April 3, 2019

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Please attend or watch the forum and VOTE.

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

March 27, 2019

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

Patricia Soll
Linden Lane

To the Mayor:

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

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

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

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

Charles W. Bushnell
South Harrison Street

To the Editor:

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

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

Ursela Taylor
Caldwell Drive

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

Martin Erhardt
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

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

Doug Rubin
Laurel Road

March 20, 2019

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

To the Editor:

Now in its sixth year, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) held its first adult fundraiser at The Johnson Education Center in Princeton. SHUPP was started with its primary mission to provide weekend meals to school children in Princeton.  The concept was to, in part, supplement the meals some children receive at school Monday through Friday. SHUPP’s motto is “Because a child should hunger for knowledge, not breakfast.”  Today, SHUPP has grown to include other programs such as providing snacks to school counselors  to give out as needed,  funding lunches at summer programs such as Princeton Recreation Camp and the Pre K Jumpstart program at Johnson Park School, as well as a number of other programs as the need becomes evident. more

To the Editor:

The United Nations is marking March 22 as World Water Day with the message of leaving no one behind in its global campaign for clean, safe drinking water that is available when needed for all. At the local level, The Watershed Institute will be marking this campaign on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with events and programs for all ages that focus on our local water and natural environment. We believe that the best way to improve local stewardship of our water is to raise local awareness. We call this “Raising the Region’s Water IQ.”

We are so fortunate to live in a place where clean, safe tap water is so abundant and such an incredible resource that is often taken for granted. Many people don’t know that the vast majority of our drinking water comes from our local rivers, including the Stony Brook, Millstone, and Delaware. The other source is groundwater which has percolated from the surface. more

To the Editor:

Recent actions by the municipality of Princeton have made the already overcrowded and dangerous intersections at Cherry Hill, Mt. Lucas, and Route 206 even worse. What’s more, the new, oversized fueling station significantly and negatively alters the character of the area.

The closure of Terhune Road between Mt. Lucas and Route 206 has created even more traffic congestion. Now all cars coming from Valley and Terhune Roads that want to turn left onto Route 206 must do so at the traffic light where they have to wait for east-bound traffic on Cherry Hill Road to clear the intersection. more

To the Editor:

I am writing a final update concerning Princeton University terminating general public memberships at Dillon Gym. As of mid-February, all public memberships have been cancelled.

Initially, the University’s argument was that it is doing this to relieve overcrowding at the gym. A number of people wrote in after that, arguing that this is not the case. Speak with anyone who actually goes there on a regular basis and you will find that they don’t agree either and many actually find the argument laughable. The University seemed to have realized this and changed their story to one in which they just don’t want to maintain a gym program for the general public. Aside from contradicting their initial PR statements about their commitment to the community, this change in direction plus their unwillingness to even grandfather in those who have been members for decades begs the question: What is the real reason?

It’s been mentioned privately that the University is actually presenting the public with a straw dog argument to deflect from their true reason for eliminating the public from Dillon Gym – to protect their non-profit, tax-free status on the facility. If this is the case it bears further explanation and investigation by the press. more

March 13, 2019

To the Editor:

I am angry! I am also humiliated and perplexed! Let me explain….

My husband and I decided we wanted to adopt a cat — preferably an adult cat, who would have a more difficult road to a permanent home than a kitten. So we automatically turned to SAVE, since we have a long-time relationship with them.  We have been generous donors, attending fundraising events and sending annual donation checks.  We live on a farm so when a SAVE board members asked, we agreed to shelter and feed any feral cats that they felt were unsuitable for adoption. We have received over 20 in the past and a number of them still reside in and around our barns. Along with the feral cats, we also provide homes for unwanted animals from the entire area, resulting in pastures containing emus, llamas, miniature donkeys, and retired horses. more

To the Editor:

Princeton, like other towns in this state, struggles to shave every penny in taxes, and the Council has tasked the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee in helping with this effort.  Given that 29 percent of our property tax dollars flows to the County — 40 percent more than the town’s share, Council requested CFAC conduct a preliminary analysis of County spending in hopes of identifying room for savings.

In response to last week’s letter in the Town Topics from Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes (“Mercer County Responds to Citizens Finance Advisory Committee Analysis,” Mailbox, March 6), we want to make clear that our intention is to engage the county constructively. Our findings show that the taxes paid to the county by Mercer County residents are out-of-line with taxes in similar New Jersey counties — about 25 percent higher, $54 million higher, than the average of our eight peer counties, equating to $1,151 for the average residential tax bill in Princeton.  more

To the Editor:

I decided not to participate in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization endorsement process because of the dues requirement to vote.  While there still remain Standing Rules that give the PCDO (a private club) a role in the Princeton Municipal Committee (who are elected) selection process, reference to paid PCDO vote has no place in the selection process of the Municipal Committee. There is a need to get money out of the process.

Adam Bierman
Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

We live in a great town! I was born and raised here as a little lad; and I remember how well the majority of community members got along and were good neighbors. We had neighborhood block parties and socialized often by just sitting on porches and talking. Many of the children, regardless of race, economic status, or the part of town they lived in would come together to play. We grew up respecting everyone. This same sense of community that I enjoyed during my childhood is the same kind of community that Councilman Tim Quinn would welcome back with open arms. more

Dear Mayor Lempert:

Last Sunday, (March 3) at about 1 p.m. I drove out to Route 1 on Harrison Street. Alexander Road was closed. The traffic backup extended back from Route 1 all the way to the bridge. And my wife had driven back into Princeton on Washington Road about an hour earlier and had noticed a similar backup there for traffic heading to Route 1 from Princeton.

If this was the situation in the middle of a Sunday afternoon in March, I can only imagine (or maybe I can’t) the nightmare we are going to be faced with when Alexander is closed for eight months because of the bridge replacement. We have been told that this is a NJDOT project and that it must be done, and I accept that albeit reluctantly. more

To the Editor:

It is rare that a candidate for local office elicits the enthusiasm and confidence with which I endorse Mia Sacks for Princeton Council. It is time for Princeton to undertake a comprehensive review of our zoning code and municipal planning processes through the lens of social justice. Princeton’s Master Plan and land use ordinances should be updated to more robustly reflect our community values of diversity and inclusion. Mia’s extensive background in civil liberties advocacy combined with her experience on the Planning Board provide her with the requisite tools to participate in this crucial work. more

To the Editor:

I am reaching out to the Princeton community and friends to share my support of Tim Quinn and Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council. I know some of you support other people in the race and I respect a difference of opinion. However, the future of Princeton is at stake. So I support a sense of history and a sense of where we are and the attributes that these two candidates display. They are both qualified, experienced, and committed to Princeton. The town is changing. Issues and community hot topics are multiplying and the town is not the quaint little college town it used to be. With that said, Tim represents continuity and Michelle represents new ideas. Both of these perspectives are needed on Council to support the great efforts of the other Council persons, the mayor, town administrator, and those talented people who work for the municipality and serve our community everyday. more