Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 23
 
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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

Objections Continue to Proposed Use of Artificial Turf on Playing Fields

EMILIE HECK PETRONE
Bertrand Drive
JAMES S. BESLITY
Greenway Terrace

University Students Deem Themselves Full Members of Princeton Community

JACOB ARONSON
Cuyler Hall
Princeton University

Borough Officials Are Urged to Resist Efforts to Limit Affordable Housing

LAURIE HARMON
DAVID SCHRAYER
LINDA SIPPERELLE
PIERINA THAYER

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad Does Not Endorse Political Candidates

PETER J. SIMON
President
Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad

Town Topics Readers’ “Kind Responses” Help Reunite a Long-Separated Family

BARBARA FOX-COOPER
Allentown, N.J.


Objections Continue to Proposed Use of Artificial Turf on Playing Fields

To the Editor:

I love the sounds of a great sports contest and love those sounds in my backyard. I have been the original volunteer coach in startup community lacrosse leagues and bought a home that borders Smoyer Park with the full understanding that aluminum bats and whistles would be a permanent fixture in my Sunday morning future. However, I do not believe building artificial turf fields in our parks is in our community’s best interest.

I understand the demands being placed on the Princeton Recreation Department to provide additional playing fields to meet the growing demand of youth athletes in our community. I applaud the job the Recreation Department has done to make the most of a very small percentage of playable field space for all sports-loving families in this town.

However, the results of the recent Parks and Recreation Master Plan survey show that only 7 percent of the respondents chose synthetic turf as a potential improvement they would like in Princeton Parks. Given this public sentiment, I don’t know why Princeton is barreling forward with installing artificial turf. The research that debates both sides of the environmental and health impacts of artificial turf could fill its own landfill. However, this is not the only issue. The broader issue has to do with continuing to uphold the overall quality, aesthetics, and sustainability of our town parks.

Synthetic turf is the trend of the day, but only minimally addresses the need for additional playing fields for our children. In fact, one plastic field only generates half of an extra field for overall playing time according to the Recreation Department’s estimate. As Princeton embarks on a path to sustainability, is plastic grass really the kind of footprint we want to leave on this community when, to date, we have been so fortunate with the overall quality of our recreational space?

Not only would the installation of synthetic turf permanently alter the multi-use nature of our parks, the installation of synthetic turf in the mid- and long-term is significantly more expensive than natural turf. Synthetic turf fields are much more expensive to install and must be replaced within 8 to 10 years. Who will bear these future costs? I do not think artificial turf is an answer for any of these spaces, at Greenway, Smoyer, Marquand, or FarmView. Why would you ever pave them over and install plastic turf?

Is a $1 million project to install a plastic field with an 8 to 10 year life expectancy the legacy we want to leave? We hope this community will support a longer-term view.

EMILIE HECK PETRONE
Bertrand Drive


Editor’s Note: The writer of the following letter has been employed at the Princeton Recreation Department as a lifeguard since 2004.

To the Editor:

I write to voice my opposition to the Princeton Recreation Department’s proposition to install an artificial turf playing field to accommodate their athletic programs at Barbara Smoyer Park. The Princeton Environmental Commission resolved in their most recent meeting on May 27 that “high quality, lead-free, and well maintained synthetic turf poses no known measurable or immediate threat to date to human health or the environment.”

This statement is far too broad and is, therefore, false. Although there is currently no conclusive research that the crumb rubber used in artificial turf can pose an “immediate” health threat, waste tire rubber is typically classified as hazardous by waste handlers and often contains a plethora of known carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals. Even a “lead free” turf could contain any number of other toxic materials that could leach into our groundwater or run off into nearby surface water; this was the reason behind not installing such fields at Greenway Meadows Park. “Turf burn,” another common risk when playing on artificial turf, is an injury that can result in anything from serious skin abrasions to MRSA infections, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Yet another problem for athletes is the risk of heat stroke, since the crumb rubber absorbs the sun’s rays to the point that it actually heats the air above the turf. That air can reach temperatures of up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit on hot days.

It is impossible to overlook the inferior aesthetic aspect of artificial turf. When we think of fields or meadows, we certainly don’t picture plastic grass. The natural field at Smoyer Park is used for many purposes, not just athletics. It is a pleasant place to walk or simply spread out and enjoy nature. I would never spread my blanket out and have a picnic on artificial turf; the crumb rubber sticks all over your hands if you touch it and on your legs if you run on it. Artificial turf sends the signal that the field is meant for only athletic purposes, and not for the use of the entire community.

I can appreciate the arguments set forth by those in favor of artificial turf. Lower perpetual maintenance costs and immunity to deterioration in wet conditions are valuable benefits for the Recreation Department programs. Those with severe grass pollen allergies, including my 9-year-old sister, have found that their discomfort is notably reduced when playing sports on artificial turf fields. However, an artificial turf field installed at Smoyer Park would not benefit those who use and appreciate the park the most. Instead, it would attract hordes of cars and people to one of Princeton Township’s most tranquil neighborhoods, and drive away those who have enjoyed the park as the beautiful, multi-use recreational resource that it is.

JAMES S. BESLITY
Greenway Terrace

University Students Deem Themselves Full Members of Princeton Community

To the Editor:

David E. Cohen, in his Letter to the Editor on May 27, said that “members of the community must ask themselves whether they want to let [University] students dictate the outcome of the election.” As one of these students, I feel compelled to respond.

