April 17, 2019

To the Editor:

We have had the honor of working with Tim Quinn. First as School Board members and later as members of the municipality’s Civil Right Commission, we’ve witnessed the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that is a foundational aspect of his long record of public service to Princeton. This is why we think it’s crucial that Tim be re-elected to Princeton Council

As president of the Board of Education and the chair of the Board’s Student Achievement Committee, Tim led the effort to ensure that all programs and initiatives presented to the Board were inclusive, equitable, and representative of diverse student communities. more

To the Editor:

It is with great honor that I write to support Mia Sacks in her campaign for Princeton Council. For many years Mia has been passionately involved in what she calls “building community.” She has an exceptional ability to envision and keep the big picture in mind while patiently focusing on the myriad and mundane daily tasks that bring results. Working to bring about change in public institutions is a labor-intensive task that requires infinite patience and fortitude. Mia has demonstrated these qualities to an almost superhuman extent in her work on behalf of our community in many areas.

One particularly salient example is the way in which Mia introduced and built the Sustainable Jersey for Schools (SJ for Schools) program within Princeton Public Schools. The program is the schools’ arm of the municipal certification program overseen by Sustainable Princeton. It provides tools, training, and financial incentives to support and reward schools for sustainability and wellness actions. In 2014, as co-chairs of the Princeton Green Schools Coalition, Mia and I were asked to participate in one of the statewide task forces that met for over a year to establish the SJ for Schools program. Subsequently, Mia wrote start up grants and spent countless hours meeting with students, parents, teachers, administrators, facilities personnel, board members, and the superintendent, in order to successfully launch and nurture the program within PPS. Three years later, all six schools now have individual Green Teams and Wellness Committees that meet regularly to coordinate action with a District Sustainability Team. All the schools have achieved Bronze certification, with some aiming for Silver in 2019. more

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage Democratic voters to vote for Michelle Pirone Lambros in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

I have been impressed with Michelle’s positive energy and the fresh ideas that she will bring to the Princeton Council. Michelle is focused on helping small businesses and creating more foot traffic in our community. I am concerned about the empty storefronts in the Princeton Shopping Center, downtown, and the Witherspoon-Jackson area. I am concerned for the small business owners who are in Princeton, and wonder how much business they are getting. These empty store fronts did not just happen overnight, and I have not read or seen any major plans from the Council on how they plan to help.   more

To the Editor:

In 1776 women and blacks could vote in New Jersey if they were worth 50 pounds. It was only our second constitution of 1844 that restricted suffrage to white males. In the same clause it denied voting rights to persons convicted of a crime.

These facts come from a white paper of the NJ Institute for Social Justice, which seeks to extricate voting from criminal justice.

It dismays me that New Jersey leads the nation in racial disparity of incarceration rates and the result that 5.28 percent of the black voting age population is denied the vote, more than twice the percentage of New York and Pennsylvania. Do we want our communities to be shaped by elected officials unaccountable to those in their districts on parole or probation? Extending the right to vote can facilitate re-entry. I invite readers to learn more about this issue and to support reforms.

Terry Lyons
Deer Path

To the Editor:

Protected open space is a priceless resource to nourish and restore the human spirit.

Not long ago I lived in a subdivision that could be described as a builder’s bombing run — miles of cookie cutter houses on postage-stamp lots. I was a misplaced Thoreau who yearned for “pasture enough for my imagination.”

Little did I realize when my address changed to the Great Road in Princeton, I would be the beneficiary of D&R Greenway’s stellar efforts to serve the public interest by preserving Coventry Farm, the 160-acre jewel of Princeton. more

April 10, 2019

To the Editor:

The Council needs a new voice!! I support Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council because she sees Princeton’s potential for 21st century greatness. She has real plans for strategic partnerships between the municipality, the University, and the local economy. Princeton should be a crucible for innovation, and our town must work hand-in-hand with the other sectors to make change happen. She’s the only candidate who understands the importance of a strong local economy to offset property tax increases.

