May 25, 2022

Study Committee Recommends Two Options for Deep River Firehouse

Deep River Firehouse - options proposed for upgrade

DEEP RIVER— A town study committee has recommended two options for upgrading the fifty-year-old town firehouse, with both calling for construction of a new and larger firehouse.

In a final report submitted to the board of selectmen and board of finance at the end of November, the Firehouse Study Committee advised the volunteer fire department needs a structure of at least 9,000 square feet to house four fire trucks and other vehicles while also providing a meeting/training room of about 1,600 square feet. In the concluding recommendations, the committee proposes the options of constructing a new firehouse at the site of the existing firehouse on the corner of Union and Elm streets, or building a new firehouse on a 14-acre parcel at the intersection of Route 80 and Bahr Road, across from the Plattwood Park recreation area. The second option would require a land purchase.

The board of selectmen established the eight-member committee, comprised of department members and other volunteers, at the end of last year to determine the space needs of the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department, and research options for a firehouse building project. The move came after a proposed $2.4 million bond authorization for a 7,000-square-foot expansion of the existing firehouse failed on a 347-312 referendum vote in July 2010. A larger and more costly renovation and expansion project failed by a wide margin in a November 2007 bonding referendum.

The committee estimates the cost of building a new 12,000-square-foot single-story firehouse at about $1.8 million, a figure that does not include the expense of any possible land purchase. The existing firehouse, built in 1961, is 5,084 square feet. The department also maintains a satellite fire station in a 2,484-foot structure located on Route 80 in the rural winthrop section.

In outlining the option of building a new firehouse at the site of the existing firehouse, the committee noted that construction would have to be phased “to take place without impacting operations of the existing firehouse.” The new firehouse would be built first, followed by demolition of the existing firehouse.

The new building on site option would also require demolition of a two-story house on an abutting parcel at 57 Union St., and use of the quarter-acre parcel as part of the building project. The fire department acquired the 57 Union St. property in August 2007 for $275,000 to provide space for the firehouse renovation and expansion.

The second option forwarded to town officials calls for construction of a new firehouse on the 14-acre parcel at the corner of Route 80 and Bahr Road. Under this option, the existing firehouse would become a satellite station, and the Winthrop site of the existing satellite station would be sold. The property at Route 80 and Bahr Road is owned by the estate of Warren Diffendal. It is appraised at $184,600.

First Selectman Richard Smith said he was hoping the study committee would make a single specific recommendation for a firehouse building project. He said the board of selectmen and board of finance would discuss the committee report, and the two building options, at a future meeting. The selectmen would appoint a firehouse building committee if the board decides to pursue a firehouse building project in 2012.