June 12, 2013

Reasons Why the Valley Road School Building Is a Win-Win Strategy for the People of Princeton

To the Editor:

For the past three years all parties involved in the decision process to create a Community Center in the historic Valley Road School (VRS) have played a game of Catch 22. (The center would accommodate the space needs of the non-profit groups operating in Princeton.)

The Board of Education said, and rightly so, that the VRS-Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) did not have the funds to create a Community Center.

The VRS-ARC group said, and rightly so, that they cannot raise the needed funds unless the Board will sell/lease them the old VRS building.

Princeton Township committee said that it cannot get involved in the fate of a building that is owned by the Board. Borough Council stayed out since the VRS building was in the Township.

While this Danse Macabre was going on, the non-profit groups were homeless and the VRS building kept deteriorating, year after year. However, now that Princeton is one and the recent declaration by the Preservation New Jersey that the VRS building is one of the top ten endangered historical building in the State of New Jersey, it opens an opportunity to untie this Gordian Knot and create a much needed Community Center for the nonprofit groups active in the Town of Princeton.

To start the ball rolling the following three steps should be taken:

The Board will pass a resolution that it is prepared to sell/lease the VRS building to the VRS-ARC group, if and only if that group will raise cash or pledges of an amount over one million dollars in one year’s time.

The Town of Princeton will pass a resolution that it will provide engineering support and building maintenance and supervision needed to create the Community Center (all costs will be paid by the VRS-ARC group), if and only if VRS-ARC group will raise the one million dollars in one year’s time.

The VRS-ARC group will pass a resolution to ask major donors to pledge funds for the Center that will be due when the total pledges will be more than one million dollars, and the Board has sold or leased them the VRS building.

To implement the above, representatives of the Board, the Town of Princeton, and VRS-ARC must meet jointly to review the steps required to pass these resolutions and make this go through.

This is a win-win situation for everyone. The Board will no longer have to worry about the VRS building; the non-profit groups will have a home; Princeton will have a much needed Community Center; historic VRS will be restored to become an anchor of the greater downtown area of Princeton; it will be done at no cost to the Princeton taxpayer.

This can happen, all we need is everybody’s good will and the necessary money.

Ralph Perry

Random Road