Closed in 2021, the Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle has submitted an application to the state to reopen as a residential care facility. Credit: Ethan Genter / BDN

Though the shuttered Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle submitted an application to reopen with the state this week, its hopes of getting $700,000 from seven area towns may dissolve after missing several municipal deadlines.

The Island Nursing Home delivered its application to the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday, a step forward in its attempt to come back as a residential care facility. To help finance the reopening and revive the crucial community service, the home said it was going to ask Deer Isle, Stonington, Sedgwick, Brooksville, Blue Hill, Isle Au Haut and Brooklin  to each pitch in $100,000.

But the home has missed deadlines to submit town meeting funding requests in Deer Isle, Stonington, Blue Hill and Sedgwick, putting its chances of raising a significant portion of its $3 million reopening fundraising goal in limbo.

“How could you keep missing these benchmarks and deadlines,” said Kathleen Billings, the Stonington town manager. “It makes it awfully hard to have any confidence in leadership.”

Island Nursing Home is aware that it missed deadlines in the communities and is planning to reach and see if there can be any flexibility.

“A lot of [the reopening plan] depends on how fundraising goes,” said Dan Cashman, a spokesperson for the home. “The goal is to make sure this facility is able to reopen as directed by the state, but also to make sure it’s sustainable.”

So far, about $275,000 has been pledged to the home’s effort to start a 32-bed residential care facility. The funding from the towns is seen as a piece in the overall puzzle to opening a home that could maintain itself long term, according to Cashman.

“Every piece is important and vital, but at the same time it’s not $700,000 or nothing,” he said.

Though deadlines have passed, there may be some hope for funding requests to get before voters.

The Blue Hill Select Board has some discretion to put items on the warrant, even if items are late, said Town Manager Nick Nadeau. But, having the ability to add it and wanting to are two different things.

“It’s a huge ask,” Nadeau said. “We have to look at our budget.”

In Deer Isle, the nursing home was supposed to gather 118 signatures for its petition to get on the town meeting warrant. Jim Fisher, the Deer Isle town manager, said the home’s late paperwork only had 116 certified signatures, as well as some formatting issues. The Select Board could use some discretion and vote to include it, but Fisher did not expect the board would want to bend the rules in this instance.

In Stonington, the home collected enough signatures, but didn’t get them to the town on time. With the proper signatures collected, it is possible the funding request could go to a vote at a future referendum or special town meeting, Billings said.

The nursing home hopes to have a decision from DHHS by late February. If a conditional license is granted, the home could hire an administrator and staff to prepare to renew its license. The home has been eyeing a July 1 opening date.

The home has sent pleas for fundraising to mailboxes across the region, reached out directly to potential large donors and businesses and has been working with state legislators to raise reimbursement costs in Maine. And while it’s uncertain if the town funding request will even go before four of the towns, the home could still get some cash from Brooksville, Brooklin and Isle Au Haut.

But nothing is certain in those towns either. In fact, Isle Au Haut Select Board member Peggi Stevens said the tiny island community hasn’t even gotten a formal request for the $100,000. If one does make it to the island, she wasn’t sure the town could afford such an expense.

“I don’t think it’s feasible,” she said.