North Strabane to build new fire station

Katie Anderson
Observer Reporter

North Strabane Township is planning to purchase an 81-acre property in Eighty Four on which to build a new fire sub-station.

The property, currently owned by 84 Lumber, sits in the 1000 block of Route 519 near the intersection with Christy Road. The township plans to purchase it for $1 million, which will come out of a $10 million bond the township floated last year for its new building project.

“We have the financing in place to purchase the property,” township manager Andy Walz said. “We know we need to build a substation out there. This is a proactive approach to getting that done.”

The township had three fire stations: the main one on Route 19, one near The Meadows Casino and one on Thomas Eighty Four Road.

“We have a station out there that’s too small and outdated,” Fire Chief Mark Grimm said about the station on Thomas Eighty Four Road. “It wasn’t a good location for us. There wasn’t a lot of room.”

Grimm said the township recently sold that station because they knew they needed to build a bigger one. He said it only had two bays, which were too small to house some of the department’s larger trucks. He said the department can’t go down to two stations because that would affect its rating with the International Organization for Standardization.

“It’s kind of like the report card for fire service,” Grimm said. “We want to provide the best fire protection that we can.”

He said the plan for the station’s new location is to build bigger, with possibly four bays.

“We have to upgrade because some of our equipment has gotten bigger and just doesn’t fit in the station,” Grimm said. “It was a smart buy for the township because it gives them a lot of opportunities.”

Walz said that since the fire station won’t need all 81 acres, the township could “later on” put in a park or use the space for other future township needs.

“We could get some grant money to do those projects,” he said.

He suggested to supervisors Tuesday the township consider hiring Regola Consulting at $3,000 per month beginning in September to help secure state and federal grants for any possible park, public safety or infrastructure projects.

The township supervisors are expected to vote on purchasing the property during its voting meeting Aug. 28. Also on that agenda, will be the consideration of floating a second bond for the township’s building project, this one for construction.

“With the interest rate market creeping up, I’d like to suggest floating a second bond to move forward with the building project in the amount of $10 million,” Walz said Tuesday, during a nonlegislative meeting.

For the past few years, the township has been planning to expand the Route 19 fire station and the township building on Route 519, which houses the police station and District Judge Jay Weller’s courthouse.

“The staff has just completely outgrown this building,” Walz said of the township building. “Everybody is cramped.”

The preliminary plan is to tear down and rebuild the main fire station, building it big enough to also house the police station.

“It’s a space issue,” Grimm said. “We’ve outgrown this (Route 19) station. And the police are in the same boat. The township is growing so we need bigger facilities.”

The township would then rebuild and update the administration building on Route 519, “to better fit our needs,” Walz said.