Plan Would Decrease Local Property Values

Posted:  Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 6:15am
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One finds it strange that the applicants to Camden's various boards for a new rehab center have chosen such a prestigious neighborhood for their project when there are ample and less costly properties available in rural Maine. I speak as a neighborhood caretaker familiar with the grounds of Fox Hill and the general neighborhood. There's no doubt the plan would decrease local property values, but apparently adherents have little care for the neighbors who, whether you like wealthy people or not (most I've found are pretty nice), have paid considerably for their privacy.

I also speak as a person with decades of sobriety, a person who was a patient several times in institutionalized "recovery centers." In them the patient is processed. To be blunt, alcoholics are commoditized as a profit vehicle for rehab owners. It's my knowledge that less than 5 percent stay sober five years or better. My eventual sobriety came through a self-help program well known in most areas. No dues or fees, and free coffee.

In the advanced years of my recovery I have come to see most privately owned rehab centers as secret goldmines that promise a cure for an incurable disease, employ weakly credentialed counselors at depressed wages, and charge as much as the market will bear.

The profit angle is important here, as with First Wind's aggressive attempt to ruin Ragged Mountain with wind towers, because these projects aren't done for fun, despite the cheery emphasis on overblown communal gain that typifies the PR. This is no conventional center, but a cash-only place catering to the very wealthy—Betty Ford East? As such, it helps probably no one in Maine recover from alcoholism, just a handful of well-to-do outsiders, maybe. I'll skip the math, but I've done it. At even 80-percent capacity the operation is slated to make millions for owners, having paid for itself in less than 18 months. After that, years of pure gravy.

Recovery—and I am every day grateful for my 19 years—is available to anyone who "has the desire to stop drinking" in a well-known 12-step program. There are more than 25 meetings a week 10 minutes' ride from Fox Hill. They're free and all are welcome. One would hope Camden's municipal leaders see the fallacy in the current proposal, see it for what it is, and vote it down. 

Dennis Lopez,
Rockport