To the Editor:
We look forward to recognizing Princeton's downtown redevelopment project on May 4 as one of the state's great collaborative smart growth efforts. For that reason, we would add two very important words to your article (Town Topics, March 9) about the award: Princeton Future. This key group was omitted from your list of Princeton partners who will be recognized by New Jersey Future at our annual statewide awards celebration.
Princeton Future played a key role in the redevelopment project, and the strong partnership between Princeton Future, the Borough of Princeton, the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Princeton University, and Nassau HKT Associates was essential to the project's success. We invite Princetonians who want to learn more about the awards program or who want to join the smart growth celebration on May 4 to visit our website at www.njfuture.org.
SUSAN BURROWS FARBER
To the Editor:
It is clear from the local newspapers, and from conversations going on in our neighborhoods, that there are a number of concerns over the future of the University Medical Center at Princeton, and the land currently occupied by the hospital and Merwick. There are many questions regarding possible zoning changes, both for temporary hospital expansion and for future occupants. There is even talk of the hospital remaining in its current location on Witherspoon Street.
In response to these concerns, the Princeton Community Democratic Organization has invited the Princeton Health Care Task Force to take part in the PCDO Candidates' Night and Local Issues Forum, which will take place Sunday, March 20 at the Suzanne Patterson Center at 7:30 p.m. The Task Force will give a presentation of its recommendations to Princeton Health Care Systems, the municipalities, and the regional planning and zoning boards. The public is welcome to come hear from the Task Force, as well as from Democratic candidates for Township Committee and Borough Council. There will be a question and answer period following each part of the meeting.
The PCDO meeting provides an excellent opportunity for residents to learn about the Task Force recommendations, and to address any other local issues with the candidates and elected officials. As steps are taken to revise the Master Plan and adjust zoning, it is important for residents to stay informed and to be involved in the discussions leading to decisions which will impact our towns. We invite you to join us this Sunday.
To the Editor:
On March 1, Princeton Borough Council introduced the municipal budget for 2005. The budget would seem to accomplish one of the goals that Council set for itself in 2004 namely, that this year's expenditures would not exceed last year's. On paper, at least, Council has met that goal by coming under 2004's total budget by $14,303.
But before my colleagues and I get too carried away congratulating ourselves on our fiscal restraint, it must be said that the very same evening Council introduced this austerity budget, it moved forward with a bond issue which would provide nearly $100,000 to Carroll Buracker & Associates to study our police force. If the money for this study had been treated as a regular expense, and not as a "capital improvement," we would have broken our goal and the total budget for 2005 would have exceeded 2004 by $85,229. But however we choose to pay for it, I believe this proposed study to be an unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
The proposal from Carroll Buracker & Associates that I have seen is unfocused and vague. It is unclear what the study seeks to accomplish, or what problems it seeks to address. It does not consider possible consolidation with the Princeton Township Police Department, and, in fact, Carroll Buracker & Associates has declined to even study the possibility of consolidation at this time.
That is why I supported my colleague, Roger Martindell, when he proposed a resolution of Borough Council stating its support for the idea of police consolidation with the Township in principle, and calling upon the Township to do likewise. If this resolution is supported in both communities, then I believe we have provided at least some context for the police study to go forward. Absent that commitment, the study makes no sense.
Our Borough police force has a well-deserved reputation for competence and professionalism. In their own surveys of our residents, our force has found a high level of satisfaction with the services it provides. In addition, I am highly confident that Chief Anthony Federico will provide the department with excellent leadership in the years to come. What can we hope to gain with our $100,000, except perhaps the reputation of being an easy mark to out-of-state consultants?
To the Editor:
As a homeowner on Birch Avenue, I have been following the controversy over the use of the Mike's Tavern lot with growing alarm. Stephen Distler, a developer, wants to replace a 60-year old sleepy tavern with a 10,000 square-foot nightclub, with noise day and night every day of the week, a large parking lot, and (apparently to stave off legal worries about sound pollution) a 10-foot wall of the type usually associated with interstate highways. His proposed nightclub will also rip the fabric of the John Street-Witherspoon neighborhood, the historically black section of Princeton. That is where I grew up, it is still home to me, and I would like to add my voice to the tide of opposition welling up from both sides of Bayard Lane.
Put a large nightclub on the corner of Birch Avenue and parents with children will think twice before buying a home on a street where cars are regularly barreling past from a late-night club. Mr. Distler insists that his nightclub will be "a positive addition to the neighborhood." Certainly any savvy developer will try to position himself in the best possible light. But given the strong protests of dozens of neighborhood residents, I do not see how his claim can be sustained, unless he believes that the community does not know what is best for itself. This is exactly the sort of paternalistic attitude that Princeton has worked so hard to leave behind. I hope that he does not succeed in imposing his nightclub on our quiet residential neighborhood.
And to the members of the Township Zoning Board: you have the opportunity to make a historic decision or a historic mistake. If you ignore what the neighborhood is actually saying, the judgment of history is not likely to be kind.
Editor's Note: The Princeton Township Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting that was originally scheduled for March 14 has been postponed to April 20 at 7 p.m.
To the Editor:
Although I recently moved to neighboring Plainsboro after living in Princeton for more than 50 years, I still have a nostalgic interest in Princeton Township and Borough municipal affairs.
I note that the subject of consolidation of the two municipalities' police departments is under consideration. In the past unsuccessful efforts to achieve complete consolidation of these municipalities, the issue of uniting the two police departments was one of the major stumbling blocks. If consideration of the uniting of the police departments is undertaken, now may be the time, once again, to have a study of the merits of full consolidation of the two governments.
I am sure that many local citizens believe that governmental consolidation of the two Princetons should not be a dead issue.
STANLEY C. SMOYER
For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.