Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 27
 
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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University Official Answers Concerns of Borough Transportation Committee

ROBERT K. DURKEE
Vice President and Secretary
Princeton University

Allegation About Valley Road Building Corrected by Former Township Official

STEVE FRAKT
Lake Drive

5K Race Raised $25,000 Benefiting YWCA Princeton’s Child Care Center

JUDY HUTTON
CEO, YWCA Princeton

Internet Service Provider’s Policies Provide a Puzzling, Kafkaesque Tale

LEN CHARLAP
Heather Lane

Borough Resident Finds Civic Virtue Displayed Following Sidewalk Mishap

MARIE STURKEN
Cameron Court


University Official Answers Concerns of Borough Transportation Committee

To the Editor:

In its recent letter to Borough Council, the Borough Traffic and Transportation Committee questioned whether the University’s campus plan adequately addresses concerns about traffic congestion in the community. One of the goals of the plan is to improve traffic circulation wherever possible, and I would like to outline some of the ways we believe we can achieve this. 

First, we are working hard to reduce the number of cars that come to campus each day and shift uses from peak to off-peak hours. When we appeared before the Planning Board last month, we thought our plan would require a modest increase in the number of parking spaces on campus over the next ten years. Following further adjustments in the plan, we now project that the number of cars on campus ten years from now will be no greater than the number that park on campus today. This is despite a roughly 10 percent increase in the number of students, faculty, and staff. 

We have three principal strategies for reducing demand. One is to relocate several major administrative offices to off-campus sites. A new office building with its own onsite parking at 701 Carnegie Center in West Windsor will accommodate as many as 250 of our employees. Second, we do not allow freshmen to bring cars to campus, and in 2009 we will expand that policy to cover sophomores as well. Third, we also have begun an extensive “transportation demand management” program that seeks to increase walking, biking, use of public transport, telecommuting, van pooling, car pooling, and other transit alternatives.

All of these strategies will take cars off the roads, and because our overall need for parking is reduced, the garage we’ll be proposing for our lands east of Washington Road can be correspondingly reduced in size. We continue to work with our neighbors and others on issues related to size, location, and access to and from that garage.

In the proposed Arts and Transit neighborhood, we propose several measures to reduce congestion and improve circulation. For example:

A roundabout at University and Alexander would smooth the flow of traffic through the area and direct northbound traffic away from Alexander to University Place. This will bring traffic to the light at Nassau Street instead of to the congested intersection at Alexander and Mercer.

A well designed traffic hub at a new Dinky station would provide easy access for drop off and pick up and for the community jitney and University shuttles, as well as easy in and out access to the relocated Wawa. These movements would be separated from the roundabout at Alexander and University and from students crossing Alexander from Forbes College. This separation of function helps to reduce congestion, but retains convenient community access to the station and to Wawa.

A driveway directly connecting Alexander to the University’s existing 700-car garage on the other side of the Dinky tracks improves circulation by allowing University employees and visitors coming from the north to enter and exit the garage without having to drive down to Faculty Road, along Faculty to Elm, and then through the campus. In addition to reducing congestion on Alexander and Faculty, this driveway would have a positive impact on carbon emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled in this area by an estimated 500 miles a day.  

By converting university activity along Alexander from office uses to the arts, we would shift traffic from peak to off-peak hours.  

The plan also proposes incentives for biking to the area, including improved routes, storage facilities, and perhaps a repair and maintenance service.  

Over the course of the summer and in the early fall we will have more detailed plans that we will be happy to make available to members of the community, as well as to Borough Council, Township Committee, and the Planning Board, in whatever locations are most convenient. We are also pleased to respond to questions or receive suggestions from any members of the community about these or other aspects of the University’s still evolving plans.

ROBERT K. DURKEE
Vice President and Secretary
Princeton University

Allegation About Valley Road Building Corrected by Former Township Official

To the Editor:

In his Town Topics letter of June 25, John Boyd claims to remember that the cost of the new Township municipal building was supposed to be partly offset by the sale of the Valley Road Building. As a member of Township Committee at the time, I can report that Mr. Boyd’s recollection is wrong.

Township Committee made no such promise. Nor could it, since the building was and is actually owned by the School Board, which maintains its offices there. Township Committee recognized that there were many suggestions for the future of the building (or the site) and that there would certainly be a responsible community dialogue as to whether it should remain as a community resource or be sold for private use. (My personal view is that selling a public capital resource for a relatively small one-time monetary gain is generally a bad bargain.)

Regarding Mr. Boyd’s concern over rising property taxes, this can hardly be blamed on the fact that the Valley Road Building is still public property. It is important to keep in mind that the Township budget is only responsible for about 20 percent of the tax bill. The other 80 percent reflects school and county costs as set by the School Board and county officials.

