November 2, 2016

To the Editor:

Locally, the Princeton Regional School Board Election and Mayor Lempert’s published views on public education pre-ordain huge increases in real estate taxes in Princeton. The most important outcome of Princeton’s increasingly excessive expenditures on education is many millions less being available to support alternative, critical community-wide needs. The following, supporting this conclusion, is based on years of experience in leadership and business/financial management roles in educational institutions in both public and private sectors, including the Princeton area.

First, let’s look at just one financial performance metric “Actual Per Pupil Cost” for comparable “High Performing Districts.” Without citing years of published data, the basic facts are that New Jersey Top 10 rated West Windsor schools per pupil costs are over 30 percent lower than Princeton Regional School District’s costs. This gross disparity between districts performing at the highest level in the same county is unjustified and unacceptable. Just because it’s Princeton? The Princeton Board and prior superintendent have been questioned publicly to state what specific STUDENT outcomes justify this large disparity. On an annual budget in the $60 million range, this represents $18 million tax dollars that could be used for other alternative community needs.

Second, the real question is not whether we can afford it or do our students receive a first rate education. Yes to both without question! However, accountability and fiscal responsibility for the public purse demand cost effectiveness in the delivery of public services. The PRS Board has not done the job! The good news is, finally, the electorate has a general election vote. We must each year elect a Board with a strong sense of their responsibility to the community at large and the impact of their huge costs on other priority government programs. Unfortunately, there was no detailed discussion of costs, but pledges of support for whatever is needed for our highly rated district. Only a few general statements were voiced on school budgets and efforts to control growth in costs.

Last, important and of serious concern, were assertions from some stating their belief that the Princeton Regional Schools are “under-funded”! Although not mentioned, this follows the same “Princeton Schools are under-funded” published statement by Mayor Lempert. Candidate Greg Stankiewicz gave his unequivocal support for increased funding of Princeton Schools plus a wholesale endorsement of SAVE OUR SCHOOLS (SOS) activist notions supporting higher taxes for all schools statewide. His spouse is Professor Sass Rubin of Rutgers, co-founder of SOS, and a strong advocate for teacher’s unions. Given key union negotiations early in the new year, can Candidate Stankiewicz participate in negotiations or must he recuse himself as having conflicts of interest?

Rhetorically, on what basis can a candidate for School Board before ever serving in Princeton state unequivocally “Princeton schools are ‘underfunded?’” Seriously? Vote for fiscal responsibility and cost effectiveness in delivery of quality education.

John Clearwater

Governors Lane

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter as a statement of our strong support for Debbie Bronfeld; she is running for a position on the Princeton Board of Education.

We have been friends with Debbie for over 16 years. We met when her youngest and our only child were babies, and we have had the pleasure of watching our children grow and flourish, in their own ways, in the Princeton public schools.

Running for the Board of Education makes sense given what we know about Debbie. She has always been civic minded. Her choices of employment, for example, reveal how she wants to help others. For example, she was the executive director of Dress for Success, a not-for-profit organization that helps women become economically independent by providing professional clothing and the tools needed to succeed. In more recent years she has worked for Mercer Street Friends Food Bank as a program associate, first as a volunteer, then as an employee. Her responsibilities there include helping people sign up for food stamps, and providing seniors with needed food supplies. In addition, she runs a program that provides backpacks of child-friendly, non-perishable food that goes home each weekend with children in 18 schools across Mercer County. She also helps her community outside of work, most recently spending each Sunday registering Princeton citizens to vote.

Debbie has long been a champion of Princeton schools, and she has great long-term reasons to be involved. Both her sons have been in the Princeton Public schools for their entire education, first Littlebrook, then JWMS, and now Princeton High School. Her older son, Harrison, recently graduated from Princeton High and her younger son, Max, is now a junior there.

Not content to just enjoy the benefits of the Princeton school system from the sidelines, Debbie has long been involved in being an active school parent. She was a member of the Parent Teacher Organization at Littlebrook. She volunteered as a room parent, as a worker in Littlebrook’s library and at JWMS’s book fair. She has frequently attended school board meetings as an interested parent. A frequent presence at school functions, Debbie has always been counted on to show her support at concerts, football games, and musicals. Want more evidence of her support? Look across the Princeton High School football field: cups on the fence spell out “Go Tigers!” “Go Blue!” in white and blue. Debbie had a hand in that too.

Debbie is running for a spot on the Board of Education because she wants to work to ensure that all children in Princeton get the quality education that they deserve. We are writing this letter today because we fully support her candidacy.

