South Country Ambulance volunteers will be a getting a sparkling new headquarters that will cost up to $13 million to build.
But exactly where that will be, and what it will look like, is uncertain.
The Brookhaven Town Board on Thursday unanimously approved a measure to get a new facility built for South Country — and to issue up to $13 million in bonds to do.
The bonds would be paid back by South Country Ambulance District taxpayers over 20 years.
The current proposal, which is preliminary and has drawn much controversy in Town Hall over the past 18 months, is for a 29,000-square-foot, two-story facility on the western side of Station Road in Bellport.
It would be built on three acres of wooded property south of Montauk Highway, with the current building at Montauk HIghway and North Dunton Avenue being vacated.
Ambulance officials have said the current building is outdated and inadequate for its membership.
Thursday’s vote came a day after a 100-page report addressing resident concerns over the proposal (see below) indicated nothing that was brought up should impede the $13 million proposal from moving forward.
Gregory Miglino Jr., the chief of the company’s volunteers and a paid district manager, said paying back the full $13 million, plus interest, would cost the average taxpayer in the district about $96 a year.
But even securing the land for the project is no sure thing.
“These three acres are very early in the process,” said Marie Michele, an attorney for the town, noting some of the parcel owners believe the town under-appraised their land. “Unless the town decides to proceed to move forward with eminent domain, right now it’s a projected location that’s subject to change.
“What’s before the Town Board is whether or not you want to move forward with this project and to fund it,” she explained to the board before the vote. “All the details will be figured out at a later time.”
After the measure passed — and after speakers both for and against the plans made public statements — the large meeting room erupted in applause, as over a dozen South Country Ambulance volunteers, clad in their green uniforms, had showed up in support of a new facility.
That crowd included Miglino.
Before the vote, Miglino pointed to the 100-page report and the experts who prepared it.
“They universally have repudiated the statements made against this project,’ he said. “What all the reports do support, are the facts our department presented to this board almost 18 months ago.”
One of those people who have raised questions about the scope of the project, Anne Hayes of Bellport, said she was heartened to know the details of the plan will be further scrutinized in Town Hall.
“I’m glad that the Town Board will be reviewing the proposed new facility to determine what is appropriate in terms of size and need and use, as well as location,” Hayes said.
Photo: Gregory Miglino Jr. flips through a report outlining the spacing, health and safety concerns at the South Country Ambulance Company’s current station in East Patchogue.