Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 23
 
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors



Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors


Advertise in Town Topics

Weather Forecast


Mailbox

Planning Board Meeting Fails to Allay Concerns About Church Building Plan

(3 Letters)

NAMI Mercer Thanks Donors, Sponsors For Its Fund-Raising Walk in the Park

SALLY T. OSMER
Executive Director
WILLIAM P. HAYES, MD
President, NAMI Mercer NJ

To Replace ‘Dinky’ With Bus Transit Would Alter Quality of Life in Town

ANITA GARONIAK
Harris Road
LIEVE MONNENS
Jefferson Road
MARC MONSEAU
Moore Street
ADAM BAUSER
Bank Street

Spirit of Princeton Committee Thanks Participants in Memorial Day Parade

PAM HERSH
On behalf of Spirit of Princeton Committee


Planning Board Meeting Fails to Allay Concerns About Church Building Plan

To the Editor:

Last week I attended the Princeton Planning Board meeting on the Westerly Road Church Bunn Drive site application. As a resident on Autumn Hill Road, just down Herrontown Road from the developer’s site, I listened with personal concern that I know my neighbors share. Ours is a location that already floods during heavy rainfall. The thought of even more water surging down our street is frightening.

Margaret Snyder, an expert hydrologist and licensed engineer, testified that the storm water plans don’t comply with the NJDEP Storm Water Management Regulations. Both the Dry Well No. 1, next to the building, and the detention basin violate the DEP design guidelines concerning the seasonal high water table — i.e., the structures won’t catch storm water as intended, and flooding may result.

I also learned that the developer has not provided the required maintenance manual for the basin — an especially crucial item since porous surfaces need frequent maintenance to function properly. The Planning Board should request the Township’s hydrologist to respond to Ms. Snyder in writing so that the Board may be adequately informed about the adequacy of post-construction performance. If Ms. Snyder is correct, then the developer’s present non-compliance must be rectified.

Because the basin consumes 1.3 acres, I was particularly distressed that the developer’s plan doesn’t pass the “nonstructural point system” and makes incorrect assumptions in calculations. Ms. Snyder estimates that when the errors are corrected, the developer will fail even more egregiously. To translate: the developer needs to use more nonstructural storm water measures such as pervious surfacing and native grasses to shrink the basin and the total site disturbance.

The Township’s hydrologist stated on May 17 (after the developer had made some revisions) that the storm water plan would “work out.” Ms. Snyder incorporated those revisions into her analysis before testifying. Whom should the Planning Board believe? What kinds of danger will emerge for residents downstream of this oversized development that has never heeded the environmental constraints of the land? I don’t feel reassured.

This job needs to be done properly or not at all. The Planning Board can’t risk approving a non-compliant application that may threaten the Princeton community.

LOUIS P. WAGMAN
Autumn Hill Road

To the Editor:

I have attended all of the meetings of the Princeton Planning Board this spring that have focused on the proposed move of Westerly Road Church to a site on the Princeton Ridge. From the beginning it has been clear that something in the church’s presentations has been awry and now, having witnessed the “public phase” of the meetings, it is even more obvious that they are missing the point. The members of the church as well as its official representatives before the board seem to be expending a lot of energy justifying their existence based on the good that they do and the value of their activities and their outreach to the community, and using this as an argument for the approval of their proposed plan. No one (formally in the meetings, or elsewhere as far as I know) disputes the value of Westerly Road Church as an institution, or the very real positive impact it has had on people’s lives.

However, the Planning Board is not in the business of evaluating the moral or spiritual role of the church in the community. They are devoted to making sure that the physical structure that will be the church ‘building’ (not The Church) is wisely and sensitively planned with regard to the physical environment. It is in some respects as simple as that. It would be helpful to the process if this, rather than a debate on the moral or societal value of the church, could be the focus of the discussions.

