23 September, 1987 (~estimated)
Township approves firehouse location
By Barbara Preston
Princeton Township Committee approved the site Monday night for a new firehouse to be constructed at the gateway to the Community Park Pool parking lot on Witherspoon Street. In a unanimous vote, the five-member committee chose the Community Park location. Also under consideration previously was the Public Works garage site at the comer of Terhune Road and Route 206.
Conceptual plans, displayed by Princeton-based Short and Ford Architects Monday night, show a 12,000-square-foot firehouse that •would straddle the entranceway to the existing parking lot. ‘The driveway into the parking lot would be moved closer to the Valley Road-Witherspoon Street inter-section.
The Princeton Fire Department plans to vacate the Chambers Street firehouse and move to this new location in order to accommodate the growth in the northern part of the township. Proceeds from the sale of the Chambers Street firehouse will finance construction of the approximate $1.6 million firehouse. Some $75,000 has been put aside in township and borough budgets to pay for preliminary architectural and engineering fees.
The Borough Council is expected to vote today, Tuesday, on the WO, munity Park lot site for the firehouse. The matter would then go to the Princeton Regional Planning Board to vote on the suitability of the site. After these steps, the fire company would retain an architect and award construction contracts.
Borough Fire Commissioner Mark Freda, a borough councilman. said he is happy with the new firehouse plans and anticipates action once necessary approvals are received.
“We can start construction immediately with this site.” Mr. Freda said. “As soon as the architect’s plans are finished, (we) can pus a shovel to the ground.”
A spring construction date is anticipated, he added.
The firehouse would tentatively contain an eight-bunk bedroom, shower room, recreation room, and an exercise room. There is also a special 20-car parking lot just for the firefighter. “There are several very nice things about the new site,” said Jeremiah Ford, III, of Short and Ford. He pointed out, for instance, that this site is township-owned land, which will save time and money. In addition, by changing the present parking lot from a triangle shape to a rectangle, the township will gain 72 parking spaces. The Community Park Pool parking lot would go from 126 spaces to 198 spaces, Mr. Ford said.
In addition to the two sites, a third one had been under consideration for the firehouse, in the Witherspoon Street parking lot adjacent to the Valley Road building, owned by the Princeton Regional Board of Education. The school board turned down the latter site last week.
The seven-member township Facilities Committee was previously considering combining the firefighter-police headquarters to be built on the Community Park/Princeton Township police station properties.
However, under conceptual plans shown by Short and Ford Monday night, a separate police building could be constructed on what is now the police parking lot on the Valley Road-Witherspoon Street corner. The plans show 10 underground parking spaces for police cats and about a 35-car visitors’ parking lot adjacent to the building on the Valley Road side.
The facilities committee is continuing to study the expansion needs of the township police department but local officials considered action on the relocation of the Chambers Street firehouse the top priority.