The Perry City Council approved a property zoning change Friday designed to facilitate the purchase by Carroll-based New Opportunities Inc. of about two-thirds of the building now owned by the Crossroads Church at 2810 First Ave.
Perry Economic and Community Development Director Mike Fastenau explained the purpose of rezoning the property from residential duplex to arterial commercial, a change recommended by the Perry Planning and Zoning Commission.
Tonya Weber, the Head Start and Early Head Start director for New Opportunities Inc., said the non-profit corporation has received a federal grant for the expansion of its Early Head Start center-based services in Perry.
“This program joins the center-based Head Start and Early Head Start home-visitation programs already being operated by the agency in Perry,” Weber told the council. “Once operational, the Early Head Start center-based program will deliver early childhood care and services to 32 children age birth to 3.”
The Rev. Rick Gates, pastor at the Crossroads Church, said vacant space in the building is well suit to expanding child-care program.
“They’ve been awarded a federal government grant to build a more inclusive Head Start and Early Head Start regional center, and for that they need a lot of space,” Gates told the council. “Basically, we haven’t used most of that north building anyhow and in order for their grant to work, they have to purchase. That’s what this is all about.”
The Crossroads Church lost two long-term tenants of the building in recent years. The church ceased leasing space in the facility at the end of 2017 to the New Opportunities Dallas County Family Development Center and in early 2019 to Zion Recovery Services Inc.
Once the purchase is completed, New Opportunities would occupy about 15,000 square feet of the property, and the Crossroad Church would retain the 7,500-square-foot sanctuary and auditorium. Weber said some interior redesign would be necessary.
“There’s a plan on both parts,” she said. “So on the Head Start-Early Head Start side, it’s using the same existing footprint and just reconfiguring the inside space just a little bit to accommodate, and then the church will have to make similar changes using the existing space.”
Gates said the “only difference is you wouldn’t be able to walk directly from our building into their building interior. You’d have to go outside.”
The Crossroads Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance bought the 6.5-acre parcel in 2007 for $26,000 from Wilma A. Yanders. The Dallas County Assessor’s office assessed the value of the building in 2019 at $517,160.
Gates said he was grateful to see the New Opportunities program grow in Perry.
“I applaud Head Start and Early Head Start because there’s a serious need in the community,” he said, “and I think it’s just a great opportunity that they got that (grant) and are applying it here in Perry. That’s why this is happening. We’re just excited about that. They’re providing great services already, and that’s going to double or triple.”
Weber said she anticipates the expanded Early Head Start program in Perry will create about 12 jobs in the reconfigured location.
According to New Opportunities’ most recent audit report, the company had an operating budget in 2018 of $9 million. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided about $2.4 million in funding for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs in 2018, and the Iowa Department of Education Services provided about $105,000 through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Along with the Head Start and Early Head Start programs at Crossroads, the New Opportunities Dallas County Family Development Center offers a variety of other services from its offices at 1212 Second St. in downtown Perry, including weatherization, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and family-development services. The services are detailed in the 2018 annual report.
New Opportunities Inc. was formed in 2006 from the combination of two non-profit agencies, New View Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Center Inc. and Community Opportunities Inc. Along with the Dallas County site in Perry, the company offers services in six other central Iowa counties, with locations in Audubon, Rockwell City, Carroll, Jefferson, Guthrie Center and Sac City.