A new Strafford County nursing home could have been built two years ago for $49M

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The grand entrance of a 'Taj Mahal' nursing home commissioners originally put forward; inset, an estimate from an architect in 2022 offering to build a more modest but very nice nursing home for just under $49M.. (Courtesy/Architect rendering)

DOVER - Strafford County Commissioners passed up a chance to build a new nursing home for $49 million in 2022 only to push for a much more lavish facility four times that amount the next year, The Rochester Voice has learned.
Now members of the Strafford County delegation are wondering why they were steered toward a "Taj Mahal" facility estimated to cost between $180-$200 million when a proposal from EGA Architects was on the table for a 215-bed nursing home at a cost of $49 million.
According to documents unearthed by Republican members of the Strafford County delegation, EGA Architects of Newburyport, Mass., responded on April 28, 2022, to a Request for Proposal for a conceptual plan for a new nursing home facility in Dover. They provided an estimate to construct a new 215 bed nursing home for a little less than $49 million.

The request for proposal letter from EGA dated in April of 2022

The revelations angered many of the Strafford Delegation.

"I knew that we were not being told the whole story on the County nursing home project," said Strafford 6 State Rep Cliff Newton, R-Rochester. "We were being spoon fed exactly what the Administration and Commissioners wanted, an overpriced and extravagant $200 million dollar project with a golf course and waterfall that would have their name emblazoned on it, a shrine if you will, to their legacy."
Newton says the delegation was never told about the $49 million EGA proposal.

Delegation members say they only found out about the EGA proposal after arranging a site visit in December to the 10-year-old Carroll County Nursing home in Ossipee.
During the visit many delegation members were impressed by the layout prompting inquiries into who built it and if a similar 215-bed home could be built in Strafford County.
"When I spoke with them, (EGA) they said yes, they could build one, but it would have to be adjusted for inflation, to a cost of around $64 million or about $15 million more because of the delay," said Strafford 1 State Rep Joe Pitre, R-Farmington. "We also wasted $2 million dollars of taxpayer money by going in the wrong direction, all while the Republican members of the delegation consistently and repeatedly informed the commissioners their grand-plan was not an option."
A follow-up was done by delegation members researching available documents which produced the April 2022 EGA Architects proposal for the new home which, again, showed the alternative, affordable project, revelations that have drawn the ire of Newton and Pitre.
"Strafford County Commissioners and administration never informed the delegation of the EGA's lower cost plan; instead, they chose a much more expensive and institutionalized building plan without exploring different options that would have been acceptable to the entire delegation," noted Newton. "As a result of their actions, we have not approved a bond for an extravagant nursing home, We have gone nowhere in two years. We have spent two million dollars of taxpayer money with nothing to show for it, and that is just plain wrong."
Reached by phone on Monday afternoon, Strafford County Commissioners Chairman George Maglaras vehemently denied the accusations.
"That proposal never came before us," he told The Rochester Voice.

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