The Society of St. Johnland in Kings Park hopes to continue its mission to help seniors in need by constructing a new assisted living facility aimed at Medicaid-eligible residents.
The nonprofit nursing center has submitted an application to construct a two-story facility with 82 units and 100 beds in the footprint of an existing, dilapidated building on the north side of Sunken Meadow Road — a separate tax map parcel on the same property as St. Johnland nursing home.
The proposed building will fulfill a need in the community for alternate living options for low-income seniors, according to a real estate attorney speaking on behalf of the project at the Nov. 30 Smithtown Town board meeting.
J. Timothy Shea Jr., of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman in Hauppauge, asked the board to consider granting the St. Johnland facility a special exception as its concept plan meets that zoning criteria. This approval would give the nonprofit the ability to use land in a district for a purpose other than what is generally permitted there, in this case an assisted living program on the same property as a nursing home.
“Allowing for this special exception to take place, we would be able to service up to 100 local persons most likely for the assisted living and it’s possible that many of those residents will eventually move to the nursing home at some point in the future,” Shea said.
St. Johnland is also making efforts to implement ideas from staff members and residents into its design of the building’s facade to comply with local waterfront revitalization program standards, he added.
“When we provided elevations of the proposed building to our staff, we received comments indicating they would like to have more of a historic type of architecture,” Shea said. “We are willing to do that and will adjust our elevations accordingly.”
Based on the feedback from the Kings Park Civic Association, the nonprofit has agreed to reduce square footage of the 76,696-square-foot site by approximately 8,000-square-feet to lessen its footprint; preserve an old chapel located to the east of where the facility will be; and provide the group with any building revisions moving forward for further review and comment.
Shea said the site will be “a low traffic generator” because although the facility would employ 70 new employees, they will work in three shifts, so there will be no more than 20 to 25 employees on site at a given time.
Linda Henninger, the president of the Kings Park Civic Association said she and other members were in favor of it.
“We think it’s a good project,” Henninger said. “A lot of residents from Kings Park and our vicinity — like Commack and Northport — utilize St. Johnland and this seems to be within their wheelhouse. We also liked that they’re not clear cutting woods for it. It seems like a win-win for the community and St. Johnland.”
Mary Jean Weber, the chief executive officer of St. Johnland Nursing Center, which has been caring for Kings Parks’ needy since 1870, said the facility has been in planning for nearly two years.
“I think this is the type of service that is really needed in Kings Park,” Weber said. “This is for the population that doesn’t require the [around-the-clock] medical care needed in a nursing facility but maybe cannot remain living at home any longer or have limited funds. For us, it’s a positive program that really helps with our care for the senior community.”
St. Johnland is still awaiting determination on its application for special exception. The project’s construction costs have not been finalized yet.