OAKLEY -- Applause broke out in Oakley's City Council chamber last week when a Brentwood preschool operator received the green light to build a similar facility in Oakley.

The Oakley City Council unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Celebration Center, a Christian-based child care center that not only will serve preschoolers but provide supervision for older children before and after school.

In addition, the center's multipurpose room will be a day care center for up to 30 seniors, making it one of a very few child care facilities in the East Bay -- if not the only one -- to offer opportunities for both young and old to socialize, said Jeneane Stevens, executive director of Celebration Christian Schools in Brentwood.

The 14,351-square-foot center will be just east of the intersection of Empire Avenue and Neroly Road on 2.2 acres that ultimately will be subdivided into two parcels.

Licensed to accommodate up to 168 preschoolers at a time, the center also will run an after-school program for up to 50 youngsters from kindergarten through the fifth grade.

But it's the senior component that generated the most enthusiasm at Tuesday's meeting.

"I just think we scored a big thing," said Councilwoman Diane Burgis. Councilman Kevin Romick called the mix of generations an "awesome idea."

Stevens said the plan is to organize activities that both enjoy, such as having seniors read to youngsters.

The cross-generational benefits are mutual, she said.


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"It's better for (seniors) mentally and physically to interact with children, and we know beyond a doubt that children benefit from being with an older generation that has time for them, that listens to them, that are interested in them."

Stevens added that the playground will be senior-friendly, easily navigable by those in wheelchairs and include a garden area with raised planting beds for older backs that don't bend as easily as they used to.

Construction will begin once the school gets funding, and the goal is to open in August 2015, Stevens said.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.