The recent parking meter fiasco hurt local businesses, actually decreasing revenue more than 10 percent on average during the critical retail Christmas season. It also created the opposite of the intended result — to help the local economy; now residents are resistant to patronize businesses they were otherwise supporting. The fact that the Council spent $150,000 on two parking consultants, and this mess was the resulting plan, should concern taxpayers. more

To the Editor:

Our PMA survey results (posted on our website) and public feedback shows the new parking plan has not been well received by residents, customers, visitors, or employees, and has had a chillingly negative impact on the businesses in town through the holiday season and the first several months of 2019. Our town Council and professionals, on the advice of consultants, believe that there is not a shortage of parking spaces and may be pleased to hear that parking is freeing up, but the fact is, fewer people are coming to our downtown to shop. Our shopkeepers are struggling to keep their businesses open and commercial properties, which account for 20-plus percent of our town’s tax base, are experiencing the highest vacancy rates in decades.

In collectively reviewing the current parking plan, we want to propose a set of improvements that would honor the intent of the new plan, as articulated by Mayor Lempert, to serve first and foremost as a tool for economic development of Princeton’s vital downtown. more

To the Editor:

I was quite disappointed when the organics recycling program was suspended due to a variety of errors, most of which it seems could be corrected. Going further, it may be that changing the way we charge for trash collection might make it much easier to expand the program and solve the problem.  

In thinking about this issue, we should acknowledge that our current methods for disposing of trash/garbage are unsustainable. We not only generate far too much waste, we pretend to make it disappear by dumping everything in a large pile (landfill) for future generations to deal with.  The easiest first step for a better system would be to separate organic recyclable materials from the trash. Organics make up about 40 percent of the waste stream and can be processed into compost for use on farms and gardens.    more

To the Editor:

It’s very disappointing to hear that the NJDOT has not approved the all pedestrian phase system for traffic lights on Nassau Street. A casual walk along the street quickly shows how much this would contribute to pedestrian and auto safety, in contrast to the puzzling conclusion the State cited that this would “decrease the level of service for cars.”  Actually it’s quite the opposite if you’ve seen this system in action, as I do frequently in New Haven.

But I commend the Council for pursuing this and urge all members to press for an immediate and serious reconsideration of this decision in the interest of pedestrian safely and an increased “level of service for cars.”  Perhaps Princeton can then  serve as a model for other communities in New Jersey through this program.

David H. Miller, Ph.D.
Hawthorne Avenue

April 3, 2019

To the Editor:

Michelle Pirone Lambros brings a new perspective to Princeton Council. One of her many strengths is her focus on Princeton’s economic development. She has been a business owner/operator herself, and has just finished up on a promotional program for Restaurant Week (March 10-17). She also has been representing the Merchants Association on Princeton’s Economic Development Committee. She is very aware of the challenges our merchants face as they carve out niches where a physical presence in Princeton makes sense. She has innovative ideas for growing downtown retail sales, while enhancing the valuation of commercial property as a percentage of Princeton’s tax base. She is interested in working with Princeton University to understand better how its development plans will benefit Princeton’s downtown and tax base, and where joint development opportunities might exist. She is also well aware of the challenges of our new parking system and has been exploring possible ways to make it serve the community better.

She also understands land use and issues of neighborhood character, and is on the Zoning Board. She sees new opportunities to craft zoning variance agreements that better enhance both the project and the surrounding neighborhood. She also favors defining form-based neighborhood zoning that supports the individual character and specific features of each of the 12 or so neighborhood zones. In addition, she is very aware of the pervasive concerns about teardowns and feels that we need to develop incentives that encourage renovation over teardowns, with the additional requirement that neighbors must be notified prior to proceeding with a teardown. more

To the Editor:

As members of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, our hearts are heavy with the news of the terrorist attacks on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We come from various backgrounds and faiths, and some of us do not follow a religious tradition. Today and every day we stand with you against this craven act of violence and cruelty, united in our belief that human rights and freedom of religion is fundamental. Dr. King reminded us that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Following in the tradition of the Civil Rights struggle in the United States, we will never abide white supremacy, Islamophobia, or any other form of white nationalism.

