Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 6
 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
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Opponents of Ridge Senior Housing Seen as “Out of Sync with Reality”

SUSAN B. LOEW
Overbrook Drive

Institute Housing Should Avoid Site of Historic Revolutionary War Battle

BILL SPADEA
Vice President, Board of Trustees
Princeton Battlefield Society

Architect Proposes a “Modest” 75-Unit Development for Ridge Senior Housing

CHUCK DISANTO
Mt. Lucas Road

Fund-Raiser Sponsors, Donors Thanked by Regional Scholarship Foundation

CAROL GOLDEN
SANDY TAIT
Co-presidents
Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation


Opponents of Ridge Senior Housing Seen as “Out of Sync with Reality”

To The Editor:

Something doesn’t add up here. Every time an opportunity comes along for senior housing to be built in Princeton, a faction comes out to protest. We have seen NIMBYs and environmentalists, to name only two. Where are these devoted protectors of the community when a builder erects a monstrosity, otherwise called a “mega-mansion,” that is perceived as increasing their own property value? Why are the good neighbors who rail about flooding only organized in the face of a senior development, and not present at every zoning, planning, and/or committee meeting to seek redress for their dire situation? They have flooding now, so the debate should not be about something that doesn’t yet exist.

The Princeton master plan cites as goals that we “maintain a balanced community that offers a mix of land uses while providing appropriately scaled community infrastructure and services.” We are fortunate that we live in a community whose officials are devoted to providing open space — both visual and recreational. But Princeton is a community that boasts a world-class university, an Institute for Advanced Study, a theological seminary, a college for music study, and many other drawing cards. The people who come here, work here, and volunteer here, also, not surprisingly, want to live here. Alas, when they can no longer manage a standalone house they are sorely out of luck, unless they qualify for subsidized housing. Seniors who can afford market-rate housing (apartments) just can’t find any here.

The planned senior housing is environmentally friendly, and more caring for its neighborhood than many of the existing buildings on the “Ridge.” Bunn Drive is not exactly a nature preserve. The sometimes acrimonious voices that ring out against it are curiously out of sync with reality.

SUSAN B. LOEW
Overbrook Drive

Institute Housing Should Avoid Site of Historic Revolutionary War Battle

To The Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Battlefield Society, I’m writing to point out some discrepancies in your article related to Princeton Battlefield and the proposed Institute for Advanced Study housing development.

Our organization has been working hard for several decades to preserve and protect the Battlefield Park and surrounding land.

Unfortunately, the IAS has been trying to minimize the public outcry opposing their potential desecration of hallowed ground in order to move forward with their plan to construct 15 new homes to accommodate faculty. Terms like “proximity to the site” and “in an area not directly adjacent to the battlefield” continue to support a factually incorrect position the IAS has taken.

We are dealing with two separate areas of the battlefield — the actual Battlefield Park and the adjacent areas that are currently owned by the IAS, where critical fighting took place during Washington’s first victory over the British Regulars in January 1777.

To set the record straight, the bulldozers will be disturbing actual ground where British soldiers and American patriots sacrificed their lives.

It is also important to understand that the Institute did not “turn over” the 589 acres of woodland and farmland and in fact was well compensated for the development rights. That acreage is still a part of the Institute property and is still being used for the original intent, of providing an area of contemplation and relaxation for its faculty. The donated portion of the land to the Park was very small in comparison.

As a preservation organization, we are not questioning whether the IAS has a right to build faculty housing. We object strongly to the location of the proposed development and the misinformation currently accepted as fact as a means of minimizing public opposition. We should be working together to find a reasonable solution that involves IAS building on another portion of the vast expanse of the property. If the Institute’s own study proved that actual fighting took place where they want to dig foundations, we can’t sit back as responsible Princeton residents and allow decisions to be made based on a misunderstanding of the facts.

BILL SPADEA
Vice President, Board of Trustees
Princeton Battlefield Society

Architect Proposes a “Modest” 75-Unit Development for Ridge Senior Housing

To The Editor:

The latest round of public hearings with respect to the proposed ordinance amendments for the senior housing overlay zone has, as usual, resulted in bitterness and frustration on all sides. This is predictable, as is the planned legal action to derail what can only be described as overreaching by Township Committee on a site riddled with difficulty. That citizens feel obligated to pursue a lawsuit is itself significant and speaks to the growing sense that reasonable voices are not being heard, or heeded, in this forum. However, there may be a compromise solution that most sides can live with, if not fully support, if Township Committee were truly interested in addressing this reportedly pressing need.

The site is large, at over 20 acres, and portions of it, as Mr. Hillier has recognized, are more amenable to construction than others. As an architect, I envision a more modest development, dedicated to the senior citizens Princeton Township has pledged to provide for. The building would be a simple affair, linear, four stories, and arranged in such a way as to capture the sun on one side and provide open views to the adjacent park on the other. The walls would be clad in natural wood siding, with “green screen” accents. Parking would be a mix of below grade and shielded surface parking. Large and important trees would be retained, with an eye towards maintaining a connected canopy. LEED standards would be seriously considered and thoughtfully applied. Most importantly, there would be 75 units, not 158. This can be accomplished in a much smaller complex, especially if the units are modest. Smaller units mean lower sale costs.

With 75 units here, a larger portion of the site can be preserved, and the Township Committee will have lived up to its previous and longstanding commitments to its own Master Plan. The Lowes, tract owners, will be more than duly enriched by any housing development on this site. Remember, the value of the land is directly attributable to the Committee’s overlay, which was itself arbitrary. A downward modification of that overlay still results in an increased value of the property relative to its underlying zone.

What is needed in Princeton is a variety of housing alternatives for seniors, not a single mega-development that will only be delayed by legal challenges, causing all sides to dig in further. Here is an opportunity to work together to achieve it.

CHUCK DISANTO
Mt. Lucas Road

Fund-Raiser Sponsors, Donors Thanked by Regional Scholarship Foundation

To The Editor:

On Saturday, January 26, the Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation held its third annual fund-raiser, “Get Up and Dance Party” and Silent Auction. Not only was the evening great fun, but we raised approximately $40,000 to fund scholarships for eligible Princeton High School students who want to pursue their educations.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended, our sponsors, and our donors. We deeply appreciate this community support. We look forward to seeing everyone next year.

CAROL GOLDEN
SANDY TAIT
Co-presidents
Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation

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