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Proposed Snowden Lane Sidewalk Receives Backlash of Dissent From Area Residents

Candace Braun
Matthew Hersh

A proposal to install a sidewalk along a portion of Snowden Lane has undergone intense criticism from some Borough and Township residents, sparking a debate regarding the safety of the roadway that runs along the Borough/Township border.

The area in question is a 1,300-foot strip of Snowden Lane between Franklin and Hamilton avenues that creates a "gap" in a sidewalk system that otherwise continues along Snowden from Princeton-Kingston Road to Herrontown Road.

Borough Council tabled the matter at its September 7 meeting to await a decision from the Township. While the area affects 12 homeowners whose residences lie in the Borough, the actual proposed sidewalk would lie on the other side of the municipal line in the Township. The plan would also have an impact on five homes in the Township.

Borough residents spoke out against the ordinance that was before Council, which would give the Township approval to move forward with the $30,000 road project.

Calling the 1,300 feet of sidewalk a "missing link," Township Engineer Robert Kiser asked that the Borough approve this measure to increase safety on the road.

"It's no longer a country road. [Snowden Lane] is becoming a regular roadway," he said, adding that the street is often used by motorists as a means to enter downtown by way of Hamilton Avenue and Wiggins Street.

At the Township Committee discussion, Princeton Township Police Officer Geoff Maurer delivered a report indicating the need to install a sidewalk for public safety purposes and citing an increase in automobile accidents that, he said, could put pedestrians walking along that stretch of Snowden in danger.

"Recently, we observed a mother and two children walk down Snowden to Rollingmead to get to the Littlebrook School and it's definitely a safety issue to walk down Snowden Lane," he said. However, the 12 Borough residents who would be affected by this road construction pleaded for Council to reject the proposal.

Installing a sidewalk at this section, residents said, would strip the block of its "bucolic" character.

"I see very little walking being done there and I don't see the need for it," said Bob Aresty, a resident on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Snowden Lane. "I think it's a bad choice, it's not needed and not worth the $30,000 to build it."

Borough residents along Snowden Lane would be required to pay 50 percent of the total cost of the project, amounts varying between $1,121, to $4,127.

At the Borough Council meeting, some Council members also felt that installing sidewalks was unnecessary.

"I haven't heard a compelling reason why this measure should be taken," said Councilman Roger Martindell.

But at the Township Committee meeting, Deputy Mayor Bill Enslin said that this segment on Snowden is simply a part of the sidewalk that has always been intended for installation, but has not yet been completed.

"I would have strong reservations about walking children on that street," he said. Township Attorney Edwin Schmierer bolstered Mr. Enslin's comments by saying the Township has a "responsibility" to pave a sidewalk in an area near two elementary schools, Littlebrook and Riverside.

"We have to get [the children] to school safely," he said.

The Township Committee discussion resulted in no formal action. The Township's Mr. Kiser said residents potentially affected by the sidewalk will receive notice by mail when the issue will next appear on the Committee agenda.

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