Kevin Staubitz and his fellow volunteers at the Manorville Community Ambulance company consider themselves family, and as of Saturday morning, they finally had a home.
That's when volunteers, friends and civic leaders of Manorville celebrated the grand opening of the new, state-of-the-art Manorville Community Ambulance Headquarters.
“Having the facility to house the needs of our volunteers means we’re able to be on call 24/7,” said Staubitz, assistant chief of the ambulance company. “We’re able to come down and have a place to hang out, and having a place to hang out means that we’re always ready for a call.”
Planning for the construction of the $6 million headquarters began in 2005, said Staubitz.
“I know it’s taken some time because we had to dig halfway to China due to some contaminated soils,” said Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico, laughing, “but we got through it and I think it’s a first-class building befitting a first-class community.”
The new building, on South Street, stands in the place of the old building, demolished last year, which housed the Manorville Community Ambulance company for 26 years. In the interim, the company operated from mobile trailers behind the fire department off Moriches Middle Island Road.
Taxpayers in the Manorville Ambulance District will pay for it over a 20-year period.
Lenny Schnall, former chief of Manorville Community Ambulance company, has been with the organization since 1984 and led the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
He said that like Little League coaches and Boy Scout leaders, emergency services volunteers are an integral part of the community.
“We’ve always been a staple of the town and this just made us more connected,” Schnall said. “I’m helping my community. That’s why we’re all here.”
The 15,000-square-foot facility includes geothermal energy, solar paneling and Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design platinum-certified window panels.
The volunteers said they hope the new building will help with recruitment and have already seen a rapid growth in 2013.
“This will not only enable the ambulance company to better serve the public, it will help get more volunteers as well,” said Panico.
The ambulance company serves one of the largest coverage areas in the state of New York and responds to more than 1,200 medical calls per year, Staubitz said. It is made up mostly of volunteers.
“This is the highest form of community service,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward Romaine. “They’re saving lives. I’m very attached to it, and I’m very impressed with all the volunteers.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the volunteers dedicated a brick to Romaine’s son, late Brookhaven Town Councilman Keith Romaine, who died in 2009 at age 36.
Staubitz said he was happy to finally see the volunteers have a better place to allow them to serve the community.
“It’s good to see everybody come together again,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to work at this place.”