Some Toms River Residents Vote On Land Purchase For New Firehouse
The million dollar question will be asked of Toms River Fire District 1 residents December 15th. That question? Should the Fire District be approved for a one million dollar purchase of land for a new firehouse?
Toms River Fire District 1 includes many residents in downtown Toms River, East Dover, North Dover, and the barrier island.
The proposal would consolidate Fire Companies One and Two into one building on Hadley and Hooper Avenue instead of their current locations that place them a few blocks from one another on Robbins and Hadley.
Residents have only one location to vote at, the Toms River Fire Company 2 firehouse located at 45 West Water St. The polls will be open from 2 to 9 p.m.
Toms River Fire District Administrator Brian Kubiel gives a litany of reasons why the approving the purchase would be a good decision.
"The current station house is in the flood zone." Says Kubiel "More importantly both firehouses are located within a quarter of a mile of each other and have outlived their useful life which can no longer house the current apparatus because of the height of the door."
Currently the two separate building are owned in part by the volunteer firefighters, if the new building was to be constructed the new structure would be owned by the Township.
Kubiel stresses the distinction that at the December 15th vote, residents will be voicing their decision only on whether to allow the one million dollar purchase of the property, it has nothing to do with the construction of any new building.
Kubiel and the Township Committee has received criticism from some residents who feel the decision is being done suddenly and without appropriate consideration. Kubiel says though both fire companies have been in the current locations since the begging of last century, the decision to move is not by any means a new one.
"Toms River fire company number One has been looking to relocate for over twenty years as an individual company. The Board of Fire Commissioners has been looking to join these fire companies in one fire station for about a decade now."
He says the reason the decision is being called to a vote in December is because the deal only made it to the final stages last month, and due to regulations needs to be approved ASAP.
"In November we got a letter of intent signed by property owners with the intent to sell us the property. At that point the only way the board of fire commissioners can expend the money, is to get voter approval to put the money into their budget. That vote must take place the year prior to the budget year that budget is being presented." He states the urgency of the situation adding that if the sale couldn't come to a vote this year, it would have to wait another year before the next budget year, which he notes would cause the deal to be lost.
Though the money allocated for the sale of the land is one million, it will does not cover any cost of building anything on the property. Kubiel says that once the land is purchased then an architect can be brought in to make an assessment of what the cost of building a structure would be.
In reference to the upcoming vote however, he says it won't affect pocketbooks.
"This question will not increase the tax rate, this is only for the permission for them to include it into the 2012 budget."
Kubiel also wants to make it clear that the consolidation of the fire companies is only intended for cost cutting and to provide them with a better space to operate. He assures they will remain a volunteer department.
In addition to the one million dollar land purchase, Thursday's vote will include authorization to appropriate $48,750 for District One's share of an emergency generator for the Fire Academy.