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Organizers Thank Those Responsible For Pettoranello Gardens Concerts

Co-founders, Blue Curtain

Township Committee Candidate Vows To Hold Line on Future Tax Increases

Ettl Circle

Organizers Thank Those Responsible For Pettoranello Gardens Concerts

To the Editor:

On September 10 and 17, Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater once again set the stage for quality, culturally diverse, and original musical performances offered free to the greater Princeton community. With one night rock-and-roll and the other world and Latin-American music, the concerts had something to offer persons of all music tastes. Both nights had packed audiences; in fact, during the second night the music inspired participants to get up out of the stands and dance on the informal stage next to the bands.

Blue Curtain, organizer of this new concert series, would like to thank all of those whose hard work made these concerts such a success.

Thanks to the musical groups who performed — progressive rock band Lofash, “three-car-garage band” Rackett, Latin-American ensemble Eco Del Sur, and Puerto Rican Bomba & Plena percussion and dance ensemble Segunda Quimbamba — as well as Katie Herlihy and the Princeton Recreation Department, Sue Bannon, Randi Lund, Ruben Jaffe, and lastly, everyone who attended and shared an improved quality of life during some of the last summer nights of the year.

Co-founders, Blue Curtain

Township Committee Candidate Vows To Hold Line on Future Tax Increases

To the Editor:

Tom Pyle and I are candidates for Princeton Township Committee. As we consider issues, this letter will focus on two: taxes and financial transparency.

Stories are circulating regarding Township residents who have been forced to move due to high local taxes, raising major concerns about fairness and Township diversity. Over the past five years, Township taxes have increased a cumulative total of about 50 percent. This year, Township taxes increased over 10 percent, and are projected to increase 19 percent and 16 percent in years 2006 and 2007 respectively.

If we plug in these numbers, then continue with the average rate of increase over the prior five years, what is the result? Township taxes will double in five years! Double your taxes in five years? Why? Why did none of the current Township Committee members vote against the 2005 budget? Why has not even one member of Township Committee voted against a budget during any of the past six years?

Princeton taxpayers deserve proper financial reporting — clear, concise, public, and prompt. We are not getting it. The capable and hardworking Township financial professionals are not the cause of this failing. Blame lies with an arrogant Township Committee. For example, the Township audited financial statements for the year 2004 will likely not be released until after the election. Why? Normally, the financials are released by early summer. Is our one-party Township Committee avoiding disclosure of unfavorable financial information prior to the election?

Tom Pyle and I will work to limit tax increases to no more than inflation, with a longer-term goal of decreasing taxes. We will direct the Township to post on its website a simple, sensible “dashboard” of financial indicators, providing all Township residents with easily-understood financial information — information which our current administration apparently would prefer you not to see.

Local taxes are rising too fast. Township financials are not being disclosed promptly, clearly, and simply. We will combat these ills, as new voices, as catalysts for a new beginning in Princeton Township.

Please visit our website, www.gordonandtom.com, and e-mail us at gordonandtom2005@yahoo.com.

Ettl Circle

Parents, Students Urged to Complete Survey About Safe Routes to School

This week Princeton Regional Schools is distributing a brief survey about transportation to schools. Students at all four elementary schools, Princeton Charter School, the John Witherspoon Middle School, and the High School will receive the survey.

I encourage all high school students and parents with elementary and middle school children to fill out this survey (by Wednesday, October 5). It will give the school district and the two local governments information about our community’s interest in safe routes to walk and bike to school. It will also point out the barriers that kids encounter if they walk or bike to school, or would like to but cannot do so safely.

The survey is sponsored by the Township’s Sidewalk and Bicycle Advisory Committee, in collaboration with the Princeton Regional Planning Board, Princeton Regional Schools, and Borough and Township officials, including the engineering, planning, and police departments.

It seems to me that there is momentum in this community to make routes to school safer so that more students have the healthy option of walking or biking to school. Let’s see.

