Vote on Cumberland Avenue facility postponed
The vote on the new ambulance bay on Cumberland Avenue in Lake Success has been postponed until the completion and review of a traffic impact study. This comes after residents around the proposed site expressed their concern at placing the station in their neighborhood, citing the narrow streets and sharp turns.
The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department is one of the largest in Nassau County and is interested in 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.
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.
According to their website, The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department covers ten square miles. Within the district there are two major hospitals, an industrial park, three high schools, seven middle and elementary schools, numerous shopping centers, houses of worship, office buildings and stores, major access highways and the Town Hall. The district also covers over two miles of shorefront.
Company #3 of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department is located on Prospect Street in Great Neck. This firehouse currently houses the Manhasset-Lakeville Ambulance Unit and all of its apparatus. EMS captain and paramedic Lee Genser stated that this is less than ideal. “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 be put into that building. The building isn’t large enough to accommodate the two memberships.” The new building would become the home of the three ambulances, one first responder vehicle and all related equipment, as well as serve as a base for the 40 current members.
One of the things that makes this site appealing is that it is already owned by the Water District, meaning that the Fire Department would not have to purchase the land. With a price tag of almost $12 million, eliminating the need to buy property is a significant savings. “The location itself is already owned by the Fire Water District and so we don’t have to spend additional money on purchasing land,” Said Genser.
Another factor is proximity. The site is central to much of the area the ambulance company serves. “It is pretty well located in the area, meaning we can egress from it to Community Drive, Northern Boulevard, and Lakeville Road, which are like the big thoroughfares to respond to the large area that we cover,” Genser said.
In the past, some of the other facilities in the district have had problems with flooding. Genser pointed out that if the new building goes forward, this may be less of a problem. “It’s located at a relative geographic high point. We’ve had issues with several of our facilities in terms of flooding before and the elevation in that neighborhood is pretty high, so we wouldn’t have to worry about flooding concerns up there.”
There is some concern that enrollment is down, making this facility unnecessary. It is true that overall, many EMS and Fire departments are having recruitment difficulties. Many firehouses do not have big enough crews staffed by people who reside in their service areas to deal with large fires and other emergencies. Volunteers are coming from farther away, increasing response times.
To combat this, the Town of North Hempstead has reduced the residency requirement for property tax breaks for first responders from five to two years, and also recently voted to extend those tax breaks to un-remarried surviving spouses. Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey, who represents the area where the new bay will be located, championed the amendment.
“Our first responders and EMS providers play a vital role in providing life-saving treatment and prompt transportation to the hospital. I believe we need to be proactive in determining ways to help them finance their operations and attract new volunteers. Some initiatives we have adopted in the Town could be replicated by other municipalities to help decrease the tax burden on these brave volunteers and help finance the operations of their EMS services. I’d be happy to discuss these initiatives with any EMS provider in the Town,” Lurvey said in an email.
Some nearby hospitals have also expressed interest in taking over the ambulance service. The issue with this would be a loss of the personal connection between the ambulance personnel and the people being served.
Lurvey is confident a solution can be reached that both takes residents’ concerns into account, while also meeting the needs of the ambulance service. “With respect to the new EMS facility under discussion, by conducting a comprehensive traffic study and publicly addressing resident concerns, I believe the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department will be able to find a pragmatic solution that meets emergency response requirements and ensures the well-being of our community.”
If you have concerns about the proposed ambulance unit, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to share.