Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Restaurant Week
Vol. LXV, No. 38
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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Joint Recreation Board Offers Update On New Community Pool in Princeton

Joint Recreation Board of Princeton

Paul Robeson’s Legacy of Social Conscience Should Not Be Excluded From Achievements

R. Parish
Mountain Avenue

Traffic and Transportation Committee Responds to Letters About Traffic Risk

Anton Lahnston
Chair, Princeton Borough Traffic and Transportation Committee
Elm Road

Arts Council’s Fall Open House Busy, Exciting Thanks to Visitors

The Staff of the Arts Council of Princeton

The Rescue Squad Needs to Expand But Not on the Valley Road School Site

Dan Thompson
Dempsey Avenue

We Can Live With Old Boundaries Should Consolidation Be Defeated

Henry J. Frank
Valley Road

Supporting Yina Moore for Mayor For Her “Unprecedented Expertise”

Anne Waldron Neumann
Alexander Street

Helmets and Protective Clothing Should be Mandatory for Bicyclists

Ethan C. Finley
Princeton Community Village

Alum Sees Nostalgia for VRS Building Outweighing Issue of Artistic Merit

Eva Liane Foster
Ewing Street


Joint Recreation Board Offers Update On New Community Pool in Princeton

To the Editor:

In July, Princeton’s new Community Park Pool Complex was approved by both Township Committee and Borough Council. Construction is underway and we expect the new facility to be ready for the opening of the 2012 season.

The Joint Recreation Board would like to thank all those who have helped with the process including the citizens who came forward to express their valuable thoughts, as well as the special interest groups and the professionals on the staffs of the Township and Borough.

There were three viable material alternatives for the main pool, family bay, and diving well. One was a fairly traditional all-concrete construction; another was stainless steel walls with a concrete floor; and the third was coated stainless steel sidewalls with a permanently adhered layer of aqua-colored vinyl polymer (PVC) and an aqua-colored PVC membrane adhered to a concrete slab that is known as a Myrtha system. While the Myrtha system uses a steel-based approach, the entire exposed surface is vinyl; no one will see any steel or even know that steel is beneath the surface. The kiddies pool is and always has been planned to be concrete.

The concrete pool option was the least expensive to build, but with two important drawbacks: higher ongoing maintenance costs and a real possibility that the construction might take long enough to delay the pool opening on time in 2012. The exposed stainless steel option drew numerous public complaints of an aesthetic nature, because of the utilitarian appearance of stainless steel. The Myrtha system option is initially more expensive to build but offers significantly lower maintenance costs, since the overall cost over the life of the pool should be about 20 percent lower than the concrete option. The Myrtha system also carries a 15-year guarantee (versus two years for the others) and is most likely to be ready on time for the 2012 season.

With the support of the Recreation Board, Recreation Staff, and Township Engineering Department, the Township Committee and Borough Council have voted to go forward with the Myrtha option. This has been a long process, but one that is moving forward on the best track after receiving commentary from our citizens. Our intention is to provide our community with a quality facility for 40 to 50 years and for the least cost.

Joint Recreation Board of Princeton

Paul Robeson’s Legacy of Social Conscience Should Not Be Excluded From Achievements

To the Editor:

On August 25, Dr. Cornel West authored an insightful op-ed in The New York Times entitled “Dr. King Weeps From His Grave” in which he reflects on the long awaited dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial. He reminds us that Dr. King “never confused substance with symbolism” and that we should not be satisfied with symbols. In his opinion, Martin Luther King might have preferred a revolution to a memorial.

I had the same reaction when I read the inscription below the sculpture of Paul Robeson gracing the entrance of the Paul Robeson Center on Witherspoon Street in Princeton. The plaque reads: “World Renown Athlete, Actor, Singer, Scholar.” Surely, Mr. Robson is weeping in his grave at the omission of the words “political and human rights activist”.

Like Dr. King, Mr. Robeson was a participant in the most important social and political movements of the last century. His legacy includes: the Civil Rights movement, global struggles to end labor exploitation and improve compensation, and a movement to end colonialism (to name a few). He was blacklisted at great personal cost by our government in an effort to silence him.

I recognize that the Arts Council and its valuable contributions to the Princeton community are a fitting tribute to Mr. Robeson, but I am left wondering why we must continually sanitize truly heroic figures. Dr. King’s hard-hitting speeches about the War in Vietnam and class warfare are swept aside on the MLK holiday in favor of his more digestible “I have a dream” and “Promised Land” speeches. Robeson’s commitment to social conscience is excluded from his list of achievements.

