Proposed childcare center would offer stimulating classes for youngsters and freedom for parents | SteamboatToday.com

Proposed childcare center would offer stimulating classes for youngsters and freedom for parents

— A permit application for a new form of childcare/child development center has entered the city of Steamboat Springs planning process, seeking a permit needed to remodel an existing space in the Fish Creek at Sundance commercial center on Anglers Drive as a conditional use.

Play Garden would engage children in hands-on learning and play with the objective of supporting their sense of independence, self-confidence and self-respect, according to the applicant, Charlotte Harriman.

Harriman said this week it was when she became a mother and sought a supportive environment for her own son that she became aware of the shortage of childcare options here. But she also had in mind liberating parents to spontaneously take advantage of the opportunities that define the Steamboat lifestyle — skiing on a powder morning, for example.

"It's getting outside and enjoying an activity for ourselves," Harriman said. "Us moms put ourselves in the back seat on that."

The project has just entered the city process, and no public hearings on its permit application have been scheduled.

Harriman wrote in her application package to the city that, while Play Garden would operate "under a daycare license," it would be very different from a traditional daycare. Learning programs at Play Garden would be based on Reggio Emilia and Montessori approaches to education, she explained.

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"Creativity grows in an open play atmosphere in which each child is given the freedom to find how he or she best expresses his or herself," Harriman wrote in an letter to city planning staff.

Parents will be able to see a schedule of classes in advance and plan accordingly for what their child might enjoy — an eco-friendly art project, for example, she said.

A snapshot of some of the classes that would be offered to children includes: language, recycled building, math magicians, language, Lego building ad yoga, among other classes and activities.

For parents, one of the key concepts at Play Garden will be flexibility, according to Harriman. Parents and guardians will be able to purchase Play Garden services in hour-long time blocks rather than having to commit to an entire day or specific days of the week for an extended time.

"The thing that makes Play Garden unique is it is on a drop-in basis," she wrote.

If a last-minute meeting or medical appointment comes up, Play Garden would be available to free up adults' schedules. Another advantage Play Garden would offer is evening hours, Harriman said. Play Garden plans to be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. weekdays and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The weekend hours were created with the idea of providing parents the freedom to go enjoy a date night.

The Play Garden in Steamboat would be based upon two proven Play Gardens established by a college friend of Harriman's in Charleston, South Carolina, she said.

Routt County Regional Building Department official Ben Grush wrote in a memo to planning staff that the building code for daycares requires adherence to specific details which require the business operator to engage a design professional for preparation of construction plans. Harriman has retained KSA Architects.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

In other city planning business

What: Steamboat Springs Planning Commission considers a conceptual development plan for Passive House Apartments off U.S. Highway 40 on the city’s south side at Weiss Drive.

When: 5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27

Where: Citizen’s Meeting Room, Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.