DAVID E. COHEN, AIA
Wolfe's Proposal For Penn's Neck Roadway is Flawed
To the Editor:
It is good that William Wolfe (letter, Aug. 6, 2003) has proposed a design for a roadway alternative for addressing the Penns Neck area congestion problems. However, I wish he had come to some of the Roundtable (RT) meetings to propose his design, where it would have been thoroughly evaluated as were the 19 other designs proposed at the RT. If he had participated at the RT, or had studied the results in the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), he would have learned that his statement is not true that "Without an East Side Connector there can be no relief to the traffic jams on Washington Road that currently plague Penns Neck residents". According to the DEIS, peak hour travel delays on Washington Road projected for 2028 are miniscule for most of the alternatives proposed. For example, the intersection delays are 0.3 to 0.4 minutes for all the D alternatives, including D-2. This contrasts with present delays of 3 minutes and delays projected for 2028 of 16 minutes if the roads are left just as they are today. Thus, the "credible coalition of environmental groups" (Wolfe's phrase) favors D-2 because it provides congestion relief indistinguishable from the alternatives that have an ESC, and it does not impact the Millstone River and the adjacent wild area.
Lincoln S. Hollister
To the Editor:
Week after week I read diatribes in the "Mailbox" against the decision to keep the Princeton Public Library downtown. I feel I must weigh in to help balance the debate. Opponents of the in-town location seem only to take into account their own narrow self-interest (how easily and cheaply can I park?), rather than the long term well-being of the town as a whole. In order to remain the vibrant and appealing Princeton we all know and love, the center of town must include not only retail establishments, but also residential neighborhoods and civic institutions. This mix of uses will ensure that people come to town not only to shop, but also to engage in loftier pursuits like participation in the political process, neighborly interaction, and the quest for learning and self-improvement. Without a mix of uses, the center of town becomes a glorified, Disney-fied mall. We all saw the disappointing results when the well-intentioned experiment of Forrestal Village failed to include a mix of uses, a mistake which is now in the process of being rectified, but may never be fully overcome.
Some will argue that relocating a single civic institution out of the town center will not have dire effects, but I feel we must be constantly aware of the deeper implications of the decisions we make. If it is okay to move the library out of town, then it is okay to move Borough Hall, Princeton Medical Center, Nassau Presbyterian Church, and McCarter Theater to less congested locations, as well. Once we have started down this road, it may be impossible to stop before it is too late before our town has lost the intangible atmosphere that distinguishes it from Hillsborough, Bridgewater, or a hundred other upscale New Jersey bedroom communities without a vital center.
I have no quarrel with those who hope to keep a branch library at the Shopping Center, though I consider this a purely practical matter of whether we as a town can afford the added budgetary burden of hiring extra staff and paying for the additional space. In the meantime, I suggest that it will do us and our children good, both physically and spiritually, to grapple with the challenge of walking four to six blocks from the nearby plentiful, free on-street parking, to the library's in-town location, as Borough residents are accustomed to do.
E. COHEN, AIA
To the Editor:
A letter (Town Topics, August 6) claims that the Township was "duped" into building a new library downtown rather than moving it to the Township.
As a member of Township Committee at the time the decision was made, I would like to set the historical record straight.
It is a myth that there ever was a serious possibility of moving the library from the Borough to the Township for the simple reason that Borough Council would have never consented to the loss of an institution that is so valuable for the downtown cultural and business environment.
Yes, Township Committee could have stubbornly postured about a Township location. This would have led to an impasse, and the old library (not a new or renovated one) would simply have continued in operation downtown while the debate over its fate already years in discussion would have continued for untold years more.
Our real choice was between the status quo of an inadequate library (with its attendant access problems) and a revitalized one (downtown) that met the needs of the community and that also provided substantial parking for library patrons. (For those who may think that an alternative would have been to build our own library, I can only say that there are substantial legal and financial impediments to withdrawing from a joint library operation.)
It is just a simple fact that the practicalities (and politics, if you will) of our Township-Borough partnerships make public policy decisions a little more complex than may otherwise appear.
