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YMCA day care poised to receive grant to repair heating and cooling system

  • Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Trey Catenza gets a face full of water as he and other preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday as temperatures reach the 90s; July 19, 2013. The Y is receiving an emergency grant to repair its heating and cooling system. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Trey Catenza gets a face full of water as he and other preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday as temperatures reach the 90s; July 19, 2013. The Y is receiving an emergency grant to repair its heating and cooling system.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Trey Catenza gets a face full of water as he and other preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday as temperatures reach the 90s; July 19, 2013. The Y is receiving an emergency grant to repair its heating and cooling system. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Abrianna Pelletier gets a face full of water spray as preschoolers cool off at the Concord YMCA; Friday, July 19, 2013.<br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

News that the Concord YMCA day care may be receiving an emergency grant to replace its failed heating and cooling system was welcome yesterday, as 12 window air conditioners whirred in the building and outdoor hoses provided temporary heat relief for the children.

The state’s Community Development Finance Authority approved a $400,000 emergency grant for the day care to replace the system, which includes steam heat pumps that warm the building in the winter and cooling towers that bring down temperatures in the summer. In hot weather, poor ventilation can also lead to excess levels of carbon dioxide. A final confirmation hearing on the grant before the Executive Council will occur in the next four to six weeks.

In the meantime, day care teachers and volunteers have been doing the best they can to keep the kids cool during this week’s heat wave.

The air conditioners, purchased earlier this summer, are stationed throughout the two-story day care center and set at 67 or 68 degrees. About 100 children ranging from 12 months old to pre-kindergarten age attend the summer day-care program, said Deb Galipault, youth services director. The program has access to the air-conditioned YMCA building next door, and teachers take the kids to swim or play in the gymnasiums on a regular basis.

There’s also lots of outdoor “water play.” Yesterday afternoon, a class of 3- and 4-year-olds splashed around outside in portable pools, and on an inflatable bouncy house with a water slide and a regular play set where they were sprayed down with hoses. The building shades most of the play area behind the day care, and the children screamed and giggled as they played in the cool water.

“It’s very hot outside,” 4-year-old James Petrus observed, as he sat in swim trunks and a swim shirt with the sunscreen on his face not quite rubbed in.

The air conditioners keep most of the rooms “bearable,” Galipault said. Inside the classrooms yesterday, children looked comfortable as they sang and danced to music from The Lion King, stacked blocks and played with a gooey blue slime. Teachers keep the doors to their classrooms closed so the cool air doesn’t seep out into the non-air-conditioned hallway, which is noticeably muggier than the classrooms. There are eight summer classes at the day care, which runs Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Wilma Dennis, another teacher, said it’s been noticeably hotter than usual inside the building, especially this week. Even with the air conditioner running, she said her classroom can reach temperatures of 80 degrees. The children aren’t as sensitive to high temperatures, which makes it more important for the teachers to take precautions, Dennis said.

“We try to cool them off, and they don’t really notice as much as the adults do,” she said.

Although hot temperatures are the problem now, the failed heating and cooling system has major implications in the winter, too. The teachers used electric heaters this year, but the building was very cold, Dennis said. Child care operations must maintain minimum building temperatures to comply with state law.

“Without these repairs, the building would likely be out of compliance for child care operations in the colder months, and an important community service provided by the YMCA would be interrupted,” said Kevin Flynn, communications director for the finance authority, in a release.

The finance authority’s community development block grants, which are federally funded, are primarily awarded to programs that serve moderate- to low-income people. The grants are awarded to counties, which then allocate the money to specific organizations. At the YMCA day care, 57 percent of the children are from moderate- to low-income families, the release said.

“The availability of quality child care is a critical need for low- and moderate-income families in the capital region,” Flynn said. “Without this public facility, those parents’ ability to maintain steady employment is at risk.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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