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Vol. LXIV, No. 28
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
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Historic Preservation Commission Approves Eagle Scout Hopeful’s Plan for a New Bridge

Ellen Gilbert

“Welcome to Bureaucracy 101,” said Princeton Historical Preservation Commission member John Tucker as he greeted rising Princeton High School junior Michael Treves at Monday’s meeting.

Michael was there, along with his parents, former OSHA employee Cynthia Treves and architect Francis Treves, to describe his application for an easement that would permit him to go ahead with an Eagle Scout leadership project that will entail building a bridge, with members of Boy Scout Troop 43, over an eight-foot gully in the Mountain Lakes area. Backed by Friends of Princeton Open Space, which was represented at the meeting by trustee Clark Lennon, the application passed amid many appreciative comments from Commission members. The only potential snafu appeared to be in what form — or even whether or not — an on-site commemorative plaque of some sort could be erected to identify those responsible for the project once it is finished.

Michael noted that the 16-foot bridge would span what is believed to be a drainage ditch off Coventry Farm, where loose rocks make the climb down hazardous, especially in rainy weather.

“This bridge will enhance the enjoyment of the preserve,” observed Historic Preservation Officer Christine M. Lewandoski. Commission member Robert von Zumbusch agreed, adding that the bridge “is really important and necessary in conjunction with the Mountain Lakes reconstruction, since the path system has been interrupted by the work currently going on there.”

“It’s a quality of life improvement,” commented Commission member Avril Moore.

Mr. Lennon confirmed that the bridge would be, according to Township Engineering traffic maps, significant in the approach to Mountain Lakes North and the John Witherspoon Woods, where Friends of Princeton Open Space have already begun work on enhancing area trails.

No trees will be cut down during the initiative, which will, for the most part, take place off-site as a largely pre-fabricated bridge is constructed. The Township will be supplying materials, and Michael and his mother estimated that they could guarantee the participation of a minimum of about ten scouts, with additional scouts — and other adult and adolescent participants — joining in on an as-needed basis. The progress of the work will be photographed as part of Michael’s Eagle Scout application, as well as for Commission documentation purposes.

Although construction of two other bridges in the Mountain Lakes area was also approved at the Monday meeting, Ms. Lewandoski indicated that she might ask the Environmental Commission — the next stop for Michael’s proposal — to make a separate ruling on it so that the application to the State could be expedited.

And so young Michael Treves learned an important lesson in Bureaucracy 101: amid all the arbitrary guidelines, there is usually at least some flexibility.

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