August 24, 2016

To the Editor:

Evergreen Forum (EF), a program of the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC), is thriving. Course offerings just get more interesting (and numerous), and participant numbers keep rising. Well into its second decade, the Forum provides stimulating daytime study and discussion programs for adults living in the greater Princeton area. It encourages active participation for those who enjoy learning for its own sake. Course leaders are drawn from teachers and other professionals devoted to their subject and wishing to share their enthusiasm.

“Some of the ideas in this class may boggle the mind,” warns Evergreen Forum instructor Stuart Kurtz as he describes his upcoming course, What is Time? An Overview. “Time” is among the 24 courses being offered this fall by EF. Most courses, which begin at the end of September, meet once a week for two hours for six to eight weeks. Many classes are held at EF’s home base, the Princeton Senior Resource Center at the Suzanne Patterson Building, 45 Stockton Street, Princeton; others will take place at convenient nearby locations.

Course descriptions and registration details may be found online at www.theevergreenforum.org, as well as in print brochures available at PSRC and area libraries and churches.

Ellen Gilbert

Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

I’d like to offer some corrections to an August 10 front page article about proposed revisions to Princeton’s tree ordinance [“More Discussion Due On Tree Ordinance at Next Council Meeting”]. I write as a botanist and former member of the Shade Tree Commission (STC) that generated the proposal. At the council meeting, ash trees were not characterized as invasive, and the arborist referred to one that might be attacked by the notorious Emerald Ash Borer in 10 years, not 30.

The proposed changes would make it much more expensive for homeowners to remove healthy, mature trees. The primary aim is to discourage, or at least compensate for, the clearcutting associated with Princeton’s epidemic of teardowns. Replacing a house on a small lot typically means removing all trees, since even trees beyond the new building’s (larger) footprint will be damaged by construction activity. The increased fees — $400 for roughly every 9” of girth, up to $1600 per tree — would provide funds for new plantings to compensate for the lost trees.

There’s clear public benefit here, but the new fees or replacement obligations will also fall on homeowners who may have valid reasons to remove a tree. The proposed changes penalize removal of our two most common invasive trees: Norway Maples, which compete with native species, and the Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven) whose allelopathic root exudates interfere with gardening. The ordinance also penalizes homeowners who wish to install solar panels, grow a vegetable garden or plant wildflowers to feed pollinators. Shade is a wonderful thing, but creating an opening for beneficial plants not blessed with xylem should not be penalized.

Inflexibility is further evident in the decision to levy the fees on homeowners wishing to proactively remove ash trees. Trying to defend the STC’s proposal, the arborist claimed that a healthy ash tree “might” succumb to Emerald Ash Borer in 10 years. There’s no “might” about it. Barring a miracle, every untreated mature ash will succumb. In fact, penalizing proactive removal ignores the warnings of STC’s own Community Forestry Management Plan, which states: “An underlying concern is that municipal employees and private contractors may not be able to keep up with the demand for removal of dead and dying hazardous ash trees.”

Council was scared away from suggested improvements to the proposal by imaginary worst-case scenarios, misleading “slippery slope” arguments, and unnecessary appeals to emotion, as when native plant advocates were characterized as fanatics ready to “wipe out” people’s perennial beds.

The rigidity of the proposed changes, their focus on penalties rather than incentives, and their dependence on expensive nursery trees rather than selectively nurturing the “free forest” of volunteer trees that sprout in people’s yards, deprives the arborist of adequate enforcement flexibility. Large trees provide shade, cooling, habitat, but they also interfere with other social and ecological goods: solar panels, orchards, gardens. Surprisingly, Princeton’s Historic Preservation and Environmental commissions were not asked to comment on the proposed changes. The STC’s important defense of trees needs to be tempered by awareness of other sustainability goals.

(Public comment continues at council’s September 12 meeting.)

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

As parents, few things are scarier than finding out something is wrong with your baby, but that’s the news we received six years ago before our daughter, Evalyn, was born. It was then that we found out Evalyn had a congenital heart defect.

Many people believe heart disease only affects the elderly. Yet by age two, Evalyn had undergone two open heart surgeries, three cardiac catheterizations, a stent placement and countless other tests and procedures. While the journey is sometimes difficult, Evalyn is doing well thanks to breakthrough research funded by organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

But the need for more research is unquestionable. In the U.S., nearly 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year. Many congenital heart defects are diagnosed in infancy and some, like Evalyn’s, can be detected prenatally. After diagnosis, there are medical treatments available to help the heart perform its best.

This year, Evalyn and our family will share our journey at the Central New Jersey Heart Walk. For the past four years, we have walked with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to raise funds and awareness for the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke. It is our hope that one day no family will need to learn their child has a heart condition.

Join us on Friday, September 30 at the 2016 Central New Jersey Heart Walk at Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder. For more information, visit www.CentralNJHeartWalk.org.

Fred and Mia Carella

Volunteers, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, Yardley, Pa.

