August 5, 2020

FRIENDLY FACES: “All our employees love the dogs. Their love and support for the dogs is their highest priority. We have a truly dedicated and loyal staff,” says Carole Lini, founder and owner of All Good Dogs Daycare & Boarding. Shown are daycare counselors and attendants Lexi Corrington (standing), holding chihuahua B.B., and Carly Goldman on the sofa with mixed breed Snickers.

By Jean Stratton 

From the time she was a little girl, Carole Lini loved animals. Growing up with dogs and cats, she spent many hours playing with her four-footed friends.

As the years passed, the pleasures of being with animals and caring for them continued. She became a veterinarian technician, and then operated her own pet sitting business. And for more than 20 years, her mission has been to provide dogs with a safe, friendly, and comfortable “home away from home.”

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, All Good Dogs Daycare & Boarding has established an outstanding reputation in the Princeton area and beyond. Founded and owned by Lini, the business has two locations:  160 Basin Road in Lawrence Township and a smaller boutique facility at 113 Schalks Crossing Road in South Brunswick. Both locations are just a 10-minute drive from Princeton, points out Lini.

These cage-free kennel alternatives offer dogs a safe, friendly, stimulating, clean, and comfortable environment in which to socialize with other dogs under the supervision of trained counselors. more

To the Editor:

The recent renewed national focus on equity as well as the multiple impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have made it especially important to focus on protecting everyone’s health, especially the health of outdoor workers in our community.

During the summer months, when poor air quality already poses a health risk, the use of gas-powered lawn equipment for landscaping maintenance in general, and gas-powered leaf blowers in particular, makes the problem even worse. Lawn equipment and leaf blowers emit pollutants and fine particulates that are hazardous to human health and are often loud enough to damage the hearing of workers who are not adequately protected.  more

To the Editor:

Beth Behrend is the person Princeton needs to continue to lead the School Board. Her consistent, calm demeanor will help guide our school system through challenging times. We need her experience from the past couple of years: managing the hiring of an interim superintendent, navigating our entry into the world of virtual education, and holding the importance of unity in the midst of diverse pressures.

As we move into the coming challenges we need continuity and collaboration. We need her philosophy that we are all in this together. Her leadership of the Board of Education has been notable for its inclusivity, its professional approach to complex issues, and its vision for the future of schools in Princeton. A unified School Board will be needed to hire the very best permanent superintendent and assistant superintendent of schools for our town. more

To the Editor:

I am deeply disappointed in the Princeton Public School Board’s reopening plan for elementary schools. Limiting our youngest students to two half-days of in-person instruction a week will only serve to exacerbate the learning loss our children suffered during the chaos of this spring, as well as contribute to more behavioral health issues due to lack of socialization with peers.

The data on this coming out of Wuhan is sobering — nearly one in five children in grades 2-6 there report depression and/or anxiety following their shutdown and closure of school. I would think this data would have been a call to action for the PPS Board to do more, especially given Princeton’s relatively low community transmission rate and clear strides in contact tracing. Sadly, it was not. more

To the Editor:

As a neighbor of the planned Franklin/Witherspoon housing project, I see merits and flaws. It is a laudable goal to expand and improve affordable housing. The housing needs to be more than a stark apartment complex; it should feature green spaces throughout to give it a gracious quality. Also, it should rise no more than two stories on Franklin Avenue and three stories on Witherspoon Street, so as to fit the residential neighborhood.

The neighborhood is already the most overcrowded one in Princeton, thanks to the AvalonBay housing. Now the planner wants to add, in addition to the affordable housing, in the same space, 80 luxury apartments, with the most expensive ones costing over $4,000 a month. There are enough high-priced apartments in the Avalon complex as it is! The argument is that the income from the luxury apartments will finance future affordable housing. Has anybody seen the calculations for the profits after deductions for building management, maintenance, and finance fees? I wonder how much will be really left to finance future affordable housing.  more

To the Editor:

Thanks to all who worked hard to settle the social and legal issues in affordable housing [“Council Approves Last of Affordable Housing Ordinances,” July 29, p. 1]. I write as a resident and a retired member of the Princeton Emergency Planning Committee.

