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Vol. LXI, No. 42
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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With Pergola Looming, Spring Street Shops Still Have Concerns

Matthew Hersh

More than two years after making formal overtures to Princeton Borough Council regarding the rear access of stores from the Hinds Plaza, Spring Street shop owners appeared again last Tuesday before Council, with additional concerns related to the full installation of a planned pergola along the plaza.

Jill Carpe, owner of Shop the World, along with Michele Farrington of Farrington’s Music, expressed worry to the Mayor and Council over store access and how their shops would fit into the overall plaza scheme.

In an October 2 letter to Mayor and Council, Ms. Carpe, whose store opened in 1992, worried that a pergola built along the plaza periphery would “completely block visibility” to her store from Witherspoon Street, the plaza, and the library. She also worried that lighting would be an issue once the structure is complete. Specifically, she voiced her concern over three back panels, requesting that they be left off the completed structure.

Due to a series of lengthy delays, Borough officials have been hesitant to offer a firm installation date for the pergola.

Both Ms. Carpe and Ms. Farrington expressed security worries as well, saying that the proposed panels will create a “wall and an alley,” and that the walkway between the Spring Street municipal garage and Hinds Plaza already serves as a “Lover’s Lane and skateboard ramp for teens.

“I’m concerned this behavior [will be] off-putting to my customers [and] will spill over to the proposed alley behind the pergola,” Ms. Carpe wrote.

In 2005, after initial footings were installed for the then-$125,000 proposed pergola, a fence was installed by the Borough for safety purposes. After Ms. Carpe appealed to Council in August 2005, the fence was removed and replaced with a wooden structure and a ramp, creating an entryway in to her store.

Work on the pergola, slowed by difficulties in acquiring an easement from Verizon, has yet to begin, but Ms. Carpe said that as construction appears imminent, she felt compelled to return to Council.

Councilwoman Wendy Benchley emphasized the importance of creating an entryway to the backs of the Spring Street stores from the plaza. “I was shocked to hear that there is this screening and I just think that there is someway that we could compromise and accommodate the needs of the businesses,” she said, suggesting that certain paneling could be excluded to all for store access.

Council, while casting no formal vote, appeared willing to review the plan.

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