Change has been constant in Summit DD’s 50-year history. Summit DD meets change with optimism because it represents an evolution towards acceptance and inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.
It was 1972 when the Weaver School and Sheltered Workshop were dedicated in Tallmadge, on the corner of SR 91 and Howe Ave. At the time, the buildings were modern and represented the hard work of parents and progress for people with developmental disabilities. By the early 2000s there wasn’t a need for a segregated school, students went to school alongside their neighborhood friends in their home school districts. Summit DD converted the school to house its administrative operations, consisting of early intervention staff, service coordinators, staff who provide health and safety services, and provider support staff, among others.
In 2016 Summit DD embarked on a new journey, responding to a federally mandated transition out of directly providing day programs and transportation services. Summit DD met this change with the same motto that drives its mission, one person at a time. By the end of 2018, all adults who attended Summit DD workshops or rode Summit DD busses were transitioned to a private provider of their choosing.
Throughout the transition people kept asking, “what are you going to do with those buildings.” After a facility use analysis the Agency plans to ask for Board approval to rennovate its Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls workshops into office space for the Agency’s 280 employees.
“Consistent with our Long Range Plan, our recommendation to renovate our Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls location represent our commitment to create community based opportunities for those we serve, to engage our workforce, and to remain sustainable into the future,” commented John Trunk, Summit DD Superintendent.
The move capitalizes on the Agency’s newest buildings and provides access to the north and south corridor of Summit County. “The location of these buildings provides our staff greater access to all of the communities of Summit County,” stated Trunk.
Recently, Cuyahoga Falls City Council unanimously approved a land purchase economic development deal that solidified Summit DD’s plan to relocate half of its staff to Cuyahoga Falls. Under the agreement, Cuyahoga Falls will purchase land adjacent to the Summit DD site and construct a parking lot for employee use.
“This deal represents a tremendous commitment from Cuyahoga Falls,” commented Trunk. “Cuyahoga Falls residents have always supported our Mission. We look forward to collaborating even more with them and the other communities to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities,” Trunk continued.
With the parking issue solved in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit DD can now move onto the next steps of its planning. Summit DD hopes to move staff to the new locations by mid-2021. Summit DD staff will remain at the Tallmadge site throughout the renovations. Discussions will be ongoing with the County and City of Tallmadge about the future of the Tallmadge property. In addition to the three buildings on the Tallmadge property, the Agency has another building located in Bath which is currently listed for sale.
“Right now we need to look at different workspace options and determine what our space needs are and how we can best fit into those spaces,” commented Russell DuPlain, Summit DD Director of IT and Facilities. “We are going to look at all of our available options and make sure we design a solution that can take us into the next fifty years.”
It is estimated that the moves to Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls will reduce the Agency’s square footage from more than 200,000 square feet to around 35,000 square feet. “There are a lot of efficiencies to be gained from these moves, and we need efficiencies to meet the growing need in the community for Summit DD’s services,” explained Trunk.
In just the past ten years Summit DD experienced a 42 percent rate of growth, now serving more than 5,300 adults and kids. One out of every 100 Summit County residents rely on Summit DD services. The Agency coordinates and funds early intervention services, day programs, employment services, transportation, residential support, and a variety of other programs and service that meet the individual needs of people with disabilities.
“While the work to make this plan a reality is only just beginning, we look forward to opening our doors to an open and collaborative space for our staff,” commented Trunk.
Stay current on Summit DD’s journey at SummitDD.org.