February 3, 2016

Retailers Kate Spade, Aerosoles, Palm Place A Lllly Pulitzer Signature Store, and Design Within Reach have all closed up shop on Palmer Square in recent weeks. But what may look like a mass departure is just a routine part of turnover, according to management. And discussions with new “very exciting tenants” to take their places are underway.

“It doesn’t have to do with money,” said David Newton, vice president of Palmer Square Management. “It happens that their leases were up at the same time. Two of them were doing very healthy sales. It had to do with the internal workings of their companies. I was upset that they were going, but on all of these spaces, we are in various stages of talking closely with a number of tenants.” more

A trio of Princeton University freshmen are in the running for the seventh annual Hult Prize, which could win them $1 million in start-up funding “to change the world,” as the organization’s website says.

Ricardo Diaz, Viktoria Zlatinova, and Evan Trauger are hoping that Ryde, a subscription-based transportation service, will make it through the regional finals of the student competition and start-up platform to advance to the next level. The Princeton students will travel to the regionals in Boston next month to pitch their idea and describe their business model.  more

January 27, 2016

The list of Democratic candidates for Princeton Council continues to grow, with Leticia Fraga, the former chairperson of Mayor Liz Lempert’s re-election campaign, the latest to announce her intention to run. But Council member Patrick Simon, who was considering re-election to the governing body or a run for mayor, announced last week that he has opted to do neither.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that I will not seek reelection to Princeton Council this year, and also that I will not seek election to the office of mayor of Princeton,” Mr. Simon said in an email. “Instead, I will focus my efforts in 2016 on serving out the remainder of my current term on Princeton’s municipal council to the best of my ability. I am very grateful to the members of the Princeton community who have stepped forward to run for local office, incumbents and newcomers alike, and to those others who may choose to do so as well in the days and weeks ahead. I wish them well.” more

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WATCH AND LEARN: Teaching a recent master class at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, New York City Ballet principal dancer Ashley Bouder urged students to stand behind more experienced dancers in their classes and learn by copying what they do. She is nearly six months pregnant with her first baby, due at the end of April.

At nearly six months into her pregnancy, Ashley Bouder’s ballerina silhouette is interrupted by a small, round bump. But the acclaimed New York City Ballet principal dancer, who taught a recent master class at Princeton Dance and Theater Studio, remains as lithe as ever. more

Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing Township will get a new passenger terminal to accommodate the dramatic increase in the number of travelers since Frontier Airlines began flying out of the facility in 2012. Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes described the nearly $50-million project during his annual State of the County address January 21 at a luncheon sponsored by the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Princeton.

“The growth at the airport has been incredible,” Mr. Hughes said. “Close to a million passengers move through the airport each year.” more

January 25, 2016

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NEXT STOP MANHATTAN: Retiring Princeton Public Library Director Leslie Burger with husband Alan in the library’s Community Room Sunday, where 150 people paid their respects to “a visionary and an image breaker” who “always had our back.” The couple will be moving from West Windsor to Manhattan. (Photo by Vic Garber)

Friends, colleagues, local politicians and longtime associates of departing Princeton Public Library director Leslie Burger gathered at the library Sunday to say bon voyage and recognize her contributions to the institution and the community. Retiring after 16 years, Ms. Burger is credited with shepherding the renovation and expansion of the library and turning it into “the community’s living room,” as she liked to say. more

January 20, 2016

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IN WITH THE NEW: What was once a gas station in Princeton Shopping Center is about to become Nomad Pizza, one of several casual eateries opening in and around town this spring.

Hungry? Depending on what you are craving, the new crop of casual restaurants set to open in Princeton in the coming months might just hit the spot. Styles and flavors run the gamut from middle eastern cuisine with belly dancing to Asian food with bubble tea.

“We’re very excited,” said Tracey Branson, who owns Marhaba, a middle eastern style eatery that will go into the former Cheeburger Cheeburger spot at 182 Nassau Street. A fixture in Lambertville for nearly seven years, Marhaba, which means “hello” and “welcome” in Arabic, is targeting late February or March for an opening date. more

January 13, 2016

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A COMMUNITY RESOURCE: The late-18th-century house at the Updike Farmstead, now the permanent home of the Historical Society of Princeton, is a scenic location for weddings as well as a repository for the area’s history. The HSP has reopened after consolidating its operations at the six-acre site.

