Location and funds for new facility seen as hurdles
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — Longwood Fire Company could be reaching out to the township — literally.
While the fire company has long served about 70% of the township for fire protection and all of its ambulance service, the fire company and the township are talking about taking the first steps that could put a satellite station in the township.
Longwood chief A.J. McCarthy met with township supervisors earlier this month to gauge the township’s interest and support of the concept — which could be one solution to overcrowding at the primary fire station in Kennett.
“We don’t have any room in the building,” McCarthy said, noting that Longwood had to work out a deal with Po-Mar-Lin (the fire company that handles the other 30% of the township’s fire calls) to park extra emergency vehicles that don’t fit at U.S. 1 station. Although the long-term hope is for the fire company to build a new main station, those efforts may take some time, while adding an auxiliary station would be less expensive and improve response times to the eastern portion of Longwood’s service area.
Longwood plans to commission a fire protection study to look at its needs as well as those of the communities it serves to see if a sub-station makes sense. If previous studies are any indication, it likely will support the concept. Longwood held discussions with the township about a decade ago to add a sub-station — potentially where the township building is now, which is a converted garage — when the plan was to use the new public works building on Lenape Road as the township building. That proposal fell through when it turned out that the township needed the building for offices.
With the eventual move of the township offices to the Barnard House, the Denton Hollow Road location might be an option — although township Board of Supervisors chair Steve Conary notes that nearby residents might not appreciate living next to a fire station, especially after a few middle of the night fire or ambulance sirens, although he acknowledged that some residents might also appreciate the reduced response time.
Conary said that he and his fellow supervisors are generally supportive of the concept, but location — and funding — are going to be the big hurdles. While the township has land elsewhere, such as the large tract near the Barnard House, most of it is deed-restricted to agricultural and recreational use. Conary suggested that there might be land owned by Chester County — near either the prison or the Pocopson Home that might be an option, should the county be willing to donate the property.
And while location will be an issue, money may be the bigger stumbling block. The township is already trying to raise funds to pay for the renovation of Barnard House, while Longwood remains dependent on funds from local municipalities, the state and its annual fund drive.