Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 45
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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Hearing Gives Consolidation Positive Look

Ellen Gilbert

The comments were all positive at a public hearing at Township Committee’s Monday evening meeting that discussed the filing of an application with the State Local Finance Board to create a Local Option Municipal Consolidation Study Commission. The commission would undertake the study of joint services and/or the municipal consolidation of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough. 

Deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services Marc Pfeiffer, who was present at the meeting, said that he would include the comments in his report to the state finance board, which will meet in Trenton to hear the application on December 9.

Borough Council planned to hold its own hearing on the same question at its Tuesday evening meeting (held after press time). A joint public hearing, with both Borough Council and Township Committee members in attendance, will be held for Township and Borough residents on Monday, November 23, at 7 p.m. in the Township municipal building.

Laura Kahn and Sandra Persichetti were among the speakers Monday evening who reiterated sentiments expressed at the initial joint meeting about the application two weeks ago. Ms. Kahn, who is a physician, observed that Princeton’s “consolidated schools and consolidated health department” were “absolutely critical in the planning and implementation of administering swine flu vaccinations in recent weeks.” She went on to say, however, that a situation in which there are two police departments and two governing boards is “extremely dysfunctional,” particularly in terms of emergency planning.

Longtime Township resident Gus Escher noted that the consolidation issue has come up a number of times during his years in residence, but that “There’s always a group of folks who seem to have some kind of conceptual problem with it.” Quoting a proponent of consolidation Mr. Escher pointed out that “It’s about governance. I’ve been there three times; I’m getting tired of this. It’s the right thing to do.” 

While endorsing the exploration of consolidation, Ms. Persichetti expressed the hope that the process will “not kill us with meetings.”

With the election of a Republican governor barely a week old, Mr. Pfeiffer noted that there have not yet been conversations with the new administration regarding funding for consolidation studies and other issues. While the “policy probably won’t change,” he said, it “may be subject to the state’s fiscal condition.”

Other Issues

Among the “consent agenda” items passed during the regular part of the Committee’s meeting was a resolution allocating up to $49,850 for White Buffalo, Inc. to implement the Township’s 2010 deer management program. Township attorney Edwin Schmierer provided details on the proposal, noting that the program dated back to 2000, and that its evaluation committee had recently been reconstituted to assess current needs. Citing a significant drop in deer killed on local roads as a result of the program, Mr. Schmierer said that the committee had unanimously recommended that the program continue. Animal control officer Mark Johnson was present to corroborate this recommendation, noting that 348 deer were killed in the year 2000, while this year’s tally was 66. Since the deer reproduce at the rate of 1.7 fawns per female each year, he said that a “maintenance program” is necessary to keep the number of road kill per year under 100.

An ordinance requiring owners of flood-prone dwellings to inform prospective renters about the property, created as “part of the Township’s response to the flooding along Harry’s Brook last summer,” according to Mr. Schmierer, was also passed on Monday evening. In response to a query from Township Committee member Lance Liverman, it was noted that this new responsibility to inform prospective tenants lies with landlords, not property managers.

Saying that “we are chauvinists about New Jersey,” Hella McVay spoke earlier in the meeting about the donation of a “Poetry Trail” she and her husband Scott have made to Greenway Meadows Park. Mr. McVay said that he hoped that the poems posted along the paths “will evoke the surprise and hope and mystery that we find in the natural world.”

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