I am writing in response to the article in the Nov. 20 issue of The Times “Planning, Zoning to review day care traffic” regarding operation of the Apalachicola/St. George Island Methodist Church (ASGI) Cooperative Parish’s daycare on the grounds of the Methodist church in Apalachicola.
I do not feel that a faith-based ministry of a church can be denied by the Apalachicola P&Z. Christ Community Academy is a ministry of the Apalachicola/St. George Island United Methodist Church. It is in no way operating separate from the church as was suggested in the article. Although the Academy has adopted the State of Florida guidelines, the state has deemed this to be a faith-based ministry and it does not fall under the state and does not need a special exception to operate. This also applies to local governmental agencies such as the Apalachicola P&Z.
While the operation of the daycare as a ministry of the church does not come under governmental controls, if neighbors are concerned about parking on the street then that should be an issue for the city. Perhaps the neighbors could agree to an alternative to the existing parking on 5th Street and could possibly look into “head-in” parking and making the street a one-way street.
I will add that Christ Community Academy does not place a traffic burden on Fifth Street. The maximum number of children that can be accepted is 13 and at this time is not operating at full capacity. Parents drop off and pick up in a designated area during the week. The traffic generated is minimal. Fifth Street is made up of single-family residential, the church, a commercial establishment (bed & breakfast) and a commercial wedding venue, all using the parking on Fifth Street.
First United Methodist Church has served this community for over a century. As with many “first” churches in small towns, the community has built up around the church. FUMC was a good neighbor in the 1800’s and strives to be just that today. A healthy church is one that reaches out in ministry to its community. FUMC does just that, not only with Christ Community Academy, but through Bible studies, a dynamic youth group, and a 12-Step program to name a few. Indeed there is activity around this church.
Christ Community Academy serves Franklin County in a much-needed way. It is a daycare for infants and toddlers allowing for a safe and nurturing Christian environment for children. It employs three Franklin County residents. Finding good, affordable day-care is a challenge for many families. Every effort has gone into making Christ Community Academy an exceptional daycare facility and every effort has been made to see to it that that this ministry continues to serve families in Franklin County.
The Apalachicola P&Z does not have the authority to hinder or stop the ministry of a church but does have the authority and responsibility to address the parking issue raised by concerned citizens and hopefully the parking issue will be resolved.
Mary Lou Short