By Adam Kramer
The Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps has cleared the final hurdle in its effort to rebuild its station house on the corner of Union Turnpike and 257th Street in Floral Park that was gutted by an electrical fire April 12, 1999.
The architectural designs for the new building were unanimously approved by city Buildings Department last week. The only concern the corps had was whether or not it would be allowed to build a second floor that was not wheelchair-accessible. In the end, the Buildings Department approved the plans.
If the corps had been denied the building permit, the construction would have been set back six to eight months, said Ted Rabinowitz, president of the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He said the first floor will be wheelchair-accessible and the second floor will be used for storage and for a training center.
I was ecstatic, Rabinowitz said Ive been in this for 25 years and we always wanted a building with a training center. But Ill be even happier when we break ground.
He said the corps was hoping to break ground before June and at least start on the excavation of the property.
I couldnt believe it was unanimous, said Richard Barry, a spokesman for the Glen Oaks Ambulance Corps about the Buildings Department vote. This decision is really helpful.
The corps serves Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Little Neck, Bellerose, the Queens side of New Hyde Park and North Shore Towers.
Rabinowitz said the electrical fire was discovered by a police officer on patrol who called the Fire Department. Four hours later, the fire was extinguished, but not before it had spread throughout the basement of the building, destroying the interior of the corps headquarters and all its equipment.
The ambulance corps is now housed in an office at the Glen Oaks Village Apartments between 255th Street and 260th Street and between 73rd Avenue and 74th Avenue. Bright yellow signs have been posted to direct residents to the headquarters.
We were back in service eight hours after the fire, as soon as the phones went back on, Brenda Morrissey, community affairs co-chairman said last year. The night after the fire we did a whole bunch of calls.
The corps has raised more than $100,000, received a $120,000 grant from state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and gotten $110,000 from the insurance company for the fire, which has put the corps more than halfway toward its fund-raising goal for the new building, he said.
Padavan originally provided a grant of $100,000, but Rabinowitz said, Sen. Padavan came through again and gave us another $20,000.
Rabinowitz said the community has been generous, but the corps needs more support. People do not understand the importance of the volunteer ambulance corps until something goes wrong and they call the corps for help, he said. The corps has raised about 60 percent of the necessary funds and needs help raising the rest.
Rabinowitz said the corps is trying to get federal funding and looking into the possibility of getting a mortgage for the rest of the cost.
We would like to get federal money, he said. This is a charity deal. Nobody gets paid.
For those interested in helping the 27-year-old volunteer ambulance corps, which has responded to more than 21,000 calls, donations can be sent to The Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps at PO Box 340, Glen Oaks, N.Y. 11004.
Those who want to join the 80-volunteer force can stop by the station during operating hours from 6 p.m. to midnight during the week and 24 hours a day on the weekends.
For more information call 347-1637 or in case of an emergency call 347-1600.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2001 Community News Group
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