ISLESBORO — A special town meeting to be held Thursday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. will determine whether the town will move forward with a proposed municipal project that would involve building two new structures, while renovating a third.

The meeting, to be held at the Kinnicutt Center, is the culmination of discussions that began in May 2021, according to Select Board member and Islesboro Health and Safety Building Committee Chair Lauren Bruce during an informational meeting on the project held Sept. 15.

The proposed plan calls for a new health center building to be built at the west end of the municipal building’s parking lot. The space currently housing the health center would be renovated to create additional public safety space and a new public safety garage would be built off Meadow Pond Road on the north end on the island.

During the Sept. 15 meeting — the third and final such session before the vote, Islesboro Health Center Director Dorie Henning and Physician’s Assistant Owen Howell spoke about the need for a larger health center as the current one is cramped and has a number of issues. They were assisted by resident Michael Hutcherson, who created several videos to outline the myriad issues the current health center faces.

As Hutcherson played the videos, Henning and Howell commented regarding the issues. One issue is that due to the lack of space, the waiting room has become an office for one of the staff members. The front desk area is also cramped and creates a number of privacy issues for patients entering and leaving the facility.

The facility also has a cramped pharmacy, which includes various other non-pharmacy related items. Howell said the pharmacy should have its own space and the room should not be used for storage. Henning said the room also lacks the proper ventilation necessary for a pharmacy.

The center’s laboratory presents another significant problem. Due to space limitations, the lab room is also used as the employees’ break room, with a refrigerator and other elements needed for food prep just across a small room from various lab equipment including possible blood and urine samples. Henning said the situation is not ideal, but they are trying to make as much of the cramped space as possible.

The trauma room also doubles as a location for the storage of items. Howell said that several of the items stored in the trauma room are “scary” and are not things patients should normally have to see if they are experiencing trauma.

Outside the trauma room is an area where staff occasionally have to bring patients if the other rooms are occupied. The area is uncovered and is also where trash from the building is left. Both Henning and Howell said that the area is visible from nearby residences and does not allow for patient privacy.

Architect Stephen Blatt then went through the proposed new health center building, which is anticipated to be a 5,184-square-foot building, or more than double the current health center space. The new health center will include a waiting area, four offices for staff and several locations for storage. The facility will include a separate pharmacy room as well as a laboratory and three exam rooms, including pediatric and cardiovascular exam rooms.

The current facility only has one bathroom, where the new facility will have three bathrooms. It will also have a separate staff break room as well as a critical care room that will be connected to the facility’s loading dock for emergency patients. The facility also has two additional rooms for outside providers, as well as a living/dining area for their overnight stays.

Blatt also outlined the renovations to be made to the area currently used for the health center to include space for evidence storage for the police department as well as a separate interview room.

The second structure to be built will be a 1,728-square-foot garage to act as the new public safety garage.

Blatt said the total expected cost of the three projects will be $3,500,000. Bruce said funding from the project will come from a 20-year public bond, which will cover half of the project, while the remaining half will be raised from contributions from residents. She said the town will also be actively seeking grants for the property.

Bruce said the half to be paid through the bond will result in an increase of 0.4 mills to taxpayers, meaning that for every $100,000 of assessed value, residents will pay an additional $40 per year.

At least one resident during the Sept. 15 meeting said she was not a proponent of the project. She said she didn’t feel there was enough discussion about the project and that the proposed building is extravagant. She said that while the tax increase may not seem like much, there are people on the island who cannot afford the additional cost at the present time.

Bruce responded by saying the proposed building is a bit bigger than what the town currently needs, but that it was designed with future needs for expansion in mind as well.

Other residents spoke in favor of the project, including one resident who said he was initially against the proposal.