Cambrian: Opinion

Health district should explore options for location in Cambria

Shirley Bianchi
Shirley Bianchi The Tribune

On June 14, I attended the Cambria Community Healthcare District’s presentation at a meeting concerning the sale of the current property on Main Street and the purchase of a house near the corner of Patterson Place and Ascot Court, near the Cambria Fire Station.

There is no doubt that the current building on the property is pretty decrepit, since it is some 60 years old, and was built before there was any building code enforcement. The presentation, however, concentrated on all the reasons why the building and lot are no longer adequate for the District, although the crew quarters were completely renovated in 2007, and were renovated somewhat again about 2½ years ago. Trustee Bob Putney described why the building and lot are less than desirable, why other locations won’t work, and ended up discussing the advantages of the Patterson Place/Ascot Court location.

It was sort of surprising that there was absolutely no discussion over any of the positive points of the current location. There was absolutely no discussion of whether the current property could be used in such a manner that it would be more than adequate for the ambulance crew and would also provide a garage for the ambulances. (There is the possibility, remote perhaps, of vandalism or theft with the current situation.) As it exists now, the parking lot takes up between one-quarter and one-third of the property.

I am throwing this next out merely as an example of alternate thinking, and I am sure someone can come up with a better idea. Assume that the current building is gone, and all that is left are the crew quarters. Perhaps an architect could rearrange the location of the building, making it two stories with the crew’s quarters on the second story with all of the amenities they require, and medical offices on the first floor, with parking between the building and the hill behind. The only comment about a two-story building was that it probably wouldn’t be approved, even though there are two-story buildings all over town. And eventually the old crew quarters could be torn down, and there would be space for the ambulance garage.

When it is determined that such a plan would be feasible, would be the time to go after grants and loans from the various agencies (FEMA, FHA, USDA, etc.) that have the funding for such loans and grants. If none of this would appear possible, then, and only then, would it be time to start looking for another location for housing the crew and ambulances.

There will be further discussion on this issue at the June 28 CCHD meeting, to be held at 1 p.m. at the Old Cambria Grammar School. Please attend and let the district know what your thoughts are.

I was assured after the meeting that the decision to sell the property had not already been made.

Shirley Bianchi chairs the Cambria Fire Safe Focus Group.