A new preschool is gearing up to to open at the 12-acre site formerly occupied by Belvedere Christian Church.
Davenport Preschool, at 1301 Cheverly Road in Towson, is starting the process of enrolling students ages 2 through 4 for the fall 2013 school year. The school will operate in line with the Baltimore County Public Schools calendar.
"I'm definitely overwhelmed but excited about the opening," said Liz Harlan, the school's director. "The response so far has been incredible."
Harlan, a Sparks resident, was previously employed as the director of Trinity Episcopal Children's Center but said she parted ways with the school because she had a "different vision" than her employers.
Harlan said the teachers at the school are experienced and certified, and she has worked with many of them before. She added that a unique feature of the school is its commitment to educating students about community service.
"Everybody matters," she said. "Every little bit counts."
The school will host an open house from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. So far, approximately 100 children are on an interest list.
More information about available programs and tuition can be found on the school's website.
"We understand that all children have unique needs and will work to accommodate if we're able," Harlan said.
The $6.9 million property went on the market in March 2011. First Mt. Olive Freewill Baptist Church was interested in purchasing the site, but nearby residents complained about the potential high traffic the congregation would bring. Mt. Olive, referred to by the residents as a "mega-church," reportedly has between 2,000 to 4,000 members.
Belvedere Christian was built for 250 people.
The Hampton Gardens Neighborhood Association, which represents the residents, is supportive of Davenport. Harlan said she plans to engage with the community and offer the school's parks to residents during the off-hours.
"As the former director of a prominent preschool in the heart of Towson, and swim coach for Hampton Pool for the past three years, Ms. Harlan, the director of Davenport Preschool, has already established deep ties in the Towson community, and specifically here in our Hampton neighborhood," wrote Stephen Bird, president of the association, in a letter.
"I can think of no better fit than a preschool dedicated to serving the diverse needs of our families with young children, with a focus on education that views community engagement as central to its teaching philosophy," Bird wrote.
Patch editors Nick DiMarco and Tyler Waldman contributed to this report.