White Haven eyes new fire station
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.