Med-Care eyes NewPage land

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MEXICO — Prior to having an architect draft plans for a $1.7 million ambulance facility, Med-Care Ambulance Service Board of Directors President Steve Brown of Carthage said Wednesday night that the board looked into buying the building next door. It’s for sale.

They made an offer last month that they thought would be feasible, but Brown said the owner “had higher ideas than what we wanted.”

“But the problem was, when we had the architect look at it and draw up plans for it, that really any savings of cost by doing that were negligible,” he said of PCA Architecture of Phillips.

“We were ending up with a building that had to be substantially renovated, but we were losing the asset of the current building, which would have to be torn down and we wouldn’t be able to sell it. We know we wouldn’t get a lot of money for it anyway.”

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“But if we tried to modify the one next door, we’d have a renovated building that isn’t set up for our specifications and it wouldn’t have the life expectancy, and plus, we weren’t able to negotiate a price that really brought us into the ballpark,” Brown said.

That’s when they revisited land in Mexico owned by Rumford paper mill NewPage Inc. that is beside Oxford Federal Credit Union on Route 2.

Brown said they can buy the NewPage land for $100,000. Additionally, because it has plenty of sand, which the town of Mexico would like, the town is willing to excavate it, therefore alleviating that cost.

The preliminary budget projection for the plan, which the board unanimously approved at Wednesday night’s board meeting, has a total project price of $1,598,266. Spending $100,000 for the land would bring it to $1.7 million.

Included in the $1.59 million cost is $180,000 for site work; $591,675 for administrative and living areas; $52,785 for utility areas and a mezzanine located within the steel structure; $537,600 for an eight-truck bay; a 10 percent contingency of $136,206; and estimated architect and engineering fees of $100,000.

Items not included that can be done later as needed total $25,000. Additionally, Med-Care Executive Director Dean Milligan believes he can get a grant for a Plymo vent system for the eight-vehicle garage, which costs from $50,000 to $60,000.

Their primary funding source is a 40-year loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program.

Brown said they explored getting a Community Development Block Grant, but they didn’t qualify.

Their 11 towns taken as a whole don’t have enough low- and moderate-income households to reach the cutoff point.

Med-Care Treasurer Jim Pulsifer, a Peru selectman, said he doesn’t see the 40-year loan as a problem.

“Personally and as a representative of the town, it gives you a lot of flexibility,” Pulsifer said. “You’re able to pay it off early and yet it will hit your tax rolls less hard each year, so it will make us better able to maintain ourselves, and if we have the right management and get timely reimbursement, we’ll be able to pay it off early, and if we don’t, then we’re protected.”

“And I know a lot of people think, ‘My gosh! We’re committed to 40 years!’ Well, that’s not quite true,” he said. “You’re building a building, so you’re going to have an asset that has value.”

“If something happens to Med-Care — and I’m not suggesting that’s even a remote possibility — you would still have that asset. And somebody would have to provide service for these 11 towns, and they’re going to need a place to provide that service, so I don’t see any big downside in terms of a 40-year loan.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

Plans approved at Wednesday night’s board meeting, show what Med-Care Ambulance Service’s proposed $1.7 million building would look like.

This layout shows how Med-Care Ambulance Service’s proposed $1.7 million building would be sited on land beside Oxford Federal Credit Union, allowing direct access to Route 2, while leaving plenty of room for area fire departments should they be merged into one department, with satellite stations placed in outlying towns.

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