Now that the affordable housing ordinances are largely in place, Princeton faces issues of scale, design, and public safety. It will be up to the Site Plan Review Board and, ultimately, the Planning Board to strive for the best site designs and safest construction materials rather than only formulas put forth by developers.

Many large fires have occurred in multi-unit housing in New Jersey (notably Edgewater, Maplewood, Lakewood) as well as in other states. In Edgewater, 500 people lost their homes in January 2015 in the large AvalonBay wooden housing development. This event was preceded in 2000 at the same site, when the same company’s development went up in flames destroying nine nearby, occupied homes and more than 12 cars. more

To the Editor:

I read Janet Heroux’s letter to the editor on July 22 regarding leaf blowers behind her house and could write the identical letter, unfortunately many of us could.

I live next door to a hair salon that was closed for over four months during this pandemic, and every other week a crew of landscapers would get out and blow the parking lot from front to back. An insane process which is so loud, burns gas, and results in sending a cloud of debris into my yard.

Recently I was on Palmer Square painting and I listened and watched a leaf blower that ran from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., just blowing dirt and dust into the street, which blows right back in and then the process is repeated the following week.

Like Janet, I wish we were not held hostage by the noise and stink of these ubiquitous machines, which regretfully have become part of our everyday lives. I do hope our town could make a change?

Maria Evans
Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

Does anyone really like, or want, the use of leaf blowers?

Think about how they’re used. It isn’t just dead leaves and grass clippings that get blown into the air. It’s fungi, bacteria, animal and bird droppings, pesticide-laden dust, and anything else that has fallen or been applied to the lawn.

But if you watch landscapers work, they don’t just blow the debris off the lawn, they blow it into the street, where it lofts into the air rubber tire bits, diesel exhaust soot, and brake-pad wearings. (And virus-laden dust? What’s the proper “social distancing” measure for someone using a leaf blower?)

And then, of course, there’s the noise. Are you working at home, or learning at home? Can you concentrate on anything when a leaf blower fires up? Certainly not. So why is your productivity worth less than that of a landscaper? more

To the Editor:

One of the primary charms that encouraged us to re-settle in Princeton over 20 years ago is the proximity of so many interesting people from different backgrounds that help support a diversity of culture and commerce. We congratulate the Princeton Council, and the leadership of Council members Cohen, Lambros, and Sacks for realizing this goal via ordinances to make it easier for new middle-income housing units to be realized.

We were lucky that 25 years ago, there were a variety of housing options for people who a) could not afford $400K+ for an up-to-date, free-standing home, but b) wouldn’t qualify for subsidized housing. Princeton shouldn’t just be just for those who were lucky enough to buy in, or get on the right list a long time ago. We are a more diverse community when a range of housing for newcomers of all wealth levels is available. more

July 29, 2020

OPEN AIR SETTING:“It is very important to me that my clients feel comfortable and safe, and I was trying to think of ways to offer other opportunities for them during this time of the virus. Creating an open air massage room seemed like a good idea. People are enjoying outdoor dining; I knew they would enjoy outdoor massages too, especially in a beautiful park-like setting.” Ellen Kogan, owner of Tranquility Den Massage in the Princeton Shopping Center, is shown outside the spa. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Jean Stratton

Ellen Kogan saw a need, and filled it with a creative solution. Owner of Tranquility Den Massage in the Princeton Shopping Center, she wanted to assure clients of a safe and sound environment, where they could relax and rejuvenate.

After being closed since March due to the state regulations surrounding COVID-19, Tranquility Den Massage re-opened the end of June.

“In difficult times like these, business owners need to pivot and adapt to the current conditions,” she explains. “When some clients indicated they might not be comfortable indoors, it gave me the idea of adding an outdoor setting.”

Massage therapy is now more important than ever, she believes. It can calm the mind and soothe the soul as well as alleviate troublesome physical conditions. more

To the Editor:

Reopening the schools is an experiment, so let’s consider how we can all — comfortably — participate. This is just too big an experiment for the schools to handle alone.

How can we ensure that the public school system is, and remains, the core, the go-to source for our children’s learning, no matter where it is provided?

School must be safe.

