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Vol. LXV, No. 38
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
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Consolidation Commission To Present Its Findings At Princeton Future Event

Anne Levin

With the election less than two months away and the issue of consolidation on the ballot, those favoring and those opposing the idea of combining the two Princetons are moving into high gear.

A debate held at the Suzanne Patterson Center this past Sunday, organized by the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, drew more than 100 people. Consolidation opponents Kate Warren and Alexi Assmus of Preserve Our Historic Borough took one side, while Claire Jacobus and Peter Simon spoke in favor of the idea. David Cohen was moderator.

The next public gathering with a focus on consolidation is Saturday, October 1 at 9 a.m. at Princeton Public Library. A presentation of the recommendations of the Joint Shared Services Consolidation Commission, co-sponsored by Princeton Future, The League of Women Voters, and the library, the event has already drawn criticism from Preserve Our Historic Borough.

An entry on the group’s website preserveprincetonborough.wordpress.com reads: “Those opposing consolidation have been denied the chance to present the reasons not to consolidate on the podium with the Commission — which strongly supports consolidation — at Princeton Future’s Open Meeting at the library on October 1.”

Anton Lahnston, who chairs the Consolidation Commission, says the intention is not to prevent those against the idea from presenting their side. The three-hour program, which begins at 9 a.m., will include presentations on community outreach, governance, public works, finance and taxes, and police, each followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer period. The program will conclude with another 35 minutes for questions.

“There is no desire to close off the other point of view,” Mr. Lahnston says. “We chose this [format] back in June, because it seemed to make sense, and it still does. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.”

The Consolidation Commission made a presentation at a Princeton Future event last March. In June, Princeton Future asked if the Commission would be interested in presenting its findings at a fall meeting. “We had no desire at this point to engage in a debate,” says Mr. Lahnston. “That was the feeling of members of the Commission that I talked to, that were part of making a decision about this. But it wasn’t an effort to block them [Preserve Our Historic Borough]. We agreed to do something which seemed right to us.”

The October 1 program will include presentations by Princeton Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman, former Princeton Township Mayor Bernie Miller, current Township Mayor Chad Goerner, and former Borough Councilman Ryan Lilienthal, among others. The Commission’s report will be delivered first, followed by the individual reports.

Consolidation will also be the topic at a joint meeting of Borough Council and Township Committee at Borough Hall on Tuesday, September 27; and at the Township Municipal Complex on Wednesday, October 26.

“Both of those are open to the comments of the public asking questions and trying to understand more deeply what the recommendations mean,” says Mr. Lahnston. “Our role in that is to be there and respond. Those are very important.”

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