Guilford day care to move, will grow
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
July 17, 2008

GUILFORD — The Guilford Center for Children’s plan to expand and move its day care operations to the Woodruff property on Old Whitfield Street gained approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday.

The day care center plans to renovate two barns on the town-owned property and add outdoor play spaces and a parking lot.

The move from the group’s current site on Park Street would allow it to double the number of children it can accommodate, to 60 from about 30.

In response to some concerns from neighbors and the Guilford Preservation Alliance, the commission required as a condition of approval that the architect and engineer for the project review ways to reconfigure the parking lot to reduce the amount of pavement.

“I think this is a fabulous proposal,” commission Chairwoman Shirley Girioni said.

“Once the parking lot is addressed, it will make everyone happy, and most important of all, the building will have more space for more children.”

The town purchased the Woodruff property, the former summer home of Gov. Rollin S. Woodruff, in 2003 for more than $800,000.

The Guilford Center for Children has already received approval from the town’s Historic District Commission to convert part of the property, which lies in a historic area.

The group has a lease from the town for the land.

Several people associated with the Center for Children, as well as parents of day care attendees, spoke in favor of the proposal.

“We’ve worked many years on this project. I think we’re very proud of bringing it before Planning and Zoning,” Gary Melillo of the Center for Children said. “It fulfills our needs of meeting a long-term waiting list that we’ve had (and) taking care of Guilford’s youngest citizens.”

Pam Orton, also with the day care center, said that it usually has between 60 and 80 children on its waiting list.

But some speakers Wednesday questioned the need for more than 20 parking spaces and 12,000 square feet of paved surface, as indicated in the plans.

Ann Weeden, executive director of the Guilford Preservation Alliance, said that the organization is “very interested in the future of the Woodruff property.”

“We have deep concerns about the proposed parking area,” Weeden said. “It is inappropriate to utilize this historic site for unneeded parking.”

According to the conditions of approval, the commission will hold another public hearing on the parking lot after the engineers have reviewed the plans.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the commission was due to hold a public hearing on proposed changes to Guilford’s sign regulations, but had not done so by press time.

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