The town of Johnston will take ownership of the Willow Street Fire Station, which has served as a reliable virus test-site over the past year.
Early in his career, Johnston Mayor Joseph M. Polisena worked as a firefighter at the station, formerly owned by the Thornton Volunteer Fire Company.
“I spent several years as a very young firefighter down there,” Polisena said. “The building is in good shape.”
The town agreed to pay a nominal $10 fee to take possession of the building.
Bids will be sought to install a new roof on the station, and as its new owners, the town will pay for utilities and upkeep.
Town Council unanimously approved Resolution 2021-18: A Resolution Authorizing the Purchase of the Willow Street Fire Station from the Thornton Volunteer Fire Company, during a special meeting last week, held on Thursday, May 27.
The resolution stipulates that the town will not sell the fire station.
“The town cannot sell it,” Polisena said. “Pretty soon you won’t be able to buy a pack of gum for $10, so we got a good deal.”
Polisena said the more than 70-year-old building will be used to shelter reserve fire rescue apparatus and serve as a training site, post-pandemic.
“We can surely use it,” Polisena said. “That building has a lot of roots in the community; 60 years ago that’s where everybody gathered. It has a lot of meaning. It would be disrespectful to sell it.”
Since the start of the pandemic, the town has used the Willow Street Fire Station as a Covid-testing site.
Many firefighters in town sought additional schooling, and took training classes, earning certifications qualifying them to conduct virus screening.
“My firefighters went to school or took classes to become Covid testers,” Polisena said. “We tested not only employees, but any public member who needed a test, we sent them down there.”
Polisena promised the acquisition “will be advantageous to the taxpayer.”
Though he hopes the building’s time as a Covid-testing site has passed.
“Quite frankly, Covid was very devastating to this community,” Polisena said. “I hope we never need to use it again for Covid testing, but at least we have it.”
The resolution passed on a 5-0 vote.