To the Editor:
Did you know:
That the minimum wage in New Jersey is still $5.15 an hour, or $10,712 per year?
That when the minimum wage goes to $6.15 an hour it will be $12,792 per year?
That a one-bedroom apartment in Princeton is about $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year?
That a worker earning minimum wage would have to work 149 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Princeton?
That full-time workers at Princeton Township and Borough and at Princeton University can earn as little as $20,000 to $23,000 a year, and that workers at the Medical Center can start at $17,600 a year?
Affordable housing for Princetonians must be a priority in our community. Will the new round of COAH (Council on Affordable Housing) regulations help create this housing? How can we be sure? Are there some creative solutions to our affordable housing crisis?
On Wednesday, April 13, at 6:45 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library's Community Room, Princeton Community Housing and the Princeton Area League of Women Voters will present a forum to explore the new COAH regulations and what they mean for our town.
We'll be listening to and questioning experts Douglas Massey and David Kinsey of the Woodrow Wilson School, Ellen Ritchie the Deputy Executive Director of the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing, and Alan Mallach, Research Director of the National Housing Institute.
Whether you are a developer who is planning to build in Princeton, a member of a municipal body charged with complying with the regulations, an interested citizen, or someone looking for affordable housing, please join us on April 13 to listen, question, and learn.
To the Editor:
We support the repeal of the "fast track" Act (S1368).
As one of the nation's smallest states with the nation's densest population we need to be among the most thoughtful about how we use our land. In addition to providing opportunities for active and passive recreation and habitat for wildlife, open space provides critical protection for our water supply.
We are very concerned that the growth in our state is not being managed in the best way. In June the "fast track" law was passed in only three days with no opportunity for the public or environmental groups to review the legislation.
Presented as smart growth legislation that would implement the State Plan, S1368 expedites state agency permits for development in designated "smart growth" areas without proper safeguards. The "smart growth" areas are drawn very broadly and encompass approximately 43 percent of the remaining land in the State.
Three federal agencies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have raised concerns that Fast Track violates federal law and puts in jeopardy some of the $2 billion in federal funding of state environmental and infrastructure programs.
Thankfully, former Governor McGreevey put a seven-month moratorium on the implementation of this law before he left office. However, unless we act now, this legislation will stand.
This important issue has not received much media coverage since the initial outrage that met the Fast Track Act. We must act now to prevent this law from taking effect. Legislation (S2157/A3650) has been introduced to repeal the Act. Forty-six legislators have signed on to support the repeal. Those sharing our concern should contact Acting Governor Codey to urge him to support this repeal. Call him at (609) 777-2500 or e-mail him by visiting www.state.nj.us/governor.
We thank Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, and Senator Shirley Turner for supporting this legislation, which is vital to ensuring that our remaining undeveloped land is used in a way that will benefit New Jersey for years to come.
To the Editor:
The article about the proposed Princeton School budget (Town Topics, March 16) lists two budgets, but does not explain the basic difference between them. There is a summary of the expense items in the regular budget and in the supplemental budget, but why are there two of them? Is it because the items in one are necessary and the other optional? Is it because of a state limit on the size of the budget? If so, who is fooled by a second budget? The article says that the state caps the budget at a three percent surplus. Does surplus mean an amount put aside for future emergencies, or is it techno-speak for the increase over last year's budget? If the latter, how does dividing it into two parts change the cap? Is there a fundamental difference in the types of item included in each budget?
The voters could use a clarification.
To the Editor:
Lest Superintendent Wilson, the Princeton Regional School Board, or the district teachers continue to believe that the 2005-06 school calendar is child or parent "friendly," allow us to disabuse them of that notion. Neither business nor academic calendars provide for a weeklong holiday during the second week of November. For most parents, it is simply not possible to take additional time off so close to the Thanksgiving holiday, nor is it a desirable time of year for a holiday. We predict that children will not enjoy fictitious family vacations in mid-November, but that they will be housed in after school programs or with baby-sitters as a result of this change to the school calendar.
The two days which students have off following the Labor Day holiday and the ludicrously long summer vacation also rankle: these days are not recognized as holidays by business, state, or higher academic institutions. As even a casual glance at the literature on the subject demonstrates, the summer as scheduled in our school district is already far too long for optimal learning retention. Thus, we concur with other parents who deem these two additional days of students' summer vacation as problematic on several levels.
The School Board should instead consider extending the winter holiday which falls at a time when many employees are given days off, some companies close for an entire week, and employers tend to be more forgiving of additional vacation time. There are other practical reasons to extend either the winter holidays or the Presidents Day holiday: prescheduled days off will allow parents to be prepared for having their children home during a time of year when we are constantly on tenterhooks not knowing when yet another inch of snow may fall causing either a delayed opening or early closing and cancellation of after school care.
A quick glance at the Princeton Regional School schedule for 2005-06 will suffice to show that it poses an unreasonable burden on families.
To the Editor:
As a 13-year-old with a passion for skateboarding, I am extremely frustrated that Princeton has not built a skatepark. Because of this, my friends and I have to skate in our driveways, the roads, town, or the University. We do not enjoy getting chased away by security guards or police wherever we skate, but that is what happens. The other option is to convince our parents to drive us to skateparks a half an hour out of town.
Please, Princeton, build us a skatepark.
To the Editor:
The Witherspoon Street Corridor Study (WSCS), facilitated by Princeton Future, has involved numerous meetings and public working sessions attended by a broad spectrum of the Princeton community. From this process, principles have been outlined to guide the future of a very important corridor and adjacent land uses, with particular attention to the pending changes involving the hospital. A smaller group volunteered to consolidate ideas and put them into the form of a set of parameters. The WSCS Advisory Committee held additional meetings to analyze details of the street, hospital site, zoning, design, and development options. With the concurrence of the community, we hope that the Parameters for the Redevelopment of Hospital Properties will be considered seriously by all parties who hold authority, and by those who have an interest in the future of our community.
The community meetings revealed concerns about the social, environmental, and economic fragility of the street and adjacent neighborhoods. Our preliminary work suggests that it is appropriate to present guiding principles for the future of Witherspoon Street, in the presence of and absent the hospital.
The full draft text of the parameters may be viewed on the Princeton Future website. The third paragraph suggests in part:
"All uses should be primarily residential. Planning must focus on the following considerations: A. Provision for a variety of residential types, unit sizes, and resident populations. B. Any commercial or public accommodations are to be in service to and supported by the surrounding neighborhoods and local community. A small convenience store, a day care center, service-based non-profit, and teen or community center are some examples. C. Mixed-use concepts should not result solely from a calculation or percentage formula, should not be applied site-wide, and must not undermine the residential quality of the street. For example, a 60/40 residential/commercial zone along Witherspoon Street, where all first floor spaces are commercial, is undesirable." The Witherspoon Street Corridor Study makes these considerations available to the citizens of the Borough and Township in draft for review by all through the Princeton Future website, www.princetonfuture.org.
Interested persons are invited to submit their suggestions via the "Contact Us" e-mail link on the website, or by mail to Princeton Future, Box 493, Princeton 08542.
The WSCS Advisory Committee encourages continued citizen participation and input in the upcoming meetings facilitated by Princeton Future on the mornings of April 16 and May 14 at the Princeton Public Library. Please join us.
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