The Cambrian

Ambulances at Cambria Fire Station? Not so fast

Land adjacent to the Cambria Fire Station was considered as a possible future home for an ambulance station.
Land adjacent to the Cambria Fire Station was considered as a possible future home for an ambulance station.

Residents of the neighborhood around the Cambria Fire Station won’t be seeing ambulances dispatched onto Burton Avenue there anytime soon.

A decision to pursue a grant designed to help Cambria’s health care district relocate to the fire station site was shelved Wednesday, May 17. Instead, the district will pursue a different grant, which would provide funds to help with repairs to the existing ambulance facility on Main Street.

That facility was damaged in heavy rains that caused a wooden debris wall to fail, forcing ambulance crews to relocate to private property until it could be fixed. The water caused damage to other portions of the Main Street property, as well.

The Cambria Community Healthcare District had voted 3-2 at its April meeting to pursue the relocation grant, but reversed course and decided against seeking that grant on a 4-1 vote May 17. Vice President Mary Anne Meyer dissented.

(The grant options, presented to the board by district Administrator Bob Sayers, are through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Office of Emergency Services.)

Trustee Shirley Bianchi said in an email interview after the meeting that the reason for the change of direction “was simply because the FEMA/CAL-OES grant could only cover storm related damage. The move to the fire station does not qualify.”

I don’t think we necessarily went out of step. Maybe we just talked about the alternative too prematurely.

Bob Putney, Cambria Community Healthcare District board president

She said the board district received that word May 16 during a meeting with federal and state representatives, Sayer, board President Bob Putney and trustee Jerry Wood.

Trustee Barbara Bronson Gray said the grant money is needed to supplement district funds in repairing the Main Street ambulance station and the Community Health Centers office on the property.

“Although we spent about $50,000 in the fiscal year 2016-2017 on facility repair, and have significant work to do on the building we lease to CHC, the new draft budget has only $15,000 for repairs on both facilities,” she said.

Putney said during the meeting that FEMA required the district to target repairs for storm damage rather than relocation.

“Their total focus is on fixing the property we own,” he said. “They want to focus on that.”

He added, however, that the motivation for the initial vote was sound. FEMA could still ultimately decide that it is cost-prohibitive to repair the Main Street property, so it made sense for the district to explore that option.

“I don’t think we necessarily went out of step,” he said. “Maybe we just talked about the alternative too prematurely.”

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