LYNDON — Northeast Kingdom Human Services has filed permit applications for a clinical facility at 949 McGoff Hill Rd.
In a public statement, NKHS said they are looking to purchase the property “to provide additional space for the Children and Family Services Department while creating an opportunity to expand services to meet the community’s needs.”
According to state filings, the project would create “office space for approximately 12 to 14 people; to include counselors, therapists, nurses, and psychiatrists.”
It will not house a residential program, said NKHS Executive Director Kelsey Stavseth.
“We are looking for a building and space to run therapeutic programming for children and families that better fit the types of services we offer. We believe this building does that,” Stavseth said.
The CYFS clinic would be located two miles from a proposed NEKHS residential facility on Cornerstone Lane, which neighbors have opposed as a public health threat.
NKHS was criticized for starting work on Cornerstone Lane without permit approvals or public knowledge. Some claimed the non-profit intentionally circumvented the spotlight to avoid opposition.
That won’t be the case with the McGoff Hill project.
NKHS has initiated the state Act 250 environmental review process and submitted an application for town permit approval.
Before either of those processes get underway, NKHS will hold a “McGoff Hill Community Meeting” at NVU-Lyndon on Wednesday to provide information, answer questions and hear concerns. It will take place in the Moore Community Room beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Community engagement is part of our organizational philosophy and is something we can always improve upon. We want and need community support, input and feedback. It’s just part of being a good neighbor. Being proactive and involving the community just makes sense as mental health affects everyone in this community and being responsive to the needs of children and families is an important and essential part of what we do,” Stavseth said.
The roll-out has not been perfect.
Key critics of Cornerstone Lane were not directly notified of the McGoff Hill project or community meeting, including Lyndonville Police Chief Jack Harris.
Still, Harris said, he was pleased to see NKHS take a proactive approach.
“At least they learned something from the last experience [at Cornerstone Lane],” Harris said. “I’m glad to see they’re getting the public information out there first.”
According to official communications, NKHS has not purchased the property yet.
Located on the southern border of the NVU-Lyndon campus, 949 McGoff Hill Rd. was formerly a home for wayward girls operated by The Fold Family Ministries.
The 13-bedroom, 10,700-square-foot group residence sits on five acres by the Campus Road intersection.
Coincidentally, The Fold also owned the Cornerstone Lane site where NKHS plans to open an 8-bed residential facility for its Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (IDDS) division.
The District 7 Environmental Commission called for Act 250 review of Cornerstone Lane because of issues raised by Lyndonville Police Chief Jack.
Harris said the residential facility would overburden LPD, a three-person, non-24-hour department.
He said other NKHS facilities in town, while smaller, generated substantial call volume.
As a condition of Act 250, projects cannot “place an unreasonable burden on the ability of the local governments to provide municipal or government services.”