With its future in jeopardy, Storybook Village is looking for a happy ending.
The child-scale village has been a family hub in the middle of Qualicum Beach for five years, but Building Learning Together is struggling to maintain it and is looking to the community for ideas and support.
Available to all children, any day of the week and active during special events, the village has a fire hall, theatre, Victorian house, gas station, grocery store, library, bank and hospital, all linked by a paved roadway for pedal cars, trikes and bikes with traffic light and signs.
“There has been repeated vandalism to both the village and Alphabet Garden,” said BLT manager Judi Malcolm.
As recently as a couple weeks ago, and many times a year, “there are break-ins, windows are broken, it looks like folks are just looking for a place to hang out.”
She said the high-profile location, on the property of the former elementary school, helps bring in families to enjoy it as intended, but also makes it a target after hours, especially since the school closed last summer.
“There was a bong left behind and… evidence of sexual activity,” she said choosing her words carefully. “There has been graffiti and damage inside, signs pushed over, things broken.”
And aside from that the nonprofit charity which runs learn-through-play facility is struggling to keep up with the regular maintenance, with some of the wood buildings starting to “have issues with wear and tear,” Malcolm said.
“The physical maintenance of the grounds and buildings are just too much for our limited resources,” she said, adding the partner school district has done what it can.
And so they are turning to the community that was so involved in developing the site.
“The community rallied together to make it happen,” Malcolm said in a news release. “Community members, organizations and businesses from all over Oceanside built Storybook Village,” with funding from grants and donations, assembled by local businesses and community partners.
They invite everyone, including those early supporters and especially the families who use it, to join them next Wednesday to discuss the future of Storybook Village and Alphabet Garden.
“It is important to know if the community values it. If they do, we need to find a way to sustain it.”
She pointed to the high use the site gets with events like their Halloween Spooktacular, bike rodeo and other partner groups who host things like an archeological dig, storytelling, play dough exploration, face painting and other activities, as evidence the community does value the site.
She said her best hope is to find an existing service group, company, or specially formed group “to take over as stewards to work with BLT to maintain the site and keep it as the community asset it was originally intended.”
She suggested it may no longer be sustainable, or might best be moved to another location. They are open to all ideas and just looking to get the community involved in the conversation.
The meeting will be held Wednesday, February 18, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the former elementary school library (744 Primrose Street.