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Tenfold Increase in Borough Taxation Seen in 2020 by University Economist

Gordon Way

Princeton's "Faux Chateaux" McMansions, Alas, Will Be Here for Decades to Come

Bank Street

Shaken Shakespeare Fans Lament This Summer of Their Discontent (four letters)

Tenfold Increase in Borough Taxation Seen in 2020 by University Economist

To the Editor:

The latest property tax bill was another shocker. To prepare myself in advance for future annual shocks, I calculated the likely path of future taxes by fitting a curve to the data for the last ten years and projecting it forward.

The fit is extremely good – generally within one percent of the actual values for each of the last 10 years and nowhere worse than 2.2 percent. The projection shows that, for every $1,000 a property-owner in Princeton Borough pays in 2005, he or she will pay $1,833 in 2010, $4,053 in 2015, and $10,862 in 2020!

Of course the politicians in charge will tell us that these are only mathematical projections, and that parking revenues from the garage or a legacy from Uncle Sam will enable them to avoid such tax increases. But I would rather believe the implications of the record of their actions over the last ten years than believe their words.

Gordon Way

Princeton's "Faux Chateaux" McMansions, Alas, Will Be Here for Decades to Come

To the Editor:

I should like to reply to Elisa Rosen's letter (Town Topics, August 10) entitled "Trust the Judgment of Local Homeowners and Table Proposed McMansions Code."

Ms. Rosen posits that these monster manors are "merely a fad that will also pass in time."

Perhaps, but once the fad has passed, the mega-manors are not going to sink back into the primeval ooze of their own weight, and the price of demolishing them will be prohibitive, given their size. No; once built they will be around for many decades, with their two-story vestibules, their five-car garages, their "palladian" windows, and their faux chateau architecture.

Ms. Rosen hopes to trust "our great town to our great residents." This sounds like a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, anyone who has walked, jogged, or driven in the western section of Princeton over the past 15 years can attest to the fact that dozens of houses suitable to their lots have been torn down and replaced by ludicrous faux chateaux, either by developers who don't live here and don't care, or by people who want to move into the area provided they can dwell in a mini-Chambord and out-Jones the Joneses.

Almost without exception, these New Jersey neo-Newport cottages are egregious in their neighborhoods, and remind one of Mae West trying to zip herself into one of Audrey Hepburn's sheaths.

Bank Street

Shaken Shakespeare Fans Lament This Summer of Their Discontent

To the Editor:

I am sure I am not alone in noticing the absence this year of one of the greatest summer staples of cultural entertainment in Princeton: the annual performance of two Shakespeare plays by professional Equity actors, sponsored by the Princeton Shakespeare Repertory Festival. In addition to offering free, magnificent performances of Shakespeare's plays, the Festival also made available an unparalleled opportunity for Princeton youth whose passion for the greatest dramatic works ever written could be nurtured in internships, workshops, and opportunities to share the stage with professional actors.

I have repeatedly searched the papers for news of this summer's Shakespeare season, to no avail. Can it be that there is no home for Shakespeare in Princeton? I feel as blank as though I had discovered that New York City had cancelled its summertime Shakespeare in the Park.

Is something rotten in the township of Princeton? Is the Princeton Shakespeare Repertory Festival to be, or not to be?

Watertown Court

To the Editor:

My husband Henry and I want to protest the loss of one of our favorite events of any summer in Princeton – the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival, which has for the past years been a highlight at Pettoranello Gardens.

Our grandchildren learned to love Shakespeare by watching this talented troupe perform their two productions annually. This year when they visit, much will be missed.

We cannot understand the Recreation Department's lack of interest in keeping live theatre at Pettoranello Gardens. Movies will never take the place of live theatre, and this little company is full of the talent and originality that theatre people like us really admire. We support six off-Broadway theatre companies, and know what good theatre "looks like."

We hope one of our favorite companies will return to Pettoranello Gardens in 2006.

Palmer Square West

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in support of the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival, one of the country's rare gems. Through the tireless efforts of Artistic Director Victoria Liberatori and Executive Producer Anne Reiss, the Princeton Rep has consistently offered free Shakespeare productions of exceptionally high quality. For reasons that totally escape me, the local powers that be have seen fit to withdraw their support for the current season, thereby jeopardizing the existence of one of the nation's highest quality artistic and intellectual resources.

As a relative newcomer to this community, I can share the insight of a New Yorker, a Shakespeare scholar, and the child of a show business family: Ms. Liberatori is one of the few theatrical directors who truly "gets" Shakespeare. This is not some pretty local venture borne on the shoulders of enthusiastic amateurs.

The productions hosted by the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival are far superior to what I have seen at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, and to those of the New York Shakespeare Festival Central Park productions. One has only to compare last summer's coincidental Princeton and New York productions of Much Ado About Nothing to see what I mean. Princeton audiences were treated to a fast-paced and emotionally charged performance, while New York audiences were made to stand in line to see a gaggle of television actors walk through what amounted to a languid read-through of the script. The simple fact is that the big name TV stars in the New York productions by and large don't have the artistic "chops" to sustain a live performance of Shakespeare, nor are they directed in a way that makes the text come alive. The artistic vision, the depth of understanding of Shakespeare's text, the daring of overall concept, and the execution in performance of the Princeton productions is far superior to what is available in the Delacorte Theater in New York's Central Park. This is directly attributable to Anne's and Vicki's uncompromising vision for the company, and their dedication to Shakespeare.

We – the local residents and businesses, Township, Borough, and State Council on the Arts – should be doing everything we can to ensure that the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival has sufficient funding to mount the kind of productions of which it is capable. This means guaranteed access to the venue it has done so much to put on the map, as well as guaranteed budgets for sets, costumes, and talented performers.

The Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival is not just another bunch of talented local amateurs, but a serious artistic effort of the highest professional quality. Allowing the Shakespeare Festival to die because of neglect would be an intellectual crime unworthy of Princeton.

Braeburn Drive

To the Editor:

In 1995, Palmer Square agreed to give the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival some office space in return for their agreeing to stage an annual Shakespeare Festival on our Green. Within five years the high quality of their productions and the resulting success of the event required Princeton Rep to expand their Shakespeare Festival to the amphitheater in Pettoranello Gardens, where two productions per year were served up. They were of such incredible quality that they attracted the attention of theater critics from the New York Times, who where amazed that a small community such as ours would have the ability to stage this wondrous event.

Anyone who took in Princeton Rep's rendition of The Comedy of Errors, which was set in 1980s Miami, or their Merry Wives of (West) Windsor, or the 2004 production of Romeo & Juliet, witnessed theatrical greatness in action. Their adaptations were simply brilliant.

Thus it was to the great consternation and dismay of many, when the Princeton Parks Department decided to extinguish this shining light of creativity that emanated from our midst and replace it with an expanded summer film festival combined with a little bit of opera. I am not saying that film and opera aren't perfectly good cultural media, but they hardly substitute for the originality and quality of the Shakespeare Festival.

In short our summer cultural activities have headed south; now, if you want a show about a confused young man looking for direction following the untimely death of his father, you won't get Hamlet, but you could get Tommy Boy. If you want a production about a bunch of men running around in togas and behaving badly, you won't get Julius Caesar, but you could get Animal House. If your drama taste is for a show about an annoying fat man being taken down a couple of notches, you won't get Merry Wives of Windsor, but you could get Porky's.

I hope that in 2006 the Parks Department sees the light and converts this summer of our discontent into a chorus of All's Well That Ends Well, by allowing Princeton Rep to resume its Shakespeare Festival at the Pettoranello Gardens.

Palmer Square Management, LLC

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