Wendy Heath, Stephen Kaplan

Benjamin Rush Lane

To the Editor:

Writing for ourselves and not on behalf of the Board of Education, we enthusiastically support Greg Stankiewicz for election to the Princeton Board of Education. Even in a well-credentialed community like ours, Greg is a stand-out; he is brilliant and well-versed in the complexities of educational policy and public finance. His professional experience with the New York City education department, the New Jersey state management and budget office, and nonprofit organizations makes Greg superbly qualified. It’s hard to recall there ever being a school board candidate with a stronger record of relevant expertise.

Even beyond his credentials, Greg is distinguished by his principles. He is passionately committed to providing an excellent individualized education to every child in our community, regardless of their background. He believes our public schools should educate and nurture the “whole child,” and that the arts, athletics, community service, social skills, emotional resilience, and wellness are critical to learning and progress. He knows that engaging teaching can only occur when our educators are well-supported and allowed to develop innovative, student-centered practices. He is dedicated to working with the superintendent and administrators in a transparent partnership towards the community’s shared educational aspirations for our children.

Greg is also one of the most kind-hearted, energetically optimistic people we know. While we regret that we won’t have the privilege of serving with him, we know that our schools will be in good hands if he is elected. Please vote for Greg Stankiewicz (ballot position #2) for school board on November 8.

MOLLY CHREIN, ANDREA SPALLA

Editor’s Note: Ms. Chrein and Ms. Spalla are current members of the Princeton Board of Education. Their terms expire on January 1, 2017. They write as private citizens, and not on behalf of the Board of Education.

To the Editor:

I thank mayor and Council for considering the reinstatement of the Civil Rights Commission as an independent agency. I am a former member of the Commission directed by Ms. Joan Hill. I’ve also used their services.

In 72 years I have experienced a good deal of racial discrimination and/or harassment. One incident stands out. A Sicklerville construction company was hired by the Borough to construct/reconstruct Griggs Corner. While there was a gaping hole, the company parked their trucks in the middle of Witherspoon Street from Hulfish to Paul Robeson Place. As I walked home for lunch one afternoon, the workers were sitting around in their trucks and on the steps of the adjacent buildings having lunch. As I passed, one of the truck drivers sitting high in his truck started loudly singing a song about “Jigger boos.” The other workers joined the chorus. I could not believe my ears. Since they were hired by the Borough, I called the Borough to make a report. Surely someone would assure me they would investigate. My call was transferred to many extensions. Finally, I was able to speak with someone and this is what I was told: “walk another way,” or “just ignore them.” Needless to say, following this exchange I was seething. I called Ms. Hill and told her my experience. She too felt their response was unacceptable. I also called my pastor to alert him that others in the John Witherspoon neighborhood more than likely had been or would be harassed as they passed the site. My concern was that if one of the young men from the neighborhood was approached in this way, there would be bloodshed. My Pastor also contacted Ms. Hill.

When I returned to my office I wrote a letter to the mayor of the Borough. However before I could mail my letter, Ms. Hill, whom everyone knew was a “no nonsense” director, had taken care of the matter. The next day she checked with me to see if I had problems going to or from work. I had none. She told me that the contractor was put on notice that further incidents would mean they would be off the job.

The point is, I had complete confidence in going directly to the Civil Rights Commission with my concern, not through another Borough department. While I know times have changed for the better to some degree, many people in the community would prefer going directly to an independent Civil Rights Commission that they know will address all claims in a timely manner and that has their back.

I’ve heard that “This is Princeton. We don’t need an independent Civil Rights Commission. Princeton does not have these problems.” We know this is not true. This is why I am appealing to the Mayor and Council to reinstate the independent status of the Civil Rights Commission whose sole charge would be matters of Civil Rights.

Jacqueline L. Swain

Lytle Street

To the Editor:

I have known Alex Martin and his wife Maria Sophocles since they moved to Princeton in 2007 from Italy with their four children. For nearly ten years, they have been active members of the community, supporters of the arts and a number of charities, and they have been strong advocates of educational excellence. I was delighted to learn that Alex was seeking a position on the Princeton Board of Education because I believe that he would be a real asset to our school system. From my many discussions with him, I know that he is sympathetic to the needs of a community like ours, which values public education but also understands the challenges of working within a restricted budget. Alex is a good listener and I have witnessed him being tough as well as fair. His four children will all be graduates of Princeton High School in the coming years and therefore he has a vested interest in making improvements where necessary and even changes if appropriate. He has always been approachable and would be receptive to new ideas for approaching old problems. I believe that Princeton is looking for a person who can effect positive change. Alex should be at the top of everyone’s list to help make that happen. I endorse him with enthusiasm and confidence that he will bring commitment and talent to the Princeton School Board.

