Witherspoon site preferred for firehouse

Princeton Packet

31 July, 1987

Witherspoon site preferred for firehouse

By Barbara Preston
Staff Writer

The Princeton Regional Planning Board director and the firehouse architects said Thursday night they favor the parking lot on Witherspoon Street adjacent to the Valley Road Building as the site for a new firehouse to replace the Chambers Street station.

The 40-car parking lot is owned by the Princeton Regional School Board and zoned for educational or municipal use.

The Planning Board considered two locations in a concept review at Thursday’s meeting and viewed the plans for a new three-story administrative office and police building with an underground parking area for 160 cars.

However, representatives of Short and Ford Architects of Princeton pointed out that they are more concerned about the firehouse location mid this time and will later consider the relocation of municipal offices.

The planners continued to discuss the firehouse location as The Packet went to press Thursday.

Short and Ford Architects recommended the following two sites for the relocation of firehouse No. 3.

Jeremiah Ford Ill, of Ford and Short Architects, said the Princetons could build behind the existing public works garage on Terhune Street, bordered by Route 206. Terhune Street would be closed off from Route 206 in order to create a large enough building area.

Or, the new firehouse could be located in what is now the visitor parking area for the Valley Road Building. Witherspoon Street would give direct address to the heart of both the township and the borough, he added.

The Terhune site is not desirable because vehicles must come out on a reasonably clear traffic way, which Route 206 is not, Mr. Ford said.

In addition, to put a firehouse on the Terhune site, the township would face the need for a new public works facility, Mr. Ford said, adding that there is nothing wrong with the present facility.

The Witherspoon Street site would require the cooperation of the Board of Education, which has not et reached a decision.

School board member Michael Tomalin said the and has safety concerns about locating a firehouse the street from the Community Park School.

Mr. Tomalin added that the board is also concerned about the availability of parking spaces and making sure there is no lack of equity between the borough and the township.

Parking would be the main concern with Witherspoon Street site because the firehouse would eliminate the 40 existing spaces. There is already a parking problem in the area Road-Witherspoon Street area and the fire company would require additional spaces. A new parking area would be needed to make this a viable alternative, Mr. Ford said.

“The relocation of the Chambers Street firehouse has been a top priority of the committee over the last year because the fire company must vacate the Chambers Street station in the near future,” Planning Director Duggan Kimball said.

The search for a site to build a replacement for the Chambers Street fire house has been narrowed from 33 to the two alternatives.

A new firehouse is needed because the Chambers Street station is located on a narrow street in the center of the congested downtown area. Fire-fighters had difficulty getting trucks out during emergencies, according to a report prepared by fire protection engineer Thomas W. Shand of Syracuse, N.Y.. in February 1985.

The new station location would lower fire insurance rates because response time in the township would be lower.

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.

Princeton fire department officials want to start construction in September.

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