August 26, 2015

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Some 300 Princeton homeowners are receiving proposed sewer inspection and repair bills for work that, in some cases, was done a decade ago. Acknowledging the delay as “a major screw-up,” in the words of Princeton Council member Jenny Crumiller, the governing body heard from staff members at its Monday meeting that the problem is being tackled. more

Leaf Pick Up

Responding to requests from residents for additional pickups, Princeton’s Public Works department has added an extra week of municipal-wide brush collection for the week of November 16. In addition, the town will add two extra weeks in July 2016 and another brush collection in October 2016. more

Cigarette SalesSince approving an ordinance last April that bans selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in Princeton to anyone under age 21, the town’s Board of Health has been making an effort to enforce the law. The department recently went undercover, with the aid of a teenaged intern, to make sure none of the 16 area vendors that carry these products is violating the new ordinance.

In just two days, the high school student visited each of the retailers, including McCaffrey’s, Molisana, and Wawa markets, Rite Aid, the Exxon station, and several others, and attempted to purchase cigarettes. Health officials were pleasantly surprised to learn that none of the retailers agreed to sell tobacco products to the underage teen.

“I thought we’d be right around the state average, which is 88 percent. But being at 100 percent shows that our inspectors were doing their job educating everybody about the new ordinance,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser, who reported the good news to Princeton Council on August 10. “We want to reduce tobacco sales to minors and that is what this ordinance does.” more

August 19, 2015

Post Office Page 1

The introduction of an ordinance that would convey easements on the property of the post office building in Palmer Square to its prospective new owners led to a spirited discussion at a recent meeting of Princeton Council. Members of the governing body said they want more information about what the California-based buyer, LCOR Ventures, is planning to put into the building that has been a fixture on the square since 1937. more

Stop HungerAt the hundreds of Hunger Banquets held by the global organization Oxfam each year, participants might be served rice and water at one table and a gourmet meal at the next. It’s all the luck of the tickets they draw С a concept designed to demonstrate the gap between food choices for the rich, the middle, and the poor.

While the offerings at the Princeton Hunger Banquet on Sunday, September 20 won’t be as extreme, the idea is the same. The fundraiser is being held at Hinds Plaza by Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP), the two-year-old charity that provides aid to food-insecure families in town. Upon entering, participants will be given tickets directing them to a table serving a meal typical of a low, middle, or high-income family. more

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At the American Youth Circus Festival In Portland, Maine this week, some 200 children from all over the nation are displaying their prowess at clowning, wire-walking, juggling, and other circus-related skills. Among them are 13 youngsters from Trenton Circus Squad, which debuted only a few months ago in a light-filled space at the old Trenton Wireworks Factory. more

August 12, 2015

Page 1 Hospital

Princeton residents who relied on NJ Transit’s 655 bus for travel to and from Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS) in Plainsboro will have another resource when the NJ Transit service ceases operations on September 1. Starting August 24, an on-demand taxi service will be available, for free, to patients who live within a half-mile of the former hospital on Witherspoon Street and have no other means of getting to the complex. more

Roebling Trenton

The Roebling Lofts project targeted for a cluster of former industrial buildings along Route 129 in Trenton has been through years of planning and the administrations of three mayors. Those attending a breakfast gathering of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce last week learned that government funding for the mixed-use development is now in place. The complex predicted by current mayor Eric Jackson to be “a potential game-changer” for the capital city is finally about to break ground.  more

Princeton PolicePolitical consultant John Bailey has lived in Denver, Colorado, for several years. But come each August, the New Jersey native heads back to Princeton to take charge of a special weekend that is close to his heart.

“I come home every summer to do this,” said Mr. Bailey, talking about The Joint Effort-Princeton Pete Young Sr. Memorial Safe Streets Weekend, which starts Thursday. The four-day series of events and activities is designed to encourage good decision-making skills and recognize residents who have made significant contributions to the community.

