Rainbow Preschool looking to move to old church
The Rainbow Experience Preschool cleared an important hurdle Tuesday needed in its quest to open in a new location with the start of its new year in August.
On Tuesday, the Baldwin City Planning Commission recommended the Baldwin City Council approve Rainbow’s request for a conditional use permit to operate a preschool at the now-empty church at 115 Sixth Street.
Danita Price, president of the Rainbow Preschool Board of Directors, said there was a “90 percent” chance Rainbow would open in the church when the preschool reopened with the start of USD 348 classes Aug. 21. The conditional use permit still needs to win the city council’s approval and, once that was secured, get a license from the state to operate in the new site.
Price said the preschool had an agreement with Lighthouse Baptist Church to rent the old church for one year. Lighthouse Baptist Church has moved across Baker Street to the old elementary school it purchased from USD 348 last year.
Church officials will evaluate the arrangement after a year. Price said the preschool board was hopeful of negotiating a longer agreement if all goes well in the coming year.
The move was made because of the school district’s desire to sell the old middle school, Price said.
“We loved where we were at,” she said. “But every year the school district would tell us we would have to find a new place and then come back and say we didn’t have to. It was kind of stressful.”
The preschool would use most of the old church building, Prince said. Pre-kindergarten classes would be held downstairs and those for younger students on the ground floor, she said. There would be more room at the new site for indoor play during wet or cold weather, she said.
The preschool would continue to use the playground on the Chapel Street campus for its first year at the old church, Price said. If a longer agreement could be reached with Lighthouse Baptist Church, the preschool would look to install playground equipment on the south side of the new site, she said.
Planning commissioners approved the conditional use permit request after a number of questions on parking and traffic flow. City zoning and planning administrator Tina Rakes said there was plenty of parking at the old church for the preschool’s needs.
In a written report Price prepared for the application, it was stated parents would be instructed to access the preschool with a west turn off Sixth Street. Parents would be further informed in the preschool’s handbook and at the annual parent meeting to park in the lot west of the church, along Baker Street or in the Lighthouse Baptist Church lot across Baker Street. Parents would be told not to park in the adjoining Cranberry Market parking lot or use that lot to get to the preschool’s parking lot.
The planning commission’s recommendation of approval starts a 14-day protest period on the conditional use permit. The Baldwin City Commission can consider the application at its July 1 meeting.