Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 9
 
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
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Does Princeton’s Western Section Need Divisive Architectural Designations?

NICK KARP
Boudinot Street

Forest on Princeton Ridge Threatened by Westerly Road Church Development

JARED ROSENBAUM
Valley Road

Township Public Works Department Praised for Efficient Snow Removal

MATTHEW ISHIBASHI
Longview Drive

Scholarship Foundation Extends Thanks to Its Fund-raiser Sponsors and Patrons

RITA LEVY, PAT PANNELL
Co-Presidents, 101:


Does Princeton’s Western Section Need Divisive Architectural Designations?

To the Editor:

A new effort is underway to classify sections of the Western district of Princeton as “historic,” subject to the whims, taste, delays, and expense of answering to an indirectly appointed committee with the power to tell homeowners what externally visible changes to their properties are acceptable.

This is puzzling given everything that has changed in the affected district since the last divisive fiasco three years ago. Nothing: no architectural monstrosities, no blights upon the streetscape, no visible evidence that local homeowners have been irresponsible with their properties and need another layer of bureaucratic chaperones or arbiters of taste.

The effort has been funded by “Freinds (sic) of the Western Section, L.L.C.,” coordinated by a dozen-odd residents, several of whom I know and credit with deeply held interest in our community and who undoubtedly believe that our neighborhood is threatened. I profoundly disagree, but hope the discussion going forward can be respectful, without the personal animus of the last go-round. It is ironic, however, that the people who would dictate the precise angle of my roof misspelled their own name.

As soon as notice of the classification proposal came through my mail slot I called one of its proponents to ask why he felt the designation was needed. He replied that there have been many “questionable” developments nearby, but was then unable or unwilling to identify any of them, making it difficult to evaluate the rationale for their proposal. I understand that naming specific properties as ugly or inappropriate is awkward and subjective — but that is exactly the point. If you are unwilling to stand up and identify a single property that everyone can agree is unworthy of the neighborhood, how can you objectively define good taste (permissible) and bad taste (forbidden) going forward. Any demand for new regulation should include specific evidence of where it would have helped in the past. 

The formal mailing alerting residents to the imminent historical classification gave very limited time to respond: a certified letter arrived February 22, and the Historic Preservation Review Committee (HPRC) which will make a recommendation to the Borough Council is scheduled to review the application in just a few days — on Wednesday, March 3. I hope that the HPRC will take their time and ensure that concerned residents can confer, evaluate the arguments thoughtfully, and be fairly heard over several meetings before making their recommendation to the Council. If and when that recommendation reaches the Council, I am sure that that body will approach the matter with due deliberation as well.

NICK KARP
Boudinot Street

Forest on Princeton Ridge Threatened by Westerly Road Church Development

To the Editor:

To look at the ancient forest that may be doomed to become the site of the new Westerly Road Church, stop along the roadside near the corner of Bunn Drive and Herrontown Road. You will see the wonderful diversity of the eastern forest in front of you: shagbark hickory, sweetgum, swamp white oak, tupelo, ironwood, and many other species. The tags on them denote, in ascending numbers, those that will be clearcut. I am told the numbers on the marked trees reach nearly 1,000.

Listen for birdsong and you may hear the calls of migrants just arrived from a several-thousand mile migration from South America: wood thrush, scarlet tanager, oriole, and many warblers whose populations are in steep decline. If this forest is clearcut, these birds will return to find that their homes have disappeared next year.

This parcel of Princeton Ridge forest retains ecological communities of plants and wildlife that have resided here continuously for several thousand years. The charismatic diabase boulders and wetlands soils have kept this property as a marginal woodlot until now. This site has retained its forest communities through the past few centuries, and is full of abundance and the strange majesty of an ancient forest. It’s as good as it gets in central New Jersey.

Westerly Road Church plans to cut down the majority of the ancient forest and construct a 300-car parking lot and mega-church in its place.

If Princeton is serious about being “green,” we will save this place. Green runs deeper than buying new light bulbs or a more efficient car. We need to understand where our richest natural resources are, and save them from wanton development.

On August 18, 2009, Princeton Township passed a resolution recognizing the ecological and human significance of the Princeton Ridge and urging the preservation of the “mature forests, wetlands, steep slopes and boulder fields … located within a state defined environmentally sensitive area.” It is time to stand by these foresighted sentiments and preserve this parcel of forest as part of the adjacent Herrontown Woods.

Princeton should maintain the designation of the ridge as an Environmentally Sensitive Area, and deny an extension of sewer service to the proposed church development.

JARED ROSENBAUM
Valley Road

Township Public Works Department Praised for Efficient Snow Removal

To the Editor:

I would like to take a moment to thank the Princeton Township Public Works Department on the exemplary job they have done keeping our roadways clear this year.

I have been in Princeton almost 40 years and while there have been larger snowfalls, I do not remember a year when they have come so frequently. I just want the people at the Public Works Department to know that we appreciate their efforts.

MATTHEW ISHIBASHI
Longview Drive

Scholarship Foundation Extends Thanks to Its Fund-raiser Sponsors and Patrons

To the Editor:

On Friday, January 22, “101:,” formerly known as The Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation, hosted its fifth annual “Get Up And Dance” benefit and silent auction to raise money for Princeton High School graduates in need of college tuition assistance. More than 150 guests, our biggest crowd ever, enjoyed an evening of dining, drinking, and dancing on the beautiful grounds of Jasna Polana, and bid on silent auction and raffle items in support of the PHS students we serve.

We would like to take this opportunity to again express our appreciation to all who attended and contributed, including our many generous individual and corporate sponsors and local merchants and businesses who donated a wide array of goods and services. Despite the challenges presented this year by a difficult economic climate, they enabled us to raise more money than ever to put towards scholarships for young men and women in our community, who will now have a better chance to continue their education and realize the dream of attaining a college degree. 

RITA LEVY, PAT PANNELL
Co-Presidents, 101:

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