This year’s program runs through Sunday, August 16, beginning at The Arts Council of Princeton and continuing at the first Baptist Church, Community Park, the Elks Lodge, and the Hank Pannell Center. more

BIKING TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS: Mark Petrovic, right, with his friend and colleague Alex Ju, set out on a bicycle ride to raise funds to help those with Pompe’s Disease. The boys raised nearly $4,000 on their recent expedition up the east coast.

BIKING TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS: Mark Petrovic, right, with his friend and colleague Alex Ju, set out on a bicycle ride to raise funds to help those with Pompe’s Disease. The boys raised nearly $4,000 on their recent expedition up the east coast.

Growing up healthy and secure with demanding schedules of school, sports, and other activities, Princeton teenagers can easily forget that there are those in less fortunate circumstances. But thanks, in part, to community service requirements by their schools, more young people are making the needs of others a priority. Among them are two local high school students, both of whom say their lives have been altered through recent efforts to help others. more

August 5, 2015

Oak TreesThe leafy look of Princeton’s main thoroughfare is about to change. Thanks to a disease known as bacterial leaf scorch (BLS), at least seven of the oak trees that tower over the campus side of Nassau Street will be taken down during the next several weeks.

A few of the trees have already had their limbs and leaves removed and a big orange “X” painted onto their trunks. “They look like totem poles,” said Lorraine Konopka, Princeton’s municipal arborist. “They will need a crane to bring down what’s left.”

“They” are workers from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), under whose jurisdiction the trees fall because Nassau Street (Route 27) is a state road. Ms. Konopka contacted the DOT several weeks ago after a large branch from an oak tree across from the Panera restaurant fell down.  more

SUMMER FUN AND LEARNING: Trying out hula hoops is just one aspect of Hop the Gap, a YMCA program — part of a national initiative — that helps prepare children for kindergarten. The kids get a nutritious lunch, go on field trips, play games, and catch up on skills they might have missed by not attending pre-school.(Photo Courtesy of the Princeton YMCA)

SUMMER FUN AND LEARNING: Trying out hula hoops is just one aspect of Hop the Gap, a YMCA program — part of a national initiative — that helps prepare children for kindergarten. The kids get a nutritious lunch, go on field trips, play games, and catch up on skills they might have missed by not attending pre-school. (Photo Courtesy of the Princeton YMCA)

 

Most Princeton children start kindergarten with a year of pre-school behind them. But an increasing number of the town’s low income residents do not have the resources to give their offspring that early start. It is this segment of the population that the local YMCA is targeting with Hop the Gap — a new program at the Community Park Elementary School — serving 23 youngsters this summer from low to moderate income households. The program is part of a national YMCA initiative. more

CLEAR AS A BELL: Music from Princeton University’s carillon can be heard as far away as the Institute for Advanced Study, according to the University Carilloneur Lisa Lonie, shown here with the instrument in Cleveland Tower of the Graduate College. The 23rd Annual Summer Carillon Series of concerts is currently underway and continues through the end of August.

CLEAR AS A BELL: Music from Princeton University’s carillon can be heard as far away as the Institute for Advanced Study, according to the University Carilloneur Lisa Lonie, shown here with the instrument in Cleveland Tower of the Graduate College. The 23rd Annual Summer Carillon Series of concerts is currently underway and continues through the end of August.

On summer Sundays at 1 p.m., there is a gathering of sorts on the lawn outside Princeton University’s Cleveland Tower. The Collegiate Gothic style building is home to the University’s carillon, on which a short concert is performed by carilloneurs who come from as far as Australia to take their turn on the massive instrument. more

July 29, 2015

GaragePatrons of the Spring Street Garage will have some changes to adjust to in coming months. Parking fees at the municipal lot will be raised to prices yet to be determined and go into effect at the beginning of next year. In addition, the two hours of free parking traditionally given to users of Princeton Public Library will be done away with.