STEVE FRAKT
Lake Drive

5K Race Raised $25,000 Benefiting YWCA Princeton’s Child Care Center

To the Editor:

For the fourth year in a row, nearly 400 determined women and men turned out to run or walk in the ETS Firecracker 5K Race on Tuesday evening, June 24.

This annual event raised $25,000 to benefit YWCA Princeton and its Child Care Center at Valley Road School, which teaches language skills to non-English speaking children and enables them to enter kindergarten on a par with their peers.

Thank you to Race Chair Micky Weyeneth of ETS, to Race Director Jerry Fennelly of NAI Fennelly, and to other planning committee members Michelle Cash of ETS, Michelle Everman of the Mercadien Group, and Melinda McAleer of Capital Health System. Heartfelt thanks also go out to our generous sponsors: ETS, NAI Fennelly, Bracco Diagnostics, Tyco International, Covance, WithumSmith+Brown, the Mercadien Group, Capital Health System, Bank of Princeton, Brown Dog Marketing, Volvo of Princeton, McCaffrey’s, Sound Choice, Wegmans, Princeton Packet, and Princeton Running Company.

Everyone was a winner on Tuesday night!

JUDY HUTTON
CEO, YWCA Princeton

Internet Service Provider’s Policies Provide a Puzzling, Kafkaesque Tale

To the Editor:

On June 10 I received a phone call from my Internet provider, Comcast. I was told that I had been abusing my connection, and if I didn’t stop, it would be terminated. Since I was not involved in child pornography, or spamming, since I did not use my connection to make money, I was at a loss as to my offense. It turned out that my crime was using my connection. They told me that I had used my connection too much in May, and that I had to drastically restrict my usage.

To begin, I asked them for a written statement of their policy. They said that they were specifically forbidden by Comcast from putting anything in writing. They would not even send me an e-mail with the warning. When a party refuses to put their position in writing, you have to wonder about their motives.

But there’s more. I then asked what was the limit that I had exceeded. They would not tell me that in spite of repeated requests. In fact they said it varied from month to month, but they would not even tell me the limit for May that I had broken. This is a situation worthy of Kafka, in which you are forbidden to exceed a secret limit.

But there’s more. When I pointed out that they had called me on the 10th so presumably I would have 30 days to reform my ways, they told me, no, I had to reduce my usage starting on June 1, which was 10 days prior. Again, I pointed out that I may have already exceed the secret limit during the 10 days in which I had no idea of their policy. They said those were their rules and gave me a phone number to call their legal department if I had any objection. I did so, and got a message that I should leave a detailed description of my problem, and that they would get back to me within 24 hours. When I did not hear from them, I called again and left a more detailed message with the same result. After many phone calls I realized they never answer their phone and never reply. I am sure this cuts down on the expenses of their legal department.

But there’s more. I then told them that clearly Comcast and I were not a good fit, and that I would switch to Verizon’s FiOS service. I would cancel my cable TV service at the end of June, and even though I would have the Verizon Internet service, I would continue to pay for their Internet connection until August 7 when my contact expired. They said that this would be satisfactory if I did not exceed the secret limit in June, but that if I did, I would be liable for the $150 fee for early cancellation of my contract. I pointed out that I was not canceling the contract; Comcast was terminating it. They said that these were their rules. When your contract was terminated for abuse, you have to pay the cancellation fee, and they get to define abuse any way they see fit.

I would like to discuss whether the policy of limiting usage is reasonable, but I probably have already exceeded the limit on the length. Perhaps I’ll write another letter after this business has lurched to its conclusion. Let me just close by warning readers that a Comcast Internet connection may be a satisfactory service as long as you don’t turn it on.

LEN CHARLAP
Heather Lane

Borough Resident Finds Civic Virtue Displayed Following Sidewalk Mishap

To the Editor:

One of the reasons I like living in Princeton Borough is its small town, neighborhood feeling. This was apparent to me recently when I had an unfortunate encounter with the sidewalk in front of Nassau Street Seafood and Small World Coffee, and landed on my face, losing some blood and a front tooth.

Immediately, a woman jumped out of her van offering paper towels and water. Another young woman quickly ran to get some ice, probably from my friends at the seafood store. She also offered to take me home. Within a few minutes, a sympathetic police officer arrived on the scene, and commandeered a chair, possibly from the Blue Point Grill. Soon the wonderfully competent Rescue Squad appeared.

We are so lucky to live in a community that radiates civic virtue, with public servants doing their job — but also with ordinary citizens ready to give immediate aid. I am grateful to all of them.

I must add that I tripped on an uneven sidewalk, which was noticeable to many.

MARIE STURKEN
Cameron Court

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