September 15, 2021

ART PLUS HISTORY:  The Phillips’ Mill, shown here, is many things to many people. An important cornerstone in New Hope, it was once a grist mill, dating to the 18th century. It is now a unique visual and performing arts center, welcoming artists, photographers, playwrights, actors, and art lovers from around the region. Its long history, showcasing important talent, brings countless visitors to its annual exhibitions and performances. It will hold its “92nd Juried Art Show,” opening on September 25, featuring the work of important area artists.

By Jean Stratton

History and art come together at the Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa. Located at 2619 River Road, it was originally a grist mill in the 18th century, when farmers brought their grain to be ground into flour.

Today, it is known for presenting one of the most prestigious art shows in the region, attracting top talent and serious art collectors.

Considered to be the birthplace of Pennsylvania Impressionism, the Mill is home to its acclaimed “Juried Art Show,” first held in 1929, explains Laura Womack, vice president of the Phillips’ Mill Community Association board and chair of the art committee.

As reported in the Phillips’ Mill Association’s special book, Celebrating 75 Years of Art, “Among the founders were the now legendary leaders of the Pennsylvania art colony, centered in New Hope at the beginning of the 20th century. Initially, they included Edward Redfield, William Langston Lathrop, and David Garber.” more

To the Editor,

The Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale, a volunteer group founded 90 years ago to raise college scholarships for local students, is grateful to the Merck Foundation for its recent $500 donation made through the Dollars for Doers program. The gift was arranged by a Merck employee who volunteers for the Book Sale, sorting donated books and helping at the annual sale each March.

Scores of talented young women from our community have been able to afford an outstanding education thanks to our volunteers and support from area corporations. We are deeply grateful.

Kathryn Morris
President, Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale

Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

Your reader Dr. Callan (“Dangerous Stretch of Road and Sidewalk on Rosedale Road Needs to Be Repaired,” Mailbox, September 8) is correct about the damage following the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

I contacted Princeton Municipality to highlight the issue ahead of the school term starting and asked whether a stretch of barriers could be placed in the road to allow safe passage for foot traffic, especially families walking and cycling to nearby Johnson Park school. Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton facilitated a fix within 24 hours — an excellent response given the number of post-storm issues the department is currently tackling.

Longer-term repairs will doubtless be addressed in due course and require a greater degree of planning and disruption, but I applaud the response of the Engineering Department and thank them and other municipal workers for their dedication in restoring our damaged infrastructure and keeping all road users safe.

Rob Sloan
Fairway Drive

To the Editor:

The Princetonian Diner went above and beyond kindness when they found out my granddaughter and family lost their home to the storm. They graciously picked up the check for all four adults and two children!

Whoever said that there not wonderful people left on our planet was wrong. Thanks Princetonian!

Lisa Watson
Wood Village Drive, Henderson, Nev.
Formerly of Princeton

To the Editor:

The impact of some types of commercial development in a single New Jersey town can have enormous consequences for neighboring towns. That’s why the New Jersey Legislature is considering a bill (S3688) that would require a town that wants to build a large warehouse to provide timely notice to all adjoining towns, allow those towns to adopt a resolution of concern about the proposed warehouse, and mandate submission of a “regional economic and land use impact report” to the State Planning Commission.

Because new warehouses have regional repercussions, it’s important for residents of Princeton to know that the West Windsor Planning Board and Township Council have approved an ordinance that rezones approximately 650 acres of undeveloped land across from the Quaker Bridge Mall to allow for the construction of multiple large warehouses. West Windsor Township also entered into a litigation settlement agreement with the owner of that land, which anticipates the development of 5.5 million square feet of the property for warehouse use. This project could have undesirable consequences on the environment and quality of life in Mercer County. more

To the Editor:

Candidates for Legislative District 16 will meet in a forum on Wednesday, September 22 — Assembly candidates at 7 p.m. and Senate candidates at 8:30 p.m. The event takes place at Raritan Valley Community College, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg. Due to limited seating, it will also be livestreamed at Facebook.com/PrincetonTelevision and rebroadcast. A recording will be posted at VOTE11.org and at lwvprinceton.org.

A virtual forum among candidates for Princeton Board of Education will be livestreamed at Facebook.com/PrincetonTelevision on Wednesday, October 6 at 7 p.m.  It will be rebroadcast, and a recording will be posted at VOTE11.org and lwvprinceton.org.

Voters may send questions for candidates in both forums to lwvprinceton@gmail.com.

