To the Editor:
Before all else, it’s important to understand that members of the Mayor’s own Task Force on Affordable Housing have openly praised the cooperative attitude of neighbors, our responsiveness to dialog, and our thoughtful approach to housing issues. Similarly at BOE meetings on school expansion, neighbors regularly present courteous, sensible, moderate criticisms and questions. Clearly, given the opportunity before decisions are pronounced, Princeton neighborhood residents seek to help, not obstruct, when the town has a problem.
Therefore, now that the town has the judge’s numbers to work with, it is time for the process of developing affordable housing here to become open and public, i.e., finally transparent. Why work behind closed doors, when there is so much to offer out here?
On affordable housing, two issues concern us: the number of units and where they are built.
We clearly need more low-income housing. We are also losing middle-income housing. Since there are few municipal properties available to build on, they must be used efficiently, but without crowding. However, expensive apartments – Palmer Square, Copperwood, AvalonBay — do not fix the problem. And the bigger the development, the more municipal, school, sewage, police, and traffic problems they bring. Mayor and Council need sensible, low-cost solutions that will work in Princeton. Why not ask those of us who live here? How can our representatives represent us if they don’t know what — and how — we think???
When two or more groups work together to resolve a mutual problem, it’s called visioning. All sides look at the issues, and at each other’s concerns, and at possible solutions. Our authority is purely consultative: we don’t implement ideas; that’s the job of elected officials. But we can provide background facts so that Mayor and Council have an informed basis on which to decide zoning, regulations, and resolutions. The Butler Tract neighbors resolved their concerns with the University by meeting with them and talking. Will Mayor and Council accept input from neighbors?
It’s time for collective visioning.