July 10, 2019

To the Editor:

Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson Development Corporation (WJDC) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation. Its mission is to preserve, restore, and sustain the historic character, diversity, and quality of life of the Witherspoon-Jackson (WJ) neighborhood.

WJDC received funds from a settlement with Princeton University to help economically disadvantaged residents in and from the WJ neighborhood with their housing and related needs.

The WJDC Board currently has 12 directors. A majority are required by WJDC bylaws to be from the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. WJDC is a public purpose organization that, by virtue of its tax-exempt status, does not endorse political candidates and does not represent the neighborhood. more

To the Editor,

We’re Princeton Community Television veterans of long-standing who have a few words to say about the disturbing news that the lights may go out in the studio.

Let’s be frank: Princeton Community Television is not necessary. It’s not a school, or a bridge, or a municipal building. If it didn’t exist tomorrow, Princeton Township would not dry up and blow away. But as we’ve come to realize during the 21 years we’ve been producing and hosting A Fistful of Popcorn, our movie-discussion show, this small station has been a large part of the cultural mélange that makes Princeton unique.

Our main focus has been the small-budget independent features that are the bread and butter of the Princeton Garden Theatre and other local art cinemas. But we’ve also featured guests: local and international filmmakers have sat with us to talk about their work, discussions that had no other platform. We’ve promoted film festivals on the Princeton campus and in town, as well as the Trenton Film Festival, which has a growing worldwide reputation. In addition, we’ve been excited to promote each year several of Princeton Public Library’s film festivals, including its acclaimed Environmental Film Festival and its Student Film Festival. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Theological Seminary proposal for expansion at its in-town campus has been pulled back for reconsideration in the face of considerable distress from citizens. I would urge that the Seminary use the summer period back at the drawing board to consider a solution which would satisfy a major concern of unhappy neighbors and of lovers of Princeton open space. It is a solution which in the long run could greatly benefit the Seminary by freeing up considerable land for other appropriate uses.

The beautiful, historic Green on the Tennant Campus has been targeted by the Seminary’s architects for construction of a four story dormitory. I would urge everyone to drive past the Township’s two-story building under construction at Terhune and Route 206 before endorsing the Seminary’s plan for the Green. The monstrosity being built is like some vulture hanging over 206. It is much lower than the Seminary’s proposed edifice on the Green. Its clone on the Green would destroy a splendid streetscape. See the HPC Subcommittee report to the Planning Board of February 4. more

To the Editor:

I was very pleased to read the letter from Princeton’s mayor and council about the dumping at the River Road site [“Mayor, Council Legally Constrained from Commenting on Criminal Investigation,” Mailbox, July 3].

The letter spoke clearly and directly to residents, without obfuscation or euphemisms. It gave us all the information that could legally be shared with us. It told us what has been done and what will be done. It encouraged us to share our concerns with mayor and council.

After reading the letter, I am confident that Princeton’s governing body has taken the situation seriously and is taking appropriate actions to deal with it. I am proud that we have a mayor and council that are honest, direct, and responsible.

Phyllis Teitelbaum
Hawthorne Avenue

July 3, 2019

To the Editor:

As someone raised in the Jewish tradition, I was taught to view those who turn a blind eye to atrocities as complicit with the perpetrators. Growing reports about the detention of immigrant families — with rotting food and no hygiene, sleeping on concrete floors, belongings discarded, essential medical treatment withheld — suggest that the border crisis has evolved into something monstrously akin to concentration camps. Additionally, most of these facilities do not permit public scrutiny and include Army bases and for-profit facilities across the country, including right here in New Jersey. Many of these detainees are legally seeking asylum from conditions in their country of origin so appalling they have risked their lives to escape.