In the ShopRite parking lot I spoke to a woman who was trying to get her (hysterically resistant) 8-year-old to wear a mask. When I asked the woman how she thought the schools would do with reopening, she shook her head in frustration and doubt. My doctor tells me that when West Windsor schools surveyed parents as to whether their children would return to school, 50 percent said no.

What is the best way for all our children to learn remotely, whether full- or part-time? more

To the Editor:

Good morning to Janet Heroux [“Wondering Why Leaf Blowing is Allowed When There Are No Leaves on the Ground,” Mailbox, July 22]. I too would rather not hear, or breathe the dust from leaf blowers: commercial and residential. Often the debris is just blown into the street or “away” from the current property. Mulching bags and rakes are less polluting and energy wise options.

Princeton is unique with our regular municipal brush and leaf pick up. It would be helpful to bikers and walkers, especially as more of us are getting our exercise close to home, if people would observe the dates for collection and not fill the streets with items to be picked up days and weeks before scheduled pick up dates (princetonnj.gov/resources/yardwaste).

Recycling, too has ways to be better at removing the unwanted! Complete instructions are easy to find mcianj.org.

We are fortunate to live where our government and environmental organizations are trying to deal with waste of all sorts responsibly. It is more successful when we all pitch in and do our part.

Kathryn Weidener
Moore Street

To the Editor:

On Saturday, July 25 my tenant arrived home to find her house filled with thick smoke. She immediately ran into my house to tell me that “something has happened.” I asked her what, and she indicated that she had left a pot on the stove, gone out, and had not turned the flame out under the pot.

I called 911, which was answered promptly and extremely courteously. The operator was highly professional and calm. She asked all of the relevant questions. She connected me to the police and the fire department. The police were here before I even got off of the phone. The officers went through their normal procedures and were calm, courteous, and highly professional.

Less than four minutes later the fire department arrived, assessed the situation and went straight to work to remedy the problem. The interior of the  house was engulfed in thick smoke. I thank God that nobody was in the home. After questioning me and the tenant, the police officers stayed around until the firefighters got things under control. They and the firefighter worked together like a well-oiled machine. They were very comforting in their tones and instructions for me and the tenant, who was highly upset.  more

To the Editor:

I live in Princeton a few blocks from Nassau Street and walk or bike around town just about every day. While I am very happy that we have a lot of outdoor dining options which will hopefully help keep these restaurants afloat, I am frustrated by the frequent sight of people between the ages of 18 and 25 who appear not to distance themselves and do not wear masks.

I know that I am sounding very old when I say this, but that is what I encounter all too often, by people who should know better. People in that age group feel invincible, but we are now starting see a lot of infected people under the age of 40. They are not invincible. An even if they were, the people they pass in the street are not, their parents are not, and their grandparents are not.

People between 18-25 in this area are usually progressive and forward thinking, which makes this behavior even more difficult to understand. So my message to them is to please distance themselves and please wear masks.

Stuart Lieberman
Western Way

July 22, 2020

MEMORIALS AND MONUMENTS: Sutphen Memorials Inc. has been helping families design and create granite, marble, and bronze memorials for five generations. “We are here to help people through the difficult process of monument selection with our personal service and experience.” Douglas G. Sutphen Sr. (right) and Douglas G. Sutphen Jr., owners of Sutphen Memorials Inc., are dedicated to serving their customers with thoughtfulness and expertise.

By Jean Stratton

Memorializing one’s final resting place is a nearly universal — yet often postponed — practice. No one really wants to face this particular inevitability, so putting off the decision is not unusual.

On the other hand, says Douglas G. Sutphen Jr., co-owner with his father Douglas G. Sutphen Sr. of Sutphen Memorials Inc., many people with a more practical bent do plan ahead and select a monument or headstone before the need actually arises. Whether simple or elaborate, whimsical or poignant, it will reflect their final wishes and how they want to be remembered.

“Some people purchase the plot in the cemetery and the monument at the same time,” he points out. “Often, older people will decide on monuments ahead of time. It is really easier on the family if the decision has been made before.

