May 18, 2017

University Presents Expansion Plans to Community

At a community meeting Monday evening, Princeton University officials expanded upon details released last month about its 2026 Campus Plan. Potential sites on the existing campus for a new undergraduate residential college, the University’s engineering school, and its environmental studies program were among the topics discussed.

University Vice President Bob Durkee, architect Ron McCoy, and Cyndi Rottenberg Walker of the Toronto-based firm Urban Strategies, which is working on the project, also talked about possibilities for developing land owned by the University in West Windsor. Housing, parking, academics, and athletics could be located there.

“We expect to be working on this until next fall, when the plan should be finished,” said Mr. Durkee, who stressed that the plan, which was launched in 2014, looks 10 years ahead but in a 30-year context, meaning it looks beyond 2026. Mr. McCoy said he considers the initiative to be “a planning framework rather than a master plan.” No rezoning should be necessary for the projects to be built on the Princeton side of the University’s property. But the sites in West Windsor would possibly need to be rezoned, Mr. Durkee said.

Expanding the University’s engineering school and its environmental studies programs would be at a site on the north side of Ivy Lane and Western Way.

Key to the plan is a reduction in the reliance on single-use vehicles. A bridge over Lake Carnegie would encourage biking, walking, and light vehicles. There is no need, in the framework, to open West Drive. “Our use would not generate traffic there,” Mr. Durkee said.

As has been discussed in the recent past, the future of the University-owned Springdale Golf Course remains undecided. But Mr. Durkee stressed that as part of a previous agreement, nothing will be done in the next 10 years. When resident Kip Cherry asked for more details about the future of the golf course after 10 years, Mr. Durkee reiterated that the University will be sensitive to the adjacent neighborhood, respectful of the property’s history, and committed to improving public access and the stream corridor.

Plans for the Butler Tract, a former graduate housing neighborhood that was demolished in 2015, are not definite. But they will eventually contain housing that could serve faculty and staff. Mr. McCoy said that the intention was to respect the scale of the surrounding neighborhood and create a walkable community, with buildings no higher than two or three stories.

It is too early in the campus planning process for an architect to be named or specifics about building designs to be released. But the plan makes clear that some 500 undergraduates are expected to be added to the student body, which means a new residential college will be necessary. The site proposed for that college is south of Poe Field and east of Elm Drive. Building it would require that the athletic facilities currently used for tennis and softball be relocated to University land south of Lake Carnegie, in West Windsor.

Resident Sam Bunting asked if a modern streetcar could eventually replace the Dinky train, which connects the campus with the Princeton Junction station in West Windsor. “At this point, we are assuming, going forward, that the Dinky will continue,” Mr. Durkee said, adding that the future of the Dinky is up to New Jersey Transit.

“I think you’re being coy,” Mr. Bunting said. “It’s on your property.”

Murray Place resident Marty Schneiderman told Mr. Durkee that he and his neighbors have concerns about the impact of development on their streets. A woman who lives on Olden Lane said she worries that additional traffic will create problems. “We are trying to create safe routes to school for kids. There is a lot of traffic in the morning. Please be considerate in that regard,” she said.

Officials said that another public meeting will be held once the plan is completed in the fall.