January 10, 2018

New Council Members Sworn In At Annual Reorganization Meeting

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council welcomed new members Leticia Fraga and David Cohen at its annual reorganization meeting on January 2. Outgoing members Bernie Miller and Jo Butler had a chance to address the public and their colleagues one last time before stepping down from the dais. Mayor Liz Lempert also delivered remarks.

Butler thanked her fellow Council members and the municipal staff, reserving special commendation for the town’s Recreation Department and Recreation Committee, with whom she worked closely during her seven years of service. She served first on Borough Council and later on the consolidated Council. Butler also urged citizens to continue to support local journalism. “One of the many difficult lessons of 2017 has been the reminder of the importance of a robust, free press,” she said. “Journalism is essential to democracy.”

Miller has been in local government since 2002, having served on the Township Committee and as Township mayor before being elected to the consolidated Council. He cited his three biggest accomplishments as working on the process of consolidating the former Borough and Township; serving on the team that negotiated a seven-year voluntary payment agreement, in lieu of taxes, with Princeton University; and leading development of the town’s first solar electric power generating facility at the former landfill on River Road.

“I know we will face difficult challenges in the future,” Miller concluded. “But I will retire from elected office comfortable in my belief that the future of our community is secure in the hands of my colleagues who remain on Council, and those who follow me as newly elected members of Council.”

In her sixth year of delivering the reorganization meeting address, Lempert noted the past year’s accomplishments while acknowledging challenges that lie ahead. Budgetary savings, increased affordability options, and maintaining the town’s AAA bond rating were among the successful efforts of 2017, she said. Issues she cited that are still to be resolved include approval of a Fair Share Housing Plan, following the court decision that will determine Princeton’s obligation through 2025; installation of smart parking meters and establishment of revised fees; continuation of the program to address the emerald ash borer infestation; and completion of the Mary Moss Playground construction.

Lempert began her remarks by mentioning marches, protests, and rallies that have been held around the country as well as in Princeton, on issues from women’s rights to immigrant protection and supporting scientific research. She concluded her speech with an acknowledgment of the welcoming signs, especially “Hate has no home here,” on lawns around town.

“These warm signs are a constant reminder that we have the power to create the kind of community we want to live in, and, in this uncertain time, we have the ability to rebuild trust in civic institutions by succeeding locally,” she said.

The Council meeting scheduled for Monday night, January 8, was cancelled due to inclement weather. At the next meeting on January 22, consultants from Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc., the transportation planning firm doing a parking study of Princeton, are expected to attend. The public will be able to comment. Council will also discuss goals and priorities for the coming year.