October 3, 2012

The Name Game: Consolidated Municipality To Be Called “Princeton”

The municipality that will be created on January 1, 2013 as a result of the consolidation of the Borough and the Township will be known as “Princeton, N.J.”

“What’s in name?” asked Township Attorney Ed Schmierer before he described the criteria that he, Borough Attorney Maeve Cannon, the transition task force lawyer, and a representative from the state Department of Community Affairs used to come up with the suggestion, which was unanimously endorsed at a joint meeting of Borough Council, Township Committee, and the Transition Task Force on Monday evening. Noting that “the law is silent” on what a new government would call itself if it becomes consolidated, Mr. Schmierer pointed that “we’re probably first to be consolidating two major municipalities in 100 years.”

With that in mind, the group focused on “what the voters voted for” when they endorsed consolidation, and the answer was the name that appeared on the ballot: “Princeton, N.J. to be governed under a borough form of government,” or, simply, “Princeton, N.J.”

Ms. Cannon reported on the attorneys’ suggested creation of a “small committee” to go through the list of existing ordinances in the Borough and Township in order to identify conflicts and make recommendations to the two governing bodies. Township and Borough unanimously endorsed this proposal, and the committee will consist of municipal administrators, lawyers, and two representatives from each governing body. Administrators were charged with convening the first meeting. Ms. Cannon estimated that there are “quite a few conflicts,” especially regarding fees, although construction fees will be considered separately.

Gary Patteson presented the Transition Task Force’s final recommendations on boards, committees, and commissions in the new municipality. These included consolidating the two existing Human Services Commissions into a nine-member body; adding one member to the 8-member Joint Recreation Board, and keeping the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee as a separate from the Traffic and Transportation Committee. Consolidation of the two municipalities’ Affordable Housing groups and Shade Tree Commissions was suggested, and, in all instances, cross-pollination from existing groups was encouraged.

Other recommendations included using the Township’s Citizens Advisory Committee, which has focused on financial concerns, as a model for a new group, and following the Borough model for a Public Safety Committee. It was also suggested that an ordinance may be in order the establish the presence of a member who is “expert in animal biology” on the Animal Control Committee.

A discussion of leaf and brush collection was postponed until the next joint meeting, and it was announced that the consolidation celebration originally scheduled for December 31 has been moved to January 1 at Township Hall to dovetail with the swearing-in of new officials.

At a separate meeting that preceded the joint meeting, Township Committee endorsed an ordinance to pay an amount not to exceed $129,504 to the Yedlin Company, Construction Management Services for overseeing construction in the two buildings being refitted for consolidation. Township Mayor Chad Goerner, who had earlier expressed doubt about the need for this contract, reported on Monday night that he had met with the engineering staff and reviewed building plans, and was satisfied that transition expenses are not going to be as much as he anticipated. Renovations to accommodate Corner House in the Monument Building account for the lion’s share of the work, Mr. Goerner noted.

During the meeting’s “announcements” section, Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo reported that the completion of the 2011 audit marked the second year in row “with no recommendations or comments of note.” Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert urged area residents to report long or difficult commutes resulting from the Department of Transportation’s changes on Route 1, to the Township website.