There is a silver lining: The half-hour of free parking in the lot will be upgraded to a full hour, for everyone. And during the week of September 14, when new equipment is to be installed at the two entrances to the garage, parking will be free, it was announced at Monday night’s meeting of Princeton Council. more

Now that construction of the Lakeside Apartments is completed and graduate students and their families are moving into the new complex on Faculty Road, Princeton University is preparing to demolish the Butler Tract apartments on Harrison Street. The barracks-like development, which was built as temporary housing after World War II but served for almost 70 years as a home for graduate students, will finally meet the wrecking ball in early fall. more

July 22, 2015

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Princeton is creating a new Bicycle Master Plan, and the town wants members of the public to participate in the process.

The study will begin in September with a public presentation, likely at a meeting of the Planning Board. This will be followed by a community outreach campaign. In the meantime, residents can get a preliminary look at information about the project at Community Night Out on Tuesday August 4, at the Community Pool. more

Page 1 AA little over 12 years ago, Princeton Public Library’s Youth Services librarian Susan Conlon was approached by a Princeton High School student about hosting a series showing the first efforts of famous film directors. That effort morphed into a festival featuring the works of aspiring filmmakers from the local area, which has since been transformed into an annual event that draws entries from all over the world.

“There were almost 200 original films submitted this year,” said Youth Services Librarian Martha Liu, of the festival taking place Wednesday and Thursday, July 22 and 23, at 7 p.m. in the library’s Community Room. “We have films from Spain, Iran, Ireland, and the Philippines, along with quite a few from New Jersey including one by Princeton High School student Talia Zinder. It has definitely become a big event that many people look forward to.” more

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Each summer, serious ballet students across the country take advantage of their time off from academics to shift their training schedules into high gear. Instead of a few classes a week, they take a few classes a day — six days a week. more

July 15, 2015

Once Princeton University’s spring term ended last month, the annual exodus of students left the dormitories, dining halls, and classroom buildings empty – but not for long. Starting in early June, a different crop of pupils began arriving for a slew of summer programs that have kept the campus humming with activity. more

Reports on plans to renovate part of the Princeton Public Library and monitor tour buses on Nassau Street were the focus of a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night. The governing body also heard from Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter and a member of the consulting firm The Rodgers Group about a recently completed strategic plan that will serve as “a roadmap for us to the future,” Mr. Sutter told Council. more

Is climate change funny? According to Joshua Halpern, it can be. Finding humor in our environmental crisis is perfectly acceptable, the Princeton native believes, especially if it helps people process the magnitude of the situation and take action for positive change. more

July 14, 2015

Ballet

Attention, ballet fans: On Saturday, July 18 at 3 p.m., Intensio, a group of stellar dancers from American Ballet Theatre, will hold an invitation-only working rehearsal at McCarter Theatre. Intensio is the project of Daniil Simkin, a soloist with ABT.

He describes it as “an art project and series of performances created and curated by me and my family. Our intention is to merge the highest level of ballet and choreography with the new possibilities of media in order to create a unique and special experience for the audience.”

The troupe is using McCarter to rehearse for an upcoming appearance at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, Massachusetts July 22-26. Members of the company along with Mr. Simkin include ABT’s Isabella Boylston, Alexandre Hammoudi, Blaine Hoven, Calvin Royal III, Hee Seo, Cassandra Trenary, and James Whiteside, as well as Céline Cassone, a special guest artist from Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal.

They will perform new works by choreographers Alexander Ekman, Gregory Dolbashian, Jorma Elo, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

The rehearsal will be held in the Matthews Theatre at McCarter, which is located at 91 University Place.

July 13, 2015

The pool at Mary Moss Park, in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood, was reopened Monday after a brief shutdown due to cracks in its plaster bottom.

The town closed it for repairs last Wednesday after a municipal employee cut her foot while walking in the pool. Its very old, dating back at least to the fifties,said Ben Stentz, Princetons Recreation Director. Why it started to peel more rapidly in the last few weeks, we dont know. But it brought to our attention the fact that the deterioration was getting worse.

Temporary repairs have been made to the pool to keep it safe through the summer. The small, shallow pool is used regularly by children from Princeton Nursery School and others from the neighborhood. Its concrete, so it has been replastered and repainted many times,Mr. Stentz said. It shows its age, but still serves a nice function.