As we prepare for the 4th of July, a celebration of the freedom upon which our country was founded, what better time to ask: what are our values? How do we demonstrate our commitment to the fundamental democratic principle that all human beings have the right to life, liberty, and dignity? We must not stand by. History, and our children, will judge us by how we respond to this humanitarian crisis. We cannot allow these atrocities to occur in our midst. more

To the Editor:

As Princeton Mayor and Council, we would like to take this opportunity to update residents about the alleged dumping of hazardous materials at the Sewer Department site on River Road. We are deeply concerned and distressed by this apparent violation of the public trust. There is an ongoing criminal investigation, so we are legally constrained in what we are able to say about the situation, but we would like to give residents as much information as possible. We will post updates on the municipal website as new information is available.

Here’s what we can tell you: to date, three employees have been terminated. The municipality may take further administrative action as warranted. The municipality is also reviewing the organizational structure of its sewer operations and tightening oversight procedures. more

To the Editor:

A proud member of Princeton Community TV, The Arc Mercer Inc. is writing to support the station, which continues to provide a valuable service to the disabled community, not only in Princeton, but throughout Mercer County.

PCTV has given the population of the developmentally disabled an outlet to which they have never had access; an outlet to share their visions while educating the people of Princeton about the disabled community.

With help from PCTV’s staff, these individuals have also learned technical skills in television production such as proper equipment usage, interviewing techniques, lighting, and sound amongst many other tricks of the trade. more

To the Editor

When I grew up in the country outside Princeton, some of my best moments were bringing my bicycle to town, visiting friends whose families lived in Frog Hollow, on Hodge Road and nearby streets. These were lively neighborhoods, with kids on bicycles and regular games on the field at the corner of Hibben Road and Mercer Street.

Over time, these streets have become an area (I would no longer call it a neighborhood) of wealthy, increasingly elderly people. It’s unusual to see a child here. more

June 26, 2019

To the Editor:

Princeton’s Inaugural Pride Parade was truly the historic moment we all hoped it would be, as significant as it was fabulous! Thousands of us marched, sashayed, and rolled up the beautiful Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and then were all at once empowered and entertained at the wonderful after-party at the Y. Thank you to the Princeton Family YMCA for allowing the community to use your green space. 

Thank you to our town Council members Leticia Fraga, Eve Niedergang, Tim Quinn, Dwaine Williamson, and David E. Cohen; to our Mayor Liz Lempert; to Assemblyperson Andrew Zwicker; to Maplewood Councilperson Dean Dafis; and to our Governor and First Lady Phil and Tammy Murphy for putting boots on the ground and sharing inspirational remarks before and after the Parade.  more

To the Editor:

I used to think that more than anyone in the recent past, Edgar Palmer changed the town of Princeton the most. He changed it from being a one-horse town to a European style town with a central open space known today as Palmer Square. I still tip my hat when I go past his home at one Nassau Street.

But, today, I just changed my mind. After a walk in Herrontown Woods, to attend the 139th birthday celebration of Oswald Veblen, I realize that he had changed my town even more. Veblen, who recruited many of the original great minds at the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), made sure that the greatest part of Princeton remained open land that was not developed, an unusual thing in Central New Jersey. more

June 19, 2019

To the Editor:

We take issue with a number of unsubstantiated and inaccurate statements that Mr. Cohen has made.

“Recently, a few neighbors came forward to express their dissatisfaction with the current design.”

The reality is that almost all neighbors have opposed the scale of the development being out of context with the residential neighborhood and the massive disparity with what would be allowed under current zoning guidelines.

“Further benefits to public storm water management and our Affordable Housing Plan are expected if the project moves into the next stage of a Redevelopment Plan.”

The contribution to storm water management is as much a function of the impact of mitigating the impact of 180-plus people. There is a substantial concern that the level of local traffic will increase significantly. If built as proposed the benefits of reduced short term commuter traffic benefits are more than outweighed by relocating 35 families and 41 children to Princeton from West Windsor.

“It is also true that the Redevelopment Statute permits the municipality to require financial contributions in connection with a Redevelopment Plan, an important tool that many municipalities use to benefit the public interest.”