Terhune Road

Ill-Advised Bunn Drive Development Deserves Rejection by Planning Board

Last Thursday the Regional Planning Board of Princeton heard an application to build market-rate senior housing on Bunn Drive. I was astounded that some members of the Planning Board seemed intent on approving the application despite the unanimous and emphatic objections of the Site Plan Review Advisory Board and the Princeton Environmental Commission. These advisory bodies, which consist of volunteer residents of both Princetons, had a wide range of reasons to recommend rejection of the application. Several of these reasons were based on the fact that the rock at the site consists of the impermeable and extremely hard basalt that underlies most of Princeton Ridge. It will be an engineering feat, indeed, to build the proposed underground parking garages in basalt that can only be excavated by blasting. As a geologist who has taught at Princeton University since 1968, every year I take my students to the Ridge to study this impressive rock. The rock is exceedingly tough because of the interlocking crystals that formed as the liquid basalt cooled a few thousand feet below the earth’s surface. It is the same rock that forms the Palisades on the Hudson, which was blasted through for I-95 to reach George Washington Bridge.

Why would anyone want to serve on an advisory body whose well-considered advice is dismissed? I can't believe that Princeton politicians can make decisions that continue to ignore the truth of the terrain. No package of variances can cover over the fact that Princeton Ridge is made of basalt. It cannot be bulldozed away.

After the applicant completes its presentation this Thursday, the Planning Board will hear public comment. I hope the Planning Board will require the applicant to resubmit an application that all of us, including this senior, can live with.

Ridgeview Road

Borough Should Spring for Sidewalk From Library Plaza to Nearby Stores

I cannot believe that the Borough says it’s not possible to build a safe sidewalk off the new Witherspoon Plaza that would lead into the Spring Street stores already there. Pedestrian safety? No, the Borough is capable of building wondrous things, so why not a little sidewalk? If the powers that be are thinking that these businesses stand to benefit from back-door access that they didn’t pay for, well, I think that living through the extremely long, hot, noisy days of construction is payment enough.

Come on, everyone, where is our generosity of spirit? Let’s make our new plaza a cozy and convenient meeting place for all of us, the Spring Street stores included.

Pine Street

Officials Should Act Now to Prevent Another Fatal Crash on Alexander Road

There are depressing parallels between the conditions that proved disastrous for New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and the conditions that led last week to the tragic death of Rebecca Annitto, 14, of Princeton.

The wetlands that would have helped protect New Orleans and its levees have been disappearing, and the city itself has been sinking, since the French settled there 300 years ago. For many years it has been known that the levees were inadequate to withstand a storm as strong as Katrina, and that the elderly, poor, and patients in its hospitals were among those most seriously at risk. But officials were “getting ready” to issue hospital evacuation plans, or waiting for the moment when other fiscal needs were less pressing, or otherwise postponing the day when they would actually deal with the problem.

The dangerous S-curve on Alexander Road where the crash occurred in which Rebecca Annitto died has been the site of numerous accidents over the years. With respect to the accident that killed Rebecca, the police have reportedly indicated that they do not expect to file charges against anyone; the problem is the road itself, which is unsafe in wet conditions. A young woman who had an accident there a few years ago, fortunately without injury, told me the policeman who responded said he himself had been in an accident at the same place, and that the police seemed to receive a call involving some mishap there almost every time it rained.

The mayor of West Windsor, where this curve on Alexander Road is located, stated that earlier this year it was listed by the town’s engineering department as the number one “problem traffic area.” Although straightening the road was recommended, the mayor reportedly said this was “not going to happen overnight,” because “it has to go through the governing process and budgeting, plus review and study.” The mayor said that the work would be covered by the next budget, but we have all seen how budget priorities change when the spotlight of public scrutiny moves on to something else.

West Windsor has got to move expeditiously and to involve other levels of government, if necessary, to get this very dangerous problem solved. I commend the mayor for saying he would push for both interim safety measures and permanent straightening of the road. Now he needs to follow through, and interim safety measures must be implemented immediately. I call upon the West Windsor authorities, Mercer County, and the State to move as quickly as possible to prevent another tragedy on Alexander Road. I attended the funeral of Rebecca Annitto, which was profoundly moving, beautiful, and very, very terrible. I hope never to attend another funeral like it.

Cherry Hill Road

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