The future of the Mary Moss Park, and the pool, is being reevaluated by the town and will be the subject of feedback from the neighborhood and the community. Its up in the air. Were not sure right now what the renovation will look like,said Mr. Stentz. Well see what 2016 brings.

July 8, 2015
RECOGNITION FROM THE TOP: Sixteen-year-old Princeton resident Ziad Ahmed, far right, was among a group of young social activists invited to the White House last month to dine with President Obama at the Iftar, which marks the end of the traditional Muslim fast during Ramadan. Ziad was praised in a speech by the president for his work educating teens to combat racism.(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

RECOGNITION FROM THE TOP: Sixteen-year-old Princeton resident Ziad Ahmed, far right, was among a group of young social activists invited to the White House last month to dine with President Obama at the Iftar, which marks the end of the traditional Muslim fast during Ramadan. Ziad was praised in a speech by the president for his work educating teens to combat racism. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

When Ziad Ahmed founded the organization Redefy to help teenagers recognize and remove cultural stereotypes, he never imagined that just two years later he would be dining with President Obama at the White House. But on June 22, that is exactly where the 16-year-old Princeton Day School (PDS) student found himself — and not just at any table. At the annual White House Iftar, which marks the traditional breaking of the fast observed by Muslims during Ramadan, the president chose to sit with Ziad and seven other young people and engage them in conversation. As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Obama singled Ziad out in his speech.

“They’re Muslim Americans like Ziad Ahmed,” he said. “As a Bangladeshi-American growing up in New Jersey, he saw early on that there was not enough understanding in the world. So two years ago, he founded Redefy, a website to push back against harmful stereotypes by encouraging teens like him — he’s only 16; I think our youngest guest tonight — to share their stories. Because, in Ziad’s words, ‘ignorance can be defeated through education.’ He wants to do his part to make sure that ‘Muslims can be equal members of society and still hold onto their faith and identity.’ So we’re very proud of you, Ziad.”

“The whole thing was just mind-blowing,” Ziad said this week. “It’s the most prestigious event Muslim Americans get invited to. I just thought I’d be at some table, but Obama sat with us for an hour. And I was with the most amazing people, who had incredible stories to tell.”

The invitation to the White House came after MTV News profiled Ziad’s work with Redefy, as well as later efforts to inspire teen forums on racial profiling. Last April, the organization launched #PrincetonAgainstRacism, a social media campaign in which 125 portraits of people were taken at PDS and the Communiversity street fair, asking them to finish the prompt “I stand against racism because …” The goal was to use social media platforms to inspire teens everywhere to take a stand against racism. Redefy led the initiative in partnership with Princeton CHOOSE and Not in Our Town in recognition of the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism campaign.

The son of a hedge fund manager and a stay-at-home mom who does property management, Ziad was first inspired to take action the summer before ninth grade. “That summer, when I was 14, I noticed that in the community, people needed a platform by which they could be educated about minority experience,” he said. “I found a lot of ignorance — not malicious hate, just innocent ignorance. I wanted to initiate positive change at school, so I decided to create Redefy.”

The organization was officially launched that September. Today the leadership team has six people and representatives as far as Brazil and Pakistan, whom Ziad met through summer programs he has attended. “But due to recent publicity, now we have people I don’t know,” he said. “So that’s new.”

The idea is to produce “measurable change,” Ziad said. “Our mission in 2014 was to promote integration. For this year, it is to reduce racial prejudice and hate.” A blog posted every three days includes personal stories that anyone can submit. “When you read these intimate stories of issues people deal with, you get a soft spot in your heart,” he said “You make more educated, thoughtful decisions. It’s hard to hate somebody you know.”

Key to Redefy’s mission is equality for everyone. “All any of us want is a world that’s safe and accepting for our children,” Ziad said. “The only way that’s possible is if we’re willing to advocate for everyone, not just for our own minorities. You can’t just believe in selective equality. So on our stories page, we try to encompass that.”