Twelve years ago, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) purchased the six-acre Updike Farmstead, a bucolic spread that extends behind a late-18th-century white farmhouse on Quaker Road. The HSP’s main headquarters had been at Bainbridge House, on Nassau Street, since 1967. But once the purchase of the Updike Farmstead was completed, a plan was developed to make the more rural setting the HSP’s permanent location. more

Princeton Council voted at its Monday, January 11 meeting to introduce a bond ordinance that would allow the acquisition of a 20.4-acre parcel of vacant land between Mt. Lucas Road and Route 206. The purchase, which Mayor Liz Lempert called “a very important environmental piece,” would be financed by a $4.4 million deal that would be mostly paid for by Mercer County, the Friends of Princeton Open Space, and the Williams/Transco company.

The parcel, which is owned by Princeton Land Development, would add to the size of the Princeton Ridge Preserve. Mercer County would provide a $2.2 million grant for the purchase. Friends of Princeton Open Space would give $100,000, Williams/Transco would pay $153,000, and New Jersey’s Green Acres grant program would cover the rest. “We’re hoping to purchase it with little or no municipal funding,” the town’s administrator Marc Dashield said. more

January 6, 2016

Speaking to a packed room of citizens and representatives of local, county, and state government, Mayor Liz Lempert ushered in 2016 at Princeton Council’s official reorganization meeting Monday evening by going over accomplishments of the past year and touching on some plans for the new one.

Starting with a look at consolidation three years after the merger was put in place, Ms. Lempert told the audience, “Today I’m happy to report that it is working, and working well.” She touted net savings of $2.77 million since Princeton Borough and Township were made into one entity, and said more savings can be expected in coming years. more

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A NEW HOME FOR A CONGREGATION: Mother of God Orthodox Church finally has a building to call home. The 18-year-old congregation, which has most recently held services on the campus of Princeton Day School, will cut the ribbon for its new building on January 30. Members of the church are gearing up for outreach and education programs in the permanent space on Cherry Hill Road.

The finishing touches are being put on Princeton’s newest church, an inviting wooden building with red doors and window frames on Cherry Hill Road. The Mother of God Orthodox Church expects to hold a ribbon cutting on January 30, providing a spiritual home for the more than 50 people who have been regularly worshipping at Sunday services held, most recently, at Princeton Day School. more

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THE POWER OF MUSIC: After only a few months of study, young participants in the El Sistema music education program in Trenton were invited to play at a festival held last June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The Trenton program is the focus of a Martin Luther King Day event at the Arts Council of Princeton, at which a documentary by Jamie Bernstein, daughter of composer Leonard Bernstein, will be screened.

One day eight years ago, Jamie Bernstein was casually scrolling through Facebook when she came upon a YouTube video titled Mambo: the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. Since “Mambo” is one of the most famous compositions from the musical West Side Story, written by her late father, Leonard Bernstein, it caught her eye.

“I thought, okay, I’ll watch this for a second,” Ms. Bernstein recalls. “And I just about fell into my screen. I had never seen anything like it. The joy these kids had! I thought, who are they? And where is my Dad?” more

December 30, 2015

All Lives Yr in RevAs town and University plans and projects progressed, protests helped define the year 2015. A sit-in by Princeton University students citing Woodrow Wilson’s racist beliefs drew national attention to the campus and the town. There were additional demonstrations in reaction to national events such as the murders at a church in Charleston, South Carolina and the more recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. On the University campus, at Hinds Plaza, and at marches through town, there were silent and not-so-silent demonstrations in support of gun control and related issues.

The town lost prominent personalities John and Alicia Nash, and Michael Graves this year. The fight continues over whether the Institute for Advanced Study can build faculty housing on land the Princeton Battlefield Society considers sacred. And a campaign to make the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood a historic district picked up steam toward the end of the year.

Three years since consolidating the former Borough and Township, Princeton has made major progress in harmonizing policies and ordinances. But some issues are still on the town’s “to do” list. According to state law, the town has until the end of 2017 to get the job done.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert announced in November that she will run for a second term in the next election. Council President Bernie Miller said he will relinquish that post, but will continue to serve on the governing body. Tim Quinn, former school board president, announced that he will enter the Council race. The terms of Council members Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon will be up for renewal. While Ms. Crumiller has said she will run for another term, Mr. Simon has not yet decided whether to run for Council or mayor. more

December 23, 2015

Tim Quinn, a former president of Princeton Public Schools and the director of communications for Princeton Public Library, announced last week that he will seek a seat on Princeton Council in the next election.

