Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 18
 
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Oversight by Arborist Recommended for Harrison Street Park Renovation

CHRISTINE GRAZIANO
Aiken Avenue

Increased Response Time Would Result From Closing Two of Three Firehouses

CARL FAITH
Longview Drive

Tiered Parking Structure Would Serve Church, Community, and Environment

CHRISTIANE FELLBAUM
Bouvant Drive

University, Police, Vendors, Volunteers Thanked for Delightful Communiversity

JEFF NATHANSON
Executive Director
Arts Council of Princeton


Editor’s Note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to Borough Mayor Trotman and Borough Council Members.

Oversight by Arborist Recommended for Harrison Street Park Renovation

To the Editor:

I am writing as an adjacent neighbor to Harrison Street Park on the Aiken Avenue side. I have lived in the Borough since 2005, and owned my home here since 2006.

I have concerns about the Park work, which has recently started again. They are as follows: Tree protection and soil protection construction techniques in the Park continue to be inadequate, with negative impact on the existing mature tree environment. The consequences are compacted soils, loss of topsoil, the severing and death of feeder and other smaller roots (of greatest consequence when they are in the dripline, as trees ‘breathe’ through their roots), a weakening of a trees’ hold on the soil, decreased water infiltration, and increased runoff, all of which can cause increased vulnerability to disease and wind throw.

Following the recent storms, the community and Borough noted 10 downed mature trees in the Park, all previously declared in good health by an arborist in 2009 and prior to the start of construction. Additionally noted were new areas of flooding, and large patches of exposed clay and compacted ground lacking topsoil or groundcover. Following the storm, there is now less shade, new sunlit openings, and a great need for soil restoration. At significant expenditure to taxpayers, money was spent to remove the fallen trees.

The planting plan, scheduled for a Phase II consideration by the Council, has not yet been approved. There has been some talk that the proposed plantings will need to be cut for economic reasons, including some shrubs and small trees, which were included for screening purposes due to visual impacts from the new installations on a neighbor’s adjoining properties. The two primary goals of the community were to enhance the ecological aspects of the Park system and to acquire updated and better performing play equipment. The latter has been achieved and installed; the former has not.

The proposed court expansion is an area of proposed work still particularly vulnerable to damage. However, the contractors are already tearing up the ground there now. It takes only 3 to 6 inches of grade change disturbance to cause irreversible impact to trees and their root system, especially in an area this large. The plan for this area should be revisited before more damage to the six large trees in this area is done. The court expansion is one area that could be compromised in order to make up for lost monies from tree removal, while still allowing for a full planting plan, a primary design goal for the community since the start of the planning process.

In consideration of the above, please revisit the planting systems plan as follows: 1) Allocate monies from the court expansion toward a revised planting plan. 2) Ensure the plan includes shrubs and small trees such that it screens the adjacent properties from visual impacts of the new installations and meets the original goals of the community and designers. 3) Ensure the plan addresses the new areas of sunlight, clay exposure, and loss of topsoil.

Then issue an immediate stop work and change order on the court expansion, and ensure that tree protection and soil protection techniques that go beyond tree guards alone are followed for the remainder of construction, including, but not limited to, oversight by an arborist.

CHRISTINE GRAZIANO
Aiken Avenue

Increased Response Time Would Result From Closing Two of Three Firehouses

To the Editor:

John Procaccino’s letter (Town Topics, April 21) is a wake-up call to the Princetons, and especially that part far away from Community Park Elementary School.

Based on his 24-year experience as a firefighter with Engine Company No. 1 on Chestnut Street, Mr. Procaccino strongly opposes the housing of the trucks and gear of all three fire companies at Engine Company No. 3 on Witherspoon Street.

He writes, “Engine Co. No. 3 is a half-block from Community Park Elementary School, and Witherspoon Street is at times very congested. Having all firefighters in their own cars converging on this area could create a potentially dangerous situation for student and pedestrians. And not achieve the goal of reduced fire response.”

He might have added that there are no fire companies close to the many far reaches of Princeton.

Go to mapquest.com, type in Princeton, NJ 08540, then type in whatever street you live on, and the route from Community Park Elementary School at 400 Witherspoon Street to your house. It’s an eye-opener. Princeton is about 10 square miles in area, and many areas are already remote from any of Princeton’s three firehouses. Closing two of them would increase firefighter response time.

CARL FAITH
Longview Drive

Tiered Parking Structure Would Serve Church, Community, and Environment

To the Editor:

The Westerly Road Church announced at the April 8 Planning Board meeting that it would deed a conservation easement of the nine acres it is leaving undeveloped to become an extension of the contiguous Herrontown Woods.

That is good news indeed, the first sign given to Princeton residents that the developer recognizes the environmental value of the terrain and is willing to contribute to the creation of the Princeton Ridge Preserve, dedicated to education and passive recreation.

But what of the remaining nine acres currently slated for one-story sprawl? The Princeton community also needs to hear that the developer is shrinking the parking lot by building parking spaces on two tiers, using the existing grade of the land (a ten-foot spread from the road to the crest of the land) for economies of scale and for ease of ADA access. No one questions that two tiers of parking will be more expensive than covering the land with roadway and pavement, but it is also clear that the additional expense can be properly offset by savings realized by “stacking” much of the main building (less foundation, less roof, less siding). WRC should eliminate the huge gash of the detention basin. It would be a grave mistake if the developer reduced the scale of the building but not the parking area.

The two procedures for reducing the resulting footprint fit together well and represent a good example of ecologically responsible action. Princetonians hope that the gestures towards land donation signal the developer’s full commitment to serving the needs of the church, the community, and the environment.

CHRISTIANE FELLBAUM
Bouvant Drive

University, Police, Vendors, Volunteers Thanked for Delightful Communiversity

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton, I want to thank everyone — including our more than 35,000 visitors, 200 vendors and 40 performance groups — who helped make the 40th annual Communiversity Festival of the Arts such a spectacular event on a beautiful day.

When the Arts Council and Princeton University students plan Communiversity Festival of Arts each year, we envision a town meets gown celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, nonprofits, and campus groups. I would like to thank all of the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event, including the Arts Council activity areas, a triumphant success.

We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to Princeton University, the Princeton Police Department, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Princeton Regional Health Department, Princeton Borough, Lea Quinty, Bob Bruschi, Wayne Carr and staff, Palmer Square Management, Bank of America, our event planner Grayson Bridge Communications & Events, and all of our generous event sponsors (the complete list can be found at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org).

JEFF NATHANSON
Executive Director
Arts Council of Princeton

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