Brookline's parks became the subject of a recent battle between some of the local daycare facilities and other users of these playgrounds. A battle which petitioner Ruthann Sneider hopes to quell with her revised version of article 15 of the warrant for the upcoming Fall Town Meeting.
Sneider noted, "I appreciate everyone who has been involved, even those who would have me tarred, feathered and run out of town. I support the revision and urge you to do the same."
The new version of the article stripped out the controversial fee-based system, which Sneider explained was based on feedback she had received: in order to regulate this article, it would have to pay for itself.
A memo from the Advisory Committee's Human Services subcommittee said began "We are appalled at the recommendations of Article 15." The memo went on to call it "blatant" discrimination against children in group daycare facilities, and that it forced one group of children to bear a burden for all children.
Instead, the article merely calls for the creation of rules and regulations to govern when daycare facilities can use these parks. According to the petitioner, there are 11 parks within a half-mile radius of Brookline, of which 6 are usable by these programs.
A number of daycare operators came to the meeting, each with their own stories of conflicts between multiple groups attempting to use the same facilities at the same time. To that end, the Health Department has organized a volunteer schedule for some of the larger group daycare centers as a solution to the problem.
Public Health Commissioner Dr. Alan Balsam, "We’ve tried to remain neutral [on the article]. Our position is that, since the volunteer system has come into effect, things have improved."
The Department has also put together the Early Childhood Advisory Council to improve communication between the groups. Balsam did say that, thus far, the council has been working predominantly with the larger group daycares.
“In any community where you’re trying to regulate the children more than you regulate your dog, our values are skewed,” Adele Mathieu, who runs a daycare center at 28 Village Way started.
She went on to say that she had no problem with trying to reach out and coordinate, and that efforts should be made to reach out to the smaller day care centers. In response, the Advisory Council will alternate between daytime and evening meeting to accommodate the schedules of some of the smaller programs.
The Health Department estimates that 90 percent of the children in these programs are from Brookline.
“Let’s face it, people move to Brookline because they want excellent daycare centers and excellent schools. We got it," Balsam added.
The town also received an .