January 25, 2022

Consultant Hired to Study New Deep River Firehouse Option

DEEP RIVER— A consultant’s study of the option of building a new firehouse on the existing site is the next step in a more than five year effort to upgrade the 51-year old main firehouse at the corner of Union and West Elm streets.

First Selectman Richard Smith said the town has hired Noyes-Voght Architects of Chester to study the option of constructing a new firehouse that would use more of the site of the existing firehouse, a step that would include a phased demolition of the existing building that was built in 1961. He said the idea under study is to use an area to the south of the existing 5,084-square-foot firehouse to construct a new and larger facility.

Smith said the initial goal is avoid demolition of a two-story house on an abutting parcel at 57 Union Street that was acquired by the Deep River Volunteer Fire Department in 2007. He noted that objections to removing the house, which is currently rented out by the department, may have been a factor in the most recent narrow referendum defeat for a firehouse renovation and expansion project.

A $2.4 million plan to renovate and expand the existing firehouse was defeated on a 347-312 vote in a July 2010 bonding referendum. A more costly renovation and expansion plan failed by a much larger margin in a November 2007 referendum.

A preliminary report from the firehouse project study committee last January had raised the possibility of constructing a new firehouse on a 14-acre parcel on the north side of Route 80, near the Platwood Park area. The January 2012 report had estimated the cost of constructing a new and larger firehouse at about $2.8 million, an estimate that did not include any land acquisition cost.

Smith said last week he did not favor an alternate site for the new and larger firehouse because of the need to maintain fire equipment at a different location during much of the construction, and questions about what to do with the existing building.

Smith said the consultants would prepare a “site plan” for a new and larger firehouse that would use more of the property, but avoid demolition of the house on the abutting fire department owned parcel. He acknowledged the study could lead to the conclusion a new and larger firehouse could not be built without removing the nearby house. “We need to get to the next step,” Smith said. “We’ve got to find out if it in fact works.”

Smith said the consultant’s report should be completed by January for discussion at a joint meeting of the board of selectmen and board of finance. Smith said there is a consensus among the two boards to try to resolve the fire department’s space and facilities needs in 2013.