Partners in Learning making progress toward opening new facility in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 27, 2020

SALISBURY — Work is moving forward on what Partners in Learning hopes to be a new and improved facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, with the next public step for the project just a couple weeks away.

A public hearing on a rezoning request for part of the property will go before the Salisbury City Council on Jan. 5. Bill Wagoner, the Partners in Learning board member who is heading up the construction side of the project, said the board will revisit the request for a vote on Jan. 19.

The planning board considered the request on Dec. 8 and unanimously voted to recommend approval by the council.

The Post reported on the donation of the 8-acre parcel, which doesn’t yet have an address, to Partners in Learning by Gerry and Brenda Wood in June, but Partners in Learning had hopes for a replacement for its center on the campus of Catawba College long before.

Gerry said he originally planned to build a warehouse on the parcel.

Wagoner said the parcel is a rare site in town where the zoning does not follow property lines. Part of the property is zoned highway business, and the other portion is zoned corridor mixed use. Wagoner, who is also on the planning board, said it is best to get rid of split zoning sites so one set of rules applies to an entire parcel.

Partners in Learning is requesting the property be rezoned completely to highway business, which Wagoner said would best serve the nonprofit.

The lease on the Catawba facility will expire and Partners in Learning intends to add space and services at the facility. The hope is to add a psychologist on staff at the new facility who can perform applied behavior analysis therapy and diagnose children with autism as well as two additional classrooms, one for infants and the other for toddlers.

Partners in Learning Executive Director Norma Honeycutt says the organization has a wait list of more than 300 children, more than it has ever had.

The project has an estimated cost of $3-4 million. Honeycutt said the organization expects to have a 3-D model of the facility to show to donors by the end of the year.

Partners in Learning posted a drone video showing the site to YouTube. Wagoner said 2 to 3 acres of the property will be dedicated to outdoor education and experiential learning.

Partners in Learning is a five-star, nationally accredited childcare center that provides more than just childcare. It offers parenting education, after-school programs, summer enrichment, behavioral and special needs support and applied behavioral analysis therapy.

The nonprofit also has a location at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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