BLUE HILL, Maine — The local hospital has reversed course and decided to sell a neighboring property following community opposition to the controversial land acquisition.
Blue Hill Memorial Hospital bought the former Leighton Gallery at 24 Parker Point Road in Augusta last year. It also bought another residential property, next door at 18 Parker Point Road.
The hospital said at the time that the two properties were a needed capital investment to accommodate potential future growth at the hospital.
Now, Greg Roraff, CEO of Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, said in a news release that the hospital will be able to fulfill its needs without repurposing the Leighton Gallery building. The hospital says it will carve out a small portion of the backyard for additional parking but will put the building and most of the property back on the market.
The hospital will retain ownership of the house and lot at 18 Parker Point Road.
Residents gave the hospital an earful at a September public forum, airing fears that the hospital’s encroachment onto one of the few downtown residential streets would harm Blue Hill’s small-village aesthetic.
Hospital officials responded, saying they wouldn’t raze the two buildings and would find a way to incorporate them into the hospital campus without changing the appearance of Parker Point Road. The hospital also assembled an ad hoc Neighborhood Advisory Committee through which residents could work with the hospital for facilities planning.
“We think this plan will meet the hospital’s strategic needs, while honoring the character of Blue Hill Village,” said Sally Mills, hospital trustee and chairwoman of that committee, in the news release.
The house has about 2,700 square feet of heated space, with an additional 1,300 square feet in the adjacent gallery space, according to Realtor Jeff Allen, who is handling the property sale for the hospital. The asking price is set at $290,000, Allen said.
Documents from Maine Revenue Services state the hospital bought the former Leighton Gallery property for $344,000 in 2012. The property at 18 Parker Point Road was bought for $410,000.
The gallery building “hasn’t changed,” Allen said. “They didn’t do a thing with it. It’s an unfurnished, unoccupied home with an attached barn-slash-gallery.”
BHMH claims its master facilities plan is “near-finished” and that hospital officials will present the plan to the community when it’s ready.
In the meantime, residents won’t see any immediate changes to the village landscape: The hospital won’t repurpose the house at 18 Parker Point Road anytime soon, said spokeswoman Kelley Columber.
“That property will probably be rented right now as a residence,” she said Tuesday. “At least a one-year lease, if not two years.”
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.