Bernie Miller, a Council member who has served as the governing body’s president for the past three years, said Monday that he will not stand for re-election to that position in 2016 but will continue his term on Council.

Mr. Quinn, a Democrat, currently serves as an alternate on the town’s Planning Board. In making his announcement last week, he said, “I want to help build a stronger, more inclusive and sustainable Princeton, where difference is celebrated and where all share in an abundance of municipal services and opportunities. In this stronger Princeton, newcomers will be embraced, and those, like me, who have lived here for a long time can continue to enjoy all our town has to offer.” more

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WALLS AND WINDOWS: Repainting the exterior and reglazing windows at Nassau Presbyterian Church was a recent project for Greenleaf Painters, which counts many houses of worship among its client base. Former pastor Jonathan Shenk started the company a decade ago.

Jonathan Shenk doesn’t limit his client base to houses of worship. But churches, synagogues, and Quaker meetinghouses figure highly in the work done by Greenleaf Painters, the company he founded a decade ago. Since Mr. Shenk is a former pastor and a self-described “missionary kid” whose parents were Mennonite missionaries, it makes sense.

The Princeton Junction resident, whose company is based in Lawrenceville, recently completed work on the exterior of Nassau Presbyterian Church, to which he and his family belong. In addition to residential projects, other local jobs have included the Jewish Center of Princeton and Princeton Baptist Church. The Ewing Presbyterian Church, which was considered uninhabitable and listed as one of Preservation New Jersey’s Ten Most Endangered Sites in New Jersey, is another client, as is the Friends Meetinghouse in Trenton. more

December 16, 2015

At a meeting between Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber and Princeton Council, Mr. Eisgruber touched on a host of issues ranging from expansion of the student body to sexual assaults on campus. The meeting was held at the former Borough Hall on Monday evening.

This is the third time in three years that the governing body has invited Mr. Eisgruber to speak about issues pertinent to “town and gown.” “Maintaining an open channel is important,” Mr. Eisgruber said in his opening remarks, adding, “Three years is sufficient to call it a tradition at this point.” more

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CUTTING THE RIBBON ON A SIXTH OUTPATIENT CENTER: Richard Wohl, right, president of Princeton House Behavioral Health and senior vice president of Princeton HealthCare System; and Eatontown Borough Council President Mark W. Regan, center, were joined by staffers to open Princeton House’s outpatient center in Eatontown last spring. The Eatontown facility is the latest in a pattern of growth for the Princeton-based institution.

Back in 1990, Princeton House Behavioral Health was losing money. There was a lack of confidence in its services. The Board of Trustees was considering putting the organization up for sale.

That’s when Richard Wohl was hired as vice president. With advanced degrees in both social work and business, he had other ideas about the organization’s future. “I thought it sounded like a business turnaround,” he said during a recent interview in his office. “I had had two prior jobs I regarded as turnarounds, so I knew how they worked. They decided to give it one more try.” more

Demolition of the Butler Tract, home for almost 70 years to Princeton University graduate students, began this week. The University received a permit to take down 17 of the barracks-like units on the property bordered by Hartley Avenue, Sycamore Road, Longview Drive, and South Harrison Street.

The 33-acre site will likely be turned into housing, but the University’s Board of Trustees will make the final decision, according to Kristin Appelget, the school’s director of community and regional affairs. The development was originally built as temporary housing after World War II for returning veterans. More modular units were added in 1988. Graduate students and their families now live in Lakeside, the complex along Faculty Road that the school opened early this year. more

December 9, 2015

At what she billed as her final appearance before Princeton Council on Monday evening, December 7, Princeton Public Library’s outgoing director Leslie Burger described the renovation project planned for the library’s second floor and told Council it is being paid for almost entirely by private funds.

