Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 51
 
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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Parking Lots at Choir College Blamed for Flooding Problems on Linden Lane

GREGORY BLANK
Linden Lane
LISA CRANE
Linden Lane
KEN FIELDS
Linden Lane
JOE KING
Linden Lane
ELEANOR J. LEWIS
Linden Lane

Winner of “Why I Shop Local” Contest Congratulated by Hometown Princeton

NICK HILTON
For Hometown Princeton
Nick Hilton Princeton, Witherspoon Street

Womanspace Candles Focus Attention on Many Victims of Domestic Violence

JOAN BARTL
INGRID REED
Womanspace Board Members
and Coordinators for Princeton Lighting

Reasons for Municipal Consolidation Include New Emergency: High Taxes

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Consolidated Government Makes Sense, but Not Because of Water Emergencies

TOBIAS D. ROBISON
Jefferson Road


Parking Lots at Choir College Blamed for Flooding Problems on Linden Lane

To the Editor:

We read with interest the article (Town Topics, November 25) describing the November 18 Princeton Environmental Commission meeting, at which the flooding problems along Linden Lane were presented by Mark Solomon, a lawyer for Westminster Choir College. The article did not make clear, however, that it is the Choir College itself that has created these problems by illegally paving parking lots in inappropriate locations, without any permits or oversight, over a period of 20 years. Westminster has further exacerbated the situation by undermining their existing drainage system and redirecting the resulting runoff into our backyards. The consequences have been soil erosion, flooding, falling trees, and property damage.

We became aware of Westminster’s actions only last spring, after we were informed of their present proposal to build a parking lot in the field behind our houses. In June we made a video describing the situation to show to our municipal officials. It has now been posted on YouTube.

Right now our most immediate problem is winter weather. If we have more wet weather followed by high winds, we are going to have hundred-foot pine trees crashing down on us again as they have in the past. Their root systems are being undermined by the runoff from the illegal parking lots. Before our investigations of last spring we thought those falling trees were acts of God; now we know better.

One way for Westminster to avoid liability is to cut down the remaining trees bordering Linden Lane. This is exactly what they’ve already done behind two of our properties, without any permits or permission. They even dug up the stumps. What used to be a grove of trees is now grass. In the past few weeks they’ve tagged and numbered all the remaining trees in back of our properties.

A better and more environmentally sound remedy is for Westminster to curb the illegally paved parking lots to direct the runoff into an existing storm drain behind the library, instead of into our backyards. They allowed this drain to silt up and then walled it off, however, so they would have to rehabilitate it before it could be used again. But Rider/Westminster seems determined instead to try to mitigate the consequences of their past activities by paving nearly another acre of asphalt in combination with a high maintenance storm water management system. Regardless of its merits, or the merits of putting a 93-car parking lot 50 feet from residential property, in winter we will again be living in peril.

There is a reason for requiring paving permits and Planning Board approvals. To see the consequences of what can happen when an institution proceeds without them, take a walk behind the library on the Westminster Choir College campus. Just not if it’s raining and the wind is blowing.

GREGORY BLANK
Linden Lane
LISA CRANE
Linden Lane
KEN FIELDS
Linden Lane
JOE KING
Linden Lane
ELEANOR J. LEWIS
Linden Lane

Winner of “Why I Shop Local” Contest Congratulated by Hometown Princeton

To the Editor:

On behalf of the 49 member companies of Hometown Princeton, I would like to congratulate Joia Speciale, whose wonderful video “Can’t Get That at the Mall” won the “Why I Shop Local” video contest recently sponsored by our organization. Votes from online viewers as well as our panel of independent judges favored Joia’s video, which features two children enjoying some of the unique things that Hometown Princeton businesses have to offer and remarking to each other over and over again, “You can’t get that at the mall.” Congratulations, and best wishes for happy spending of the $1000 prize of credit at member stores.

Also to be congratulated are Rob Finnegan and Jessie Varga, whose entries each won the $250 “Sweepstakes” prizes.

Hometown Princeton would like to thank all of the contest entrants for their time and interest. These videos captured and conveyed the growing enthusiasm for keeping Princeton green and economically viable, which is the soul of our message. We would like also to thank the judges, Kristin Appelget, Susan Conlon, Peter Crowley, Travis Linderman, and Michael Shuman. And especially, we would like to thank Drew and Steph Peloso of Shycast, who organized and executed the contest, for the generous donation of their services and expertise.