To the Editor:
Can it be that for all the effort that went into toppling RCN, nobody investigated the pricing structure that would be imposed by Patriot? I just found out that there will be no mid-range ($33/month) choice anymore. You either pay $15/month for basic channels or go to $46/month for premium. If you want to add cable modem for your computer you are talking over $90/month.
The "sales" representative from Patriot that I spoke to acted like there were very few customers now who wasted their time with the mid-range service. I find it hard to believe that all the people in town will take such a big rate hike so casually.
To The Editor:
While the experts decide if my suggestion is feasible, all you SUV owners who want a real "off the road experience" should take a trip around Lambert Drive. I warn you that the road is falling apart and the diabase infrastructure is scattered all over the surface and might damage your vehicle. On second thought, this invitation is offered only to those who own the military style Hummer-type vehicles.
Buddhism, as many local readers are aware, has been in Princeton for many years. At least three Buddhist groups are already meeting at Fellowship in Prayer, 291 Witherspoon Street. One group focuses on the works of Thich Nhat Hanh; one practices in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism; and one practices in another Tibetan lineage, Shambhala Buddhism. The last of these is also co-directed by a fully ordained nun, Ani Trime Lhamo. In fact, Ani Trime has been teaching locally for 15 years or so. I believe there are Zen practitioners in the area as well. Gen Norden's group is simply opening locally yet another of what are said to be 84,000 doors to the Dharma, as Buddhist teachings are called. We westerners often fail to realize that Buddhism is as multifaceted as any other world religion.
So in fact Princeton already has a small but diverse and growing Buddhist community. May all of us who practice locally be of benefit to each other, to the Princeton community, and to beings everywhere.
To the Editor:
Ideally, downtown stores contribute to a town's social well-being, letting townspeople meet while they shop. Local stores play this role only if townspeople support them, however. Can we Princetonians support our downtown businesses especially during what many merchants see as a parking crisis that has resulted in steeply declining sales?
When built, the new parking garage will alleviate the parking crisis. During construction, though, it worsens the problem because it's being built on the old Park-and-Shop Lot, which is therefore unavailable. Moreover, some downtown employees also worsen the problem because they park in metered spaces and then feed the meter, taking spots customers could use. But where can employees find affordable, reasonably convenient alternatives?
Borough Council recently allocated spaces in the Trinity Church lot to downtown employees at a reduced rate. And it plans to make other temporary parking available to downtown employees soon. Additional short-term measures would help, however.
We and other homeowners in streets close to downtown, who have driveways another car could use on weekdays without blocking our family cars, have volunteered to let a downtown employee or two temporarily share our driveways during the day. We hope other Borough residents will join us. (In the same spirit, Palmer Square has extended evening parking in the Hulfish and Chambers Garages from 4:30 PM till 7:00 AM Monday through Saturday, and all day Sunday, at a flat rate of $3.00, or just $1.50 for downtown employees who hold Palmer Square Value Passes.)
To facilitate planning, residents of close-in streets like ours might agree to adopt a single downtown business. A neighbor who supports the plan, but whose driveway is too small to share, could help by recruiting volunteers, coordinating employee schedules and driveways, and reassuring nonparticipating neighbors that their street won't become a permanent parking lot.
Homeowners might ask employees to leave extra keys so cars can be moved in emergencies. Neighbors with one-lane driveways who are nevertheless generous enough to help could park on the street until employees arrive and then pull in behind them.
Some homeowners and downtown employees may gladly accept these inconveniences in order to give and receive guaranteed free parking. In any case, we see these sacrifices as both voluntary (not everyone on a street would have to volunteer) and temporary, until the new garage is finished, probably in December.
Many Princetonians wish downtown stores served more of our everyday needs and not just visitors' wants. A first step in achieving this long-term goal might be supporting the independent businesses we currently have. Our support in this parking crisis, especially as back-to-school and holiday shopping approaches, might in turn persuade Borough Council to adopt a town plan more favorable to local, independent businesses that serve townspeople as well as visitors. (To see what other communities have accomplished, visit www.newrules.org under "Retail.")
We hope residents of streets like ours will give this plan their thoughtful consideration and email equals firstname.lastname@example.org, write 22 Alexander Street, or call 924-7635 between 18 and 25 August, to indicate whether they might be willing to participate.
For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.