Please note that this November election will differ somewhat from last year’s. You will not receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot unless you have requested one, and you may not deliver a completed Vote-by-Mail ballot to a polling place. Instead, mail it or use a drop box (locations listed on county websites). more

September 8, 2021

EXPERTISE AND EXPERIENCE: “In addition to instructing students and introducing them to all aspects of dance, a huge part of our program is building relationships. We’ve had some students since they were 3 years old, and who have continued to come over the years. We offer a wonderful program for students of all ages and levels of ability.” Elise Knecht, left, and her daughter Ashlee, co-owners of Knecht’s Danceworks, are enthusiastic about their current program, which is on site and in person.

By Jean Stratton

For more than 60 years, the Knecht family has been sharing its dance expertise with students, audiences, and all those who love the dance in all its forms.

Established in 1959 by Fred and Joanne Knecht, Danceworks (then known as Knecht Dance Academy) has been a dynamic force in dance instruction, and it is a true family operation.

Their daughter Elise is now co-owner of the studio with her daughter Ashlee, who is the third generation to be actively involved. Both women also serve as instructors.

After many years in Bucks County, Knecht’s Danceworks moved to the Pennington Square Shopping Center on Route 31 in Pennington last year. Formerly the location of Karen Martin’s Dance Works of Mercer County, the spacious setting offers two state-of-the-art dance studios, featuring sprung and Marley floors, which are easier on the legs and feet and overall body health, points out Elise Knecht. more

To the Editor:

This past April, Princeton University’s Environmental Studies Department hosted a thoughtful seminar, entitled “Environmental Justice Symposium: Meaningful Engagement between Communities and Institutions of Higher Education.” Anyone committed to sustainability knows that community engagement and support are essential to create positive environmental change. But meaningful engagement with the community is not a model that Princeton University seems interested in following in Princeton, as they seek to destroy three historic homes and impose their 666,000-square-foot engineering and environmental studies complex on the neighbors of Fitzrandolph, Murray, and Prospect. They have not heard the community’s pleas to save the homes by modifying a tiny fraction (2 percent) of a proposed complex that dwarfs most projects on Route 1.

At the June meeting of the Princeton Planning Board, the University’s representatives alleged they had done everything right, and that, at the last hour, the rules were being changed on them. This is false and disingenuous. From the outset, the University chose to design without regard for national historic district guidelines or for the town’s zoning and master plan. That is why the University needs a variance from the town. Rather than follow the zoning, or engaging the community, the University has preferred to lawyer up and force their will on their neighbors. They are only shocked that someone dares to say “no.” more

To the Editor:

Until recently, instead of referring to benign sounding “climate change,” I had been using “climate crisis.” However, the two hurricanes that battered our region with severe flash flooding, tornados, and high winds just in the past month, have opened my eyes to how drastically the situation has worsened. So now I call it the “climate catastrophe.”

We see this catastrophe unfolding here, nationwide, and globally, and worsening far faster and more severely than almost anyone expected. Massive fires, extreme heat, flash floods, and droughts are all afflicting the world in unprecedented ways.

The organization that I lead, the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), began a campaign called No Wars, No Warming in conjunction with the People’s Climate March attended by over 400,000 in September 2015. This campaign seeks to educate the public on the connections between militarism and the climate catastrophe.

The climate catastrophe is an existential threat in the same category as global nuclear holocaust. If anybody doubts that, just look around at events like those above. We must rapidly intensify efforts to prevent further global warming, or we face the danger of planetary extinction.

Readers wanting to join CFPA in this effort are encouraged to visit peacecoalition.org.

The Rev. Robert Moore
Witherspoon Street

The writer is executive director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action.

To the Editor:

Rosedale Road was considerably damaged during the floods following Hurricane Ida. The sidewalk near Johnson Park school has bucked and stretches have been washed out. The road and bridge are potholed.

In addition, two weeks ago a man was tragically killed by a car near the school intersection. This is a dangerous stretch of road and sidewalk that has fallen into disrepair. Johnson Park and Greenway Meadows get a lot of use by children, sports teams, and walkers. They need to be able to safely navigate the sidewalks and cross the street. A pedestrian activated crosswalk with a light that signals to cars that to stop is urgently needed, and the sidewalks need to be repaired.

Benedicte Callan, Ph.D.
Brookstone Drive

September 1, 2021

ELECTRIC FOOTPRINT: “I believe electric cars will be competitive with gasoline-fueled cars in two to three years,” says Nicholas Long of Polestar Princeton, Long Motor Company. “We look forward to seeing more electric cars on the road, and having our footprint there.” He is shown next to one of Polestar’s new electric models, the Polestar 2.

