A parole office is ready to move into the old Apple Market store building at 7th and State, and a nearby child care center is upset.
Carolyn Sipple, director of the Pandarama preschool located next to the old grocery store, said the preschool was not even notified of the move.
The old grocery store, which has about 16,900 square feet, was empty for some years, in need of repairs, and has now been undergoing renovation.
Pandarama has been in the child care business since 1976 and has been at the location at 1118 N. 7th St. since 1992. Also in the area are a Kansas City, Kan., police station near 7th and Minnesota, as well as Glanville Towers at 7th and Nebraska, and a nearby highrise, Cross Lines Towers, 1011 N. 7th.
Sipple said many parents are upset about the parole office locating next door.
“I’ve got some parents that are furious,” she said. “They’ve had their children here for a while, so we do everything within our means to make sure they are in a good, safe and nurturing environment.”
She said she doesn’t understand why she has to get a permit and notify neighbors for little events like the child care facility’s carnival, but she wasn’t even notified that a parole office was moving next door.
“Everyone deserves a second chance. It’s good that they want to come back into the world and do what’s right, but they should not have that facility right behind a child care center,” Sipple said. “It’s not morally right.”
Pandarama has 80 to 90 children currently enrolled, and is licensed for 142.
“Even one is one too many for someone who’s coming out of the system to be in this vicinity,” she said.
The child care center has gone to lengths to make sure the students are safe and secure, she said. Background checks are done on employees, a fence is around the property, and the facility is secure, she said. But there is no way the facility can check on people coming to a parole office next door.
Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-34th Dist., said she and other public officials she talked to had not been told about the parole office moving to that location. She said she would like a public hearing on the matter. She remembered another instance several years ago when the state didn’t tell anyone it was locating an office in KCK.
She said about 600 parolees a month, about 30 a day, currently are going to the 18th and Ridge medical building, on the east side of 18th, which is the current parole office location.
Rep. Winn said she was told by Department of Corrections officials that the $150,000, 10-year lease for the grocery store is already signed and they can’t get out of it.
The Kansas Department of Revenue, Division of Vehicles, told a Transportation Committee meeting that it was moving out of its building near 63rd and Parallel Parkway and looking for a new building, Rep. Winn said.
She said she found it odd that the Department of Corrections couldn’t handle 600 parolees a month at the 18th and Ridge building, but the Division of Vehicles might be looking at handling the whole county there.