St. Augustine preschool tries to be 'a good neighbor' amidst noise complaints

They will continue to run the school, in the meantime, and try to convince the person complaining that Island Prep wants to be a good neighbor.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- During recess, the children at Island Prep, a private preschool in St. Augustine, do what every child does during their time on the playground. But all that running around and laughter can be too much for at least one resident in the nearby Ocean Trace subdivision.

"It has been peaceful in the last couple of years," Dani Gwiazda said. Gwiazda and her husband founded the school in 2015. It is in the St. Augustine Beach commercial district along A1A.

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"We thought the issue was over and then last week we got two calls from the St. Johns County Sheriff's office," she said.

The caller complained the playground noise is too loud.

"There's some tension and I don't want it spread to the students," Gwiazda said.

"We got two phone calls at 2 p.m. when our second grade PE class was outside," said Kate Batzel, the school's director. "The deputy said a caller said they were too noisy."

Interesting enough, while the On Your Side team was on the playground, the noise from the motorcycles on A1A appeared louder than the children.

"I would love to do anything to make peace," Gwiazda said.

The school has been working in that direction. It has installed a six-foot fence and a line of shrubbery as a buffer. It sits about 20 feet from the subdivision's fence line. The school also changed its recess hours, all in an effort to be a good neighbor.

"We monitor the sound," she said. "If they're starting to scream, the teachers get them to lower their voices."

Jim Tripp is president of the Ocean Trace Homeowners Association.

"We are working with the school ... it is not an adversarial relationship with the HOA, it appears to be one resident," he said.

Gwiadza and Batzel would love to sit down with that one resident and resolve the issues, but hasn't been able to do so.

They will continue to run the school, in the meantime, and try to convince the person complaining that Island Prep wants to be a good neighbor.