Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 24
 
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
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Court's Decision on Club's Tax Status Is Wrong, as Is Acceptance of Refund

MARK FREDA
Fisher Avenue

Citizens for a Safer Route 206 Urging State to Rethink Hillsborough Bypass

MIRCEA SAVU
Hilltop Drive
DON GREENBERG
State Road
SANDY SOLOMON
Bayard Lane
Citizens for a Safer Route 206

Court Appointed Special Advocates Sought for Mercer County Children

KIM H. MILLAR, M.D.
Trustee, CASA of Mercer County

YMCA Seeking Support from Community for Its Summer Camp Scholarship Fund

DAVID SANDAHL
Chairman, Board of Directors
Princeton Family YMCA

Inspiration Is Found From Film 'Gracie,' and From Princeton Young Achievers

JESS DEUTSCH
Patton Avenue


Court's Decision on Club's Tax Status Is Wrong, as Is Acceptance of Refund

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Matt Hersh for his coverage of the tax refund case regarding Cottage Club (Town Topics, June 6).

It appears to me that what this case is really about is the ability of Cottage Club to get enough money from student and alumni members to fund its operations. Apparently Cottage members and alumni do not provide enough financial support for the Club to pay their taxes, maintain their building, and do whatever else they do. But is the solution shifting their tax burden to the rest of the Borough taxpayers? Since over 50 percent of the Borough is tax exempt already, every additional property coming off the tax rolls is an automatic tax increase for the rest of the taxpayers, every year.

Let me be blunt. What is more important to the fabric of this community, the continued existence of Cottage Club or the ability of, say, a lifelong Borough retired couple, on a fixed income, being able to pay their taxes and keep their home? I assume and hope Cottage Club is aware of the impact this decision will have on the rest of their community. The immediate impact is the rest of us have to fund this $320,000 payment to them. Long term, do others use the same type of trick to get out of paying their taxes? In my opinion, the granting of questionable requests for tax exemption, like Cottage Club's, will further reduce the social and economic diversity of our town. That would be a blow to what makes Princeton, Princeton.

Seeing that Cottage Club is willing to be open to the public 12 days a year, and that appears to have been important to them getting this tax exempt status, really makes me upset. I have lived here all my life and I don't recall very much outreach from Cottage Club to involve the public. And in looking at their website those 12 days a year there will be public access is six days short of the 18 "On Tap" days they have listed for September 17, 2006 through February 15, 2007.

This decision is wrong. The Club's request for tax exempt status is wrong. Their taking the back taxes payment (funded by the rest of the Borough taxpayers) is wrong. Looking at the information on their website leads me to believe they have the financial resources to pay their share of the Borough taxes, their share of the school taxes, and their share of the county taxes.

I wonder if the student and alumni members of Cottage Club understand anything about what the informal motto of their University stands for. I think it partly goes something like this: "Princeton in the Nation's Service." Clearly Princeton Borough and its taxpayers aren't part of the nation, since this is a huge disservice to us.

MARK FREDA
Fisher Avenue

Citizens for a Safer Route 206 Urging State to Rethink Hillsborough Bypass

To the Editor:

There's an important public meeting on Wednesday, June 13 concerning the Route 206 Bypass, which the State is proposing to build in Hillsborough in 2009. At this meeting, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the Somerset County Public Information Facility, 379 South Branch Road in Hillsborough, the New Jersey Department of Transportation will describe the design for a new section of Route 206.

Why should people in Princeton and Lawrenceville care?

Well, the "bypass," costing an estimated $110 million in scarce State funding, would replace a portion of Route 206 in Hillsborough. The new roadway — or "highway," as the State calls it — will have few curb cuts and will be four lanes wide for some of its length. Fine for vehicles attempting to cut from I-287 to I-295/95, but not so fine for the historic communities between Hillsborough and the nearest expressway. The effect, many of us fear, will be to move more traffic more rapidly south into the heart of our towns and onto our narrow main streets.

We find it incredible that the State has conducted no studies on the impact of this "highway" as currently configured. Furthermore, the State has paid no attention to the effect the road will have on communities in Mercer County. (The key stakeholders as far as the State is concerned are all in Somerset County.) This is curious logic indeed since the same road links Hillsborough, Princeton, and Lawrenceville. Will there be sound barriers, as planned, around the new highway in Hillsborough and yet none needed when that traffic reaches Princeton and Lawrenceville?

Somerset County is bursting with development plans for unused parcels of land outside Hillsborough, but this project would create for Hillsborough a quiet main street on a stretch of the former Route 206 in Hillsborough, one relatively insulated from additional traffic. How nice for them! Meanwhile, any additional southbound truck traffic generated by new development will have to travel through Princeton and Lawrenceville to reach the interstate. In our historic towns, Route 206 is a main street for which there is no bypass. Many of our residents live nearby, and almost every resident regularly drives or cycles on the road, or crosses it, or walks beside it to get to work, school, or shopping. Why should we pay for Hillsborough's "Main Street" with increased traffic in our communities?

