VERNON — The city has leased space at city-owned 375 Hartford Turnpike to a recently opened daycare center.
The facility, the Academy of Arts and Learning, officially opened last week and is home to 108 children, city officials said. The lease will last for 10 years, after which the owners of the facility will have the option of renewing it.
The daycare uses over 8,000 square feet of space formerly occupied by a YMCA daycare. The building at 375 Hartford Turnpike, once the site of Vernon Elementary School, also houses city parks and recreation programs, the public works department, and other city government offices.
“We wanted to make good use of this city-owned space and, at the same time, we knew there was a huge need in Vernon for additional child care,” Mayor Dan Champagne said last week.
To prepare the space for the new daycare, the facility’s owner, Pauline Fortier, carried out extensive renovations at her own expense, city administrator Michael Purcaro said today.
The renovations included painting the facility’s walls and adding a new state-of-the-art kitchen, Purcaro said.
Under the terms of the lease, the rent is incremental and increases each year. In year one, the facility will pay the city $64,260, rising to $69,972 in year five and $77,112 in year ten.
The city also paid about $38,000 to upgrade the facility’s security systems, he said, “as any good homeowner should.” This included door locks, fire detection systems and lighting, Purcaro said.
Purcaro said the money came from the city’s enterprise fund, which is made up of revenue from leased municipal properties and is self-sustaining. Taxpayers have not been affected at all, he added.
“The academy has made a huge investment in the property and in the city,” Purcaro said.
“Adding new child care spaces in Vernon is a really big deal for families and we’re happy to be able to do that,” Fortier said last week.
Renovations took about seven weeks and the facility passed a state inspection, city officials said.
A groundbreaking ceremony and open house for the new daycare took place on Saturday.
Ben covers Vernon and Stafford for the Journal Inquirer.