More details regarding Fox Hill rehabilitation facility revealed
Camden — Increased traffic, changing the character of the residential neighborhood and unknown investors have topped opponents' concerns about development of Fox Hill in Camden.
With planning board and voter approval, the property could become home to a high-end alcohol and substance abuse treatment facility operated by Massachusetts-based McLean Hospital.
A planning board workshop to consider language for a possible zoning exception will be held Thursday, Sept. 19, at 5 p.m at the Washington Street Conference Room. No public comment will be taken at this meeting.
The property known as Fox Hill on Bay View Street — formerly as the Borden Cottage — has stood empty since 2009, but was purchased earlier this year by investors in Fox Hill Real Estate LLC.
H. Thompson Rodman has become the face and voice of the two dozen investors. Contrary to previous information presented during a planning board meeting, former Fox Hill owner Ellen Simmons is not an investor, Rodman said, though he noted some of her belongings are being stored there.
"Most [investors] will be revealed," he said, though he declined to say when that might happen.
"A divine appointment" is how Rodman describes his feeling upon touring the Fox Hill property on Bay View Street last year with the intention of establishing a treatment center.
Rodman said he was initially curious about the property aside from its potential as a rehabilitation facility until a seed was planted regarding the possibility. A mutual friend of Rodman and McLean Hospital's Dr. Philip Levendusky connected the two men. When Levendusky toured the property in January, he walked into the place and saw what Rodman saw, he said.
"It's the perfect home for this kind of program," Levendusky said. "When I walked in, I was just struck by what it is — a compound with all sorts of commercial-grade resources."
He said there are few amenities missing from Fox Hill when he thinks of an ideal location for the type of treatment center planned for the property. McLean Hospital staff agreed, he said.
Currently, plans call for a 12-bed facility, with an allowance of up to 16. More likely, Levendusky said, will be an occupancy of eight to 10 people at any time.There are six existing bedrooms and private bathrooms for patients as well as plans to remodel several others, Rodman said.
A similar facility in Massachusetts called Fernside houses eight patients at a time and so far this year has turned away more than 20 others seeking entry to the program. Levendusky said the prior year, more than 30 seeking treatment were turned away. If Fox Hill is approved, he said many of those patients who are turned away from a full Fernside would likely be referred to Fox Hill for treatment instead.
"That's already a flow of clients to use the facility," he said.
Those treated at Fox Hill will be voluntary, self-pay patients, the same as Fernside, according to Levendusky. The average stay is expected to be 30 days.
Several lessons were learned through creation of Fernside, Levendusky said, including how to assure quality care away from the hospital campus and how best to market the facility.
Fox Hill would join a handful of other rehabilitation facilities on the east coast, most of which are in Florida, Levendusky noted.
"Still, in the Northeast, they are few and far between," he said.
While there are no existing plans for community-based programs, Levendusky noted McLean Hospital's reputation.
"When a community need is identified, we've got a long track record of doing those things," he said. " ... We as an institution do a lot of community outreach."
Levendusky said nearly 30 local health care workers gathered at McLean's request to discuss professional development needs as well as potential community programs.
"There are tremendous service needs in the area," he said, adding another health care facility such as Fox Hill would be an asset.
It is expected 20 to 22 full-time jobs would be created, with additional time-share positions, Levendusky said. Staff has not been predetermined.
"We don't have a group of people ready to go here, these really are new jobs. They could be local or out-of-town [hires]," he said.
The average number of vehicles coming and going during nursing shift changes could range from two to four, depending on time of day, he said. Monday through Friday during normal business hours, there would be additional staff arriving as well. Food provided through a contract with a local restaurant would likely be delivered twice per day if the Fox Hill model follows Fernside.
"There's no rush-hour phenomenon," Levendusky said. "The patients don't have cars so they aren't coming and going. There will probably be less traffic than during the heyday of the previous owners."
Patients receiving treatment at Fox Hill will be transported from local and state airports by staff in vehicles owned by the facility, he said. With this type of program, there are few visitors to patients and those visitors mostly are present during weekends when there is reduced staff, according to Levendusky. Visitors are expected to stay in town and will not be housed at Fox Hill.
"We're not going to board them here," Levendusky said.
Rodman and his wife plan to reside in a cottage on the property and a caretaker and his family also will live on-site. Remaining staff will commute to the facility each day.
Fox Hill features 10 buildings on nearly 14-acres. The 16,442-square-foot Borden Cottage, or main house, is where patients will stay and undergo some forms of therapy. Patients also will be allowed access to the game cottage with an arcade, bowling alley, ping pong and pool tables, as well as a diner. Rodman said the diner will serve as a gathering place during the afternoon for those experiencing "sugar-shakes" from alcohol withdrawal as well as a practicing ground for social situations without alcohol or other substances.
According to paperwork provided by Rodman, annual operating costs for the facility are expected to be $636,000. Those costs include lawn and yard maintenance, property taxes, water, a handyman, security, heating oil, cleaning and electricity, among other things.
Still in the planning stages, Fox Hill representatives and attorneys have been meeting with Camden's Planning Board to pound out wording for a special exception to the Coastal-Residential Zone in which Fox Hill sits. If the planning board approves the wording, the select board will then consider the special exception for inclusion on a future ballot and put the issue to a town-wide vote.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.