By Joseph D’Andrea
The Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department’s Board of Fire Commissioners’ vote to authorize a new ambulance unit building at 70 Cumberland Avenue in Lake Success, previously due to take place on June 6, has been delayed to a future date.
The reasoning given for the postponement is the board’s desire to conduct a traffic study in the area in which the proposed building would be built, an issue that was voiced by the public during the district’s last public hearing.
All three commissioners gave approval to conduct the traffic study, to move forward in the building’s process.
“We have no timeframe on the traffic study, but we’re working on it now,” Commissioner Mark Sauvigne told Blank Slate Media.
Unlike the large turnout last Tuesday, no attendees from the public were present Tuesday.
The board noted that they had hoped for more attendees, especially considering their announcement of the meeting to the public and coverage by the press.
If approved, the district would build a two-story, 5,168-square-foot building that has four bays, three for the unit’s ambulances and one for the first response vehicle, among other things.
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.
The fire department is part of the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire and Water District, which owns the proposed land and takes in all of Manhasset except for Plandome, half of Great Neck and some of northern New Hyde Park.
The district serves approximately 45,000 customers within a service area of 10.2 square miles, according to its website.
A handful of residents expressed concerns with a project such as this one progressing without a traffic study conducted during a public meeting last week.
“I feel like this project is getting rammed down our throats,” Great Neck’s Adrienne Vaultz said during the public portion of the meeting. “They are not considering our quality of life or the safety of our children.”
Jay Chagrin, Village of Thomaston trustee, said he was concerned with the increase in taxes and inquired if the village can reconfigure the existing company No. 3 to fit both units.
Sauvigne said the increase in taxes would not pierce the 2% state-mandated tax cap and that reconfiguring existing properties was considered in years past but not feasible.
North Hempstead resident Constantin Arama said there is no sidewalk on the street and children could be in danger when the ambulance leaves the station.
“The street is very tight and very narrow,” Arama said. “There are hidden driveways. Safety and functionality might be a big issue with this project.”
Residents pointed out that east end of Cumberland, the corner it intersects with Allen Drive, has a nearly 90-degree turn with no stop sign.
The district owns the land on Cumberland where the proposed unit would go. Included in the district’s service area is all of Manhasset except for Plandome, half of Great Neck and some of northern New Hyde Park.
Last week’s meeting got increasingly tense when Brian Kenny, a volunteer in the department for 59 years, brought up concerns with both the project and the department itself.
Kenny said he understands the district spent a lot of time and research on the location but should have knocked on doors in the area to gauge resident feedback.
Kenny also sent a letter to residents detailing his opposition to the department prior to the meeting, saying the department needs more volunteers, not a new firehouse.
“It is the excess spending and waste of your taxpayer dollars by the fire district that will offer no further protection to the occupants of the district that I object to,” Kenny said in his letter.
Additional reporting by Brandon Duffy