Ruth Miller

Governors Lane

To the Editor:

In 2025, my son will graduate from Princeton High School, 75 years after his great-grandparents arrived in Princeton to raise a young family. They chose Princeton for the same reasons I moved back to raise mine, as did my mother before me. We cherish and have benefited from the intellectual vibrancy, excellent school system, thriving cultural life, urban proximity, progressive values, and diverse international population.

Princeton’s appeal, as evidenced by the increasing demand for real estate, has led to a critical juncture in the town’s history: how can we preserve the essential character and qualities which make it so desirable without retreating to a nostalgia that paralyzes our capacity for action? Liz Lempert has demonstrated an exceptional ability to actively engage and personally connect with a wide variety of community members. This will equip her in facilitating a coherent planning process that is ethical, equitable, economically productive, and environmentally sound.

In her time as mayor, I’ve had the chance to view Liz through the lens of three generations residing in Princeton — each with its own set of distinct needs and concerns — and to witness her competence in finding balanced, innovative solutions that strengthen the social fabric of our community. She understands that an effective leader must create the conditions for greater civic engagement and has worked with Council to make local government more open and accessible.

Liz is the ultimate antidote to forces that threaten our collective well-being: isolation, entitlement, and indifference. With her as mayor residents are heard, supported, valued, and included in bringing about the changes they envision. Please join me on November 8 in voting to re-elect Mayor Lempert, and in working with her the next four years to shape the future of Princeton.

Mia Sacks

Terhune Road

To the Editor:

Over 2,100 homeless or formerly homeless kids went back to school with new clothes, new shoes, and new back packs filled with necessary school supplies because of the wonderful caring community we live in.

I am once again deeply gratified to report that HomeFront’s Back to School campaign was met with overwhelming support from Mercer County residents. Many individuals, corporations, congregations, and organizations contributed generously so that HomeFront kids were able to start the new school year with confidence and a feeling of fitting in.

HomeFront bears witness daily to families who are unable to house, feed, or clothe their children. While the back to school donations may seem like a small step, they contribute greatly to the children’s self-esteem, which is a critical foundation for their success. The donations also fit into a much bigger picture of getting these children to school and helping them to stay there to finish their educations — and ultimately for them to become productive, self-sufficient adults.

Thank you for all you do for these children. It is a delight to see their excitement as they begin their day with a full backpack and a new outfit. With your caring support, we are fighting poverty and have hope that we can end it one day.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director, HomeFront

To the Editor:

I write to share a few observations about running for Princeton Council and to urge everyone to vote all the way down the ballot on Nov. 8. The sample ballots released last week list “No Nomination Made” in the Republican column for Princeton Council, but neither Jenny Crumiller nor I saw this as a license to take the fall off. With Mayor Liz Lempert, we’ve run an active campaign centered on Princeton and recognizing the broader implications of this election.

We’ve walked the neighborhoods listening to the concerns of citizens, sharing our knowledge of local resources, and offering our vision for an inclusive, welcoming, and well-run Princeton. Our local campaign will culminate at a Coffee With the Candidates event on Saturday, Nov. 5, 8:30-10 a.m. at the joint Princeton/New Jersey For Hillary Headquarters, 138 Nassau St., second floor. We hope you can join us.

What I’ve learned campaigning with them is that Liz and Jenny are remarkable leaders with a passion for a Princeton that works for everyone, from those born here to those who are moving in this week. We believe government can be a force for positive change in our town. As Democrats, our fundamental motivation is to do the most good for the most people.

Jenny, Liz and I were early adaptors of Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” slogan and it proved to be a fitting choice for our joint campaign. We believe the same is true for Princeton: we are stronger together.

Tim Quinn

Wilton Street

October 26, 2016

To the Editor:

We, the undersigned members of the board of Princeton’s antiracism, interfaith organization Not in Our Town (NIOT), write to comment on the proposed ordinance that would once again establish a separate Civil Rights Commission in Princeton. The proposal is good, and NIOT’s members support it. At the same time, we have one strong suggestion for a change in the current draft.

As you know, the principal reason for a Civil Rights Commission is to increase awareness about continuing discrimination, ongoing stereotyping, and subtle forms of racism. The ordinance calls for the commission, among other tasks, to “develop mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious, cultural, and ethnic groups in Princeton and work to prevent discrimination practices against such groups.” That’s all good.

