The long road to childcare


Valley Village Child Care and Excel Preschool work towards opening a new facility

Childcare is in demand in nearly every community. Saratoga is no different. Valley Village Child Care currently operates at 1012 W. Bridge in Saratoga. Excel Preschool operates out of two mobile homes at 204 W. Spring Avenue. A child care facility, proposed by Valley Village, would provide many benefits to the community. Local businesses with staff members that need childcare would have a professional operation to care for their kids. Quoting from the Valley Village website, “this facility could also impact economic development. Offering professional childcare to parents wanting to relocate or to the local graduates that are more likely to return to the Valley if these services are more readily available.”

In February of 2022 Valley Village Child Care and Excel Preschool went before the Saratoga Town Council to make a proposal for joint use of the Corbett Medical Building. The Corbett building is under ownership of the Town of Saratoga and currently houses the Platte Valley Clinic. The Clinic will move to the North Platte Valley Medical Building once construction is completed, thereby leaving the Corbett building vacant. The Corbett Building was gifted to the Town in 1994 with the intent that the Town would establish a lease and use the building and property for the purpose of having a medical clinic or doctor’s office for the Town. There is a clause that is very specific concerning the Town’s ability to re-purpose the building in the agreement. Schelby Merrill, a member of Valley Village Board of Directors and Jamie Stein, Director of the Excel Preschool, told the council that they had been in communication with the Corbett Medical Foundation who was supportive of the facility being used as a daycare/preschool.

On May 17, representatives from both organizations were at the Saratoga Town Council meeting to ask about progress on a lease agreement for the building. At the meeting Ellie Raymer, a Valley Village Child Care board member, told the council that neither organization was expecting the Town of Saratoga to pay for the reconstruction needed for the inside of the building. She also said a remodel would make the building more appealing if the building were to become vacant again. At the June 7 meeting, the council was presented with a proposed lease agreement from Valley Village and Excel. A letter of support from Corbett Medical Foundation was also submitted. The lease was sent to Jane France, the town’s attorney for review.

At the September 29 council meeting Dana stood before the council members once again. She had submitted a letter to the council concerning an inspection performed by Andrew Meyers. Dana said that Valley Village Child Care Board of Directors proposed the town should maintain the building throughout the terms of the lease, including painting the exterior, repair or replace the roof, install gutters, repair or repave the parking lot and repair or replace the pillars. Dana said Valley Village and Excel would be responsible for enlarging the attic access to install a dry fire suppression system. Valley Village would also need to fence a portion of Kathy Glode Park in order to comply with insurance requirements.

The council asked for quotes for repairs before making any more decisions, especially given that there was no money budgeted for these items.

At the November 10 council meeting, Dana was at the microphone again addressing the council. She said that they had withdrawn their request to fence in an area at Kathy Glode park and were now requesting permission to fence the yard. Dana also told the council that the quote for roof was $43,000.00 not including the additional insulation for the fire suppression.

However, the town does not wish to be a landlord. There are deferred costs of maintenance items that must be taken care of before the building can be rented. The cost is estimated at $90,000.00. Annual expenses for unexpected items such as water heater replacement, HVAC issues, irrigation and roof must be considered, the exterior mowing and maintenance would also continue at the Town’s expense.

Things changed dramatically at the December 15 town council meeting when Dana spoke to the council. She said that the board proposed Valley Village Childcare would buy the Corbett Medical Building for $1.00. Valley Village was working on a contractual agreement with Excel Preschool to continue as a partner. Dana referred to Wyoming statute 15-1-12 that says the town can sell the property without a bid or public offer if the town believes it is in the best interest of the community.

Valley Village currently serves 23 children. Excel serves 35.

According to the Valley Village Childcare website, the remodel is projected to be close to $500,000.00; the Fire Suppression another $110,000.00; the repairs $91,000.00; play yard $15,000.00–that is a total of $715,000.000 before moving and new supplies and equipment for additional children.

The requirements for child care facilities are very specific when it comes to how a facility has to be set up. Wyoming Department of Family Services regulations and inspections are intense and must be followed completely.

Valley Village and Excel are both non-profit organizations and feel that they can raise the funds for the remodel and repairs if acquired on an “as is” condition.

Saratoga Town Council made it clear that there will be a reverter on the deed should Valley Village and Excel vacate. An appraisal was scheduled for December 19 and a tentative report is due by January 6, 2023. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for February 7,2023.

When asked why is Valley Village paying for the repair, code upgrades, remodel and appraisal, the answer was “they have raised funds to be able to do this, the Town and Excel do not have the funds to make this happen now. Child care is important. The donations come from those that believe childcare matters. The Excel/Valley Village partnership is for the benefit of the children, there is no profit. The partnership does not require equal financial contributions. Valley Village will not increase childcare fees to cover the cost of the building repairs, upgrades or remodel.”

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