To the Editor:

Today someone removed the “Bernie for President” sign from my lawn. I would like to think it was an impoverished Bernie supporter who couldn’t resist a souvenir. I prefer that to the idea that it was a supporter of one of the other candidates. I believe in tolerance of others’ political choices, although I enjoy discussions of why those choices were made.

Let’s have some respect for differing opinions.

Eileen Bird

Moran Avenue

August 17, 2016

To the Editor:

The fast response from observant neighbors, Princeton’s Police and Fire Departments, truly demonstrate that it takes a town to preserve a house.

Last week during the July 30 rain storm, the Barracks, thought to be Princeton’s oldest home, was inundated with water that (most probably) sparked the electrical system and caused a fire. The town’s swift response was able to contain the fire to the garage. The cottage is badly damaged but it will be restored and remediated to ensure its continued preservation.

Mayor Liz Lempert has made a commitment to look at the on-going storm water issues in the town. While I am fortunate to be the custodian of this wonderful and historical house, I am truly blessed to be living in an extraordinary neighborhood, in a great town with committed leadership. My deep appreciation to everyone who helped and opened their doors, sofas, and hearts.

Laura R. Jacobus

Edgehill Street

To the Editor:

I thought your readers would like to know a bit about the financial losses caused by the Carter Road Bridge Construction Project and the additional losses coming this fall because of Governor Christie’s work stoppage order of several weeks ago that has delayed the completion of the bridge for months.

I can tell you that all the farming/nursery endeavors that make our community here in Lawrenceville so special have been negatively impacted this summer. Cherry Grove Farm has lost thousands in revenue so far this year because of the bridge that cuts our farm in half severing our lifeline between the fields along Carter and Carson Roads and our main farmstead on Route 206. Our store revenue is down and by the looks of it the fall season will only be worse. Shoppers just cannot get there due to our bridge closing and other stoppages in the Princeton area. My neighbors running small vital businesses producing locally grown foods so important to our shoppers have told me that sales are way off compared to 2015.

Also as troubling are the potential health hazards resulting from the stagnant water pooling up at the bridge construction project. I do know that West Nile Virus mosquitoes incubate in standing water like the festering pool below the bridge. Mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus also breed in similar environments.

These hazards are in addition to all the accidents I have witnessed this summer along the narrow back roads caused by cars driving too fast on roads that do not have shoulders and should not be used as detours.

Maybe, Brian Hughes, our county executive, can save the day and get the job done. I’m not holding my breath.

Oliver Hamill

Cherry Grove Farm, General Manager/owner

To the Editor:

Here’s my story.

For those of us who love fresh fruit and vegetables, summer is Nirvana: peaches, melons, tomatoes, corn, eggplants, and more, all sold at area supermarkets. But if you want food delivered directly from the farm to you, then visit the West Windsor Farmers’ Market, where 16 local farmers bring their produce every Saturday as it ripens throughout the growing season.

Thanks to Chris Cirkus and her volunteers, market day has become a family and community event. Tents are erected for the farmers and vendors, while shoppers mix and mingle as music and entertainment play in the background.

But, this isn’t the end of the story.

Not everyone can afford the price of fresh produce. Thanks to the generous donations from shoppers at the West Windsor market, Yes We CAN! Food Drives is able to purchase large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers and turn it over for FREE distribution at the food pantries of The Crisis Ministry in Princeton and Trenton. Over one thousand children and families each month know they can depend on the pantries for their spring, summer, and fall supply of fresh produce, and not just the soggy beans in a can of preservatives.

This generosity, however, doesn’t stop with the shoppers. The farmers themselves not only give Yes We CAN! a discount, but at the end of the market day, they often donate to us unsold cartons of their bounty. What a wonderful system — a win/win situation! Last year, our volunteers collected 13,500 pounds of fresh produce for the clients of The Crisis Ministry. This year alone, in five market days, we have collected enough donations to give the Ministry 4,200 pounds of fruits and vegetables, some of that from home and church gardeners. Thank you all, farmers, shoppers, gardeners, and volunteers.

With more and more families facing daily food challenges, we urge you to visit the West Windsor Farmers’ Market, located at Vaughn Drive, off Alexander Road near the train station. The market is open every Saturday from 9 to 1, with free parking. Yes We CAN! Food Drives collects produce every other Saturday. Our next drive is scheduled for August 27.

Come, enjoy, and donate. Your neighbors need your help.

Fran Engler

West Windsor Yes We CAN! Food Drives, 

Publicity Chair, yeswecanfooddrives.org

To the Editor:

At last week’s Council meeting the revised ordinance came up for review and public comment. At that meeting I thanked Council and Shade Tree Commission (STC) members for all the volunteer hours they had spent on this new comprehensive ordinance. I had suggestions to make:

Replacement Plan for trees sect .22-13d

Cost of the permit sect 22-13g

Cost of contractors registration fee sect 22-19

Dead trees (or dying ones), large ones or small, do not seem to be addressed. I felt that they should not be treated in the same way as live trees to be felled. A homeowner should not have to pay for a permit when a tree is dead or dying and in dangerous condition. The town arborist might even encourage a home owner to take the tree down and make the permit free; she should also ask them to consider replanting where possible.

