Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
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Rezoning Merwick Should Mutually Benefit the Community and University

Roger Martindell
Member Princeton Borough Council

Prospect Avenue Princeton Festival Thanks Patrons and Participants

Helene Kulsrud
Chair, The Princeton Festival Board of Trustees


Rezoning Merwick Should Mutually Benefit the Community and University

To the Editor:

This autumn, Princeton Borough will rezone for redevelopment the 32-acre tract that now includes the YM/YWCA, Merwick, and the Stanworth housing project, presenting a unique opportunity for public dialog on several issues, including the Borough's tax base, senior housing, and downtown parking.

Any redevelopment of the area should provide for affordable housing opportunities, protect the adjacent John Street neighbors from invasive development, and allow maximum flexibility for the institutional users in the area — the University, the Medical Center, and the "Y" — to coordinate their development for the greatest mutual, and community, benefit. Persons interested in the Borough's rezoning effort might focus on three additional goals.

First, while the University owns Stanworth and is under contract to purchase Merwick from the Medical Center, the Borough should rezone the area in the best interest of the community at large and not simply in the best interest of the University. Clearly, the University redevelopment at Stanworth/Merwick will involve housing. While the University may generously leave such housing on the tax rolls, it is under no legal obligation to do so. Therefore, the redevelopment of the area by the University threatens the Borough's tax base. What will the Borough do about that?

Second, there is no designated senior housing within walking distance of downtown Princeton.

Those Princetonians who have "aged in place" have, in fact, moved to Elm Court, Stonebridge, Windrows, or other facilities outside of town. As they age, seniors cannot drive, and they lose connection with the community. In a town that prides itself on being a green, socially diverse, people-friendly community that helps residents age in place, it would be ironic to rezone the last large tract of developable land within walking distance of the downtown without providing special incentives for aging Princetonians to live there.

Third, the site provides a unique opportunity for a parking garage that serves the downtown, and any rezoning should consider accommodating that opportunity. The site is in walking distance of the central business district. It is naturally graded so as to hide a garage from the surrounding neighbors. It includes the current "Y" parking lot, which has become a de facto downtown parking lot that is both inefficient and unsightly; so a garage in the area would improve rather than detract from the existing parking area. And it would reduce the long-term pressure to build yet another publicly funded downtown parking facility adding to downtown traffic.

These and other issues involving the rezoning effort all deserve public dialog. Persons interested in contributing to the dialog might usefully consider these issues before the rezoning initiative returns to Mayor and Council this autumn.

Roger Martindell
Member Princeton Borough Council

Prospect Avenue Princeton Festival Thanks Patrons and Participants

To the Editor:

The Princeton Festival would like to thank the community for its strong support of our third season "The Sounds of Spain." We particularly want to thank the enthusiastic patrons, tireless volunteers, generous donors, and talented local artists — including our peerless children's chorus and youth orchestra who performed in our productions. Additional thanks go to the many area merchants who contributed to our program book, the musical groups that contributed equipment and assistance, WWFM and the local newspapers.

The Princeton Festival is dedicated to presenting a summer festival of excellence and variety in the performing arts. Starting with just two productions in 2005, this summer we presented five productions at three venues in Princeton and one production in New York City. We could not have accomplished this expansion without the help of our community and its commitment to our future. We look forward to sharing future celebrations of the performing arts.

Helene Kulsrud
Chair, The Princeton Festival Board of Trustees

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