Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 46
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
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Township, Borough Debate Money and Other Issues; Bridge Work Postponed

Ellen Gilbert

A joint meeting of the Township Committee and the Borough Council to vote on a library parking agreement Monday evening became contentious as members of both groups challenged the other’s priorities about other issues and debated the way in which the question of money owed by the Township to the Borough should be resolved.

After the Township Committee agreed to pay its share to support library patron parking for up to two hours in the downtown Borough-owned garage, Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman’s suggestion that additional dates be set for joint meetings of the two bodies seemed to spark the thrust-and-parry that followed. In response to Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand’s reminder that January 27 had already been tentatively scheduled for a joint meeting to discuss affordable housing and police dispatch concerns, Ms. Trotman suggested that “issues like delinquent monies” might also be considered at that time. Borough Council member Roger Martindell weighed in with his belief that affordable housing is “not a primary issue,” and Township Committee member Chad Goerner said that nothing less than discussion of full municipal consolidation should be the order of the day. “We have two governing bodies that stumble over minutiae,” he observed. “I think we’re missing the boat.” Ms. Trotman responded by saying that she didn’t “want consolidation to trump the other issues we’ve been discussing for years.”

Council member David Goldfarb returned to the question of Township indebtedness to the Borough by suggesting that the matter be brought to binding arbitration. Both Mr. Goerner and Ms. Marchand argued that the Township needed more time to review relevant materials. Ms. Marchand warned that without thoughtful deliberation, “it’s going to come down to which solution is more advantageous for one or the other community. We need to look at this globally.”

Less fraught issues at the Township Committee’s regular meeting on Monday evening included an update on the Rosedale Road bridge, and a presentation on affordable housing. Mayor Marchand reported that as a result of input at a recent meeting between Mercer County representatives and area residents, the starting date of the project, which would have resulted in substantial detours for commuters and school buses, has been moved from January to July, when school is out and people are on vacation. The new plan will also take advantage of longer daylight hours, with 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. workdays that will enable the project to be completed in four, rather than seven, months. Township engineer Robert Kiser noted that a proposal to build a temporary bridge to help ameliorate traffic slow-downs while the project was underway would have been too expensive at a cost of approximately $500,000.

Affordable housing consultant Elizabeth McKenzie said that a draft report on efforts to fulfill current “fair share” housing regulations shows that the Township is essentially in compliance with Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) requirements, though she encouraged the Committee to look for other opportunities to rehabilitate existing structures and find other “very low” and “low” income housing sites in the area.

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