Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 14
 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
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Construction of New Westerly Road Church on Bunn Drive Needs Sensible Guidelines

JANE BUTTARS
Dodds Lane

School Budget Approval Urged to Keep Princeton Schools Among Nation’s Best

JOSHUA LEINSDORF
Forester Drive

Community Park Parents Urge Election of Rebecca Cox to Board of Education

AMY and JONATHAN WHITE
Linden Lane
TINA and TONY LaPLACA
Moore Street
ANDREA SPALLA and KEVIN ROYER
Maple Street
MIA CAHILL
Ridgeview Road

Council Members’ Response to Question on Consolidation a “Sign of Indifference”

Ronald C. Nielsen
Humbert Street

Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale Funds College Scholarships for Area Women

JANET FEARON
President, Wellesley Club of Princeton
CLAIRE JACOBUS
President, Bryn Mawr Club of Princeton


Construction of New Westerly Road Church on Bunn Drive Needs Sensible Guidelines

To the Editor:

I read with great dismay the cover story (“Westerly Road Church to Move/Environmental Resources Compiled,” Town Topics, April 1) concerning the intention of Westerly Road Church to construct a new large building on the Princeton Ridge (Bunn Drive). Clear-cutting the 18.5-acre lot to accommodate a 48,000 square-foot building, 300 parking spaces, outdoor cafe and lawn area does not indicate to me any awareness that this area has been declared “environmentally sensitive” by many local, county, and state agencies since 1959. I cannot understand why, after only a year since the huge public outcry over Robert Hillier’s proposed development of the Lowe tract, less than half a mile from the proposed lot, the designers of the new church would endorse the wholesale destruction of trees and the disruption of habitat right next to Herrontown Woods, protected since 1956.

News of the church’s plans was shocking, but not unexpected. As long as the present zoning remains in place, we can expect before long the few remaining tracts on the Ridge to be covered with parking lots. The clear-cutting of the Medical Arts Building site, first approvals for which were granted years ago, is a recent example. We now know much more about the benefits to the community in preserving the Ridge environment than we did years ago when the zoning was put in place. Why is there no political will to change it and demand adherence to sensible guidelines for sustainability?

Since reasonable zoning now seems unlikely, our best hope is that the Planning Board will press the builder to do as much as possible to minimize the impact of construction. Mr. Hillier reacted intelligently to public pressure and redesigned his development with sustainability in mind. We hope that both lay and religious leadership of the Westerly Road Church will soon revise the concept plans recently shown to the Princeton Environmental Commission, and welcome the opportunity to create a unique model of sustainability in the community. Many religious groups have long understood the relationship between stewardship and respect for the environment, on the one hand, and religious and humane values on the other.

Another solution has been suggested, which would save both monetary and natural resources. The footprint of the new design for the church fits their present Princeton location. Why not find a temporary home for the church while a new building is constructed on the present site?

In any case, environmentally sensible ways of building have taken hold all around the country. Basic adherence to LEED principles (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), retention of as many trees as possible and, in this case, using pervious surfaces and underground parking with tandem spaces are aspects of site-design that should be encouraged and rewarded among all builders. We can’t afford anything less.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the church’s plan for subdivision of their present property on April 16 at 7.30 p.m., at the Township Municipal Complex, 400 Witherspoon Street. Concerned Princetonians, please attend.

Jane Buttars
Dodds Lane

School Budget Approval Urged to Keep Princeton Schools Among Nation’s Best

To the Editor:

I am writing to ask Borough residents to please vote “Yes” on the school budget. This has been a difficult year. Everyone has lost something while some have lost everything.

The school budget was crafted with this reality in mind. The operating budget will increase only 1.68 percent. Again this year, the negligible 0.4 percent increase in the Township tax rate and the sizable 3.9 percent increase in the Borough’s is due to the state formula that apportions school budget share in regional districts according to relative assessed property valuations. Based on this year’s valuations and school spending alone, the Borough’s school tax rate would have increased $0.03, or 1.5 percent, while the Township’s would have risen $0.026, also 1.5 percent.

Sixty percent of the Borough increase is because of real estate values, not the school budget. It is like a pendulum, going back and forth. Over the past six years, the pendulum has swung in favor of the Township for three and the Borough for three. This is another good argument in favor of municipal consolidation.

