Every morning the weather allows, I bring my newspaper outside to the deck and catch up on the world’s events. As I scan the headlines, coffee in hand, the ocean calm and serene behind the pages, stories of turmoil and unrest feel worlds away. Each day that I sit in this chair, listening to the cry of seabirds as the rising sun illuminates Penobscot Bay, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live in this place.
When I joined a group of investors interested in the purchase of a neighboring property — the Fox Hill Estate on Camden’s Bay View Street — I did so because I believed this unique space in a town like ours could be so much more. It could be a place where others could benefit from this coastal haven’s rejuvenating powers. In late 2010, the estate was listed for sale, and for almost two-and-a-half years, it remained available, its mix of commercial and residential elements rendering it less than optimal for the already small pool of qualified buyers. As a private home, it would be a superfluous amount of real estate to maintain; as a hotel, the estate would need to be vastly expanded in order to turn a profit.
The proposal my partners and I have put forth to open a 12-bed residential alcohol treatment facility at Fox Hill would put the estate as it exists today to its highest and best use, preserving all of the existing buildings for years to come. McLean Hospital, which would run the facility, is the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School and was ranked America’s No. 1 hospital for psychiatry, according to U.S. News & World Report. Experts in the field predict that a residential treatment center at Fox Hill would be the best of its kind in the country.
Six years ago, McLean opened a similar facility in Princeton, Mass., on the property of a landmark mansion in an affluent section of town. According to neighbors, including a member of the town’s planning board, the facility did not arrive without controversy; but now that it exists, it’s a quiet neighbor, a meticulous groundskeeper, a dependable contributor to Princeton’s tax base and a valued patron of local business.
Because the McLean program costs around $50,000 per month and is not covered by insurance, treatment at the Fox Hill Estate would only be available to clients of a socioeconomic level fairly consistent with the estate’s neighbors on Bay View Street. In many cases, the individuals who come to Fox Hill for treatment will already have tried to fight their battle privately behind their own closed doors. They would check in of their own free will, discreetly seeking to take back control of their lives; but this time, they’ll do so with a world-renowned team of professionals by their side.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”
Here in Camden, our daily bread is the ocean. I truly believe that waking up to this slice of God’s backyard, as we do every day, can cultivate a taste for seeing the world through sober eyes, in all its unfiltered glory. To live in midcoast Maine is to be the kind of person who sees beauty not only in the clear, fleeting days of summer, but also in a beacon through the fog, in a granite cliff standing tall against a storm, in those moments of poignancy that parallel one’s own resilience, and, if nothing else, in the promise of brighter days ahead. I hope my neighbors will join me in agreeing to share the view.
Bob Campbell is a 20-year resident of Rockport.