Undergoes a 'Groundbreaking' Year
It took a village to turn
Princeton into something more than what was once a stable stop-off
between Philadelphia and New York City. Now, that village has
turned itself into something more, with 2003 exhibiting Princeton's
ability to define itself further as not only a destination, but
as a regional center for enterprise, academics, and community.
ruled in 2003 as many long-time institutions took steps to renovate.
After sending out to bid construction projects for all four elementary
schools, the middle school and high school several times, contracts
were awarded for all but the high school by mid-January, and construction
on the schools started soon after. High School construction began
Princeton University broke ground on the
former-Pagoda Courts site to begin building Whitman College, the
University's 6th residential college. The University said it was
building the residence to accommodate an increase in its undergraduate
student population by 500 to 5,100 by the fall of 2009.
University also recently received approval to build a cutting-edge
science library along Washington Road. The library, designed by
architect Frank Gehry, is expected to turn heads while serving
the University's growing community. Princeton Day School announced
construction plans for a new administrative wing, arts wing, and
These construction projects represent an underlying
theme: Princeton is growing, and its infrastructure is growing
to accommodate these changes.
New and ongoing projects included:
the $18.7 million library; the 500-car garage on the former park
and shop lot; 97 (or 100 depending on whom you ask) luxury apartments
to be built on Hulfish North; the Township Municipal Complex;
and new recreation fields for growing demands.
Princeton has also made a considerable effort to preserve open
space in the face of a built-out community. Most recently, with
the help of the Delaware & Raritan Greenway, the Township
preserved 155 acres along The Great Road after that tract came
close to being developed.
Princeton has also made significant
effort to preserve tracts of open space for recreation fields
for leisure and youth sports.
David Newton, vice president
of Palmer Square Management, L.L.C, said that Princeton has rebounded
and will continue to make a mark throughout the region.
weathering adversity like economy and construction, the town has
not only survived, but has absolutely come out stronger than ever,"
Mr. Newton said.
Vicky Bergman, chairperson of the Princeton
Regional Planning Board has said that while the town is growing,
and while some residents may not want to see a more expansive
Princeton, careful and calculated growth will lead to positive
"Barring war, or famine, or poverty, Princeton
will grow," she said.
The biggest moment in Borough history not only for this year,
but perhaps for the last decade, was the 5-1 approval of the downtown
redevelopment project by Borough Council on January 21, 2003.
The $13.5 million project will include a 500-space parking garage
over the Park and Shop lot, along with a five-story apartment
building in front of the west face of the garage, several walkways,
and a public plaza to the south of the new Princeton Public Library.
The metered lot facing Spring Street will be the site of another
five-story residential building, to be built in a second phase,
after the construction on the garage is complete. Both apartments
will have retail space on the ground floor.
With an original
completion date of December 2003, the garage is now due to be
complete by early March, with a new parking system both in the
garage, and at surrounding parking meters.
Along with the
new downtown garage, the Princeton Public Library made a lot of
headway on its $18 million construction project. The building
was demolished in February 2002, and construction on the building
began in December.
The library has been temporarily
located at the Princeton Shopping Center, where it has remained
all year, and will remain into March, when the library staff anticipates
moving its books to the new facility.
Currently the library
is running an Opening Day Collection initiative to raise $200,000
for new books. Large donations have been given by the Friends
of the Princeton Public Library, as well as the Hillier Group.
With a heartfelt goodbye to 13-year mayor,
Marvin Reed, this week, Council will soon welcome Joseph O'Neill
as the new mayor of Princeton Borough. In the November election,
Wendy Benchely and Peggy Karcher, both incumbent, were reelected
to their seats on Council, as well.
Mr. O'Neill's open
seat will be filled by a candidate of the Council's choosing.
In early January, the Princeton Democratic Committee will present
three candidates from which the Council will choose. Potential
candidates, who formally announced their interest in the position
at a candidate forum in mid-December, are Andrew Koontz, Jenny
Crumiller, Mark Freda, and Anne Waldron Neumann.
Reed's final act as mayor was to reach a settlement with Palmer
Square Housing concerning the 97 housing units on Paul Robeson
Place, which had been a subject of debate for the last 13 years.
Pending approval in January by Council, the units will be built
within the next five years, with 10 units of affordable housing
as part of the agreement.
In other news, the Borough battled
the University's Cottage Club's attempts to achieve tax exemption
status. If status had been achieved, the Borough would have lost
as least $50,000 per year in taxes from the building. However,
the exemption was not granted by the state.
Needs for Hospital
rumors flying as to whether the hospital will stay and build "up"
it's current seven-acre site at 253 Witherspoon Street, or move
to the outskirts of town to a proposed 50-acre complex, Princeton
HealthCare system has attempted to keep its facilities up-to-date
while fending off speculation.
Barry Rabner, president and
CEO of PCHS, has said that while the hospital needs to undergo
serious change in the next few years, he and the hospital's board
of trustees are still weighing options. Ultimately, Mr. Rabner
said, the deciding factor is where the hospital can provide the
best care for the greater-Princeton community.
has to be contemporary and state of the art," Mr. Rabner said
in explaining what is needed for the current facility and why
it may be simpler to establish a comprehensive, out-of-town campus.