ROBIN REED
Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

At its meeting on June 6 members of the Planning Board and the Princeton public learned surprising details of the effort by the Westerly Road Church (WRC) to build in Lawrenceville in 2002. At that time, WRC’s plan included an education and administrative wing (nearly an acre) entirely on two stories. This is exactly the architectural solution that Princeton environmentalists have been urging WRC to do on the Princeton Ridge for the last year, only to be rebuffed.

Why was WRC ready to do in 2002 what they won’t do in 2010? Why does WRC now refuse to do what the steep slopes of the Ridge demand — which is to use the knoll or crest at the site (a high point before the slope to the Millstone River) instead of leveling the acreage to make an artificial platform?

Equally telling: applying in Lawrenceville, WRC wanted to have a balcony in the sanctuary seating 150 people. Yet here, on May 20, WRC rejected this proposal for space saving, saying that it would make the worship space unfriendly.

WRC is now creating an unenviable history of trying to build in areas officially designated as “Environmentally Protected” (Lawrenceville) or “Environmentally Sensitive” (Princeton). In Lawrenceville, when WRC planned to cover 42 percent of 13 acres with impervious surfacing, their application was unanimously rejected. What has WRC leadership learned about environmental stewardship in eight years?

The Planning Board meets again June 17. They should respect the environmental constraints acknowledged in Princeton’s Master Plan. Oddly, they can do this best by following WRC’s intent in 2002. The Bunn Drive site invites both full stacking of the building and a tiered parking area that uses the knoll (with costs for parking to be offset by cost-savings from the building). Anything else makes no environmental, financial, or architectural sense.

SUZANNE NASH
Governors Lane

NAMI Mercer Thanks Donors, Sponsors For Its Fund-Raising Walk in the Park

To the Editor:

“Changing minds, one step at a time” was the rallying call of the 900 people who participated in the NAMI Walk on May 22 at Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville. NAMI Mercer, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, sponsored the event with the dual goals of fighting stigma and raising money to support its free programs for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

The Walk was the 3rd sponsored by NAMI Mercer and its largest ever, drawing 64 teams from all parts of New Jersey, including ten teams representing other NAMI affiliates. Donations to date exceed $90,000.

General George Washington, portrayed by re-enactor John Agress of Lawrenceville, inspired the walkers by drawing parallels between the struggles of the Continental Army and NAMI’s fight against stigma. The general led the 5K march around the beautiful and historic state park.

Following the Walk, there was a free picnic and live concert by DJ John Schedler, Xenia Sky, Michael Glazier with Max Pfister, the Jeff Palmer Band, the Central Fuse, and Trentallica.

NAMI Mercer extends a sincere thank you to all of the generous walkers, donors, volunteers, and sponsors — Bristol-Myers Squibb, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Shire, Roma Bank, the Honorable and Mrs. Joseph Irenas, Princeton House Behavioral Health, Tom and Caroline Tompkins, Comcast, Capital Health Systems, Carrier Clinic, Greater Trenton Behavioral Healthcare, Sandoz, and Catholic Charities.

SALLY T. OSMER
Executive Director
WILLIAM P. HAYES, MD
President, NAMI Mercer NJ

To Replace ‘Dinky’ With Bus Transit Would Alter Quality of Life in Town

To the Editor:

The Princeton Regional Planning Board will soon be voting to endorse NJ Transit’s plan to replace the train connecting Princeton and Princeton Junction with a Bus Rapid Transit system. Based on statements by the Master Plan Subcommittee Chairman Marvin Reed, all signs point to an endorsement. Removing Princeton’s direct link to the national rail system will have an irrevocable impact on the accessibility, character, and quality of life in our town and merits thorough public discussion.

Mr. Reed points to BRT as an ideal solution to the stalemate between town and gown over relocating the Dinky station for the planned Arts and Transit Neighborhood. However, it is difficult to understand how a plan to remove the rail line is preferable to one that keeps it. Reed claims BRT can serve more residents by extending into town. As part of his “not just another bus” stump speech, he ignores any negatives regarding the BRT proposal.

