30 December, 1987
New Firehouse Location Still Under Discussion
It’s back to square one on where to put the new firehouse for the Township.
Township Committee has asked the facilities study committee to go back to the Board of Education to see if something can be worked out, where by the Board will change its mind about not allowing the parking lot alongside the Valley Road building to be used. According to Committeeman Tom Poole, the committee did not make the offer attractive enough when the matter was presented to the School Board last summer. The Board voted 7-0, with one abstention, against allowing the parking lot to be used, out of concern for safety and the future economic viability of the Valley Road building.
The suggestion to go back to what had been the original first choice st site came at the end of a long Township Committee meeting last Monday, the last regular meeting of the 1987 year. Attorney William Sutphin, representing the owners and tenants of property adjacent to the Valley Road building parking lot, which had been under consideration for condemnation and acquisition, recited for the Board the long list of costs which would be incurred if such an action were taken.
The recitation was enough to make Committeeman Tom Poole suggest going back to the Board of Education. “I think if we offer them something in re-turn — that their buses can be stored on Township property — and show them that they will end up with more parking. without paving the grassy area on Valley Road, we could get an agreement,” Mr. Poole said.
Committeewoman Janet Mitchell suggested going back to putting the firehouse on the Public Works Garage site. However architect Jerry Ford, consultant to the facilities study committee, said he was strongly opposed to this site, because it would be crowded and difficult for big fire engines trying to get onto Witherspoon Street and then trying to make their next turn. He called the site “an unwise choice” and said it would be “a shame” to put a fire Station on One of the nicer green areas in that part of town.
There was enough opposition, too, to the Community Park Pool parking lot site — which had been endorsed by both Committee and Borough Council, and re-endorsed the previous week by Council — that a motion by Mayor Gail W. Fire-stone to re-endorse it was supported only by Committee woman Carol Wojciechowicz.
Committeewoman-elect Kate Litvack, for instance, told Committee that not enough attention had been paid to the long range needs of the Recreation Department to support locating a firehouse on the parking lot before those needs had been studied. Mayor Firestone responded that it was “unlikely” that the pool or other recreation uses would replace black top, when more, not less, parking would be needed for the expanded facilities.
Mr. Poole threw a wild card into the befuddled discussion when he suggested using the area along Route 206 where the platform tennis courts are presently located. “I don’t know why you hire a consultant,” Mr. Ford said in some exasperation. “We looked at that site, and we rejected it for a number of reasons. The difficulty of getting permission from the Department of Transportation is one, and there’d be quite a lot of cutting into the hill there to make a level access, which those big trucks need.”
Mrs. Wojciechowicz abstained on the motion to return to the School Board, which was unanimously passed by her four colleagues.