January 2, 2013

Thanks All Around at Final Borough Meeting

There was business, old and new, on the agenda at a meeting of Princeton Borough Council the night after Christmas. But for the 20 or so citizens who braved a pelting rainstorm to attend this final gathering of the governing body at Borough Hall, there was an air of nostalgia about the end of an era and the fate of the Dinky.

Of the seven members of the Council, including Mayor Yina Moore, three С Jenny Crumiller, Jo Butler, and Heather Howard С will be moving on to the governing body representing the newly consolidated Princeton. Roger Martindell, Kevin Wilkes, Barbara Trelstad, and Mayor Moore will have stepped down as of January 1.

Repeatedly, members of the public thanked the Council members for their service. Alain Kornhauser, Marty Schneiderman, Jim Harford, Pam Hersh, Borough Police Lieutenant Sharon Papp, and architect/developer [and Town Topics shareholder] Bob Hillier were among those on hand who expressed gratitude to the Council for their years of work in the community.

Members of Council, in turn, singled out Mr. Kornhauser, a professor at Princeton University who has been particularly vocal in his opposition to the University’s plan to move the Dinky station as part of its Arts and Transit neighborhood. That plan was approved December 18 by the Planning Board. Borough Council was not in favor of moving the Dinky terminus.

“I share his disappointment that we weren’t able to come up with a better result for the train,” Mr. Wilkes said. “I have to thank him for what has to be thousand of hours of instructive leadership and instructive research on this issue, and always keeping it in the forefront of our minds, helping those of us who don’t understand transportation planning professionally be focused on the issues.”

Ms. Crumiller, Mayor Moore, Mr. Martindell, and Ms. Trelstad also thanked Mr. Kornhauser following his own remarks. “I can’t express enough appreciation to each of you,” Mr. Kornhauser said. “I know you all struggled mightily with the issue, and it came down the way it came down. I just wanted to express my personal thanks.”

Mayor Moore said that “a serious offer” has been made to NJ Transit to purchase the Dinky and its right of way by Henry Posner, a private investor who owns several rail lines and is a former student of Mr. Kornhauser. Mr. Posner spoke to Council in 2011 about his ideas for the Dinky line. Mayor Moore said she will write a letter to Governor Chris Christie about the offer.

Delivering the monthly police report, Ms. Papp told the Council that police will have five zones to patrol in the consolidated Princeton. Asked by Mr. Wilkes if the police departments have developed an active shooter protocol in response to the recent shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Ms. Papp said that the department has already had drills with high school students. “Come January 1, we will be giving extra attention to the schools,” she said.

Among the actions taken at this final meeting were approval of a request by Mr. Hillier regarding The Waxwood apartments to ease eligibility requirements for prospective tenants, and the movement of an ordinance amending the Service Business (SB) Zone on East Nassau Street. An agenda item on the use of informational kiosks on Nassau Street was tabled and moved to the new Council with the assurance that a community-wide discussion will be held on the matter.

The new Princeton Council will hold a meeting Thursday, January 3 at 5 p.m. in the Municipal Building.