To The Editor:
At the Regional Planning Board Meeting on February 19, four scenarios for "improving" the Princeton Shopping Center were presented. These proposals were made by Rutgers students at the invitation of Mayor Marchand as part of a work-study project in the Rutgers architecture department.
All of these proposals 1) shrink the existing parking area, replacing it with "subterranean" parking spaces; 2) add new retail space; 3) add nearly 100,000 square feet of office space; and 4) propose senior housing, condominiums, and/or single family town houses. One of the sources of land on which the new construction is to grow is the grass esplanade between Harrison Street and the Shopping Center, resulting in a dramatic narrowing of Harrison Street. Such narrowing would serve to slow traffic, which the professor in charge of the student group deemed a very good result. There was repeated mention as well of the goal of "drawing the neighborhood" into the Shopping Center through new and enhanced bicycle and pedestrian access.
The general theme of the presentation was that the shopping center is a 1950s artifact that simply no longer "works." No one explained why the Center does not work, but the professor in charge clearly viewed himself as an agent to assist the rest of us out of our 1950s time warp. It was also clear that this gentleman has never seen a piece of bare grass that didn't require improvement, including all that pesky open space inside the Shopping Center which currently requires folks to walk much too far when they do their shopping.
Unexplored was the question of why greater bike and pedestrian access is necessary. Probably 70 percent of the Shopping Center traffic is people who go there to make purchases that they certainly are not going to carry home on foot or on their bicycles. Also unmentioned was the fact that Harrison Street is a major connector between route 206 and Route 1, and the notion of narrowing it and slowing it down doesn't seem to have a lot of legs. Finally, no one raised the issue of traffic density in the area, and what the addition of 100,000 square feet of office space, plus condominiums and townhouses, would do to traffic on a narrower, slower Harrison Street, and to the surrounding neighborhoods.
In the short question period, no Township resident voiced approval of the notion of doing major surgery on the Shopping Center. It might be well, before any additional time is spent on this project, for the Planning Board to ascertain whether there is any support in the community for such a large scale development; and if there is, to put some sort of price tag on the project.
To the Editor:
Regarding the articles and editorials about the Planning Board meeting on February 19 to hear student presentations of plans for the Princeton Shopping Center (PSC), I have some follow-up suggestions and comments.
Since 2002, when the Shopping Center owners presented a proposal for development on the PSC site, neighborhood residents have been energized to make the Mayor and Planning Board appreciate the impact development would have on our neighborhood in particular and the Township in general. At the meeting on February 19, the neighbors responded less to the four specific student projects than to the idea of massive development at the Shopping Center. For the record, as the first public speaker after the presentations, I thanked the students for their work and let them know that the negative remarks they were likely to hear were not directed at them.
As a Township taxpayer and voter, I do not feel well-represented by officials on the Planning Board who seem to be advocating solely for the interests of the PSC. I know the Mayor and other officials are very interested in seeing development on this site. But I have yet to hear a clear case for why such major expansion is necessary, or how such expansion, which will require many changes in the zoning rules that protect our neighborhood, will in any way benefit the neighborhood. The PSC site has potential for responsible, visionary development, which could benefit both the community and the PSC ownership. I would really appreciate pro-active leadership from our officials on behalf of this neighborhood. Is that really too much to ask? I know they can lead: look at the Township's parks and open space.
Here are a few suggestions.
Address now the ongoing concerns about neighborhood speed enforcement, traffic calming, pedestrian and bike safety on Snowden, Terhune, Grover and Harrison, and drainage and erosion near Grover. What is preventing the Township from addressing these long-standing problems? Here is one idea for a low-cost, high-impact enhancement: a safe bike/ped path across Terhune Road through the wooded lot on the site, linked to the Shopping Center and Grover Park.
Listen to the community. We want the PSC to work, too. We have said we welcome senior housing at an appropriate scale. We have told you how much we liked having the Public Library at the Shopping Center. We'd welcome the Arts Council, even though the Borough already has a former U.S. attorney general advocating on their behalf to keep the Council in the Borough. I propose that we invite the Rutgers students back to facilitate a community discussion to create a vision beneficial to all.
