March 10, 2021

Bruschi to Return as Administrator Until Position is Permanently Filled

By Anne Levin

At a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, it was announced that former longtime municipal administrator Bob Bruschi will return as interim administrator beginning sometime next week. Bruschi, who was administrator of the former Borough and later of consolidated Princeton until his retirement in 2014, will temporarily replace his successor Marc Dashield, who announced last fall that he would be leaving this spring.

Bruschi will be in the post for anywhere from about six weeks to a few months, Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said. A decision on a permanent hire for the job is hoped for by the end of this month. Niedergang also announced that the town has hired a new sewer manager, and that interviews will begin soon for the position of open space manager.

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton reported that she and members of other departments had met with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) regarding improving the safety of the traffic signal at Nassau and Witherspoon streets. “I think we made good progress

in getting consensus that safety is the primary goal,” she said, adding that the DOT has proposed adding bump-out curb extensions. “We continue to have discussions with them and they are looking forward to moving the project into the design phase for construction in 2022.”

Council heard a report by attorney Kevin Van Hise on the memo he issued last week regarding a recent realization that the 20 percent affordable housing set-aside was not in place, as previously assumed. Several members of the public commented, including attorney Virginia Kerr, who wondered if the town was getting additional opinions.

“We are getting lots of opinions,” said Councilman David Cohen. “I think you’ll be pretty pleased with the direction we’re heading when we finally reach a conclusion.”

Van Hise said there have been several meetings on the subject, including a conversation with Fair Share Housing. “Our intent is to address this to ensure this does not occur [again],” he said.

Chief Financial Officer Sandra Webb gave a preview of the 2021 municipal budget, which is to be introduced at Council’s next meeting. The pandemic made 2020 “an exceptional year,” she said, with major decreases in parking revenues, court fees, and other fees. The proposed budget eliminates some positions in several departments, and any areas where reductions could be made. Webb said she believes the financial picture will improve once the pandemic is over.

An overview was given of 5G in Princeton. This is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019.

Princeton University students taking part in a project on race and housing in Princeton took part in a presentation.  They reported that 15 students, staff, and faculty explored ways that ideas about race have worked their way into policy and planning to limit Black residents’ access to safe and affordable housing. The students came up with a Race and Affordability Housing map, and will present their work to Council and the community to get feedback and further explore the issue.

During public comment, several residents of the neighborhood around Hilltop Park expressed concerns about a proposal to install artificial turf and expand the park on Bunn Drive. A contract was awarded last April to Suburban Consulting Engineers Inc. to design the field and new lighting. The estimated cost is between $1 million and $1.5 million, $500,000 of which will be covered by Mercer County.

Resident Paul Reiss asked Council to halt plans for the site until residents have a chance to review documents associated with the project. Resident Chris Johnson said the proposal came up in 2009 and was dropped due to opposition. In addition to their opposition to artificial turf, neighbors mentioned concerns about noise, light pollution, runoff, and parking, among other issues.

The Princeton Recreation Commission will discuss the proposal at a public meeting via Zoom on Thursday, March 25 at 7 p.m. Council’s next meeting is March 22 at 7 p.m.