Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 13
 
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
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Composer Paul W. Hofreiter Remembered for Contributions to Lawrenceville School

JACK ELLIS
Winant Road

University’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Should Increase With Property Values

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN
Alexander Street

Her “Hand of Cooperation to Borough” Commends Lambert for Township Post

GRACE SINDEN
Ridgeview Circle

Miller Admired For ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Patience,’ as Democrats Choose Primary Candidates

Andrew Koontz
Spruce Street

Princeton Schools Should Also Opt Out of Heartland Program, Following Library

LEO ARONS
Chambers Street


Composer Paul W. Hofreiter Remembered for Contributions to Lawrenceville School

To the Editor:

The passing of Paul Wesley Hofreiter (Town Topics, March 19) is a great loss for the entire Princeton community and neighboring townships.

Paul was a master of most of the arenas for achievement in music. No conductor myself, as chair of the music department at The Lawrenceville School, I asked Paul to join our faculty and lead our fledging student orchestra. While Paul had an outlet for many of his gifts, it was the orchestra that I count as his biggest success. The students loved working with him, were loyal, and in an environment that eats up the time of gifted students, getting the young to after-hour rehearsals is no small achievement.

To me the peak of his gifts was shown in a concert staging of Mozart’s The Magic Flute in his last year at Lawrenceville. He rehearsed the difficult orchestra score with the students all year. Enlisting student and faculty vocal talent for the major singing roles (maybe not the Queen of the Night), plus the wife of the Head Master as narrator, Paul pulled off the entire performance with great success. It was a performance that I am sure will remain in the minds and hearts of all who participated for many years.

Paul and his wife and life partner Janice will also be remembered for lively two-piano programs, especially arrangements of Gershwin favorites.

JACK ELLIS
Winant Road

University’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Should Increase With Property Values

To the Editor:

There’s an elephant in Princeton Borough, which bulges into the Township. And we Princetonians view our elephant, Princeton University, as John Godfrey Saxe’s familiar blind men view theirs. One blind man, happening to grasp the elephant’s trunk, announces that the elephant is a snake. Another, feeling the elephant’s leg, decides the elephant is a tree. A third, grasping the ear, says the elephant is a fan. And so on.

Real blind people aren’t so silly. They would feel the whole elephant — at least all they could reach. But some Princetonians do think the University’s a snake. Others value the University’s noble trees. Still others are fans of the cultural opportunities the University offers. But if we hotly defend our individual experiences of Princeton’s elephant, then, as Saxe concludes, we’re each partly right, but all of us are wrong.

Even Princetonians who encounter just one aspect of the University interpret it differently, as though some blind men found the elephant’s trunk a strangling serpent; others, a hose gushing life-giving water. Some Princeton merchants think they’d get more business if the University’s half of the Borough were houses, not campus — and if the Frist Center didn’t compete for student dollars. Other merchants believe that University parents and tourists multiply their profits.

Similarly, some Princetonians believe the University provides jobs. Others think the University’s service jobs offer low pay and benefits. Meanwhile, teaching positions go to recruits from outside Princeton who bid up house prices with University-subsidized mortgages.

Some Princetonians, finally, admire the University’s generosity. It voluntarily keeps University residences that might house schoolchildren on our tax rolls. And, although the University pays the Township only $9,000 annually in lieu of the property taxes from which nonprofits are exempt, its voluntary PILOT to the Borough is now $1 million.

Other Princetonians think the University is stingy. Can an expanding institution with a $15.8 billion endowment be nonprofit? And if the University acknowledges that employees’ children burden Princeton schools, why not keep all its property on the tax rolls since it all burdens the infrastructure Princetonians pay for?

What Princeton needs is fairer annual payments reflecting what’s off our tax rolls. Our property taxes rise steadily as service costs rise. The University’s payment should also rise, predictably, as a percentage of increasing tuition, ballooning endowment, or expanding property value. If the University paid taxes on all its property (even as currently under-assessed), Borough property taxes would drop by 25 percent, the Township’s by 15 percent, and, astonishingly, the rest of Mercer County by five percent.

We Princetonians must therefore explore every aspect of our elephant. The University must disclose all planned expansion. Have we really been consulted about a $300 million arts district the University means to build for its 4,000 undergraduates? We focus on whether the Dinky station should move 500 feet. We should ask instead whether we want an even bigger elephant.

