The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Ed Szafran, chief of operations for the Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance Association, likes to joke his organization buys ambulances as frequently as the average person buys new cars.
But he knows building a state-of-the-art facility to house those vehicles doesn’t happen as often — if ever.
That will be happening soon in Pittston following the city redevelopment authority’s recent purchase of a blighted former motel and diner near the Jenkins Twp. border. The city plans to demolish the property and build a $3.5 million headquarters for the ambulance company.
“This is going to be a once-in-a-career, once-in-a-lifetime project. You don’t get a chance to build a building like this every day,” Szafran said.
The Pittston City Redevelopment Authority recently purchased the former Triangle Motel and Diner from Al’s Motel LLC for $275,000.
The property is located at 41 Plank St., a short stretch at the crossroads of where South Main Street in Pittston links Main Street in Jenkins Twp.
Szafran said the ambulance company, which works closely with the city but is a separate entity, has outgrown its current headquarters at 83 S. Main St. in Pittston due to expansion in its primary coverage area, which now is about 70 square miles.
The Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance is the primary responder for basic and advanced life support calls in Pittston City, Exeter, Jenkins Twp., Laflin, West Pittston, West Wyoming, Wyoming and Yatesville.
The organization is the primary advanced life support responder in Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown and Pittston Twp.
The department has seven transport ambulances and several other utility vehicles. Currently, many of them are parked outside the existing building.
When the new station is built, all the company’s vehicles will fit inside the building that will be outfitted with larger-than-normal garage door bays to fit other Pittston City vehicles and equipment.
“This will be a big upgrade for us to have the ability to have everything under one roof,” Szafran said. “Not only will it be our base of operations. It’s going to double as a public safety building.”
Pittston Mayor Michael Lombardo said the new headquarters is a win-win for the city as it increases public safety and helps revitalize the city.
“We are going to demolish a blighted property that has long been a problem for the city,” Lombardo said. “We will move forward with demolition as fast we can.”
After the headquarters is built, the city will take possession of the current ambulance building for future downtown development.
“We think it can be a great commercial space,” Lombardo said.
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