October 12, 2016

To the Editor:

On page one of last week’s Town Topics [“Battlefield Society Continues Opposition to Institute Plans,” Oct. 5 ], there is the following paragraph: “Last week’s statement by PBS claimed that the housing project would “wreak havoc on historic Maxwell’s field, the site where George Washington charged to victory during the January 3, 1777 Battle of Princeton.”

The point of a scholarly pamphlet I have just completed, called The Story of Maxwell Lane, is to show that there is no and never was such place as “Maxwell’s Field.” Mr. Robert C. Maxwell moved with his family to Princeton in 1922. My work presents a history of the vast property called “Mercer Manor” from the days of William Penn to 1956 when the Institute completed its acquisition of land. Copies of this pamphlet are now on sale at the Labyrinth Book Store.

Marilyn Aronberg Lavin

Maxwell Lane

To the Editor:

Recently our daughter, Laura, died. She was a quadriplegic, a condition resulting from a car accident she occurred more than 40 years ago. She was 17 at the time. In the many years that followed, one of her great pleasures was offered by the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped and their books on tape program. Through this program she was able to enjoy “reading” many hundreds of books using their services. When the special tape player, which they provided, faltered, they replaced it, often within two days. This wonderful organization did all it promised with remarkable efficiency. I am writing in the hope that your subscribers may wish to send a small donation to this worthy organization. Their address is:

Friends of the NJ Library for the Blind & Handicapped, PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

Raymond Burger

Coppermine Road

To the Editor:

This year, New Jersey voters can learn non-partisan information about candidates by going to the League of Women Voters’ new online guide at www.VOTE411.org. By entering their address, voters can find out if they are registered and the location of their polling place, see their ballot, and compare the responses of candidates to League questions. Voters will also find interpretations of ballot questions, including the pros and cons for supporting them.

Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund in October of 2006 and introduced state by state, VOTE411 is a “one-stop-shop” for election related information. Now that the League of Women Voters of New Jersey has joined, local Leagues hope that voters seeking non-partisan information about local races–such as freeholder, township committee, and school board–will go to the site.

On Thursday, October 20 from 6:30-7:30 p.m., 12th Congressional District candidates Steven Uccio and Bonnie Watson Coleman will meet in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, East Windsor-Hightstown, Hopewell, Lawrence, and Monroe. The forum is hosted by The College of New Jersey in Ewing at the music building’s Mayo Hall. Questions will be taken from the audience, and a videotape of the forum will be posted on the site given here and on each League’s website.

Chrystal Schivell

Voter Service chair, 

League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area

October 5, 2016

To the Editor:

The person in charge of the traffic lights in Princeton needs to do more homework or at least pay attention to the mess that’s been brewing.

Traffic in Princeton could move much more efficiently than it does, especially at rush hour. The traffic lights and the pedestrian crossing lights are terribly out of coordination. When one wants to turn on to Nassau Street from Witherspoon Street, for example, as the traffic light turns green, the pedestrians are given the go to walk across Nassau Street halting any vehicle from going left or right. Therefore, only 3 cars can get through before the traffic light turns red. This is also the case at Nassau and Vandeventer.

SOLUTION: Why not stop traffic completely at all lights to allow pedestrians to walk in any direction at the same intersection?

Also, the following traffic lights should offer a pause (or left turn light) for the lane that wants to turn left:

1.  Bayard Lane and Paul Robeson/Hodge

2.  Paul Robeson and Chambers/John

3.  Hamilton/Harrison

4.  Franklin/Harrison

5.  Vandeventer/Washington Road and Nassau

Chambers Street to Nassau Street is becoming a nightmare. The sign offering certain times for left hand turns must be changed to NO LEFT EVER!  Drivers are not able to make a left there as they can’t maneuver the task, so traffic sometimes gets backed up to Bank Street. SOLUTION: No left turn allowed on to Nassau from Chambers.

Then you get to the mess on Nassau between the light at University Place and the light at Route 206 where traffic is wanting to turn off and on to Mercer Street and vehicles approaching Nassau from Mercer need to go left or right with and against the traffic already moving in both directions there.

SOLUTION:  close the top of the lane that approaches Nassau from Mercer, sending that lane over to the light at the top of University Place.  From that light, vehicles could then go north or south on to Nassau.

These changes would require a coordination between the County traffic coordinator and Princeton Municipality engineer but the time has come for action.

Martha F Stockton

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Chambers Street

To the Editor:

I was born, raised and educated in Princeton.  I have and will always consider this my home, but for most of my adult life I have never been 100 percent comfortable here, I have never felt like I “fully belonged.”

