By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – The largest day care facility in Potsdam will soon move from its long-time location in a Potsdam Central School building to a new location behind Snell’s Office Complex on State Rt. 56.
Building Blocks Day Care Center, currently licensed to provide care for 15 infants, 20 toddlers and 29 preschool children, is moving from behind A.A. Kingston Middle School because the school district plans to use the building starting in May.
“We’re in the process of tearing down walls and putting up new walls” in the building behind the road-front property at 6604 State Rt. 56 north of the village, said Building Blocks Director Marlene Pickering. Snell maintains offices for professionals in the adjacent building that faces the road.
“The licensing agent” – a representative of the state Office of Children and Family Services –“must come up for inspection before we open,” Pickering said. “We’re hopeful it will all be ready by May 13.”
Aside from occasional fund-raising events, Pickering said, the day care center intends to sustain itself with tuition and fees from parents of the children who attend the center.
There has been some debate over the years about the appropriateness of allowing the day care center, a private non-profit, to use the PCS building. In 2011, following a 2010 study of district buildings, the PCS Board of Education voted to use the relatively small building for administrative personnel or a shipping and receiving area.
There has been some controversy over the arrangements the day care center made with the school district and village government, which reportedly made an effort to accommodate the day care center with a reduction in rent for the Lawrence Avenue space. That arrangement has been a bone of contention with a pair of critics, Richard and Jane Hollister of Potsdam.
The Hollisters have waged a campaign for years to get the private, non-profit day care to find a way to operate that is more in line with what they believe are the best interests of the school district. They allege the arrangement has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In mid-May, the day care center is to move to the Outer Market Street building, “and we’ll be very glad to be out from underneath that,” said Pickering.
“When we leave, the district will have a building, free and clear, that they can renovate and use for other purposes. But I’m just trying to stay focused on the children,” Pickering said.
In the meantime, she said, at least the move will be to a building where taxes are being paid.
“We’ll be leasing that building from Jim Snell, and that should make the taxpayers happy. We’re a non-profit, but Snell will be paying taxes on the building.”
Pickering said she believes growth is in the offing for the center, “but we’re not preparing for that now. That depends on the community and the economy in the community.
“I hope things will pick up, that there will be more job opportunities for the community, and we can use the upstairs” at the new building, but there are no plans for that now.
“There is a second floor which is not set up yet, but we’ll be looking at that down the road,” Pickering said.
More info: Potsdam Building Block Day Care, 265-8260, www.potsdambuildingblocks.org/