BERLIN — Looking to hasten construction of a new, 16,000-square-foot facility in Berlin, Coastal Hospice at the Ocean representatives met with the Berlin Mayor and Council last Wednesday to brainstorm funding ideas.
“Anything we’re eligible for we’re trying to explore,” said Coastal Hospice President Alane Capen, adding that her organization was curious about the potential for benefitting from slots revenue.
The Coastal Hospice at the Ocean was first proposed in 2011 and is aimed at opening within three to five years. The facility has an estimated price tag of $5 million, about $1.1 of which has already been raised. However, funding efforts need to be expanded if the building is to be complete at the early end of that timeframe.
“We’re really hoping to do [construction] in three years,” said Capen.
Once open, the facility will support up to 17 residential beds, according to Coastal Hospice Development Director Maureen McNeil.
The facility will also offer a number of services including palliative care, bereavement support, community education, and volunteer efforts. A large community room, which McNeil said should be able to host more than 100 people, will also be open for other organizations’ use.
“Community groups are welcome to come in and use that space as well,” she said.
Mayor Gee Williams was free with his feelings that Berlin would really benefit from having a hospice.
“I do think this kind of facility is going to be a great asset to the community,” he stated.
However, Williams was also upfront with Capen and McNeil about Coastal Hospice getting in line to be funded by money Berlin receives from the nearby Casino at Ocean Downs.
“The line for all the ideas for slots money is long, longer than we could put on this table,” he said.
Among the priority projects already queued to benefit from the slots arrangement are public safety facilities like a new police station.
“We’re not even in the same class in terms of facilities we have for our public safety,” he told Capen.
But Williams said there are other routes the town could go in partnership, such as working on a water and sewer arrangement break, though that’s probably years from discussion right now.
However the town can help, Williams assured hospice will find funding because it provides a critical service.
“Good money is trying to find good projects,” he said.