Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 26
 
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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Township Moves on Grant Application for Mountain Lakes Rehabilitation

Ellen Gilbert

The Mountain Lakes Preserve Dam Project, street repairs on Leabrook Lane, and the proposed construction of a cell tower on River Road occupied the Township Committee when it met on Monday evening.

Member Bernard Miller questioned the efficacy of a grant proposal, due today to the Garden State Historic Preservation Land Trust for $750,000, to support rehabilitation of the Mount Lakes Preserve Dam. It is estimated that the entire project will cost $2,135,000.

“We need to slow the train down,” Mr. Miller said, expressing concern that the total cost of the project had not yet been finalized, nor was it clear where the rest of the money would come from, even if the $750,000 grant were awarded.

According to Township Administrator Jim Pascale there isn’t much choice in the matter, since the state has already put the Township “on notice” about the necessity of rehabilitating the dam.

Mayor Phyllis Marchand pointed out that when the property was purchased by the Township 20 years ago, it was anticipated that work would be required to maintain the features of the landscape. Since then, erosion of the well-used site has been addressed with minor “band-aid” approaches. “If we don’t do something now, things will only get worse,” she said.

Township engineer Bob Kiser expressed the hope that receiving this initial grant from the Preservation Land Trust “would have a snowball effect” and other monies would follow. He pointed out that there are two aspects to the project: repairing the ”clearly deteriorating” dams, and dredging the lake. Of the two, fixing the dam should be the highest priority, he said.

Several residents of Leabrook Lane came to the meeting to express their displeasure over the recent completion of sidewalk repairs in their neighborhood. Frederika Schwerin and Nira Lavid noted the lack of uniformity as a result of the work, with the use of both Belgian blocks and concrete to do the repairs. Area residents, who are required to pay one-half the cost of sidewalk repairs on their property, had the option of selecting concrete, or more expensive Belgian blocks. The resulting inconsistency in appearance troubled Ms. Lavid, who suggested that the Township ought to consider what it wants to look like in the long run. Ms. Schwerin, who also expected the result “to look uniform,” complained that “we were not treated respectfully through the whole project.” Mr. Kiser responded by saying that the Township tries to repair things on an as-needed basis, keeping concrete curbs when they are in good shape. Eventually, he said, all curbs will be made of Belgian blocks.

Princeton Sewer Operating Committee (SOC) Chair Bob Hough reported T-Mobile’s interest in constructing a cell tower on the Township’s River Road property, an acknowledged “dead zone” for cell phones. Township attorney Edwin Schmierer reminded the Committee that to satisfy legal requirements a request for proposals (RFP) would have to be issued so that other interested carriers in addition to T-Mobile could respond. Although some concern was expressed about the impending Master Plan and where such a tower might — or might not — fit in, Mr. Schmierier suggested that producing an RFP and looking at the proposals that were received in response to it might only take about a month. It was agreed that the SOC would pursue this plan.

At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, Ms. Marchand reported that recent winners of Environmental Commission sustainability awards included recently retired Princeton Shopping Center gardener Cosmo Gentile, and the Whole Earth Center.

She also announced the names of Princeton Fire Department volunteers who were recently recognized for their many years of service. From Station 63, Mercer firehouse Number 3 at Witherspoon Street, the PFD honored Ray Bianco (25 years), Scott Pirone (25 years), Erick W. Karch (30 years), Alfred Kahn (35 years), and Matthew Freeman, who received an outstanding service award. Station 62, the Princeton Hook and Ladder Firehouse on Harrison Street, was represented by Jeffrey Golomb (30 years), and outstanding service award winner Charlie Scoma. Station 61, Princeton Engine Company Number 1 on Chestnut Street honorees included Andrew Cupples (55 years), Kevin Delaney (40 years), Bob Ellis (35 years), Robert Higgins (60 years), Pat Root (25 years), Henny Shields (35 years), Ben (“Roz”) Warren (40 years), and outstanding service award winner Henry Pennell.

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