May 20, 2018
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Bucksport eyeing road extension as part of nursing home project

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

BUCKSPORT, Maine — Town officials are considering extending Broadway — a heavily used road running parallel to Main Street — to connect with Route 1 and Route 3 as part of preliminary discussions with a nursing home developer interested in Bucksport.

Earlier this month, Town Council members voted to hire an engineering firm to conduct a preliminary analysis of how much it would cost to connect Broadway with Park Street, which is currently a dead-end street off Route 1 near the McDonald’s restaurant. Town officials have discussed the extension in the past but revived the idea after a nursing home developer expressed interest in a parcel that would use the new road.

Millett Associates estimates it will cost roughly $885,500 to build the connection, including all infrastructure and utilities, according to an email from the engineering firm sent to town manager Roger Raymond.

Town officials haven’t named the developer because they said discussions are still in the early stages. But First Atlantic Healthcare, a Portland-based company that operates nursing homes throughout the state, has indicated to state officials that they are interested in potentially building a new facility in Bucksport.

First Atlantic Healthcare runs the Collier’s nursing home in Ellsworth and has sought authorization from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to replace the existing building with a new facility in the city. It is within that application that First Atlantic also indicated that they hoped to build a similar-size nursing home in Bucksport.

First Atlantic is also apparently discussing closing a 52-bed facility in Calais. Representatives for the company could not be reached for comment on Friday.

As outlined in the preliminary analysis conducted by Millett Associates, the Bucksport facility would be located on approximately 7 acres not far from where Broadway currently terminates. The project would require permits from both the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers due to wetlands on the site.

Dave Milan, Bucksport’s economic development director, declined to comment Friday on any possible discussions because they were “so preliminary in nature.” Speaking generally, however, Milan said negotiating with potential developers about infrastructure is fairly standard practice.

“We are certainly willing to work with any developer to try to solve the challenges they have when trying to develop a project,” Milan said. The project would have to demonstrate sufficient public benefits to the town in order for municipal officials to agree to help carry the costs of any infrastructure projects, he said.

Bucksport officials have made it a high priority in recent years to work with developers of alternative housing options for the elderly. For instance, the town recently agreed to provide financial assistance to a Washington County couple that has re-opened the historic Jed Prouty Inn on Main Street as an assisted living facility.

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