Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Firehouse Tour Wins Kelly’s ‘Yes’ In March 30 Vote 3.29.2006

By Al Campbell

COURT HOUSE — A tour of the cramped, 1925 firehouse on South Boyd Street, sporting bagned walls and dented trucks, convinced Sam Kelly to vote “yes” in tomorrow’s special Fire District No. 1 election.
 That election, from 2-9 p.m. at the firehouse, open to voters in the Middle Township district, will decide the fate of a $1.8-million bond to pur-chase the Avalon Carpet retail center, located about a tenth of a mile west, between Mechanic Street and Hand Avenue, and relocate the firehouse.
 The plan, reported here Feb. 1, would give firefighters easier access north, on Magnolia Drive, and south, on Hand Avenue than is possible from the present facility.
 Kelly, president of Middle Township Taxpayers Association, asked Middle Township Committee March 20 to intervene with fire commissioners regarding the election.
 At that meeting, Kelly said he knew little about the project or election, and because of that lack of information, would urge members to vote against the bond.
 Committee and the fire district are separate political entities, and committee did not want to cross lines.
Committeewoman Susan DeLanzo, director of public safety, agreed to assist. She made a call to arrange a meeting with Fire Chief Calvin Back, who remains neutral on the vote, and two, of five, fire commissioners.
All five could not meet without prior public notice, in compliance with the state Open Public Meetings Act.
 “I spent a couple of hours (March 21) with Calvin,” said Kelly.
He saw the close quarters where fire trucks park, as well as some equipment, like a Cascade air refilling system that, by Homeland Security regula-tions, should be contained within a “secure,” location.
 It is in a rear storage area surrounded by rolled up hoses and other supplies. That will change in a new firehouse.
 “I’m more than convinced,” Kelly said, of the need for the new, six-bay firehouse.
 “The public didn’t get an opportunity to debate, but it has been debated by professionals,” he said.
 “They showed me the history and drawings made by a local architectural firm that is donating its time to the process,” said Kelly.
 “The people in control of this issue are looking out for our best interests,” he added.
 “There is no way in the world I would be responsible for stopping that project,” Kelly said.
 “It’s the best move that could be made,” he said.
 Convinced of the need, Kelly said he is asking the association members to “Vote their conscience, but vote.”
 Kelly said the association has members “on both sides of the argument,” which prompted his involvement.
 After meeting with Back, Assistant Chief Paul Hand, Fire Commission Secretary David Blood, and Commissioner Charles Williams, Kelly was “impressed by the passion all these folks have for this project. I was impressed also by the professionalism of this volunteer group.”
 “We all agreed that better communication is needed. Though the matter has been well covered by local media, many folks were not aware of the issue including myself,” said Kelly.
 In the future, the association will be included in the distribution of any press releases from the fire district.
 “This is being done for the future of the town, to make life better for our children and grandchildren,” said Blood.
 He said some questioned why the new location could not have been on Goshen Road, in the Davies Sports Complex area.
 “Chief Back and Assistant Chief Hand responded with the issue of response time,” said Blood.
 Both present and future locations are situated within the heart of the county seat, shortening time for volunteers to answer a fire call.
 South Boyd Street, where the firehouse is located, is a narrow street. Daytime parking puts on both sides, which slows emergency response.
That is something that would not be such a concern in the proposed location.
 Plans call for the present Avalon Carpet facility to be taken down to erect a new firehouse, which would face the railroad tracks. It would provide 43 parking spaces.
Contact Campbell at (609) 886-8600 Ext 28 or:

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