council support.
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson told City Council members in a March 7 memo that public safety and transportation data, including speeds and car counts, are relatively similar at both sites.
But, Watson said, members of the two neighborhoods near the parks had differing opinions.
“Scarboro residents welcome and value the investment and location of the school site,” Watson said. “Residents in and around Elm Grove generally would prefer to keep that site as a public park.”
Watson said the Scarboro Park site has adequate acreage, full utility services, positive soil tests, and lower traffic levels.
Also, Scarboro Park is across Carver Avenue from the Scarboro Community Center, Watson said. The city-owned Community Center had also been briefly considered after a day care center closed there last fall.
But Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer said expanding the Scarboro Community Center would require “stair stepping and filling,” essentially work to move dirt and level the site. That’s not cost-effective and not great for the preschool, Fillauer said. Also, the administrative area and gymnasium at Scarboro Community Center would still be used during the day, and the preschool couldn’t be attached to those areas, Fillauer said.
Officials have received a preliminary cost estimate of about $9.1 million for the preschool, with the costs about the same for either park.
Watson said the city will sell bonds for the design, construction, and engineering of the proposed preschool.
Site selection by City Council will enable more design work and a cost estimate that can be incorporated into the upcoming budget process, Watson said.
Conceptual site plans completed so far were prepared by Studio Four Design. Plans have called for the new preschool to have 20 rooms, and possibly allow for expansion.
A new preschool has been on the city’s wish list for many years. Efforts to build a new preschool date back to the mid-1980s. Officials have said the current preschool on New York Avenue is in a building constructed about 70 years ago in what was supposed to be a temporary structure.
The current building can no longer house the preschool and meet codes that are in place for preschools, Fillauer said in February.
The Monday night City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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