Council unanimously approved first reading of an ordinance that will allow the township to purchase the structure, at 236 Taylor Ave. According to Council President Orlando Mercado, the building is currently owned by the Gloucester Township EMS Alliance and is assessed at $187,000.
Mercado said during the meeting that the township owned the building in the 1950s, and it was previously used by the Glendora Rescue Squad.
Although the EMS Alliance currently owns the building, the township stopped using them for emergency response services in late 2018, after equipment failed to meet requirements. The township then switched to American Medical Response Mid-Atlantic (AMR).
Mercado indicated that the township wants to purchase the building for $30,000 and potentially use it for the betterment of the community.
“It is the intent to repurpose the building for maybe one of our nonprofit organizations here in the municipality,” Mercado explained.
Council did not go into specifics on what potential nonprofit or organization might have operations at the location. Following the ordinance passage at last week’s meeting, a public hearing was scheduled for second reading. Some residents at the session then addressed the role of AMR in the township.
According to Mercado, AMR operates out of the Erial Ambulance building, due to its central location within Gloucester Township. But the township owns the building and pays for its utilities, while AMR reportedly does not pay rent.
“Why is Joe Taxpayer, myself, paying for their water, their electricity, all the upkeep for that building without any rent,” asked one resident during public comment.
Administrator Tom Cardis said the township is fortunate that AMR was able to “fill the missing gap” quickly, at a time when it appeared the township was getting close to not having ambulance services for a period of time after it stopped using EMS Alliance.
AMR operates out of the Erial Ambulance building, however, and Cardis said crews are positioned throughout the township during the day as they await potential calls.
“Their model is to have their crews around town; they sit in parking lots of various pharmacies and other local parking lots,” said Cardis. “Then, when they get a call, they respond to that area. (AMR) does not want them to come back (to the building) and sit around and watch TV.”
Councilman Dan Hutchinson suggested council revisit the deal currently in place between the township and AMR, which Cardis said the township can certainly do.
Resident Robert Engel addressed council during the meeting, advocating for the Glendora Rescue Squad name to be left on the Taylor Avenue building, since the Erial Rescue Squad name is still on the building that AMR currently uses.
“Glendora should get that same degree of honor,” said Engel. “I understand the township wants to use that building for other purposes … I would just ask, if possible, that if the township rehabs it, that some sort of homage remains to Glendora’s membership.”