The proposed ordinance also calls for the commission to “aid in seeing that no person is deprived of equal services in this municipality,” and it gives the commission a role — in appropriate cases — in informally resolving the complaints of persons claiming to be aggrieved. This provision is also good, but it leads to our strong suggestion.

Currently, and the proposed ordinance makes no change in this practice, any complaint about discrimination is filed with the Human Services Department of the town. Certainly that route to make a complaint is fine, and we ourselves have confidence in the Human Services Department. But we cannot assume, and Council should not assume, that each and every potential complainant will have confidence in any particular office of municipal government, nor should we further burden the Human Services Department by making it the sole repository for citizens’ complaints. Moreover, it’s conceivable that a complaint may even be against the Human Services Department, or there may be a perception that the staff would be hard pressed to make a finding against the very entity responsible for its livelihood.

Because of this potential, we believe that the ordinance should include an alternative route for complaints, a second way to file, so that any person who feels aggrieved may be confident and comfortable in making their complaint. Filing the complaint directly with the new civil rights commission seems to be the obvious alternative route, and there should be a paragraph added to the ordinance that authorizes the commission to accept complaints directly.

We applaud the Council for re-establishing this commission, and we look forward to its success as Princeton continues its effort to overcome any and all instances of discrimination. Providing an alternate route for complaints is yet another way to help assure that the aims of this ordinance will be met.

Ziad A. Ahmed, Barbara F. Fox, Ted Fetter, Fern Spruill, Wilma Solomon, Joyce Turner

To the Editor:

I moved to Princeton in 2007 with my family after living abroad in Europe for six years; my wife, Maria Sophocles, wanted to open up a medical practice in a community where we could be in striking distance of our parents, and we both needed to have access to top quality public education. Princeton was the obvious choice for us since we are from the suburbs of New York and Philadelphia respectively, and upon arrival in Princeton we enrolled our four children in Johnson Park. Today we have a sophomore in college, a senior and a sophomore at Princeton High School, and an 8th grader at the Princeton Charter School. Our children have benefited from the school system, and for nearly 10 years we have been collecting facts and opinions from friends, parents, and people in the community about what they believe are the strengths and areas for improvement in the Princeton Public Schools. While there are many great ideas, one of the greatest challenges is funding. I have decided to run for the Board of Education because I believe I can help find alternative sources of funding for the district without leaning on the existing tax base. Any community with a strong school system wrestles with how to maintain the quality without taxing its residents to death. And since Princeton has a large number of residents who send their children to private schools, and still others who are here primarily for the University, the tax question is even more difficult because not everyone is benefitting directly from the public school system. And yet, even with the current 2 percent property tax cap, taxes will double for residents in the next 35 years.

My proposal is simple: let’s raise an endowment. I have served on multiple boards in my professional life, and have raised money for the last 25 years. An endowment can tap into different donors than the Princeton Education Foundation and help provide a reliable income stream to complement other fundraising initiatives. There are many examples of great public schools that have created endowments, and there is no reason we could not do the same for Princeton Public Schools. If elected to the School Board, I will make this a priority. Since three of my children will still be graduating from PHS, I have a vested interest in improving the school system; as someone who hopes to retire here someday, I also have a strong desire to make Princeton an affordable option. An endowment is not the only answer, but most certainly could be part of the solution.

I hope on November 8 you will give me the opportunity to give back to the community and elect me to Board of Education.

Alex Martin

Hun Road

To the Editor:

We strongly endorse Greg Stankiewicz’s candidacy for the Princeton Board of Education. Over the past 30 years that we have known him, Greg has impressed us as a thoughtful and analytical thinker who is also a consensus builder. From his previous experience with the New York City Board of Education where he focused on issues of equity in funding, to his more recent work with non-profit community development financial institutions that served low income communities in New Jersey, Greg formulates opinions and makes decisions that are in the best interest of the whole community. Greg believes in the right of every child to receive an equal educational opportunity, regardless of race, socio-economic background, or intellectual ability. His previous experience will be very helpful in solving the growing student population issue that the district is currently facing. If class sizes continue to grow, it will become more difficult for teachers to teach effectively and for children to learn to the best of their abilities, especially those with learning differences. Greg would be a staunch advocate for his trusted constituency, the very children who represent our future. Princeton would be lucky to have an intelligent and hardworking individual like Greg Stankiewicz making sound decisions as a member of the Princeton Board of Education.

Betsy and Darma Ie

Carriage Way

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Debbie Bronfeld for the Board of Education (BOE) elections this November. I have known Debbie for over 10 years; as a volunteer at school and as a friend. She is a true supporter of the Princeton Public Schools and a true believer in our town.

