November 14, 2018

To the Editor:

In a recent Town Topics article on the proposed transfer of Westminster Choir College from Rider University [“Controversies Continue Over the Future of Westminster Choir College,” pg. 1, Nov. 7], Jeffrey Halpern seriously mischaracterized the situation with regard to the accreditation process. The Westminster Choir College Acquisition Corporation’s efforts to obtain accreditation are proceeding just as they should.  more

To the Editor,

Another Election Day has come and gone and the voters have spoken. Here in Princeton, voters have chosen to support our vision of “A Princeton for All” by electing us to Princeton Council. We are honored and humbled by your faith in us.

We are committed to ensuring that Princeton remains a welcoming and inclusive community — which means tackling the issue of property taxes head on. We will work to hold the line on municipal taxes while striving to maintain excellent services. This process must be transparent and accountable to you, the voters. more

To the Editor:

Count the recent issues with mold in our schools as an indication of things to come when climate change progresses. With large projected increases in heat and humidity, as well as increased flooding, the mold problem in New Jersey will get even worse. This is only one of the factors through which we’re rapidly reaching the point that the costs of not doing anything about climate change far outweigh the costs of taking action.  more

To the Editor:

On behalf of the members of our congregation and the Jewish community of Princeton, we wanted to express our sincere gratitude to the countless members of the greater Princeton community who were in touch with us after the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. When we read news stories like this, the first reaction of so many is shock and horror — how can something like this happen in our country, in a house of worship, or in a school or any other place that is supposed to be safe. When we heard the news, we felt scared and we wondered how best to reassure the people in our congregation that we are safe here in Princeton. The feelings of fear and shock and sadness were quickly met with feelings of comfort and support and love that we received from so many local friends. Many religious leaders reached out to us immediately to express their sorrow and to offer their comfort to us. Mayor Lempert of Princeton and Chief Sutter of the Princeton Police were among the first people to contact us after the attack to offer assistance. As we mourned the loss of life and renewed our conversations about security, it felt good to know that we have so many friends and allies in this local community. It meant so much to join with over 700 people at the special Community Prayer Service on the day following the attack that our friends hosted for the community at the Nassau Presbyterian Church.  more

To the Editor:

As owners of an independent small business, we are writing to thank the Princeton Public Library (PPL) and the town for creating and supporting the Children’s Book Festival, held on Saturday, September 22 on Hinds Plaza.  

We are proud to have partnered with Susan Conlin head of Youth Services, the staff of Youth Services, and everyone at PPL as the bookseller for the Children’s Book Festival for the last eight years.  It is heartening to see so many children and their families engage with authors, illustrators and the library in a celebration of books and reading.  We have watched the Festival grow over the years with authors and illustrators coming from across the country to have a spot on the plaza.   more

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, December 11, Princeton voters will be asked to approve a $26.9 million referendum to fund critical updates at all six Princeton Public Schools. I urge voters to say Yes! for the good of all school children in Princeton.

If passed, the referendum would fund, among other things:

Upgrades and expansion of HVAC systems. This would add air conditioning and ventilation to some 128 classrooms at the elementary and middle schools, and help prevent future mold outbreaks in wet summers such as the one we just weathered.  more

November 7, 2018

To the Editor:

Each year at this time, Yes We CAN! Food Drives collects donated turkeys so those in our community who are less fortunate can share in the traditions of Thanksgiving. This year is different.  Instead, we are collecting Thanksgiving “fixings” for the patrons of the food pantries of Arm In Arm, located in Trenton and Princeton. Turkeys will be available from other outlets.

Our volunteers will be collecting such items as stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes, canned green beans and/or corn, cream of chicken soup, packaged gravy mix, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling, and poultry seasoning/ground cinnamon.  Arm In Arm asks that no cranberry sauce be donated as they receive several pallets from the food bank. more

To the Editor:

On Sunday, October 28, the Princeton Youth Program for Civic Engagement and the Princeton Public Library recognized the school-aged participants in our Constitution Day poster contest. In recognition of Constitution Day, which is celebrated each September 17, Princeton youth citizens submitted posters illustrating the importance of the U.S. Constitution in their lives and to our community.  Several elementary and middle school aged students submitted beautiful and inspiring posters. During the celebration, stand out posters by Mitalee Pasricha (eighth-grader, John Witherspoon), and Sabella Williams (second-grader, Community Park) were recognized.  Congratulations to Mitalee, Sabella, and all the wonderful students who participated in this event! more

To the Editor:

Princeton is a privileged community, both culturally and economically, but poverty nonetheless touches the lives of some of the children and families among us. About one in 10 children in our community qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, an indicator of economic insecurity. Coupled with the high cost of living in the area, the holidays can be particularly trying for parents who struggle to make ends meet. 

As the holiday season approaches, we urge Princeton residents to consider participating in Princeton Human Services’ 20th Annual Holiday Gift Drive to help make the holidays a memorable one for these youngsters.   Princeton’s gift drive is unique in that residents can respond directly to the holiday wish-lists of individual children and thus give a helping hand to their parents, who would otherwise be unable to meet their desires. The drive offers an excellent opportunity for individuals, families and businesses to share in the spirit of the holiday in this season of giving – and can go a long way in making the holidays more joyous for the families among us who are in precarious economic circumstances.  more

To the Editor:

An article entitled “Planners Recommend Redevelopment Zone for Seminary Properties” [Town Topics, October 3] describes the proposed designation of the Princeton Theological Seminary campus and surrounding residential area as “an area in need of redevelopment” (ANR) without disclosing that this is a public relations euphemism for “blighted area” pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution, Blighted Area Clause, Article VIII, Section 3, paragraph 1. more

To the Editor:

On October 12, the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) hosted our 2018 Soirée Under the Stars, in celebration of our 110th Anniversary. I am writing to extend our sincerest thanks to the greater Princeton community for supporting our efforts.

