May 25, 2020
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How Bangor ended up with a state psychiatric facility the state doesn’t own

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The psychiatric step-down facility on the campus of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor.

A 16-bed psychiatric facility that would house some mental health patients who no longer need hospital-level care appears to be on track for completion in May on the campus of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor. This is how it happened.


— The federal government revokes its certification of state-run Riverview Psychiatric Facility in Augusta over concerns for patient and staff safety.

Winter 2016

— Gov. Paul LePage’s administration proposes moving certain forensic patients from Riverview to a Maine State Prison mental health unit.

Spring 2016

— Lawmakers override LePage’s veto of raises for workers at Riverview and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor.

— An amended version of LePage’s Maine State Prison proposal — which would require his administration to develop a new facility separate from Riverview — falls short in the Legislature.

— Afterward, the LePage administration starts planning a separate psychiatric facility in Augusta without seeking legislative approval and without updating lawmakers or the city of Augusta.

Fall 2016

— Attorney General Janet Mills tells the LePage administration that a new building in Augusta’s Capitol Area development zone would require approval from the Legislative Council, a 10-member body of legislative leaders from both parties.

— The Legislative Council deadlocks on a vote to approve the facility’s construction in Augusta, effectively rejecting it.

— The LePage administration starts looking to state-owned land on Hogan Road in Bangor for the new facility.

Winter 2017

— Mills issues a memo expressing her legal opinion is that building the facility on state-owned land, whether in Bangor or Augusta, would require legislative approval.

Spring 2017

— Still lacking that legislative approval, the LePage administration seeks bids from developers to buy 6.28 state-owned acres on Hogan Road and build a secure forensic rehabilitation facility that the state would then lease for 30 years.

— The LePage administration acknowledges it is seeking a private contractor to operate the facility.

Summer 2017

— The state chooses Maine construction company Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield to build the psychiatric facility.

Fall 2017

— The Bangor City Council imposes a six-month moratorium on construction of a psychiatric facility, allowing the city time to determine standards for such a facility, including security measures, buffers, and distance from streets and other properties.

— In response, LePage threatens to sue Bangor and to build the facility in a neighboring community.

— Tennessee-based Correct Care Recovery Solutions, which began providing services at Maine Department of Corrections facilities in 2012, is the only bidder to run the facility.

— The Bangor City Council changes zoning rules to block a new psychiatric facility anywhere in the city but the campus of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, forcing the LePage administration to abandon the Hogan Road property.

Spring 2018

— After negotiations with Cianbro fall through, the state sells a 2.69-acre parcel on the Dorothea Dix campus to Ellis Commercial Development, under the name Bangor Holdings LLC, for $60,000.

— At the same time, the state and Ellis Commercial Development sign a 30-year lease agreement under which Ellis builds and owns the psychiatric facility and leases it back to the state.

Summer 2018

— The Bangor Planning Board approves plans for the psychiatric facility.

Fall 2018

— Gov.-elect Janet Mills asks the LePage administration to refrain from signing new contracts for services in the weeks before she takes office.

— Dan Wathen, the watchdog who oversees the state’s compliance with a decades-old court order on mental health services, says LePage administration plans to use $5.4 million earmarked for community mental health services to pay Correct Care Recovery Solutions to run the Bangor psychiatric facility would violate the court order.

— LePage rejects Mills’ request and his administration signs a contract with Correct Care Recovery Solutions to run the Bangor psychiatric facility. Acting at Mills’ request, however, Correct Care doesn’t sign the contract.

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