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Vol. LXV, No. 45
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
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Specter of “High Density Housing” A Veiled Scare Tactic vs. Diversity

Heidi Fichtenbaum
Carnahan Place

Friends of Library Book Sale Chairs Thankful for Record-Breaking Event

Sherri Garber and Eve Niedergang
Friends of the Library Book Sale Co-Chairs

Admirer, Supporter of Battlefield Society Disagrees With Objection to IAS Housing

Landon Jones
Hibben Road

New Member of Princeton Battlefield Society, Civil War Historian Says “NO” to IAS Plan

Bill Marsch
Old Georgetown Road

Only 50 Musket Balls Found in 21 Acres Not Equal to Battle on IAS Housing Site

John Rassweiler
Allison Road

Veteran, Institute Neighbor Supports Institute’s Plan to Expand Housing

Luke Visconti, CEO Diversity Inc.
Nassau Street

Location of Winning Counterattack Not Appropriate for Institute Housing

Daniel Thompson, Princeton Township, Member,
Princeton Battlefield Society

Imagining a Statement for President Tilghman That Would Improve University-Community Ties

Carl J. Mayer ’81
Battle Road

Some Tips On What Can Be Done To Prevent Further Injury to Trees

Greenie Neuburg, Princeton Township Shade Tree Commission

Polly Burlingham
Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission


Specter of “High Density Housing” A Veiled Scare Tactic vs. Diversity

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to a letter by Sheila Siderman and Jerry Palin in the November 2 Mailbox that raised the specter of “high density housing” if the Princetons consolidate. Although by the time this letter is published we will have voted on the issue of consolidation, I am incensed that this thinly veiled scare tactic was invoked as grounds for dividing our community. High density housing and a further reference to Griggs Farm and affordable housing leaves no doubt that the real issue is preventing people who cannot afford a million dollar home from living in our community.

Perhaps a little history about the Mount Laurel decision and Griggs Farm is in order. In 1975 the New Jersey Supreme Court found that zoning regulation in the Township of Mount Laurel unlawfully excluded low and moderate income families and held that zoning ordinances which make it physically and economically impossible to provide low and moderate income housing were unconstitutional. Griggs Farm is named after a Mr. Burnet Griggs, an African American resident of Princeton who owned The Imperial Restaurant that was located at the corner of Hulfish and Witherspoon Streets. During Princeton’s “Urban Renewal” when a significant portion of the high density John Witherspoon neighborhood was torn down, Mr. Griggs had to fight to keep his property. Griggs Farm combines market rate townhomes and condominiums, moderate-income units and low-income rental apartments, which satisfied a major portion of Princeton Township’s affordable housing obligation that came out of the Mount Laurel decision.

A roof over your head is basic for survival. It is typically the largest household expense and the single most important for determining cost of living, yet it continues to be out of reach for many especially in Princeton where the median cost of a home is a $619,700 in comparison to $359,800 in New Jersey and $185,400 nationally. Rentals are equally skewed. This highlights the lack of affordability in our town.

Homes that a variety of people can afford bring diversity to our town. A diverse housing stock in combination with mixed land use, compact and green building design, transportation choices, and stakeholder collaboration will ensure that we can maximize open space, and maintain Princeton’s unique sense of place. Rather than fear diversity we should cultivate it. Diversity teaches us to look beyond differences of economic level, language, culture, race, and color. It teaches us to be more accepting of things that are different from us and in that process makes us more flexible and open. The concept of diversity is at the heart of sustainability. Diversity creates an environment where beneficial ideas can develop and improve our ability to cope with change. I hope that our community will unite, embrace diversity, and promote affordable and sustainable living.

Heidi Fichtenbaum
Carnahan Place

Friends of Library Book Sale Chairs Thankful for Record-Breaking Event

To the Editor:

Beautiful weather created an ideal stage for a great Friends of the Princeton Public Library Annual Book Sale with dealers and collectors coming from several area states and hundreds upon hundreds of members of the community browsing and buying thousands of books. The sale was a record-breaking success and a great fun as well. We would like to extend a big “thank you” to the more than 70 volunteers who sorted and priced books, set up tables and stocked them, sold books, kept the sale looking neat, and finally, cleared up Sunday night. Thanks also to the wonderful staff at the Library who support this endeavor so magnificently, to members of the community who donate books during the course of the year, and to those who supported the library by shopping at the sale. McCaffrey’s assisted us by donating bags for the Bag Sale, Bohren’s by donating many boxes for packing up the books, and, last but not least, Book Sale founder and devoted Friend of the library, Barbara L. Freedman, by sponsoring this year’s sale.

The Annual Book Sale and the Library book store enables us to channel great books at bargain prices to people who will read and treasure them, raising money for the Library as well as being a community recycling effort – many books that would otherwise end up in the trash instead are read and enjoyed again. Due to the generosity of the community, all the books that we sell at the Annual Sale (and at our used book store, open daily and located just inside the library entrance) are donated. Since all our workers are also volunteers, so we are able to give the entire profit from the store and the Annual Sale to the Library to fund its purchase of new materials.