By Jean Stratton

It is actually not a new idea, but one that has lingered on the fringes of the automotive world for more than a century.

Developed in the mid-1800s, the electric car was a definite factor in the initial development of the automobile. It was an important focus in the early 20th century, only falling out of favor in the 1920s, when the internal combustion engine (ICE) took over.

Now, however, it is surely an idea whose time has come. The electric vehicle (EV) is moving to the forefront on the highways — and quickly.

With the promise of less pollution and price savings, sales are up all over the country, and charging stations are appearing at numerous locations. more

August 25, 2021

CHEF JASON’S TEAM: “We offer fresh, high quality food,” says Chef Jason Dilts, co-owner of Chef Jason at 1275 restaurant in Cranbury. “We want people to come and enjoy a delicious and relaxed dining experience.” He is shown with his staff, from left: Anthony Olvera, Sam Keating, Jason Dilts, “Broccoli” Rob Reddington, and George Gochuico.

By Jean Stratton

Chef Jason Dilts may only be 28 years old, but his knowledge of the restaurant business and his ability in the kitchen belie his years.

Co-owner and chef of Chef Jason at 1275 restaurant, located at 1275 South River Road in Cranbury, he is excited to take on the challenge of this new opportunity. It is the culmination of his years of restaurant experience, and he is optimistic, even while COVID-19 uncertainties linger.

“I started working in DiMattia’s restaurant in Allentown when I was 14,” he recalls. “First, I bussed tables and then the chef let me help him. I knew right away that this was what I wanted to do.”

He loved the creativity of creating dishes and the chance to use the freshest, high quality local and seasonal ingredients. more

To the Editor:

Let’s roll out the Princeton welcome mat on Saturday, August 28 for about 400 bicyclists who are participating in a ride from New York to Philadelphia. The riders will arrive in Princeton around 2 p.m. and will spend the night enjoying all that Princeton and the surrounding area has to offer, including its many fine restaurants.

Come meet the riders at their base camp at the Princeton YMCA at 59 Paul Robeson Place during their visit and cheer them as they push off at 9 a.m. to complete their ride to Philadelphia on Sunday morning. It is also not too late to sign up to volunteer to provide logistical support for the riders. Please visit Princeton’s municipal website at princetonnj.gov and follow the link under “News and Announcements” to learn more. We need your help to make this event a resounding success! more

August 18, 2021

To the Editor:

Everyone loves to talk about the weather, and now we have not just weather but extreme weather to discuss. The cause of this is clear: changes in the planetary weather system caused by human carbon dioxide emissions primarily from burning fossil fuels. If there was any doubt about this, the latest IPCC Climate report makes the point emphatically: we must reduce our carbon emissions immediately of face even more frequent extreme (and dangerous) weather patterns.

Keeping in mind that the average New Jersey household burns about 30 barrels (1,260 gallons) per year of gasoline, one straightforward way to reduce emissions is to lease an electric vehicle (EV). Leasing has many advantages: it allows one to immediately use the federal tax rebate of $7,500, even if you do not pay any federal taxes. The rebate is deducted from the residual value of the car which reduces the monthly payment. In addition to the federal rebate there is also a $5,000 New Jersey rebate as well as no sales tax either on the lease or purchase of an EV. Thus, the price differential between a $40,000 gasoline car versus an EV is an astonishing $15,150. There are also savings on fuel expenses (up to $1,000/year) as well as reduced maintenance costs.  more

To the Editor:

On July 2 I mailed six checks at the Palmer Square USPS Post Box. On July 8, I noted that two of my checks had been forged and cashed. I closed the account but did not realize that my new account was still linked to the old account, so the forgers were able to pay off two additional bogus charge card bills. In total they made five assaults on my accounts.    

When I spoke with the Princeton Police detective, he stated that all the USPS Post Boxes in Princeton have been compromised. When I went to my bank on Nassau Street, staff advised me that several customers had come in that week with the same issue, and that all the banks in Princeton had customers that had been affected.

I had read about this issue last year in the Town Topics Police Blotter and had been taking most of my mail physically into a Post Office, but on July 2 I was rushed and did not have the time. 

I called the detective again, advised him of the additional assaults. I also asked if there was a way to notify all Princeton residents of this issue, but he was non-committal.  more

August 11, 2021

“Bark in the Park” returns to Washington Crossing Historic Park on Saturday, August 28 at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Human and canine participants can take a mile-long group walk through the park grounds. All dogs will receive a complimentary tricorn hat. The event is free. To register visit WashingtonCrossingPark.org/events.