I have been a University student and a Princeton resident for the past two years, during which time I have always considered myself a part of the Princeton community. I live in Princeton. I support businesses and restaurants in Princeton. And, yes, I vote in Princeton.

Attitudes like Mr. Cohen’s — that students are temporary residents who are not full members of the Princeton community — are part of the reason why Mendy Fisch’s candidacy was so appealing to University students.

As the president of a local political organization, it would have been nice if Mr. Cohen praised how many students had fulfilled their civic duty by voting absentee when school is not in session. Instead, he refers to it as an “electioneering strategy.” I find Mr. Cohen’s scaremongering in his letter to the editor and e-mails to the PCDO unprofessional and offensive.

Jenny Crumiller has pledged to work to establish a permanent, non-voting position for a University student on the council. I hope that, at the very least, she will bring to the Borough Council and to the PCDO a new attitude that considers students a part of — not apart from — the Princeton community.

JACOB ARONSON
Cuyler Hall
Princeton University

Borough Officials Are Urged to Resist Efforts to Limit Affordable Housing

To the Editor:

Although the undersigned authors of this letter are all members of the Princeton Borough Affordable Housing Board, we are writing as Borough residents and taxpayers.

Princeton Borough has kept current on its petitions to the State’s Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) for certification of its Housing Element and Fair Share Plan, despite the fact that COAH rules have become a moving target and that these rules are essentially an unfunded mandate. Zoning for the Hospital and Merwick sites was changed to produce some of the highest density in the Borough. This was done in order to allow the Medical Center to yield the highest profit from the sale of the parcels, thereby facilitating their expansion.

Recently the Borough was notified that the Medical Center, the contract purchaser of the hospital site, and a third party jointly filed objections to the Borough’s plan with COAH. The objections are aimed either at increasing the overall density of housing or at decreasing the percentage of affordable units at the site. This is a magnificent slap in the face to the town and its residents who bent over backwards to accommodate the Hospital’s interests because, as one elected official put it, “We have an obligation to do so.”

In light of the Hospital’s open hostility towards the Borough, we call on the Mayor and Council and the Planning Board to revisit the zoning density permitted at the hospital and Merwick sites and to create more opportunity, as advocated by the Affordable Housing Board since 2005, for the creation of affordable workforce housing.

LAURIE HARMON
DAVID SCHRAYER
LINDA SIPPERELLE
PIERINA THAYER

Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad Does Not Endorse Political Candidates

To the Editor:

Please allow me to correct and clarify two items in the June 3 Town Topics article regarding the outcome of the Princeton Borough Primary Democratic election.

The first item is a minor clerical inaccuracy, citing Mark Freda as President of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. Mark served as President in 2008, and while he is still an active and valued member of the Squad, he no longer holds that office.

The second point is of greater importance. The Squad does not endorse political candidates. While Mark may have endorsed a candidate, his statements were in no way made as the representative of the Squad, or any of the other volunteer groups he is affiliated with. Mark has always been very clear that his personal political activities have nothing to do with any non-political volunteer group he belongs to. Regrettably, it appears that Mark’s name was simply connected with his former title and affiliation, giving the implication that the Squad was endorsing a candidate in an election.

For the record, the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad does not endorse any political candidate or party for local, county, state, or national elections.

The Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad is proud to provide emergency medical care to the Princeton community. The Squad has always felt that our patients are best served when our primary focus is on patient care. As such, the Squad treats all patients on an equal basis, regardless of political (or any other) affiliation.

PETER J. SIMON
President
Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad

Town Topics Readers’ “Kind Responses” Help Reunite a Long-Separated Family

To the Editor:

Thank you to the readers who responded to a Letter to the Editor in the March 18 issue of Town Topics by Alastair Davies of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. Alastair looks after Eveline Hicks Latham of the U.K., the sister of my late husband, Kenneth Hicks, who died in Princeton in 1984.

Alastair listed the few details available to him in his letter, in an effort to locate Kenneth’s family in the U.S. He lifted the bits and pieces of information from Kenneth’s funeral service pamphlet that had been mailed to Eveline in 1984. The letter accompanying the pamphlet included my return address but over the years she had misplaced it. 

Several readers made phone calls to Rev. Patrick Connor of Bordentown who was mentioned in the article for conducting the memorial service at Princeton University Chapel. Fr. Connor was unable to piece together the sketchy details based on my first name and the first names of Ken’s now married children — and the 25-year time lapse.

But thanks to the kind efforts and expertise of a local journalist, Nancy Kennedy, the family has been found and we are corresponding with Eveline, now 84 years old. Correspondence includes letters, video, and audio exchanges. Her health permitting, Eveline is considering a journey to the U.S. to meet the nieces and nephews she has never known. Ken and his sister, separated by the circumstances of war during childhood, met only once. It was 1945 in Kent, U.K., for only one hour when she was a nurse and he was a Marine. After the war Ken left Europe and they had no further contact.

Thanks to Town Topics for publishing Alastair’s letter, the kind responses from the readership, and Nancy Kennedy who took the story to heart, we are now basking in the joys of a family reunited.

BARBARA FOX-COOPER
Allentown, N.J.

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.