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN
Alexander Street

Her “Hand of Cooperation to Borough” Commends Lambert for Township Post

To the Editor:

This is to urge support for Casey Lambert to be elected as a member of the Township Committee. Her civic contributions have been many over the years including her prior service on our Township Committee for the term ending December, 2004. In addition, she was an elected member of the 1995 Consolidation Commission; and, most recently, she has served as a member of the Flood Management Commission and the Princeton Environmental Commission.

Casey’s seasoned, thoughtful judgment and willingness to work to put good ideas into effect will benefit our community. As a past founder and manager of a large company she has business and financial experience that is now more important than ever. She also has a keen interest in a stronger, effective environmental ethic in municipal decision making, something that has been lacking here in recent years.

We are fortunate that Casey is willing and enthusiastic to serve again on Township Committee. She will bring fresh perspectives, a genuine receptive attitude toward public opinion and participation, and an extended hand of cooperation to the Borough so essential to the well being of Princeton as a whole.

GRACE SINDEN
Ridgeview Circle

Miller Admired For ‘Wisdom’ and ‘Patience,’ as Democrats Choose Primary Candidates

To the Editor:

I write today to support the re-election effort of my good friend and colleague, Princeton Township Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller.

I have had the pleasure of working with Bernie for many years. I first became aware of his considerable leadership skills as a member of the Princeton Cable Committee when Bernie served as chair. Bernie is more of a “doer” than a “talker,” and I admired his wisdom, patience, and skill in leading that committee through the complexities of the cable franchise negotiation process without a lot of undue fuss, ultimately producing an agreement that was very good for our municipalities.

Bernie has brought those same qualities of leadership to his work on Princeton Township Committee. As a Borough elected official, I find Bernie’s most valuable quality is his ability to listen and understand both sides of an issue. Particularly at this time when there is so much talk of tensions between the Borough and the Township, I know that with Bernie Miller I can count on a civil and reasoned discussion of even the most thorny issues, and a strong effort to bring about a resolution that is fair to both the Township and the Borough.

That is why I will be asking my Township friends to vote for Bernie Miller. It’s what I believe is in the best interest of both municipalities.

Andrew Koontz
Spruce Street

Princeton Schools Should Also Opt Out of Heartland Program, Following Library

To the Editor:

The Board of Trustees of the Public Library and Leslie Burger deserve applause for their sensitive and courageous decision to opt out of the Heartland One Card plan. Whatever their reasons may have been, I believe there are more than sufficient reasons for Princeton Regional Schools to follow their lead.

Heartland’s One Card plan is attractive to merchants whose volume or type of business justifies its cost. For example, Palmer Square, Hamilton Jewelers, and Main Street are avid supporters. For them, it can reduce card processing fees, redirect more business to their establishments, and probably return some money to sponsor institutions; i.e., those that issue a card valid for purchases from Heartland participants. Though that may sound like a good arrangement, we should look beyond the obvious and not be blinded by the promise of convenience and contributions down the road.

The fact that some small struggling merchants can not justify the expense, or simply cannot afford the substantial cost of  signing on with Heartland, should give us pause. They, obviously, can not benefit. But some merchants can’t afford to advertise, say Mr. Carr of Heartland and Mr. Marshall of Main Street, implying this is the same as not being able to afford Heartland. In fact, the cases are different. In one the open marketplace judges the worth of a business; in the other the marketplace is unfairly altered.

To explain: Merchants with severely limited advertising budgets learn not to expect the benefit a larger budget would yield, and they accept this. What they also do not expect though, or accept, is that a public institution that they support with their hard earned tax dollars should step into the marketplace and lend its good name to their better funded competitors. Letting the marketplace decide which businesses will succeed and which not is one thing. Skewing the marketplace is another. In endorsing only Heartland’s clients, Princeton Regional Schools does just that, dividing the merchant community into insiders and outsiders and bringing potential injury and even annihilation to that community’s weakest members. And, in the process, PRS hurts the larger Princeton community by engaging in a partnership that favors the more powerful over the less, and thwarts the Town’s oft-stated goal of creating a truly diverse and welcoming business environment.

Heartland’s One Card program has, apparently, passed legal muster. Nonetheless, in my opinion, this program can not stand up to fair minded scrutiny. Princeton Regional Schools should reconsider its position.

LEO ARONS
Chambers Street

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