MILLINOCKET, Maine — After at least two years of trying to raise money for it, Katahdin Valley Health Center apparently has abandoned efforts to expand its clinic downtown for $2.1 million, officials said Friday.
Town Manager Eugene Conlogue formally accepted from KVHC the reversion to the town of the deed to a portion of land at Summer and Congress streets and at 180 Aroostook Ave., and the forfeiture of about $6,500 in land costs.
KVHC bought the land to expand its clinical services already there in 2005. As part of the deal, the land reverted to the town on Sept. 30. Conlogue told the Town Council during a meeting Thursday that KVHC officials wanted to be given an opportunity to discuss the land’s future if the town ever develops plans for it.
Town Councilor Scott Gonya questioned why town officials should grant KVHC anything like the right of first refusal to buy the land given the agency’s inability to develop its plans.
“I suspect they are still working on it,” council Chairman Wallace Paul said.
Conlogue said he thought KVHC merely wanted a courtesy call.
“I don’t mind a courtesy call, but I do not want to give them first option on that land,” Gonya said.
Originally targeted to be completed in 2007, KVHC’s building plans were derailed by a lack of funding. The agency wanted also to build a clinic in Patten for $1.85 million, clinic officials have said.
Both were designed to bring a series of doctor’s offices and expanded services to their respective towns. In Millinocket, the project was seen as a potential boon to downtown businesses while providing affordable and expanded medical care to hundreds of MaineCare residents and other people who otherwise couldn’t afford it, proponents have said.
KVHC is a nonprofit health care provider for the Katahdin region, funded by federal grants and contributions from various sources. Other than its two offices apiece in Patten and Millinocket, it has offices in Island Falls and Houlton.
In Millinocket, the building plans called for a large single-story building that would connect the present dental and mental health service clinics at 50 Summer St., or Summer and Congress streets, and at 180 Aroostook Ave., to Penobscot Avenue, where there would have been a storefront.
A KVHC spokeswoman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Friday.