Ziad and his team do workshops at local schools and hold bi-monthly conversations about current events. Media coverage led to the story by MTV News, “the most exciting thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “To get that coverage on national news was mind-blowing.” The invitation to The White House came just before Ziad was leaving for a service trip to Morocco. While he was on the trip, he got an email from one of Mr. Obama’s speechwriters saying the president wanted to include his story.

“The next day I got an email saying I was at the president’s table,” Ziad recalled. “I was with all of these really impressive people. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just some kid from New Jersey sitting with these people who have done so much.”

Among Ziad’s table-mates were Samantha Elauf, who won a Supreme Court case against the Abercrombie company after she was denied employment because she wore a traditional head scarf; Munir Khalif, the child of Somali immigrants who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and created an organization to help children in East Africa get an education; and Wai Wai Nu, a former political prisoner and the co-founder of Justice for Women.

Mr. Obama spoke with all of them. “I answered some of his questions and I asked him some, to which he responded eloquently and respectfully,” Ziad said. “He had read about me, and he told me to keep doing the work I’m doing. I was thrilled. A lot of people wanted to speak with him about different things, and he was so articulate, kind, and witty.”

Not surprisingly, the experience was an inspiration for Ziad to expand his work with Redefy. His mission is to include teens who might not feel as committed to the issues that are the organization’s focus, but might have skills and interests through which they can contribute.

“I was up till 4 a.m. thinking about this,” he said. “I want all kids in Princeton to get involved. Because one of my biggest obstacles has been trying to engage kids who aren’t particularly passionate about social justice. I’m super motivated now to engage people of all interests, not just the ones interested in social justice. Anyone can get involved, and use their particular skills. If we engage people in that way, we can get a wide variety and become a better organization.”

Thanks to an acquisition announced last week by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Princeton Battlefield State Park is 4.6 acres larger. The added land fronts Stockton Street and directly abuts the main battlefield site. Its addition raises the size of the park to 80 acres.

Purchased from the D’Ambrisi family last April, the property is said to have been key to tactical maneuvers during the Battle of Princeton, fought on January 3, 1777 a week after George Washington’s victory over Hessian troops in Trenton. It consists of slightly rolling land and a series of connected ponds and streams that drain to the Stony Brook.

According to Kip Cherry, first vice president of the non-profit Princeton Battlefield Society, the property was critical to the famous battle. Just prior to the first phase, two British units stood on the ridge of the property, behind the colonnade that now stands at the site. “Understanding these stories creates important insight into the battle and into the spirit and principles on which the nation was founded,” Ms. Cherry said in a statement from the DEP.

Partners involved in preserving the parcel include the DEP’s Green Acres Program, the New Jersey State Park Service, Mercer County, the municipality of Princeton, the Princeton Battlefield Society, and the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS). The total purchase was $850,000. The Green Acres Program contributed $450,000 and the county gave $200,000, also providing FOPOS a $100,000 matching grant available to non-profit groups.

The municipality of Princeton agreed to take on the cost of repairing the dam on the property and demolishing the house as its contribution to the preservation effort.

“Figuring out the details about demolition responsibilities and other issues such as an existing driveway easement was not easy,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “Thanks to the cooperation of all the partners, and the great work done by our engineering department, we were able to work these things out. In fact, the dam repairs and house demolition were already complete as of the transfer of the property to the State to add to the park.”

The Battlefield Society plans to use National Park Service grants to do an archaeological survey in cooperation with the State Park Service. It has been suggested that American and British soldiers are buried at the site.

“We feel a deep sense of honor in being able to add this land to one of the most important historic sites in the United States, especially as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day weekend,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said when announcing the purchase on July 1. “This acquisition shows the true power of innovative partnerships and the spirit of teamwork protecting places that are special to the people of New Jersey.”

Future plans for recreational use of the park include extending the bike path that starts at Mercer Street to Stockton Street, and possibly connecting the larger system of trails along the Stony Brook and elsewhere in Princeton.

“We always like to help add to existing parks, and this purchase will increase the public’s abilities to access and use one of the most important and beloved parks in Mercer County,” said County Executive Brian Hughes.