UNDER THE PERGOLA: HomeFront staff and community members who made the Healing and Memorial Garden possible include, from left, Dana Irlbacher, Bay Weber, Liz Wasch, Marc Allen, Frederick Wasch, and the Rev. Dr. Hugh Brown. 

By Wendy Greenberg

Families at HomeFront have been able to reflect and enjoy the natural beauty of a new Healing and Memorial Garden at the Family Campus of the organization’s Family Preservation Center in Ewing.

HomeFront and community members formally dedicated the garden on July 30, with representatives of the All Saints’ Parish family and clergy, Mercer County nonprofit leaders, HomeFront staff, and HomeFront clients and guests all on hand. The garden’s centerpiece is a pergola constructed by volunteer members of All Saints’ Church in Princeton, which has had a long-term partnership with HomeFront, a Mercer County agency that helps homeless and at-risk families break the cycle of poverty.

“The garden is a natural extension of our Family Campus,” said Sheila Addison, director of the Family Campus. “Both are places to help families rebuild their spirits after dealing with the pain and trauma of homelessness.”
 more

By Anne Levin

At a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, action was taken on ordinances and resolutions related to cannabis businesses, the 2021 Community Development Block Grant, and a study in connection with the town’s leaf and brush program.

The governing body heard a report from Planning Director Michael LaPlace on a zoning request from the Hun School, and an update on COVID-19 from Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser.

Mayor Mark Freda opened the virtual meeting by saying Council is hoping to resume in-person meetings on September 13.

Council member Mia Sacks reported that the town’s new transit partner, WeDriveU, will include extra hours of free bus service on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m., in addition to morning and evening hours.

“The town is finished with our side of this,” Sacks said. “We’re waiting for the state to sign off on a form certifying that WeDriveU complies with affirmative action and employee regulations.”

 more

STRONG SAPLING: This American chestnut tree planted in April 2020 at Mapleton Preserve in Kingston has taken well and is showing new growth. (Photo courtesy of Karen Linder)

By Wendy Greenberg

The now-scarce American chestnut tree could be making a comeback in New Jersey.

When a sapling was planted in April 2020 at Mapleton Preserve in Kingston, in lieu of a planned Arbor Day public planting that was canceled due to the pandemic, it was a step toward re-establishing the majestic American chestnut tree with hybrid saplings that may resist a devastating blight.

“We wanted to plant the little chestnut tree at Mapleton before it started coming out of dormancy in mid-April or so,” explained the planter, Michael Aucott of Hopewell, the site of similar plantings. “The best time to transplant a tree is when it is dormant, especially when transplanted as a bare-root tree, as the Mapleton tree was.”
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EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE: “We are professional Plant Health Care specialists. This is our focus,” says Pepper deTuro, president of Woodwinds Associates, Inc. Shown with his father, Sam deTuro, who founded Woodwinds, he is proud of the family business’s longstanding reputation for excellent tree and shrub care.

By Jean Stratton

The cicadas have come and gone, but recurrent reminders remain. Clumps of brown leaves continue to fall from tree branches in which female cicadas laid their eggs.

This is not usually cause for concern, says Pepper deTuro, president and owner of Woodwinds Associates, Inc., the longtime tree and shrub specialists.

“The cicadas don’t harm a large, mature healthy tree. But a tree in decline or a very young tree might be at risk.”

Woodwinds has been providing helpful advice and expert service since its founding in 1967 by Sam deTuro, Pepper’s father. Located at 4492 Route 27 in Kingston, the company has been a mainstay in Plant Health Care, a special program, which is a form of integrated pest management.

 more

August 4, 2021

CHICKEN DELIGHT: “We cook to order, and everything is fresh. Nothing is frozen. Everything is prepared daily on-site.” Benny Umbra (left) and Chef Lazzaro Merone, owners of La Rosa Chicken & Grill in the Princeton Shopping Center, are about to enjoy a sampling of the eatery’s specialties: (top left) crispy chicken sandwich, with macaroni and cheese, and French fries; roasted chicken meal featuring garlic broccoli, string beans, and corn muffin; chicken sandwich with creamed spinach and fries; and chicken gorgonzola salad. All are customer favorites.

By Jean Stratton

No doubt about it! Chicken is an all-time favorite. Chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, chicken tenders, fried chicken, roast chicken — there is something for everyone!

