Saco City Council voted on a revised settlement agreement with Toddle Inn, on Monday. The Saco School Board was scheduled to take up the matter on Wednesday, April 29. Liz Gotthelf/Journal Tribune

SACO —The Saco City Council on Monday approved a settlement agreement regarding the Toddle Inn, a former child care location the Saco School Department had leased last year for pre-kindergarten classes.

The vote came following a closed door session, and terms of what was described as a revised settlement were not revealed at the Monday session.

In an email following the meeting, Mayor William Doyle said more information may be forthcoming sometime after  the Saco School Board meeting, set for Wednesday evening, after the newspaper’s print deadline.

“The council voted, but it’s dependent on multiple other parties also agreeing, so the terms are not yet agreed upon,” Doyle wrote. “Therefore, we’re unable to release the details at the moment. The City of Saco will release a public statement once the parties have agreed and revised settlement agreement has been signed. With the school board meeting on Wednesday, we will wait to see if the school board takes action and results of such action.”

Word that a tentative conclusion to the Toddle Inn saga was being contemplated first emerged in late February. The Toddle Inn property, at 5 Willey Road, was intended to become the site of a pre-kindergarten program, but that didn’t materialize.

The school department had entered into a 10-year, $24,000 a month lease with owners of the Toddle Inn on May 1, 2019, intending to use the building, located in the Spring Hill Business Park, for a pre-kindergarten program. The school department notified the owners in November that it considered the lease void and demanded the return of money it had already paid. City Administrator Bryan Kaenrath said the school department stopped paying rent on the property that month.

City officials maintained that covenants prevent ownership and use of non-taxpaying entities in the business park; that the building’s electrical system had not been inspected since 2005; and that there had never been an electrical inspection or permits issued for the pool and pool house building at the property. They further noted that when the former Toddle Inn building was converted from natural gas to propane, no electrical inspection of the heating or cooling equipment took place, according to a Sept. 18 Journal Tribune story.

In February, Kaenrath said there was a concept draft of an agreement. On Feb. 24, the Saco City Council approved a motion that would see the administrator, based on certain conditions, “execute the settlement agreement and any related documents to effectuate the settlement, provided the other parties (Saco School Department and Toddle Inn), also agree to execute the settlement agreement.” Conditions were to include that the Codes Enforcement Office grant a new occupancy permit authorizing the use of 5 Willey Road for a public/private school, and a review by the city planner of conditions imposed of the site plan permit for the property. The vote was 6 to 1, with Councilor Nathan Johnston dissenting.

The Saco School Board approved a similar motion two days later.

Monday’s action by the City Council indicates there’s been a change in the proposed settlement agreement.

Councilor Alan Minthorn made a motion to authorize Kaenrath to execute what he described as a revised agreement, provided the Saco School Board and Toddle Inn also agree.

The vote was 6 to 1, with Councilor Nathan Johnston casting the dissenting vote.

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