As an incentive to re-plant, STC could offer a free tree or $25. At the moment, given the presentation in the ordinance, it reads as rather dictatorial. STC needs to communicate firmly but not aggressively with homeowners. Huge trees cost thousands of dollars to remove; this could soften the blow.

Live trees: the permit should be $25 (cost need not keep pace with our taxes.)

Contractors need to read the ordinance. They will receive a copy when they register to work in our town. A large fine should be levied when they work unregistered.

To sum up, most of our citizens love trees, love this town and community. We are responsible. We do not all own a pot of gold to give lots of trees to others to compensate for tree removal. Just because we have had to lose a tree maybe due to leaf scorch or emerald ash borer, should we be given another burden to contend with?

Our taxes pay for our staff, so let’s not put residents’ backs up and fuel law suits by charging them for staff services that could be levied by STC if this ordinance is passed in its present form.

Lindy Eiref (alias Catherine)

Dodds Lane, 13 years on Princeton Townstop STC

August 10, 2016

To the Editor:

According to the town’s records, Princeton has 7,089 residential structures on its tax rolls: 6,797 single family, 230 two family, 41 three family, and 21 four family. Those buildings together house a total of 7,464 families.

Princeton has an additional 111 structures on its tax rolls that are categorized as apartment buildings, each of which contain 5 or more dwelling units. The majority are owned by Princeton University. Interestingly, the town was not able to tell me how many dwelling units those 111 structures represent.

Our subsidized housing complexes are tax-exempt and are therefore excluded from the totals listed above. Dormitory rooms at tax-exempt institutions are also excluded.

I relate these figures because they seem to me to give a necessary context to the discussion of Princeton’s affordable housing “obligation.” The numbers presented above suggest that, including AvalonBay’s 280 soon-to-be-completed apartments, Princeton has a taxable housing stock of perhaps 8,500 units, of which approximately 6,800 are single family homes.

Estimates of Princeton’s affordable housing obligation range from 400 to 1,400 units. If created by private developers and co-mingled with market rate units using a 20 percent set aside, those estimates would require the construction of between 2,000 and 7,000 apartments. 2,000 units would be the equivalent of 7 new AvalonBays. 7,000 units would represent a staggering 82 percent of our existing taxable housing stock.

Alternatively, we could dedicate our dwindling inventory of public lands to the creation of between 400 and 1,400 subsidized housing units — the equivalent of creating between 1.4 and 5.0 new AvalonBay complexes, but with lesser materials and more spartan architecture. Here the cost of serving the new population would be borne exclusively by current residents, many of whom are already struggling with bloated tax bills.

The numbers suggest questions for which there are no good answers. Where would we find the necessary land? How high would we be required to build? How would we adapt our narrow streets to the increased traffic? What would be the effect on our existing neighborhoods? What would be the spillover costs — for new schools, new sewer lines, additional police officers, or a paid fire department? And how many current residents would be displaced?

It should be obvious that our response to the State’s imposition of a transformative affordable housing standard will determine the future character of our town. My strong preference is to resist the pressure to uproot our leafy, predominantly single family neighborhoods. I consider that our affordable housing obligation, as defined by the State, is zero – and that it becomes positive only to the extent that we permit our lovely town to be transmuted into the “regional hub” envisioned by our planners.

I suggest that it is unreasonable — grossly discriminatory even — to expect lower income taxpayers to subsidize non-residents who aspire to a Princeton lifestyle at somebody else’s expense. We need not apologize for our comfortable little town. And we need not meekly accept such destructive edicts.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

August 3, 2016

To the Editor:

There’s a story that needs to be told about this past Saturday’s intense rains. As the heavy rain became even more intense, I knew there would be flooding at Princeton High School. It had flooded during hurricanes in 2009 and 2011, and sure enough, when I arrived Saturday afternoon, umbrella in hand, storm water was cascading down the outside stairs into the PHS basement, and was seeping under doors into the band rooms and onto the performing arts stage. I called 911. In 2009, the wooden stage warped from the moisture and had to be replaced.

The additions to Princeton High School for science and performing arts are lovely spaces with one very serious flaw. The architect made them lower than Walnut Lane. The design depended completely on storm drains to carry runoff away from the school, but when those pipes become overwhelmed, there’s no place for the extra storm water to go. Surface topography rules. Walnut Lane becomes a river whose waters flow into the school.

A science teacher and I were motivated to diagnose the problem and offer a solution. With students, we had converted the detention basin between the science and arts wings into a thriving ecolab wetland full of native plants, frogs, and crayfish. The basin still serves its function to hold storm water, but became much, much more — a mini-refuge and ecological teaching tool.

