Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
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Prosecutor’s Office Should Make Public All Evidence in Emann Investigation

Liz Winslow
Dodds Lane

Proposed University Arts Neighborhood Should Be Integrated With the Community

Landon Jones
Hibben Road

Princeton Future’s Light Rail Concept Not Sustainable, Economically Feasible

Chip Crider
Bank Street

Mercer Street Friends Food Bank Extends Thanks to Church and Dwight

Phyllis C. Stoolmacher
Director
Mercer Street Friends Food Bank


Prosecutor’s Office Should Make Public All Evidence in Emann Investigation

To the Editor:

I had the pleasure of some interaction with Det. Art Villaruz when I moved to town a few years ago, and I was completely impressed by his professionalism, knowledge, and approachability. What (admittedly unproven) information I’ve heard through the grapevine about the charges leads me to believe that certainly he, and probably the other police officers involved, got a raw deal (“Emann Case Closes With Three Resignations,” Jan. 19, p.1). These rumors easily could be cleared up if the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office would simply make public *all* of the evidence, so that Princeton’s taxpayers can determine whether the law enforcement we pay for was removed permanently for reasons that we deem to be reasonable. Failing that, I’d like to know if there’s a way that people with such a long institutional memory and connections to the town and its people can be made consultants to the police force without actually resuming their former roles, so that their wealth of experience is not lost. I’d be happy for my recently raised property taxes to pay for that.

Liz Winslow
Dodds Lane

Proposed University Arts Neighborhood Should Be Integrated With the Community

To the Editor:

An important issue that underlies the Dinky debate involves the nature of the University’s interface with the community. A healthy and vital “arts neighborhood” is one that embraces the full diversity and stimulation of the outside communities. This area in particular should not become a walled-off sanctuary with the University on one side and the community on the other. Instead, the arts neighborhood can be fully integrated with the community in terms of living arrangements, academic buildings, and transit — a porous border that supports creativity, not isolates it.

Landon Jones
Hibben Road

Princeton Future’s Light Rail Concept Not Sustainable, Economically Feasible

To the Editor:

Recently Princeton Future unveiled a concept plan to replace the Dinky with Light Rail (LR) eventually extending it up University Place to Nassau Street with three additional stops. Princeton University’s proposed Arts District would have a train running through it; pedestrians would scatter. The train would run in the street and motor vehicles would yield. LR vehicles approximate busses. We would have a short BRT on a track. They have characterized this as a sustainable plan; the facts tell a different story. The Central Jersey Transportation Forum’s 2002 study determined that LR was not economically feasible; that’s what led to the Route 1 BRT plan. The Department of Energy’s Transportation Energy Data Book shows that LR consumes twice the energy per passenger mile than heavy rail. Numerous factors contribute to this. Rail vehicles and busses are not full all of the time and they run scheduled (whether full or empty); this load factor has the biggest influence.

As energy costs rise, inefficient public transit will no longer be viable. Public transit has been highly subsidized for years; the trend will be to options that break even. Transit based totally on busses will fail at peak times as traffic exceeds road capacities.

The solution for the future is in changing the fundamental ways transit operates. A promising technology called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) utilizes smaller (4 to 6 person) automated vehicles operating on a compact guideway. It runs on demand 24/7 and will not run empty. Rides have no intermediate stops. It is the right sized tool for the job. PRT energy usage per passenger mile is close to that of a motorcycle; 25 percent of LR usage.

The concept LR plan is not supported with a detailed data based study. It is the result of a consensus of a selected few. It does have an agenda, which is to attempt to block the University from moving the Dinky station 460 feet farther out from downtown to build their Arts District. Princeton is not a progressive town; we come out in droves for the status quo.

Since the University’s announcement the Princeton Regional Planning Board has yet to even consider doing a comprehensive long range transportation plan; they assume the Dinky will last forever. Instead, they spent four years dickering over 460 ft; too much politics and too little planning.

Why not energize the University instead of blocking them?

The University should be allowed to move the station but only at the end of the project. They also should fund a detailed professional study of future options including new technologies such PRT. This study should be administered jointly by the planning board, the University and some citizens. The University needs to assume leadership and some financial commitment in propelling local public and campus transit forward. It truly would be the Arts and Transit District if the implementation of an innovative, efficient public transit system were included.

Chip Crider
Bank Street

Mercer Street Friends Food Bank Extends Thanks to Church and Dwight

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to Princeton-based Church and Dwight for the gift of $75,000 we received at year’s end. This donation was part of $1-million given away by the corporation and its employees to local hunger relief charities and Feeding America, the national food bank network.

The gift to Mercer Street Friends is one of the largest donations we have ever received and comes at a time when our services and programs are critically needed. In 2010, we supplied and stocked food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens in Mercer County with over three million pounds of food and groceries, helping nearly 25,000 residents who face severe food shortages. Until the unemployment numbers significantly turn around, we see no lessening in the number of people facing hunger and food insecurity and in need of our resources.

This donation to Mercer Street Friends comes on top of other support we receive from Church and Dwight — grants from its Employee Giving Fund directed toward our healthy eating initiatives, employee volunteering and donations of products manufactured by their Arm and Hammer brand.

We are truly touched to be included as a beneficiary of this corporate largesse and goodwill and thank Church and Dwight and its most caring employees for this extraordinary support and commitment to improving the well-being of community in which they live and work.

Phyllis C. Stoolmacher
Director
Mercer Street Friends Food Bank

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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