Township prefers Witherspoon site for new fire house

Princeton Packet

1 May, 1987

Township prefers Witherspoon site for new fire house

By Marjorie Snyder
Staff Writer

Building a new fire station adjacent to the Valley Road Building appeals to Princeton Township leaders, yet the site is still being mulled over by Princeton Borough and school district officials.

The search for a site to build a replacement for the Chambers Street fire house has been narrowed to two alternatives.

One is to renovate the present township public works garage, located on Valley Road and Route 206, and to build a station on the vacant parcel next to the garage. The pareel favored by township officials is the parking lot on Witherspoon Street adjacent to the Valley Road Building, which now houses township and school district administration.

“The school site is the preferred site because we don’t have to rush ahead on the public works garage,” Township Administrator James Pascale said on Thursday.

An architect hired by the township to explore a new firehouse,  as well as other new facilities, also favors the school district property for a new station.

Jeremiah Ford III of Short and Ford Architects in Princeton said Monday his firm prefers the school site because the township garage area is “a very constricted site” with a heavy volume of traffic.

Just how much traffic the firehouse would generate would be studied by traffic consultant Gary Davies of Garmen Associates.

Mr. Davies will begin the study following authorization by the Township Committee. The committee is to discuss the matter at 8 p.m. on May 11  in the Valley Road Building.

Township officials expect to meet With Mr. Davies on Tuesday morning ‘to discuss the kinds of situations the “Consultant should include in his study.

Meanwhile, the Princeton Regional Board of Education recently appointed board member Michael Tomalin as a .liaison to a township panel reviewing ‘,the project.

Board member Allen Grossman said Thursday the board is waiting for Results of the traffic study before any decision is made on which site is preferred.

The Princeton Fire Department is anxious to get the ball rolling. The department has said it would like to begin construction — or at the very least the design phase — of a new firehouse in September.

Both Princeton’s have set aside $50,000 in their respective municipal budgets for preliminary architectural and engineering fees. The fire department is a joint agency of the borough and township.

Tentative figures estimate the cost of building a new fire house would be $1,644.000 and does not include the expense of purchasing or leasing land.

To help defray a the million-plus tab, the borough expects to sell the Chambers Street station. An appraiser will be hired to judge the value of the station, which houses Fire Engine Co. No. 3.

Two other Princeton fire stations are both located in the borough — one on North Harrison Street and the other on Chestnut Street.

Relocation of the firehouse is planned in concert with the township’s […]

At present, Township Police are located at the corner of Valley Road and Route 206.

Preliminary recommendations by the Township Facilities Committee call for township municipal offices to move to a new building adjacent to police headquarters. A 160-car underground parking garage would be built beneath the proposed L-shaped structure.

But a new fire house is “top priority” in the building scheme, Mr. Pascale told the school board Business and Finance Committee on Monday.

The administrator reminded committee members of the 1985 Shand Report, which called for relocation of the Chambers Street station. Fire Protection Engineer Thomas W. Shand of Syracuse deemed the building insufficient due to its location in the center of the congested downtown area and the narrowness of Chambers Street.

While the Chambers Street station is approximately 7,000 square feet, the new station would be nearly twice that size. The extra room would accommodate larger fire trucks, a radio room and bunk rooms.

If the fire house were […] on the township garage lot, firefighters would exit the station on Route 206, near Cherry Hill Road, according to Mr. Ford. An extension of Terhune Road, which cuts across the property between Witherspoon Street and Route 206, would be eliminated to make room for a fire station parking lot, he said.

Beyond the heavy traffic on Route 206, Mr. Ford said he also prefers the school site because it would not require relocation of the township garage — a move which is estimated to cost $2 million.

Yet construction of the fire station next to the Valley Road building would eliminate an existing 40 parking spaces, according to Mr. Ford. He said he would suggest providing parallel parking on Valley Road as a replacement.

Beyond parking issues, several school board members expressed concern that location of a fire house on Witherspoon Street might endanger students walking to Community Park School, situated a few blocks away. Fire trucks might be speeding down the street while children are crossing the road, they said.

Firefighter Jeffrey Golumb said the trucks do not move quickly when first leaving the station and this location would be no more dangerous than elsewhere in town.
“Any site you select in a suburban area has potential conflicts and you have to minimize those conflicts. The Chambers Street location couldn’t be worse,” Mr. Ford said.
School officials promised to let the township know its thoughts about the two fire station sites.
Mr. Tomalin said the district would probably not sell the parcel for a new station, but rather, lease it to the municipality. When the township-re.- locates its offices, the district might consider selling the Valley Road Build. ing to a commercial venture, although reopening the facility as an elementary school remains an option, Mr. Tomalin said.
While a joint Meeting of the Borough Council and Township Committee would not be necessary, site plans for a new fire house will be reviewed by the Princeton Regional Planning Board. Public hearings would be held at that time.

One site being considered for a new fire station is the vacant parcel next to the township public works garage at Valley Road and Route 206. The garage, located opposite the Township Hall, would be renovated.


This proposed site, the parking lot on Witherspoon Street adjacent to the Valley Road building, is the one township officials prefer. The fire station would located opposite the Community Pool parking lot.

Leave a Reply