Special Election Thurday To Decide On New Toms River Firehouse [AUDIO]
Registered voters living in Toms River Fire District 1 will decide this week whether Toms River Fire District 1 will be authorized to spend a million dollars for the purchase of land for a new firehouse. H0wever, the election was a mystery to many residents until the subject was brought up on WOBM's Topic A on Sunday morning.
Reports say another ballot question in Thursday's special election will ask about setting aside close to $49,000 for an emergency generator at the fire academy. Officials say neither will impact the tax rate.
When the subject of the special election came up on WOBM's Topic A on Sunday, callers and host Bob Levy seemed suprised by the special election. During a phone conversation with Levy, District 1 Fire Commissioner Mark Autenrieth said the election had been publicized via required legal notices in the newspaper and with a direct mail piece to residents.
Autenrieth noted that the fire stations that would be replaced by the new building at Hooper and Hadley Avenues (marked by the "A" on the map below) are aging and cannot accomodate newer firefighting apparatus.
The Commissioner also denied that replacing the volunteer squad with a paid department was under consideration.
Residents looking for information about the special election may be hard pressed to find information. A check by WOBM News of the official Toms River website shows a small link under "Notices" on the website front page which links to a letter from the Fire Commissioners towards the bottom of the website front page. There is no information about where and when to vote.
Kelly in the Fire Commissioner's office says there will be one location to cast a ballot for Thursday's special election: Firehouse 2 at 45 W. Water Street in Toms River. Polls are open from 2 to 9 p.m.
Listen to District 1 Fire Commissioner Mark Autenrieth's conversation with Bob Levy during Topic A about the new firehouse and the special election.
The letter below was sent to residents by the Board of Fire Commissioner District #1 explaining why they need a new firehouse.
The Board of Fire Commissioners of Toms River Township, District #1, have passed a resolution
to hold a special election requesting voter approval for the purchase of land and to purchase an
emergency generator for the Toms River Fire Academy. Thus, on December 15, 2011, an election will
take place in which the public will be asked to vote on the following questions:
Question 1- Shall the Board of Fire Commissioners District # 1 in Toms River Township be authorized to
appropriate $ 1,022,000.00 in budget year 2012 for the purchase of real property and costs associated
with the acquisition of said property?
Question 2 – Shall the Board of Fire Commissioners of Fire District No. 1 in Toms River Township be
authorized to appropriate $ 48,750.00 in the budget year 2012 representing Fire District # l’s share of
the total cost of $75,000.00 for the purchase of an emergency generator for the Toms River Fire
The Board of Fire Commissioners wishes the public to know the rationale behind the decision to
ask the voters for approval of these expenditures.
In regard to question #1, a Fire District may only purchase property with the approval of the
voters. Presently, the Board of Commissioners does not own any of the fire stations located within the
fire district. The District leases space within the fire stations to store its fire trucks from the individual
Volunteer Fire Companies. Two of these companies, Toms River Fire Company NO.1 and Toms River Fire
Company # 2 are located around the corner from each other. Both of these firehouses were built years
ago and can not accommodate newer fire apparatus. Thus, in order to consolidate two nearly adjacent
stations into one which will have the capacity to accommodate modern equipment the Board of
Commissioners has been looking at options over the last few years. Since several opportunities exist at
the present time, the Board of Fire Commissioners decided to seek voter approval at this time.
Additionally, the Fire Commissioners Administration Offices are located on the second floor of
Toms River Fire Company # 2. The District also leases this space. With the purchase of property, it is the
District’s intent to immediately move the administration offices to the building that is currently located
on the property.
Thus, the following benefits formed the basis for the decision of the Board of Commissioners to hold
this special election:
• The consolidation of services to one location.
• The elimination of rent payments.
• The ability to accommodate modern fire apparatus.
• The relocation of the apparatus presently stored at Toms River Fire Company # 2 out of the
Providing efficient and cost-effective fire protection to Toms River well into the future underlies all of
the above reasons.
The Board of Commissioners at this time only seeks the approval for the purchase of property.
The building on the property will be immediately used by the District. If the land is acquired, the Board
of Commissioners will begin the process of the design of a new fire house. The Board of Commissioners
has not retained an architect at this time to design the building. Until the approval by the voters, the
payment for extensive engineering and architectural services would have been fiscally irresponsible.
Additionally, until the purchase of a particular property, the engineering site plan and architectural
design of a building would have been impossible.
Additionally, due to questions asked at its December 7, 2011, meeting, the Board of Fire
Commissioners want to assure the public that the concept of a paid fire department did not enter into
the decision to move forward with the purchase of property at this time.
In regard to Question #2, currently our dispatch center for fire and emergency medical services
is located in the Toms River Township Police Station. The purchase of this generator will provide
emergency power to the fire academy in the event of a power failure of any sort. Furthermore, it will
allow for a back up communication center in the event that our communication center within police
headquarters fails for any reason. Maximum safety for our residents is always a paramount concern.
In closing, the Board of Commissioners would like to take this opportunity to ask for your
support in this election. The public’s support is very important to the future of the volunteer fire
service. The Board of Commissioners always strives to provide the best resources for the volunteer fire
service in order to fully protect our community. If you have any questions, our office staff would be
more than happy to answer any questions that you may have and may be reached at 732-341-4441.
The Board of Fire Commissioner District #1