Residents in the Great Neck area have voiced their concerns over the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire District’s proposal for a new building for the department’s ambulance unit in Lake Success.
In a letter sent to Blank Slate Media by Great Neck’s Youngsoo, Choi spoke out for residents in the area and iisted concerns with the $11.7 million project, including traffic, safety and the location of the building.
“We firmly believe that this development would significantly and adversely impact our quality of life, compromise the safety of our children, exacerbate traffic issues, contribute to congestion in the area, and highlight a lack of early direct communication with the affected residents and a total disregard of residents’ strong voices and concerns that were related to Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department many times,” Choi wrote.
Choi went on to list eight pressing concerns with the proposal, saying no public impact study was done for the proposal, the 14 sites that were previously considered or the reasons they are not feasible were not disclosed, the traffic study was conducted by the same architects of the proposal, the traffic study did not address safety concerns in the surrounding area, residents don’t know where the funding for the project is coming from, the district has refused to listen to resident concerns and the budget for the proposal is “devoid of substance.”
District officials told Blank Slate Media all appropriate municipalities have been informed that there are no significant impacts to the environment as part of the proposal, the 14 previous sites are available online as of Sept. 25, the surrounding areas mentioned in the letter are under the jurisdiction of Nassau County or North Hempstead and not relevant to the proposal, Cameron Engineering conducted the traffic study and H2M Engineers are the architects of the proposal and the district has long stayed within the state-mandated 2% tax cap and not exceeded it due to the project.
Officials said the bond will help pay for the proposal alongside a state grant and reserve funds. The district said the last rate it received for a 20-year bond was 3.75% and that the anticipated cost for the financial advisor to obtain the bond would be $30,000. A state grant of $1 million was secured by state Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) in 2022 and goes toward the approximate $3.5 million that has already been allotted for the project in reserve funds, district officials said.
The district also said during a May public hearing that the anticipated hard costs of the project, which account for the physical materials, labor and equipment that go into the construction of the building, is $9,590,544. Soft costs for the project, which may include consulting fees, interior equipment or furniture, amount to $2,115,500.
For the previous 14 locations that were deemed not feasible, the district said reasons included but were not limited to not having enough space to build, the property being taken off the market or sold, the land being unavailable for use or site issues, among other things.
The district said it acted on the public’s concerns during the May public hearing and postponed the original bond vote on June 6 until the traffic study was completed.
The three fire district commissioners, Brian Morris, Mark Sauvigne and Steven Flynn, said in a joint statement to Blank Slate Media the district has done its due diligence in answering questions with the most updated information thus far.
“We have tried to address everyone’s questions, concerns, and criticisms with respect, and have been open with our community about the process. Unfortunately, there are some community members who are spreading misinformation,” the commissioners said. “For all facts about the project, we encourage residents to visit the district’s website, www.mlfd.com. We will also continue to answer any and all questions now and going forward by phone, email or at one of our weekly Tuesday board meetings at 5 p.m.”
During the public hearing in May, residents pointed out that at the east end of Cumberland, the corner it intersects with Allen Drive has a nearly 90-degree turn with no stop sign. The proposed location is also next to Manor Park on Cumberland, residents said.
The 40-member ambulance unit of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department has been sharing space with the department’s Company No. 3 in Great Neck since 1988 in a building originally meant for one company, the district said in August.
Current issues with sharing a space with Company No. 3 include double stacking vehicles in the department’s bay, inadequate space for vehicles and first responders to move around the apparatus floor during emergencies, limited office space and bunk space for first responders doing an overnight shift, the district said in May and on social media since.
During overnight calls, ambulances would not use their sirens until leaving the area unless there is traffic near the driveway to minimize noise impacts, the traffic study said.
The department is part of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District, which owns the proposed land on Cumberland and takes in all of Manhasset except for Plandome, half of Great Neck and some of North New Hyde Park.
The district serves approximately 45,000 customers within a service area of 10.2 square miles, according to its website.
In 2022, the ambulance unit was dispatched to 1,230 calls, according to the district.
Voting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 10 from noon to 9 p.m. Voting locations include the department’s Company No. 1, 3, 4 and 5.