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Dubuque City Council looks at benefits for a childcare center by demolishing two historic buildings

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - The Dream Center in Dubuque has had an expansion project in the works for many years now, and the plan was finally reviewed in Monday night's City Council Meeting.

City Council Members discussed buildings 1620 & 1628 White Street undergoing demolition, so the Dream Center can build an outdoor playground area and an access point that meets ADA Disability standards.

The residential buildings at 1620 & 1628 White Street are identified under the Washington Residential Historic District as historical landmarks, retaining a brick exterior that's catalogued dating back to the 1800s like many in the district.

City Manager Mike Van Milligen led the conversation in last night's City Council meeting, advocating on the Dream Center's behalf. 

"But the important thing for me is that the Mayor and City Council last year, in their annual goal setting process, established the Dream Center as a priority, and the success of the dream center including their efforts to try and get childcare assistance from the state of Iowa," commented Van Milligen.

The expansion project is also a strategic initiative for the Dream Center to meet the state's criteria set forth by Iowa Code Chapter 109 that would qualify their program to become a licensed childcare facility and receive state funding. The qualifications include the following:

  1. Demonstrates adequate indoor and outdoor areas
  2. Accommodates thirty percent of enrollment
  3. Allows 75 square feet per child

Council Members voted 7-0, in favor of this expansion project. The next council is in 2 weeks and they will discuss amending the state's ordinance to go through a total of three hearings, so the construction project be expedited.

It is imperative for the Dream Center needs to initiate construction as soon as possible to meet a deadline in September that would qualify them for up to $800,000 of state funding for their program over the next year.

The Dream Center did not comment at this time, but will have feedback for KWWL once the voting is finalized.

Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa, and has one of the largest concentrations of preserved historical buildings in the state.

City Council members agreed that not all historic buildings can be preserved, and that the two off of 1620 & 1629 White Street shouldn't be saved. They sit in very poor conditions, and even if the city spent money to preserve them, a return on the investment would not be reached and the properties would still be about $700,000 in the hole.

Preserving the historical buildings are a priority for Dubuque, but it competes with Dubuque's other top priority which is to leverage childcare services as much as possible.

Dani Miskell

Weekend Anchor & Reporter

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