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Town Meetings to Discuss Future Of Witherspoon Street Corridor

Candace Braun

Princeton Future, a community-based organization that has played an active role in downtown redevelopment, has announced that it will be starting up talks on the Witherspoon Street corridor, beginning Saturday, November 13, at 9 a.m., in the community room of the Princeton Public Library.

Princeton Future will hold a total of nine meetings, to which all Princeton residents are invited, said Sheldon Sturges, co-chair of Princeton Future. Following the first meeting, neighborhood workshops will be held on December 4, 11, and 18 at the same time and place.

The findings of the workshops will be presented at a January 15 town meeting.

"This is a key part of town that is ready to grow quickly and needs to be studied extensively," said Mr. Sturges.

"The north-south spine of Princeton," and the route of a trolley line in the 1920s, Witherspoon Street includes residential sections, businesses, schools, a cemetery, the Princeton Public Library, and the University Medical Center at Princeton. Today, changes are continually taking place along the corridor, including the possible removal of the hospital from the center of town.

In close proximity to both Princeton University and the downtown business section, Witherspoon Street is also at the center of a minority neighborhood, where many immigrants who work in town find housing. This area is subject to redevelopment pressures, and needs to be reexamined by Princeton residents, said Mr. Sturges.

Princeton Future's plan is to set up a series of advisory groups to document, analyze, and design a vision with guidelines for the future of Witherspoon Street, both in the Borough and Township. The study will contain 14 different maps of the street, including a ground plan, treatment of natural surfaces, street furniture, lighting, transportation, power lines, land use and zoning, building types, street sections, elevations, a history trail, a three-dimensional model, and implementation options for the next five to 20 years.

With Witherspoon Street facing economic and social forces that are regional, national, and global, these meetings are crucial to planning the future of Princeton, said Mr. Sturges.

For more information on the Witherspoon Street corridor meetings, look for announcements in upcoming issues of Town Topics.

SID Discussions

In related news, the Community-Based Neighborhood Retail Initiative (CBNR), a subcommittee of Princeton Future, met last Friday to discuss the possibility of a special improvement district (SID) with Michael LaPlace, a Princeton resident and the first executive director of the Westfield SID.

"He was very encouraging and positive," said Mr. Sturges, adding that Mr. LaPlace has agreed to join Princeton's SID subcommittee, established this summer by CBNR.

"This was such a positive step forward and everyone seemed to be impressed," he said.

The SID subcommittee will hold its next closed session meeting on Thursday, November 11.

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