Prior budgets have already resulted in educational sacrifices. In a globalizing world, where billions speak multiple languages, Princeton dropped German when Chinese was added to the curriculum. Certain electives, while still offered, are not offered as frequently in order to save money. One year, in an economy move, the district hired only younger teachers rather than more expensive, experienced staff. Class sizes are creeping up.

With the school year more than half over, the economic crisis prompted the state, for the first time, to cut $250,000 of aid to the district during the current calendar year. Luckily, prudent fiscal management enabled the district to cover this unanticipated shortfall, although it will impact tax relief for next year. 

Every contemplated solution to the current economic difficulties requires high quality public education. To those who have supported previous budgets I say thank you. Your past sacrifices are the reason Princeton has one of the best public school systems in the country.

JOSHUA LEINSDORF
Forester Drive

Community Park Parents Urge Election of Rebecca Cox to Board of Education

To the Editor:

As Community Park parents, we are writing this letter to urge Princeton Borough voters to reelect Rebecca Cox to the Princeton Regional Board of Education on April 21. As vice president of the board, Ms. Cox is a responsible steward of our tax dollars and has worked tirelessly to maintain the quality of the schools. During her term on the board, she helped negotiate two union contracts to cut personnel expenses and restructured the Pre-K program to better serve the needs of our community’s most vulnerable children. She has been on the finance, personnel, and curriculum committees.

Before joining the board, Rebecca was president of the Community Park PTO and led the effort to redesign and improve the school’s playground — an important community resource. She is an involved mother with two children who attend Community Park School and John Witherspoon Middle School. She herself is a graduate of Riverside Elementary, John Witherspoon, and Princeton High School. We could continue listing her qualifications, both professional and personal, but we would rather just encourage Borough residents to vote for her on Tuesday, April 21. The polls will be open from noon until 9 p.m.

AMY and JONATHAN WHITE
Linden Lane
TINA and TONY LaPLACA
Moore Street
ANDREA SPALLA and KEVIN ROYER
Maple Street
MIA CAHILL
Ridgeview Road

Council Members’ Response to Question on Consolidation a “Sign of Indifference”

To the Editor:

The last question directed to the candidates for Borough Council at the PCDO meeting on Sunday was “If consolidation is approved, would you be willing to give up your Council seat?” Each of the four candidates (with Mildred Trotman speaking for the ailing Peggy Karcher) said they would give up their seat, some even enthusiastically. I’m glad I asked the question, because we now know what kind of people are running.

This is not the kind of representation I want from my elected officials. To slink away from their responsibilities, even for the sake of party solidarity, is at best a sign of indifference and perhaps a cowardly act. I would have asked them next, “If being an elected official means so little to you, then why are you running at all?”

If their attitude is pervasive among Borough Council members generally, then we in the Borough can expect to shoulder the Township’s burdens (e.g. paying for rebuilding Township streets and adding curbs) and have our assets appropriated by the Township (e.g. Borough parking meter and fine income) in the event of consolidation.

Ronald C. Nielsen
Humbert Street

Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale Funds College Scholarships for Area Women

To The Editor:

The Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale has once again been gratifyingly successful, thanks to the community that not only generously donated wonderful books, but also came and bought wonderful books! The proceeds enable us to fund scholarships to our colleges for young women in the area. This terrific enterprise benefits everyone, and is the result of very hard work, much of it year round.

We offer grateful thanks to the volunteers who offer long hours and constant dedication, and to several institutions as well. In particular, to PDS for the site, to the Hun School and Lawrenceville for student volunteers, and to Fran Reichl, Donna Laurie, Maxine Lampert, Marietta Taylor, Elizabeth Bennett, Marianne Grey, Liz Romanaux, Beth OgilvieFreda, Sarah Ferguson, Nancy Metcalf, Lilian Grosz, Marianne Hooker, Iliana Sachs, Shirley Sanderson, Phil Mclndoo, Yaz Saunderson, Mary Cooper, and John Cooper.

In addition, many other spouses, alums and friends of the sale contribute enormously. We salute them all, in triumph, gratitude, and exhaustion.

JANET FEARON
President, Wellesley Club of Princeton
CLAIRE JACOBUS
President, Bryn Mawr Club of Princeton

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