Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 47
 
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
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Township’s Overdue Debt to Borough Eclipses Affordable Housing in Urgency

ROGER MARTINDELL
Prospect Avenue
Member, Borough Council

Officials Should Hear From Residents on Borough-Township Consolidation

SANDRA PERSICHETTI
Trewbridge Court

Environmental Commission Thanks All for Successful Home and Garden Tour

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN
Member, Princeton Environmental Commission


Township’s Overdue Debt to Borough Eclipses Affordable Housing in Urgency

To the Editor:

I’d like to clarify a report in last week’s edition (Town Topics, November 12) regarding Princeton Borough-Township relations.

The Borough and Township governing bodies, despite pledges in support of cooperation, rarely meet together, and even more rarely achieve their potential in working together for the benefit of the larger community. In that context, when the two governing bodies met on November 10 to discuss library parking, Township Committee proposed that at the next joint meeting, now scheduled next year, the two governing bodies discuss affordable housing.

As I pointed out to those present on November 10, we all agree that affordable housing is important to our community. But, in the context of Borough-Township relations, affordable housing is not of primary importance, as there are far more substantial issues that divide the two governing bodies. Here’s one: the Township owes the Borough $2.5 million, a debt that is long overdue, has already cost Borough taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in carrying charges, and continues to climb.

The $2.5 million comprises two amounts: $1 million that the Borough paid for joint Borough/Township capital projects and billed to the Township in December 2007 for which the Township has yet to reimburse the Borough, and $1.5 million, representing the cost to the Borough over the last decade of sewer connection fees that the Township diverted from the joint Sewer Operating Committee in connection with its development of the Northridge sewer trunk line.

The $2.5 million represents 25 tax points to the Borough. Based on the average Borough homeowner’s assessment, each tax point represents about $40. So the current Township debt to the Borough represents $1,000 to the average Borough homeowner.

Yes, affordable housing is important and will continue to be. So is consolidation of the two towns, which we should all support. But were you to ask Borough taxpayers if they think that their collection of $1,000 per homeowner might be a more urgent concern in Borough /Township relations, what do you think they would say?

ROGER MARTINDELL
Prospect Avenue
Member, Borough Council

Officials Should Hear From Residents on Borough-Township Consolidation

To the Editor:

Over the years, the issue of consolidation of the Princetons is raised by various members of the governing bodies with the comment that it will take a “groundswell” from the community to put this on the agenda again. My conversations with friends and associates all indicate that there is significant interest in consolidation from both Borough and Township residents.

As a Princeton Township resident/taxpayer and a supporter of consolidation, I ask that members of the community consider the cost for the following. Does a community of 30,000 people need two mayors and governing bodies, two administrators, two clerks, two affordable housing boards, two financial officers, two tax collectors, two construction officials, two engineers, two fire officials, two police captains, two superintendents of public works, two zoning boards, two TV stations, and the support staffs that are part of each of these departments?

Then add the cost of maintaining two municipal buildings and a myriad of police, public works, and other vehicles and equipment.

Consider the shared departments: animal control, health, human services, library, planning, recreation, tax assessor, and the big one — schools. If children from both municipalities can learn under a regional school board, one wonders why their parents cannot enjoy the same regionalization/consolidation.

Consolidation does not mean massive layoffs. If a thoughtful consolidation plan were to be put in place now, the Princetons could take advantage of elimination of staff by attrition and benefit from the incentives currently offered by the State.

Since residents of each municipality freely use the services offered by the other municipality, why wouldn’t we want to be inclusionary and begin to plan for consolidation. I believe this is a leadership issue, not a groundswell from the people issue. However, since members of both governing bodies are looking for a groundswell, those interested in pursuing consolidation may e-mail me at Sandra223@verizon.net and identify their municipality. The Princetons “study” everything. Why not study something that may save taxpayers some money?

SANDRA PERSICHETTI
Trewbridge Court

Environmental Commission Thanks All for Successful Home and Garden Tour

To the Editor:

I’d like to thank all the visitors and exhibitors who made Saturday’s second Princeton Environmental Commission Green Home and Garden Tour so successful.

The tour’s exhibitors included architect Ronald Berlin who, with Construction Waste Management and Franzoni Building, contributed a sustainable renovation that added a 1,000 square foot living space to a one-story ranch house while adding just 60 square feet more impervious surface. Curtis Helm showed a rain garden he installed at the Princeton Senior Resource Center with plants donated by Pinelands Nursery. Architect Leslie Dowling, a U.S. Green Building Council member, demonstrated how to take advantage of an older home’s central location while turning it into a beautiful and sustainable home. Barbara Cuneo of Herrontown Builders offered tour-goers an example of healthful and energy-efficient new construction.

Lasley Brahaney Architecture+Construction guided visitors through its newly renovated, LEED-compliant office. Richard McCoy of R.A. McCoy Horticultural Services demonstrated proper tree planting and mulching and how to manage a lawn organically, thereby making it safe for children to play on. Gary Eschenburg, of Ground Source Contractors, explained one of several geothermal wells he has installed in the Princeton area.

Princeton’s Whole Earth Center began the day by offering morning coffee to visitors who came to see its green cleaning materials and local produce. And Eno Terra, a Certified Green Restaurant, ended the afternoon with a wine tasting.

The success of this year’s tour lay not only in how many visitors it attracted, however - nor even in how much new business the tour may bring its exhibitiors. The tour’s success was also demonstrated by Hopewell Township’s Environmental Commission, which offered its first Greener Living tour this year in conjunction with Princeton’s. And Gary Eschenburg, whose Ground Source Contractors is headquartered in Pennsylvania, is considering a similar tour next year in his own area. Imitation is the sincerest form of responding to America’s increased interest in environmental protection.

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN
Member, Princeton Environmental Commission

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