If all goes according to plan the Community Ambulance Company will break ground on a new station and headquarters in March, 2013 after 62 years of operating from its building on Swayze Street in Sayville and 26 years after Islip Town designated property on Lakeland Avenue for expected expansion needs.
“We’ve done all the ground work at this point. Once the funding process is complete we’ll move onto the design and permit process which should take about four months,” said Marc MacDonell, company treasurer and project lead.
The build time on the $8 million project, slated for Lakeland Avenue just south of Chester Road, will take between nine to 12 months, said MacDonell who has served as an ambulance member for 36 years and on the organization’s board for two decades.
The new location will boost response time to district residents and eliminate delays in call response north of the LIRR line as there is now a potential for ambulances to have to stop at the train tracks 49 times daily, noted MacDonell.
The ambulance company’s coverage area is 23 square miles, from the Great South Bay on the south, to Nichols Road on the east, to Veteran’s Memorial Highway on the north and Connetquot Park on the west and includes the Bayport, Bohemia, Sayville and West Sayville/Oakdale fire districts.
In 2010 the company handled 4,334 calls and 4,117 calls last year. The frequency of multiple calls has jumped 00 percent in five years.
The district currently has five ambulances, two first response vehicles, one MCI vehicle and trailer and three chief cars which are used by its 105 active members who respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day.
As MacDonell notes in a power point presentation, which was presented at a Islip Town public hearing in May, serving the increasing residential and commercial population north of the railroad tracks has been a continuing challenge for the company.
For example, 60 years ago 95 percent of calls were south of Sunrise Highway and 75 percent were south of the train tracks.
Last year, 44 percent of calls were north of Sunrise Highway and 73 percent were north of the train tracks.
“This location is much more central for providing fast response to everyone in the district with better access to Sunrise Highway and quicker response to MacArthur Airport, which we also serve,” said MacDonell.
Space at the current location has gotten so tight over the past decades that the company stores one ambulance at the airport, and is forced to store some equipment outdoors, which isn’t ideal.
The public hearing on the project in May drew a small crowd of concerned residents living on Chester Road, who expressed concern about potential increases in noise and traffic.
The ambulance company’s project proposal indicates traffic in and out will be off Lakeland and that the policy is not to sound a siren leaving headquarters or at green light intersections.
Islip Town planning officials told Patch that the current traffic issues on Chester will be reviewed given the feedback expressed at the hearing but that the town does not expect the new station to exacerbate current traffic.
In building the project MacDonell said a great deal of the current tree population and foliage will be maintained with a majority of the property undisturbed. The minimum buffer will be 75 feet in the area of the building, which means a solid line of trees will remain between Chester residents’ backyards and the actual building.
As MacDonell pointed out, the ambulance has proven to be a good neighbor to the homeowners on Swayze Street since its inception.
“We will always work with the neighbors on any concerns and are working to make sure that noise is not an issue,” he said, noting that the new building design features just one large training room with no social recreational areas in the building.
The new station will have room for 10 ambulances, a machine shop, required rooms for equipments and supplies and administrative offices.