Princeton officials find home for firehouse

1 November, 1988

Princeton officials find home for firehouse

By Barbara Preston
Staff Writer

Fire alarms sounded Monday night the instant that Princeton Township Mayor Cathleen Litvack was about to announce that Princeton officials agreed to locate the new firehouse on the site adjacent to the Valley Road Building.

Fire Chief Richard McKee and firefighter Mark Freda ran out the door with a handful of volunteers to fight a small fire on Snowdon Lane.

Meanwhile, Mayor Litvack and other Princeton officials announced that a Princeton Regional School Board and Township Committee Ad Hoc Committee have settled on a land swap, in order to obtain the property for the new firehouse.

The township would trade a town-ship-owned, 14-acre parcel next to the Johnson Park School, off Rosedale Road, for a half-acre school board-owned parking lot next to the Valley Road Building on Witherspoon Street. The land swap not only gives Princeton a place to put a much needed firehouse, but also gives the school board an extra 14 acres that might be used for school children’s recreation space.

Because of the increasing school population, the need for recreation space has also grown, Princeton Regional School Board member Corinne Kyle said.

“We welcome this expansion of our ability to plan for the increasing sports and recreation needs of our students and community,” she said in a prepared statement.

Princeton Township has been negotiating with the school board since last year for use of this Witherspoon Street parking at as the home of a firehouse, needed to replace the fee-house on Chambers Street in Princeton Borough. For the past few years, the firefighters, as well as a consultant’s study, have said that traffic congestion and illegal parking on Chambers Street enormously hinder firefighting response time.

Mayor Litvack said the decision to locate the firehouse adjacent lo the Valley Road Building was core, pficated by many factors, including finding a site for the school buses and other equipment and parking.

Last year, the school board voiced concern with parking shortages, the safety of school children and the need to retain its property for future use. The issue of school children safety has been addressed by a proposal to have firefighters talk to the school children about fire safety in the schools.

This proposal must still be approved by the Township Committee and the Princeton Regional School Board.

The Township Committee will discuss the proposal at a public-hearing on Nov. 21. The school board will vote on the proposal on Nov. 22.

If both entities agree, Princeton would be able to hire an architect to begin drawing plans for the fire-louse.

Board members were also co owed about what impact a firehouse would have pn Valley Road Building tenants, should the township not re-tew its contract.

Because of this, the township will also consider at its November meeting entering into a 25-year lease with the School Board for the Valley Road Building. The township currently leases the Valley Road Building from the school board on a short-term basis for its municipal offices.

Princeton Borough Barbara Sigmund attended the meeting to support the land swap deal.

The Mercer Engine Company No. 3 plans to vacate its Chambers Street firehouse and move to the Witherspoon Street site adjacent to the Valley Road Building. This would allow the fire company not only to avoid the downtown congestion, but also to accommodate the growth in the northern section of the township.

Proceeds from the sale of the Chambers Street firehouse will finance construction of the approximately $1.8 million three-bay fire house.

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