The issue in question is that the town has not been clear on the importance and size of financial contributions related to the approval of this project. It is of substantial concern that the current taxpayers of this area are being overridden in terms of their concerns for a short term, one-time contribution to help the fiscal status of Princeton. Mr. Cohen is also involved in negotiating the Affordable Housing settlement and there is an inherent conflict for him to be driving the zoning decision, and negotiating a payment to an affordable housing fund that is directly tied to the density ultimately approved.

“In light of recent concerns raised by these letter-writers and others, the Seminary has proposed a hiatus in the ad hoc committee process to allow them to redouble their efforts over the summer to find creative solutions which will satisfy the broadest cross-section of Princeton residents.”

It is clear from Mr. Cohen’s last statement that he lacks impartiality and a sense of the interests of the taxpayers of Princeton. His reference to voters and taxpayers as ‘letter-writers’ is simply unforgivable and reflects his dismissive approach in public meetings and his bias toward development over community-sensitive changes that better respect established neighborhoods.

At a minimum, to restore confidence in this process, Mr. Cohen should consider stepping down from his role of chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee. His role, negotiating the COAH settlement, creates an inherent conflict.  This may jeopardize thoughtful planning and result in a payment from PTS to help the town deal with their obligation, at the expense of neighbors and tax payers. We need a person leading this process that will embrace the genuine feedback from residents and is seen to be impartial, to fairly consider this development proposal from PTS. 

John and Ruth Sayer
Library Place

Caroline Cleaves
Edgehill Street

Rakesh & Sophia Kumar
Campbelton Road

Anita Wu
Armour Road

Christopher Rice
Library Place

Lee Hagan & Mimi Mead-Hagan
Armour Road

Michael and Susan Head
Hibben Road

Jim and Jo Butler
Hibben Road

Doug Palmer and Christiania Foglio
Mercer Street

Steve and Shirley Kern
Mercer Street

Justin Taffer
Stockton Street

Dean & Jill Mitchell
Hodge Road

Dorothy and Charles Plohn, Jr.
Hodge Road

To the Editor:

I am not going to respond point by point, as I find arguing in public just tends to heighten emotions and entrench peoples’ positions. In the aftermath of last week’s Council meeting, I reached out to this group on Saturday to request a meeting to try to find common ground, and am hopeful that they will be willing to work together to improve the plan, as have so many of their neighbors, rather than close off dialogue and leave us to plan without their input. We have already taken steps to extend the area in need of redevelopment, per Jo Butler’s suggestion at the May 31st ad hoc committee meeting, and slowed down the process to give the Seminary’s designers an opportunity to creatively address the neighbors’ concerns. I remain optimistic – while no one is going to get everything they want in this process, everyone can get more than they thought was possible at the outset, if we all work together.

Councilman David E. Cohen

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area because, with Council’s recent decision to divert for tax relief the cable franchise fees which originally funded Princeton Community TV, voters are losing a significant public service.

Since 2010, and at the invitation of George McCollough, executive director of PCTV, the League has collaborated with Princeton TV to videotape and broadcast League forums. We have covered all Princeton mayoral races and Democratic primary races for Princeton Council, the contested races for Princeton Council and School Board, the Mercer County freeholder and county executive race of 2011, the 16th Legislative District races of 2011, 2013, and 2015, and the 12th Congressional races of 2014 and 2016. George McCollough not only videotapes the forums — adjusting the sound and lighting at the various venues and zooming in on the candidates — but he adds a title and introductory information and then places the name and website of the candidates on screen as they speak. more

To the Editor:

I salute the Bayard Rustin Center for initiating the Pride Parade coming this Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. at the Princeton Municipal Building. Family and community acceptance are hugely important for everyone, but especially for LGBTQ+ youth, so this is not without consequences. The parade is a shout-out of acceptance and affection. The Rustin Center says on its invitation “All are welcome, all are loved!”

