Plans to open a Head Start program in the former Plainfield Armory date back several years, but now the provider is asking Zoning Board approval to expand.
According to a legal notice, HOPES CAP Inc. wants to expand an Early Head Start School from 20 classrooms, 270 children and 76 staff members to 26 classrooms, 362 children and 95 staff members on the former Armory site at East Seventh Street and Leland Avenue.
The agency acquired the state-owned Armory building in 2012 at auction for $926,000.
The notice states, “On May 1, 2013, the Zoning Board memorialized a resolution granting a use variance and site plan approving the conversion of the armory and warehouse buildings into a day care/Head Start School. On June 14, 2016, the Zoning Board granted final site plan approval. On July 31, 2017, the Zoning Board granted amended final site plan approval.”
Several attempts to get a comment from HOPES CAP got no response. In June 2016, a press release stated in part “the facility will serve as many as 300 children ages birth through five, in 20 state-of-the-art classrooms. The acquisition commences the organization’s efforts to transform the historic building into a contemporary educational center that will become one of the largest early childhood learning centers in the region. HOPES will house early childhood education programs based in Plainfield at the Armory site, including Early Head Start, Head Start, and State-Funded Preschool programs. Since 2009, HOPES has administered early childhood education programs in Plainfield, serving more than 270 infants, toddlers, preschoolers and pregnant women each year.”
There are several other zoning approvals needed now. These hearings are conducted in a quasi-judicial manner, with sworn testimony from expert witnesses, and can be a bit difficult to follow, but the legal notice says, “Any person or persons affected by this Application will have an opportunity to present any objections you have to the proposed Development. The Board does, however, have the right to exclude repetitious testimony.”
Meanwhile, the same long block bordered by Terrill Road, Leland, South Avenue and East Seventh Street has become the site of a $50 million, 212-unit residential complex known as Quin Sleepy Hollow. It is not known how an expanded HOPES program would affect or be affected by that project.
Please note the Wednesday, July 11 Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.