After a brief moratorium to allow us to get ready for the Annual Sale, we are now accepting donations again for the store and for next year’s Annual Sale. Donations can be made anytime during normal Library hours, but please check our guidelines prior to donating
(
www.princetonlibrary.org/yoursupport/friends/booksale.html) and please call first (609-924-9529 x280) if you are donating more than 6 boxes of materials. We truly appreciate those who keep the Friends in mind when moving or cleaning out their house or that of a loved one and who give us these books to recycle in the community.

Sherri Garber and Eve Niedergang
Friends of the Library Book Sale Co-Chairs

Admirer, Supporter of Battlefield Society Disagrees With Objection to IAS Housing

To the Editor:

As a longtime supporter of the Princeton Historical Society, I usually admire and support the work of the Princeton Battlefield Society. But I cannot agree with its objection to the sensitively planned housing proposed by the Institute for Advanced Study. The Princeton Battlefield exists today thanks to the good offices of the Institute, and the proposed housing is more than respectful of those magnificent lands and properly shielded from them. We can do most honor to this site by properly caring for it, not by obstructing the essential needs of nearby educational institutions.

Landon Jones
Hibben Road

New Member of Princeton Battlefield Society, Civil War Historian Says “NO” to IAS Plan

To the Editor: 

Protecting and preserving the assets of New Jersey must concern all of us. The effective way is to stand up for our state’s, as well as our nation’s, heritage when threatened or placed in jeopardy. If I do not stand up, raise my voice, and say “No More!” how can I criticize others for standing by as our past is destroyed or desecrated?

I have recently joined an energetic non-profit, The Princeton Battlefield Society, as a member and a Trustee. In talking with historians, preservationists, and re-enactors, one issue that continually surfaced was protecting the Princeton Battlefield site and the potential destruction of a part of it with the construction of new Institute for Advanced Study housing. While some have camouflaged the importance of this IAS section of the Battlefield to the success of the Continental Army, overwhelming evidence suggests that a turning point in our revolutionary struggle occurred on this land, which should be protected as such. Is the proposed housing so important that we will lose forever the land on which American history was made?

As a Civil War historian myself, I have witnessed the desecration of sites of major battles. Lost sites are only memories today because people did not raise voices in opposition. I am against the building of IAS housing on land that must be protected for our past, our present and our future. My opposition rests on historic facts as well as my personal commitment. Simply put, “No more!”

Bill Marsch
Old Georgetown Road

Only 50 Musket Balls Found in 21 Acres Not Equal to Battle on IAS Housing Site

To the Editor:

The Institute for Advanced Study was founded in Princeton in 1930, the first of a group of higher educational institutions that remains one of the premier among the many institutes for advanced study that now exist worldwide. The Institute has been an exemplary citizen of this community, protecting nearly 600 acres of woodland for public use and offering land to the State’s Princeton Battlefield Park, which increased its size by 60 percent.

At the Institute, the faculty mentor about 200 members — selected annually from the best and brightest academics around the world — in a wide range of disciplines in the sciences and humanities and they live, work, and study together without distractions. The challenge is to do something better than they have ever done before. Since the Institute’s founding, 27 Nobel Prizes, and 38 out of 52 Fields Medals, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics, have been awarded to Institute faculty and visiting scholars.

The living quarters of faculty and members form a crescent around the campus, critical in maintaining the close associations that make IAS unique. In the early years, housing for faculty had been available through purchases of homes in the immediate area of the campus, but the cost of housing in Princeton today makes such purchases nearly impossible. The fifteen new units proposed on seven acres of Institute land are essential. A 200-foot buffer between the housing, and additional plantings, will make them ultimately essentially invisible. In addition, the remainder of this particular tract of twenty-one acres including the buffer will be preserved.

As to the Princeton Battlefield Park, dozens of accounts by eminent historians all place the fifteen minute, intense portion of the battle in the fields around the Clark house, when the Continentals finally forced the British to retreat, and then flee toward Princeton. Pursuit and skirmishing covered the lands from there to central Princeton, until the final capture of the remaining British in Nassau Hall.

The only archeological study of which I am familiar was actually done by the Institute on the acreage under discussion. Only 50 musket balls were found in 21 acres, which averages about 2.5 musket balls an acre. This does not equate to the main battle being fought there. They are, however, committed to archeological oversight of the construction area.

The Institute has much information on its website, including a section on the preservation and historical context of its faculty housing plans, at www.ias.edu/about/faculty-housing.

It seems only just and reasonable that the Institute be allowed to construct the housing that they seek to meet their educational goals in a timely manner.

John Rassweiler
Allison Road

Veteran, Institute Neighbor Supports Institute’s Plan to Expand Housing

To the Editor:

As a veteran who owns a home in the Institute neighborhood and a business and historic building in the Borough, I wholeheartedly support the Institute for Advanced Studies and its plan to expand faculty housing.

The Institute is a thoughtful, humble, and generous neighbor. Their mission is profoundly important to the world and their civic citizenship reflects their understanding of the responsibilities they have. Everyone can enjoy the Institute Woods, hundreds of acres which were preserved for the public. The Battlefield Park owes its beautiful vista to a kind donation from the Institute — at which time, the promise was made that they could build their housing where they plan to now. 