Given the enormity of the challenges we are facing, we cannot afford to, as Shakespeare would have it, “sit and tell sad stories of the death of kings.” We should continue to wrestle with the substance even if as Dr. King and Mr. Robeson demonstrated, the struggle comes at a cost.

R. Parish
Mountain Avenue

Traffic and Transportation Committee Responds to Letters About Traffic Risk

To the Editor:

Over the summer, Princeton Borough’s Traffic and Transportation Committee took note of several letters from readers deeply concerned about some of the dangerous pedestrian and traffic behavior they have seen in Princeton lately. The Committee shares readers’ worries and is well aware of the problem.

During the past four months, we carefully monitored motorist, pedestrian, and cyclist behavior on some the Borough’s busiest streets and video-recorded some of the most egregious examples. We saw too many drivers who were lost in their cell phone conversations plowing through crosswalks filled with pedestrians. Likewise, we saw similarly absorbed cell phone-using pedestrians stroll through the middle of very busy streets oblivious to on-coming traffic and violating the pedestrian control lights. We saw too many motorists fail to yield to people in crosswalks and many commuters race across the street through moving traffic to grab a morning coffee. We saw cyclists and pedestrians ignore traffic lights and we saw cyclists ignore the safety of pedestrians — riding their bikes across busy crosswalks. The list goes on.

At the committee’s request, the Borough police now patrol downtown Princeton on foot at randomly selected times, watching for such violations and communicating with the violators. The committee will soon launch a community education campaign so that everyone, young and old, will be made aware of the laws and the rules of common sense necessary to protect life and limb, and improve safety in Princeton.

A safe community is the result of a sense of mutual obligation and respect. Those who think they are exceptions break that bond and cause the accidents for which others all too often pay the price.

Anton Lahnston
Chair, Princeton Borough Traffic and Transportation Committee
Elm Road

Arts Council’s Fall Open House Busy, Exciting Thanks to Visitors

To the Editor:

We would like to thank everyone who stopped by The Arts Council’s annual Fall Open House at the Paul Robeson Center September 10. Knowing that there were many different activities going on in town that Saturday, it was great to see hundreds of new and familiar faces here. Many of our visitors had the opportunity to meet instructors and view our membership exhibition “Re:Member,” Jay Plett’s photography exhibition, “Moment: Memory,” and our new “Faculty Spotlight” exhibition. Quite a few stayed later in the afternoon to attend the reading of Charles Evered’s new play Ten.

We would like to thank the many people who helped to make the event a success. Our performers — Lisa Botalico and the La Feria dancers, and Zoe Brookes and the kids of the Stone Soup Circus — set the tone and created lots of excitement on the front steps. Our fabulous artist-instructors were both gracious and informative. We would also like to thank our friends at Halo Pub, Bai beverages and Small World Coffee, for providing the perfect refreshments to keep us going all afternoon. Lastly, we send a special thanks to our volunteers, who help us on a daily basis to “build community through the arts.”

The Staff of the Arts Council of Princeton

The Rescue Squad Needs to Expand But Not on the Valley Road School Site

To the Editor:

As we think about the vital work of our first responders in light of Hurricane Irene and 9/11, we also need to think about the most effective way to meet the expansion needs of the Princeton Rescue Squad.

The Valley Road School site is not a good place for the Rescue Squad for a number of reasons. Witherspoon Street is an already congested street where visibility is poor. The site is also very close to Community Park School. And of course, Valley Road School is already occupied by a community landmark with an important future as a home for Princeton’s nonprofits.

We need to find a way to satisfy the needs of the Rescue Squad. The existing Squad facility, now located on N. Harrison Street next to the Princeton Shopping Center, is well-situated on Princeton’s best-located and least-congested north-south street. More recently, the Squad purchased the property behind it so that it would have space to expand. Perhaps a deal could be made with the Shopping Center for the Squad to purchase a small amount of additional land if it is needed.

My understanding is that the Squad currently has something like 4,500 sq. ft. of space. They are asking for 20,000, which is 4 times more than what they have now. When so many taxpayers are strapped, let’s think about a more cost-effective way to meet the needs of the Squad.

Using a conservative construction cost estimate of $250/sq. ft., a 20,000 sq. ft. building would cost five million plus, if it were to take over the Valley Road School property, demolition costs of as much as $500,000. Assuming a 20-year bond with a low current interest rate, the cost of repaying the bond plus the interest would be about $430,000/yr. more for the Rescue Squad to have to raise, an enormous additional burden by any standard.