Last May, the hospital presented prospective plans for an expanded,
refurbished in-town facility to the Princeton Regional Planning
Board and to Princeton Future.
"We have a seven-acre
site where it is difficult to be contemporary in its present form,"
Mr. Rabner said. "We want to create a facility that continues
to be a good place to work and attracts good service and physicians."
According to Jack Roberts, executive director of
the Princeton Recreation Department, Princeton is several years
behind other municipalities in terms of its recreational needs.
As a result, the Township and Borough have worked together to
create more open space for for recreational uses. Earlier this
month, a recommendation given to the Planning Board called for
more recreational fields to keep up with a growing demand.
area that Mr. Roberts mentioned involved two square parcels of
land, 18 acres total, that sit at the confluence of River and
Herrontown Roads as being open for potential recreational use.
Roberts added that the Recreation Department is currently involved
in negotiations with the New Jersey State Department of Military
Affairs to acquire a "small footprint" for the possible
future construction of a youth baseball field. Located near the
Princeton Armory, the area overlaps land earmarked for the military
According to Mr. Roberts, the land needed for
baseball fields would span approximately five acres, and the existing
buildings on the site could be developed for indoor recreational
In university news, the Borough
agreed to put off adopting an ordinance that would allow police
to investigate private property for underage drinking and other
legalities for another year. This was decided because of a University-wide
effort by students and faculty to lower the number of drinking
incidents that occur on campus, as well as downtown.
In late November, The Princeton Township Committee
approved an ordinance that moved to protect trees on both public
and private properties.
The general purpose of the "shade
tree" code is to preserve the Township's tree canopy cover
of 38 percent, and to prevent clear-cutting trees, or cutting
down more than 20 percent of trees on a property.
also created a permit process on proposed tree cutting outside
the planning and site review processes, with penalties for illegal
tree destruction as high as $1,250.
Township Arborist Greg
O'Neil said at the time that while the new law goes deeper into
the realm of private property, the intention is to not hinder
progress by making it more difficult to remove trees but an exercise
in "good environmental practice."
would an annual summation of Princeton be without mentioning Princeton
Township's deer management program?
In September, following
a heated public debate, the Township Committee passed an ordinance
that allows bow hunting in four Township parks. Those parks include
the Woodfield Reservation, Autumn Hill Reservation, Fieldwood,
and Stony Brook at Puritan Court.
In the on-going efforts
to control the deer population, the Committee implemented this
method to enhance an a program already in place.
has contracted with White Buffalo, a private, professional organization,
to conduct its deer management program. However, in July, the
New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife denied the Township's
request for a permit to conduct a third year of deer management
if the plan did not include bow hunting as one of the methods
employed in deer culling. In August, a revised application was
resubmitted that included this tactic.
In the end, the Township
agreed to allow a limited number of bow hunters in the four designated
areas. Bow hunters are only allowed to operate during bow hunting
season. This year, the season falls between September 6 and February
Hopes for a branch library will
have to remain tentative into 2004 as plans for a new bookstore
in the temporary library location at the Princeton Shopping Center
Ira and Pamela Kaye of East Windsor announced
their intentions of opening a discount bookseller at the Shopping
Center that focused on community activities and child reading
The bookstore, which will house approximately
200,000 volumes, will open in August 2004.
space has been identified with books for so long," said Ira
Kaye in November. "It's great to be able to have that continuity."
a dream for my wife and me," Mr. Kaye said. The store will
be named for a long-time family emblem, he added.
In October, the Princeton Historical Society announced
that it had received a collection of furniture that once belonged
to Albert Einstein while he lived at his Princeton residence at
112 Mercer Street.
The furniture had been in the hands of
the Institute for Advanced Study up to that point.
pieces of Einstein's furniture made up the donation, including
his favorite tub armchair and his family's Biedermeir-style grandfather
clock. All the pieces have been subjected to methods of conservation
and restoration; Several pieces, however, including Einstein's
music stand and pipe, are already on display at Bainbridge House,
at 158 Nassau Street.
The conservation process is not cheap,
however. The Historical Society had to hire a professional conservator
to begin work on selected items. Preliminary estimates put the
cost of cleaning and conservation of the entire collection at
roughly $60,000. In light of these costs, the Historical Society
has received an $18,000 grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission
to facilitate the conservation process.
Princeton can count
its blessings for being able to keep these treasured items in
At the time, Historical Society Director Gail Stern beamed,
"We know the Smithsonian would have been very happy with
Time for Remembrance
residents joined the rest of the country in prayer on the eve
of the two-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11.
gathering concluded with a candlelit "circle of hope"
that coincided with the large-scale event in Lower Manhattan at
the World Trade Center site.
The interfaith ceremony featured
representatives from every major religious organization in the
Princeton area and celebrated the bond that has been created between
members of different faiths since the terror attacks.
event promoted peace and religious tolerance, not politics. Dr.
Parvaiz Malik, president of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey
in Monmouth Junction said that "[September 11] brought the
entire society together." He went to say after he was interrupted
by several rounds of applause that he had "never seen so
many faiths standing in one group standing with each other and
talking with each other."
