MILO, Maine — A local woman who was born in the former Milo hospital is offering the town a swap: two lots on Main Street left vacant from an arson fire in exchange for the former hospital on Stoddard Hill.
Residents will vote on the proposal during a special town meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, in the town hall. Residents also will vote on a request to borrow up to $122,000 to finance the purchase of a new plow truck.
Val Robertson has offered to swap the land where her business, Hobnobber’s, was located in exchange for deeding the former hospital, also known as Dr. Arnold’s Medical Building, to her, Tammy Vail and Patty Estes. Vail and Estes also were born in the local hospital. The Milo women, who plan to form a limited liability corporation, want to convert the building into a restaurant-pub and beauty salon, according to Robertson. The property has about a half-acre parking area, she said.
“This just feels right. It just feels like the place where we got our start in life that we can maybe end up our business careers where we all started out,” Robertson said Friday. “It’s time for us to put down roots where our roots all started.”
All three women have been in business in the town for about 30 years, she said.
The town was given the building and land by Dr. Steven Arnold. Town officials had considered using it as a temporary recycling facility, but the building is in need of repair. Instead, they decided to put the property back on the tax rolls.
Bids recently were solicited for the building, and Robertson submitted the only one, which involved the swap. Because residents had voted earlier this year to sell the building and since her proposal would not involve a sale, town officials decided to let residents vote on the matter.
“Originally the property was put [out] to bid and it is normally a cash deal, and since this was a land swap and had a different twist to it, we wanted to make sure that townspeople were satisfied with that,” Town Manager Jeff Gahagan said Friday.
Robertson, who also grew up on Stoddard Hill, hopes residents will be supportive. “I think it would be just amazing to have something full of life and nicely done sitting at the top of the hill,” she said.
In exchange, town ownership of the downtown lots likely would give Milo more of a competitive edge in seeking federal and state grants for downtown redevelopment, according to Robertson.