August 16, 2017

AN OVERFLOW CROWD: Excitement about the upcoming solar eclipse made for a packed house at the first of two lectures, held at Princeton Public Library. Next on the eclipse agenda is a special viewing party on Palmer Square on Monday, August 21.

It was standing room only last week in the Community Room at Princeton Public Library, where Princeton University professor Amitava Bhattacharjee was giving a talk on the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse that will unfold over several hours on Monday, August 21.  more

There is something visually satisfying about an avenue, or allee, of trees leading into a neighborhood. But planting trees of the same species in such close proximity can be asking for trouble. In Princeton, that trouble is in the form of the emerald ash borer, the metallic green beetle that has the potential to destroy nearly all of the town’s ash trees.

Residents of the Fieldwood Manors development off Cherry Valley Road are fortunate, because the ash trees that line the road into the neighborhood have been targeted for treatment. Princeton Council approved a resolution on August 7 to hire Robert Wells Tree and Landscape, Inc. for the job. more

August 9, 2017

To many people, preserving open space is about preventing developers from turning fields and forests into housing developments. But maintaining the natural environment is also about keeping invasive species at bay.

With a $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Stewardship Program, the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) will be doing just that on 18 acres of the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve. This forest restoration effort, which will take two years, is designed to remove abundant invasive species and recreate natural plant communities.  more

A TUSCAN VILLA IN PRINCETON: Painter and prominent Princetonian Howard Russell Butler, a graduate of Princeton University’s first school of science, lived in this unique property for several years and designed its significant expansion to include a tower and light-filled studio.

With its distinctive tower and roofline, the house at 107 Library Place in Princeton’s western section has long been a source of curiosity to those who drive past. Credit for its unusual layout goes to none other than Howard Russell Butler, the artist and scientist who is the subject of a current exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum focused on his paintings of the 1918 solar eclipse. more

August 2, 2017

Reacting to a recent newspaper story in which Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert is quoted as possibly supporting the Princeton Public Schools’ bid to obtain the campus of Westminster Choir College, members of the Westminster community took to social media last week to express their dismay.

But Ms. Lempert said this week that her comments did not mean she is against keeping Westminster in Princeton. That is the outcome that members of The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton are hoping for, as Rider University, which has owned Westminster for 25 years, seeks a buyer for the Princeton choral academy and its 20-plus-acre campus. The school district is among the unnamed entities that have submitted offers. more

Reacting to a recent newspaper story in which Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert is quoted as possibly supporting the Princeton Public Schools’ bid to obtain the campus of Westminster Choir College, members of the Westminster community took to social media last week to express their dismay.

But Ms. Lempert said this week that her comments did not mean she is against keeping Westminster in Princeton. That is the outcome that members of The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton are hoping for, as Rider University, which has owned Westminster for 25 years, seeks a buyer for the Princeton choral academy and its 20-plus-acre campus. The school district is among the unnamed entities that have submitted offers. more

LAZING ON THE LAWN: There is a decidedly British bent to the Princeton University Art Museum’s Picnic on the Lawn this year, taking place Thursday evening. From “The Great Princeton Bake Off” to English country dancing, the theme is inspired by the museum’s current exhibit, “Great British Drawings from the Ashmolean Museum.”

Ever since the BBC debuted The Great British Bake Off in 2010, televised baking contests have grown in popularity across the world. There is The Great American Baking Competition. There are versions in Belgium, Estonia, Thailand, and Brazil, to name just a few locations. more

July 26, 2017

At its meeting Monday evening, July 24, Princeton Council approved a resolution to authorize the Princeton Police Department’s appointment of five probationary police officers. With three retirements possible by the end of the year and 11 officers eligible for retirement through 2020, it is important to be proactive, Chief Nick Sutter told Council.

“My vision is that we anticipate these retirements because there is a lag time between when we hire someone and when they get fully certified,” he said. At a press conference earlier in the day, Mr. Sutter said this completes the most recent recruiting list, which he called “particularly robust.” more

In a letter to the Rider University community this week, Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said “great progress” is being made in efforts to sell Westminster Choir College in Princeton, which Rider has owned since 1991 and announced this past spring that it was putting it up for sale. Rider’s campus is located in Lawrenceville.

Rider’s Board of Trustees and PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance have communicated with some 280 possible purchasers, and have received “multiple proposals” from buyers who would either purchase the property and Choir College and keep it in Princeton, acquire the property and relocate the Westminster programs to another location, or simply buy the property. more

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM: These students from Trenton got to enjoy the outdoors while polishing their academic and leadership abilities during a week at Princeton-Blairstown Center’s Summer Bridge Academy. They are among 450 to experience nature and learning at the site this summer.