“If it wasn’t selected before the death, however, I will often suggest that the family wait for a while before deciding, maybe a couple of months. This way they can make some notes, and think about how the person would want to be remembered, his or her interests, personality, etc.” more

To the Editor:

On Monday, July 13, the Princeton Council voted to adopt and introduce several ordinances that will enable the development of much needed affordable housing opportunities in Princeton. Princeton Community Housing applauds the Council’s actions and supports these ordinances, which have the potential to provide housing opportunities for the more than 1,700 very low-, low-, and moderate-income households on our own and other waiting lists in Princeton. 

As several residents and other attendees expressed in comments during the meeting, a stable home in a town like Princeton significantly improved the trajectory of their lives. Mayor Lempert acknowledged that where one lives profoundly impacts one’s future. 

One of the ordinances adopted will allow Princeton Community Housing to proceed with our plan to build 25 new affordable rental apartments at Princeton Community Village. We are excited to move forward with these new affordable family homes, and within the next few months will submit final plans developed in consultation with our residents and the municipality. more

To the Editor:

On July 13, the municipality of Princeton introduced draft Ordinance 2020-25. This proposed overlay ordinance, as written, allows for “up to” 160 apartments to be built on the Franklin/Maple site, which is between Witherspoon Street and Jefferson Road.

Pursuant to proposed Ordinance 2020-25, the municipality could add up to 80 market rate apartments to the 80 affordable apartments that are currently designated for the site. Therefore, proposed Ordinance 2020-25, if adopted, would allow for up to 160 apartments.

Though I am a supporter of more affordable housing being built in Princeton, I, as both a resident of Princeton and resident of an adjacent street, have concerns about the impact of the proposed change from 80 apartments on the Franklin/Maple site to “up to” 160 affordable and market-rate apartments. The site is only 3.2 acres and it was studied in 2018 and 2019 and it was determined that 80 units was the appropriate number of units for this site.  more

To the Editor:

I live on Terhune Road. There is a large and empty office park behind me. At 8 a.m. this morning, a lawn mowing crew began their mowing back there. Then the leaf blowing. Then more lawn mowing, then more leaf blowing. It is now 2 p.m. and they are still running their machines. We have been hearing the noise of those machines now for six hours on a beautiful Saturday morning. 

There is no one back there. Why do the lawns need mowing more than once per week, let alone leaf blowing when there are no leaves on the ground? more

To the Editor: 

We are Collin, Harper, and Ryan, fourth and fifth graders who live on John Street. As children, we definitely support the Slow Streets plan because cars come speeding down our street carelessly every single day and it is very dangerous. As we are writing this, we are witnessing many speeding cars come down the street. But, in addition to making our street a Slow Street, we would like the township to consider adding signs and speed bumps. 

We would like more visible signs on John Street that signify the current speed limit, which is 20 miles per hour, and that it is a one-way street. Currently, there are not many signs that indicate clearly the speed limit. The ones that are visible are very far down the street. Placing these signs on John Street will not take up a lot of space and will be cost efficient. Adding these signs would make the street safer for children and adults both in and out of Princeton.  more

To the Editor:

It is difficult to overstate the current affordable housing crisis within our nation, state, and local community. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates a supply of 36 affordable units for every 100 extremely low-income renting households in the country, an issue that disproportionately affects our non-white and particularly our Black neighbors. In New Jersey, that number falls to 29 out of 100. In Princeton alone, there is a waitlist of nearly 2,000 households in need of affordable housing as of November 2019. About one-third of all of our households are cost-burdened and nearly 17 percent of our renters are severely cost-burdened.

Research clearly shows that we face this massive shortage of affordable housing because of structural factors like stagnating wages and declining federal support for affordable housing, but also because of local decisions – namely, exclusionary zoning and needless foot-dragging with development. Some residents are frustrated with the settlement process, but it seems to be the only tool left to shake municipalities out of the complacency of decades of underdevelopment. Furthermore, it is meaningless to profess support for affordable housing, but then protest every detail of any feasible affordable housing plan. Whatever the intent, the result is more delay and less housing. Ultimately, concerns about obstructed views and neighborhood character pale in comparison to the fact that nearly 2,000 households in our community are in need of affordable housing and cannot currently secure it.  more

July 15, 2020

ELECTRICAL EXPERTISE: “The needs of every customer are important to us at Cifelli Electrical Inc. We do every kind of job, including residential and commercial, and customers know they can rely on our knowledge and service.”Co-owners Mike Twarkusky and Anthony Tallone and office manager Carole Twarkusky look forward to continuing to serve clients throughout the Princeton area. (Photo courtesy of Cifelli Electrical Inc.)

