25 September, 1987
Firehouse site going to planners
With the endorsement of the Princeton Township Committee and Borough Council behind them, fire officials trying to locate a site for a new firehouse need only the Princeton Regional Planning Board’s approval on the proposed Community Park site.
The proposed firehouse, which will straddle the entranceway off Witherspoon Street to the Community Park pool area, was approved at both township and borough levels this week.
A meeting has not yet been scheduled between fire officials and the planning board to discuss the proposal.
The Princeton Fire Department plans to vacate the Chambers Street firehouse and move to this new location in order to serve the growing northern section of Princeton. Monies from the sale of the Chambers Street facility would finance construction of the approximate $1.6 million fire-house.
A 12,000-square-foot firehouse with five bays spilling out onto Witherspoon Street is the most recent plan for what fire officials hope will become a “premiere” firehouse, said Mark Freda, borough fire commissioner.
Facilities for firefighters to stay overnight, including bunks and showers, would be constructed in the new building, Mr. Freda said. A meeting room, recreation room, radio room and chiefs office would be installed in a two-story section to the right of the engine bays. And 72 additional parking spaces would be created by squaring off the triangular Community Park pool parking lot.
“The site we finally picked out is an excellent one for us, because it can be laid out in such a way that we can easily expand on it and add extra bays,” said Fire Chief Ken Rendall.
“We are trying to plan the new house so we won’t have to worry about expansion for another 20 years.”
The fire department will have an easier task in arranging to move the Recreation Budding to build the new firehouse, Chief Rendall said. A site behind the Public Works garage on Terhune Road under previous consideration would have required moving the larger Public Works garage to some undetermined location, he said.
Mr. Freda said the site committee is scheduled to meet with recreation officials at an Oct. 1 meeting to discuss relocating the recreation building, as well as shifting the current pool entrance further toward Valley Road.
Residents along Witherspoon Street interviewed Thursday had only minor concerns with the proposed location of the new firehouse.
In fact, Tony Baldino, who lives almost directly across from the site, said the firehouse would make him feel “even safer.”
“I’ve got the police on one side, the hospital up the road and now the fire department,” he said. “It may be a nuisance, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep, but I feel safer.”
Mr. Baldino added he used to live near the Chestnut Street firehouse, and was rarely disturbed by firehouse activities. “I think it’s a benefit more than a burden.”
Robert Sinkler, who lives across Irony the Community Park School on Witherspoon Street, said the fire-house is “a necessary thing and it needs to be put centrally.”
“I was thinking about this the other night,” he continued. “And I haven’t given it the old one-two about traffic, but I do think the other site near the Public Works garage would have been more feasible.”
He said he did not think firetruck traffic or noise would have much of an affect on the neighborhood.
A third resident, who asked not to be quoted by name, said the additional fire truck traffic would pose the only concern from her point of view.
Chief Rendall said about two-thirds of the department’s average 250 fire calls per year would be answered from the Community Park firehouse site. This would mean about one fire call every two days would be answered from the site, he said.
In addition, the fire department sounds a general, all-respond fire call only about 12 times each year, no the noise disturbance from firehouse sirens would not be significant, Chief Rendall explained.