Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 26
 
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
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Children's Art Sale Organizer Thanks Donors, Buyers for Supporting CASA

STEPHANIE HAUER
Dodds Lane

Adoption of New Transit Technology Would Obviate a Dinky Station Move

CARLOS RODRIGUES
Moore Street

Borough's Surplus Fund Should Be Used, if Necessary, to Reimburse Club Taxes

LINDA SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Recreation Board Defends Its Actions on Park Use by Shakespeare Company

JEANINNE HONSTEIN
MIKE FINKELSTEIN
TOM ZUCOSKY
Joint Recreation Board Amphitheater Subcommittee


Children's Art Sale Organizer Thanks Donors, Buyers for Supporting CASA

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone who helped to make my annual Children for Children Art Sale for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on June 21 such a success, enabling me to surpass last year's achievement.

I want to thank my friends who made art and helped to sell the art, and Red Green Blue for donating children's art work. I also want to thank Sovereign Bank for allowing me to hold the art sale in front of the bank and for matching all donations made to CASA. Specifically, I would like to thank Mark McCoy and Mark Applegate at the bank for all of their assistance. I also want to thank the CASA representatives who volunteered their time.

I especially want to thank everyone in the community who bought art or made a donation.

STEPHANIE HAUER
Dodds Lane

Adoption of New Transit Technology Would Obviate a Dinky Station Move

To the Editor:

Princeton University has unveiled a far-reaching campus plan. All local residents, along with the Regional Planning Board, should take note. While many of the plan's proposals are worthy of community support, one specific proposal is not: to move the Dinky station 500 feet further away from the downtown.

The University argues that most Dinky users drive to the station, and that this action will improve parking options. But to the many Dinky users who walk to or from the station, and to the community at large, this is a very bad idea. An additional 500 feet is not relevant to a driver; it is a big deal to a pedestrian. The Dinky station should be closer to town, not further away. This 500 foot move would be in the wrong direction, and for the wrong reasons.

The proposed move is driven by the near impossibility of gaining approval for new at-grade crossings of heavy rail lines. The Dinky track is a barrier which the University is trying to avoid, by moving the station. But let's face it: the whole concept of the Dinky is obsolete. There is no justification for a heavy rail solution linking Princeton Junction to Princeton Borough. The intelligent and cost-efficient thing to do is to convert the Dinky right-of-way into a multi-purpose corridor capable of handling pedestrians, bicycles, and public transit in a shared space and with a civilized streetscape. To move the station based on the premise that heavy rail technology will continue demonstrates a complete lack of imagination.

Princeton Junction should be linked to Princeton proper by way of a 21st century transit technology, a clean-energy trolley capable of continuing into the downtown, circulating at grade throughout the University campus and reaching out as far as the Medical Center, the Princeton Shopping Center, and the intervening neighborhoods. The Dinky, the University shuttle buses (also known as the "stinky," due to their emissions), and the New Jersey Transit buses should all be merged into a single transit option providing service throughout the campus, the downtown, and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Dinky right-of-way should be thoroughly treed and turned into a pleasant multi-modal corridor, with intervening stops at strategic locations along the way to service the various existing and future nodes of activity between the Junction and Princeton's downtown. A direct link with the D+R Canal trail would also bring this remarkable regional facility that much closer to the downtown.

Once we discard our misguided attachment to the Soviet-era Dinky technology and endorse a far cheaper, cleaner, and nimbler trolley option, we can begin to rethink transit in our community in a far more serious and imaginative way, and begin to plan for land use changes that actually reinforce the transit options.

CARLOS RODRIGUES
Moore Street

Editor's Note: The writer chairs the Princeton Township Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Borough's Surplus Fund Should Be Used, if Necessary, to Reimburse Club Taxes

To the Editor:

Along with other Borough taxpayers, I have noted with dismay the likelihood that the Borough will have to repay the Cottage Club $320,000 for five years of back taxes (Town Topics, June 13). A recent court ruling granted historic site designation and therefore tax exempt status to the privately-owned Prospect Avenue eating club. Borough Council has suggested various measures to address this situation including state legislation, municipal ordinances, importuning the university, or simply not paying the taxes.

After the posturing has subsided, the most likely outcome will be that the Council's preferred soft touch, Borough taxpayers, will end up with the bill. Council members seem already to have forgotten the recent defeat of the school budget and the strong message conveyed that Borough taxpayers are weary of unceasing tax hikes.

This latest financial embarrassment could have been avoided if the Council had exhibited the foresight to put the Cottage Club tax payments into an escrow account until the legal situation had been definitively adjudicated. I would also like to reiterate the suggestion I made at the Borough Council meeting of June 6 that if taxes must be repaid to the Cottage Club the payments should come from the Borough's surplus fund, which I was told amounted to about one million dollars.

When it approved the 2007 Borough budget at its May 22 meeting, the Council decided to keep the spending reduction of $100,000 for a rainy day instead of returning the cuts to the taxpayers in the form of a lower tax rate (Town Topics, May 30). That rainy day is on the near horizon. Time to break out the umbrella!

LINDA SIPPRELLE
Nassau Street

Recreation Board Defends Its Actions on Park Use by Shakespeare Company

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Joint Recreation Board, we are writing to address the recent articles pertaining to our supposed mistreatment of the Shakespeare Repertory Company with regard to the use of Pettoranello Gardens. Directly or indirectly, those articles criticized the Board for being shortsighted in not offering the Rep Company a long term contract, thereby hurting its chances to attain sponsor commitments and causing the company to cancel its 2007 season.

For the record, New Jersey state law prohibits municipal agencies from extending multi-year contracts, except in very specific circumstances and then for only two years. We further note that best practices from municipalities around the country suggest the annual renewal of contracts.

We, as the Recreation Board's Amphitheater Sub-committee, have been involved in these negotiations for over seven years. In that time, notwithstanding our prohibitions, we have repeatedly assured the Shakespeare Rep Board, both in writing and verbally, our intent to have them return the following year. We have encouraged their Board to share this information with its sponsors and we have offered to take a personal role in that effort if requested. Furthermore, we have gone to great lengths to actually ensure that the Rep Company would return to the amphitheater each year.

Appointed by our respective mayors, we Recreation Board members have an obligation to act in the best interest of the Princeton community, thereby encouraging the return of all those who have previously performed at the Pettoranello Gardens, as well as to invite those who are qualified but have not yet utilized this beautiful, but small venue.

JEANINNE HONSTEIN
MIKE FINKELSTEIN
TOM ZUCOSKY
Joint Recreation Board Amphitheater Subcommittee

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