Kittery developer considers Katahdin area for rehab center

Posted March 20, 2009, at 11:05 p.m.

TOWNSHIP 1 RANGE 8, Maine — Rich rock stars or wounded war veterans will get psychological and substance abuse counseling as part of a Kittery developer’s plans for a high-end recovery center on the pristine shores of Millinocket Lake.

Still mulling some details, general contractor and developer Scott Joslin said he plans to apply for permits within a month to build the proposed $5 million nature-based drug and alcohol treatment and recovery facility, which would house 40 beds and employ as many as 25 people.

Joslin said he would meet informally with Land Use Regulation Commission officials and U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Millinocket, on Monday. He said he first became interested in the Katahdin region when he bought a camp in the South Twin Lake area four years ago.

Joslin hopes to have permits within six to eight months for use of the land, 10 acres adjacent to the site of Millinocket businessman Matthew Polstein’s proposed $65 million ecotourist Ktaadn Resorts.

If all goes well, construction will begin by year’s end.

Among the unanswered questions, Joslin said, is which clientele the Green House Lodge will serve.

“I like the idea of helping people,” Joslin, 46, said Friday. “I don’t love the idea of helping a rich rock star as much as helping a banged-up serviceman recover from his injuries.”

One track he is pursuing would make the center a place where celebrities and other well-heeled clients could get back on their feet, said Dan Corcoran, owner of North Woods Real Estate, the Millinocket firm that started working with Joslin about three months ago to find land suitable for the concept.

The other track involves working with state and federal agencies to serve the dire needs created by the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, Joslin said. That’s why he will meet with Michaud, an ardent supporter of veterans services.

Green House will not be a detox center or outpatient facility such as a methadone clinic, Corcoran said. It will be a next-step facility, designed as a rustic lodge to fit the traditional character of the area and to blend it into the natural setting, where the beauty of the lake and Mount Katahdin as templates can help clients reorient themselves in seclusion, Joslin said.

“If patients require detox, that will happen before they come here,” Corcoran said. “The idea is to get people out of whatever environment they are in so they can focus on whatever issues they have. It’s just the opposite of a methadone clinic. This is not providing any drugs. It’s treating people with drug problems.”

Joslin has discussed forming a relationship with local care providers, including Millinocket Regional Hospital, that could handle detoxification and other medical issues associated with the Green House, he said.

Marie Vienneau, the hospital’s chief executive officer, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Friday.

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said he knew little of Joslin’s plans, having seen them only as part of a press release Corcoran circulated Thursday, but thought them promising for the Katahdin region.

“It’s another opportunity for this area. It has the opportunity to help people and employ people,” Conlogue said Friday.

Joslin said he had no formal background or experience with recovery facilities such as he proposes. The owner of West Branch Construction Co. LLC of Portsmouth, N.H., Joslin described his interest in the idea as less medical than financial, as he is meeting with Boston-area hospitals and care facilities to find a manager who could operate Green House.

A developer and contractor with 23 years’ experience, Joslin has built or owned several apartment buildings and been involved in many commercial developments in southern Maine and New Hampshire, Corcoran said.

Joslin said he rehabilitated, owned and sold more than 100 apartment units in Portland during the 1990s and within the last 10 years his company built more than $15 million in commercial construction for companies such as North Dam Mill of Biddeford, the Haughey Co. of Boston, InStock Flooring of Salem, N.H., and rehabilitated a large-scale dry-cleaning facility for We Care Cleaners in Kittery. His company built a large veterinary emergency hospital in Brentwood, N.H., and a 50,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Exeter, N.H.

Joslin has discussed his plans several times with Polstein, Marcia McKeague, president of Katahdin Timberland LLC; Pat McGowan, commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation and several LURC officials, Corcoran said.

Joslin expects that his company would help build the 25-room, 27,000-square-foot facility with local help.

Green House would benefit the local economy, Corcoran said. Part of the treatment plans involves family members visiting clients for three or four days twice a month. Client stays would range from 30 to 90 days, Joslin said.

“The area’s restaurants and lodging will benefit directly,” Corcoran said. “The families that visit will have to stay someplace.”

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