Through moderating the local PFLAG support group for families, friends, and allies of LGBTQ+ people these past four years at monthly meetings, I’ve had direct experience learning about multiple families with LGBTQ+ kids. Suicide attempts often come up and are discussed. One father said of his child, “Alive is what I hope for and am thankful for, alive and happy would be even better.” more

To the Editor:

Full disclosure: I’m a Princeton TV member and I don’t live in Princeton — and I’m one of the reasons Princeton no longer wants to fund the cable access station. Yet by paying membership dues and fees for classes, and providing content without compensation, my use is certainly an asset, not a cost (and in line with the original bylaws; PCTV founders sought an inclusive community).

Eons ago I studied filmmaking in college. At the time, unless you had a wealthy aunt or uncle willing to front you six figures, it was impossible to make a film. After 36 years in print journalism, and being downsized as an editor in 2010, I still wanted to use my skills to make the public aware of cultural issues. PCTV, where I’ve taken professional level classes in video editing, lighting, and documentary production, has enabled me to make numerous short documentaries that have screened at film festivals, arts centers, historical societies, and on the station itself. more

To the Editor:

We are about to lose a remarkable public resource that offers viewers the opportunity to comment on issues, events, and news relevant to the community. Princeton Community Television is going to go dark. As a free community access channel that airs programming created locally, PCTV not only offers Princeton residents an outlet to express their views on local issues, but unlike YouTube, the internet and Twitter, provides a physical space where they can meet, collaborate, and organize. It builds community. Media experts George Gerbner  (“The Cultivation Theory”), Tim Wu (“The Attention Merchant”) and Philip M. Napoli (“What Happens When Your Local News is Coming from Another State?”) concur that public participation is key to keeping democracy strong. The intent was to offset the power of cable conglomerates that often set the national agenda with little or no oversight. more

June 12, 2019

To Mayor and Members of the Council:

I have been a show producer at Princeton Community TV since 2014. Often, this show, Despite the Challenges, has rated among the Top 10 most watched PCTV programs. This show presents local talents who, despite impeding circumstances and challenges, have achieved success and go out in the community to do good things. Although these stories hardly make it to major news media, they must be heard; not only to further empower these individuals but for the inspiration they bring to those watching.

Despite the Challenges is one among many quality shows that my colleagues at PCTV produce involving local talents. Without this platform, these inspirational stories would remain unheard. In addition to quality content production comparable to any other community access network in the state, PCTV has extended its resources as a Community Partnership Program to produce award-winning documentaries on important social issues. Needless to say, without resources available to local producers, these achievements would not be possible.

We hope that Princeton will continue to support funding for Community Television.

Ritu Chopra
Executive Director, Film Producer, Speaker

Dear Ms. Chopra:

Thank you for contacting us regarding Princeton Community TV, and thank you for producing programming for the station.

The municipality appreciates the work of Princeton Community TV. Princeton is fortunate to have many community nonprofits doing important work, but these groups are funded privately, not by taxpayer dollars. Likewise, Princeton Community TV should be supporting itself through private fundraising. The decision to cut taxpayer support has also been driven in part by the change in the world of broadcasting. There are now ample ways for video producers to easily share their work that do not incur cost to taxpayers. This may be why nearly every other municipality in the state of New Jersey stopped funding their public access stations years ago. In fact, Princeton is relatively unique in having diverted our franchise fees to fund cable access programming instead of using it for much-needed tax relief. The truth is that many of the volunteers and TV producers at Princeton Community TV reside in municipalities that do not fund their own stations. These volunteers are demanding funding from Princeton taxpayers while they themselves benefit from tax relief provided by their own towns. This seems unfair.

For years, the municipality has encouraged Princeton Community TV to expand its private fundraising efforts. While we support the work of the station, we can no longer afford to support it financially.

Mayor Liz Lempert

To the Editor:

Congratulations to all the candidates who participated in the Princeton Council Democratic primary this June.
As an Independent Democratic candidate for Princeton Council, I look forward to the general election in November when all Princeton voters get to decide who will represent them.

We need a fresh, unaligned and not a conflicted voice concerning municipal issues. An Independent will bring competency, transparency, and the urgent need to make Princeton affordable. Competence for municipal projects, transparency for all public undertakings, and the fiscal determination to make Princeton livable for all people are my goals. Someone is needed who will question past practices that do not advance the welfare and stature of Princeton.

My priorities shall be schools, safety, taxes, and housing. Too often there is inaction by Council members. We need to send them a message in November.

Adam Bierman
Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

I want to thank each and every Princetonian who cast a vote for me in last week’s Democratic primary. Your support signaled that you were ready for a change.

I am running on a platform of increased support for the small business community and smart economic growth combined with a faith that new partnerships and innovations can save our municipality money while continuing to address the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. I consider my victory last week, our victory. We know there are more efficient and more creative ways to run our town, and your votes signify a faith in that future.

Over the past four months, I have walked most every neighborhood in Princeton. I spoke to hundreds of residents who overwhelmingly agreed on a number of priorities. Among these are better infrastructure, access to a more vibrant downtown, and a driving concern over the cost of living that makes Princeton increasingly unaffordable except to the very wealthy. These conversations confirmed my priorities as a candidate and will continue to shape my campaign heading into the general election.

Again, thank you for your faith in my candidacy, and I look forward to continued conversations so I can best represent you on the Council after the November general election.

One final note. To any of you with an urge to serve your community, let my experience be a beacon. After the 2016 election, I decided I wanted to serve my community. I went through the Emerge NJ Program that trains Democratic women to step up and run for political office. I ran for Princeton Council in 2018 and I lost. But I got back up, and tried again. I received neither the party endorsement nor the party line. My point: if you have the desire to run, go for it.

Michelle Pirone Lambros
Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) recently held its fourth annual Links to Youth Golf Outing at the Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg, NJ. The event raised more than $42,000, which will enable middle and high school students from low-income communities to attend our award-winning, weeklong Summer Bridge Program free of charge. The Summer Bridge Program helps nearly 550 students lessen summer learning loss and build critical 21st Century skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking at our 264-acre campus in Blairstown.

Seventy golfers participated in this year’s event, with more than a dozen additional PBC supporters joining us for the evening’s awards presentation, dinner, and cocktails. The winning foursome included Christopher Campbell of Summit; William Charlton of New Vernon; Robert Jones of Summit and Mark Meyer, both of Summit. In addition, the first Ev Pinneo Award, an award given to a staff or volunteer who has gone above and beyond in their dedication and commitment to the mission of the Princeton-Blairstown Center, was presented to Jim Huffman of Princeton Junction.

PBC empowers young people, primarily from under-resourced communities, to strengthen their social-emotional skills through experiential, environmental, and adventure-based programming. We collaborate with schools, university partners, and community organizations to help develop self-awareness, responsible decision-making, teamwork, and leadership skills in the youth we serve.

Many thanks to our sponsors: Mark Antin; Bank Direct Capital Finance; Brown & Brown/Sobel Affiliates of Garden City, Inc.; Bryn Mawr Trust; Fraser Advanced Information Systems; Gennett, Kallman, Antin, Sweetman & Nichols; Harris Rand Lusk; Inside Edge Consulting Group, Inc.; Yvette Lanneaux & Michael Nissan; Mazza Recycling; NJ CAR; Northfield Bank; Bruce Petersen; Pinneo Construction; PBC Senior Leadership Team; PNC Bank; The Princeton Corridor Rotary Club; Tamara Simpkins Franklin; Suman Rao & Kaushik Arunagiri; Unlimited Silkscreens, Inc.; and Chris Van Buren.

It takes a great team to plan and execute a successful event. Thank you to Co-Chairs Sarah Tantillo and Derek Simpkins; Auction Chair Margaret Johnson; PBC staff members Meredith Murray and Maren Morsch; and the Links to Youth Golf Committee. Because of their efforts students from Trenton, Newark, and Camden will have the opportunity to learn and grow this summer.

Pam Gregory
President & CEO

To the Editor:

I want to thank the person whose name is unknown to me for turning over keys I lost in downtown Princeton almost two weeks ago. That you took the time to turn them in to the Police Station is very, very much appreciated!

