MEXICO – Meeting in an emergency session, Med-Care directors agreed Thursday to drop plans for a $1.7 million ambulance facility in order to preserve the quasi-municipal corporation.

Directors at the 4:30 p.m. meeting at Mexico’s town hall needed only six minutes to unanimously agree to drop the project. Med-Care’s 10-year contract with the 11 towns it serves expires Saturday. Mexico and Andover have yet to approve the contract. A trio of Rumford selectmen led opposition to the proposed ambulance building.

Rejecting it is what Selectmen Mark Belanger, J. Arthur Boivin and Frank DiConzo have wanted since Med-Care’s board OK’d the project last fall.

“I think it is a positive step,” Boivin said. “We’ve taken a giant step forward, let’s make it work.”

“I think this is what needed to happen and what I held out for last night. I’m happy it turned out this way,” Belanger said, referring to Wednesday night’s emergency Rumford selectmen meeting with Med-Care directors.

Negotiations at that meeting fell through when the three selectmen refused to continue with Med-Care unless it dropped the project.

Immediately after Thursday’s ambulance board meeting, Belanger, Boivin and DiConzo predicted that the Rumford board would accept the service contract renewal at Thursday night’s regular board meeting. They did, unanimously.

A majority vote at Monday night’s town meeting gave selectmen the authority to OK the contract if the financial impact of the building project to Rumford was reduced.

“At the next Med-Care meeting in July, my (proposed) amendments to the interlocal agreement will be brought up for discussion and action, so there will be changes to the interlocal (contract) and we will vote on it in November. One amendment is that anything over a certain amount goes to the people to be voted on,” Belanger said.

“Nobody won anything from this,” DiConzo said when asked what it felt like to win the concession. “I just hope that they’re true to their word. I wanted additional stuff in the motion to state that between now and the November election that all the towns would sit down with Med-Care and redo the interlocal agreement.”

DiConzo said he believes that would be enough time to draft plans toward a new building.

“I think that can be done by November – either a new building for Med-Care or a new public safety building for police, fire, and ambulance together. This is a step in the right direction,” DiConzo said.

“It was a great gesture from the (Med-Care) board,” said Rumford Town Manager Jim Doar. “They made the motion; now we need to reciprocate.”

Med-Care President Steve Brown, Carthage’s head selectman, said Thursday afternoon’s motion was to terminate the building project and to adjust charges to each town accordingly.

“We were trying to save the corporation,” Brown said. “And I felt that we met the vote of (Rumford’s) town meeting, which was to reduce the financial impact from the project. They had told us that the interlocal agreement would not be accepted unless the building project was stopped, so we did that. We met with Rumford selectmen in good faith, and I felt we lived up to what their town meeting voters wanted.”

Andover, which rejected the contract at town meeting in March to explore other options, takes it up again at 9 a.m. Saturday in the town hall. Mexico, which does the same at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Mountain Valley Middle School, rejected the contract last month by majority vote at a special town meeting.

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