Learning tends to move outside during the summer months. At local nature preserves and green spaces, the outdoors become the classroom as students and teachers pursue everything from literacy and math to the wonders of the natural world. more

PERCUSSIVE MULTI-TASKING: A typical performance by Sō Percussion, which concludes its summer institute at Princeton this weekend, is never confined to traditional instruments. (Photo by Claudia Hansen)

In a popular YouTube video from 2014, four men seated on a stage with their backs to the Los Angeles Philharmonic are snapping twigs in carefully timed unison. As the orchestra, led by famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel, continues to play a piece called man made by composer David Lang, the four turn their attention from the twigs to rows of wine bottles, which they clink and plonk with precision. more

July 19, 2017

Rider University’s announcement last week that a new dance studio will open on its campus in Lawrenceville does not sit well with those working to keep the University from closing Westminster Choir College (WCC) in Princeton, which Rider owns and wants to sell.

Members of The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton have used words like “infuriating” and “insulting” on social media, one likening the opening of a $700,000 studio at Rider while the future of Westminster remains uncertain to “a punch in the face.” more

THE FAMILY THAT RUNS TOGETHER: Susan Hrabchak’s husband and four children have joined her on occasion as part of her 50 States Marathon Project. Pictured here at the finish line in Anchorage, Alaska are son Thomas; daughter Allie; Ms. Hrabchak and her husband, Rick; and sons Jimmy and Robert.

Comparing notes a few years ago about their experiences running marathons, Princeton residents Susan Hrabchak and Isabella de la Houssaye realized they could each claim credit to races in about 20 of the United States. From that calculation, the two friends came up with a challenge. more

For Princeton Councilman Tim Quinn, the 2017 Anchor House Ride for Runaways marked his 25th year of participation in the annual fundraiser. But last week’s 500-mile bike trek, in which 146 people cycled from Maryland to Trenton, turned out to be a bit more eventful than he had planned.

Last Wednesday, Mr. Quinn was thrown from his bike near Lewisburg, Pa., after his wheel got stuck in the groove of a milled surface of the road. He suffered a broken collarbone, four broken ribs, and a concussion, spending Wednesday night in one hospital and Thursday in another, for observation. By Friday evening he was back on his feet, well enough to attend the annual banquet in Bethlehem, Pa. He spent Saturday, the final day of the ride, in one of the support vehicles. more

July 12, 2017

Improvements to Princeton Public Library, a new group home, and a possible revival of efforts to ease traffic woes on U.S. 1 were among the topics at Princeton Council’s meeting Monday evening, July 10. The governing body voted on several ordinances and resolutions.

The Council voted to switch to a new cleaning service for government buildings, replacing the organization Arc Mercer, which provides employment to the developmentally disabled, with CNS Cleaning Company, a private vendor. Though CNS provided a lower bid, the move was based on the quality of work rather than cost, Council members stressed. more

Back in the mid-1950s, a group of citizens became aware that Princeton realtors were not showing houses to people of color. Organized as the Princeton Housing Group, they purchased a tract of land in the Walnut Lane/Dempsey Avenue neighborhoods and arranged to offer private mortgages on 25 newly-built homes.

Some six decades later, the neighborhood originally known as Maplecrest has expanded, stretching from Mount Lucas Road to Ewing Street. More ethnically than racially diverse these days, it remains a welcoming cluster of homes where people make an effort to know each other and get-togethers are a regular occurrence. more

ASPIRING FILMMAKERS: “The Last Playboys,” directed by Luke Momo (son of local restauranteur Raoul Momo), is among the entries in the 2017 Princeton Student Film Festival, on screen at the Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20.

Everett Shen isn’t sure he wants to make filmmaking a career. But the rising Princeton High School senior, who will do an independent study in film next fall, has plenty to think about as he considers his future.

Mr. Shen is among 22 filmmakers showing their work at the upcoming Princeton Student Film Festival, screening at Princeton Public Library July 19 and 20. He also served on the selection committee, helping to decide which of the nearly 60 short films, culled by librarian Susan Conlon from nearly 150 submitted by young people across the globe, would be included in the annual gathering. more

July 5, 2017

On the same day last March that Rider University announced it was putting Westminster Choir College and its Walnut Avenue campus up for sale, the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) made known its interest in acquiring the property. But a few weeks later, PPS appeared to put the idea on hold following protests from those intent on keeping the prestigious music college in place.

