The Cambrian

Cambria health district seeks options on location

The current Cambria Community Healthcare District building on Main Street in East Village is 60 years old.
The current Cambria Community Healthcare District building on Main Street in East Village is 60 years old.

The North Coast’s ambulance service is housed primarily in a 60-year-old, wood-framed structure at 2535 Main St., a building and property that, according to a committee’s long report, would need repairs, retrofits and renovations to provide proper accommodations for medics and the costly ambulances.

The Cambria Community Healthcare District’s property includes the adjacent medical buildings and parking area, which also need work. The district is funded primarily by property taxes and ambulance fees.

Trustee Bob Putney and board President Kristi Jenkins are on the district’s Property and Facilities Committee.

Expensive options

Putney told the other trustees and about a dozen attendees at a special meeting June 14 that making those changes would be costly, but so would razing the buildings and starting over, or selling the property and buying another structure to be modified, or buying vacant land to be developed.

Those are apparently the options the board is to begin considering in earnest at its regular June meeting, set for 1 p.m. June 28 in the Old Cambria Grammar School conference room, 1350 Main St.

Much more research is needed to determine how much each of the options might cost.

60 Age of current CCHD building.

First, however, trustees want to hear input from community members about the tough decisions ahead.

They must consider a wide range of factors, such as: the best location for quick ambulance response; the complexities and time involved with rezoning property for emergency services; costs and values; funding and grants; input from community members; and pleas from people who don’t want an ambulance “barn” in their neighborhoods.

About 10 of those neighbors were at the June 14 meeting to protest the board’s consideration of a residential property on Ascot Court, near the Cambria Fire Station. However, a local Realtor told The Cambrian at press deadline that a sale is pending on the property.

According to records from 2012 through 2015 compiled by the staff, 78 percent of all of CCHD’s calls are in Cambria, and 26 percent of those were responses to the West Lodge Hill, Top of the World and Marine Terrace areas. So, Putney said, the best location would be one from which the ambulance could respond most quickly, safely and efficiently to Highway 1 and those parts of town.

The committee recommended buying a property in the Burton Drive area, preferably near the Cambria Fire Station.

Longtime problems

The committee has worked on the issue for more than eight months, Putney said during his slide presentation, and the current building’s condition and location have been discussed for decades. The district has spent $87,640 on repairs in the past six years, Administrator Bob Sayers said, adding that much more work remains to be done, to plumbing and electrical systems, paving and more.

Trustee Mike McLaughlin, surprised by the in-depth nature of the 32-page report and conclusions reached, asked who had prepared the presentation, if the committee had used a consultant and why the rest of the board hadn’t been made aware of the extent of the committee’s research and examination of alternate properties.

McLaughlin and trustees Barbara Bronson Gray and Mary Anne Meyer said later they hadn’t seen details about the presentation or the recommendations until they walked into the meeting room June 14.

Sayers told the group that the committee had considered about 30 properties so far.

Jenkins said answers to McLaughlin’s questions and others would be provided at the June 28 meeting.

The committee’s presentation recommended several steps for the board to take at that meeting — such as determining which proposed option to pursue and providing direction to staff to begin the process — any of which would require board approval to proceed.

However, in response to calls for more details and time to consider the options, Jenkins said that there’s no immediate deadline looming for making those decisions.

Meeting time changes

The CCHD board now will be meeting monthly at 1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Old Grammar School, 1350 Main St. The next meeting will be Tuesday, June 28. The board had been meeting monthly on the same day, but at 7 p.m. at Rabobank.

The trustees approved the change during the district’s May 24 meeting, according to board President Kristi Jenkins. Jenkins said trustees had a prolonged discussion about “the potential benefits to district residents for participation at a daytime meeting.” She said the bank’s conference room wasn’t available for the new meeting time.