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November 9, 2017

Cape Neddick nonprofit pursues $3.5M expansion

Courtesy / Center for Wildlife
Courtesy / Center for Wildlife
An architect's rendering shows the planned 16,000-square-foot facility for the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, which is expected to break ground in spring 2018.

About the Center for Wildlife

The Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick, which was started in 1986 by a York veterinarian, provides environmental education outreach programs bringing live animal ambassadors to schools, libraries, state parks, senior centers, professional conferences and more. It offers internship and apprenticeship programs, and has an active volunteer base. And it collaborates with regional universities and the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to prepare for and address natural disasters and zoonotic diseases. The center's Wildlife Assistance Hotline fields over 12,000 calls each year.

Operating in 2016 on a budget of $388,000, most of the money comes from donations, with about $50,000 per year from grants and 10% from nominal fees charged for education programs.

A planned 16,000-square-foot facility for the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick is in the design stage, with groundbreaking targeted for spring 2018 and completion by spring/summer 2019.

The center has raised $1 million of the $3.5 million needed to pay for the planned facility, which will house treatment areas, a visitor center with improved educational areas and revenue-generating space.

It will be far larger than the center's current facility.

"While it has functioned as such for the past 20 years, the current house was never designed to be a medical clinic," said Emma Balina, the center's development director.

The center's staff and volunteers provide medical care, sanctuary and humane treatment for nearly 2,000 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife per year, until they can be released back into the wild.

Eric Cimon, director of marketing for the project's contractor, Jewett Construction Co. of Raymond, N.H., described the current facility as inadequate in every way.

"It's inefficient, it's expensive to maintain and it's preventing them from being able to meet the demands for wildlife care and for education," he said.

Capital campaign in the works

Courtesy / Center for Wildlife
Courtesy / Center for Wildlife
A rendering showing what the interior of the new 16,000-square-foot facility for the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick will look like when it's completed.

Through a capital campaign, the center aims to raise another $2.5 million.

"It's definitely no easy undertaking, but we've been really grateful and optimistic based on the response of people to date," said Balina. "We are going to work with local subcontractors and trades to minimize the financial burden on CFW through donations of time and material. And that's something we're actively seeking. We're relying on in-kind support."

Balina said that Jewett, as well as McHenry Architecture and Ambit Engineering, both based in Portsmouth, N.H., are offering discounts on their fees and connecting with their own networks to find in-kind goods and services. Dan Ray, Jewett's manager of integrated design, said the budget will be helped by the use of reclaimed materials and native wood.

"We are going to work with local subcontractors and trades to minimize the financial burden on CFW through donations of time and materials," Cimon wrote by email. "This promises to be a really special project and I am committed to making sure that the capital campaign gathers momentum and that more and more people are aware of the amazing work that this organization does. We really need Maine businesses and partners to come together on this project."

Jewett has built a number of projects in Maine, like a Darling auto dealership in Augusta, a boat storage facility in Augusta, and a Subaru dealership in Ellsworth.

"Many of our employees live in Maine, and we have a Maine-based based sales person," said Cimon, who added, "The border between Maine and New Hampshire is a funny thing. And for this project especially, there are no borders, because it's a regional center."

Room to grow

In addition to seven professional staffers, the center also has 80 volunteers, 30 college interns and four apprentices/fellows.

"Physical space is our only limitation to growth," Balina said. "Demand for our services has increased significantly, especially in the last five years. We just can't meet the demand anymore. So everything is hinging on this new facility. We turn away $25,000 to $30,000 per year because we don't have indoor educational space, so we can't do classes in the winter."

The center is located on 13 acres leased from the York Water District. In 2016, the center purchased 8.5 of those acres, after holding a fundraising campaign. The current facility, which will be demolished, has a single exam room. The new building will have a triage room, an exam room, an X-ray room (the center had to turn down a $38,000 X-ray machine a couple of years ago because they didn't have the space), a necropsy room, an infant nursery for baby animals, a juvenile nursery, and a wet room. The expanded medical clinics are expected to more effectively treat animals and also to provide training opportunities. It will also have a nature discovery center, an auditorium that can seat 120 people for indoor programs, classroom space, a conference room.

"It will really just open up a lot of doors for us," said Balina.

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