A new day care complex planned by ESPN will house 240 children of the worldwide sports leader’s employees.
Biff Longfield, who heads ESPN’s planning and construction division, said that if everything goes according to plan, work on the 205 Enterprise Drive facility would get underway in the spring.
The company intends to knock down an empty 50,000-square-foot storage building on the site in the city’s 229 Technology Park soon and to erect three buildings in its place, two of which would serve a different age group while the other would house a gymnasium that employees could use during off hours for child care.
Longfield said that ESPN is working with Bright Horizons, a day care provider that would operate the facility during normal business hours. It has teamed up with other large companies to provide day care.
The city’s planning and zoning commissions have given the proposal their blessing and other businesses in the industrial park have also agreed that the day care center should be allowed.
City Planner Alan Weiner said that a day care center is allowed in the industrial park as long as it gets an approval from the land use boards.
Longfield said the initiative for the day care center came from the Walt Disney Co, the owner of ESPN.
ESPN began searching for an appropriate site “close to our campus” off Route 229 but not actually on it.
He said that the company wanted a separate site because of the “security and risk management issues” involved in the day care center.
The planned day care, which won’t have any signs to indicate what it is, would have “its own internal security” to make sure children, staff and visitors are safe, Longfield said.
“It is only going to be for ESPN employees,” he said.
The 7-acre site currently has the storage building, 122 parking spaces and 11 truck dock spaces, Longfield said.
It has a small ditch, too, that requires ESPN get the backing of the city’s Wetlands Commission before proceeding with its plans.
The day care center will care for children as young as six weeks old and as old as 12, Longfield said. It will include a drop-in center for snow days or for when parents are sick, he said.
The center will operate only during normal business hours, he said.
The preliminary design calls for three buildings rather than one large one in order “to break down the scale” of the complex and make it appear smaller, Longfield said. It will be screened by landscaping, he added, to make it even less visible.
“It’s not something that’s going to jump out at you,” Longfield said.
There will be parking for employees and some others as well as a pull-in drop-off area where parents can stop to bring their children inside or go in to pick them up, Longfield said.
All told, it can handle about 115 cars, he said.
Land use regulators gave the plan a solid thumbs up, calling it well-considered and a good use for the property, which is within walking distance of ESPN.
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