Vol. LXI, No. 15
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Member, Borough Council
To the Editor:
I respond to Mark Alexandridis' thoughtful letter (Town Topics, April 4). Phase I of the downtown development is not complete; among other things, the pergola has not been erected, the garage repair work has not been finished, and the developer is still suing the Borough. Nevertheless, negotiations with the developer are currently underway to begin Phase II of the project, the construction of Building C on the Tulane Street parking lot.
Many issues remain to be resolved in regard to both Phase I and Phase II, including the payment by the developer to the Borough of more than $150,000 in overdue ground rent in respect to Phase I, other outstanding obligations of the developer in connection with the building of Witherspoon House and the municipal garage, and the developer's effort to refinance Phase II of the development.
The Borough's negotiations with the developer continue behind closed doors, as is permitted by the Open Public Meetings Act. But many of the outstanding issues deserve public scrutiny so that the public can have greater confidence in the process.
Mr. Alexandridis and all other Borough residents and taxpayers are more than welcome to seek information, voice concerns, and lend their expertise in the settlement of on-going issues between the Borough and the developer.
Member, Borough Council
Note: The following is an open letter to Princeton residents.
To the Editor:
As Princeton taxpayers who are approaching the annual school elections on April 17, it may be important to reflect on where we are in the process of renewal for our schools. Years ago we voted to fund the badly needed revitalization of our physical infrastructure, i.e., our six schools. We collectively decided to improve critical areas such as science labs, instructional spaces, sports and performing arts facilities, as well as health and security programs. Today, after five years of effort, we can be proud of the classrooms, gyms, laboratories, fields, pool, performing arts center, and other program advantages we have provided to support the education of our children. With outside funding added to about $60 million of local funds, Princeton residents can proudly claim to have provided modern educational facilities fully in keeping with the world class academic accomplishments of the students of Princeton Regional Schools.
This has not been without hard work and significant sacrifice on all sides. But this difficult period is largely behind us and key trends in spending will moderate. This next year will see facilities-related operating expenses peak as all new spaces are put into full service, and annual debt service is in decline. Nor will programs expand as state-imposed spending caps virtually prohibit additional services or curriculum growth. With planned focus on internal productivity improvement as well as on expanding non-tax revenue opportunities, we can expect budgets more in line with inflation, or even less. In short, the worst period of tax impacts is behind us.
Princeton is proud of its heritage as a center of academic excellence; its very name suggests the very best in education. Your school board will settle for no less for our students your children and is determined to maintain this excellence during the difficult property tax environment plaguing New Jersey. We look forward to the time when our state leaders unravel this extreme dependence on property taxes and send funding with the stream of mandates that have preempted other choices at the local level. Until then, your understanding and support are very much appreciated.
Your vote for this 2007-08 school budget on April 17 is strongly recommended.
ALAN K. HEGEDUS
Vice President, PRS School Board
To the Editor:
It is time for the Princeton Regional Schools to tighten their belts, the way we residents of Princeton had to in order to continue living in a community that cares.
As a child of immigrant parents unable to support private education, I went to a public school in Queens and received my B.F.A. and M.A. from a City University of New York. My education without fancy privileges earned a graduate scholarship at Princeton University. Yet, I sympathize with parents who want the highest level of training for their children, beyond ordinary programs. For all of those desiring to have a new Sir Laurence Olivier or Vanessa Redgrave, surely private schools will offer extra benefits, including a chance at winning a medal in swimming in the next Olympics. We all want the best for our children. During my daughter's penultimate high school years, I sent her to an American school in Rome because I did not want her to suffer the same language problems I faced as an immigrant student in America. That was a price tag I personally paid. I didn't ask for community support. The choice was mine. Others should do the same.
Should I live until 97, like my grandmother, I will not be able to stay in Princeton. In ten years, our personal real estate tax nearly tripled and the quality of life suffered. I sincerely hope that for once the residents will wake up and state their opinions about the unreasonable tax burden at the polls on April 17.
I have no doubt that should the new bill be voted down, Princeton students would continue to be pampered as very few others in the state of New Jersey and the rest of the country.
EVA J. SIROKA
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