After the 2009 flood, some staff tried to blame the plants for the flooding, but we showed this not to be the case. We showed how, with only a curb-cut and minor excavation, water from the Walnut Lane “river” could be made to flow harmlessly away from the school and into an empty field at Westminster Choir College. Our understanding was that the field can never be built on, and Westminster’s periodic use of the PHS space would make it willing to cooperate.

We shared this proposal with the powers that be, and nothing happened. Periodically over the past five years, I’ve sent emails to town engineers, school superintendents, and facilities staff, saying something needs to be done. Surprise. People are busy.

Flooding, like climate change, is deceptive. Sure, we spend our days using machines that spill more and more carbon into the air, but most of the time, everything seems fine. Our exhaust pipes offer no visual evidence that they are weapons aimed at the future. Evidence of the flood, at least outside the school, has already disappeared. With no visual cues, few can hear the underlying scream of urgency.

On Saturday, we saw the consequence of that inaction. It’s all the more unfortunate because the runoff from our buildings and parking lots can be used to feed beautiful plantings, as we’ve demonstrated at the high school’s ecolab wetland. Water can be a blessing or a vandal. It flows downhill and feeds plants. These are simple rules. If we follow them, in our yards and public spaces, we will have a safer, more attractive town and be better prepared to weather the climatic extremes our machine culture is brewing.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

PP Pam Mount 8-3-16

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: “Being part of the community will always be the driving force of what we do at Terhune’s, welcoming people to the farm and being engaged with them and the community.” Pam Mount, owner with her husband Gary, of Terhune Orchards, has always been active in the community, serving on Lawrence Township Council and as Mayor, and she continues to be engaged in the important issues of the day. She is shown next to one of her own paintings.

“I have worked at the White House and met leaders around the world, and Pam is the real thing! She is at the top of my list as a genuine world class hero.” more

July 27, 2016

To the Editor:

The Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District’s Mary Moss Playground is planned for renovation. RBA Consultants, through the Recreation Department, has presented an initial concept plan to Princeton Council, which was approved for further planning.   Because few residents of the neighborhood were able to provide input, the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District Committee held three neighborhood meetings to review the Mary Moss Playground Concept Plan.

To properly honor its founder, Mary Moss, create a learning environment for toddlers and young children, and to ensure that the playground is sustainable, safe, sanitary, and respectful of nearby neighbors, it is requested that the neighborhood determine the language, imagery, location, and placement of historical/cultural information about Mrs. Moss and the playground, including entry signage, pool outline marker, plaque, and seated Mary Moss 3-dimensional image, and we further request that the recreation department accept the following revisions:

1) Remove corner entry; retain access from Lytle and John Streets, setting back entries from shallow sidewalk area; provide a traffic-calming intersection table (under consideration by Princeton Council); and install signage acknowledging the “Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood’s Historic Mary Moss Playground” at the corner of Lytle and John.

2) Shift aquatic spray area into the southern corner, bordered by shrubbery; create a single entry to spray area with perimeter bench seating to confine wet area:  keep the spray level to low heights;  and choose skid-proof adaptable surfacing for storytelling.

3) Promote sustainability, replacing canopies with trees, replacing redundant ramp with heavily planted evergreen and flowering shrubbery buffer (forsythia was Mary Moss’s favorite); ground cover, soft surfacing for sitting, installing solar voltaic pavilion roof panels; sourcing local quarries for boulders; using post-consumer materials for building materials and appropriate equipment; placing recycling and trash containers at both levels.

4) Design slide and sloped area with more soft surfaces, age-appropriate for toddlers and attendant caregivers.

5) Provide a pavilion with dappled sunlight under which plants, art, and educational objects can be hung; and install an artwork wall.

6) Add a sand play area, shaded by pavilion; and consider reinstalling some form of animal sculptures.

7) Enhance book nook with a soft surfaced sitting area for storytime, (relocate spray area furnishings to storage area); accommodate displays of history and culture along both sides of ramp wall/barrier: install multi-media and audio-equipment for storytelling, including the history of Mary Moss, the playground, and the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood during segregated Princeton.

8) Install age-appropriate playground equipment in organic forms and colors, and of low-heat conducting materials.

9) Eliminate the port-a-potty, as the intended playground users either live or are cared for nearby.

10) Add motion-sensors and timers for daytime use of water-sprayers: add motion-sensor site-wide lighting; install time locked entry gates to prevent loitering; maintain deterrent plantings adjacent to permeable fencing at heights consistent with safety and aesthetic standards; install water fountains at upper and lower playing areas.

11) Provide appropriate staffing throughout the year for safety and educational programming.

The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood looks forward to working collaboratively with the Recreation Department and its consultants in implementing these design revisions and refinements to the concept plan.

