STEVEN J. SYREK
Washington Rd. Peak-Hour Travel Delays Projected for Year 2028 Are Miniscule
To the Editor:
It is good that William Wolfe (Mailbox, 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 three 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:
Election season is nearly upon us, and despite claims that the primary has already decided everything, Princeton Borough's voters yet have a chance to throw a wrench into the creaking cogs of our democracy. Last year, the Green Party ran alone against the incumbents. This year, I am proud to see other independent candidates joining the fray against the deadlock of Democrats that control Princeton. Marvin Reed's auspicious retirement provides an opportunity to retrench and retool our government. This is exactly what I intend to do if I am elected mayor of Princeton Borough. With so many politicians and planners going on vision quests lately, I thought I should offer my own vision for the future of Princeton. Mine is, admittedly, not as exciting. It is, in fact, more of a commentary on the others. I do not see bypasses, shopping malls, parking garages, and skyscrapers dancing in the air. Instead, I see less development, ideally (perhaps unrealistically) the undoing of previous development, and a return to a stronger community with a more sustainable, higher quality lifestyle.
Questions about the future of towns seem to be code for "what are we going to build?" The construction industry, in collusion with so-called liberal politicians, has attached such warm and fuzzy words as "progress," "development," and "renewal" to their often bankrupt schemes to gut and (profitably) rebuild city centers at taxpayer expense. Infrastructure costs money, and the more of it there is, the less money that is left over for education, mass transit, beautification, and the other social programs vilified by proponents of privatization. Opponents of these construction projects are cast as backward simpletons (dare I say conservatives ?) who are against "progress" and afraid of "change" as though such things were natural, ineluctable processes.
I may not have a grandiose vision of development in Princeton's future, but at least I am not blind to its consequences.
STEVEN J. SYREK
To the Editor:
We find Mr. Hillier's letter in Town Topics (July 23) regarding the "rundown, firetrap properties" very interesting. How can a property be anything else but a firetrap and unhealthy when you have 20-30 people living in one house with illegal extension-cord hookups and 20 mattresses in two or three bedrooms? Our governing bodies know this is going on but, Mr. Hillier, they are obviously not going to do anything at all about this. What will it take, another fire and lives lost before they realize that overcrowding needs to be stamped out?
When Mr. Hillier talks about Witherspoon Street being "ripe for planning," is he considering getting rid of the new houses in Shirley Court, Hunan's restaurant, the Forer Pharmacy, the Barsky brothers' new project, and the Houghton building, or is he really just talking about getting rid of all the homeowners' houses? Mr. Hillier, what buildings are you really talking about being torn down to make room for five- or six-story buildings on Witherspoon Street?
To the Editor:
There is a campaign underway to establish a branch library at the Princeton Shopping Center once the new library is completed. The strong argument for this is easy access and convenient parking for many Township residents. The committee advocating it has pointed out that computerized cataloging lessens the need for a large collection to be housed there. Why not take this to a logical and practical conclusion?
I suggest a compromise in which a modest site be established at the Shopping Center for reserving, picking up, and returning library materials. It could have a number of computer terminals to be used for accessing the catalog and reserving items for delivery to the site. Anyone with home internet access could do the same thing from home. Library items could be returned to this site when due. Staff requirements would be just a few people primarily handling circulation.
Such a site would give patrons the convenience that some Township residents want. It would not give them the opportunity to browse through stacks of books, videos, CDs, and reference materials. But a branch library would provide only limited opportunity for this anyway without costly and impractical duplication of the main collection.
Perhaps this is an idea whose time has come.
To The Editor:
Once again large scale woodland destruction is being proposed, this time on Princeton University land leased to the Springdale Golf Club. This proposal is for destruction of 650 trees over eight inches in diameter and many more if all the trees there were counted. This is so the golf club can build a new club house to replace its existing one on the property between Alexander Street and Springdale Road.
In this continuing pattern of woodland destruction, last summer we saw the University cut down 1,200 trees on 12 acres and many more if the smaller ones were counted. This is adjacent to the Rogers Wildlife Refuge and not far from the golf club proposal. In 2001 the Stuart School cut down 500 of the larger trees and other smaller ones on five acres off The Great Road.
Princeton, and particularly its Planning Board, needs to be more proactive in protecting and replenishing its woodlands which benefit the community greatly in reducing runoff, flooding, and soil erosion, in recharging ground water, in cleaning our air and water, in noise buffering, in climate control to save energy, in protecting habitat and to counter-balance the ever-expanding land cover in buildings and parking areas.
In 2001 the state enacted New Jersey's No Net Loss Act which requires that if trees are cut on state land enough replanting must be done to accomplish "no net loss." Princeton has no such requirement and must rely on the charitable instincts of building applicants. For example, the Stuart School did not do compensatory replanting. Last year the University offered replanting on and off its property in a four-year program.
Even when the forested area is not original or ancient growth, its value lies in the mass and ecological system it creates for the benefits mentioned. The decisions being made case by case to allow wide-scale woodland removal give no consideration to the cumulative effect of these actions. In addition, much of Princeton's understory of new trees has been destroyed by deer, and this effect will be felt for a long time.
Development plans should always save as many trees and woodlands as possible, even if that means more expensive site design. If some cutting is still found to be necessary, we should, as a minimum, have a tree replacement requirement based on international and national formulas or on the state's own No Net Loss Act. Princeton can do better. Let's leave a good legacy for those who follow us.
To the Editor:
From "fireflies, "feathers," to "average soldiers," (Town Topics, August 6) I was transported from things that dull the mind and deafen the ear in today's world.
"Tsunami" too. What a change from "Yo, what's up."
This generation will bring grace, wisdom and insight to take the future past mediocrity of spirit.
This printed page is a gift and deserves to be wrapped in beautiful paper and ribbons and hand delivered to the community.
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