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Plans for primary care clinic in Sackets Harbor to proceed without municipal funding support

TIMES STAFF WRITER
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SACKETS HARBOR — Samaritan Medical Center will proceed with the development of a primary care clinic in the village’s Madison Barracks area, despite not receiving a subsidy from the village or the town of Hounsfield.
A lease agreement between the Watertown hospital and Lawler Commercial Properties was completed last week.
Krista A. Kittle, spokeswoman for Samaritan Medical Center, estimated the clinic would be ready by the first quarter of 2013, contingent on the clinic receiving the appropriate regulatory approval and hiring a staff.
The clinic will be operated at 107 Barracks Road, in a space previously used by a chiropractor. The approximately 2,300-square-foot space is next door to the former primary care clinic run by Carthage Area Hospital, which closed in May. That clinic was about 900 square feet.
The hospital sought financial support because of the extensive costs it would incur to renovate the space, and because its operation is expected to operate in the red for its first few years. In October, Michael W. Campbell, a representative for the developer, told the village Board of Trustees that the hospital would have to spend about $150,000 to get the space to state Department of Health standards, and already had spent $15,000 to $20,000 to have plans drawn up.
Though no definitive funding amount was requested, one option was for the town and village to support the clinic in a similar fashion to Cape Vincent, which pays 60 percent of that Samaritan clinic’s rent. If that subsidy had been agreed to, the village and town would pay in its first year a combined total of $1,359 per month, or $679.50 if split evenly.
The subsidy was held back as council members and trustees debated the necessity of such support, along with the concern that the funding would create a precedent for future businesses that would ask for similar support.
Supervisor Timothy W. Scee said he was “thankful” that the hospital made its decision without the subsidy.
“We’re glad they just wanted to locate here ... that we didn’t have to offer a carrot for them to come here,” Mr. Scee said.
Peter B. Bryant, economic development coordinator for the village, town and Chamber of Commerce, said the clinic could help the area attract businesses, whose leaders have said in surveys that health care options are an important factor when deciding to relocate. He said town and village businesses may benefit from patients coming from outside the community.
“A lot of people are going to take advantage of what Sackets has to offer,” Mr. Bryant said.
He said the key for the clinic’s success was community support.
Village Mayor F. Eric Constance noted that a survey sent to village residents for feedback about the center received mostly positive responses.
“I look at it ... we went directly to the people; they responded,” Mr. Constance said. “It makes sense for both us and the community.”
While the village and town had not made any kind of agreement with the hospital, Mr. Constance said that discussions were under way to determine whether some kind of partnership could be agreed to, but declined to discuss what was being discussed. At previous meetings, town and village officials had mentioned the clinic setting up open times for school sports physicals or providing informational seminars for residents.
Times staff writer Rebecca Madden contributed to this report.

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