Finding viable location for new Metuchen firehouse is ongoing

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METUCHEN – In time, a new firehouse in Metuchen will be built, one everyone can be proud of and one the borough deserves.

As much as everyone would like the process to move as quickly as possible, Mayor Jonathan Busch said officials have to make sure the process is done deliberately.

“We have to make sure we really select a viable site,” he said.

The Metuchen Volunteer Fire Department firehouse, which was built in 1914, is located at 503 Middlesex Ave. Discussions about relocating the fire department, whose building has been plagued with a leaking roof, crumbling support pillars and plumbing and electrical problems, to the senior center site have been ongoing for years.

The Borough Council approved a resolution awarding and authorizing the execution of a professional service contract with H2M Architects and Engineers, Parsippany, for the architectural design services and feasibility study for the current site of the borough’s firehouse at a meeting on April 29.

The total cost for the proposed services are not to exceed $18,000 and reimbursable expenses not to exceed $250 without further consideration and approval by the council.

Borough Administrator Jay Muldoon said in the fall H2M Architects and Engineers submitted a report after looking at the current Metuchen First Aid Squad [EMS] site on Safety Place.

In September, the council had awarded a contract to H2M Architects and Engineers, not to exceed $24,500, for design services and a feasibility study to determine if the borough’s firehouse, first aid squad and senior center can co-exist in one central place on the EMS site.

“After reviewing [the report] and having discussions with the mayor, council president [Linda Koskoski], fire chief [Robert Donnan] and others, we decided to continue our efforts to find the best and affordable location for our new firehouse,” he said.

Muldoon said after H2M Architects and Engineers looks at the current firehouse site, then they can evaluate both sites.

“There were some issues with the EMS site relative to location,” he said, noting there will never be a perfect site. “I think it is smart we look at the current site to see what extent the new firehouse can be built there.”

Busch said the key is finding the most viable location for the firehouse.

“Like Jay said, there really is no perfect spot for [a firehouse in the borough] and the fire chief has said … we don’t have a retiring apple orchard farmer who is handing over their spot to us as some towns are going to have,” he said.

Busch said officials are weighing everything from a safety aspect for borough residents, and providing a proud home for the borough’s bravest to looking at the financial aspects to make sure they build something that makes sense and in a fiscally responsible way.

“All those factors play into this,” he said.

Muldoon said a report on the current firehouse site should be ready by the summer for review.