Sussex Countian
  • Primeros Pasos pre-school receives site plan approval

  • Approval of a preliminary site plan at a recent Georgetown Planning Commission meeting has Primeros Pasos one step closer to construction of a permanent facility on Savannah Road.
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  • Approval of a preliminary site plan at a recent Georgetown Planning Commission meeting has Primeros Pasos one step closer to construction of a permanent facility on Savannah Road.
    The plan for a 5,850-square-foot daycare and pre-school facility was unanimously approved at the Nov. 20 meeting.
    John Murray, project manager with Kercher Engineering, said the proposed floor plan has the three modular structures currently housed on the site placed on a permanent foundation and coupled with new construction to add restrooms and a covered entryway, among other amenities.
    “This is really taking all the pieces and putting them together to make one final, solid and permanent structure,” Murray said.
    The non-profit group inherited the three modular buildings in July 2012 from Polytech High School and received temporary approval from the town to place them on the 1.37-acre property. Since then, the buildings have suffered minor dilapidation because a lull in financial contributions left no money to maintain them.
    However a renewed sense of financial stability derived from recent grants and donations, including this summer’s acquisition of a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program, has Primeros Pasos back on track to meet their $1.2 million fundraising goal.
    The nonprofit organization was founded in 1996 with the intention of providing safe, affordable and nurturing care as well as educational support that would focus primarily on the children of underserved Spanish-speaking families. The program is currently housed in the basement of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown.
    Sandra Baker, a member of the organization’s board of directors, said Primeros Pasos recently received a four-star rating in the Delaware Stars program, a quality rating and improvement system for early care and education programs in the First State. If housed in a permanent facility, Baker said she feels confident Primeros Pasos would receive five stars, the top rating.
    “We don’t intend to be less than a five-star program,” she said. “We want [Primeros Pasos] to be a quality school, as well as a daycare.”
    Final site plan approval is done administratively by the town’s Planning Department. Dave Baker, building chairman for Primeros Pasos, said the goal is to begin construction in July 2014 and move into the new facility in April 2015.
    Also at the Nov. 20 meeting, a final site plan extension was approved for Everton Apartments, a proposed 25-unit complex on Savannah Road and Calhoun Street that aims to provide moderate income housing.
    Project developer Rosemary Everton said due to a recent cut in funding for the USDA’s Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants program, which she was depending on to fund her more than $2 million project, she has returned to the proverbial drawing board.
    Page 2 of 2 - “With the tightening of the financial institutes on lending for residential projects, we have been unable to obtain funding through the banks,” Everton said. “I need time to look into other options.”
    The project dates back to 2004, when the Planning Commission approved Everton’s preliminary site plan. Commissioner Chet Johnson said Everton should have been able to acquire financing by now. Johnson said he reluctantly votes to approve the extension.
    “I think you need to come back to us with a totally different project,” he said to Everton. “This is not doing anything but wasting your time and ours.”
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