Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 16
 
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
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Over-Budget Downtown Redevelopment Typical of Borough Hall's Costly Habits

DUDLEY SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Library Plaza Named for Albert Hinds Would Serve to Unite Neighborhoods

DEBORAH KAPLE
MIGUEL CENTENO
Pine Street

"School Walkers" Seen as Contributing To Healthier Children and Environment

BOB LEVINE
Linwood Circle

Suspension of Free Library Parking Suggests Taking Business Elsewhere

ROSE and HERBERT RICKERT
Monroe Lane


Over-Budget Downtown Redevelopment Typical of Borough Hall's Costly Habits

To the Editor:

In his April 11 response to Town Topics, Princeton Borough Council member Roger Martindell appears to confirm Mr. Alexandridis's trenchant analysis of the Borough's uncompleted Downtown Redevelopment Project (Town Topics Mailbox, April 4). Ironically, Mr. Martindell is a veteran member of the one-party Borough Council which brought us this sorry saga starring a dysfunctional parking garage.

The Council member's letter is an exemplar of the double-speak and obfuscation that characterize Princeton Borough Council. According to his own account, Phase I of the project is incomplete and the developer is suing the Borough, but never mind, the Borough is negotiating with the same developer to begin Phase II of the project — if he can obtain financing. And, oh yes, the developer still owes the Borough rent for Phase I. Is this the only developer in town? How is it that the taxpayers have been placed in jeopardy by what can only be described as serious ineptitude?

But there is more. Borough negotiations with the developer are behind closed doors, but this is really OK, according to the Council member, because it is permitted by the Open Public Meetings Act. It is highly doubtful that the intent of the law was to keep taxpayers in the dark about how their taxes are spent or wasted. While Mr. Martindell does not explain why these negotiations must be kept from public scrutiny, he purports to encourage public involvement in the process. That is a good thing, but made very difficult when the Borough insists on excluding the public from what might be politically embarrassing aspects of the process.

The Borough Council as currently constituted just doesn't get it. In this era of ever-rising property taxes, fresh viewpoints and approaches are required in the Borough's governance. A willingness to tackle tough problems and make hard decisions on a timely and transparent basis is essential. It's high time for a change in old and costly political habits at Borough Hall.

DUDLEY SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Library Plaza Named for Albert Hinds Would Serve to Unite Neighborhoods

To the Editor:

What is so hard about naming a plaza in our town? Our Borough Council acts as if it's the most difficult procedure to undertake in the world. Their suggestions of giving Albert Hinds' name to another building that isn't even built yet, or naming the square by osmosis, sounded like a Council passing the buck.

Many other parks and public spaces have names, like the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Park on Wiggins Street. There must be some procedure in place for naming places, since we have them all over town.

Albert Hinds did more for the town than any famous diplomat or scientist, and he deserves the recognition. As Shirley Satterfield so eloquently put it, "Naming the square after Mr. Hinds is a way to connect and bond the obvious division between uptown Princeton and the Witherspoon-Jackson community."

DEBORAH KAPLE
MIGUEL CENTENO
Pine Street

"School Walkers" Seen as Contributing To Healthier Children and Environment

Note: The following is a copy of an Open Letter to Mayor Phyllis Marchand and Princeton Regional Schools Superintendent Judy Wilson.

To the Editor:

Mayor Marchand's recent report to the Township mentioned the receipt of a grant to support the Sustainable Princeton Plan. With global warming happening faster than we anticipated, I am sure we all welcome the new effort.

In an attempt to move the process forward I would like to propose a simple action which will cut down on greenhouse gases as well as possibly reducing, if only slightly, the requirement for a raise in taxes. It may even help to provide some much needed exercise for some of our retirees.

When my children attended the Princeton Schools neither of them ever used a school bus. Neither did I even though, as a teenager, I had to walk from Riverdale in the Bronx to DeWitt Clinton High School on Mosholu Parkway, about 3 miles away. I believe that my current good health in my eighties can be attributed at least in part to all the walking I did as a child. Both of my children are equally blessed with good health.

I am therefore proposing an idea I recently heard where in place of some of the school buses we hire school walkers who go from house to house picking up the children at their neighborhood pickup points and walk them to school. I propose that this be done for all children seven to ten years old who live closer than a mile and a half from their respective schools. Those already walking or riding their bikes would be excused. For those over age ten the distance should be increased until all high school children are included who live less than three miles from school. Some school bus drivers will no longer be needed, so they could be hired as school walkers. To ensure the safety of children I think there need to be two school walkers per route. If ages and distances need adjustment, make whatever changes are needed as long as we get our kids walking as much as possible and get rid of at least some of the school buses.

This also will considerably reduce the requirement for parents to deliver and pick up their children and will thus add to the greenhouse gas reduction.

I know many parents will be opposed to my suggestion for many reasons. Busy schedules, extra school activities, fear of children being harmed, or worse. The important thing to remember is that if we really want to make a change we have to start acting now, even at the expense of some discomfort.

To show my concern for the problem I am offering to be a volunteer school walker in my neighborhood at least once a week. I am hoping that by doing so I will encourage some parents and fellow retirees to join me to ensure that we get their kids to school safely.

This is a serious proposal and a real offer which I hope you will act on for the coming school year. It is also a simple proposal that does not need a lot of study and which can be acted on by the school board with some help from committee members.

Let's make Princeton a model of sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.

BOB LEVINE
Linwood Circle

Suspension of Free Library Parking Suggests Taking Business Elsewhere

To the Editor:

We agree with Abram Gabriel (Town Topics Mailbox, March 7) and Jill Weiner (Town Topics Mailbox, March 14). The loss of the free parking hours which were promised and now will be taken away are an abomination.

It was a very sad day when the library moved out of the Township and back to the Borough. Yet, the Township is stuck paying most of the bills.

The Borough is going to raise parking fees. They are already too high. We have friends who live out of town who refuse to drive into Princeton and pay the parking fees.

We have solved the problem. We don't ever drive to the Borough because we refuse to pay their bills. The Borough people have admitted the parking fees and the penalties for over-parking pay most of their bills.

We don't care how high you raise your fees, Borough of Princeton. But we will not pay them. This means, of course, that we no longer spend several hours at a time in the library. Too bad. You are right, Ms. Weiner; in other communities one does not have to pay for parking at libraries.

You are also right to ask why more people have not voiced their indignation.

Give back those two hours, Borough.

By the way, just a few miles down Route 1 is a lovely library with plenty of free parking in Lawrence.

ROSE and HERBERT RICKERT
Monroe Lane

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