Community Dental not negotiating with Avesta

 

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Community Dental, which operates five clinics in Maine for low-income residents, is not negotiating with Avesta Housing, Inc. to lease ground floor space in Avesta’s proposed elderly and disabled apartment complex on Bridgton’s Main Street.

Dr. Donald Dennison DDS, who has a practice at 28 Church Street, told the Bridgton Board of Selectmen Tuesday that any plans by Community Dental to locate a sixth clinic in Bridgton fell apart when the Legislature cut MaineCare in the past session, as directed by Gov. Paul LePage. Those MaineCare cuts — only a portion of the amount LePage had wanted — along with LePage’s decision to eliminate $400,000 in promised bond funding for Community Dental, brought to an abrupt halt this summer any further consideration of the Bridgton satellite office, Dennison said.

The project stalled at about the same time Avesta and Community Dental Director Lisa Cavanaugh were holding telephone conversations back and forth in around June, he said. “Avesta wanted Community Dental to make a commitment,” he said, but the nonprofit was unable to do so because of the funding uncertainty, which will likely not be resolved, if at all, unless a new governor is sworn into office in January of 2014.

Dr. Dennison said in a Wednesday telephone interview that he would not say that Avesta was mischaracterizing the relationship; he simply wanted the board to know that no negotiations are taking place. He said Cavanaugh and local residents interested in the dental project are currently brainstorming about ways to make some services available “on a much smaller scale,” but those talks are in the “very, very preliminary stage” and do not involve Avesta. He said he told the board he and Cavanaugh joked about whether he had any more space in his home office on Church Street.

Community Dental had originally eyed office spaces at the Bridgton Hospital’s Physician’s Group building, he said, but those talks as well, for different reasons, did not work out.

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