All human beings deserve freedom, respect, dignity, and safety as their birthright. Protecting that birthright is both our highest calling and our gravest responsibility. Standing shoulder to shoulder, our love will conquer hatred and racism.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission,
Thomas Parker (chair)
Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

I attended Planning Board meetings on March 21 and the Council Meeting on March 25. The experience brought me back to high school English and a variation on the words of George Orwell, in Animal Farm  — “All Princeton neighborhoods are equal — it’s just that some Princeton neighborhoods are more equal than others.”

The discussions centered around changes to two land use ordinances. In one, Ordinance #2019-2 — Eliminating Proportional Increase in Floor Area Ratio on Undersized Lots, the density would be consistent with adjacent parcels. The other, Ordinance #2019-10 — An Ordinance to Create an AH-3 Affordable Housing 3 Residential Zone, would permit density more than 25 times that of its neighbors. One proposed to reduce the permitted floor area ratio, the second would allow the maximum floor area to be double that permitted on neighboring properties.  One would reduce the area covered by impervious materials, the other would permit the area of impervious surfaces to double. One would reduce the allowable building mass, the second would allow building height to increase by 50 percent. The discussion of one ordinance focused upon concern about changes to the character of neighborhoods caused by new development while the neighborhood adversely impacted by the latter was never mentioned. more

To the Editor:

The letter is also addressed to members of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, members of the Princeton Council, and  Mayor Lempert.

The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice wants to thank and applaud Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission for recommending inclusive workplace policies to the City Council, including gender neutral restrooms. Such principles are not only in keeping with our state’s strong civil liberties values as demonstrated by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, specifically in public accommodations (NJSA 10:5-12), but implementation of such literally saves lives as well.

In 2018, a study from The American Pediatric Association determined that suicide rates among transgender and non-binary youth were alarmingly high. This is a sad but logical truth as we currently have a nation that is both structured and strictured in such a way that our youth, struggling to determine their identity, are marginalized at every corner.

Our kids face these difficulties daily — whether it be in the classroom, in their homes, or out in their communities, and also when facing use of a public restroom. Unrecognized, unidentified… unnamed. Not the name they know to be true; not the identity with which they were born. Rightful name identification results in lower depression, reduction of suicidal ideation, and a decrease of suicidal behavior. When trans youth hear their names, have their identities confirmed and recognized, their chances of committing suicide go down 56 percent.

When we make our world more inclusive, we save lives.

Thank you, Princeton, for recognizing, respecting, and indeed loving all our beautifully diverse people and the communities to which they belong.

Robert Seda-Schreiber
Chief Activist
Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
Wiggins Street

To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the Mercer County community, for supporting Hope Loves Company’s fourth Night of Hope on Saturday, March 16 at Union Fire Co. and Rescue Squad in Titusville. Hope Loves Company, Inc. (HLC) is the only nonprofit in the United States with the unique mission to provide emotional and educational support to children, teenagers, and young adults who have had or have a loved one battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. HLC was founded in 2012 and we are located right here in Pennington.

There is currently no known cause or cure for ALS, which affects appropriately 30,000 Americans each year. I know a lot about the disease because I personally lost my husband, Kevin O’Donnell, to ALS in 2001. He was 36 years old. more

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, the Democratic candidates for Princeton Council will meet in a forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Princeton Community TV, which will videotape the forum. Video will be rebroadcast and posted on its website and on www.lwvprinceton.org.

Be sure you are registered with the party of your choice.  If you are currently unaffiliated, you may declare your party at the polls on June 4. If you mistakenly registered as an Independent, you cannot vote in the primary since only Republicans and Democrats hold a primary election.  The deadline for changing Party Affiliation for the June primary is April 10. Political Party Declaration forms are available at www.njelections.org and must be received at your county clerk’s office by April 10.

The deadline to register to vote in the June primary is May 14; your voter registration form must be postmarked by that date. Applications for Vote-by-Mail ballots can be downloaded and must be received by your county clerk at least seven days before the election, May 28. All forms are available at www.njelections.org, where you will be directed to your county clerk.

Please attend or watch the forum and VOTE.

