For some local legislators and several committed volunteers, the far western end of Monument Park near Princeton Borough Hall would be something to behold at nightthat is, if only it could be seen in the first place.
That could, it turns out, happen sooner than they once thought.
After a whirlwind $125,000 campaign to raise funds to light the Princeton Battle Monument, the Princeton Parks Alliance met its goal this past Saturday, April 29, at a Palmer House event, only six months after it launched its effort. As such, permanent lighting could be in place by summer 2007.
Outlined last October in a ceremony that temporarily lit the 80-plus year-old pylon commemorating the pivotal January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton where Gen. Washington's army defeated the 1,200-strong, British army, the lofty goal of lighting the monument gained additional momentum because it had been one of the principal objectives of the late Borough Mayor Joseph O'Neill, who died just days after the temporary lighting.
After some private donations had brought the fund-raising effort into the four-figures earlier this year, Asm. Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) acquired a $50,000 Special Purpose grant from the state that took a large portion of the cost burden off the Parks Alliance.
That grant was followed by a $25,000 donation from Princeton University and $5,000 in private donations, moving the initiative beyond the halfway point.
A private fund-raising effort by Herb Hobler and Art Morgan took care of the rest, and "got us to the finish line in a very short period of time," said Mr. Koontz. The not-for-profit project began sometime in November, "and here we are, just several months later," he added.
Last year, Mr. O'Neill had begun conversations with Jefferson Road -resident Charles Stone, a partner with the architectural lighting firm Fisher Marantz Stone, who agreed to work on the monument's lighting. The Park Alliance hopes to enter into a formal contract with Fisher for the actual design. The design phase runs concurrent with a separate state project overseeing the cleaning of the monument and the rehabilitation of the architectural structure. Mr. Koontz said the Parks Alliance would work closely with the state for the "greatest efficiency.
"We don't want to have a situation where stone is taken up and rehabilitated, put back down, and then be out of coordination with the state" should wiring and other electrical conduits for the lighting need to be installed.
After the design phase is complete, the Alliance will employ an electrical contractor.
Addressing Borough Council last month, Parks Alliance member Kevin Wilkes said he hoped for a January 3, 2007 event celebrating the 230th anniversary of the Battle of Princeton.
Mr. Koontz said that January was a "generous target" for permanent lighting at that point, repeating the accepted wisdom that summer 2007 would be a more reasonable goal.
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