Let it Snow
year was bookended by two major nor'easters that pounded the region.
February, Princeton received over 20 inches of snow in a late-season
blizzard that caught many commuters in a mid-week surprise.
even more surprising was the early December storm that dumped
14 inches on the area. The late fall storm brought excitement
to kids, young and old, throughout the area. Fortunately, no serious
accidents were reported, save some bumps and bruises from aggressive
"We had a lot of cars slide off the
road and road conditions were bad with several minor fender-benders,
but no serious injuries," reported Lieutenant Robert Buchanan
of the Princeton Township Police Department at the time.
more weather headache fell upon the region as heavy rains later
in the week brought flood levels to the area not seen since Hurricane
Floyd in September 1999. A combination between the rapidly-melting
snow and clogged storm drains were attributed for exacerbating
Bane of Harry's Brook
With a $26,000
New Jersey Department of Transportation project underway, residents
of the Harry's Brook neighborhood have faced their share of problems.
four significant floodings in the past five months, residents
of the Littlebrook Road area have seen Harry's Brook go from babbling
Possibly the most dramatic case of flooding
this year occurred at the DOT construction site. Flood waters
in that location rose quickly creating a marsh in the backyards
of residents around Tyson Lane and Littlebrook and Random Roads.
However, the DOT construction is not considered responsible by
the Township Engineering Department
Recent flooding caused
Stony Brook flooded and caused the closing of the Quaker Road,
near Route 206, and Rosedale Road, near Johnson Park School. The
West Windsor side of Harrison Street was closed due to canal flooding,
and Prospect Avenue was temporarily closed between Riverside Drive
and Castle Howard Court.
Choosing A Candidate
in November, Township residents chose between three candidates
for the Committee seat that will be vacated by retiring Committeeman
Promising more focused leadership and
closer citizen engagement, Bill Hearon, Democrat, won the Township
Committee seat with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
goal is to set up processes for people to get engaged in the Township,"
Mr. Hearon said upon receiving news of his victory. "I will
set up outlets and means for people to have a voice and an impact
within our community."
The ideal goal of alleviating
troubled traffic patterns and finding more comprehensive systems
of public transit throughout the community is a point of concentration
for Mr. Hearon.
"We've been looking at transportation
issues and I have been privileged to be exposed to some really
creative ideas on this subject regarding the region as a whole,"
The Princeton Regional
School District had its ups and downs over the past year. With
the awarding of bids and construction start anticipated at the
end of 2001, board members were repeatedly disappointed when they
had to send projects for the four elementary schools, middle school,
and high school back to bid several times to come within its $81.3
Voters overwhelmingly approved a $61.3
million bond referendum to cover construction costs in May 2001.
That amount was then supported by an additional $20 million in
state aid. The Board initially thought this would be enough to
cover the project, but bids continually came in over budget, particularly
for the high school.
Finally, at a special meeting on January
14, 2003, the Board unanimously approved the award of $36.4 million
in contracts for construction at the four elementary schools and
John Witherspoon Middle School. Construction on the five schools
started soon after.
The high school project, which could
not exceed $38 million, had once again come in over budget, and
On April 21, four uncontested candidates were
voted onto the School Board, and a $58 million budget was approved
for the 2003-2004 academic year. The budget increased tax rates
in the Borough roughly 11 percent, while it increased approximately
nine percent in the Township.
In the Borough, incumbent
Josh Leinsdorf was elected to his second three-year term with
237 votes, and newcomer Glenn Schlitz was elected to serve his
first three-year term with 231 votes.
In the Township,
incumbent Anne Burns was elected to her second three-year term
with 546 votes, and incumbent JoAnn Cunningham was elected to
a one-year term with 523 votes.
After reworking the high
school construction project to include less construction and more
renovations, the School Board sent the project out to bid once
again on July 30. While bids were due back by mid-September, they
were delayed two weeks when no bids had been received and contractors
requested more time. After receiving seven bids by October 1,
the School Board awarded a bid on October 2 to Ernest Bock and
Sons, Inc. for the amount of $32.8 million. Construction on the
high school started by mid-November, almost a year behind schedule.
The high school's new principal, Gary Snyder, who took up his
post in October, officiated over the groundbreaking ceremony.
In addition to bid awards, other obstacles had to be overcome.
In August, a lawsuit filed by LandTek, an unsuccessful bidder
on the installation of grass turf on the high school football
field, caused a temporary injunction to be put in place, which
halted installation for a number of weeks. This lawsuit cost the
school approximately $40,000.
A wet summer also caused
construction delays, then unmet building code requirements forced
the delay of school opening by one day. Reactions to adhesive
fumes from roofing at Johnson Park Elementary, and carpet mold
and iron deposits in drinking water at Riverside Elementary were
some of the problems the district faced soon after the start of
school. Community Park also experienced a sewer line back up,
resulting in students being forced to use bathrooms at the Valley
Between asbestos, mold, and water testing,
the halting of roof construction at Johnson Park, the installation
of ventilators at the elementary schools, and the overtime custodians
put in at the start of school, the district ended the year more
than $700,000 over budget.