23 September, 1987
Community Pool Site Endorsed by Township For New Firehouse
A new site plan, which could expedite construction of a new firehouse, has been endorsed by Township Committee. The plan was scheduled to be shown to Borough Council last Tuesday, as TOWN TOPICS went to press, and to be reviewed by the Planning Board in early October.
The plan was unveiled to Township Committee Monday night by architect Jerry Ford, who has been working with the Township Facilities Study Committee to plan larger and improved Township police and court facilities, in addition to a firehouse in the Township to replace the one on Chambers Street.
Under the new proposal, the new firehouse would be located on Township-owned land on the west side of Witherspoon Street, in front of the Community Pool. Mr. Ford proposes straightening the diagonally laid out Community Pool parking lot for a net gain of 72 spaces. The present lot holds 126 cars; Mr. Ford has reconfigured it at 198 spaces, with 20 additional spaces reserved for firemen alongside . the firehouse. That parking space would be grass-over-paving-block, so that it would not be confused with the public parking lot behind the firehouse.
To accommodate the fire. house, the present vehicle entrance to the Community Pool lot would be moved south to opposite the front steps of the Valley Road building. The present Recreation Office would have to he moved, or demolished, and the Recreation Department would lose a small corner of green space to accommodate the straightened parking lot. The plan also shows a new building to house the police department and municipal court that would be built on the parking lot adjacent to the present police department. This building would take advantage of the change in grade level to allow separate access by the public and the police. The top floor would house the courtroom, the violations bureau, and other functions involving the public. The lower level would house police lockers and recreation facilities as well as a below-level garage for police cars.
Four Phases. This new building would not include relocated municipal offices, as was once proposed. Mr. Ford suggests that further study be made of the Valley Road building, which is owned by the Board of Education and rented to the Township for municipal offices. He suggests four phases: the firehouse, for which there is some urgency; the 198-space parking lot behind; the new police building; and if necessary. a two level parking structure where the present police building is located.
The advantages of the plan are several, in Mr. Ford’s view. “You can have a firehouse instantly,” he remarked. As soon as the plan is approved, an architect can be selected. Mark Freda told Committee he would like to see ground broken in the spring, and the fire trucks “backing into their new home” next fall.
Mr. Ford also thinks that architecturally the plan would create “the strong municipal center that Princeton has lack-ed:’ As he has drawn them, the proposed firehouse and the proposed police department are of similar design, with the small tower for air-drying of fire hoses shown on the fire department echoed in a clock tower on the police building.
He thinks the two new buildings can be integrated with the Valley Road building as the third point in a triangular complex. Township Committee voted unanimously to endorse the firehouse part of the plan, which has also been endorsed by a subcommittee of the Planning Board.
—Barbara L. Johnson