A plan to implement a daycare program at Sunset Zoo was approved by a 3-1 vote at Tuesday’s Manhattan City Commission meeting. The daycare program will now go into further development and is expected to launch in August or September, according to zoo officials.
At the City Commission meeting, Scott Shoemaker, director of the Sunset Zoo, presented the daycare program to four commissioners, with John Matta being absent from the meeting due to a business trip to Orlando, Fla.
According to Shoemaker, the program will be nature-based and will be of average cost to parents.
“The program is designed to encourage young folks to become engaged with nature and through that engagement gain an appreciation for their environment,” Shoemaker said.
While three of the commissioners voted in favor of implementing the program, Wynn Butler voted against the proposition, citing philosophical concerns with the zoo and city’s mission, as well as financial concerns for both parents and the city.
“Daycare should not be a city goal,” Butler said. “That’s the main thing.”
Commissioner James Sherow also brought up similar concerns regarding costs to parents, but Mayor Loren Pepperd appeased those concerns by saying that his secretary pays more for childcare than the projected monthly costs to parents, which is an estimated at $760 per child.
The commission also unanimously approved three first readings to amend a preliminary development plan to build a new Dollar General store, amend city zoning regulations to allow cultural facilities in different areas of the city and an amendment to a final development plan to an apartment complex in downtown Manhattan near the Hilton Garden Inn.