The first is that BRT is not “rapid” without dedicated bus lanes, called right-of-way (ROW). The Princeton BRT will not have ROW once it leaves the station for downtown Princeton. Instead, these 60-foot-long articulated buses will join regular traffic. Regardless of how modern and accessible BRT is, when stuck in congestion, it becomes “just another bus”.

According to Mr. Reed, ROW “could” be created up University Place to the corner of Nassau Street by replacing parking spaces with a bus lane. This will eliminate parking and a municipal revenue stream, two things the town never has enough of. It’s also difficult to imagine that this alone will create enough space for the large buses. Will trees and sidewalks be affected?

Light preemption technology, allowing buses to change signals to green, is offered as a solution. However, Nassau Street is too short for preemption to be effective and will make congestion worse. During a Princeton Community Television interview, Mr. Reed stated that BRT could also have “pedestrian priority.” It is unclear what this means for non-signaled crosswalks and laws requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians.

Most importantly, will enough people use BRT to justify having five or more giant buses rumbling through town every ten minutes? Examining the nearly nonexistent ridership for the Free B suggests Princeton may not have the population density to support the system.

These are a few of the issues that 6,000+ members of the “Save the Princeton Dinky” Facebook group have been examining logically and openly. Mr. Reed dismisses this group as sentimentalists who do not understand BRT or transit issues. In actuality, the group is a deep resource of information about the BRT proposal, collecting studies and documents buried among government and agency websites.

Regardless of where they stand, both residents and students need to weigh in on this important issue. Now is the time to ask questions, raise concerns, and make your presence known. Waiting until NJ Transit is about to tear up the tracks will be too late.

ANITA GARONIAK
Harris Road
LIEVE MONNENS
Jefferson Road
MARC MONSEAU
Moore Street
ADAM BAUSER
Bank Street

Spirit of Princeton Committee Thanks Participants in Memorial Day Parade

To the Editor:

The Spirit of Princeton Committee would like to say thank you to the Princeton community, the veterans of war from throughout the region, the Princeton Borough Police, Princeton University, Princeton Borough Public Works Department, Princeton Borough Clerk’s Office, and the numerous volunteers working on the parade and Operation Shoe Box who gave us a spectacular Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, May 29. Their efforts enabled all of us to express our appreciation to the incredible men and women who have served and currently serve in the military. The volunteers on May 29 included, in alphabetical order, Kam Amirzafari (this year’s parade chairperson), Murali Balasurbramanian, Teena Cahill, Ted Ernst, Mark Freda (vice chair of Spirit of Princeton), Wynn Green, Jackson Green, Pam Hersh, Bill Howard, Sherry MacLean Maurer, Emily Roussos, Lorraine Simbala, Ryan Simone, Bill Spadea, Mark Sullivan, Ray Wadsworth (chair of Spirit of Princeton), and Karen Woodbridge.

The group packed up 99 boxes of supplies to be sent overseas in the Operation Shoe Box effort. And more than 1,000 American flags were given to the children watching the parade.

The Memorial Day event was the first of three spring/summer community celebrations sponsored by Spirit of Princeton. The other two are Flag Day on Monday, June 14 at noon at the Township Municipal Complex, and Independence Day Community Fireworks on Thursday, July 1 at 7 p.m. a the Princeton University fields next to the stadium.

For more information about these events and our Veterans Day celebration in November, visit www.spiritofprinceton.org.

PAM HERSH
On behalf of Spirit of Princeton Committee

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

Return to Top | Go to Obituaries


Town Topics® may be purchased on Wednesday mornings at the following locations: Princeton — McCaffrey’s, Cox’s, Kiosk (Palmer Square), Krauszer’s (State Road), Olives, Speedy Mart (State Road), Wawa (University Place); Hopewell — Village Express; Rocky Hill — Wawa (Route 518); Pennington — Pennington Market.
Copyright© Town Topics®, Inc. 2011.