March 13, 2013

Kiosks Pose No Traffic Threat According to Transit Committee

Princeton’s Traffic and Transportation Committee (TTC) sees no safety threat from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s proposed refitting and revamping of the information kiosks on Nassau Street. The group voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the plan, which would mix community news and local advertising on the kiosks, be endorsed.

Because the two kiosks on Nassau Street, one at Vandeventer Avenue and the other at Witherspoon Street, lie within the right of way, they must also be considered by the Historic Preservation Committee, TTC chairman Anton Lahnston said at the meeting. Princeton Council may discuss the proposal at its next meeting on April 1.

The kiosks are currently used for the posting of community news, events, and opportunities, in a haphazard fashion. “I think they’re a mess,” said Mr. Lahnston. “It does not speak well of Princeton.” TTC member Ralph Widner agreed, recalling that when the committee once tried to post a meeting notice, it was quickly stapled over with other flyers. “They are not a good way to disseminate information,” he said.

The Chamber’s plan is to display information, with corkboard and new paneling, about local transportation, maps, and arts and cultural events in one section of the kiosks. In another, local businesses will be able to advertise. Space for the community to post flyers and announcements will also be provided.

Chamber president Peter Crowley was given a lukewarm reception when he presented the proposal to Council last month. Members were most concerned about the advertising portion of the kiosks, saying that type of display was more appropriate for a mall. Questions about whether the advertising would cause safety issues by distracting motorists on Nassau Street were referred to the TTC.

Committee member Marvin Reed recalled that the kiosks were built during the 1980’s, when the late Barbara Sigmund was mayor of Princeton Borough. The idea at the time was to deter people from plastering posters and notices on trees and poles, and in windows. The Arts Council of Princeton was supposed to oversee and maintain the kiosks, but the arrangement didn’t last.

Mr. Crowley said the Chamber has reached out to the Princeton Merchants’ Association, cultural and arts groups for feedback, and that the original plan has been slightly readjusted to reflect cost concerns. The Chamber plans to provide information about advertising to its members and the local business community.

The Chamber would oversee maintenance of the kiosks, which would be designed with low-energy LED lighting and backlit panels. As much of the original structures as possible would be maintained and the new sign panels would fit into the existing buildings. The kiosks would also encourage visitors to stop by the Princeton Regional Visitor Information Center, located in the Princeton University Store on Nassau Street.