By Jean Stratton

Always important, peace of mind in one’s home is especially crucial today as so many of us are spending many more hours home-bound during the coronavirus pandemic.

Making sure that the electrical system, including the home wiring, plugs and switches, fuse panel, circuit breaker, etc. are all in good repair is essential to home safety.

Cifelli Electrical Inc. has been providing reliable service to Princeton area customers since 2004, when Mike Twarkusky and Anthony Tallone established the company. Even before, dating back 50 years, it was a Princeton mainstay under the auspices of owner and founder John Cifelli.

“Both my co-owner Mike Twarkusky and I started at Cifelli in 1986,” says Tallone. “We were still in high school when we began working for John as apprentices. Then we both went on to further our education and become electricians.” more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Festival has just wrapped up Virtually Yours, one month of performing arts events presented entirely online. On behalf of the Festival’s Board of Trustees, I would like to thank the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk, his hard-working staff, and our dedicated volunteers for creating a spectacularly successful replacement for our regular June season of live performances. Thanks to them, and to the creativity of our passionate artists, we were able to fulfill our mission of bringing world-class performing arts to our community in spite of the challenges and limitations of a global pandemic.

Creating Virtually Yours threw us into the deep end of a pool of new technologies. But these tools enabled us to enlist artists, musicians, and poets in countries from around the world, including Japan, Hong Kong, the U.K., Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago in addition to the U.S. They also allowed our programming to reach far beyond our traditional audiences.

All told, Virtually Yours made nearly 50 events available online, free of charge, ranging from live events streamed out of artists’ homes to opera performances from our archives, plus recordings of past concerts broadcast by our partner WWFM, The Classical Network. There were also online lectures by distinguished local scholars, podcast interviews with esteemed artists, and a live panel discussion on the future of Princeton’s performing arts community with representatives of Princeton Pro Musica, Trenton Children’s Chorus, Westrick Music Academy, the Princeton Singers, Bohème Opera NJ, and WWFM.  more

To the Editor:

For over a decade, Princeton’s Human Services Department has sponsored an annual drive to ensure that all children start school each year equipped with a backpack and essential school supplies. Last year, the drive helped 200 children from low-income Princeton families get ready for school. We expect that the need will be even greater this year, given the challenges faced by many families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Year after year, about 1 in 8 Princeton public school children qualify for free or reduced cost meals, an indication of the financial insecurity that some families experience in our town. In the past several months, due to COVID, many families have experienced a further drop in income, because they have lost a job or had a reduction in work hours. Economic uncertainty has increased in our community during the past several months, frequently among essential workers, with a discernable impact on their children. We know this because the Human Services Department, along with community partners, has been involved in providing relief to community members suddenly unable to pay rent or utilities, or facing other financial emergencies. We know this because local meal programs and the grass roots organizations that have recently sprung up are working hard and successfully to ensure that children and families in our community have adequate nutrition.  more

To the Editor:

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project (MRNKP) free store at 190 Witherspoon St. – an ongoing project that has been caring for the Princeton community during COVID-19, particularly those in need.

During Monday, Wednesday, and Friday volunteer shifts I set up goods and distributed meals and daily necessities to our neighbors. These distributions have been made possible through donations from local businesses and community members. Clients, face-masked and physically distanced, wait patiently in the queue, and then express sincere thanks for these acts of kindness. more

To the Editor:

This week the board of the Bryn Mawr–Wellesley Book Sale made the difficult decision to suspend operations and will not accept book donations until further notice. 

The Sale was started 89 years ago to raise local college scholarships and has evolved into the oldest and largest sale on the East Coast, annually attracting hundreds of book dealers from as far away as Maine, Illinois, and Florida.

It operated through a World War, a Depression, and other major challenges, but met its match in COVID-19. If readers have books to donate and can keep them in a dry place until we are open again, we would cherish their contributions at a future date. 

Elizabeth Romanaux
Board Member, Sycamore Place