Schools, daycare to expand at Alper JCC

The Kendall Community Council recently approved an increase in enrollment for the schools at the Alper Jewish Community Center in Kendall.
The Kendall Community Council recently approved an increase in enrollment for the schools at the Alper Jewish Community Center in Kendall. For the Miami Herald

The Greater Miami Jewish Federation has received county approval to increase the number of children in the daycare and schools at the Dave & Mary Alper Jewish Community Center in Kendall.

The Kendall Community Council agreed on Oct. 7 to allow enrollment of up to 849 children, compared to the current limit of 549. The site, at 11155 SW 112th St., houses a daycare, preschool and two charter schools, Ben Gamla Kendall and Oxford Academy of Miami.

The federation wants to renovate the facility to accommodate growing demand from parents.

“When we built the center, the total capacity was way under what the physical plan will accommodate,” said Edward Rosen, the executive director of the Alper Jewish Community Center. “We have a lot of demand and we want to be able to serve the community as it needs to be.”

Jose Baca, Ben Gamla’s principal, confirmed that there is a waiting list for the school.

The council discussed the center’s plan to increase the school population along with a number of other requests to slightly change rules for use of the site.

Three Kendall residents objected to the expansion, arguing that the expansion would worsen the neighborhood’s parking and traffic problems. A traffic expert was called to testify, and an engineer from the center explained how the site would address the residents’ concerns.

Other than the residents at the public hearing, no other groups expressed concern about the changes.

“The associations did receive notice, but no one has voiced an opinion on it so far,” said Vilma Block, the community association manager of Gardens Of Kendall South, in an email. The Gardens condominium is adjacent to the campus. The 21-acre campus also borders single-family residences to the south, a railway to the east and townhouses to the west.

Michael Rosenberg, president of the Kendall Federation Homeowners Association, said that he was also not aware of any opposition about the center’s planned growth.

The campus’ Glen Greenstein Early Childhood Development Center offers preschool and an after-school care for kids up to sixth grade. The larger facility has tennis courts, soccer fields, a swimming pool and baseball field. The charter schools enroll students up to eighth grade.

“We have a lot of people who want to sign up for the program,” Rosen said. He added that two charter schools were also interested in increasing enrollment in their program.

The center will use existing space in three campus buildings to accommodate more than 300 children who will join the schools.

County staff recommended that the school submit a plan to manage traffic around the school within 30 days of the project’s approval.

The council agreed to relax a number of rules to accommodate the project. The center will be allowed to build within 29.5 feet of the northern border rather than the normal 50 feet, and to have only 432 parking spots instead of the required 464. Also, parking will be allowed on grass instead of a paved lot, and aisles in the parking lot will be narrower than normally required.

The council’s staff also agreed to the center’s request to use the grassy area on the southeast corner of the facility, but recommended they apply for permits for a paved hard-surface lot within one year from the final hearing approval. The paved lot must be completed within two years. “No parking” signs will also be added along Southwest 112th Street.

The next Kendall Community Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18, at the Kendall Village Center Civic Pavilion, 8625 SW 124th Ave.