Chrystal Schivell
League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area
Monroe Lane

March 27, 2019

To the Editor:

Organizations in and around Princeton do a good job providing opportunities for residents to come together around issues of race. I have attended Civil Rights Commission meetings, Princeton Public School District-led community forums, and Not In Our Town conversations. YWCA Princeton (where I work) founded the now-national annual STAND AGAINST RACISM signature campaign. We also hold Thought Provoking Talks throughout the year. The Princeton Public Library regularly hosts race-related lectures and McCarter’s recent run of The Niceties could not have put a finer point on race and representation. Princeton University recognizes and rewards high school students making a difference in their communities with the Princeton Price in Race Relations. When there was a hint that a white nationalist group might march in Princeton this January, our collective response was so swift that the white nationalist group did not show up.

But something is missing. If you have attended any of these events — and maybe even if you haven’t — the need for more is palpable. Talk of reparative justice abounds, but I had not seen a map on how to get there until now. more

To the Editor:

I would like to join my voice to that of Heidi Fichtenbaum on the subject of Earth health [“Plastic Can Be Recycled Only a Limited Number of Times,” Mailbox, March 20]. Today is the day to act and to change. There is no more time to discuss, consider, etc. the harmful impact we are all making on the environment. The effects of climate change, including extinction of animals and health concerns, are upon us right now.

The good part is that each of us can take action immediately to lessen if not eliminate any air pollution, water pollution, land pollution that we are making. Example: for a mix of 50 percent water and 50 percent vinegar we can clean our houses safely — floors, windows, bathrooms, and more. Use less water for showers, dishwashing, brushing teeth. Regarding the use of tote bags that many stores sell, please check the country of origin. For example, in one local food store I saw reusable grocery bags (great!) which were made in Vietnam (What are their environmental laws and labor laws?). So the fact that the negative environmental impact is not taking place locally but across the world, is that any better? Are you painting a bedroom? The good part is that the brushes do not need to be cleaned after each use; simply put the brush into a closed zip lock bag and pull it out the next day/time you need it. more

To the Editor:

The recent PCDO Endorsement meeting seemed to me to be a surprise for all who attended. We learned that it’s an even playing field, as all three candidates received the support, but not the endorsement vote, which required a 60 percent threshold. Clearly there are issues that are the reason for the lack of endorsement. For me, Michelle Pirone Lambros stands apart from the pack, as she would bring strong qualifications and a different skill set to Council.

For example, Michelle would be an excellent negotiator for the town in any large-scale financial agreements that arise (most notably with the University). She also understands how to rezone to create the affordable housing the working and middle classes so desperately need.  Finally, she was the only candidate paying attention and speaking to the hidden residents of Princeton, the working and undocumented Princetonians, whose day-to-day needs for basic services and decent living conditions are, for me, a higher priority than what can go into curbside composting. Michelle is a candidate with a impressive and nuanced understanding of the issues in our town, and she has the creative ideas and know how to actually make these changes happen.

Patricia Soll
Linden Lane

To the Mayor:

As a resident of Harrison Street and knowing or the traffic problems on our street for 50-plus years, I was heartened to see another citizen of Princeton express concerns about the upcoming problems with the closure of Alexander Road.

Unfortunately, Mr. Medvin’s letter [Letter to Mayor Lempert on Route 1 Traffic Issue, Mailbox, March 13] addressed only part of the problem — exiting Princeton. Not addressed were:

1. The problems on Route 1 of northbound traffic trying to make left turns into Princeton and the inadequate traffic jug-handles at Washington and Harrison. Presently, at rush hours, both of these exits back up onto Route 1, reducing that roadway to two lanes (or less).
2. Left turns on Harrison Street, both inbound and outbound. Again, presently at rush hours these turns cause backups of two blocks or more.
3. The already heavy traffic problems during rush hours, both in and outbound on Routes 206 and Princeton Pike.

I do hope that your “discussions” with NJDOT go far beyond tinkering with the timing of traffic signals on Route 1, or there will be very serious impacts on Princeton residents, Princeton merchants, and those who commute to work in the community.

