Freehold Borough officials plan to relocate firehouse

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FREEHOLD – Officials are planning to appropriate $3.5 million to fund the relocation of Freehold Borough’s firehouse and to assist in the development of a modern bus station.

During a meeting on Feb. 7, members of the Borough Council introduced a bond ordinance that will, if adopted, appropriate $3.5 million for the project ($3.32 million in bonds or notes and a $175,000 down payment).

A public hearing on the bond ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 22. The governing body may adopt the bond ordinance that evening.

As noted in the bond ordinance, the project that is now on the municipality’s drawing board is intended to relocate the Freehold Fire Department firehouse from a designated redevelopment area on West Main Street and to develop a modern bus station.

The $3.5 million appropriation will be used toward the acquisition of properties at Broad and Throckmorton streets, according to the bond ordinance.

The firehouse is at 51 W. Main St. The borough’s bus station – which is a former railroad station – is at the corner of West Main and Throckmorton streets, adjacent to the firehouse.

The relocation of the firehouse and the development of a modern bus station dates back to 2017 when the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) presented a draft concept for a transit village around the bus station.

At the time, the firehouse shared the building at 51 W. Main St. with Borough Hall. A partnership of business owners and property owners in Freehold Borough, known as KFM Partnership, later recommended moving municipal operations to a new location.

The individuals involved with KFM Partnership believed moving municipal operations out of 51 W. Main St. would open up property around the bus station and provide an opportunity to generate revenue for Freehold Borough by creating additional space for a developer who might bid on the NJTPA’s plans proposed for the bus station.

In late 2021, Borough Hall moved from 51 W. Main St. to 30 Mechanic St. The planned relocation of the firehouse will continue municipal officials’ plan to develop a modern bus station.

Borough Council members also introduced an ordinance that will, if adopted, designate properties on West Main, Throckmorton and Broad streets as an area in need of redevelopment with the power of condemnation. The targeted area includes 51 W. Main St.

Under the terms of the ordinance, the targeted area that includes the firehouse at 51 W. Main St. and the existing bus station at the corner of West Main and Throckmorton streets will be known as the Throckmorton Redevelopment Area.

By declaring the Throckmorton Redevelopment Area as a condemnation redevelopment area, the council will be authorized to use the power of eminent domain (condemnation) in the municipality’s redevelopment initiative.

The properties that are expected to be acquired with the proposed $3.5 million appropriation were excluded from the Throckmorton Redevelopment Area, according to the redevelopment ordinance.

A public hearing on the proposed redevelopment ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 22 and the council members may adopt the ordinance that evening.

Finally, the council members passed a resolution authorizing the preparation of redevelopment plans for the properties in the Throckmorton Redevelopment Area. The redevelopment plans will be prepared by Beacon Planning and Consulting Service.