We hope you can join Citizens for a Safer Route 206 at this public meeting. We need to let the State know that we may have substantial reservations about this project. We'd like to see studies gauging the planned highway's impact on our un-bypassed towns. If Princeton and Lawrenceville's needs are being ignored by the planners in Trenton, we need to object strongly now before the jughandles are engineered and the asphalt poured.

MIRCEA SAVU
Hilltop Drive
DON GREENBERG
State Road
SANDY SOLOMON
Bayard Lane
Citizens for a Safer Route 206

Court Appointed Special Advocates Sought for Mercer County Children

To the Editor:

Many local families are busily preparing for the summer — arranging flights, putting labels on camp clothing, celebrating graduations. Our children are looking forward to days at the beach or internships with theater companies, and leisure time spent with friends and family. But there are over 500 children in Mercer County who do not have such prospects or families to plan them. These children are in out-of-home placement because of neglect or abuse. They often don't know where they will be living from one week to the next, and are usually separated from all that is familiar.

A fortunate few of these Mercer County children have a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate. A CASA is a caring adult who volunteers his/her time to act as a coordinator and advocate for a child in out-of-home placement. A CASA interacts with the family, the court system, the schools, and most importantly the child to ensure that the child is getting the care all children deserve. Currently only about 20 percent of Mercer County children who need a CASA have one.

CASA of Mercer County is conducting information sessions on June 14, July 17, and August 9 at 7 p.m. at 180 Ewingville Road, Ewing. Come and learn how you can volunteer and make a lasting difference in the life of a child. Call CASA of Mercer at (609) 434-0050, or visit www.casamercer.org.

KIM H. MILLAR, M.D.
Trustee, CASA of Mercer County

YMCA Seeking Support from Community for Its Summer Camp Scholarship Fund

To the Editor:

Imagine this scenario.

It is Danny's last day of classes. As the school year ends, three months of vacation await, and Danny has nowhere to go to take part in supervised programs with children his own age.

Inconceivable? It is for most Princeton kids. But for too many children in our community, summer camp is simply out of reach. For them, the hope of a healthy, safe, and fun-filled summer at YMCA Camp may be slipping away.

How could this happen? Why, with YMCA camp opening day just weeks away, are there more than 50 families still waiting for their applications to be accepted?

The answer is that unprecedented demand for financial aid now exceeds the Y's ability to provide it. The need is urgent.

This is what it will take:

One $20,000 donor;

Two $10,000 donors;

Ten $2,000 donors;

Twenty $1,000 donors; and

Forty $500 donors.

That adds up to $100,000, the approximate cost of ten weeks of summer camp for 50 to 60 deserving Princeton youngsters. We can't do it alone, which is why we are reaching out to the community through letters like this one.

To those who are in a position to help, we ask that you open your heart and checkbook and send your tax-deductible contributions in any amount to the Princeton Family YMCA, Strong Kids Camp Scholarship Fund, 59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton 08540 as soon as possible. You may also visit our website at www.princetonymca.org/polDonate.cfm, where you will find an easy-to-use donation form.

Or, call our chief executive officer Kate Story, at (609) 497-9622, ext. 209 to pledge support. There are moms and dads and kids hoping you will help; please give generously to help build a stronger, healthier Princeton community.

DAVID SANDAHL
Chairman, Board of Directors
Princeton Family YMCA

Inspiration Is Found From Film 'Gracie,' and From Princeton Young Achievers

To the Editor:

I was proud to be part of the Princeton community when the movie Gracie premiered at MarketFair last Thursday evening to benefit Princeton Young Achievers. It was the best of Princeton's talent, creativity, and compassion, in the interest of our families' and community's future.

Gracie, the movie, was a call to action for all of us who once knew how bad it hurt when a dad, a coach, or another kid told us we weren't good enough. Or how much it meant when a brother (or somebody else we trusted) told us we were. The triumphant story of a girl who proves she is tough enough to compete with the best of the boys, in a time before sports were a given for girls, Gracie reminds us that a kid with a dream is a powerful thing — boy, girl, soccer, drama, whatever the particulars. So many of us have stories like this: a coach who did or didn't believe in us, a parent who challenged, abandoned, obsessed about, or encouraged us. A brother, sister, or friend whose memory we wish to honor with our every move. The shot we made or missed at the buzzer. But do we tell these stories? Have we learned the lessons well enough to pass them on to our own children, and to other children who might be inspired or feel less alone if we do?

Gracie reminds us that we need to tell those stories, not just to our own kids, but by sharing our experiences at places like Princeton Young Achievers after-school centers, where kids are working and playing hard, and maybe searching for someone to believe in them. We just never know from where the next Gracie might be coming, or where she might be headed.

Kudos to everyone who was part of Gracie, and to Princeton Young Achievers for inspiring us all.

JESS DEUTSCH
Patton Avenue

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