During our children’s elementary years, Debbie volunteered as room parent, library volunteer, garden club, field day, and has been an integral part of the Board on PTO. During her years as vice-president of Community Service, she worked on service learning projects for each of the six grades at Littlebrook, food drives with themes that operated all year long, clothing drives and UNICEF. The communication between her and the teachers and the parents was vital in order to be so successful. During our children’s time at John Witherspoon and PHS, she was integral to the annual Book Fair, engaged in Super Saturday, and volunteered to help with Prom and PHS Band Events. Being a part of her children’s school lives, both as a parent and volunteer, she discovered that she really wanted to make a difference in school. She attended BOE meetings during the teacher contract negotiations as she wanted to voice her support for the teachers and for the programs for our younger children and those children coming up behind ours. She attended town meetings during the AvalonBay planning as the population entering would affect the population of our schools.

Her main platform is to preserve the quality of education for our students despite the growth in enrollment and the challenges of the school budget. She wants our school system to continue its success. And most importantly, she wants to ensure that each child is valued and each child is safe in our schools.

Beverly Kuo-Hamilton

Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

Having lived in the Princeton area for the past 12 years, I’ve always been impressed with the passion at which my fellow residents take up certain issues. I may not always agree with their opinions, but no one can deny the passion.

I’d like to highlight a safety-related issue that will be virtually impossible for anyone to take the other side.

It’s the epidemic that exists in our town with texting while driving. As an avid runner, it’s very likely you’ve seen me running through the neighborhood on a weekend morning. What I see, unfortunately, is an unbelievable amount of people who are texting while driving. This behavior needs to stop. There’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to ever text while driving. If you’re looking down at your phone, then you’re not looking at the road. I see people blatantly holding up their phones directly in front of their faces, believing they have a better chance of reading their phones in addition to seeing the road. I can assure you both cannot be seen at the same time.

My children will soon be getting old enough to ride their bikes around the neighborhood on their own. The fear I have of them being run over by a distracted driver will very likely prolong my letting them ride on their own. I see our police “hiding” out looking for speeding cars, giving out tickets. While I applaud those efforts, what steps are being taken to reduce distracted driving? Stand anywhere along a busy Princeton street and watch 100 cars go by. Tell me how many are texting. Something needs to be done. Mayor Lempert and town council, what are you doing to keep my family safe?

Bret Jacknow

Farrand Road

To the Editor:

It took a few hours to figure out why they would take our shoelaces and belts. Another day to comprehend why trash cans held paper bags, not plastic, why towel hooks behind bathroom doors swiveled to prevent their staying upright, why towel racks and shower curtain hooks were absent, why they confiscated bags with straps and disallowed hand sanitizers and Q-tips, why they observed us as we shaved, and why they inspected our rooms every 15 minutes, during the first 24 hours, sometimes longer.

Yet it took no time at all to see how a community of patients struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction or more could develop a bonding affinity and love for one another at the Princeton House In-Patient facility. Regardless of who we were, our professions, socio-economic background, gender, religious or sexual identity, or our propensity for self-harm, we were each like anyone else, and we are each like you as well. If you disagree, look into yourself deeply, we are none of us much different from one another. Two weeks ago I was terrified to walk into a ‘psychiatric hospital’ — yet it was no ‘cuckoo’s nest’ — rather a safe sharing space — and walking out with increased awareness and self-recognition is an affirmation of the importance of caring for our most crucial asset — our minds.

I lost two friends to suicide last year, both in Princeton, and last month mourned the loss of Owen Bardzilowski — one of two students lost to suicide within five years at Princeton High School. Whether or not you know someone with a mental illness, and regardless of your perception of your own mental health, I’m certain there’s a good reason why you should partake in a conversation on mental health and suicide prevention. Over 40 of your neighbors attended a community forum on suicide prevention this past Sunday in Princeton. Please get involved by sharing your own story creatively on November 12 at the IYCC Poetry Slam (www.iyiprinceton.com) and by supporting SPEAK OUT, Princeton Teens at their first community meeting on December 3 (www.speakoutprincetonteens.com). There is #NOSTIGMA in walking through vulnerability — isn’t THAT how we get to the door of courage?

Adnan Shamsi

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

Peter Marks, who is running for mayor of Princeton, is a lifelong resident and a problem-solver who understands Princeton’s current challenges — challenges that will determine our town’s future for years to come. Marks believes that current local policies are incoherent. Although support of “sustainability,” “diversity,” and “affordability” are voiced, there is no concern for the unsustainable burden of population growth which will result when the many huge housing developments are completed. Marks realizes that if this continued development is permitted, the character of our cherished Princeton neighborhoods and the small town feel of the community will be forever lost. To begin to solve the threat of over development, Marks, as mayor, will ensure that differing Borough and Township zoning regulations will be combined and rationalized after over four years of delay under the current administration. (Can you imagine that consolidation is still nor complete?)
I love Princeton and for this reason I’m supporting Peter Marks for mayor and I urge you to do so as well.

John Irving

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

Any leader up for our vote to continue in office should be asked two questions: What did you accomplish on our behalf in the past? What do you want to help us achieve in the years ahead? In my opinion, the answers that Liz Lempert can provide to each question more than justify both our thanks — and our votes — on November 8th.

During her first term, Mayor Lempert steered us on a steady course through the legal and administrative intricacies of the first municipal consolidation in New Jersey in over a century. Almost as important: the president of Princeton University now meets regularly with the governing body to cooperate in planning for the future.

In matters of traffic and transportation alone, the pay-off is already measurable. The municipality and the university are hard at work to create an integrated, convenient local transit service to help people get around town and reduce vehicular traffic on our streets. Next spring a municipal bike share program will complement the university’s already popular service and help lessen traffic still further. The town has launched a “Complete Streets” planning process (in which the university participates) to provide for balanced convenience and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike. Further, Princeton was the first community to initiate the state’s “Safe Routes to Schools” program and the first in New Jersey to take up the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Safer People, Safer Streets” challenge. Result: a “Street Smart” local campaign is already in its early stages.

The list of current and future initiatives goes on:

• At the municipality’s urging, 20 percent of the university’s Merwick-Stanworth apartments are affordable housing open to non-university residents.

• Zoning and building regulations of the former borough and township are now under examination to determine how they might be modified and harmonized to protect neighborhood character.

• An analysis of ways to improve our downtown streetscape is underway.

•A comprehensive bicycle route plan is nearing completion.

Specific plans (the first in the state endorsed by the World Health Organization) are in place to help ensure that the community remains “age-friendly” as the numbers of seniors in our population increase.

In my view, even this partial inventory of actions taken and actions planned fully warrants a vote for Liz Lempert to keep us on track toward a still better future in an already wonderful town.

Ralph Widner

Elm Road

To the Editor:

All Princeton residents know our town is special! It’s safe, welcoming and walkable. Our schools, the Princeton Public Library, Princeton University and the Art Museum, McCarter Theater, and Labyrinth Books, among other entities, provide residents with standout educational, cultural, and intellectual opportunities. Peter Marks cherishes and wants to preserve these entities and can be counted on to do so. He was born and raised in Princeton, attended its public schools and understands and appreciates what makes our town the outstanding place it is and how to keep it that way.

As mayor, Peter Marks will halt over-development, preserve the neighborly character of neighborhoods, and enhance the green belt encircling the town. He will reduce onerous permit application fees and trim municipal spending by focusing on essential services.

Peter Marks is a problem solver with the vision, leadership, and dynamism that will ensure that Princeton stays the special town that it is today. Please join me in keeping Princeton special by voting for Peter Marks on November 8.

Doug Miles

Poe Road

To the Editor:

Over 2,100 homeless or formerly homeless kids went back to school with new clothes, new shoes, and new back packs filled with necessary school supplies because of the wonderful caring community we live in.

I am once again deeply gratified to report that HomeFront’s Back to School campaign was met with overwhelming support from Mercer County residents. Many individuals, corporations, congregations, and organizations contributed generously so that HomeFront kids were able to start the new school year with confidence and a feeling of fitting in.

HomeFront bears witness daily to families who are unable to house, feed, or clothe their children. While the back to school donations may seem like a small step, they contribute greatly to the children’s self-esteem, which is a critical foundation for their success. The donations also fit into a much bigger picture of getting these children to school and helping them to stay there to finish their educations — and ultimately for them to become productive, self-sufficient adults.

Thank you for all you do for these children. It is a delight to see their excitement as they begin their day with a full backpack and a new outfit. With your caring support, we are fighting poverty and have hope that we can end it one day.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director, HomeFront

To the Editor:

The Friends of Princeton Public Library held their Annual Book Sale on October 14-16 and enjoyed a beautiful fall weekend with booklovers from near and far. The Book Sale is the culmination of months of work by dedicated volunteers, and depends on the generous donations of Library supporters throughout the year.

We would like to thank the wonderful staff at Princeton Public Library, whose knowledge and commitment was crucial to the success of this event. We are especially thankful to the Development Department and Buildings Department for their guidance and wholehearted assistance, and to the Teen Advisory Board for their enthusiastic involvement. We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of our friends at Princeton Public Schools, the Arts Council of Princeton, Corner House, Princeton University, McCaffreys, and Witherspoon Grill.

The large team of book-loving volunteers who worked so hard and with such spirit made this event an absolute pleasure for all involved, from the youngest child picking out a book for the first time, to the knowledgeable collector searching for a special find. Thanks to our generous Princeton community whose support once again increased the amount raised for the Library. Even more heartwarming was the sight of the many Princeton residents heading home with bags full of treasures, and smiles.

Seva Kramer and Claire Bertrand

Co-Chairs of the Friends of the Princeton 

Public Library Annual Book Sale

October 12, 2016

To the Editor:

A chief concern of Princeton residents is how quickly massive, expensive houses are replacing viable smaller ones. Princeton has issued permits for 218 tear-downs since 2005, 37 already this year. These new structures both make neighboring houses look small and, with their double garage doors, seem to shut out the community.

This May, the town hired a consultant. Under contract for one year. Mark Keener plans to meet three times with individual neighborhoods. The research links Keener offers at princetonneighborhoods.org make clear the universality of the problem: new houses are simply replacing existing ones that are 1/3 the cost. I urge readers to follow the links for a broad picture of the issues involved.

What can be done? And how long should it take? The links offer examples.

According to the Minneapolis MINNPOST, Minneapolis was able to pass a one-year moratorium directive, or “demolition delay,” giving everyone time to develop “a solution that spares older homes from complete destruction and replacement.” It took effect early in 2014. Before final approvals, staff took the initiative to enact rules of operation to reduce the effect of construction noise, dust, etc., on the neighborhood.

Later the same year, 16 zoning code changes took effect, limiting roof and foundation heights, increasing setbacks, requiring features such as basements and detached garages, and including garage space in the ratio of floor area to lot size.

The city also produced a Toolkit for Neighbors of New Construction “to help neighbors navigate the bureaucracy, explain the construction management agreement, and give advice as to how to exercise their rights,” i.e., an educational outreach both to builders and the residents to help each understand the others.

Minneapolis continues to evolve, but there is now a balance between old and new. The Council member who proposed the moratorium ”got a lot of heat,” but the moratorium itself “got the builders’ attention.”

Could Princeton similarly take action? The 2017 update to Wellesley’s response to gentrification suggests that its government has spent seven years to come up with a plan. Let’s not let that happen here.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

Peter Marks is prepared and qualified to be Princeton’s next mayor. It’s time that Princeton has a mayor who understands Princeton’s past, having lived in the town all his life, and has the expertise and knowledge to lead it into a prosperous future. Peter Marks is that person!

Marks, who is a commercial real estate developer, believes that property taxes are a critical issue that must be addressed in order to maintain the quality of life in Princeton. When elected mayor, Marks plans to go over the budget, line-by-line, and eliminate expenses which are unneeded or frivolous.

Marks also believes that the Council has cut the wrong services. For example, cutting back leaf and brush collection and snow removal was a mistake and a promise broken by the Council who promised not to cut these services.

When elected mayor Marks will stop blaming Princeton’s problems on the schools, the county, or the state and take responsibility for solving these problems, instead of spending time piling ordinance on ordinance on ordinance!

Carol N. Wojciechowicz

Herrontown Road

To the Editor:

As a long-time environmentalist, I support the election of Liz Lempert to another term as mayor of Princeton. Liz has an informed and mature understanding of the interaction between our natural environment and the well-being of the community. She sees the big picture in relation to open space preservation, recognizing its connection with curbing flooding, clean air, temperature modulation, and the mental/physical health of the citizens of Princeton.

Liz recognizes that actually preserving land has to be given high priority in the use of our open space tax, because open space is a limited and disappearing resource. (The recent news articles about the University’s plans for Springdale Golf Course, long counted by many when calculating our “preserved” open space, highlight this point.) Liz well understands the tremendous leverage available from state, county, and private sources to preserve land, and has been very successful in bringing money from other sources — particularly the County open space tax fund — to help fund our purchases.

Liz has been a strong supporter of Princeton’s efforts to implement principles of sustainability, resulting in awards and grants to our community. Having served with her on the board of Sustainable Princeton, I found her analysis and appreciation of the issues to be both sophisticated and practical. Under her leadership, the town has made and continues to make strides on sustainability issues such as energy conservation and use of fossil fuel alternatives.

Liz was vigilant regarding the safety and environmental issues related to TRANSCO’s Leidy pipeline project, testifying at DEP hearings and making sure her staff was on top of developments and responsive to community concerns. She also recognized early on that there are serious and troubling issues surrounding the proposed, unnecessary PennEast pipeline that would go through preserved farms and open space and near homeowners’ wells, and supported a resolution opposing this project.

We are fortunate to have Liz’s environmental knowledge and commitment available to help guide our town’s choices, now and in the future.

Wendy Mager

Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Debbie Bronfeld for school board representative in the November 8 election. I met and worked with Debbie as a volunteer at the JWMS book fair years ago and have spoken to her regularly at PTO meetings over the last seven years.

I recently met again with Debbie to discuss some of the challenges facing the Princeton Public Schools over the next few years. Most importantly, how will the school system address the issue of the Town’s continuing expansion and increased school enrollment which is leading to increased class sizes, lack of space classroom space that will require eventual capital investment for new facilities and the corresponding difficulty for all students to obtain classes they want or obtain the individual attention they may need?

Debbie fully understands these challenges and her work experience in program management and budgeting at large and mid-size corporations and, over the last decade, at non-profit organizations, make her uniquely suited to represent parents and students on oversight of the Princeton Public Schools. Her concern and vision that every student in public schools receive an excellent and balanced education will allow for the continuation of the excellent public school system providing outstanding and appropriate education for all children in Princeton for years to come. I hope you will join me in voting for Debbie Bronfeld on November 8.

Robert Dodge

Maple Street

To the Editor:

Greg has a stellar combination of knowledge and experience: he completed his Master’s and PhD degrees in domestic public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He has worked in budget and financing for the New York City Board of Education and for the State of New Jersey; assisted the president of a national foundation focusing on how best to educate disadvantaged youth; and, most recently, served as COO for a nonprofit organization that finances affordable housing and community facilities in low-income neighborhoods throughout our state.

Greg will bring his skills and prior experience to our School Board. His priorities are protecting and nurturing inclusion and equity so that all of our students can thrive; fighting to guarantee that our children are treated as whole human beings, rather than as test scores; and increasing capacity to meet increased enrollment in the most fair and cost-effective manner.

We wholeheartedly endorse Greg because our public schools will be stronger if he is elected.

On November 8, we urge you to vote for Greg Stankiewicz for the Princeton Board of Education.

Ravi Bala 

Valley Road

Martha Land

Westcott Road

Sudha Nagarajan 

Valley Road

Judith Zinis

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

It is good to see that Princeton is moving forward with deploying solar panels for clean power production [“Municipality Moves Ahead on Solar Energy,” Town Topics, Sept. 28, page one]: every kilowatt hour generated by these panels means one kilowatt hour less is generated from burning fracked natural gas and mountain top removal coal.

However, it is equally important that the municipality capture the maximum revenue from these projects, funds which can in turn be invested in additional equipment that reduces or eliminates fossil fuel consumption, for example, geocoupled heat pumps, EV chargers, or battery-powered cars. While for homeowners, direct ownership rather than leasing or a power purchase agreement (PPA) for a rooftop solar array is overwhelmingly preferred, the municipality may not be willing or able to take this step.

In this case, the approach used by Princeton University should be considered. In 2011 the University signed an eight-year zero-money-down agreement with a private developer to build a 5.2 megawatt solar array on land covered by dredging spoils from Lake Carnegie. The array was paid for by sales of SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, one certificate created for each 1,000 kWh generated by the array) and electricity to the University: all of the risk was assumed by the developer. After eight years the University will take possession of the array and will receive free electricity as well as ownership of the SRECs (which it pledged to retire rather than sell).

The University array used the highest efficiency solar cells available and solar tracking for 80 percent of the panels. This maximized array power output but increased costs, and thus payback time and risk, substantially. A conventional array such as that being built at the Sewer Authority would cost substantially less and would need perhaps a five to six year contract. After this period the benefit to the Sewer Authority would be about four to five times what it will now realize from a conventional PPA.

At the time the contract was signed University spokespeople expressed the hope that their agreement would be used as a model for other risk-averse organizations. Unfortunately this has not happened.

In addition, it should be remembered that SRECs are paid for by a surcharge on all utility customers, including those in cities such as Newark that cannot take advantage of the program. We all have an obligation to see that these incentive payments are as effective as possible in reducing fossil fuel consumption.

Alfred Cavallo

Western Way