Charles W. Bushnell
South Harrison Street

To the Editor:

Princeton obviously has the most special of reasons to join others around the world to celebrate Pi Day on March 14, our Albert Einstein’s birthday. And how we celebrate this day in our town is clearly fun for all its participants. But I have a concern about what appears to be a uniquely American custom we have adopted in our celebration. “Pie Throwing” in 2019?

Notwithstanding the fun had by those involved and the positive motivations of all concerned, is this really the image we wish to portray to our children, to others around the world? In a world in which hunger remains an issue, in a week in which we observe the suffering in Mozambique from its cyclone? Having experienced hunger as a child, I’m sorry, such a custom just doesn’t work for me in 2019. For what it is worth…

Ursela Taylor
Caldwell Drive

To the Editor:

I learned from Donald Gilpin’s article, “CRC Proposes Inclusive Workplace Policies” [Town Topics,March 6, pg. one] that Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission (CRC) has recommended to the town Council a number of measures to make Princeton a more welcoming place for people who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ). I’ve read the CRC’s recommendations, one of which is that “Princeton require all municipal offices and businesses in town to convert all single stall facilities to all gender restrooms.” The recommendation refers to a sample ordinance that requires the replacement of gender-specific signage with gender-neutral signage on single-occupancy restrooms. Implementing this recommendation would be problematic in at least these two ways:

A. It would compel speech, which would be illiberal, and unwelcome to those who prefer to label their restrooms differently;

B. Concepts of gender have become so fluid that “gender-specific” could be taken to mean almost anything, sowing confusion and inconsistency.

Therefore, I encourage the town Council to resist the temptation to dictate to businesses and places of public accommodation how they must label their restrooms.

Martin Erhardt
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

While it’s noteworthy that 40 PHS students followed their worldwide peers by protesting climate change [“Students Strike for Climate Action, Join Global Movement,” March 20, pg. one], it should also be noted that 150-plus PHS students, acted, sang, played in the orchestra, built and moved sets, sold concessions and tickets, ran the backstage and front of the house, to entertain almost 2,000 attendees at four wonderful performances of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Doug Rubin
Laurel Road

March 20, 2019

To the Editor:

One of the reasons I have found living in Princeton to be different from living elsewhere is the variety and depth of contacts I have found possible here. Conversation is lively and intelligent, and people seek earnestly for answers to real problems, both personal and national.

But I think the most remarkable person I have met is Michelle Pirone Lambros. As a member of her campaign’s kitchen cabinet, I’ve seen how she receives the suggestions of a lively group of committed volunteers, all typical of the personalities I’ve encountered in 10 years here. She says little. She listens, she rejects ideas that might offend and explores ideas that make good sense. She takes notes, asks questions. She assigns to herself the task of getting answers, and to reaching out for help from further knowledgeable contacts. When offered help, she has specific assignments and responds freely. “Can you find this out?” “Can you research that?” more

To the Editor:

Last year China, the biggest importer of plastic waste, stopped buying most recycled waste, sending the recycling industry in the U.S. into turmoil. Before the ban, China took in 45 percent of the world’s plastic waste imports for recycling.

Most people in Princeton make an effort to put plastic bottles and other items into recycling bins. But in the past three months, much of plastic recyclables have been loaded onto trucks, and taken to landfills. This new reality especially threatens communities who live near dumping sites. The rest is being sent to Southeast Asian countries who do not have the infrastructure to manage the waste, contributing to the vast amount of plastic in our oceans. more

To the Editor:

As members of the Princeton Environmental Commission, we often hear questions from residents about the safety of our town’s drinking water. As a result, we invited Scott Baxter-Green, manager Water Quality & Environmental Compliance for New Jersey American Water, to our February public meeting. We are grateful to Mr. Baxter-Green for attending and wanted to pass along some of the information he shared with us to the community. Did you know that unless you have a well, the water that comes out of your tap has traveled all the way from Bridgewater, N.J., where the New Jersey American Water treatment plant is located? Their water sources include the Raritan River, the Millstone River and the D&R Canal.

New Jersey American Water provides an annual report on the quality of our water that you can find via this link: http://amwater.com/njaw/water-quality/water-quality-reports/raritan. more