Respectfully submitted by,

Yina Moore

On behalf of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District Committee: Shirley Satterfield, Bernadine Hines, Leighton Newlin, Kip Cherry, Daniel Harris, Tommy Parker, and John Heilner

To the Editor:

I was pleased to see the write-up of Gennaro Costabile’s restaurants and catering business [It’s New To Us, July 20].  We have been going to Gennaro’s on State Road for many years and it’s our venue of choice for family celebrations.  The food is excellent,  Gennaro has always welcomed us warmly, and we’ve even gotten to know the wait staff, many of whom have been there for years.

But this isn’t just a plug for a wonderful restaurant.  I was very interested to learn from the article that Gennaro established Food for America, a non-profit which raises money for charitable organizations that deal with hunger, and Caring Cooks Academy, which teaches people to cook for those in need as a team-building experience.

In this day and age, when “greed is good” seems to be the motto of so many businesses, so that prices go up, quality goes down, and customer service is non-existent, it is wonderfully refreshing to know that there are other ways to be successful.  Gennaro, thank you for providing us not only with delicious food, but with a model of how to succeed and care for others at the same time.

Ruth Goldston

Bouvant Drive

To the Editor:

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection has proposed harmful revisions to state regulations that would threaten our water supply.

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area urges the NJ Senate to post SCR66 for a vote as soon as possible. If passed, it would prohibit the NJ Department of Environmental Protection from adopting its harmful revisions to the Flood Hazard, Coastal Zone, and Stormwater Management Rules. The Assembly has done its part and passed ACR160. We now need the Senate to post and vote on SCR66 at its next session on August 1.

Several months ago, the Legislature voted once to rescind the DEP’s unacceptable proposal, sending it back to the DEP for revision. Unfortunately the DEP has done nothing substantial to reduce the proposed damage to our water. These revisions cause irreparable harm by rolling back protections against flooding and allowing the clearing of more stream buffer vegetation; buffers are crucial to protecting our water supply.

The interests of developers should not come before the public’s need for clean water. Cutting red tape should not mean placing people in harm’s way and risking the quality of our water supply, but that is precisely what the DEP’s proposed self-certification and loosely defined mitigation rules will do.

The League of Women Voters implores readers to contact their State Senators and ask them to urge Senate President Sweeney to post SCR66 on August 1, and vote YES. A list of Senators can be found at www.njleg.state.nj.us, or by calling the League of Women Voters at 800-792-8683 (VOTE).

Sandra Shapiro

Member, Leadership Committee, League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area

Wycombe Way

 

To the Editor:

Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter’s recent comments regarding the killings of police [“Local Police Respond to Tense Climate,” page one, July 20] are at once commendable and deplorable. Commendable is his pledge to increase the “positive footprint” of police in the community, and to engage in “relationship-building.”

Deplorable is his over-the-top claim that “officers are being targeted, ambushed, and slaughtered nationwide,” to which he intends to respond by including two officers in patrol units, presumably cars. That tactic hardly helped officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot and killed while on patrol together in New York on Dec. 12, 2014. Beefed up patrols will likely only panic some of our more fearful citizens (and not-yet citizens).

More to the point: there is no “nationwide slaughter” of police. There is an increase in the rate of police deaths from shootings this year, 30 so far. There were 41 deaths in 2014. The recent low point was 73 in 2011. The fact is that felonious killings of police have been fairly stable over the years, with an average, according to F.B.I. figures, of 64 per year from 1980 to 2014. Moreover, police shootings in any given year constitute about one-third of all police deaths in the line of duty, the remainder clustering around vehicle accidents and job-related illnesses. No one claims that such an occupational death rate is acceptable, but it should be kept in mind that policing is not among the top ten most dangerous jobs. Try logging or farming.

Almost needless to say, the shooting of police any time is tragic. Also tragic is the fact that more police die from suicide annually than gunfire and traffic accidents combined. There were 51 in the last six months of 2015, 126 in 2012.

Let’s not allow ourselves to panic and then enact policy that only increases panic. Let’s go for that “positive footprint” instead.

Martin Oppenheimer 

Prof. Emeritus of Sociology, Rutgers University

Franklin Twp.

July 20, 2016

To the Editor:

On behalf of our 1.3 million members in New Jersey, AARP supports proposals to increase the personal income tax pension and retirement income exclusion fivefold over three years. An income tax cut for retirees will help those who have lived and raised their families in New Jersey stay in New Jersey in their retirement years by allowing our middle class retirees to keep more of their hard-earned and hard-saved money to spend on goods and services throughout our state, supporting economic growth. Those 50 years and older play a critical role in New Jersey’s economy, according to a recent Longevity Economy report prepared for AARP. New Jerseyans over 50 create an economic impact much greater than their proportion of the population, outspending the average consumer across most categories and affecting all sectors of the economy.

AARP New Jersey believes it is important to have policies in place that support this important economic engine in our state. We urge lawmakers to ensure that any middle class tax relief include modest, targeted tax relief for New Jersey’s middle class retirees.

