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Town of Vail, Children’s Garden of Learning agree to temporary relocation plan

October 7, 2020, 10:16 am

The Town of Vail on Tuesday put out the following press release on the temporary relocation of Children’s Garden of Learning to the Charter Bus Lot in Lionshead:

Children’s Garden of Learning and the Town of Vail have agreed to a relocation plan that includes use of the Charter Bus Lot in Lionshead as a temporary location to allow time to prepare for a permanent facility. The announcement by Town Manager Scott Robson and CGL Executive Director Maggie Swonger was made during the Oct. 6 meeting of the Vail Town Council.

The two entities have been meeting regularly to review relocation scenarios to accommodate an August 2021 timetable to vacate the preschool’s current location on Middle Creek Lot 3 to make way for the construction of resident housing on the town-owned property.

A remodel of the Community Development Department building on the west side of the Municipal Complex had been studied previously to accommodate the preschool on a temporary basis. However, after a preliminary analysis showed total project costs in excess of $5 million and an occupancy timeline challenge, the Charter Bus Lot on the east side of the Lionshead parking structure was subsequently identified as an alternative site for review. That analysis has since shown the ability to provide CGL with facility requirements and outdoor play spaces necessary to meet state licensing requirements more cost-efficiently than the previous scenario and within the timeframe necessary. Looking to the success of the Chamonix Vail Townhomes, the town will rely upon off-site modular construction and a local general contractor to ensure the necessary timeframe is met. View schematic concepts here.

In addition to the cost efficiencies, Robson and Swonger say the Charter Bus Lot location offers other amenities and advantages including improved parking and access; close proximity to the library, Dobson Ice Arena, Gore Valley Trail and walkability to Village play areas and transit stops; highly flexible design opportunities with systems-built construction; and the ability to be ready for occupancy by August 2021.

The CGL Board of Directors has offered its support of the Charter Bus Lot location as the preschool’s temporary home and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding unanimously approved by the Town Council on Sept. 1.

The MOU serves as recognition by both parties that Children’s Garden of Learning remains an integral part of the Vail community as it transitions from a temporary location to a permanent location and financial partners can be researched by both entities.

Swonger says the CGL Board of Directors is committed to partnering with Vail’s leadership to advance the town’s community priorities of developing deed-restricted homes, enhancing environmental stewardship and ensuring that Vail has a vibrant, family-friendly and healthy community for all its citizens. This includes continuing to provide the highest quality early learning and childcare to families, employees and employers who live, work and do business within the town.

CGL has provided a Reggio Emilia Approach to education to the families of Vail and Eagle County since merging with The Learning Tree and ABC School in 2002. The school has been in its present location for more than 15 years and has been operating rent-free on town-owned land with more than 7,000  square feet of combined indoor and outdoor space, as well as easy access to nearby nature trails, which will continue to serve as an essential part of the school’s curriculum.

Robson says the town recognizes the financial hardship on CGL to fund a short-term facility. As such, the town has agreed to lead the design and construction of the temporary space to deliver indoor and outdoor space that will achieve not only the licensing requirement by Colorado Department of Human Services, but also provide a space to deliver nature-based, experiential education that inspires the youngest citizens to be creative life-long learners. 

Swonger says CGL looks forward to working with the town to ensure the new environment is warm and welcoming and can allow for CGL to continue to exceed quality indicators and be a leader in developmentally appropriate education. “CGL looks forward to continuing to provide the families of Vail and Eagle County excellence in early childhood education through the nature-based Reggio Approach,” she said. “Community is key to the Reggio approach to learning, and CGL is forever grateful for the years of access to their nature trail and north trail that have allowed the children of Eagle County to have a true mountain preschool experience.”

Robson says the MOU outlines the intention of both the town and CGL that a permanent home for the preschool be ready for occupancy in no more than five years, so that long-term effects on children, families and employers is minimal. In this time CGL and the town intend to work with foundations, local businesses and launch a fundraising campaign to secure and design a permanent facility that can be a fixture of the Vail community for decades to come.

“CGL looks forward to a new home to meet family’s needs and engage young learners in community-based learning that truly meets the ‘Vail Standard,’” said Swonger. “This MOU provides short-term certainty for CGL’s students and their families, CGL’s staff, and the employers within Vail whose employees rely on the service Children’s Garden provides. The path forward is instrumental in our community’s growth and development as both a world-renowned tourist destination but also as a vibrant local economy and truly unique place to live and raise a family,” she said.

A copy of the MOU is available here

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