Since the Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corps closed the doors to its old, cramped headquarters on Kings Highway in Congers, a common question around town has been: How is the ambulance corps doing?
Today, comes a very public answer: They’re doing just fine.
This morning, members of the ambulance and Clarkstown town officials have a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a new headquarters on the site of the old one. The project, costing just under $3 million, is a joint effort between the ambulance corps and the town.
By arranging financing and management for the project through the town, town officials estimate the price of the project has been cut by about $1.6 million.
“The Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corps is proud to be in a productive partnership with the Town of Clarkstown, which is allowing what for years was just a concept to become a reality,” said Gregg Smith, president of the ambulance corps. “We look forward to having a building that allows us to provide modernized services to our community.”
The shuttered two-story ambulance corps building at 122 Kings Highway is set to be demolished, with the 6,500-square-foot structure replaced by a new 9,350-square-foot building on the same site.
“Our goal in town government is to continuously explore savings opportunities in municipal projects to ensure cost efficiencies for our residents,” said Clarkstown town Supervisor Alex Gromack, a Congers resident. “This is a prime example of how working with other municipal partners, we can lower the cost of government in Clarkstown.”
The ambulance corps is operating out of temporary space on Route 9W in Congers until the new building is completed, which is expected to be in December. The new structure will have four vehicle bays, office space, a secure computer operations area and secure file storage area, as well as a board room, a ready room, a multipurpose room for training, a bunk room, a decontamination room and general storage space.
The building is to be equipped with a back-up power system and is designed to be in use 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
“We are thankful that the Town of Clarkstown was willing to participate in this project to ensure its completion,” said Bill Hughes, treasurer for the ambulance corps. “We want to provide our community with the most current EMS services available today and know this modernized facility is a way of helping us to do just that.”
Ambulance corps members said the larger facility will help the organization expand its youth corps and expand opportunities for members of the Congers Homemakers, a group of women in the community who have long supported the ambulance corps.
Construction is slated to begin next week. With that work, members of the ambulance corps hope their neighbors will get a better sense that the organization is alive and well — and maybe consider joining.
Arthur Panov, who is the ambulance corps’ captain, said the group has about 35 active volunteers who are available to answer emergency calls.
“This level of membership is the lowest it has been in years,” Panov said. “We answer on average 100 calls per month and would welcome more members of our community to join us in providing such a vital and gratifying service to our residents.”
Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corps Chairman Andrew Gioseffi said anyone interesting in joining, or learning more about the group, can call him at 845-268-0357.
“I can honestly say that life takes on a more special meaning after you’ve been given the opportunity to give someone a second chance to live,” Gioseffi said.
Town Board Support
The Congers-Valley Cottage Volunteer Ambulance Corps project has had the support of all five Clarkstown Town Board members.
“Our ambulance corps members are an integral part of our community,” said Councilwoman Shirley Lasker, D-Upper Nyack. “The Town Board is glad to be participating in a project that will benefit our volunteers and our community.”
In December 2010, the Town Board approved a $4 million bond issue for the project as part of an agreement with the ambulance corps, which has been working for more than six years on replacing its old headquarters.
“Residents have often asked when construction would begin on this building, because they understand the need to upgrade the existing facility,” said Councilman Frank Borelli, R-New City. “This new building will allow for a new facility and hopefully attract new members to the corps.”
Also in December 2010, Clarkstown awarded a $2.9 million construction contract for the project to Nikko Construction of 173 Rt. 303, Congers, operated by Maria D. Straniere and Richard Straniere.
“As part of the building upgrade, we also want to raise awareness for the need for individuals to volunteer for at all of our ambulance corps throughout Clarkstown,” said Councilman George Hoehmann, R-Nanuet. “The volunteers provide an invaluable service to our residents.”
Congers-Valley Cottage Ambulance Corps was formed in May 1965 and began service on Nov. 1, 1966, according to the corps' official history. Although its basic territory is Congers and Valley Cottage, the volunteers also respond to emergencies in neighboring communities when other units are busy or otherwise unavailable. The volunteers also work in conjunction with members of Rockland Paramedics, who provide full-time advanced lifesaving services to residents of all five towns under contracts with the towns.
“This new facility is not only an example of a beneficial public partnership, but also illustrative of the work the ambulance corps volunteers do on a daily basis in helping to save lives,” said Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner, D-New City. “We are glad the town was able to participate in this project.”
The Town Board in December also awarded several other contracts related to construction of the new building. H2M Group was been hired to provide professional engineering services and construction management services for the project. Additionally, DCAK-MSA Architecture was been hired to provide professional architect and engineering services.