Outside fire districts raise Peconic Landing concerns

The community center at the Peconic Landing campus in Greenport. (courtesy)
The community center at the Peconic Landing campus in Greenport. (courtesy)

Peconic Landing officials say they are close to finalizing a new emergency services agreement with the Greenport Fire Department, but neighboring fire districts still have concerns about the lifecare community’s plans for expansion. 

Commissioners in both the East Marion and Southold fire districts have once again written to the Southold Town Planning Board expressing concern about the proposed expansion, which would add 46 senior apartments, 16 private skilled nursing accommodations and a 16-suite “memory care facility” for seniors with cognitive impairment.

The two neighboring fire districts indicated in separate letters sent in the past two weeks that mutual aid calls to assist Greenport on emergency calls at Peconic Landing are a drain on their small departments. Both districts say they’d like to see Peconic Landing provide its own ambulance service, something that’s been proposed in the past, but both CEO Robert Syron and attorney Charles Cuddy have said in recent weeks isn’t “feasible” due to the high cost of maintaining such a service.

Mr. Syron defended his facility, saying staffers have worked for more than a year on negotiating an emergency services agreement that will provide financial incentives for Peconic Landing employees to receive EMT training. Mr. Syron said about 30 employees have expressed an interest in the program. Two EMTs are also on call at night at the facility and one is living there full-time, he said.

In 2013, town police records show, the Greenport Fire Department responded to 168 emergency calls at Peconic Landing. Mr. Syron said projections show the facility will generate about 106 calls in 2014, a reduction achieved mostly through training of staff to handle non-emergency calls. He said the Greenport Fire Department had only made four mutual aid requests from neighboring departments related to Peconic Landing so far this year.

In a letter sent to the Planning Board in June, Mr. Cuddy estimated that the expansion would increase the number of emergency calls from the facility to about 190 per year.

Though the agreement has not yet been signed, Greenport fire officials have indicated in writing to the town that they are in favor of the expansion. District officials did not return phone calls seeking comment this week. Bill Brewer, president of the Southold Town Fire Chiefs Council, which had previously sent a letter in opposing the expansion, said Tuesday that it’s his understanding the Greenport Fire Department and Peconic Landing are working closely together to alleviate any concerns.

Peconic Landing has scheduled a Sept. 23 groundbreaking for its new tennis courts, a portion of the expansion with its own site plan that has also not yet been approved.

Planning Board chairman Donald Wilcenski said at a work session Monday that the board would be amenable to holding a special meeting for approvals to assure the project is not delayed.

Mr. Syron said construction delays could cost Peconic Landing as much as $100,000 per month. He called it unusual for a business to have to negotiate with outside fire districts and suggested that the Southold and East Marion departments work with Greenport to address any concerns.

“We are barely impacting them,” he said. “In fact, we’ve moved [more than 50] people out of their districts to come live at Peconic Landing. This is something we don’t have time for.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story printed in the Sept. 11 edition of The Suffolk Times included several inaccuracies. The Greenport Fire Department will not be hiring EMTs whose salaries will be paid for by Peconic Landing. Instead, existing Peconic Landing employees will receive incentives to train to become EMTs. Thirty Peconic Landing employees have expressed an interest in receiving the training and 10 have already been enrolled in the program. Mr. Syron said delays could cost as much as $100,000 per month, not per week, as was initially reported. We regret the errors.

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