8 June, 1986
Firemen agree to township station
By Majorie Snyder
A new Princeton firehouse would be built in Princeton Township for $500,000 to $750,000 under recommendations made recently by the Princeton Fire Department.
The department’s Board of Engineers has agreed that a firehouse should be built at the intersection of Valley Road and Route 206, according to Fire Commissioner Mark Freda. It would replace Engine No. 3 firehouse on Chambers Street in Princeton Borough, he said.
Final approval of the relocation rests with township and borough leaders — some of whom say they are unsure how the project will be financed.
Fire department representatives are expected to present the proposal at a joint meeting of the Borough Council and the Township Committee at 8 p.m. Monday in Borough Hall.
The engineers board’s decision stems from recommendations made in the Shand Report, which was released in February 1985. Fire protection engineer Thomas W. Shand of Syracuse stated in the 163-page report that the Engine Co. No. 3 — located on Chambers Street near Nassau Street — should be relocated.
All of Princeton’s fire companies are located in the borough: Engine Co. No. 3, Engine Co. No. 1 on Chesnut Street, and Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1 on North Harrison Street. The Board of Engineers is represented by the three companies.
The narrowness of Chambers Street — plus its location in the center of the congested downtown area — spurred Mr. Shand to recommend the move.
Borough and township officials agree that the fire station should be relocated, but a few expressed uncertainty about how that move will be accomplished.
“It will facilitate firemen being able to get apparatus and get to the fire,” said Fire Chief Peter Hodge. “Gridlock” in the borough at certain times of the day makes it difficult for firetrucks to get out of the station, he said.
“Presuming (the Route 206 site) is the final choice, it will allow us to serve the township better,” said Mr. Hodge, who cited a large amount of growth recently in the northwest section of the township.
The proposed location — an empty grass lot behind the township garage — offers, in Mr. Freda’s opinion, “much better access — you could go anywhere you want to go.”
The new location in the township would also help lower fire insurance rates because the response time would be closer, according to Mr. Freda, a Borough Council member.
The estimated cost of architectural and engineering fees would be approximately $50,000, Mr. Freda said. Both the township and the borough have budgeted funds for a new station, he said.
“It seems to make sense to me,” said Councilman Richard Woodbridge, a former borough fire commissioner. “It is difficult getting trucks out of Chambers Street.”
However, Mr. Woodbridge said “nobody knows yet” what will happen to the Chambers Street firehouse, which was built in the 1930s. If the building is sold, what kind of revenue would the borough receive, he said.
The building is owned by the borough, but the township contributes approximately two-thirds of the funds distributed to the fire department, he noted.
Borough Mayor Barbara Sigmund said she agrees with “the general principles of the (Shand) report,” but reserved further comment until the borough figures out how much the move will cost.
“I think it’s a very good idea,” said Township Committeeman Thomas Poole. “I’m very much in favor of it.”
Due to occasional traffic on Chambers Street, some firefighters have parked on the sidewalks to respond to fires, according to Mr. Poole.
“There will be some opposition,” concedes the township official, but he said the borough would not lose the money if a firehouse were built in that township, rather than the borough.
A township Facilities Committee exploring where various township offices will be located in the future, and new firehouse would be included in those projections, he said.
An alternate site recommended in the Shand Report — at the intersection of Stuart Road and Hardy Drive — was rejected by the fire department because it would be too far away for many of the 38 volunteer firefighters to travel according to Mr. Freda. In addition, the township owns the Route 206 site so the cost would be lower than building on Stuart Road, he added.
While a new firehouse will not solve. all future needs, Mr. Poole said that for the present, the building “will put the engines in striking distance of certain areas of the township.”