New Paltz Child Care Center closes

The New Paltz Child Care Center has been closed, and it’s not going to be reopened. That’s the news broken at the November 21 New Paltz Town Board meeting. Supervisor Neil Bettez said that the fire department was called there due to an electrical problem, bringing focus to the many maintenance issues which need to be addressed in a structure intended to be temporary, but in service since the 1990s. It would cost $60,000 to address short-term safety needs, Bettez said, and perhaps twice that in the next year or two to put the building on solid footing. That’s money which isn’t available in a budget swollen by pension and health insurance costs, and board members voted earlier this year not to pursue state grants to address the issues.

The problems are complicated by the many players. The center is run by a nonprofit board, in a town-owned building on school district land. There can’t legally be an arrangement directly between the nonprofit and the school district, and if the town owns the building, Bettez was counseled, then the maintenance obligations can’t be shifted onto the nonprofit board members instead. “We don’t have a lot of options,” he said, describing this closure as his worst failure in office.

Marty Irwin didn’t see it as all that bad. The purpose of the center was to provide daycare when there was none to be had, but now there are many options. Bettez, father of young children, disagreed, saying that daycare is a stressful issue for parents even when it’s planned, and an unexpected closure is a heavy burden on those parents.

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Board members reluctantly agreed that with the building on its last legs and no money to fix it permanently, it wouldn’t be safe to allow children to be cared for under that leaky roof any longer.

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