Sad commentary…right?  It is sad, but it is also true.  The good thing is that when Liz Lempert became our mayor, my feelings began to change.  I am not a clinical psychologist, but I will tell you that Liz hears voices…not just some voices, but all voices.  She is the consummate listener.

As chair of the Princeton Housing Authority’s (PHA) Board of Commissioners I know and have seen firsthand our mayor’s willingness to jump into the fray to help solve problems.  When children of PHA residents had an issue with transportation for afterschool programming at the Little Brook School, she was there.

On numerous occasions during the yearlong discussions of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood becoming the 20th historic district in Princeton, I and others sought the sage advice of Liz and Council members to navigate through the process and bring the ordinance to a successful conclusion. Although the decision seemed like a “slam dunk” to many because it was long overdue and “the right thing to do,” nothing could be further from the truth.

Had it not been for her guidance, balance, compassion, and stewardship along with strong and strategic community based activism in guiding the process we might still have only 19 historic districts in our town. In difficult, daunting and uncertain political times this seminal, momentous, and impactful decision represents no less than a “rebirth” for our town and because of Princeton’s unique place in American history, our nation as well.  For this, she has earned the respect and gratitude of many.  Our mayor is accessible.  She shows up at community based events, communicates effectively, and maintains an open office at the Public Library.  To promote diversity Mayor Lempert made Princeton one of only 80 municipalities in the country to celebrate “Welcoming Week,” an annual series of events where communities bring together immigrants and U.S.-born residents in the spirit of unity to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone, including new Americans.

Under her capable leadership, Princeton is now more inclusionary, more diverse, more open, more fair-minded, more welcoming, more friendly, and yes, more American.

Under a consolidated Princeton our police department led by a capable chief has assembled and can boast the most diverse group of law enforcement officers I believe, anywhere in the state of New Jersey, and quite possibly the entire country! Great things have happened under her watch. “We” are getting things right!!!

In November’s upcoming election I will not be voting for Liz because I’m a Democrat, I will be voting for her because for the first time in my life I feel like I’m not just from Princeton but I belong here, and I am now more proud than ever to call it my home.  My message to my mayor…

“leadership is everything…thanks for everything!”

Leighton Newlin

Birch Avenue

To the Editor:

I am writing to lend my strong support to Liz Lempert as she campaigns for reelection as mayor of Princeton.  I have personally witnessed her commitment to principles of equity and fairness.  She has labored without respite to address the needs of residents while standing at the forefront of farsighted urban development.

Princeton is at a crossroads—to become a gilded cage mostly populated by older, whiter, affluent people or to aggressively pursue a future where people of diverse backgrounds are welcome with open arms.  The first option will turn Princeton into an illustration of all that is wrong with American cities—greater residential segregation, greater concentration of wealth for the benefit of a few, and greater social inequality.  The second option will make of Princeton an example of hospitality, inclusion, and democratic participation consistent with the best American ideals.  Liz Lempert understands this.  She has worked hard on behalf of affordable housing, civil rights, better transportation and multiple measures to improve the quality of life for all residents, including low-income families, racial minorities, and immigrants.

Liz knows Princeton from the bottom up; she has the knowledge and experience to improve our collective life. She also has the temperament to address the needs of our growing population.  Her second term will not be solely about promises but, more significantly, about the fulfillment of  projects she has started and will soon blossom for the benefit of many.

A vote for Liz Lempert is a vote to uphold the best, most constructive sense of who we are as residents of Princeton.

Patricia Fernández-Kelly, Ph.D. 

Mason Drive

To the Editor:

Room to Read’s Central NJ Chapter would like to thank all involved for supporting our benefit concert, A World of Music, to help fund our programs in literacy and gender equity.  We thank our sponsor, Addteq, Inc., and  our audience. We also thank the Princeton Regional School System for the rental of the Trego-Biancosino Auditorium at PHS, and we celebrate and thank our wonderful musicians.  On Sunday, Sept. 11, our audience heard Princeton soprano Jenna Rose Venturi sing the National Anthem, followed by 11 young women from Princeton HS’s own Cloud Nine, Lauren Almstead, Leah Hirschman, Talya Inbar, Annie Kim, Lauren Morelli, Maisie Ryle, Ella Shatzky, Natalia Thomas, Nina Tillmann, Francesca Verge, and Heather Wertenbaker. The program continued with an exploration of Maya literature, music and poetry in Spanish, Maya and English by John Burkhalter III, Carlos Hernandez Peña and Berta Rivas Harvey.  Their Words and Music from the Land of the Jaguar brought an international and historic depth to the afternoon’s program. The quartet, Nadam-Serenity in Sound, played music from the carnatic tradition of South India, and Toronto’s Neeraj Prem, a sitar virtuoso, played music from the northern Indian tradition. Our music came from East and West, and from many of the countries of North America.

