Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 24
 
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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Borough Should Not Authorize Phase 2 of Downtown Development With NHKT

ROGER MARTINDELL
Borough Councilman
Prospect Avenue

Forgive Developer’s Debt of $360,000? Borough’s Move Would Be Unforgivable

JANET S. WOLINETZ
Bainbridge Street

“Time for TASP” Fund-Raiser Displays Spirit and Generosity of Princetonians

KAY ROBERTS
Russell Road

Witherspoon Middle School Carnival Is Postponed Until Late September

ROXANNE LIST
MARTHA LAND
Slammin’ Super Saturday Co-Chairs
John Witherspoon Middle School PTO

Princeton Symphony Orchestra Thanks Gala Patrons for Supporting BRAVO!

MELANIE CLARKE
Executive Director
Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Spirit of Princeton Committee Answers Questions About Memorial Day Parade

MARK FREDA
Vice-Chair
Spirit of Princeton Committee


Borough Should Not Authorize Phase 2 of Downtown Development With NHKT

To the Editor:

Whether Princeton Borough should authorize its downtown developer, NassauHKT, to proceed with Phase 2 of the Borough’s redevelopment project at the Tulane Street parking lot is a question of trust. In my view, the developer has not earned that trust. Therefore, the Borough should not now authorize NHKT to proceed with Phase 2. 

Here’s why. The developer botched Phase 1 of the project (the municipal parking garage) in material ways, including: (a) it failed to pay its subcontractors, generating continuing litigation that the Borough has been required to defend at taxpayers’ expense; and (b) the municipal parking garage was promised to be substantially water-free, but so far hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs have been spent to correct defects in the leaking foundation slab. 

The developer has refused to indemnify the Borough for the Borough’s litigation costs generated by the developer’s failure to pay its subcontractors, despite the unambiguous prior written agreement to do so.

Outrageously, the developer has demanded that the Borough pay for the defects in the garage slab the developer’s subcontractor designed and constructed.

The developer has failed to provide any data that the garage leaks will not shorten the life the structure or its electrical and elevator systems. Meanwhile, the Borough’s consulting engineer said that he cannot assure the Borough that the leaks will not affect the useful life of the building or its systems. 

Regarding the proposed Phase 2 of the project (the residential/commercial structure proposed for the Tulane Street parking lot), the developer is already hundreds of thousands of dollars and more than one year behind in its land rent obligations to the Borough.

The developer is already three years delayed in proceeding with Phase 2 construction. Its proposed construction schedule envisions completion two years hence.

The developer is several years behind in identifying a lender that will finance the project. Instead of providing the Borough with a bond to secure the performance of its obligations to the Borough, the developer says it will provide only the personal guarantee of its individual principals. But the principals refuse to provide financial data indicating whether they are creditworthy, insisting instead that the Borough rely on the judgment of the developer’s still unidentified lender.

The developer has 13 disputed claims against the Borough, involving over $1 million, which the developer seeks to mediate or litigate with the Borough. Were Mayor and Council to proceed now with Phase 2 while agreeing to mediate/litigate the 13 claims, Mayor and Council would allow a mediator or judge to make the call that they were elected to make regarding the value to the taxpayers of proceeding with Phase 2, including the merits of the 13 claims. Why should the taxpayers trust a mediator or judge to make what is essentially an economic/political call?

The downtown redevelopment project was sold by Borough Hall as being “tax neutral.” It has not been. To date, it has cost the Borough taxpayers between $2 and $3 million. That is not an encouraging context in which to ask the Borough taxpayers to extend their trust further.

While authorizing Phase 2 of the downtown development might be appropriate someday, it is clearly inappropriate now, given the record of the Borough’s current developer, with so many issues unresolved and subject to litigation. At this time, a vote by Mayor and Council authorizing Phase 2 to proceed would amount to a song and a prayer. Borough taxpayers might reasonably ask for a little more, or trust their elected representatives to do so.

ROGER MARTINDELL
Borough Councilman
Prospect Avenue

Forgive Developer’s Debt of $360,000? Borough’s Move Would Be Unforgivable

To the Editor:

At a time when our property taxes are extremely high, it is an outrage that Borough Council is contemplating an agreement with Nassau HKT Urban Renewal Associates (NHKT) that would forgive the disputed $360,000 in ground rent the developer is alleged to owe. As a matter of principle, collecting any money which the company may owe the Borough is far more important than giving it approval to proceed with Phase 2 construction.

JANET S. WOLINETZ
Bainbridge Street

“Time for TASP” Fund-Raiser Displays Spirit and Generosity of Princetonians

To the Editor:

As a resident of Princeton I continue to be amazed by the generosity and community spirit of Princetonians. I am co-chairing a fundraiser, Time for TASP, to benefit the Trenton After School Program (TASP). TASP is a program of Princeton Outreach Projects, Inc. which was founded by our two churches, Nassau Presbyterian Church and Trinity Church, 25 years ago. The benefit, hosted by the Arts Council, will be this Saturday, June 14 from  4 to 7 p.m. at the Arts Council’s newly renovated Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.

