Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 18
 
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
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Community Is Invited to Participate in May 4 Interfaith Earth Celebration

LAURA HAWKINS
Billie Ellis Lane

New Public Transit Offers Opportunity for Use of Cleaner Alternative Fuels

GRACE SINDEN
Ridgeview Circle

Princeton Adult School, a Non-Profit, Receives Support from Private Sources

DAVID E. BREITHAUPT
Treasurer, Princeton Adult School

Late Posting of Township Agenda Seen as a Violation of State’s Sunshine Law

DR. DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane

New Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes Welcomed as Pragmatic Problem Solver

PETER SODERMAN
Hamilton Avenue


Community Is Invited to Participate in May 4 Interfaith Earth Celebration

To the Editor:

Meeting trees is different from passing them by. To stop and look can lead to discovering an enormous inclusion of life. Trees interact with our atmosphere, water, light, soil, and an intricate web of other living things, both plant and animal. Even the canopies of the world’s tallest trees have a mini universe of life.

Learning about our natural environment is very wholesome. It can connect us to our neighbors whether they are next door or a continent away. It can connect us to ourselves. It can deepen our faith life. Loving our neighbors and loving our earth are not that far apart.

Searching for shapes and intricate designs leads to identifying a tree. The process can be fun and playful. Usually a tree walk stops at identification, but our walk invites people to see more. Ellie Whitney from Princeton Unitarian Universalist “Green Sanctuary” will describe how trees sequester carbon. Adrea Sacchetti from Trinity Episcopal Church will engage us in a cultural perspective that integrates mind and body. We will appreciate all we have been given as Cantor Murray Simon of the Princeton Jewish Center sings.

Adults and children of all ages are invited to join this free, guided tree walk on the Princeton University campus at 3 p.m. on May 4, starting at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street. A special family walk for children will be offered at the same time, led by Ray Nichols of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Beth Nichols, an environmental educator. I will lead the walk for adults.

The walks are part of an Interfaith Earth celebration organized by members of several Princeton congregations. At 1:30 p.m. at Nassau Church we will show a film on global warming, Everything’s Cool, for adults and teens. We will also show two environmental films for children 7 and over.

LAURA HAWKINS
Billie Ellis Lane

New Public Transit Offers Opportunity for Use of Cleaner Alternative Fuels

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Princeton Borough as well as to the University and New Jersey Transit for their roles in bringing public transit to our community. Hopefully, this will cause some folks who now drive within the central area of Princeton to use these public vehicles, lessening crowding and air pollution.

To further the goals of the “Sustainable Princeton” initiative, including cleaner air and a more pleasant and healthful atmosphere for pedestrians, shoppers, and bikers, planning should be in place now to have public transit vehicles of the Borough, University, and New Jersey Transit that are either zero or very low emissions by using alternative fuels such as electric, hybrid, and compressed natural gas off and on the University campus. For the type of relatively short runs that our local transit system has, these alternative fuels are ideal. The use of diesel fuel should be avoided as unhealthful, as well as unpleasant. School buses should also switch from diesel to cleaner fuels to avoid toxic exposure to our children. Princeton is already subjected to considerable air pollution from trucks on Routes 27 and 206 as well as delivery trucks in town that often leave their engines idling beyond the three minutes allowed by law.

There are many elements that go into making Princeton vibrant and enjoyable. This includes keeping our “Dinky” train station as conveniently located and walkable as possible for most residents. This form of train travel is a highly efficient and clean means of transit.

GRACE SINDEN
Ridgeview Circle

Princeton Adult School, a Non-Profit, Receives Support from Private Sources

To the Editor:

There seems to be a misunderstanding that the Princeton Adult School use of the Princeton schools is funded by taxpayer dollars. In fact, the Adult School is required to pay $21,500 per year to the Princeton schools for about 40 evenings use.

The Princeton Adult School is completing its 69th year in providing more than 230 courses with an enrollment over 3,600. Included are 11 courses in English as a second language. As a non-profit organization, we depend upon the diligent efforts of a hard-working group of volunteers, a small, dedicated staff, and the efforts of many highly qualified instructors.

In contrast to such taxpayer-supported entities as the Public Library and the Senior Resource Center, the Adult School depends upon tuition, fund-raising, and some grants. The Adult School is embarking upon a fund-raising drive in order to shore up a small endowment and to solidify the long term prospects of continuing this wonderful tradition.