The concert helped fund local language publishing in Asia and Africa, scholarships for girls in ten countries, and the construction of schools and school libraries.  For more information about Room to Read’s work, please visitwww.rooomtoread.org, or search for Room to Read’s  You Tube channel.  Please also visit Anne Reeve’s CONNECT show this fall on princetontv.org for a discussion of Room to Read’s activities in Princeton.  Volunteers are welcome through www.roomtoread.org/chapters.

We invite all to a Wed, November 30 evening book launch at Princeton Public Library for Recipes Worth Reading, a community cookbook  that supports Room to Read’s work.

Sarah Branon

Ranjana Rao

Nicole Smith

Central NJ Chapter, Room to Read

To the Editor:

I’m writing to support Debbie Bronfeld for a seat on the Princeton Board of Education. Debbie has been a Princeton Public Schools parent since her son Harrison, PHS ‘15, began elementary school; her son Max is a junior at Princeton High. She knows our schools in and out, volunteering for many school activities as her sons moved through the school system. She has an MBA and a professional background in business, working as a financial analyst, internal auditor, and other similar positions for major companies.

Debbie’s real passion is for helping people in need. She was the founding executive director of Dress for Success Mercer County, helping low-income women return to work. She works now at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, where she began as a volunteer and is now a program analyst involved with food stamps and Send Hunger Packing, a school program that sends food home with students experiencing food insecurity. Debbie also spent many years volunteering for the Special Olympics.

Debbie is concerned with our schools’ current and future jump in enrollment. And she naturally has a particular focus on the opportunity gap that some of our students face. She and I were both involved with the difficult teachers’ contract negotiations two years ago. We felt then that the quality of our children’s education, the central issue of our schools, was in danger. The teachers’ contract will be up for renegotiation during the term of the Board of Education members we elect now.

With her understanding of our schools, her business background, and her lifelong focus on public service, Debbie is highly qualified for a seat on the Board of Education. I hope you’ll join me in supporting her.

Amy Goldstein

Snowden Lane

September 28, 2016

To the Editor:

Thank you for your article last week about local efforts to resettle refugees victimized by war in their country [“Helping Refugees Is a Way of Life for Local Citizens and Educators,” Sept. 21, page 9]. We should be proud as a community to see how many individuals and groups in Princeton are, by their small gestures, making life-changing differences for others.

I was mentioned as “the ESL teacher” for Nassau Presbyterian Church’s sponsorship of one Syrian family. But in fact our daily English classes — and indeed everything to do with this project — is the result of teams of people, both parishioners and others in the community, who have come together to volunteer their time and talents.

One extremely important arm of volunteers went unmentioned in your article. They are our Muslim and Arab-American neighbors who have quietly stepped up to make a critical difference. They have provided invaluable support, especially serving as Arabic translators at school registrations, doctor appointments, English classes, etc. Their sensitivity to the family’s needs has been a touching reminder of our common humanity and goodness. With a range of customs and traditions, we are richer for our reliance on one another.

Beverly Leach

Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

I appreciate the family of Princeton High School Freshman Owen Gerrard Bardzilowski for their willingness to share the cause of Owen’s death [“Community Responds To Student’s Death With Deep Grief, Support,” Town Topics, Sept. 21, page one]. It’s important for survivors, family, friends, and community to understand the angst we all encounter, whether we’ve had suicidal ideations, acted upon them, or are among those left behind to ask “why?” after loved ones have left us.

It is too reductive for us to suggest this simply is an issue of mental illness, when here in Princeton suicide has become pervasive. Two of my friends killed themselves in 2015, four months apart, both local Princeton residents. We all know of other suicides in our area. The first I heard of just as I moved into town 10 years ago — of the mother of a special needs child — which touched me deeply being father to an autistic teen now at Princeton High School. We know too of suicides before and after this, in our town, 2008, 2011, 2014, among these another Princeton High School and another Princeton University student. And we know that within the last three years 10 students have killed themselves at nearby UPenn, and in nearly all cases no one expected anything was wrong. No danger signs. No red flags. Nothing.

