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Community meeting on Scarboro preschool site March 23rd

After residents of the neighborhood where the Oak Ridge School Board is recommending the city’s new preschool be built raised some questions over the project and its effect on their community, the Oak Ridge City Council has scheduled a community meeting for next week.

Last month, the School Board voted unanimously to construct the badly-needed preschool in Scarboro park, across from the Scarboro Community Center on Carver Avenue. At the time, officials indicated that one of the main factors in choosing that site was opposition from residents of Elm Grove Park—the other site identified as a possible preschool—and what was described as a “very positive” response from Scarboro residents. The Scarboro Community Center itself was removed from further consideration due to the challenges involved in converting it for active school use. The preschool is currently shares space in the 70-year-old school administration building and no longer meets the standards for a preschool.

The City Council was set to give its final approval to the School Board’s choice on Monday but some residents of the Scarboro community said that there are still lingering questions, including its possible impact on property taxes, whether or not any streets or homes would be affected and if the park itself would remain available for use by the community. That led to Council voting 4-3 to hold off on approving the site until after a community meeting to allow residents to get more information, ask questions and voice their concerns. That meeting is now set for next Thursday, March 23rd, at 6 pm at Scarboro Community Center on Carver Avenue. Members of both the City Council and School Board will at the meeting, according to a city press release as well as members of the city staff and the senior project manager from Studio Four Designs, the architect handling the project.

The Council is now expecting to vote on a preschool site during a special called meeting on Monday March 27th.

(Oak Ridge press release) Oak Ridge City Council chose to delay the vote on a new preschool location at their regular meeting on Monday, March 13, in order to allow time for more community discussion and input. A public meeting at the Scarboro Community Center has been set for 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, 2017. 

The City of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Schools have been working to choose a site for the new preschool for approximately two years. The preschool would relocate from the school administration building on New York Avenue. Members of a committee formed to recommend possible sites looked at city-owned properties and a multitude of factors that would impact future students, their families and the community as a whole. Two locations were ultimately identified as possibilities: Scarboro Park and Elm Grove Park. 

Scarboro Park is across the street from the Scarboro Community Center on Carver Avenue, which was also considered as an option at one time. The Scarboro Community Center was removed from further consideration due to challenges of converting the center for active school uses. Residents living near Elm Grove Park, a site on E. Tennessee Avenue that once housed a school, came out in support of preserving the park. Much of the feedback received about the Scarboro Park site has been very positive and welcoming of the new preschool. 

Members of City Council and the Oak Ridge Board of Education will be present at the meeting, along with City staff members and the Senior Project Manager at Studio Four Design, the architectural firm selected for the project. Citizens will be able to voice concerns and ask questions. City Council expects to take action during a special-called meeting at 7:00 p.m. on March 27in the Municipal Building Courtroom. The Board of Education voted to approve the Scarboro Park site for the new preschool at a meeting on February 27.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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