The entire history of the Institute tells us that they will do all of the right things when building their faculty housing. Having it here in Princeton is a credit to our hometown and to our country. The Institute serves the ideals to which our countrymen gave their lives in our Revolution — it honors their memory.

Luke Visconti, CEO Diversity Inc.
Nassau Street

Location of Winning Counterattack Not Appropriate for Institute Housing

To the Editor:

The Battle of Princeton was far more important than most people realize, it truly was a turning point of the American Revolution. General Washington knew that winning this battle was absolutely critical. Many of the soldiers had completed their commissions at the end of 1776 and the Continental Congress had run out of funds to finance the war.

The week before the battle Washington sent General Cadwalader to Princeton where he drew a map, now known as the “Cadwalader Spymap,” showing not only the physical features, including Bainbridge House and Nassau Hall, but markings indicating the location and number of British soldiers on the Post Road (Rte. 206). The map includes the Saw Mill Road, the “backroad” that Washington used to move the entire Continental Army into Princeton undetected. Interestingly, it appears that General Cadwalader did not physically examine this road because the map doesn’t include clearly important buildings on the road such as the Quaker Meeting House, or the Thomas or William Clarke Houses.

Today, much more important than the road, however, is the location of the winning counterattack. Clear evidence dating back to the mid-1940s when Princeton Battlefield Park was set up shows where the counterattack took place. The original boundaries of the park were to include the location of the counterattack. Archaeological evidence and the mapped features of the original accounts of soldiers in the battle have confirmed the location of the counterattack just outside the park boundaries. The site is therefore NOT an appropriate location for a housing development. Instead it should be sold to the State of New Jersey for incorporation into the park as originally intended.

Daniel Thompson, Princeton Township, Member,
Princeton Battlefield Society

Imagining a Statement for President Tilghman That Would Improve University-Community Ties

To the Editor:

As both a graduate of Princeton University and a former elected member of Princeton Township Committee, I find it unfortunate that the relationship between the University and the Community has become more strained than at any time in memory.

Respectfully, the one person who could repair this relationship is University President Shirley Tilghman. As the larger and more powerful party to increasingly acrimonious negotiations I respectfully suggest that it is incumbent on the University to act first.

I urge President Tilghman to make the following statement:

“Having witnessed the deterioration in the relationship between the citizens of Princeton and the University, and upon further reflection, Princeton University has changed course on some major decisions.

First, the University commits to preserving and enhancing the Dinky in its current location, now and forever. Not only do the citizens of Princeton want the Dinky to remain in its historic location but the faculty, alumni and students support this view. There is no reason to inconvenience our own students and faculty by moving the Dinky, not to mention the citizens of our great town. Princeton University will also take the lead in installing an additional field of solar panels to power the Dinky by solar energy and commission a contest open to students, faculty, and architects, to recreate Dinky cars based on the trains that were part of Princeton’s past. Additionally, those trains will display the art of Princeton students. Princeton simply cannot set a negative example for its students by diminishing mass transit in the area; to the contrary, we must lead by example.

“Any other position would mean years of litigation. Eliminating or moving the Dinky would unlawfully violate Princeton’s Master Plan directive to ‘Maintain a sense of place and small town quality that is distinctive to this community and evidenced as one crosses into the community through its several gateways.’ To this end, the Plan has a specific goal: ‘Maintain the scenic and historic gateways and enhance those that are less attractive.’ Any effort to eliminate or move the Dinky — unquestionably a historic gateway — would violate the Plan that has helped make Princeton unique for decades.

“Second, Princeton University has rethought its contributions to the Township and Borough in lieu of taxes. Until today, the University has had the dubious distinction of making payments in lieu of taxes on the low end of the scale compared to other Ivy League institutions on a per capita basis. The University now commits to leading the Ivy League on a per capita basis and shall amicably settle litigation filed by the citizens of Princeton demanding that the University no longer be tax-exempt for University property used to make a profit.”

Unless the University takes leadership, President Tilghman will be remembered for forever altering vital Princeton history and town relations.

Carl J. Mayer ’81
Battle Road

Some Tips On What Can Be Done To Prevent Further Injury to Trees

To the Editor:

Because of the recent snowstorm and the resulting damage to street trees and to trees on private property, residents may be interested in what can be done to prevent further winter injury to these important resources.

An article detailing several steps is posted on the websites of Princeton Township (www.princetontwp.org/shadetreemain.html)

and Princeton Borough (www.pbshadetree.org).

A shortened version appears below:

1. Until the ground freezes, water trees that have been in the ground less than three years.

2. Keep the ground moist around trees by applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, that does not touch the trunk.

3. Protect young trees from deer damage that occurs from late summer through winter.

4. Take steps to prevent tree breakage and bending from snow and ice.

5. Apply anti-desiccant sprays to reduce damage from drying winter winds and sun.

6. Contact a professional arborist to check tree limbs that overhang your house or that of your neighbor.

Greenie Neuburg, Princeton Township Shade Tree Commission

Polly Burlingham
Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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