Letters, Camden Herald
Similarities between Malibu and Camden end with the view
McLean Hospital is looking to settle into the Town of Camden, put down roots, become a vital member of the community and build upon its reputation as a leader in the field of mental health and substance abuse treatment.
For more than 200 years, McLean has set the standard for mental health facilities across the country — developing new treatments, setting policies and, most important, providing unparalleled treatment. In a recent Boston Globe article, McLean Hospital was referred to as the “Gold Standard” for psychiatric care and substance abuse treatment and, in July 2013, it was named the nation’s #1 hospital for psychiatric care by US News & World Report.
According to a New York Times piece published on Sept. 15, opportunists in Malibu, California, are scrambling to purchase properties and convert them into alcohol and drug treatment centers.
This article comes at an opportune time because a proposal is currently being put before the planning board here in Camden to open a residential alcohol and related drug treatment facility at the Fox Hill Estate on Bay View Street.
Neighbors challenging the proposal have distributed printed copies of the Times article in what seems to be an effort to align the proposed treatment center at Fox Hill with the facilities in Malibu. Fortunately, even the casual reader will quickly recognize that the only thing the proposed Camden program has in common with the referenced Malibu treatment facilities is the serene view available in both settings.
I think we can all agree that California differs from Maine in so many ways, one of which is the sharp growth curve of its rehab industry: sheer demand for services among the local population (i.e., Hollywood) has incentivized a number of new facilities to open doors, leaving state regulators scrambling to effectively monitor them.
By stark contrast, the 12-bed facility proposed for Fox Hill in Camden will be fully licensed by State of Maine regulatory agencies and the residential rehabilitation center and be operated by McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Renowned since the early 1800s as a leader in the treatment of chemical dependency and mental illness, McLean has as much in common with the aforementioned Malibu facilities as a symphony orchestra has with a garage band.
Neighbors of an existing McLean facility, Fernside, which opened its doors in an historic section of Princeton, Massachusetts, six years ago, attest to the Hospital’s professionalism and discretion. James Lachance, a former planning board member, describes the town’s experience with McLean as “entirely positive,” noting that the nature of the work being done is “absolutely imperceptible from the outside and I have no knowledge of the identities of people treated there.” John Lebeaux, the town administrator, calls McLean an asset to the community — “a good and quiet neighbor” placing little demand on community resources.
The treatment center at Fox Hill would not be marketed to celebrities looking to clean up their images, nor would it seek their endorsements. There would be no signage, no lurking paparazzi, nor would any disclosure of residents’ identities be tolerated. In fact, clients are not accepted at McLean if they publicly disclose they are going to treatment.
McLean Hospital has been engrained in the fabric of the communities in which it operates since 1811. What it will build at Fox Hill is a private, serious, evidence-based program that provides world-class care — a program built on a solid foundation viewed with pride by the local community. The benefits of McLean at Fox Hill aren’t limited to the confines of the estate. With its presence in Camden, McLean will be in a position to help address local needs by partnering with schools, hospitals and mental health organizations. The area will also gain opportunities for residents’ to secure good, stable jobs and as much as a $6.6 million increase in economic activity.
Philip G. Levendusky, Ph.D.
Sr. Vice President, Business Development
Director, Psychology Department
Co-Director, Psychology Training
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
The town of Rockport will bid farewell to an exceptional public servant when Molly Larson steps down as director of the Rockport Public Library in November. During the eight years she has held that position, the number of people using the facility has more than doubled (from 14,000 to around 30,000), the inter-library loan activity has increased from under 200 to over 6,500 a year, and the number of programs offered to the public has increased from 65 to 440 a year.
This increase in the number of library users and the variety of programs mirrors what is happening all across the country. Libraries no longer are merely repositories for books; they now hum with an array of educational activities for all ages, interests and needs. Molly Larson has done a tremendous job guiding the library, its staff and volunteers, and together they have turned the library into a lifelong learning center for the entire community.
For the past few years, Rockport’s Library Committee has been exploring what the future should hold for our library. They need to hear from the Rockport residents in order to move forward with relevant plans. A group of people have been very vocal about not wanting the library to move from its present location, even though the town owns an ideal parcel of land where issues of parking, accessibility and size can be addressed. They represent only a small portion of Rockport citizens, primarily those who live close to the present library. The other citizens of Rockport — in West Rockport, Rockville, Simonton’s Corner and Glen Cove — need to speak up and let the Committee know their opinions. After all, the library belongs to all Rockport residents.
The Library Committee will soon be scheduling open meetings called Listening Tours in a variety of locations to encourage citizens to participate in the planning process. Please don’t miss these opportunities to be give them your feedback.
When Molly Larson steps down, her staff will certainly continue to provide excellent service to the public. However, the issue of the library’s future remains to be resolved. I urge you to be involved ... be part of the process. Our public library is an important asset for all of Rockport.
And if you see Molly Larson, thank her for her eight years of hard work and outstanding service.
I’m blessed to call Camden home year-round — from those sunny days out on the water to those crisp, clear months of winter. I’m part of the fabric of this community. And, if I were lucky enough to afford to winter elsewhere, I would always protect the interests of those folks who welcome me each year to my beloved “home away from home.” That’s why I’m saddened that this town’s wealthy seasonal neighbors of the Fox Hill Estate are blocking an opportunity to positively impact my community’s long-term economic vitality. After all, this is the same Camden that I, and so many others like me, live and work in when their seasonal getaways end.
That’s exactly what summer residents who are neighbors of the Fox Hill Estate are doing by preventing McLean Hospital from taking this dormant property and turning it into a place that helps people — both those at the proposed treatment center and those in the community who struggle to find a job here in off-season. That season simply doesn’t exist for us. Winter, summer, spring and fall — we have to feed our families, pay our mortgages and fill our oil tanks. Without jobs, our livelihoods are at risk.
This facility will bring the equivalent of nearly 46 full-time jobs and pump more than $6.6 million each year into the local economy. The community needs these jobs. McLean, a renowned hospital and Harvard Medical School affiliate, will help preserve Borden Cottage and preserve Fox Hill from extensive real estate development.
I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to see seasonal neighbors of the estate take a stand against Camden’s prosperity. Knowing all of the benefits this community stands to reap from this facility, their arguments just don’t stand to reason. This private, residential facility will treat a mere eight to 12 people. Weddings in Camden cause more traffic congestion than this facility ever could. They can’t even see Fox Hill from the street or from their backyards. Individuals seeking treatment won’t be accepted if they disclose the location. We won’t have to worry about future condominium development if we allow McLean to sign a long-term lease.
Neighbors of Fox Hill, I implore you to realize and accept that Camden is more than just a place of respite for you. It’s where we year-rounders call home. It’s where we want to stay and prosper. We can’t do that if you don’t fully understand that beyond your vacation spot is a town that has a declining and aging population, growing unemployment, an economy that is increasingly dependent on the summer season — not to mention a tax base that is growing more slowly than the state average.
Your shortsightedness will impact you — if not now, in the future. It will begin to erode all of those reasons you fell in love with our town. By protecting year-round residents like me, you are also protecting the town itself and ensuring it’s around for you to enjoy for many years to come.
Why stand in the way of something that will cause you no harm, while having a beneficial, lasting impact on so many — me, the town, the community-at-large, the region, and, lest you forget, YOU?