PORTLAND – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plans to open a mental health and primary care outpatient clinic on Fore Street. It would be the first primary care clinic for veterans in the Portland area.

Veterans who need outpatient primary care now must go to the VA clinic in Saco.

The agency established its first outpatient clinic in Caribou in 1990, and it now has eight clinics in Maine. The VA believes it’s important to have a clinic in Portland that is accessible by public transportation, said Ryan Lilly, associate director of the Togus Veterans Administration Health Care System.

The agency plans to operate the clinic in a refurbished section of an industrial building at 144 Fore St., the former home of XPress Copy. The building’s owner, Michael Marino, plans to spend more than $3 million to renovate 20,000 square feet of the building.

The clinic will have 20 employees, including a staff to provide primary care to veterans in their homes.

The VA plans to move staff members from its mental health outpatient clinic on Washington Avenue in Portland, which has been a temporary location since the agency’s lease expired at its location on Forest Avenue.

Lilly said the VA expects to open the new Portland clinic in the first quarter of 2011.

To make the project work, the city will have to convey to Marino a 2,775-square-foot section of a gravel lot on Thames Street. Marino has agreed to pay $89,000 for the lot.

The deal also calls for the city to give Marino a license agreement to allow joint use of a travel lane between Marino’s property and the city-owned lot.

City officials say they want to develop the lot in the future, and the agreement would not compromise the city’s ability to do that.

The City Council’s Community Development Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend the agreement. The council has not scheduled a date to vote on the issue.

 

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

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