By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(June 21, 2018) While news that a first-of-its-kind recovery house would soon open at 10226 Old Ocean City Boulevard in Berlin was good for some, it was less well received by inhabitants of the Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center, which had operated there for close to 10 years.
Jeff Failla, board chairman of the center, said he learned the building was under contract two days before the June 6 public Berlin Board of Zoning Appeals meeting involving the new Hope4Recovery House in that location.
“Our nurse manager had received a call from a friend of hers,” Failla said. Apparently, she was following a local news website and saw a picture of the property with an article about it being the location for the halfway house.
“The following day [June 5], I had a discussion with the owner of the property and he confirmed that, yes, it was on the market and there was a contract with the entity that was looking to put the halfway house in.”
Failla added that he contacted Hope4Recovery Executive Director Patrice Ottey on June 5.
“She expressed apologies, but she was also under a confidentiality agreement and she couldn’t make mention of it. Otherwise, I think she would’ve given us the heads up,” he said. “The house has been on the market for years, but my understanding is there really hadn’t been any takers up until the last couple of weeks.”
Failla said Shirley Grace personnel are in the process of looking for a new location.
“We would like to stay in the Berlin area. We feel that we provide an unmet service to the community and feel that we have an obligation to continue to do that,” he said. “We have up until Oct. 1.”
He said the lease ends in June, but there is a 90-day extension written into the sale.
“It may be possible to get some additional time,” he said. “I’m actually meeting with [Ottey] next week to see if there may be some flexibility, if need arises.”
Ottey, on Tuesday, confirmed the meeting.
“The fact is we are meeting with them to talk about possibilities,” she said, adding that a commercial office space on the site is also part of the sale.
Failla said the board is open to other ideas. To contact the center, call 443-513-4124 or visit the office Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The center also is also in the process of rebranding itself as the Grace Center for Maternal and Women’s Health, Failla confirmed.
“It’s going to be changing, but we have not announced that change yet,” Failla said. “It’s something we’re going to be introducing as a program over the next month or two.
“We’ve been around since 2010 and we’ve expanded beyond a pregnancy center, which really is what led us to eventually utilizing a new name,” he added.