To the Editor:
We thought the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, but apparently not in Princeton. We have followed the accounts of the Princeton Battlefield Society’s attempt to stop the Institute for Advanced Study’s Faculty Housing Plan for lo these many months. We are confounded by the ability of a small group of “historians” to thwart a plan that not only undermines the good of an internationally renowned institution; but also undermines the preservation and enhancement of the Princeton Battlefield itself.
The Institute consulted with noted historians James McPherson of Princeton University and David Hackett-Fisher of Brandeis, both leading preservationists. They proposed amendments to the Institute’s plan, which the Institute adopted. Moreover, both historians agree that the Institute’s faculty housing plan, as amended and presently before the Regional Planning Board, is a good compromise — one that respects the Battlefield.
It bears noting that Professors McPherson and Hackett-Fisher are among several historians who, over the last several decades, have restored balance and credibility to the written history of our country. Both men were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for history. Mr. Hackett-Fisher’s prize was for a book he wrote, which included a detailed account of the battle of Princeton. Their opinions are entitled to great weight and deference.
The housing plan provides for a 200-foot buffer zone alongside the Battlefield Park, which will now be permanently preserved as open space. Further, the Institute believes that it is important to enhance the interpretive materials provided for visitors to the Battlefield Park, and is ready to be a partner in realizing this objective. The Institute has also agreed, yet again, to survey the archaeology of the site before and monitor it during construction.
We support the Institute and its Faculty Housing Plan and urge the Regional Planning board to approve it at its next meeting.
Robert O. Cohen
Mary Robinson Cohen
Princeton Regional Planning Commission)