The $3 million project designed to reimagine and reconfigure the middle floor is being financed 94 percent by private gifts and pledges raised between last June and September, with the remaining six percent coming from previously approved capital funding from the town, Ms. Burger said before introducing the project’s architect, Andrew Berman. Mr. Berman, whose firm is based in New York City, has done work for the New York Public Library and other libraries. more

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TELLING THEIR STORIES: Taking part in a panel discussion at Princeton Public Library as part of The Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Stories Project are, from left: Mildred Trotman and Michele Tuck-Ponder, seated; and Joseph Moore, Yina Moore, and moderator Marc Dashield, standing behind them. Not pictured: Lance Liverman.

For Mildred Trotman, it was an unpleasant experience with Princeton’s school system that made her think about getting into politics. For Lance Liverman, it was an awareness of some discontent among his fellow citizens that propelled him into public service. more

Since founding “redefy” nearly three years ago to help teenagers recognize and redefine cultural stereotypes, Princeton Day School junior Ziad Ahmed has dined at The White House alongside President Obama and shared ideas with prominent social activists from across the globe. This Sunday, December 13, he is back on his home turf with an event at Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center.

“#The Generation of Now” is a collaboration with Not in Our Town Princeton and the University’s Muslim Life Program. Some 200 people — 120 of whom are students — are expected to attend the afternoon of panel discussions, presentations, and workshops designed to inspire teenagers and community members to become engaged in social justice activities. more

December 2, 2015

At a lengthy and often emotional meeting of Princeton’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) Monday evening, a consultant to the municipality recommended that the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood be designated a local historic district.

A standing-room-only crowd including neighborhood residents, architects, and local officials packed the main meeting room at Witherspoon Hall to hear a presentation by Wise Preservation Planning, the Chester Springs, Pa. company hired to survey the area that has been home to the town’s African American community and other ethnic groups for generations. Following an informative presentation by longtime neighborhood resident and historian Shirley Satterfield, the HPC opened the floor to members of the community. more

Bainbridge House, the historic building that has served as home to the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) since 1967, is being turned into an arts-focused information center and gathering space. The circa 1766 house at 158 Nassau Street will also be home to new administrative space for the education staff of the Princeton University Art Museum, the University announced Tuesday.

The Historical Society, which has been renting the building from the University for $1 a year for several decades, is relocating to Updike Farmstead on Quaker Road. Currently closed, the HSP will reopen on January 6 at Updike Farm. The organization has been dividing its operations and exhibits between the two locations since purchasing the six-acre farm in 2004. more

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LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT: The steps of The Nassau Inn are among the sites around town that will be aglow on Monday night in honor of the 14th annual Communites of Light campaign, which benefits Womanspace. Kits are still available for those who want to join the tribute.

At dusk on Monday, December 7, rain or shine, Princeton streets, driveways and walkways will glow with light from rows of luminaria. These votive candles anchored by sand and encased in brown paper bags have become a tradition that has a message.

“They are a symbol of hope,” said Lauren Nazarian, director of development for Womanspace, the Mercer County organization that helps women and children affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. “We want people to know we are here, that our services are available. And it’s a fundraiser for us as well.”

Womanspace’s 14th annual “Communities of Light Peace Begins at Home” campaign was officially launched last October. Kits that cost $10 and have the organization’s logo are available, while virtual luminaria are also for sale. Raoul and Carlo Momo of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group are the honorary co-chairs of the current campaign. Both are active in the local community. more

November 25, 2015

library-directorFollowing a vote by the Princeton Public Library’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening, Brett Bonfield was named to succeed Leslie Burger as the library’s executive director. Mr. Bonfield, who is currently the director of the Collingswood Public Library, will take over on January 19, 2016. Ms. Burger is retiring in January after 16 years at the library.

“Brett is a committed and experienced community builder,” said Kiki Jamieson, president of the Board. “He is an advocate for public libraries and all who use them, and I have been impressed with his deep commitment to nurturing libraries as the heart and hearth of diverse communities. I think he will build on the excellence to which we as a community have become accustomed.”

Mr. Bonfield was selected from a field of 25 candidates during a national search, which also included Canada. Assisting Library Strategies International LLC were search committee members John Anagbo, supervisor for language arts and social studies at Princeton High School; Jan Johnson, retired librarian and former head of the library’s Youth Service Department; and Jane Silverman, president of Jane Silverman and Associates and former chairperson of the Princeton Public Library Foundation. more