New Jersey Herald - Newton Rotary makes donation to fire museum restoration

Photo by Tracy Klimek/New Jersey Herald - Newton Rotary President Steve McNally, right, hands Newton Fire Museum Director Daniel Finkle a donation of $1,000 during a luncheon at the Lafayette House for the museum’s needed renovations.

By JOE CARLSON

jcarlson@njherald.com

LAFAYETTE — The Newton Rotary Club made a $1,000 donation to the restoration of the Newton Fire Museum during its weekly meeting at the Lafayette House on Wednesday.

“We have done other donations as a club to the fire department in the past,” President Stephen McNally said as to why the club made the donation. “Our club has many members that reside in Newton and it is part of our core mission to support causes that we believe in.”

The museum was built in 1890 and served as one of the Newton Fire Department’s houses until 1979 when it was closed. From 1979 until 2012 it was open as a museum showcasing much of the fire department’s historical equipment.

It was closed in 2012 because of the building’s compromised structural integrity due to water that had entered the building and caused damage.

“After it closed we found our future to be uncertain because the town did not want to raise the money to fix the building,” Museum Director Daniel Finkle said at the meeting on Wednesday.

In September 2013, the Newton Town Council authorized the town manager to look for a buyer for the entire property instead of undertaking the renovation that had roughly been estimated to cost $600,000. But just two months later the council decided to split the renovation costs of the building with the museum committee and the fire department, contribute $277,000 and challenge the latter two to raise as much as $300,000.

Finkle said the town would take care of the structural issues and the fire department and museum committee would renovate the interior of the building. According to Finkle’s presentation, the renovations include a new security and sprinkler systems, a new entrance for the museum, new windows, a gift shop, new storage areas, an office, and a multi-purpose room.

Before the meeting on Wednesday, Finkle said the group had raised around $10,000 before getting the donation from the club.

According to Finkle, the fire department and museum committee are in the process of getting donations of materials and have several licensed contractors around the area on board to help with the renovations.

“We are also working with the Home Depot and we are going to be one of their regional projects,” Finkle said.

In September, Home Depot renovated Newton VFW Post 5360 as another one of its regional project.

Finkle said he was thrilled to get the donation from the Rotary club. “It really demonstrates the idea of a community. The Rotary has contributed to the fire department and the safety of Newton over the years and I’m glad they found our project worthy and as something that benefits the community.”