Avon council to hear plan for new preschool, housing on lot zoned for educational purposes
Initial plan includes on-site housing for educators
The Avon Town Council will hear a presentation from a private early childhood education business on Tuesday for a concept that would incorporate housing and an educational facility on Planning Area E, a 3.53 acre lot in east Avon which is zoned for educational uses.
Longtime EagleVail resident Amy Lewis was the executive director of the Education Foundation of Eagle County 2016 to March of 2020, and is the mother of two students in the Eagle County School District.
In a letter to the Avon Town Council, Lewis said she thinks a crucial moment is before the community in its ability to establish early education institutions in Eagle County.
Lewis is a believer in a model built by the Oak Village Academy in Cary, North Carolina, which focuses on the early childhood development benefits of connecting children with nature. Lewis said she became aware of the Oak Village Academy’s model when she met Avon second-home owner Eli Zablud, who helped conceive and build the Oak Village Academy.
“We immediately bonded over a mutual passion for education,” Lewis writes.
Lewis visited Oak Village Academy in North Carolina, where she was further convinced the model would be ideal for Eagle County.
“As a resident, parent and education champion in Eagle County, I am acutely aware of the early childhood education challenges that Eagle County has been facing for decades,” Lewis writes. “We believe this is the right school for this community at a crucial time, and the town of Avon has the ability to provide access to an optimal piece of land to bring this to fruition. In collaboration with town council, staff, and leadership, the Oak Village Academy team looks forward to the opportunity to work together on a school that is designed and maintained with distinctive quality, strategically aligned with county partners, offering benefits and subsidies to residents that will fulfill a long-awaited need within this community.”
Housing for local workers
The Oak Village Academy’s Avon Team submitted a pair of rough site plans to the Town Council, calling for a total capacity of 186 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and a total staffing requirement of 44 people.
Oak Village boasts of a high retention rate among employees. The company celebrated its third anniversary on Sept. 18, 2020, at which point 14 of 23 staff members had been with the school for more than two years.
Of course, to have a high retention rate in Eagle County, the problem of housing is ever-present, something Oak Village addresses in its plan, which includes housing on-site in the initial site plan. In addition to housing opportunities for facility employees, the plan also allows for employees elsewhere in Eagle County to find housing on Planning Area E.
“Housing will be offered at a discount for approved workforce applicants,” according to the plan. “Rent will be discounted to 75% of average market value.”
Uncertainty at other preschools
Planning Area E is bordered by single-family homes and the Union Pacific Railroad to the south, a .51-acre undeveloped lot to the west, East Beaver Creek Boulevard and the new Piedmont Apartments to the north, and Post Boulevard to the east.
Town of Avon Planning Director Matt Pielsticker, in a memo to the Town Council, offered a sneak preview of Tuesday’s presentation.
“The PowerPoint presentation details the uncertainty that surrounds other early childhood operations in the upper portion of the valley,” Pielsticker writes. “Other facilities in Avon include Mountain Montessori (capacity 40), and Rumpelstiltskin (capacity 42), and Prater Lane (capacity 92). Prater Lane operates out of the Seasons building and primarily serves Vail Resorts employees. Prater Lane utilizes portions of the Main Street Pedestrian Mall, by license agreement, for outdoor play. When the Town pursues the extension of the Main Street Pedestrian Mall toward Harry A. Nottingham Park it is expected to result in the eliminate the feasibility of this outdoor play area in this location.”
Pielsticker recommends the Town Council discuss with regional partners the possibility of joint participation for an educational facility on Planning Area E, and report back to new Town Council in early 2021.
Planning Area E, after accounting for easements and steep topography, has a developable area of approximately 2.3 acres.
“(Tuesday’s) work session is intended to familiarize Town Council with the property and one possible concept for the site,” Pielsticker writes. “If there is interest moving forward, in any capacity, several business items would need to be hashed out. Official direction from new Town Council would be requested at a future date.”
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