Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 45
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
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Greater Transparency Urged, Debated By Members of Public, Borough Council

Dilshanie Perera

Borough Council’s closed session meeting last Tuesday dealt with negotiations with Princeton Township, and negotiations with downtown developer Nassau HKT, according to the agenda. Resident Dudley Sipprelle, who campaigned for a Council seat in this election, and Council member David Goldfarb, who ran unopposed, took issue with the restricted nature of certain public policy-related conversations and advocated greater transparency.

When asked by Mr. Sipprelle whether any of the minutes of negotiations between Borough and Township or NHKT have been made public, Clerk Lea Quinty noted that only the “settled items” had been. On the subject of the downtown development, Administrator Bob Bruschi stated that the closed session discussions had to do with “developing a position for the Borough as we enter into mediation” with NHKT and therefore had to be private.

After characterizing the negotiations with the Township as a matter of public policy during the meeting, Mr. Sipprelle continued to express concern about the matter in a recent interview. Calling the outstanding unpaid bills owed to the Borough a “direct subsidy from Borough taxpayer to the Township.” He commented, “Why this needs to be behind closed doors is beyond me.”

Council member David Goldfarb said that the negotiations between the Borough and NHKT will “continue until they are resolved” and that at the “end of that process, they’ll be disclosed.”

As for “public policy issues” regarding the Borough and Township, Mr. Goldfarb declared, “I believe it is grossly inappropriate to exclude the public” and such an exclusion is “not constructive to resolving those issues.”

“I am of the view that the Borough and Township do not negotiate in a rational, consistent, or productive way,” said Council member Roger Martindell, characterizing the relationship between the municipalities as “abominable” and “dysfunctional.”

“I think we in the Borough need to figure out where we want to go in the relationship, what we want to get out of it,” Mr. Martindell said, adding that it would be “difficult for these seven people to do that in front of the world,” and that “we’ll be more frank with each other when we are in private.”

“I don’t think we know what we’re negotiating,” Mr. Martindell said in regard to talks with the Township. “I don’t think we have a clue.”

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