To the Editor:
Stephen Distler seriously underestimates neighborhood opposition to his jazz club/restaurant (Town Topics, September 1). The numbers go well beyond the eight families who filed a lawsuit in July opposing the Princeton Township Zoning Board of Adjustment's approval of variances for the redevelopment of Mike's Tavern and Stefanelli's Garage. The notion of having a jazz club in our neighborhood is outrageous and objectionable to scores of residents who would be affected by this development.
Mr. Distler's letter in Town Topics also mischaracterizes our position. On behalf of the many people who have joined with us, let me address his several points.
1. Mr. Distler's assertion that "no car from my establishment will be permitted to park [in our neighborhoods]" is ludicrous. He may be able to dictate where the 20 or so employees in his proposed jazz club can park, but he has no say over what the 160 patrons, coming and going from his establishment, will do with their cars. We know from real-world experience what will happen on our streets.
2. His professed concern about noise misses the point. He may be able to exert some control over noise emanating from his jazz club, but 160 patrons leaving the place at 1 a.m. and beyond, in varying degrees of sobriety, certainly will be disruptive. And that does not include the noise of car doors slamming, engines starting, etc.
3. Mr. Distler needs to be reminded that the Township's hiring of a traffic consultant with taxpayers' money is not a private service "to advise us," referring to himself and his company, on how to protect community interests. Should the Township engage these services, we hope and expect all interests of the community, including those who oppose the placement of a jazz club in a residential neighborhood, will be fully considered.
4. The few cars that typically were in front of Mike's Tavern were not parked all the way out to the curb whether that usage was grandfathered or not. The placement of Mr. Distler's new building will create an obstruction at an already hazardous curve on Route 206.
5. Our lawsuit is based on fact, not conjecture. We know there are residents within the 200 foot line from his properties who were not notified of this development; however, that is only one of our complaints. We are also challenging the Zoning Board's failure to consider the impact of a jazz club on the peace, stability, and tranquility of our residential neighborhoods, our homes, our children, and our elderly. Mr. Distler should be assured that our legal complaint has just cause. The financial burden and sacrifice that this lawsuit has placed on us would not have been undertaken were it frivolous.
Finally, let's talk about Mr. Distler's claim that his establishment will add a "new dimension to Princeton's cultural offerings." Mr. Distler offered a vague definition of jazz in his application to the Zoning Board, so much so that the Board voted to require him to come back for reapplication should the type of music change. Our lawsuit alleges that this condition is unenforceable. The reality is that turnovers in the restaurant business, both in Princeton and across the country, are among the highest of any industry. If the jazz club fails to make money, what's to stop Mr. Distler or some future owner from featuring "punk rock"? Once the doors open, anything goes. In short, Mr. Distler's dream could turn into our nightmare.
For all these reasons, we are united in opposition to a jazz club in the midst of a quiet residential neighborhood. We believe that we are right and that we will prevail.
To the Editor:
Princeton Community Housing's first ever fund-raising event, a concert by award-winning pianist Sheila Simpson, was a rousing success thanks to the hard work of our members and the financial support of individuals and companies in the community.
The response to our September 12 concert has helped to bring Elm Court II, a building with 68 apartments for low-income seniors, closer to realization. We anticipate breaking ground in mid-2005, with the first tenants moving in during the summer of 2006. As the largest provider of affordable housing in Princeton, Princeton Community Housing maintains 396 rental units serving families, the elderly, and the disabled.
To everyone who worked so hard to make the afternoon at Princeton Theological Seminary's Miller Chapel and Mackay Campus Center a great success, we give a hearty "thank you." We are most grateful to the myriad benefactors, patrons, and sponsors who contributed so generously to this vital cause. Our special thanks go to Sheila Simpson for graciously donating her time and talent, and to the Seminary for making their beautiful facilities available to us. And thank you, William Scheide, our honorary chair, for your longtime support of our goals.
To the Editor:
Congratulations to playwright Steven Dietz, director Emily Mann, the cast, and the entire creative team at McCarter Theatre for bringing to our community the world premiere of Last of the Boys, a play about survivors of the Vietnam War, now playing at the Berlind Theatre.
Thank you, Mr. Dietz, for writing such an important, intelligent, compassionate, and heartrending work. Thank you, Ms. Mann, for bringing the play to us at the right moment, in a production that rings with clarity and power.
The play resonates in profound ways against the present conflict in Iraq. The program includes a quote from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, a collection of short stories about Vietnam that I had reread just last month. And so I was very much in tune with O'Brien's notion that there are two truths to every war story the actual facts and the emotional truth and in the end, it's the emotional truth that is carried in the gut, where it stays undigested and eats away at you.
Mr. Dietz gives us four vivid characters all scarred by Vietnam: Ben, Jeeter, Salyer, and Lorraine. There is also the ghostly presence of a dead soldier and the invoked presence of former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Their individual stories are searing and make us care. But what I found so powerful is that each character's wartime experiences of 30 years ago are carried forward as the dominant, defining force in their lives. (Salyer goes so far as to make her body into a monument to the fallen.) Although they come together briefly as a temporary family at Ben's outpost, they will probably never truly connect with each another or with anyone else. Too much loss? Too many betrayals? Too many conflicting truths?
In the closing moments of the play, when we hear Bob Dylan singing from Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, the line "guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children" hit me hard. He was a prophet and we have learned nothing. Pick up any newspaper and read about 18-year-olds killing 14-year-olds.
This is a play that deserves strong audience support here at McCarter. I hope it will go on to be performed in New York and in theatres across the country. Last of the Boys is a reminder that art has power and teaches us to listen to the music of larger truths behind the words.
To the Editor:
Town brush and leaf pick-up service is a topic I am pleased to see being discussed. For years I have been frustrated with the ugliness of my street and other streets throughout this town. In my opinion, Princeton's streets are excessively littered and unsightly. Where I live, Monday and Thursday are garbage pick up, every other Tuesday is recycle day, every day we have newspaper deliveries, and most every day is a dumping day for gardeners grooming properties. It's time to get a handle on this messy situation.
As a resident of Princeton, I am ashamed of the appearance of my town roads and I am also frustrated with the resulting clogged storm drains. I would rather see this pick-up program completely eliminated if it cannot be enforced or improved. I believe improvement is possible, and would like to make the following suggestion.
Since gardening is optional and falling leaves are not, it seems reasonable to me that we could eliminate the entire garden debris pick-up program but continue with the fall leaf collection. Homeowners can opt to compost garden material on site or haul the debris away. The Township fall leaf collection should be increased to biweekly, at a time when we need it most.
By eliminating Township garden debris pick-up, it would be wonderful to believe that there would be enough time freed up for our maintenance crews to actually repair the potholes on our roads in a more timely manner. One can only hope.
JEANINNE S. HONSTEIN
To the Editor:
When Li Or Judaica opened its doors almost six years ago, we had high hopes, but did not anticipate the many ways our lives would be enriched by our customers. It is with bittersweet feelings that we are now closing, and moving on to new stages in our lives.
We want to thank them all, and the many members of the Princeton community, who have turned a business into a wonderful experience.
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