It is very apparent that the Camden community values the diversity of its residents and respects their privacy. Those characteristics, along with the town’s serene, natural beauty, are some of the primary reasons why the new owners of the Fox Hill Estate approached us to consider opening a private rehabilitation facility on its grounds.
The 14-acre property on Bay View Street provides an ideal, secluded environment for the treatment of alcohol and other substance dependencies. McLean Hospital, one of the top psychiatric hospitals in the world affiliated with Harvard Medical School, is proposing to operate an exclusive and sophisticated residential treatment facility that will provide the highest-quality health care services to its small, in-residence clientele.
The new owners of the estate are asking the town to amend a zoning ordinance to allow the facility to operate and, at the same time, preserve the character of the rest of the neighborhood.
The proposed plan is for a limited impact use — a private residential setting that will annually treat approximately eight clients per month — on a site that will purposely preserve all of the property and structures on Fox Hill, especially the original Borden Cottage. The cottage is where clients will live and receive most of their rehabilitative services. There will be no visible change to the estate landscape from any angle outside of the property. In fact, passersby or residents of abutting properties won’t be able to see the facility.
What exactly will be happening on this secluded estate? All clients will undergo a rigorous program of individual and group counseling, other related therapies along with lifestyle- and health-enhancing education and coaching throughout their stay. The on-site staff of highly qualified and experienced doctors, social workers, psychologists and other professionals will offer diagnostic, evaluation and therapeutic services. These services will include special, integrated treatment for those clients with associated co-occurring addiction and mental health issues. Highly skilled addiction and mental health specialists will be on site 24 hours a day to provide all necessary support and supervision.
McLean Hospital has an impeccable reputation for operating successful health care facilities. In recent meetings with local health care providers, we learned that towns in the Midcoast are, of course, not immune to substance abuse issues and mental health challenges. In the past, McLean has jointly developed outreach programs and partnerships with local health care agencies. With this track record of community participation, our presence in the community will add a new resource that can be used to lend a hand in addressing local human services issues.
As a new year-round employer, the proposal for the Fox Hill property will also economically benefit the town. With this new use, McLean is slated to offer employment opportunities to fill nearly 30 full- and part-time, clinical and administrative positions. The facility will also make use of a variety of local vendor and merchant services. Along with that consistent economic impact, plans for possible McLean-sponsored off-site continuing education conferences would likely provide an additional flow of revenue to area businesses. It’s also important to note that the new Fox Hill ownership will pay an annual tax bill of approximately $100,000 to the town of Camden.
The nature of the Camden community and the seclusion and beauty of the Fox Hill Estate make it an ideal location for McLean’s proposed rehabilitation facility. As the sole tenant and licensed operator of the facility, we are committed to preserving its character for the benefit of our clients, neighbors and residents of Camden. We encourage our neighbors to visit www.foxhillcamden.com to learn more about the proposal and join the discussion.
Philip G. Levendusky is senior vice president for program development and director of the psychology department at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. He is also an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.