White Haven eyes new fire sta­tion

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - LOCAL - BY JIM DINO STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: jdino@stan­dard­speaker.com; 570-501-3585

WHITE HAVEN — Money set aside for the White Haven Fire Com­pany No. 1 will be used to help fire­fight­ers build a new sta­tion.

Mon­day night, coun­cil voted 6-0 — with for mer fire chief John Klem, now coun­cil pres­i­dent, ab­stain­ing — to use money col­lected from neigh­bor­ing Penn Lake Park bor­ough for fire pro­tec­tion to pay for a sur­vey of a lot next to the cur­rent fire­house on Buf­falo Street.

The site in­cludes a small lot that was at­tached to a for­mer school that was sold and ren­o­vated into what is now known as the School House Apart­ments. The school be­came part of the Cen­tral Luzerne County Joint School District, which was for med in 1963 with Nuan­gola, Penn Lake Park and White Haven bor­oughs and Den­ni­son, Dor rance, Fairview, Rice, Slocum and Wright town­ships. The district was re­named Crest­wood in 1969.

White Haven so­lic­i­tor Sean Lodg­son said Crest­wood School District still owns the small lot, which is next to a larger lot the bor­ough owns that con­tains the bor­ough garages, a mil­i­tary honor roll and open space. The fire com­pany wants to com­bine the un­de­vel­oped bor­ough par­cel with the school district-owned par­cel to build the new fire sta­tion.

The bor­ough would have to seek a quiet ti­tle to the land from Crest­wood, but Lodg­son doesn’t see a prob­lem with it.

Lodg­son said his as­so­ciate, at­tor­ney Don­ald Kar­powich, spoke with Crest­wood’s so­lic­i­tor and that it doesn’t ap­pear there will be a dis­pute over the deed.

“They will give us a le­gal de­scrip­tion, we will pre­pare a deed, and they will sign it over to us. The worst-case sce­nario is that quiet ti­tle will have large advertising costs,” Lodg­son said.

Coun­cil au­tho­rized the sur­vey, which will cost $2,400, plus $200 for deed prepa­ra­tion and up to $150 in fil­ing costs.

To pay for the sur­vey, coun­cil opted to use funds from an in­ter­est-bear­ing bank ac­count set up for the fire com­pany from money Penn Lake pays the bor­ough, which is $500 a year, or $125 a quar­ter.

Bor­ough Man­ager Linda Szoke said there is $19,979 in the Penn­syl­va­nia Lo­cal Govern­ment In­vest­ment Trust (PLGIT) ac­count that Penn Lake has been pay­ing into.

The land will have to be sub­di­vided, Coun­cil­man Bob Lam­son said. He pon­dered whether the bor­ough would be will­ing to forego the for­mal­i­ties of a for­mal sub­di­vi­sion — be­cause the bor­ough would be get­ting some land in the move.

“There will prob­a­bly be di­men­sional vari­ances be­cause it is a small lot,” Lam­son said. “At the very least, there will have to be a de­sign to show how the build­ing is go­ing to sit on the prop­erty, and how you are go­ing to ad­dress drainage and ac­cess, and to make sure it fits the zon­ing or­di­nance.”

There is an artist’s ren­der­ing of the pro­posed fire­house that White Haven Fire Chief Rau­den­bush showed U.S. Rep. Lou Bar let ta, R -11, Ha­zle­ton, when the con­gress­man did a walk­ing tour of the bor­ough this sum­mer.

Klem said get­ting the prop­erty or­ga­nized is the first step to a new fire sta­tion.

“We’re ready to move on this fire sta­tion,” he said. “It is all await­ing the con­trac­tor, who will pro­vide us with all of that in­for­ma­tion (Lam­son said is needed) once the land is ready. We didn’t want to pro­ceed or give him the down pay­ment be­cause of the prop­erty’s sit­u­a­tion.”

Dur­ing the walk­ing tour, fire­fight­ers told Bar­letta they want to build the new sta­tion right next to the old one, be­cause the old one — which they built them­selves, Rau­den­bush said — has a low clear­ance, and fire­fight­ers are wor­ried they will dam­age fire trucks when they are ex­it­ing the fire­house.

Rau­den­bush told Bar­letta a new fire sta­tion will help at­tract new vol­un­teers.

Rau­den­bush told Bar­letta the fire com­pany has been try­ing to get the new fire sta­tion off the ground un­suc­cess­fully for a decade. He said the new sta­tion will cost be­tween $150,000 and $200,000 and that the fire com­pany has some money, but not enough.

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