 Jeff Abramo

Interim Manager of Communications and Community Outreach, AARP New Jersey, Rockingham Row, Forrestal Village

To the Editor:

Streets are the great connectors of any community. They don’t just take us from one place to another in our cars, they bring us together on bike rides, jogs, and walks. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. But the opposite is true in many New Jersey neighborhoods: streets are unsafe for people who walk, bike, or run because there are so few bike lanes, sidewalks, or crosswalks. This not only limits our choices for how to travel, but also discourages exercise.

According to the American Heart Association, physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for developing cardiovascular diseases. And in today’s world, it can be difficult to lead an active lifestyle. Sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950 while physically active jobs now make up less than 20 percent of our workforce. Nearly 70 percent of American adults and one in three children are considered overweight or obese. That’s why we must work together to make it easy and safe to go out and get active.

Complete Streets policies ensure that future road construction build an environment meant to be shared by all travelers — whether it’s bikers, walkers, or drivers. Unfortunately for the Garden State, only seven out of 21 counties and 130 out of more than 500 municipalities have Complete Streets policies.

The American Heart Association is seeking individuals, community groups, and organizations who are interested in serving on a volunteer committee to raise awareness and urge action around this issue.

Please contact courtney.nelson@heart.org or at (609) 223-3734 if you are interested in making New Jersey a healthier and safer place to live.

Courtney Nelson

Senior Director of Community Health, 

American Heart Association 

American Stroke Association, Robbinsville

To the Editor:

Both presidential candidates will take the stage in the next two weeks to try to sell us on the idea they can lead our nation. One way to demonstrate they have what it takes to be president is to tell voters how they’ll keep Social Security strong for our kids and grandkids.

Millions of Garden State residents are paying into Social Security, but the program is out of date. If our nation’s leaders don’t act, future retirees could lose up to $10,000 a year in benefits.

With a volatile stock market and fewer jobs offering pensions, today’s workers and future generations will likely have an even greater need for Social Security.

Before we decide who to vote for, we deserve to know if the presidential candidates will commit to taking action to update Social Security for us, our kids and grandkids.

Douglas Johnston

Manager of Governmental Affairs & Advocacy, 

AARP State Office, New Jersey

Prof in Educ_Sandy Bing

ADVICE FOR EDUCATORS: Sandy Bing, educational leader for over five decades at Hun, PDS, Stuart, and elsewhere, shares his thoughts on students, teachers, administrators and the world of education. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

Sandy Bing started his career in education in 1960 as a chemistry and biology teacher at the Hun School, later becoming dean of students, then director of admissions. In 1969 he took over as head of the Upper School at Princeton Day School.  more

July 6, 2016

To the Editor:

Constantly rising school taxes are a problem across Somerset County and the entire state. Surprisingly, though, few people know much about the biggest factor driving those taxes up – our states’ deeply flawed school aid funding formula.

Under the current system, the state spends $9.1 billion each year on aid to K-12 schools, with $5.1 billion of it going to just 31 mostly urban school districts (formerly designated as Abbott districts), while the remaining $4 billion is split between the remaining 546 districts, including Montgomery. Yes, you read that correctly. Under the current system, 5 percent of districts get 58 percent of the aid. To put that in even starker terms, towns like Asbury Park receive $28,884.76 per pupil in state aid, while Montgomery students receive just $857.81.

During his campaign last year, newly-elected State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker ran on a campaign where he pledged to address problems based on facts and evidence, and then offer solutions. If this ridiculously unequal distribution of aid isn’t bad enough, taxpayers have spent $97 billion over 30 years on just these 31 districts and no consistent educational improvements have been achieved. Based on the evidence, isn’t it time to try something different?

That’s why I am curious to hear Assemblyman Zwicker’s thoughts on a new proposal in Trenton that would see each student in the state receive the same amount in per pupil state aid. Under that new proposal Montgomery students would see a roughly $4,800 increase in aid per pupil (with additional funding built-in for special education students), and most importantly, local taxpayers would have their property taxes reduced by thousands of dollars.

Assemblyman Zwicker does not represent any urban or Abbott school districts. He decided to run for election to represent suburban towns like Montgomery, Hillsborough, Raritan, Readington, and South Brunswick. All of which are in desperate need of school aid reform. Now is his moment of truth. Does he side with his constituents or does he become beholden to Speaker Vincent Prieto and the special interests that dominate the Democratic Assembly caucus and funded his campaign?

Montgomery taxpayers are watching and look forward to hearing soon whether he supports or opposes this new plan, and why.

Ed Trzaska

Deputy Mayor, Montgomery Township

To the Editor:

On Sunday afternoon we again heard the noise of horns and brakes at the intersection of Jefferson and Mount Lucas Streets but this time with the additional sound of crashing vehicles. Many vehicles travelling up Mount Lucas do not stop at the intersection nor apparently look to see cars rounding the curve on Jefferson from Route 206.

