To the Editor:
I attended two previous Planning Board meetings at which IAS’s real estate development on the site of a critical point in the Battle of Princeton was challenged. As a Princeton Battlefield Society trustee I cannot question the good neighbor position held by residents near the Institute. Nor can I question the IAS’s tree line defense, its required design for housing, or the road’s width on the site. What I must question is: What does this defense have to do with the historical significance and proposed desecration of the property in question?
But I have other questions, such as what happened to the due diligence of the Historic Commission in researching and studying the issues raised by the Society? Did the Commission read and consider the APBB study? With all property owned by the Institute, why must this real estate development take place on this historic site? What consideration was given by the IAS board and administration to the implications of this real estate development on land critically important to American history and heritage? This was one of the reasons for the APBB study, which confirmed the Society’s position and was subsequently confirmed by noted historian, Dr. James McPherson.
I am not against the Institute. I am against its real estate development of this property. When a faculty member has to acquire land rights from the IAS and to build a required house design at his or her own expense, it can only be considered real estate development. A vote must come down to real estate development versus heritage. Not surprisingly, I would vote for heritage.
Old Georgetown Road
To the Editor:
Our back yard is full of treasures. We have dance, music, art, science, and history to explore. Behind all of this are educated people who deeply believe in what they study and perform.
The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) is one of the most special of these treasures. There is probably no other institution in the world that is comparable. The interaction of the scholars is fostered by their living together. The freedom to engage with one another within the community of the Institute develops ideas, theories, with often groundbreaking results.
The land between the IAS and the Battlefield is in dispute. It shouldn’t be. This land is legally owned by the IAS and great care has been taken in honoring and responding to all concerns. The grounds of the Battle of Princeton reach far into our community, well beyond the land in question. The Institute is a good neighbor, has helped develop and enhance the park, and it’s important to the future of the IAS to allow it to offer housing to its faculty.
Louise and John Steffens
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter in support of the Princeton Battlefield Society efforts to save the Princeton Battlefield. This Battlefield is an important part of American history. Without George Washington’s victory at Trenton and Princeton we may not have become a nation. This Battlefield must be preserved much like Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The New Jersey Society of the Sons of the American Revolution supports the Princeton Battlefield Society efforts.
Clark D. McCullough
President, New Jersey Society Sons of the American Revolution
To the editor:
Given the seminal contributions the Institute for Advanced Study has made for over 50 years to preserve the Princeton Battlefield and its environs, the current fractious opposition to its plans to build some faculty housing on a site clearly earmarked for that purpose at the time these contributions were made would be a breach of good faith. It would not augur well for future similar acts of philanthropy by other institutions in the community if that understanding were to be abrogated.
I concur fully with the Battlefield Society in its argument that the Battle of Princeton was a critical turning point in the Revolution and that its place in our history should be amply commemorated. As a staunch advocate for battlefield preservation in Virginia before moving to Princeton in 2006, I am quite sympathetic to the Society’s objectives.
However, a careful review of analyses by historians retained by both sides has convinced me that the Society has pressed its case too far based upon questionable evidence and assertions. The Institute’s plans do not jeopardize the integrity of the site, nor recognition of the battle’s crucial importance.
Historian James McPherson has proposed an accommodation that meets many of the Society’s concerns. Why not accept them and get on with making history rather than just commemorating it? After all, some of the intellectual contributions that have emanated from the Institute since 1939 are just as much a part of Princeton’s rich historical tapestry as the battle.
To the Editor:
I am writing to urge the Institute for Advanced Study to reconsider its ill-advised plan to build faculty housing on the Princeton Battlefield. There are few places in America where the hinge of history swung so dramatically, and precious few of them are left from the American Revolution in New Jersey. The Princeton Battlefield is New Jersey’s premier revolutionary historic site and is in relatively pristine shape. Putting up condos to serve the short term interests of the Institute would short change future generations of Americans, and hinder our study of how this critical battle was fought and won by Washington’s heroic troops. Moreover, the planned truckloads of landfill would bury our understanding of the fight along with potentially precious historic artifacts. I trust the Princeton Planning Board will see the folly of this plan and deny it accordingly.
Harlingen Road, Belle Mead