Proceeds from the event directly support PBC’s award-winning Summer Bridge Program that allowed 540 young people from Trenton and Newark to spend a week in Blairstown, completely free of charge. Through experiential and adventure-based programming, focus is placed on team-building and leadership skills, closing the summer learning gap, STEM and environmental education. PBC strives to empower young people with the skills needed to create and sustain positive change within themselves, their environment, and in their home communities.  more

October 30, 2018

To the Editor:

The courageous move on October 9 by the vote of the BoE to scale back the expensive old proposed Referendum and replace it with a new doable Referendum was brilliant. The BOE is asking the public to approve, on December 11, the sale of a $27M bond to pay for the security needs and needed repairs and refurbishments to the school infrastructure. A MUST-do-now undertaking. more

To the Editor:

We are writing to thank everyone who attended the Not in Our Town Princeton Forum for the candidates for the Princeton Board of Education at the Princeton YWCA on October 14. Thank you to the approximately 70 audience members who attended in person and the 617 people who have watched the live-stream of the forum so far for taking the time to make an informed decision. more

To the Editor:

We write to urge our fellow Princetonians to vote for Brian McDonald for a seat on the Board of Education.  Brian is an incredibly talented and dedicated member of our community, and we believe that his service on the Board is particularly needed at this pivotal time. more

To the Editor:

What a terrific time I have had serving the fine residents of Princeton. Serving for 15 years on Princeton Council has been a rewarding and fulfilling job. I want to thank each and every one of you for the respect, positive comments and acts of kindness given to me during my political career.  I love Princeton and will always do what’s best for this beautiful town.  more

To the Editor:

In a recent letter to Town Topics [“Endorsing Two Candidates for Council Who Will Deliver ”Message of Resistance,” Mailbox, Sept. 12], the chair of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee exhorted voters to vote the “entire Democratic ticket from bottom to top” as a “message of resistance.” Voters should consider exactly what they are being asked to resist. more

To the Editor:

Of five candidates for three seats on the Board of Education, two challengers bring fiscal experience. The two incumbents represent the old Board, which has responded to community distress by dividing the same $130M in two: one part now, and one to be brought up next year.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Dafna Kendal and Betsy Baglio for Board of Education re-election.

With each School Board election, we put our trust into people we believe will have the commitment, energy, thoughtfulness, and experience to make the best decisions for our kids and community.  These two outstanding women have each proven over the past three years that they possess all of these qualities in spades. more

October 25, 2018

To the Editor:

Around October 12, all parking meters were removed in Princeton.  Since that time there has been free parking for everyone every day.  During this period, the amount of money that has been lost to Princeton government coffers is substantial.  Why were the old parking meters removed before the new ones were ready to be installed?

Linda Sipprelle
Victoria Mews

To the Editor:

I write in support of Mary Clurman’s candidacy for the School Board. Mary is patient, thoughtful, and persistent in her ongoing quest to be certain that all voices are heard on the most important issues facing our town. How we pay and support the education of the next generation is now on our minds. How we can afford to pay more in our property tax is also on our minds.  Mary understands that we need to listen to each other very, very carefully. She has been diligent and fair-minded in this debate and is deserving of your vote.

Sheldon Sturges
Cameron Court

To the Editor:

We are writing to urge our neighbors to vote for Brian McDonald for a seat on the Board of Education on November 6 (ballot position #5). We have worked with Brian for 13 years, both professionally and as volunteers, and know him to be a strong collaborator and consensus builder with the analytical acumen and temperament to successfully get things done. He is the only challenger with relevant professional credentials and proven service to our community. His demonstrated commitment to education and youth development is unparalleled.  more

To the Editor:

November 6 is a watershed moment for the Princeton Board of Education (BOE). It is clear that we need people with fresh perspectives and new skill sets to fill the three open seats.

One of many challenges is that the facilities originally planned by the BOE, the $130 million referendum, carried with them operating costs that exceeded our ability to pay. Costs that would have taken us beyond the revenue we are allowed to raise under the 2 percent state cap. In another words — we have just pulled back from the brink.  more

To the Editor:

Eve Niedergang and Dwaine Williamson will fight to contain property taxes. Although local government spending is only 22 percent of the total amount raised by our property taxes, every increase in taxes is a potential threat to the continued economic diversity of the Princeton community.

Eve and Dwaine have pledged to build on the efforts of Princeton Council to reduce the budget in every responsible way possible. They have promised to question every service and program, for its need, scale, and effectiveness. Nothing will be off limits. more

To the Editor:

In the six years that I have served on the Board of Education of Princeton Public Schools, I have never witnessed an election that is as consequential as this one is for our district and our children. Our public school system is in many ways our community’s crown jewel, and in the past six years, the Board has strived to take a great system and make it even better — more inclusive, more equitable, and more sensitive to the natures of all our children, whatever their social and economic background or learning style.

We need to make sure we have good stewards on the Board who understand this, and truly care about kids first. This year, it is particularly important to elect incumbent Board members Betsy Baglio and Dafna Kendal, because they get it, and it’s not clear to me that all the candidates do.  more

October 17, 2018

To the Editor:

Mr. Cochrane and the Board of Ed tell us there are 200 more students at the high school than the high school has room for, and so they have included funding for four new classrooms in their latest bond proposal of $27 million. There are, however, 280 students from Cranbury who need not be there, so any overcrowding is the result of the Board’s policy of admitting these students. Despite this, just a few months ago the BoE signed an agreement to continue educating students from Cranbury for another 10 years. They have offered no credible rationale for continuing this policy. The tuition Cranbury pays does not even cover the costs of educating the students it sends, let alone providing surplus funds for new classrooms to house them.  more