The building formerly home to Ship’s Chow Hall II in Dresden Mills will become home to Eastern River Childcare.
The Dresden Planning Board waived a public hearing and site walk and approved the change of use for the building, 6-0, Tuesday, Dec. 4.
Rhonda Lavallee, of Dresden, hopes to open the day care in three to four weeks. She said the timeline depends mostly on fulfilling state requirements.
“My application’s in,” she said. “We are all set up; the place is clean. We’ve done everything. We’re ready. We just are waiting.”
Lavallee is leasing the building from the owner, Lenny Santos, the former proprietor of Ship’s Chow Hall II. Santos also owns Ship’s Chow Hall in Wiscasset, which is for sale.
Lavallee said the Dresden location was empty for over a year because Santos had a family-related matter that forced him to close the restaurant.
Lavallee’s background includes 30 years of experience in child care.
She owned the Wiscasset Learning Center, across from Big Al’s on Route 1 in Wiscasset, for four years. She owned Rainbow’s End Daycare, at her then-home on Aspen Lane in Bath, for 23 years.
She thinks Dresden is in desperate need of day care.
“The need is just crazy … I think it’s a huge inconvenience for people who have to travel to Chelsea or Randolph or wherever to pick their kids up after they get out of work,” Lavallee said.
Eastern River Childcare will offer full-time and part-time day care, before- and after-school care, and a preschool program. Lavallee plans to enroll six to 12 children of various ages.
“Once my license is in effect, I will be accepting state vouchers and different programs that help with financial aid (for) child care,” she said.
The board wanted to know how Lavallee would ensure safety with the day care’s location on busy Route 27, at 542 Gardiner Road.
She said she may install a fence out back and another in front.
However, Dresden Planning Board Chair Jeff Pierce said the town owns a structure in the front corner of the property that used to be the town’s well.
Since Lavallee must go through the state for other requirements, Pierce told her the Maine Department of Health and Human Services can offer solutions for fencing.
Another safety measure is to use the back entrance for drop-off and pickup instead of having families stop on Route 27. The front entrance would be locked and used for emergencies only, Lavallee said.
She agreed to Pierce’s request to put up a sign warning drivers to watch for children.
Prices for the day care are not available now, Lavallee said, since she has not provided day care in a few years. She said she needs to do more research.
“I think it will be convenient and I know there is a dire need for day care,” board member Dan Hanley said before the vote.
The next steps for Lavallee prior to opening are to receive a business permit from the Dresden Board of Selectmen, meet any directives from the code enforcement officer, and meet state requirements.
“I think this would be something great for the community,” Lavallee said. She said a few families are already interested.
For more information about the day care, contact Lavallee at 798-1824 or email@example.com.