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Kidville Daycare Coming to 380 Court St., Seniors Relocated To Basement

The Eileen Dugan Senior Center will now share the building with toddlers up to age 5.

A new daycare opening up at 380 Court Street this September will take over the ground floor previously occupied by longtime tennants , according to the owner. The seniors will now meet in the basement for meal services and activities.

Kidville Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill will be the latest outlet of a nationwide daycare chain, said franchise manager John Lehman. 

"I got involved with Kidville almost two years ago," he told Patch. "I wanted to do my own thing and work with kids, one thing led to another," adding that Kidville was recommended to him by siblings who had sent their own tots there.

With a wide range of classes for children up to age 5, including music, dance, gym, art, and enrichment, the new facility will also offer space for birthday parties and other events.

"I love the neighborhood and I knew I would enjoy going there every day," said Lehman, who lives in Manhattan. "From what I could see I thought it was a very tight-knit community and, from a business standpoint, there’s a need for this type of business."

Certainly with and , daycare facilities and preschool services for children are needed in the neighborhood. Lehman stated that a steady stream of parents were already filling up spaces for September classes.

But not everyone is excited about the changes, specifically septuagenarians.

"It's a disadvantage to us," said one senior over a game of cards at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which has offered space to the center while renovations are being made to the groundfloor and basement area at 380 Court Street. "It's going to be noisy; it's less space than we had. I think we're going to have to go back to eating lunch in shifts instead of all together."

Others wondered where exercise and painting classes would take place and whether guest speakers would still come in. Most seniors would only talk to Patch on condition of anonymity, as they said they feared retaliation from the landlord, Tony Musto, who himself could not be reached for comment.

But one longtime member of the center was public in her disappointment.

"I don't think it's nice what happened here," Mrs. Celia Maniero Cacace said. "I have no problem with kids or noise—we live in a city. Big deal. But if there is pomposity from the new owners or anyone else, they will have to deal with me."

For his part, Lehman told Patch that he is looking forward to his new neighbors. In addition to renovating the entire Kidville facility, he will be soundproofing the space to ensure seniors are unaffected by bouncing bodies above.

In fact, the two centers will maintain separate entrances, he said, with one connected to the Dugan offices on the second floor and the community room below street level, and another for Kidville parents. Seniors will use an elevator to get downstairs once inside. 

"That's what concerns me most," Cacace said. "I'm fortunate, I can still pick up my derriere and walk around this neighborhood. But there are those who come here early in the morning and it's their entire life, they don't leave. And there are those who are scared to get in an elevator with their rolling carts."

told Patch that downsizing to the basement to make room for Kidville was the best solution for the space without losing it entirely.

"This is a situation that has been going on for eight years," said Millman. "Every year, Max [Minauro, director of the center] and I go through the dance with the landlord, who wants an increase in rent. We’ve been in court with the landlord. Eventually we were going to get to a place where they couldn’t hold onto the space. But we will continue to look for another one if this one turns out to be inappropriate."

Minauro was unavailable for comment.

kathleen July 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Hopefully the kids and seniors can work on some project together. Adopt a grandparent. It will be good for both the seniors and the kids!
Sara July 10, 2012 at 04:14 PM
That's actually such a good idea, Kathleen. I wouldn't have thought of that. A bit optimistic, but if they could work it out, it could be great for both groups!
Tara July 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Definitely, the day care staff and the senior citizens staff should plan an ongoing crossover program for the children and the seniors. This kind of community used to happen automatically in small towns and large families who didn't move far away from each other, but is missing in our society today. Both populations, young and old, are the worse for this loss. It's a perfect opportunity: adopt a grandparent, as Kathleen says, or read to a kid, or tell the story of how you got your first job or met your spouse... a million ways to connect!
Anthony July 11, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Maybe the grandparents can tell them old stories how it was before parents starting putting kids on leashes.
ANONYMOUS July 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM
The concept will only work if the parents of the children see the wisdom and "teaching moment" that sharing time and "projects" for the seniors. This will take a "middle man/woman parent" to work. But please work on it..the seniors need to see more kids and the kids can learn to share and kindness...this could a good thing...


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