Pumpkin Patch remains closed | SummitDaily.com

Pumpkin Patch remains closed

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Copper Mountain remains without full-time day-care services more than a year after closing the Pumpkin Patch Day Care Center.

Without the center, which was licensed to care for 44 children, local parents must juggle schedules, hire babysitters or transport children elsewhere in Summit County.

“We are looking for ways to fill this need in the community,” said Copper Mountain Ski Resort spokeswoman Lauren Pelletreau.

The Pumpkin Patch closed in April of 2007 following allegations of employee misconduct with infants.

No criminal charges were filed following allegations that two employees photographed infants posed with unlit cigarettes and in suggestive positions.

But the center’s license was suspended, and it has not re-opened.

Lucinda Burns, the executive director of Early Childhood Options in Summit County, said the community’s lack of child care is part of a “never-ending” county-wide issue.

About 120 local children are on the waiting list in Summit County year-round.

Burns said her organization always appreciates employers “who really step up to the plate.”

“Copper Mountain until recently has been a great organization in terms of providing some discount employee child care,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that that’s not currently available.”

Pelletreau said the resort is working to find an existing child-care provider with which to partner.

Gary Harmsen owns the former day-care center property in Snowbridge Square. His assistant, Bruce Klein, said the space is being held vacant in anticipation of another day-care center.

John Theisen, president of the Snowbridge Square Homeowner Association board, said in an e-mail that the association asked the resort for its plans last fall. The board has not received a plan or proposal.

Burns said child care in the county “has been a big issue for a long time.”

“One in 10 employees in the ski sector quit their job because they can’t find adequate child care,” she said, adding that the issue is similar to the lack of affordable housing.

Some parents rely on unregulated means such as friends, family and neighbors, she said, however this creates an inconsistent environment for children.

The Town of Breckenridge is working to offer child care for about 68 children when the Timberline Learning Center opens in August.

The center is anticipated to fill the void left by Kinderhut, which closed last year after Beaver Run officials decided to lease the commercial space to Vail Resorts. Kinderhut had been kept open for an additional year following a petition signed by about 300 locals.

Burns said that when Pumpkin Patch closed, other county day-care centers helped accommodate displaced children, moving them up on waiting lists.

She said that though child care is a big issue, “the really exciting thing is folks are excited about addressing (it).”

Copper Mountain continues to offer short-term day-care services for infants to pre-schoolers at the Belly Button Bakery in the Mountain Plaza building. Pelletreau said that the services are aimed toward guests and that summer hours are limited.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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