Last week, PPS made an official offer for the property. In an email, Superintendent Steve Cochrane confirmed the offer. “The process with Rider University is a confidential one at this stage, but I can share that we have officially expressed our interest in acquiring the Westminster Choir College property,” he said. “That expression of interest was due to Rider by June 7.КIf Rider chooses to talk with us further about our interest, that meeting would likely take place in July.” more

This past April, the town of Princeton announced it had reached a “settlement in principle” with the Fair Share Housing Center regarding how many affordable units the town is obligated to provide through 2025. But negotiations appear to have broken down. Fair Share Housing, which advocates for affordable housing in New Jersey, said in a statement last week that Princeton has “walked away” from the settlement.

“We are disappointed that Princeton is attempting to find a way to build fewer homes that working families, seniors, and people with disabilities can afford, by refusing to proceed with the settlement we reached with them in principle two months ago,” the statement reads. “These homes are desperately needed. Despite our willingness to abide by the terms both sides had agreed to, we will now have to resolve this matter through litigation.” more

GIRL POWER: As part of their five days at appsForGirls computer camp, 21 middle school girls spent a day visiting the Tigerlabs innovation center on East Nassau Street and heard encouraging words about working in coding.

Girls tend to get short shrift when it comes to computer science. Just ask Grace Zhang, a Princeton High School rising junior who last week ran a new, five-day tech camp for middle school girls with an interest in coding.

Armed with a $3,000 grant from the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) AspireIT program, Grace put together a program designed to encourage young girls to pursue computer science. Twenty-one area tweens attended appsForGirls, developing apps in the high school’s computer lab, hearing talks from experts, visiting Princeton’s Tigerlabs innovation center, and, finally, presenting their own apps at a farewell ice cream party. more

The Farmhouse Store in Palmer Square has been named one of Home Accents Today’s 50 Retail Stars for 2017 by editors of the trade magazine for the home accents industry. The Retail Stars list, now in its 13th year, recognizes independent brick-and-mortar retailers of home accents — including furniture stores and interior design boutiques — that are creative in their merchandising, have a positive presence in their local communities, and are distinguishing themselves from the competition.

The Farmhouse Store Princeton is owned by Kristin and Ron Menapace and is located at 34 Hulfish Street. more

June 28, 2017

When Rider University announced in March that it was selling the Princeton campus of Westminster Choir College, it was emphasized that the aim was to find an academic institution that would keep Westminster, which Rider has owned since 1991, in operation on its longtime Princeton campus.

But a lawsuit filed in federal court last week by members of The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton, Inc., lists names like Toll Brothers, Weichert Development Company, and Garden Homes of Princeton on the list of parties interested in the site. With growing concern that the 83-year-old campus will be turned into a housing development rather than operated by another academic institution and kept intact, the Coalition decided to take legal action. more

“BEATRICE AT A MARRIAGE FEAST DENYING HER SALUTATION TO DANTE”: The Princeton Museum exhibit also includes this work in watercolor and pen by 19th century artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The Princeton University Art Museum has a special “peer” relationship with the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at Britain’s University of Oxford, England. So it makes sense that Princeton would serve as the only international venue for “Great British Drawings from the Ashmolean Museum,” an exhibit of more than 100 rarely-seen drawings and watercolors by artists ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries. The show opens Saturday, July 1 and runs through September 17. more

June 21, 2017

MAKING THE ROUNDS: A black bear recently seen on Campbelton Road is believed to be the same bear that has also been spotted in several other Princeton and Lawrence neighborhoods. Anyone who sees a bear should report it to the police department. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Police Department)

A black bear has been showing up on local streets during the past few days. A five-second video of the bear romping down Campbelton Road is posted on the Facebook page of the Princeton Police Department, as is information about what to do, and what not to do, in the event of an encounter.

“He’s a little guy, but bears are deceptively strong,” said Sergeant Frederick R. Williams, spokesman for the Princeton Police Department. “He’s just been running around in the open as opposed to staying in the woods. It’s probably the same bear that was taking a dip in a Lawrenceville swimming pool.” more

Plans for Triumph Brewery to move from Nassau Street into the former U.S. Post Office branch on Palmer Square are inching closer to reality. Last week, Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) met to review LCOR Ventures’ proposal for Triumph to operate a 300-seat restaurant at the site. The main entrance would be on Palmer Square East, where the former loading dock was located.

SPRAB approved the plan, with certain reservations, and referred it to the Planning Board, which will consider the issue next month. In the meantime, the Princeton Environmental Commission is scheduled to review the proposal on June 26, and the town’s Historical Commission will discuss the plan on June 29. more