Many Princeton area businesses are contributing their time and talent, and donating their services, including the Arts Council of Princeton, Michael Graves & Associates, Tillies Nassau Street Caterer, Chambers Walk, Olive’s, Main Street Café, Cox’s Market, SUnger.com Marketing, Valerie Ford Photography, Strategic Human Resources, Inc., Cairo Cakes (Trenton), City Museum of Trenton at Ellarslie, Small World Coffee, Blue Tulip, Princeton Racquet & Tennis Network, RBC Wealth Management, Webb Mason printing, McCaffrey’s, Mark Freda auctioneer, and Princeton businesses that displayed clocks: Au Courant, Hulit’s, Lahiere’s, The Packet, Ricchard’s, Cosmo Bleu, Village Silver, Holsome, and Princeton Wine & Liquor.

These businesses represent what Princeton is all about!

KAY ROBERTS
Russell Road

Witherspoon Middle School Carnival Is Postponed Until Late September

To the Editor:

On behalf of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO we would like to thank the entire Princeton community for their support of Slammin’ Super Saturday. Although we were forced to postpone our annual fundraiser for our sixth grade Environmental Education trip, we are heartened by the outpouring of support from the Princeton community. It was a difficult decision, but the safety of our children was first and foremost on our minds as we came to accept the likelihood of “strong and severe thunderstorms.”

We know hundreds of Princeton families as well as our own students were sorely disappointed to hear the Carnival was postponed. We would like to thank the many parent, student, staff, and community volunteers who were willing to donate their time as well as make product and/or service donations. A special thank you to the JW children and parents who baked and decorated cakes for our beloved cake walk. Although we were unable to return the 75 decorated cakes, we were thrilled to be able to deliver them to the Rescue Mission of Trenton. It was our silver lining in a day of storm clouds. 

As we look forward, we are pleased to announce that Slammin’ Super Saturday will now be held on Saturday, September 27. It won’t be long before the community will once again see our Clown signs all over town and in the windows of the local merchants. We look forward to the continued support of the JW sixth grade Environmental Education trip and our Slammin’ Super Saturday Carnival. See you in September.

ROXANNE LIST
MARTHA LAND
Slammin’ Super Saturday Co-Chairs
John Witherspoon Middle School PTO

Princeton Symphony Orchestra Thanks Gala Patrons for Supporting BRAVO!

To the Editor:

On behalf of the musicians, staff, and board of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, I would like to express our appreciation for all those who contributed to the success of our annual gala on Saturday, May 17 celebrating BRAVO! Most particularly we are grateful to our outstanding team of volunteers led by event chair Teresa Danko, our corporate supporters, the donors to our auction of vacation homes, and the many people who attended this wonderful event. Close to $100,000 was raised, all of which will be dedicated to the orchestra’s education program BRAVO!.

Supporters of BRAVO! have made it possible for the PSO to reach beyond the concert hall in a truly meaningful way and to engage our community in the art and performance of orchestral music, inspiring thousands of local school children every year.

MELANIE CLARKE
Executive Director
Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Spirit of Princeton Committee Answers Questions About Memorial Day Parade

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Spirit of Princeton Committee I would like to make some comments regarding concerns from the Princeton Borough Republican Committee about our recent Memorial Day Parade.

First, thank you to everyone who participated in or watched our tenth annual Memorial Day Parade. Our intent is to provide a parade that honors the true meaning of Memorial Day and a parade that allows maximum participation by the community. This is a lot of work. We welcome anyone who wants to help us run this event or our other events (Flag Day, Independence Day fireworks, Veterans Day). One of our biggest challenges is having enough people to actually oversee the parade.

Let me address how we run the parade with regard to political parties/elected officials.

All elected officials are encouraged to participate. We have never turned away any elected official or political party.

All elected officials and potential elected officials are told, no campaigning whatsoever is allowed in the parade or at the ceremony afterwards. All parade participants are told that they are not allowed to hand out any materials or promote any cause during our parade.

Concerning political banners, the first banner by any political party in this parade belonged to the local Republican Committee. After that happened we informed political parties/elected officials that banners would only be allowed as long as they do not say “vote for whomever on Election Day or whenever.”

We believe this is fair; but we will reconsider the issue of banners for political parties/elected officials before next year’s parade.

We try our best and we listen to any concerns or suggestions we are given.

We invite everyone to join us on the plaza at Township Hall on Witherspoon Street at noon this Friday, June 13, for our annual Flag Day ceremony. 

MARK FREDA
Vice-Chair
Spirit of Princeton Committee

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