Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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Township Welcomes New Police Chief

Ellen Gilbert

The first order of business at Township Committee’s Monday evening meeting was the promotion, after a unanimous vote, of Robert Buchanan from Captain to Chief of Police. Mr. Buchanan replaces former Police Chief Mark Emann, who was relieved of his duties in October, 2010 and charged with third-degree theft by deception.

Also at the Monday meeting, Township Committee accepted a draft ordinance and design guidelines prepared by Princeton University for its proposed “arts and transit neighborhood” following a “work session” presentation and discussion with Princeton University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee and Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristen Appleget. It was agreed that the Committee will work with the University on fine-tuning the plans and writing an ordinance to be introduced at a future meeting. (See a related article in this week’s issue on recent Borough developments regarding the Arts and Transit Neighborhood.)

The contentious question of moving the Dinky was addressed in a more oblique way than usual at the Monday evening meeting. It was agreed that the “door should be left open” for decisions regarding the Dinky site, and both the Township and University expressed interest in “preserving flexibility” over time.

“Tonight’s presentation is centered around discussions that committeeman [Bernie] Miller and I have had with the University over the last year regarding rezoning of the southern part of Alexander Road for residential mixed use,” said Township Mayor Chad Goerner in his introductory remarks to the session. A power point presentation, prepared by the University, described the latest iteration of the proposed residential/mixed use neighborhood in the Alexander Road south zone.

“We’re happy to be back tonight,” said Mr. Durkee, possibly in reference to the near-abandonment of the project after Borough Council’s recent decision not to consider it. He noted that the 2007 Community Master Plan anticipated future developments like the one in hand, which is intended to improve traffic flow; address back-ups at key intersections like Alexander and Faculty Roads; help reduce peak hour traffic volume; increase the utilization of bicycles; enhance gateways into the community; enhance public areas with art; and “create a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment.”

The Alexander Road area in question was described as currently being “a hodgepodge of buildings with a very poor relationship to Alexander Street … not the most attractive part of the community.” The new “complete street concept,” would result, said Mr. Durkee, in a “fairly significant transformation” in services, although some services, like gas stations, would remain.

While retail shops figure into the plans, the new neighborhood is not intended to compete with Nassau Street as a central business district. Its mixed housing stock, which will include affordable housing units, is intended for faculty, graduate students, and non-university residents. Councilwoman Sue Nemeth noted that with its proximity to the Dinky, the neighborhood would be attractive to doctors who will work at the new hospital being built on Route 1, and at hospitals in New Brunswick. Ms. Nemeth also praised the plan for its inclusion of a child care center.

Chief Buchanan

“He’s a real Princetonian,” said Committeeman Bernie Miller in his nomination of Mr. Buchanan, who was born and raised in Princeton. The new Police Chief joined the force on April 1, 1980 as a Patrol Officer and subsequently moved up through the ranks. In addition to being a graduate of the FBI National Academy, he holds an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Rider University, and a bachelor of science in criminal justice from the College of New Jersey.

A standing ovation greeted Mr. Buchanan after his swearing-in by Township attorney Ed Schmierer. Each officer in attendance took his or her turn saluting the new chief; the formality of the ceremony was punctuated by an exchange of hugs with each of them. A celebration with refreshments followed at the fire house across the street from Township Hall.

Committee members’ reports included Mayor Goerner’s announcement that his recent facial hair growth is the result of participating in the Alchemist & Barrister’s current “long beard contest,” which this year will benefit a 21-year-old veteran who lost both his limbs in the Afghanistan war.

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