Bond vote set for proposed ambulance station
By: Amanda Olsen and Julie Prisco
The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department has recently released the traffic study results to address residents’ safety concerns regarding the proposed ambulance station at 70 Cumberland Ave. in the Village of Lake Success.
In May of this year, the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department released a proposal for Company #3 to get its own designated ambulance unit. Company #3 of the fire department is located on Prospect Street in Great Neck, and the firehouse houses the Manhasset-Lakeville ambulance unit and all of its apparatus. The housing partnership was supposed to be temporary over 35 years ago. As the community has grown, so has the fire district’s services and equipment fleet.
The ambulance unit responds to all working fire and rescue incidents and 911 emergency calls. They also provide coverage during many of the community’s special events. The unit responded to 1,230 calls in 2022.
In an interview from June with EMS captain and paramedic Lee Genser, he said, “Right now, the ambulance unit is housed with one of the fire companies in a building that was only designed for the fire company. EMS has a lot of unique needs that they’re not able to put into that building. The building isn’t large enough to accommodate the two memberships.”
Considering the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department is one of the largest in Nassau County, the fire department feels adding a new ambulance unit would be beneficial to the department and make them even more efficient.
The proposal calls for building a two-story, 5,168-square-foot building with four bays. The building would contain sleeping quarters, restrooms, showers and equipment storage, as well as serve as a space for membership recruitment, retention services and training activities.
When the proposal was released, residents near the proposed parcel raised concerns of traffic and safety. In response, the original vote was postponed for a traffic study to be completed. The study was conducted by Cameron Engineering.
According to a press release from the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department, “The traffic impact study confirmed the “zero impact to local traffic” should the unit be relocated to the Cumberland Avenue site, and that the relocation will not create off-site traffic, parking, or safety concerns.”
“Based on community feedback earlier this spring, the district did its due diligence in conducting a full traffic study,” said Fire Commissioner Steven Flynn. “The study demonstrated the lack of impact the new station will have on local traffic. We have contacted Town and Village officials to brief them of the study’s findings and advocate for their assistance in correcting and enforcing the areas identified through the study that are out of our jurisdiction. Based on the study’s findings, we firmly believe that the property on Cumberland Avenue is the ideal location for the new station. Not only is it central to our community but provides enough space for us to build an adequately sized station to meet the current and future needs of our ambulance unit.”
Traffic Study Findings
The study completed by Cameron Engineering assessed a number of traffic safety concerns raised by members of the public. The study includes existing traffic and pedestrian volumes counted in June 2023 during weekday 6:00-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m. peak periods and multiple site visits.
Parking was a concern for residents on Cumberland Avenue. The fire department plans to have a dedicated 20-space parking lot, representing about three times the daily demand. The district has multiple options for parking management plans that can utilize the water treatment building area and the new parking lot driveway to accommodate additional visitors. The traffic study states, “There will be no ambulance unit parking on Cumberland Avenue or other local streets.”
Accident data from the Lake Success Police Department and Nassau County Police Department doesn’t indicate concerns or high accident locations on Cumberland Avenue. The traffic study assures that the proposed ambulance unit will have a sidewalk along the front to accommodate local pedestrians.
According to the fire department’s press release, “The study identified ways to improve safety, signage, and visibility of neighboring roads to the proposed ambulance station – all of which are located in the Town of North Hempstead and out of the jurisdiction of the fire district itself.”
Fire Commissioner Mark Sauvigne said, “We shared these results with the Town of North Hempstead. We are hopeful they will be addressing these issues in the near future.”
The traffic study analysis concluded that “the ambulance unit relocating to this site will not create off-site traffic, parking, or safety concerns. This location is better suited for allowing indoor, side-by-side response vehicle parking, which cannot be accommodated at the existing Fire Company #3 building.”
The Next Steps
In addition to releasing the traffic study results, the fire department announced a resolution to proceed with a community vote on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
“The next step is to continue to educate our residents on the scope of the project, the traffic study’s findings, and the location and times of the vote on October 10, 2023, through social media, news articles and informative mailings to residents,” said Commissioner Sauvigne.
Residents can vote on the issuance of serial bonds not exceeding $10 million to proceed with the construction of the ambulance station. According to the fire department’s press release, “If the bond authorization is approved by voters, the project would be tax neutral.”
“The fire district has historically stayed within the state-mandated two percent tax cap and will continue to do so,” said Fire Commissioner Sauvigne.
The anticipated cost of the project is approximately $11.7 million. The fire department shared, “In addition to using bond proceeds, the project will be financed by reserve funds and a $1 million DASNY grant awarded by New York State.”
“We recognized years ago the need for a separate ambulance station,” said Fire Commissioner Brian Morris. “To help plan for a future project, the district has been saving money in a reserve fund to put toward the construction of a new building. If approved by the community, the cost of the principal bond payments to pay for the project, as well as interest, is in line with what the district has historically transferred to the reserve fund.”
According to the proposal presentation from the Manhasset-Lakeville Water and Fire District, after the bond vote, the process will begin with construction documents, permitting, bidding and negotiations, choosing the contractor and building construction. Overall, the project can take about 2 years. These numbers are based off an earlier bond vote, so they are subject to vary.
“Once the building is completed, as past experience has proven, we believe our ongoing partnership between the Nassau County Police Department, Ambulance Unit, and Lake Success Police Department will provide additional resources for the area,” said Commissioner Sauvigne. “This presence should help deter crime and traffic infractions and increase ambulance response time.”
Commissioner Sauvigne shared that the new building will help recruit and retain new and existing volunteers. “It will create a safer environment inside and outside the building. With more volunteers present at the site, we expect response time to be quicker. Also, the building will be able to be used for community forums and volunteer training,” he said.
“The MLFD commissioners are elected to represent almost 45K residents. We consulted with experts and researched over a dozen locations over numerous years before we decided that this location was the best option for the district. This decision was not taken lightly,” said Commissioner Sauvigne.
If residents in the area have concerns or questions, they can reach out to the fire department by phone (516-466-4416), email (email@example.com) or come to one of the department’s weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.
The community bond vote will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 10 from 12-9 p.m. Voting locations include Company No. 1 Firehouse on Bayview Ave.; Company No. 3 Firehouse, located at 25 Prospect St. in Thomaston; Company No. 4 Firehouse, located at 97 Jayson Ave. in Great Neck; and Company No. 5 Firehouse located at 21 78th Ave. and Stewart Avenue in New Hyde Park. Residents who are registered with the county’s Board of Elections on or before Sept. 18 are eligible to participate in the vote.
The full traffic study report can be viewed on the district website, https://www.mlfd.com