The arm of a 40-ton excavator swung into the air, just missing the brick facade of the South Street building that has housed the Manorville Ambulance Company for the past 26 years.
On Thursday morning, the building was being torn down for the immediate start of construction on a new building that will better accommodate the company’s needs.
The excavator’s first swing wasn’t a miss. Instead, the massive claw of the machine carefully dug into the earth in front of the building that held a modest flag pole in the ground and freed it. The company members wanted to save the pole and erect it again in front of the new building.
“This building holds a lot of memories for a lot of people,” said Chief Joseph Kukral. “Some of the memorials that have been done over the years, we really wanted to keep that and implement it into the new building.”
The flagpole was saved, along with a marble plaque for the members who had been lost and bricks engraved with each of their names.
A crowd of community members, Brookhaven Town officials and ambulance company volunteers gathered around the building to watch it fall, a few even with tears in their eyes.
Kukral, who has been a member of the company for 17 years, said plans for a new building began about seven years ago. He said the new facility will provide space for better volunteer training and he hopes it will entice more to serve.
“To now finally see it become a reality,” he said. “It’s overwhelming, it’s an awesome feeling, it really is.”
The building, which will cost $4.6 million and is part of the Manorville Ambulance District’s budget, is scheduled to be completed by spring 2012. Contractors are aiming for a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design Gold Certification, the second highest possible designation for energy efficient design by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said the building will include geothermal heating and cooling systems, energy efficient lighting and motion-sensor lighting among its green features.
Town Councilman Dan Panico said the building has been “a long time coming.”
The initial steps for the project were taken by the late councilman Keith Romaine. Panico, who is a Manorville resident, said the company services one of the largest protection areas in New York State and has been operating in “narrow hallways and patchwork conditions.”
“You’ve all done more with less,” he said.
The ambulance company, which has about 35 volunteers, will work from mobile trailers behind the fire department off of Moriches Middle Island Road until the new building is completed, when the company “will have headquarters befitting of what they do,” Panico said.
Photo caption: The arm of a 40-ton excavator demolished the South Street building that has housed the Manorville Ambulance Company for the past 26 years. (July 21, 2011)