Village board studies preschool proposal

Hinsdale trustees Tuesday night signaled their support for a plan to run the Montessori Gifted Prep Preschool out of Hinsdale United Methodist Church beginning in the fall.

In a first reading of the application for a special-use permit to operate the program, village board members were apprised of the proposal for the Monday-to-Friday preschool with hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The preschool would serve up to 77 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years and have a maximum staff of 17 at the church located at 945 S. Garfield Ave.

The discussion focused on student drop-off and pick-up arrangements in light of the entrance to the church lot being in close proximity to the busy Garfield and 55th Street intersection. To alleviate vehicle stacking onto Garfield, student drop-off and pick-up will be done on the east side of the building to allow ample room for a waiting line.

Trustee Luke Stifflear noted that the preschool that operated at the church from 1966 to 2018 had a different traffic flow.

“Previously pick-ups and drop-offs were on the north side of the building, so a much shorter distance between Garfield Street and where the pick-up and drop-off occurred,” he said. “Now they’ll go all along the north side of the building, make a right-hand turn ... that will allow for a greater amount of available space.”

The window for morning drop-off will be from 7 to 8:30 a.m., depending on the student’s scheduling. The midday pick-up will be from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m., and from 3 to 6 p.m. at the end of the day. Vehicles will then proceed east and exit the site onto Ninth Court.

Stifflear said language has been added to the proposed ordinance “that allows the village manager to adjust drop-off and pick-up times to address any future traffic issues.”

Peter Coules, attorney for the preschool, said school staff will meet students at the vehicles.

“The parents do not park and bring the kids in,” he stressed. “There’s no night classes, there’s no weekend classes.”

Hinsdale Central High School students lease some spots in the church’s lot, but officials say plenty of capacity exists for Central students, school staff and church staff.

“The takeaway from this is we don’t anticipate any parking problems whatsoever,” Stifflear said.

Trustee Alexis Braden expressed safety concerns about Central students crossing Garfield in between stopped traffic on their way to the school. Police Chief Brian King said his department will monitor the situation.

At Feb. 15 village plan commission meeting, commissioners voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the application. The village board is expected to vote on the special-use permit at its Tuesday, March 19, meeting.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean