February 26, 2019

To the Editor:

OK—I get it. The Princeton First Aid Squad has needed a new home for a long time and locating the new headquarters across from the Municipal Complex/Police Department makes all the sense in the world. However, the new location also meant moving the “Municipal Gas Pump” to the adjacent property bounded by Terhune Road, Witherspoon Street, Route 206, and Cherry Hill Road.

When most of the mature trees were taken down last fall, my concern piqued, but maybe they were diseased with ash borer beetles? Nevertheless, strike one — the municipality would probably prevent me from removing established, large trees from my property. Then the surrounding privacy chain link fence was erected to obscure the public’s view from what’s being built and now I know why — strike two. Initially, what looks to be an above-ground gasoline storage tank was intrusive, but last week when two large steel support posts towering over the fence were erected, I sensed a significant problem. And now, the atrocious, commercially lit square canopy is just begging for a neon Exxon sign — strike three. more

To the Editor:

Regarding “Hundreds Gather to Protest Emergency” [page one story, Feb. 20 Town Topics]: This gathering focused on WHO wants to build a barrier on the Southern border and the PROCESS that is being used to try to achieve it.

It would be far more useful if the tens of thousands of IQ points gathered in Hinds Plaza were used to debate the real questions that must be answered: Would the American people be safer and have a better quality of life if the barrier were built or if it were not built? What are the upsides and downsides of the possible decisions?

An honest, beneficial debate would only consider proven facts and expert inputs, not be distorted by politics, personalities, and ideologies.

Arthur Stoller
Ironwood Road,Skillman

February 20, 2019

To The Editor:

We residents of Princeton, New Jersey live in a community that is the seat of a world famous institution of higher learning. Faculty, students, and others from all over America and around the world come to Princeton to teach, study, learn, and accrue knowledge. There is culture in Princeton, good restaurants, a good local school district, and a safe, clean community. Our taxes are high, but living and working in Princeton is considered a privilege. And yet, every time I drive across the intersection of Harrison Street and Nassau Street, with all the potholes, ruts, ditches, my car vibrates, shakes, and veers off to the side, dangerously. With all the taxes we pay in Princeton, with all the amenities, why is there an intersection that is emblematic of a banana republic, a country that is struggling financially, culturally, a country that is unsafe and unhealthy for the citizens who live there. I implore the local government of our community to fix, pave, re-surface that intersection so that crossing Harrison and Nassau is safe and secure for all drivers and that it is emblematic of the community of which we should all be proud.

Howard W. Silbersher
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

I am delighted that Mia Sacks has decided to run for Princeton Council and offer my enthusiastic support. I have watched her deep commitment to our town’s well-being in many capacities, and her ability to approach problems with an open mind, a listening ear, and a determination to find solutions that are a win for everyone involved.

Like Mia, I grew up here and returned later with young children to avail myself and my family of Princeton’s unique opportunities. I’m impressed with Mia’s dedication to the town she loves, and appreciate that her belief in Princeton’s greatness lies not just in its past or a simple nostalgia for “the way things were,” but rather in a vision for what Princeton can be. On Council, she will ensure that our town plans for the future in a proactive and progressive way. more

February 6, 2019

To the Editor:

The last major untouched portion of the Princeton Ridge, 90 acres of meadow and forest at the crest of Mount Lucas, directly adjoins our street. But the Princeton Planning Board will hear a proposal this coming Thursday to build a large and intrusive housing development there.

The property owner is Lanwin Development Corporation, one of the largest and most aggressive in the state. Their site plan calls for 30 McMansions on half-acre lots, 100 feet from our backyards. It demands wetlands destruction, massive traprock blasting, and the loss of the finest old-growth hardwoods in central New Jersey. Herrontown Lane was designed in the 1970s as a small, explicitly environmental development, the first and only such project in Princeton: buried utilities, no streetlights, minimal disturbance, maximum preservation. The Lanwin site plan is utterly unsuited to the special conditions of the Ridge, and its approval will ruin our peace and privacy, cause serious runoff damage to our homes (and also the hundreds of townhouses along Blue Spring Road), add traffic to narrow, heavily-used Herrontown Road, and create a powerful precedent for the inappropriate development of Jasna Polana and Springdale Golf Course.

We invite anyone interested in the issue of overdevelopment in Princeton to attend the meeting. This hilltop, if preserved, could be the keystone for a spectacular greenway running from Rocky Hill to Lake Carnegie. And these 90 Ridge acres are historic as well as lovely: Annis and Richard Stockton of Morven courted there; George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Paine all knew it well. In later centuries, the Herrontown uplands sustained Dutch, Irish, and African American farmers. Now they protect dozens of threatened and endangered species. To save this last section of the Ridge is to save the best of Princeton.

Time and place: Princeton Municipal Building, Main Auditorium, Thursday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Anne Matthews and Will Howarth

Herrontown Lane

To the Editor:

I have been a regular commuter on the Dinky and a parking permit holder for a number of years, both for environmental and convenience reasons. Before the suspension of the Dinky, my one-way commute to upper Manhattan on a “good” day (when NJ Transit trains were not delayed) took two hours door-to-door. The replacement bus service has added another half hour to that commute, as the buses to the Junction leave earlier than the train did to allow for traffic on Alexander Road; there is a wait for the bus after my usual train back from the city (not the case when the Dinky was in service), and that bus then sits in rush hour traffic going back to the Dinky station. Luckily for me, I have grown children, and this extra commute time does not carry an additional childcare cost, though I’m sure it does for some of my fellow commuters.

Having recently renewed my permit, I have just learned that Dinky service will not be restored before work on Alexander Road begins. I can’t imagine what traffic will look like once that happens. And given that I live on the north side of Princeton and have to cross Washington Road to get to the Dinky station anyway, I won’t see any point in parking there just to be driven back to Washington to get to Princeton Junction. I’m sure many of my fellow commuters will feel the same way, and we’ll be contributing to the traffic trying to cross Route 1, which will exacerbate an already terrible situation.

Elizabeth Hamblet

Wittmer Court

January 30, 2019

To the Editor:

On January 21, the Arts Council of Princeton welcomed our community to the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts for a series of discussions and activities in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am writing to extend my sincere thanks to our community partners who helped put the day together, and to all the attendees who made the day truly special.

The day began with a community breakfast, sponsored by Princeton University, which featured speakers Reverend Lukata Mjumbe, pastor of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate and professor and director of creative writing at Princeton University. In their own unique ways, they provided the audience with challenging, yet uplifting, interpretations of the meaning of the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and why we hold a day of celebration in his honor.

Following the breakfast, community members of all ages enjoyed art activities presented by local organizations.  The Historical Society of Princeton, JaZams, and the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice all contributed to make it a thoughtful, interesting, and art-filled morning.  At the same time, participants completed a collaborative mural and the Princeton Family YWCA sponsored a successful canned food drive to benefit HomeFront.

The event concluded with a phenomenal performance by the First Baptist Church Choir. To have over 100 members of our community singing and dancing in our Solley Theater was the perfect way to end such a meaningful day.

My final thanks goes to the staff of the Arts Council, who once again produced a fantastic event, enabling us to bring together friends, neighbors, and strangers to share the life and lessons of a great American.

Jim Levine
Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

As an environmentalist, when I walk around different Princeton neighborhoods I’m really depressed to see how many people are making the mistake of putting their recycling in plastic bags, or lining their recycling bins with plastic bags. PLASTIC BAGS CONTAMINATE THE RECYCLING STREAM, ensuring that many of the recyclable cans, bottles, No. 1 and 2 plastic containers and paper go instead to a landfill. When people put their recycling in plastic, they are undoing not only their own good work in taking the trouble to segregate recyclables and put them out for collection, but that of their neighbors. PLASTIC BAGS MUST NOT BE PUT IN WITH RECYCLING THAT IS COLLECTED CURBSIDE. Plastic bags can be recycled separately in 17 locations in Princeton that are listed on Sustainable Princeton’s website. Residents who generate more recycling than their current buckets can hold can get up to four more FREE at the Department of Public Works, 27 North Harrison Street (behind the fire house), Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Please neighbors, I know you are trying to do the right thing; don’t make this one fatal mistake!

Wendy Mager
Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

When the county tapped Princeton to pilot curbside collection of organics back in 2011, I was skeptical, despite being a strong supporter of environmental initiatives in town. It seemed inefficient — the heavy truck chasing down green carts scattered around town, the hour-long drive to distant composting centers struggling to stay open, the considerable staff time spent promoting and coordinating.

I was less than impressed because I knew there was a better way, having lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, yardwaste is collected in rollcarts with double or triple the capacity of the small green rollcarts used for Princeton’s organics. The large rollcarts accommodate not only leaves, sticks, and clippings from the garden, but also any foodscraps residents wish to toss in. It’s all collected once a week, and the foodscraps are so diluted that they are barely noticeable in the windrows of composting yardwaste just outside the city. more

To the Editor:

Given how valuable the Dinky is to our community, how can we accept the fact that New Jersey’s public transportation company has found it to be too small to matter?

Is it not time for those of us who cherish it to alleviate NJ Transit’s pain by stepping up and creating a public private partnership to run the Dinky as it should be run?

Alain Kornhauser and Elizabeth Monroe
Cleveland Lane

January 23, 2019

To the Editor:

At the end of January, the state Senate will vote on a bill that would diminish the local voice in the care of trees and shrubs, particularly those in the right-of way along streets, including trees on private lands whose branches extend over the right-of-way and those in municipal parks.

The Vegetation Management Response Act (S2505) would do this by exempting public utilities and cable television companies from needing to comply with municipal laws and, more generally, from taking local vegetation management priorities or concerns into account. The Assembly recently passed the bill (A2558) with nearly unanimous approval.

The bill is presented as if it is urgently needed to prevent disruption of electric power supply during extreme weather events. But the mandate and the authority to carry out vegetation management to ensure reliable electric supply was granted to electric utilities more than a decade ago under state statute and rules. This bill is not needed for that purpose. more

To the Editor:

We are now one year after the #MeToo movement began, but for so many, justice does not exist. The YWCA Princeton is focused on building a safe, economically secure future for women and girls. Our mission, which is to eliminate racism and empower women, can only be accomplished when we secure a future that is free from social inequities. Every action counts and now is the time that we need you to step up.

On Thursday, January 24 the YWCA Princeton will host a community forum on sexual assault and gender-based violence, right here at our building on 59 Paul Robeson Place in Princeton. We will be joined by Womanspace, #NotOnMyWatch, and Princeton University’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising unit. Both events are free and open to the public. More information can be found on our website, www.ywcaprinceton.org.

Join us in this fight, march with us, and believe survivors.

Judy Hutton

Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Princeton

To the Editor:

I would like to suggest that Princeton consider returning to a recycling method that we used for many years before curbside pickup began. That is, a central collection station (which used to be at the Princeton Shopping Center) which could serve as a location for people to drop off organic compostables. With an attendant (as we had in the past), it should be possible to monitor what is dropped off and also cut fossil fuel consumption, since it does not involve large trucks driving all around Princeton. In fact, perhaps other municipalities/local shopping centers could follow suit if this were to prove successful. A shopping center with a grocery store is ideal because so many people go shopping for food and could conveniently drop off their organics at the same time. Perhaps a similar drop-off point could be set up (seasonally) once a week in conjunction with the farmers market near the Princeton Public Library, as well.

Anne Soos

Hun Road

January 16, 2019

To the Editor:

There are many groups in Princeton who espouse fine civic concerns. I imagine that if several of them approached the authorities to suggest that we shut down the center of town for half a day in order to demonstrate peacefully, the idea would be dismissed out of hand. How ironic that the threat of some white supremacists standing in the middle of Princeton on January 12, 2019 to represent their own repugnant beliefs achieved this peaceful plan and more.

Lacking the white supremacists, the quiet demonstration by hundreds of townspeople, University people, and likeminded visitors, was a success. But we did not get to everyone’s civic concerns! I would be inclined to suggest that we do this again in a few weeks (minus the white supremacists), were I not concerned for Princeton’s beleaguered downtown merchants who lost revenue, and the taxpayer expense of the dozens and dozens of fine policemen who protected us all from each other.

Tobias D. Robison
Longtime Jefferson Road Resident 

To the Editor:

While the Dinky did lose 22 percent of its ridership after the relocation of the Station, 78 percent of its original ridership has remained and is holding strong!  Before the temporary suspension to help NJT with its Federal PTC retrofit deadline, ridership losses on the Dinky had leveled off despite the apparent allure of parking permits at the Junction. Princeton is slowing initiating it’s GoPrinceton transit campaign. The Dinky is now poised for some real growth.   

While there have a been a few days during the year where NJT unforgivably has had service problems, by-and-large the Dinky has delivered passengers day-in and day-out on-time at the Junction with just a short passenger hop onto waiting trains. There are a lot of advantages that Dinky riders enjoy over those who use Junction parking, hiking through the parking lot in the wind, rain, and snow, day-in and day-out. 

There are big problems with the substitute buses. Passengers get caught in traffic like everybody else, not to mention that big pause at the Alexander Street Bridge!  Use of the buses has added tremendously to commuter time and uncertainty for Dinky riders, and contributed to area congestion. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton organic recycling program’s last pickup will be on January 30, because the accepting farm kept finding too many non-organics, especially plastic, in the mix. There was a warning sent to all subscribers last fall which was not heeded, and the farm said NO MORE.

Suggestion: If the pickup people look into a green can and see unacceptable material, they should just flip open the top and not collect the contents. (It would be nice if they could leave a sticker saying “Unacceptable” or “Refused,” but they are busy and wearing gloves.)  

Sometimes the trash is put out by people who are not the owners/managers and may not be able to communicate with them directly. However, if the recycling is not picked up, the message should get through.

Ruth E. Scott
Governors Lane

January 8, 2019

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at McCarter Theatre Center, we would like to thank the community for the incredible outpouring of support and generosity that we experienced during the run of our annual production of A Christmas Carol.

We were delighted to welcome over 28,000 people to see this show. Many in our audience experienced live theater for the first time, and others have made A Christmas Carol an annual holiday tradition. In addition to our regular performances, we offered five student matinees and shared Scrooge’s story with 4,800 children from area schools. more

To the Editor:

I have to assume that our elected officials were either completely bamboozled by consultants or do not have an ounce of sense. Why else would they change from a perfectly good parking payment system to the new one?

As a longtime Princeton resident, I have frequently supported restaurants and businesses in town. No longer. We are relegated to fumbling with change purses or struggling to read dark meters. Or, we are forced into a $1 minimum should we opt for a credit card. And rates have ballooned to pay for these undesired changes. On principle, I refuse to use an app with a 35 cent surcharge per (often small) transaction. I will continue to visit the library, but I presume the library lot will be ‘full’ with greater frequency, as visitors avoid on-street parking.

So, while there are already quite a number of empty Princeton storefronts, I would expect that number will grow as other Princetonians, like me, opt to take their business elsewhere due to this unnecessary change.

Kristine Olson

Lawrenceville Road

To the Editor:

Yes, the Dinky service isn’t perfect and needs improvement, and yes the new station could use some do-able improvements such as holders for paper schedules, improved handicapped accessibility, more flexible seating arrangements, and the relocation of the historic exhibit into the new Station complex so that kids can see it without going into a bar.

