July 3, 2019

Seminary Debate Is a Classic “Not In My Backyard” Drama

To the Editor

When I grew up in the country outside Princeton, some of my best moments were bringing my bicycle to town, visiting friends whose families lived in Frog Hollow, on Hodge Road and nearby streets. These were lively neighborhoods, with kids on bicycles and regular games on the field at the corner of Hibben Road and Mercer Street.

Over time, these streets have become an area (I would no longer call it a neighborhood) of wealthy, increasingly elderly people. It’s unusual to see a child here.

The Princeton Theological Seminary proposes to replace its buildings along Stockton Street with housing, presumably for faculty, students, and visiting scholars. What could be better than a (reported) 45 (presumably young) families and 41 children brought here by the Seminary to enliven our streets? And, who could assert that the present Seminary buildings contribute to neighborhood cohesion or are aesthetically more than an eyesore?

From reading press accounts of this controversy (admittedly with little first-hand knowledge) I see a classic NIMBY drama deteriorating into the usual adversarial posturing, ad hominem accusations, and wrangles about administrative procedure — all at the expense of a fruitful discussion of what the Seminary project could actually contribute to what might actually be more of a “neighborhood.” Let’s work with the Seminary to see what can be done. It might well benefit us all.

Sam Hamill
Edgehill Street