The woman who wants to open a day care center to replace the suddenly closed Lollipop Lane Educare in Westbrook insists that she has always wanted to go into the business and has a developed plan to move quickly.

“I love kids, and it’s always been a dream of mine,” Norma Wolf of Westbrook said of the day care center she hopes to open in the next week or so.

Wolf said the parents of about one-third of the 210 children who went to Lollipop Lane have said they will bring their children to the Wolf Den, as she plans to call the new center, and many of the former day care’s employees have asked about jobs.

Norma Wolf said she obtained an emergency day-care license Friday afternoon, good for 30 days, less than 24 hours after learning that Lollipop Lane was closing. She said a scene she witnessed in the parking lot when picking up her 4-year-old son convinced her to act.

Wolf said a single mother was holding her infant and crying, worried that the loss of day care would mean she also would lose her job.

“The emotions were flowing, and I just felt I needed to do something,” Wolf said.

Lollipop Lane owner AnneMarie Hebert told parents late Thursday that she’d be closing the center, forcing parents to scramble to make other arrangements for their children.

Hebert said she couldn’t afford to pay the bills because the business’ overhead, such as $27,500 a month in rent and a million-dollar annual payroll, “just got crazy.” Late last week, she said, a utility told her it would be shutting off her service if she didn’t make a payment of more than $2,000 immediately.

“There was nothing left,” Hebert said Sunday as she was supervising the sale of the day care’s furniture and equipment. “Lollipop Lane was on life support, but now it’s gone.”

Hebert said the center was taking care of 210 kids this past week and had 40 employees. She had been in business for nearly 18 years, starting out in her home with two children, including an infant with colic.

“I earned my stripes on that one,” she said, joking.

The business kept growing, Hebert said, noting that there were 275 kids at Lollipop Lane last summer, when the center provides day care along with a day camp for older children. She said the center usually served 500 meals a day, operated a couple of school buses and had a range of employees, including a full-time nurse.

The recession took a toll on the business, Hebert said. Parents who lost jobs took their kids out of day care, while those still employed made arrangements to have relatives watch their children at least a few days a week to keep costs down. Some parents pulled their children out of Lollipop Lane while owing hundreds of dollars, she said.

Hebert said she wishes Wolf well, but said day care is a multifaceted service that many outside of the business may not understand.

Noting that Wolf has an “emergency license,” she said, “If you don’t know how to take care of a couple of hundred kids, you’re going to have a lot of emergencies.”

Wolf, who runs a telecommunications company with her husband, plans to meet today with the property manager at the Patrick Drive site to see if she can negotiate a lease for the same space where Lollipop Lane Educare operated. If not, she said, there are a few other locations in Westbrook she will look at.

Hebert said she expects to be out of the building later this week.

State and local officials have been supportive of her efforts, Wolf said. A number of parents have offered to help with preparing the location for the day care, by painting and cleaning floors. She’s hoping others will donate furnishings and other items, such as books and mats, to allow the day care to open quickly.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]