Where do children belong?
It is difficult to write without some degree of sarcasm regarding the Planning Commission’s recent decision to decline the Smallpond application for a conditional use permit on Noview. The central concern seems to be that the neighborhood quality of life will be negatively impacted by noisy children and frequent drop offs and pick ups. What is most disturbing about the commission’s decision, is the precedent it sets that the youngest members of our community don’t belong in residential neighborhoods. Where, then, do small children belong?
Noview is not a gated community. It is in walking distance to two parks, an elementary school, a hospital and a museum. Living in city limits means contending with the reality of the noise of every day life. Should we also petition for the ambulances to silence their sirens because they disturb our sleep? Nothing aggravates me more than barking dogs, and yet it would be absurd to expect that dogs be banned from neighborhoods. Part of community living is learning how to build tolerance for each other and our competing needs. It is reasonable to desire a peaceful neighborhood, and it is equally reasonable to build a daycare in a neighborhood. Those desires do not have to be mutually exclusive.
Furthermore, supporting a thriving local economy means reckoning with the reality that parents need access to quality, affordable childcare within a reasonable distance from their jobs. How lucky I have been to send my child to Smallpond for almost two years. During that time, I have never encountered a situation of 16 screaming kids. I have encountered tea parties, art projects, poetry and laughing children exploring the yard, deeply engaged in the world around them. I have been consistently impressed by the quality of care my daughter receives and the neighborhood stewardship that Smallpond encourages.
Smallpond is an asset to our community, and deserves all of our support.
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