May I suggest the town consider as a minimum making the intersection a four-way stop? A further improvement would be the flashing lights which have been appearing on Washington, or perhaps even a full traffic light. Now that Mount Lucas is so beautifully completed, speed humps would also help slow the flow and make the corner safer for everyone.

Stephen Bishop

Mount Lucas Road

anniversary1

anniversary2

Doctors Peggy and Paul Van Horn, formally of Princeton, will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary on the eighth of July 2016.

Paul was born in Springfield, Mass., the first of two sons, to Paul and Eleanor “Ornie” Van Horn. He spent most of his childhood in Churchville, N.Y. before heading to Northfield Mount Hermon for the latter years of high school. He graduated from Yale University and went on to N.Y. Medical School concentrating on orthopedics. Paul interned at Rochester General Hospital, N.Y. and Boston City Hospital, Mass. while also serving two years in the U.S. Army as a doctor (Texas and Colorado Springs).

Meanwhile Peggy (Helen Margaret Ross) was born in Mussoorie, India (now Pakistan) to William and Edith Ross, who were Presbyterian missionaries. She spent the better part of her youth, either on the plains of Lyallpur, Punjab (India) with her parents or at The Woodstock School at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. She graduated from Sterling College, Kans. and attended Northwestern Medical School and interned at the Evanston Hospital in Ill.

Peggy and Paul’s paths eventually crossed when they were both in residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. in the fall of 1959. They met in the Wilson Club at the Mayo Clinic, the resident’s dining hall. It wasn’t a haphazard chance meeting as Peg’s boyfriend, Dick Beargie, introduced them and asked Paul to join them for lunch. Later a casual game of tennis and … the rest is history. The young couple married in Rochester, Minn. in 1961, and honeymooned at Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada before moving to Princeton later that same year. Paul set up his own Orthopedic group/business specializing in knees and hips while also managing Physical Therapy of Princeton which lasted for a span of 35+ years. Peggy had worked one year as a staff psychiatrist at the Rochester State hospital before the move. She stayed home for 15 years to raise four children before returning to work as an associate professor of psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a staff psychiatrist at the Mental Health Center in New Brunswick for 15+ years.

Upon retirement they chose to travel extensively, including: Peru, Italy, Europe, Brazil, Alaska, Hawaii, and more. They are proud parents of twins, Barb (Snowmass Village, Colo.) and Val (Richmond, Va.), a third daughter, Alison (Washington D.C.) and a son, Paul “Van” (Brooklyn, N.Y.) as well as nine grandchildren.

These two, Peggy and Paul, have enjoyed 55 years of wedded bliss. They are role models to family and friends and an inspiration to all who have known them. May they share many more years together and should you even hear Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife you might just see them out on the dance floor!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

ntu airport cropped

FAIR SKIES AHEAD: “In 1985, when we moved here, we had no idea that we were carrying forward the torch of aviators from 1911 at this site. We think those early aviators would be very pleased with the expansion of the runway, taxiway, lighting system, hangars, and all the navigational aids that have come into being.” Ken Nierenberg, manager of Princeton Airport, carries on his family’s history in aviation.

“Come fly with me,

“Let’s fly, let’s fly away!”

And as the song continues,

“Once I get you up there, where the air is rarefied,

“We’ll just glide starry-eyed ….”

If that sounds intriguing, you don’t have to fight the traffic to Newark Liberty Airport, Kennedy, or even Trenton-Mercer County. Princeton Airport and Flying School is just around the corner.

And the opportunities abound. Flying lessons, rentals, hangars to park your own plane, and an extraordinary history.

Owned by the Nierenberg family since 1985, Princeton Airport has had a distinctive role in the annals of aviation.

In 1911, only eight years after the Wright Brothers made aviation history, Richard A. Newhouse arrived from Germany, settled in Rocky Hill, and began designing and building airplanes. The land where he tested his planes was Bolmer’s Field, later to become Princeton Airport.

10 Pioneer Aviators

History was made at the airport on November 19, 1916, when 10 pioneer aviators, members of New York’s 1st Aero Company (National Guard) completed a formation round trip from Mineola, N.Y. to Princeton. The flight, hailed by the press as “the largest number ever seen on one flight in this country” was the first mass cross-country flight in U.S. military aviation.

Years later, in 1929, Mr. Newhouse and his eldest son Werner, established the Newhouse Flying Service and named the site Princeton Airport. Their advertising flyer offered “Charter Flights to All Points; Planes for Hire; Student Instruction at Moderate Rates and Terms.”

History continued to be made at the airport. It was from there that the first Air Mail Flight took off on November 16, 1937. Also, on weekends, visitors could watch an air show, complete with “barrel rolls and wing over loops.”

During World War II, restrictions on general aviation within 50 miles of the coast were instituted, and activity at the airport decreased. However, the airport’s two runways accommodated military aircraft, including B-10 bombers and D-Cs.