Marsha Diamond
Spring Street

June 5, 2019

To the Editor:
As well as being a Life Success Coach, I host and produce Natasha, a half-hour interview show for Princeton Community Television (PCTV), doing interviews on topics ranging from “tattoos to nuclear weapons.”
In the past 18 months I have done numerous shows on the opioid epidemic in New Jersey; interviewing recovering addicts, parents who lost children, a retired judge who started a recovery program in jail, drug counselors, a prosecutor, attorneys challenging the role of big pharma, etc. There was something extraordinarily valuable to learn from each of these guests, including resources available in this area.
I have done interviews with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, New Jersey’s SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), NJ Coalition for Peace Action, Womanspace, HomeFront, Penn East Pipeline Resistance, and the New Jersey Sierra Club. I interviewed local youth who started nonprofits. It doesn’t get much more local and relevant.
In the past year I did three shows on scleroderma, a devastating disease that is considered incurable. A Princeton physician working with my guest Jane suggested medication that was not available in the U.S. at that time. As a result, Jane is a walking miracle; as of now, the first person we know of who is cured of scleroderma. Partly because of Jane being unstoppable as an advocate for finding a cure, and because of the attention she got from doing the interviews and spreading the word, as of January 2019 the medication she used has now been made available in the U.S.
In response to the interviews, Jane got calls from all over the world. One of the interviews was aired at a scientific conference in Germany. Temple University has also aired several of my interviews. Why is Princeton so willing to dismiss the value provided by PCTV?
I am one producer of many, who create rich and valuable programming. People have talked about how the studio provides training and courses and opportunities to learn how to produce shows. That’s just one side of it. The other side is the extraordinarily diverse and significant programs that are produced at the studio.
Princeton is known world-wide as diverse, intellectually and culturally exciting, a center of creative thinking. Why would the municipality of Princeton not embrace and support the unique offerings of PCTV?
Princeton receives a cable TV franchise fee. Not all, but only a portion of this has been used to keep Princeton Community Television alive. Recently, there was a statement made indicating that the reason Princeton was refusing to continue allocating the monies to sustain PCTV was that they had a commitment to providing taxpayer relief. How does an annual budget of $232,000 provide significant taxpayer relief?

Natasha Sherman
Life Success Coach
Mercerville

To the Editor:
Our next election to choose the president of the United States is on November 3, 2020. President Trump intends to run for re-election. He may face primary challengers, and the Democratic Party currently has 23 contenders for the nomination.
What does this mean to a new voter? How can a person who has just turned 18 make sense of this complex political scene?
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting and protecting voting rights. In working closely this spring with Lawrence High School student leaders to register new Mercer County voters, we signed up to 50 new voters in one morning. Unfortunately, a significant number of students had little knowledge of what registration and voting are all about, perhaps because civics courses are rarely taught in New Jersey schools.
This letter is a call to action. We encourage school administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, students, and our state legislators to restore comprehensive civics education to the school curriculum and the educational experience.

Margaret Rich
Ewing Township
Marcia Steinberg
Lawrence Township
The League of Women Voters of
Lawrence Township

May 29, 2019

To the Editor:

We write as longtime Princeton residents and experienced professionals in the area of municipal planning and community design. In recent years, we have joined our community in watching with dismay as less-than-optimal decisions have been made that negatively impact the future of our town. We are concerned about the absence of thoughtful, fact-and-design-based decision-making, for aspects and areas of our community in great need of attention — from parking to zoning to affordable housing to infrastructure improvements and many other areas that require appropriate planning.

We believe that Mia Sacks is the candidate most equipped, through background, experience, and proven service to Princeton, to address these deficiencies in municipal leadership. Mia has spent an extraordinary amount of time working to develop a sophisticated working knowledge of our town’s physical character, economic dynamics, political and legal structure. She is well-versed in the fundamental elements of municipal governance — public policy, infrastructure, municipal finance, transportation, education, and land use. more