Samaritan Summit Village open house attracts hundreds

People tour a community area at the new Samaritan Summit Village Tuesday in Watertown. Photo by Justin Sorensen/Watertown Daily Times.

The community’s dream of having assisted-living complexes in Jefferson County is now a reality, twice over.

A Tuesday ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for Samaritan Summit Village marked the second assisted-living facility in Jefferson County to open this month, along with Meadowbrook Terrace, Champion.

“This is a project that’s been talked about for the better part of 20 years,” Samaritan Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Thomas J. Carman said. “It really was a community partnership.”

He spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people in Samaritan Summit Village’s multipurpose room before the ribbon was cut, which marked the end of construction and a fresh start for people looking to call the village their home. It has 120 skilled-nursing beds and 168 assisted-living beds, with a common space between the two multilevel wings.

Donald C. Alexander, representing the Community Assisted Living Corp., said initial inquiries about assisted living began 22 years ago when he asked Key Bank to survey the community.

“We felt there was a missing element in the continuity of care,” said Mr. Alexander, also executive director of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. “There was an abrupt disconnect. People who needed this care had no place to go.”

Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, recalled that back when he was chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators and attended CALC meetings, he thought a project like Samaritan Summit Village would never happen. After confusion a few years ago about possible closure of Whispering Pines, a county-owned adult home on Coffeen Street, Mr. Blankenbush said, he promised residents Whispering Pines’s doors wouldn’t close until a new facility was open.

“Going back, some of the promises I made are coming true now,” he said.

Remarks also were offered by Jefferson County Legislature Chairwoman Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, Samaritan Summit Village board President Joan Treadwell-Woods and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Therea.

“Wow,” “epic,” “tremendous,” “great” and “fabulous” were some of the adjectives people used to describe their initial reactions to seeing and touring the 230,000-square-foot complex, which sits on 17.1 acres donated by Washington Summit partners Michael E. Lundy and Dr. David P. Rechlin. Many guests Tuesday said the facility reminded them more of a home or a nice hotel.

Barbara N. Webber said the entire color scheme of warm earth tones was “soothing.”

As Hospice of Jefferson County CEO Diana K. Woodhouse toured one of the assisted-living floors, she said the completion of Samaritan Summit Village was the missing piece to Jefferson County’s long-term care puzzle.

“We’re certainly blessed to have this all, and it will really change the lives of people coming from Mercy and Whispering Pines,” she said.

About 500 Samaritan employees and their families previewed the place Saturday, and a few hundred people attended Tuesday afternoon’s open house. Terry Wilcox accompanied his mother, Dorris, 93, Watertown, through an assisted-living neighborhood.

“I like it very much,” she said.

Mr. Wilcox said his mother already has her application in to Samaritan Summit Village and hopes to be selected for residency.

County Legislator James A. Nabywaniec, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, said during the open house that once residents are moved into both Meadowbrook Terrace and the Samaritan project, long-term care will be improved greatly in Jefferson County.

“The assisted living part is an obvious part that was missing in the community,” he said.

People will be able to move to Samaritan Summit Village after it receives state Department of Health certificates, giving it the OK to open.

The project, at 22691 Summit Drive off Washington Street just south of the city, is a joint construction venture between Purcell Construction, Watertown, and Lecesse Construction, West Henrietta. Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, provided oversight of the project, and RLPS Architects, Lancaster, Pa., was the design firm. GYMO, Watertown, was the project engineer.

-Rebecca Madden, Watertown Daily Times staff writer