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c/o Alexandra Turtil, Assistant Photo Editor

The Neighborhood Preschool (NPS), a play-based daycare located on campus, will see its two current buildings at 115 High Avenue and 20 Lawn Avenue demolished this fall due to the construction of the new science building. Both locations will be consolidated into a new building, designed by Patriquin Architects of New Haven, at 60 Long Lane by the end of 2022. The new facility is currently under work following the start of construction in December 2021

The new location will allow NPS, which currently has 10 teachers for 47 children across the two current facilities, to increase both its number of teachers and students to 13 and 52 respectively. The new facility, which will measure around 7,000 square feet, will also be substantially larger in size compared to the two current buildings. Additionally, 65 parking spaces were proposed for the new building, with 52 for faculty and staff and 13 for curbside parent drop-offs and pickups.

Since 1989, when the University invited NPS to run a daycare on campus, NPS has had an ongoing relationship with Wesleyan, including prioritizing admission for children of Wesleyan employees and students. Over half of the students at the two current locations are from Wesleyan-affiliated families. Along with a contract with NPS that is renegotiated every five years, the University has a voting member on the NPS Board, and the NPS utilizes spaces on campus for select events. 

According to University President Michael Roth ’78, the necessity for the relocation of the two locations will lead to the creation of a better facility for NPS.

“Part of the project of the new science building means that we have to relocate the preschool, giving us an opportunity to build a much better, more appropriate facility,” Roth said. “And that’s happening at Long Lane right now.”

In addition to bolstering the facility holistically, there are hopes that the relocation will better serve the NPS community. 

“We would much rather have all of our classrooms in one building so our community is all together,” NPS Director Suzanne Donnelly wrote in an email to The Argus. “Our building committee consisted of Wesleyan rep[resentative]s, architects, NPS parents and staff. We were able to [meet] our wants and needs for each program. We are very excited and can’t wait to move in!”

The plans for the project were officially submitted to the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) on Friday, July 2, 2021 and was approved on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. In a virtual hearing with the PZC held on August 11, 2021, Project Manager Angela Wong emphasized that the preschool’s environment reflects NPS’s learning philosophy. 

“[The new location is] an expansive field of green, allowing the children to explore the outdoors, in alignment with the play-based and the nature-based philosophy of the Neighborhood Preschool,” Wong said during the hearing. 

There are several planned environmental benefits for the new facility, which will be constructed and positioned to maximize solar exposure and lower heating energy in the winter. Moreover, the new location will have a large open outdoor play space and three play structures, which will be transferred from the two current preschool locations.

“The design team is mindful to use child and environmentally friendly materials to create a healthy building with lots of natural light,” Wong said at the hearing. “The new daycare will also combine infant toddlers with preschoolers, younger children with older children all under one roof, which tends to be a developmentally enriching experience.”

Not only is the new location more centralized, but the building is also specifically designed as a childcare center. The current NPS facilities were initially constructed as residential housing and have been adapted to serve as preschools.

At the hearing, Wong explained the benefits in moving to a new centralized location.

“By combining the two daycares into one new building, operations and services are optimized,” Wong said. “All the teachers will now be located in one building to allow for easier collaboration.”

Donnelly explained that she is looking forward to continuing to teach at a new location and aims to see NPS maintain its teaching philosophy. 

“I don’t think there are any downsides,” Donnelly wrote. “Some individuals may miss the ‘home’ like feeling or memories of the [original] buildings, but we plan to keep our NPS philosophy the same and we’re beyond excited for this new journey.”

Roth highlighted the work of those constructing the new facility and echoed Donnelly’s excitement about the enhancements that would come with the new facility. 

“The people working there are super into it, and they have a mock up of what they’re building, so when little kids go by, they can see it,” Roth said. “It’s very exciting and it’s going to be a great facility, much nicer than where they are now much, much more appropriate as a modern preschool.”

Cameron Ryan can be reached at