Keystone exploring options for child-care center |

Keystone exploring options for child-care center

Jane Reuter

KEYSTONE – There are no day-care centers in Summit County east of Zoomers in Dillon. And it’s not for lack of children.

Estimates show there already are 510 children from newborns to age 5 living in Keystone, Summit Cove and Dillon, a number that’s expected to leap to 712 by 2009. Those figures represent roughly one-third of Summit County’s total population of children in that age range, according to Summit County Government statistics.

Thomas Davidson, Keystone Real Estate Development’s (KRED) planning manager, hopes to see a child-care center up and running in Keystone by late 2004.

But it’s not going to happen without some creative thinking on the part of KRED and the Summit County government, he said Monday.

While KRED has set aside a piece of land in Keystone for the center, neither it nor the county has the money to put up the building. Additionally, there appears to be confusion on the part of KRED staffers and county officials as to whether KRED is obligated to build the center.

Keystone’s 1995 planned unit development required KRED to build a child-care center at Keystone. In the late ’90s, when KRED was preparing to do so, it instead began working with Zoomers and gave the center $200,000 to complete its Dillon building. County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom said all that bought KRED was time.

“All that did was give them an extension on the time,” he said. “It did not forgive them from any responsibility to do various things, including build a building.”

The deadline for KRED to do something is fast approaching.

“Right now, our PUD says we hand over a piece of land to the county 12 months after we’ve determined a need existed,” Davidson said. “We determined last April 30 there was a need for child care.”

Davidson approached the Summit Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) during a Monday work session to inquire about receiving an extension to the April 30 deadline. He said neither KRED nor the county is prepared to take action on a child-care center.

“The county has said if you give us a piece of land now, we’ll just sit there and stare at it,” Davidson said. “Everybody has said, let’s take some extra time and start thinking about how we could get creative.”

Davidson proposes the county buy the land from KRED; KRED could then use the purchase money to help build the center.

“It may not be all of the money, but if we’ve got a piece of land and half the money, when we go out and start applying for other grants, we’ll rise to the top of the list,” he said. “If they buy the land from us, we will turn around and give every single dime they pay us right back to the child-care center construction fund.”

Davidson suggested that purchase money could come from the county’s open space mill levy, 15 percent of which is dedicated to the purchase of land for public facilities. Unfortunately, interim county manager Sue Boyd said, that money is tied up until 2003 to pay for the Summit County Justice Center property.

County officials agreed Monday to look into other possibilities to fund construction. Almost all those ideas, Davidson said, will require him to request an amendment of the PUD to change the date on which KRED is required to turn the land over to the county. Davidson expects to make the extension request to the BOCC in about a month.

“I’ve been on this (Summit County) Child Care Task Force for almost two years,” he said. “I think this is one of the best opportunities I’ve seen in terms of doing something significant to change the child-care scene in Summit County.”

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