Over the years, ownership of the airport changed hands, and in 1985, the Nierenberg family, including Dick, Naomi, and their son Ken, purchased the airport, which had been dormant and for sale for four years. The Nierenbergs had previously operated a full-service fixed-base operation at Kupper Airport in Hillsborough for 18 years.

Area pilots responded enthusiastically to the return of the airport service. The Nierenbergs began to improve the facility with an upgraded lighting system, and in 1987, a set of 16 T-hangars was constructed.

88 Hangars

Also, the FAA certified flight school grew rapidly, a variety of planes became available to rent, the maintenance shop expanded, the tie-down area increased, and Princeton Airport was a full service operation again.

Improvements have continued in the years since, notes Steven Nierenberg, director of operations, and an attorney in his previous career. “We have expanded the space from 50 acres to 100, and we now have 88 hangars. We own eight planes for instruction, and have 125 planes here altogether. These are private planes whose owners lease the space.”

Every 100 hours, the planes are thoroughly inspected, which is required by law, explains Mr. Nierenberg. They are also inspected and licensed every year for safety by licensed mechanics.

In addition, a separate area for helicopters is available.

“95 percent of the planes we have are single-engine,” he continues. “Some are two-seaters, and the largest seats six passengers. We have five instructors, and not only are they licensed pilots but also trained as licensed instructors.”

Currently, Princeton Flying School (formerly known as Raritan Valley Flying School) is instructing 85 students, adds Mr. Nierenberg. “Students are from all backgrounds, including the financial field, doctors, carpenters, etc. They are predominantly men, but we have women who like to fly too. Our students are all ages, including high school and younger, but many are in their 50s”

And, he adds, it’s never too late. “Our oldest student is 86!”

Solo Flying

Kids can also take lessons at ages nine or 10, but they must be big enough for their feet to reach the pedals. Both boys and girls are students, and they can’t solo until they are 16.

A minimum of 40 hours of air training are required to obtain a license, including at least 20 hours with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flying. Ground work is also included, and a written exam is required.

During their training, students are advised to come at least once a week, but many come more often. A $199, 80-minute introductory lesson (including an hour flight), is available for people to see whether they find “the skies friendly”. Mr. Nierenberg reports that a number of students have never even been in an airplane before. Most of them sign up for lessons, but occasionally some decide not to proceed.

“After the first lesson, many people come in the office and are so excited,” he says. “They say it was thrilling, fantastic. There are lots of emotions — joy, excitement, a real mix of feelings.”

If they decide to continue, students will receive a kit with a variety of instructional materials, including books.

“One of the things I love to see is when students reach a milestone,” continues Mr. Nierenberg. “Soloing is a milestone, and another is when they fly 150 miles and return. This requires landing at another airport, and then flying back here. We enjoy being part of a student’s life. It’s very exciting for them to say ‘I can fly a plane.’”

Pilot Shop

He points out that pilots have embarked from Princeton Airport to such locations as Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, etc. “There is also the utility of flying. You can get places so much faster. No long road delays and traffic jams.”

The airport has a special Pilot Shop, filled with a great variety of aeronautical-related items. Model airplane kits, books, flight log books, toy planes, airplane memorabilia, jackets and T-shirts, puzzles, and picture frames are just some of the specialties available.

In addition, a Pilot’s Lounge on the second floor offers a congenial place to relax, and it provides a nice view of the planes and aircraft operations.

The airport hangars are also available to rent for parties and other special occasions. Area organizations, including SAVE, have had events at the airport.

Mr. Nierenberg looks forward to offering more people the opportunity to experience the pleasure and excitement of flying. He hopes even more students will come to learn to fly.

“I have a chance to meet people who really want to be here, and who want to fly. I meet such a variety of people, and each day can be a surprise.”

Princeton Airport is open every day except Christmas and New Year’s. The office is open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 921-3100. Website: www.princetonairport.com.

 

June 29, 2016

To the Editor:

An Ode to Bob Kiser, Princeton

Engineer And Person Par Excellence

Bob, Princeton will miss you so much,

For you have that special touch,

Help and graciousness to all,

Beyond the professional call.

All best in your retirement mañanas and

Thank you for leaving us Deanna.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

June 22, 2016

To the Editor:

It was very nice to see Larry Ivan on the front page of Town Topics [“A Force, Always.” June 15]. He was a great teacher and coach who loved his job. Those of us who love Princeton do not seek recognition nor fame nor wealth. Mysterious forces compel us to act.

I taught briefly at the high school, 1958-1988, and for 15 years conducted two-hour walking tours of town and gown for visitors. From 1990 to 1993 I taught and mentored staff at the Princeton Charter School. Then I became a lecturer at Rutgers’ RU-All Institute, where one of my two classes is the History of Princeton.

Call it a habit, a custom, an edge; I am 90 years old and awaiting September classes.

William Roufberg

Campbell Road, Kendall Park