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Fowler School to become assisted living facility

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BALMAT — The former Fowler Elementary School has been sold to Liberty A. Moon, Watertown, who intends to convert it into an assisted living facility.

“I think the school is beautiful, inside and out,” Miss Moon said. “I’ve got big plans.”

The Gouverneur Central School board closed the Fowler school in 2013 because of declining enrollment.

The board agreed in May to the sale to Miss Moon for $225,000.

All of the paperwork was signed Tuesday, but Miss Moon said her attorney is holding onto the final check while he researches a discrepancy in the amount of acreage in the deed and the survey.

Miss Moon said she had been looking in Watertown for a building she could convert to assisted living but most were two stories or needed too much work. Then she heard about the Fowler school.

“When I looked at it, I said, ‘I think this is it,’” Miss Moon said. “I’m really excited about it. I love to make a difference in a community.”

The Fowler school should be a relatively easy conversion because all of the classrooms already have bathrooms, although they will have to be made handicapped-accessible.

She has hired Aubertine & Currier, Watertown, to draft an architectural plan that she will submit to the state Department of Health for a certificate of need.

Her plans for the building include a 40-bed facility, a formal dining area where three meals a day will be served, a hair salon, a small convenience store and perhaps a swimming pool. A flower shop is also possible if there is enough room.

A staff of about 20 to be in the building round the clock, seven days a week, will include case managers, an administrator, kitchen staff, cleaners and caregivers.

Miss Moon also plans to have the facility be a community gathering spot for seniors.

The rooms will not include kitchens.

There will be both private and semiprivate rooms. Semiprivate rooms will be a suite with a shared bathroom, she said. Miss Moon said she hoped to accommodate residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as well as others who need less care.

The facility might open within a year, Miss Moon said.

She works in human resources at Fort Drum. She operates a cleaning business and said she worked as a medical assistant and in occupational medicine when she lived in Hawaii.

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