The Silver Bay City Council heard a proposal for a new day care from a collaboration of businesses, the Lake Superior School District and a representative from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board during the council meeting Monday, Dec. 2. The group presented the history of the project and asked for help with acquiring a building for the facility.
A little over a year ago, a group formed in Silver Bay called "Shoring Up the Business." Every two months. representatives from local businesses would meet and discuss various issues affecting their businesses. One such topic was the need for day care in the city.
"We formed a committee to explore what we could do to expand day care in town," Shoring Up member Lisa Hoff said.
Eventually, the committee met with the school district and decided to work together. A survey was sent by the district to see the level of need for day care in the area. In the 10- to 12-day survey period, 59 people responded, 46 of whom said they couldn't find day care in the community.
"This is a critical need for our community," LSSD Superintendent Bill Crandall said. "The existing day care is going to be closing soon, so there will be no day care available locally. There’s an urgency to have something."
The group reached out to the IRRRB and the Northland Foundation to begin forming a business plan. By looking at models of local day cares, such as Kickstart Preschool in Two Harbors, the collective has put together a rough business model that shows a positive cash flow.
However, a location remains the major issue before the group can move forward with business plans. By working with the city's planning and zoning director, one possible location has been identified: the former Wells Fargo bank building in the Shopping Center.
William Kelley Principal Joe Nicklay has been in touch with Wells Fargo to see if it would be interested in selling or donating the property. If Wells Fargo is willing to part with the former bank site, the group is requesting the city partner with the district to acquire the property and lease it to the school for five years.
"You’re proposing that the city would own the building for five years. At the end of the five years, the plan would be to deed it back to the school for a buck?" Mayor Scott Johnson asked.
"Correct," Crandall said.
The five-year lease agreement comes from the IRRRB. If the day care becomes operational, there would be additional grant dollars available. It would have to be owned by the city so it could obtain that money.
"Our agency is committed to investing in this facility to get it to an operational state. It would have to be owned by the city for us to make that investment," said Chris Ismil, a community development representative from the IRRRB. "We’re in this limbo state until we know the city says yes, we will be part of the acquisition of this property and lease/own it for a period of time and we’ll work with the partners. Until we have that commitment, there’s no reason to build our business plan."
Councilor Richard DeRosier said he liked the idea, but was a little wary.
"I think we all think it’s a great idea, but I think we’re also a little gun shy over the last school issue with the Mary MacDonald. I can sum it up in one word, which is a headache," DeRosier said. "But from what I’ve heard, this is a no-brainer."
DeRosier made a motion for the council to explore working with the group on the day care creation. The motion was adopted unanimously.