Next time a serious proposal to expand the PSC is considered, engage a consultant with no conflict of interest to do a study on the traffic impact in our neighborhood. The study should factor in the impact of ongoing and approved development in the Borough to overall traffic in the neighborhood.
Here's a proposal: how about a new building on the site to house the Arts Council, a Mercer County branch library and a senior centerall sharing an adequate performance space. Those entities would have synergistic uses, and each has its own potential fund-raising base. Make the building innovative, environmentally friendly, and exciting. This joint center would bring in business to the Shopping Center at all times of day and enhance, rather than degrade, the neighborhood.
To the Editor:
The efforts to improve the public Guyot Stream Walkway between Moore Street, Harris Road, Jefferson Road, and Carnahan Place continued for the eighth year during 2003.
The following Princeton residents provided time, plants or money to make the area more enjoyable for all the community to use: Janet Arrington, the Denards, Marvin Geller, Susan Jefferies, the Kagays, the Lynches, the Moodys, Tedi Nessas, Sally Stout, Jone Tobin, the Weinsteins, the Baldwins, the Gibneys, Jennifer Guy, the Hartmanns, the Rovira-Rodrigues of Moore Street, Dennis and Nick Stark of Henry Avenue, the Burns, Rosalie Green, the Kushners, Peter Lindenfeld, Umberto Perna of Harris Road, Jimmy Mack, Andres Reinero, Diana Perna of Carnahan Place, Sally Bond of Snowden Lane, the Crumillers of Library Place, and an anonymous donor of Jefferson Road.
For the seventh year numerous shrubs and plants were donated to the project by the Obal Garden Center on Alexander Road, and the Belle Meade Co-op on Township Line Road, for which we are most grateful.
We wish to publicly recognize these community members and the Township Engineering Department for their help. The community and neighbors will continue to enjoy the area as nearly $1,000 worth of new shrubbery and groundcover bloom this year.
To the Editor:
We would like to thank the Princeton residents and businesses for their support of our annual oyster eating contest. Oyster Bowl V was our most successful event to date, with more than 200 spectators, 65 contestants, 4,000 oysters consumed and 40 pounds of cocktail sauce. Congratulations to Chris Stevens, owner of La Mezzaluna, this year's Oyster Bowl champion, who ate 76 very large oysters in two minutes.
Special thanks to Nassau Broadcasting, Volvo of Princeton, Lewis Barber Construction, Hamilton Supply, Meyer & Meyer, T2 Restaurants, The Nassau Inn, Lahiere's, A&B, Ferry House, Triumph, La Mezzaluna, Tiger Noodle, Thomas Sweets, Paradise Found, Varsity Liquors, Lucy's Ravioli, Acacia, Avanti, Lawrenceville Inn, Chambers Walk, Brothers Moon, Diamonds, and all the volunteer shuckers and judges from Nassau Street Seafood and the Blue Point Grill.
With their help we were able to raise over $8,000 for the Race for the Cure and the fight against breast cancer. Our five-year total is close to $30,000. Breast cancer is a terrible disease that plagues our lives on a daily basis. Together, we can make a better world for our children.
See you next year.
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many hundreds of shoppers and customers who made donations to Check-Out Hunger at their local food store or Fleet Bank branch. One hundred percent of Check-Out Hunger donations made at Acme, Genuardi's, Marrazzo's, McCaffrey's, Pennington Market, Risoldi's, ShopRite, Wawa and Wegmans go to our food bank.
Here in Mercer County one of the most affluent counties in the most affluent state in the union our food bank distributed 1.4 million pounds of food last year to help feed people who experience hunger. Most of the people in need of food assistance are from working families who struggle to get by on low wages. More than half of the recipients are children. Others are disabled, or elderly living on fixed incomes who sometimes must choose between buying medicine and food. Some are homeless.
In these uncertain times, we are all asked to give to so many worthy causes and I am truly touched that so many people chose to make donations to Check-Out Hunger.
Thank you for supporting our work to alleviate hunger.