But let’s step back and reflect on the institutional environment that has gotten us this far. Significantly, despite the negativity surrounding the Dinky there has been and continues to be private sector interest, the best possible vote of confidence in its future. To be clear, yes, there are people willing to put their money where their mouth is: for example, I am aware of an investor group with extensive railroad experience interested in operating the Dinky service with purpose-built equipment, along with additional stops and increased frequency. But they are not interested in investing in a political quagmire, and such initiatives will continue to go nowhere as long as the basic question of NJT’s governance stands in the way. more

To the Editor:

May I offer a suggestion concerning the Alexander Road bridge replacement?

When the replacement happens might it be possible to adjust the timing of the traffic lights on Washington Road and Harrison Street (intersecting at Route 1) to accommodate the dramatic increase in traffic? Otherwise the typically crummy rush hour back up will become truly horrific.

While you are making that timing adjustment, perhaps consider also changing up the lights at the intersection of Alexander Road and Carnegie Center Drive? The lights currently are timed to stop traffic on Alexander upon demand from Carnegie Center Drive traffic, but this makes little sense. A small number of cars on Carnegie Center Drive will oblige a full light’s worth of Alexander Road traffic to stop, sometimes just as those cars are accelerating from the stop light on the Route 1 bridge. This causes a back up of large numbers of cars that can sometimes extend back to Canal Pointe Blvd intersection. more

To the Editor:

In 1989, my mother, Katharine O’Neil Bidwell and her cousin, Elsie Hillman, sat in a Westminster Choir College board meeting wringing their hands. The realities facing the tiny choir conservatory with its small classes, one-on-one instruction and challenging fundraising demographic made it clear that Westminster needed a partner or it would close.

My mother and aunt had a vested interest in keeping the college alive. Their grandmother (my great-grandmother), Katharine Houk Talbott, was Westminster’s first benefactor in Dayton, Ohio. An opera singer, she helped create the school; Westminster’s Talbott Library is named after her. The Talbott family has endowed scholarships and family members have served on the boards of Westminster and Rider University. Aunt Elsie and Uncle Henry’s legacy lives on in Hillman Hall in Westminster’s Cullen Center. Their foundation endowed a fund that supports recruiting and performance activities. The Bidwell endowment, named for my mother, supports training for opera singers. more

January 2, 2019

To the Editor,

I share the frustrations of those experiencing difficulties using the municipality’s new parking system and want to assure residents and visitors that members of municipal staff are working daily with our vendors on fixes while exploring all possible alternatives. While I can’t speak for all of Council, I expect my colleagues and I will be taking action this month. It is certainly my first priority.

As a member of Council’s Public Works Committee, I know that the overhaul of our parking system was necessary: multiple antiquated meters were breaking down daily and rates hadn’t increased in a decade. Revenue raised by meters funds maintenance of our parking infrastructure and is used for property tax relief. more

December 19, 2018

To the Editor:

When I recently visited the grave of my deceased daughter, I discovered something that would leave any family heartbroken and disturbed: the owners of the Princeton Cemetery had torn down the twin miniature pine trees that flagged her headstone. My wife and I planted these trees 18 years ago when our daughter passed away. Seeing them uprooted and destroyed left us reliving this very painful period in time. In telling my family what happened, they were moved to tears. more

To the Editor:

We are writing in reference to the article [“Neighbors Stress Traffic Concerns At Meetings on Seminary Project,” Town Topics, December 12, p. 5] that covered a recent meeting sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed redevelopment of Princeton Theological Seminary. The article indicated that residents of streets that border the PTS campus “seemed especially concerned about traffic issues that already exist.” more

To the Editor:

Three thoughts about the metergate issue roiling our little town, summarized as: 1. Thank you; 2. Please explain; 3. Watch out.

Thank you: I am grateful to our friends and neighbors who serve on our municipal boards and commissions and committees. While they are spending their evenings on folding chairs in brightly lighted meeting rooms to grapple with civic matters great and small, I am enjoying a book and glass of wine in my favorite chair in front of the fire. Theirs is largely thankless work, and so I thank them now. more