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Leasing town property to Children and Friends is the right thing to do 

We are excited that Children and Friends’ new facility is proposed to be located behind the fire station at Veterans Park. Children and Friends Center is a 40-year-old, community non-profit, five-star child care center that is currently located on U.S. 70 in a building that floods and that cannot be expanded.

The new facility, and special outdoor play area, will provide an exceptional early learning environment for 170 young children and their families in the Swannanoa Valley. The Town would lease the ground and the Center would pay for the building, parking and playground. The parking and playground would be shared with the community when the center is closed.

It is a perfect public/private partnership which would provide jobs and enable more working families in the Valley to access quality, affordable, safe, caring, developmentally appropriate early learning and care for their young children. The proposed new location behind the Fire Station should allay the fears of Community Garden and greenway folks that the new center would encroach on their special spaces.

We are fortunate to have a community that shares resources and seeks to serve all of it residents, even the very young.

Marylyn Huff

Black Mountain

Encouraging support for town's lease with Children and Friends

I want to express my deep concern for the young children of our Valley and their parents. When my family moved back here in 1990 the only day care options were Valley Child Development Center, at Community High School, the few childcare centers in Asheville, the predecessor of Children & Friends and in-home care. It was very frustrating to find care. 

I now have two grandsons who live in the Valley, and whose parents struggle mightily to find care at all - let alone quality care. The options for care have barely increased in 29 years. While we are fortunate that Verner Child Development Center opened in Riceville, it took three years for our 4-year-old grandson to find a spot. His parents secured another placement at Children and Friends, and then at the Montessori School.

There is no opening for the 3-month-old even though his brother was on the list at Verner for 3 years. This is not acceptable in 2019 when the vast majority of families need full time child care simply in order to survive,financially. Verner is an excellent provider of child development and care but it cannot be the only provider of that care. Their waiting list is long.

The waiting list at Children and Friends is also long, as are the lists at First Baptist Church Asheville, First Presbyterian, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Asheville and private for profit centers as well.  

The new location of Children and Friends is a win-win. We can serve our working families who need two parents working full-time simply to live here. The current families served there are our teachers, service industry workers, small business owners or workers, etc.

This is not being supported to simply provide care for the incoming industry, it is being proposed in order to offer relief to those who are already here and who serve our community and are trying to make ends meet. The current building is not adequate and the landlord is selling and prior to that refused to improve the flooding problems.

I want to thank the Board of Aldermen for their willingness to support children, young parents and quality care and education. There is a precedent for the Town leasing space to non-profits such as the Swannanoa Valley Montessori School and Art in the Afternoon.

Heaven help us if those programs were taken away because the Town shouldn’t lease their facilities. 

Other locations have been sought for several years.

There is absolutely no profit in the childcare industry and one is getting rich off of trying to care for children unless it is a national chain. I encourage parents to express their own struggle to find child care in order to let others know of the extreme frustration, and support our aldermen as they try to support our youngest citizens.

Kitty R. Kelly, M.Ed

Retired Owen High School Counselor 

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