Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 4
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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Weather Forecast

Rec Department Advises Caution Before Venturing Onto the Ice

Ellen Gilbert

The January 3 drowning death of 61-year old Plainsboro resident Janet Howard has heightened local concern about safety practices in icy conditions. Ms. Howard fell through the ice on Plainsboro Pond when she went after her grandson’s dog, which had wandered out some 25 feet from the shore.

Although recent cold-weather conditions might suggest that it’s time for a scenic turn on Lake Carnegie, the Princeton Recreation Department has very specific guidelines about ice skating at any of these venues which can be viewed at its website, and in a downloadable brochure. The website also includes regular updates on local conditions, and Assistant Director Ted Ernst recently posted the warning that “ice skating is unsafe in all areas,” because snow cover had made it impossible to accurately gauge the thickness of the ice. “In the past, even when the ice has been generally over six inches thick, there have been occasions where isolated areas were barely one-half inch thick. By not being able to see the ice surface,” said Mr. Ernst, “we are unable to see these thin and dangerous areas that pose a major safety hazard. Until a majority of the ice is no longer covered, we will not be able to safely check the ice.”

Throughout the winter season, the Recreation Department monitors ice conditions on the only authorized areas for skating in Princeton, the pond at Smoyer Park, the pond at Community Park North, and Lake Carnegie between the Washington Road and Harrison Street bridges. Flags (white flag=safe, red flag=unsafe) are posted at all three locations. The flags at Community Park North are located on the berm between the pond and Route 206 and next to the pond. The flag at Smoyer Park is located next to the pump house near the pond. At Lake Carnegie, the flags are located at the University Crew House by the intersection of Faculty and Washington Roads, and by the Harrison Street Bridge on the West Windsor side.

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