On top of this is the cost of fixtures and furnishings and the additional annual operating and maintenance costs for more than quadruple the existing space, another large burden. If the Rescue Squad can’t pay the bonds year after year, not only are the taxpayers on the hook for $430,000/yr., but the town also has to worry about whether the Squad can successfully carry the huge increase in its regular operating costs.

We need to take a hard look at what the Squad absolutely needs and how to most cost-effectively meet its needs. Constructing a large, new building on Witherspoon Street is not the answer.

Dan Thompson
Dempsey Avenue

We Can Live With Old Boundaries Should Consolidation Be Defeated

To the Editor:

Princeton Borough was established in 1813; Princeton Township was established in 1838. Boundaries of these two municipalities have hardly changed. Are these the boundaries that would have been established in 1900, 1950, or 2000? Probably not.

Slight changes were made in the northern boundary of Princeton Borough early in the twentieth century to accommodate Princeton High School and the Princeton Hospital. The right-of-way of the southern end of Snowden Lane was placed wholly in the Township at the Borough’s eastern boundary. The right-of-way of Lovers Lane was placed wholly in the Township at the Borough’s western boundary.

We have lived with these boundaries for 17 decades. We can continue living with them if “consolidation” is defeated.

Donald and Shari Black, Constance and Wen Fong, Susan Gorden, Ann Helene Iverson, John Kuhlthau, John Rassweiler
Allison Road

Henry J. Frank
Valley Road

Supporting Yina Moore for Mayor For Her “Unprecedented Expertise”

To the Editor:

I hope all Borough voters will join me in supporting Yina Moore for Mayor. Yina has served on the Princeton Regional Planning Board for 11 years, has unprecedented expertise on issues of public transport and town planning, and has worked actively to support business in Princeton, especially merchants who serve local residents.

I have known Yina and her distinguished family for more than 50 years, and I share her democratic values and politics. If, like me, you want a Borough mayor with actual professional qualifications and a record of local contributions, please vote, as I will, for Yina Moore on November 7.

Anne Waldron Neumann
Alexander Street

Helmets and Protective Clothing Should be Mandatory for Bicyclists

To the Editor:

I drive my Honda Civic approximately 1,600 miles a month. Very often at night when l’m driving in Princeton I see people riding bicycles without a helmet, without protective clothing, or without lights attached to their upper body. I feel very strongly that Borough Council and Township Committee should enact a new ordinance making it mandatory for people who ride bicycles in Princeton to wear a helmet and wear protective clothing. I have sent two emails to two different members of Township Committee. I urge everyone who is reading this letter and agrees with me to contact members of Borough Council or Township Committee. I am really afraid that some day a bicyclist riding at night is going to suffer a serious injury.

Ethan C. Finley
Princeton Community Village

Alum Sees Nostalgia for VRS Building Outweighing Issue of Artistic Merit

To the Editor:

I find myself baffled by the letters I see, week after week, pleading for the preservation of the Valley Road School building.

Please understand, I too am a Valley Road alum with fond memories of my old school. I moved to Princeton Township just before starting third grade in 1954 and attended Valley Road School from then until I graduated from eighth grade in 1960. I was a reporter for The Inkspot and attended Girl Scout meetings in the cafeteria. I would be as sad as anyone to see the building demolished.

What I can’t understand is the staunch, apparently widespread fondness for the architecture. I don’t know when the older part of the building — the part facing Witherspoon Street — went up. I would guess that it’s around the same age as the oldest portion of Princeton High School. Its style has never struck me as particularly handsome. It’s reminiscent of Gothic architecture, but not as old or as attractive. No attempt seems to have been made to match it in planning the addition on the Valley Road side, which has always looked to me like a big brick shoebox.

I hope and assume that those who decide the future of the building will be guided, in part, by aesthetic concerns. Surely, they can distinguish nostalgia from artistic merit. However, I’d like to know more about the practical considerations: Can the building be renovated safely and economically? If so, how does the cost compare to that of a completely new structure? What size and kind of building will make the best (and most attractive) use of this site in an area where space, both open and residential, is at a premium?

As a public building, can it be made fully accessible according to modern standards?

Answers to these questions are what I’d really like to be reading in Town Topics. I know they’re out there.

On behalf of the Princeton Parks Alliance,

Eva Liane Foster
Ewing Street

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