1 June, 1988
Progress Reported on Talks Concerning New Fire House
A joint meeting of Township Committee, Borough Council Bnd the Board of Education last Tuesday night on where a new firehouse should be located, provided an exchange of information for those officials who had not been pan of the small committee that had been discussing several sites in the Valley Road/Witherspoon Street area.
It was also an opportunity for public comment and was attended by members of the Fire Department, the Recreation Department and neighbors who are uneasy about adding a firehouse to all the other activities in their area. No decision was made by any of the official bodies present, and Township Mayor Kate Litvack said at the outset that it was “very unlikely” a decision would be made before the end of June. She invited anyone who had other thoughts on the matter following the meeting to make them known in the days to come.
However, there has been progress in reaching conclusions on Some elements that were previously undecided. For instance, it was stated at the meeting and in the handout that the new firehouse will be designed to accommodate four pieces of equipment and will have three ” bays. At one point a five-bay firehouse had been contemplated.
And although Mayor Litvack says that them is not complete agreement in all three entities on locating the firehouse adjacent to the farmer Valley Road school building that now houses the township municipal offices, there are indications that this is the site of choice.
The handout lists five reasons why the Valley Road building site is the best from the standpoint of safety, an issue also addressed by Township traffic consultant Gary Davies. Comparing the Terhune Road/public works site to the site next to the Valley Road building, Mr. Davies said that the sight distances were better on Witherspoon Street, allowing cars to see a fire truck coming out and allowing the fire truck driver to see oncoming cars.
Furthermore there was enough room on this site to provide an apron large enough to accomodate the whole fire engine, again providing a full range of visibility. “Frankly, I’d rather be dealing with a fire house with all its bells and whistles rather than an office at this site,” Mr. Davies said. “A very safe operation can be provided at this site, and I recommend it be adopted.” In terms of parking, the Valley Road building site can accommodate both the pre-existing uses as well as a new firehouse. but doing so requires a reconfiguration of the Community Park Pool parking lot. The site plan shows four parking spaces for Township municipal use immediately in front of the building, and a road leading back to the “court” parking behind the school, where seven existing school buses and 55 cars could be parked.
The Community Park Pool lot presently holds 126 cars, but could be expanded to allow 155, according to site studies by Short and Ford, architects. The plan also takes into account 48 spaces along Carnahan Place, a narrow road dividing the school building from the adjacent playing field.
If the school buses could be relocated elsewhere — perhaps to the Township-owned Tiger Garage during the summer — that would free up space for an additional 25 cars. In either case the projected number of spaces — 287 without the buses on site and 262 with them — is more than the 180 spaces needed by the Township and the Board of Education. However, as Mayor Litvack noted, the heaviest parking need is during the summer months when the Community Park Pool and tennis courts are in heavy demand.
That demand could be better met in the next phase of the Township plans, which call for a new police -and municipal court building on the parking lot next to the present Township Police Department with a decked parking structure taking advantage of the change in grade behind it. Those plans were displayed and alluded to but not discussed before TOWN TOPICS went to press.
In public comment, Larry DuPraz, a longtime member of Engine Co. No. 3, stated his preference for keeping the Chambers Street Firehouse and building a two-bay firehouse in the Township, preferably not on Witherspoon Street. Susan Rodnon asked why the Community Park North site had been dismissed, although it seemed; from the architect’s analysis to have the most advantages.
The answer, from several sources, was that Community Park North was a natural parkland area and that the traffic on Route 206 would present enormous difficulties for firemen arriving as well as fire engines trying to get to a fire: Mayor Litvack said that because it had been purchased’ with Greenacres money, another site not presently in i open space would have to be substituted.
There was also discussion of why a new firehouse is needed at all if the Fire Department would soon be going to from all , volunteer to paid or partly paid basis. Borough Councilman Mark Freda, a member of i Hook & Ladder, said he hoped i that day could be put off a while, and that planning had been for both short term and long term needs. He mentioned the next piece of equipment, a cross between a pumper and a ladder truck that is scheduled to be bought in 1991 and which will not fit in any of the present fire houses.
FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT: Paul Weber, left, assistant general manager at J.B. Winberie’s, presents contributions from Winberie’s, Rusty Scup-per, The Annex, and Marita’s, — some of the restaurants involved in the “Taste of Princeton” at the Fire Department Bicentennial, — to Mark Freda, chairman of the Bicentennial Committee. The Winberie Tiger, Jed Freeman, looks on.