We invite Town Topics readers to visit the Hometown Princeton website and click through to see all of the competing videos. They will remain online and will be shown in January at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival at the Princeton Public Library.

Hometown Princeton, founded in September of this year, has made great progress in publicizing one simple message: our community depends on Princeton residents’ patronizing local businesses for all sorts of economic and environmental reasons. We will continue to spread the word in the future, and we hope the community will continue to support initiatives like this video contest.

NICK HILTON
For Hometown Princeton
Nick Hilton Princeton, Witherspoon Street

Womanspace Candles Focus Attention on Many Victims of Domestic Violence

To the Editor:

Even though the rain deterred us from our traditional Sunday timing for the lighting of the Communities of Light luminaries, Monday evening saw Princeton Township Hall, Borough Hall, and Drumthwacket — plus Witherspoon and Nassau Streets — brightly lit with over 2000 candles honoring the victims of domestic and sexual violence. On behalf of our Womanspace clients, staff, and volunteers, we thank the many people involved in making this event such a success. We are grateful to the many supporters, especially Deb Rogers of the Princeton Township Zoning Office, Police Chief Emann, and Police Captain Buchanan, who hosted a reception on Sunday and pulled together a team of volunteers to light Witherspoon Street.

The purpose of the event is to bring attention to the services offered by Womanspace and to help focus attention on the plight of victims and the good work of the community to help them recover from the trauma of domestic and sexual violence. The lighting of candles at this time of year allows us to pay homage to the bravery of the women who seek the help of Womanspace and serves to remind women who are living with violence that help is available.

For over 30 years, Womanspace has provided quality services to women and their children who have had to flee their homes to avoid domestic abuse. Through a 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter, transitional housing programs, domestic violence and sexual assault response teams, counseling services, chaplaincy, legal clinic and advocacy, and professional training and community education, coupled with the help of over 300 community volunteers, Womanspace has provided services and support to over 269,700 people since we first opened our doors.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors, the 29 retail sponsor stores, and the 70 neighborhood volunteer coordinators who sold luminary kits, and to all those who light their candles during this wonderful holiday season. Many happy returns to all. Remember, peace begins at home.

JOAN BARTL
INGRID REED
Womanspace Board Members
and Coordinators for Princeton Lighting

Reasons for Municipal Consolidation Include New Emergency: High Taxes

To the Editor:

In her presentation at Princeton Public Library (“Research Scholar Tells Library Audience Consolidation Preferable in Emergency,” Town Topics, December 16), Laura H. Kahn made some excellent points on the advantages of consolidating our two municipalities.

She cited the ability of a consolidated municipality to deal with emergencies such as anthrax, avian flu, and SARS, among others.

Although we may never be faced with any of these emergencies, the compelling logic that she presents could also be applied to an emergency that is readily apparent to every resident of our community.

The level of property taxation has reached the emergency level, and would seem to respond equally as well to consolidation of redundant bureaucracies.

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Consolidated Government Makes Sense, but Not Because of Water Emergencies

To the Editor:

Laura H. Kahn recently argued, in a session at our public library (Town Topics, December 16), that it would be better to have one mayor than two in a water contamination emergency. I favor consolidation, but this example is plain silly.

I live in the Borough, on Jefferson Road. Our water supply was contaminated during construction work on the street’s plumbing system. The people doing the roadwork had to advise us when not to drink our water. Notifying the mayor so that he could notify us would have been a dangerous waste of time. The company that sells water to us, in the past, has suffered contamination due to flooding. How do you suppose they notified their affected customers? By calling the mayors? We learned whether we were affected through media outlets: radio, TV, and the newspapers.

There’s an underlying issue here that’s more important than Ms. Kahn’s concern. Solving that issue would be great, but any good solution would work regardless of how many mayors we have: How does the mayor of Princeton ever get in touch with all of us in an emergency? For starters, the mayor does not have my cell phone number or my email address in any useful form. How about your contact info? Have you ever added it to a mayoral database?

There are all kinds of emergencies waiting to happen out there, and all kinds of agencies that will have to get the word out if they happen. They will have to notify us as directly as they can regardless of how many mayors we have. Let’s address consolidation on its merits.

TOBIAS D. ROBISON
Jefferson Road

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