DAVID E. BREITHAUPT
Treasurer, Princeton Adult School

Late Posting of Township Agenda Seen as a Violation of State’s Sunshine Law

To the Editor:

Your article, “Township Welcomes Two New Sergeants; Rebuts Critic of Timing” (Town Topics, April 23) misrepresents Princeton Township Committee’s flawed interpretation of New Jersey’s 1975 Sunshine Law.

Counsel for Township Committee, Edwin Schmierer, believes that posting meeting dates for Committee meetings constitutes compliance with the Sunshine Law. It does not. Full compliance demands that governing bodies give “written advance notice of at least 48 hours, giving the time, date, location and, to the extent known, the agenda of any regular, special or rescheduled meeting” (italics mine). Although the April 7 meeting date was posted months earlier, the agenda was not announced until noon on April 7, seven hours before the meeting. The agenda item concerning the flooding of Harry’s Brook was particularly important: flooding affects many residents. (If the misguided Township Ordinance permitting Robert Hillier to build on Princeton Ridge improbably survives the lawsuit against the Township filed by People for Princeton Ridge, the flooding issue will be exacerbated.)

Town Topics quotes out of context a letter to the editor I wrote on this matter (Princeton Packet, April 17), in which I protest Township Committee’s carelessness about agenda announcements. Mr. Schmierer replied, “the Agenda was available on the Township’s website and could be obtained … during the afternoon of April 7.” He thereby acknowledged that Township Committee did not post the agenda 48 hours before the meeting. He should know that while the meeting date was posted “many months in advance,” the Sunshine Law requires more than last-minute notifications of agenda items to the taxpaying public. Given his assent to my charge, he is disingenuous to “[suggest that I] do the honorable thing and rescind [my] accusation.” Mr. Schmierer’s supposition that only a “special meeting” requires advance notice is uninformed, his “rebuttal” ill-conceived. No recantation is warranted.

Township Committee surely planned weeks ahead for Dr. Richard Olson’s presentation on the flooding of Harry’s Brook on April 7. Presenters need agenda deadlines for which to prepare presentations; seven hours’ notice won’t do. But the announcement of this known agenda was withheld from citizens. Township Committee should follow the example of the Princeton Regional Planning Board, which adheres to the Sunshine Law, regularly announcing agendas more than a week in advance.

The issues transcend Mr. Schmierer’s quaint notions of “honor.” Township Committee must comply fully with the rule and intent of law and announce agenda items (as well as meeting dates) well in advance of meetings. Princeton Township needs a more transparent governing body vigilant in observing State law, solicitous of public input. Anything less is unethical and illegal.

DR. DANIEL A. HARRIS
Dodds Lane

New Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes Welcomed as Pragmatic Problem Solver

To the Editor:

Having Kevin Wilkes as a new member on the Borough Council is like Special Forces acquiring John Rambo. The town is probably unaware of the gift they’ll be getting.

Having had the opportunity of working with him on two public art projects in the past, I can tell you a few things about Mr. Wilkes. The man is about action and then completion, with an uncanny ability to solve problems. He is a risk taker with “physicality,” a hands-on physical toughness and attentiveness to organic detail steeped in a “Do whatever it takes public service humility”, which is the essence of true public servitude. I used to watch him pick up a broom and sweep the street at Paul Robeson Place at the end of a ten hour summer day for one of the public art projects that he had donated so much of his time and money to. He would turn to me as he put out the fluorescent road cones and say, “Done is beautiful,” then continue sweeping. As Andy Koontz once said, “Kevin doesn’t just work tirelessly, he just keeps working when he’s tired.”

Mr. Wilkes donated $40,000 to build the AIA award winning Writers Block. He has been a pillar of leadership in Princeton Futures and sat attentively for years at Council meetings, just listening. Along with others, he was responsible for the successful lighting of the Princeton Battle Monument.

An Ivy league intellectual disguised as a Carhart cowboy, he has his hand on the wheel of his pickup truck and on the pulse of everything in this town, from the private business sector to the University to the Guatemalan community in which he now resides.

Kevin Wilkes is a design/build guy. In the architect-construction world, they are the polymaths, multi-taskers and the ones most in touch with the process from the practicality of a design to the pragmatism of its execution. Building a house is like building a community. It is a political ordeal and a design/build ordeal.

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of his official public service, although, he’s already been at it for a long time. This won’t be a Rambo movie. It will be more like Citizen Kane. Let the Wilkes political ministry begin. Princeton doesn’t know how lucky it is and what it will be getting.

PETER SODERMAN
Hamilton Avenue

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