And with some people cutting back on red meat, and others who don’t love fish, chicken is a favorite choice of those looking for healthy eating.

Enter La Rosa Chicken & Grill, just opened last May in the Princeton Shopping Center.

“Chicken is our specialty,” says Benny Umbra, partner and co-owner, with Chef Lazzaro Merone, of the new eatery

One of 15 franchises in New Jersey and New York, La Rosa Chicken & Grill has quickly become a favorite at its new Shopping Center location. more

To the Editor:

The following issue is something important that I have been working on for several years with others, including nationally known fire and code professionals in and out of government, including our state government, to address degraded state fire codes for large, multi-unit light weight wood housing which have seen dramatic fires, including several at four Avalon Bay sites in N.J., most recently this spring at their Princeton Junction facility.

This is something that increasingly needs attention at the municipal level. While the state code rules at the moment, we will be living at the municipal level with this housing, both market rate and affordable, for many decades, long after the developers are gone.

What I, and others, have urged is that to the greatest extent possible, until an upgraded state code is adopted, our municipal officials, both elected and staff, “bargain” creatively with developers/property owners on strengthening their large, light weight wood construction, multi-unit housing standards. This includes upgrading our less than best current fire walls. Masonry and concrete construction is more fire safe and are materials that are sourced in New Jersey, creating jobs here, rather than the scarcer wood supplies coming from the U.S. northwest and elsewhere.  more

To the Editor:

As Dr. Lieberman noted in his letter (Mailbox, July 21), Princeton remains a community without a dog park. It is truly surprising that our typically generous and inclusive community, blessed with acres of parkland, has, to date, chosen to neglect the needs of Princeton’s many residents with dogs. Our dogs need fresh air and exercise, and many of us benefit from the exercise and social interactions that result from time spent outside with our dogs. However, as Dr. Lieberman pointed out, there are definite advantages of dog parks, especially when walking the sidewalks and trails is difficult or impossible due to health or weather issues.

Princeton offers many recreational options for its residents. We have tennis, swimming, skateboarding, hiking, playgrounds, baseball, and soccer. Often, many acres of Princeton parkland are empty, unused except for people walking their dogs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of those people had a fenced dog park where they could gather and share information while also exercising their dogs and providing needed canine socialization experiences.

It’s time for Princeton to “get off the fence” and take action to establish a dog park. It would be a valuable addition to our recreational facilities, at minimal cost (using existing parkland, all that is needed is fencing and gates). The several thousand Princeton families who share their lives with dogs would quickly make this one of the most popular recreational facilities in the community.

Patricia Mahar
Snowden Farms Lane

July 28, 2021

To the Editor:

History and literature in our schools are meant to be open conversations where we challenge ideas, question things, and ultimately broaden our perspectives. This is how we learn. In all districts, but especially in diverse districts such as the West Windsor-Plainsboro and Princeton districts, it is important that these critical parts of the learning infrastructure be upheld by ensuring that culturally responsible education is maintained and furthered. This means that the inclusion of diverse voices in our history and literature is a constant process and our teachers are constantly encouraged to seek out perspectives that are different but that are representative of the students.

For instance, in my Language Arts Honors class we were able to read books and short pieces by a  variety of authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Bharati Mukherjee, Sherman Alexei, Anna Quindlen, and Eric Liu. These pieces of literature diverge from the classic literature, and they give us a whole new perspective. I was able to see how the American experience is a complex, multi-layered experience, where people struggle to be accepted, to make a life, to experience romance, to feel free, or who embrace opportunities, who work to be socially mobile. I got to feel seen in this kind of literature. I was represented, and so were others.  more

To the Editor:

Prospect Avenue’s Eating Club Row, a contiguous collection of 16 majestic turn-of-the-century clubhouses, is a Princeton icon and unique in the world. The architectural grandeur of these exquisite manors rivals that of Newport’s magnificent mansions.

Across the street are the three sisters of Faculty Row, the Avenue’s oldest buildings. These Queen Annes tell a different story, a story rich in the humanities and the lives of the brilliant thinkers and refugees who lived and worked in them over the past century. Their graceful presence completes Prospect’s history, one not entirely about eating clubs.

W. Barksdale Maynard called Prospect, “the most beautiful suburban street in America.”

The University seeks a variance to move the Court Clubhouse out of the National Register Historic District and into a residential buffer zone, razing the three Victorians. Why would they denigrate a Historic District, when changing just 3 percent of their vast 15-acre proposal would avoid the sprawl and protect the legacy of our grandest public avenue? more