There needs to be a conversation started, and delved into, and there need to be more safe sharing spaces, the type that exist at some area yoga studios, the monthly book club at Gratitude Yoga, the weekly Breaking Bread fellowship in the tiny side chapel of Nassau Presbyterian, among the friendships formed in the Princeton Yurt community, the Men’s Sharing Circles around town, and the classrooms of the Princeton Learning Cooperative. Also of course the open doors at Hi-TOPS, Trinity Church, and Good Grief. These are some of the bridges over our troubled waters. NAMI-Mercer’s annual Harvest of Hope will take place on October 1st, where Princeton High School students from the NAMI Stomp Out Stigma Club have volunteered every single year since the club’s founding — this too is a bridge. Safe spaces exist; we just need to open these doors, and let others in.

Some of us ask “What can we do?” What we should not do is blame ourselves, nor feel despondent that we did not do enough, nor that what we did not do makes it our “fault” — it’s never anyone’s ”fault” — this does not serve those we love dearly.

Instead, how about this? First, don’t wait too long to share your own story — so I openly share that I myself have suffered from severe anxiety most of my life, and periodically from debilitating depression, and yes this can be a struggle, yet I have come through it, and continue to do so. And second, the next time someone asks you “How are you?” respond honestly, so they can too. I’m feeling terribly sad, and my thoughts are with the Bardzilowski family, and the students of Princeton High School.

Adnan Shamsi

Nassau Street

To the Editor,

Electronic Waste, or e-waste, is a growing problem in New Jersey. The State’s Electronic Waste Management Act, enacted in 2010, mandates that manufacturers of electronics recycle a determined amount each year but the legislation has not kept up with the increased volume of e-waste being produced. As a result, municipalities are facing either paying for recycling or stopping collection as has happened recently in Burlington County. Additionally, many free e-waste collections by retailers have shut down or are charging a fee for items, some rather steep, and are not accepting equipment over a certain size.

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly have drafted bills A-2375 and S-981 to fix some of the provisions in the law; however, it is not clear if the provisions will be adopted into the Act. In the meantime, we hope that residents’ recycled computers, televisions, monitors, laptops and other electronics at Princeton’s annual S.H.R.E.D.D.temberfest event last weekend. If you were unable to make that event, the Mercer County Improvement Authority has two remaining electronic recycling events in 2017 on Saturday, October 1 and Saturday, November 19. The Municipality of Princeton’s Convenience Center on River Road is another resource for recycling most e-waste. It is very important to recycle these materials properly because they contain mercury, cadmium, lead and other materials that are toxic in small amounts.

Remember, the best way to reduce waste is to not produce it in the first place. Please consider the impact to the environment and the costs of disposal when making a decision to purchase electronics.

Heidi Fichtenbaum

Board Member of Sustainable Princeton and Chair, Princeton Environmental Commission

Sophie Glovier

Vice Chair, Princeton Environmental Commission

Christine Symington

Energy Director, Sustainable Princeton

To the Editor:

I’m writing to support Liz Lempert’s re-election as mayor because her outstanding leadership and fiscal responsibility provide continuity so necessary for well-being in our community. Though she would be quick to reject individual credit, it is significant that Princeton has won many grants and accolades during her administration. These grants and honors underscore Liz’s commitment to all residents, providing new support or recognition in such critical areas as improving our environment and strengthening our family services.

As a result of Liz’s diligent work with dedicated staff and resident volunteers on clean air and traffic reduction initiatives, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission awarded Princeton a $196,000 grant for a bike-sharing program with the potential to reduce auto use in town. Developed in partnership with Princeton University, this grant provides bikes to share for community members, students, and non-residents, along with covered bike parking areas. To help address street safety and congestion, our town under Liz’s management has also received grants of $65,000 for a parking study and $300,000 for a “safe routes to school grant” for traffic signal improvements.

Extending family services has been another hallmark in Liz’s tenure as mayor. Under her watch The World Health Organization in 2016 presented Princeton with a citation as an “Age Friendly Community,” the first of its kind to be received in New Jersey. Additionally, her diligent staff generated proposals resulting in almost half a million dollars to Corner House and other social agencies in town for reducing youth substance abuse especially, and to lessening addiction and alcoholism at all ages.

An excellent manager, Liz Lempert’s skills of persuasion get residents involved. Community members speak with her and she shares their concerns with staff to transform that input into grant applications. The resulting awards, and not from town coffers, go far to address many urgent projects and services.

I hope you’ll join me on election day to vote for Liz Lempert for mayor for another four years, continuing to bring honors to Princeton, by providing new money, and not at taxpayers’ expense, for many urgent projects and services.

Doreen Blanc Rockstrom

Maidenhead Road

September 21, 2016

To the Editor:

We strongly support the candidacy of Liz Lempert as mayor of Princeton. We have a general interest in the fiscal health of the town and the quality of its services. Our specific interests are parks and open spaces, and special education; particularly autism education and treatments. Pamela has served on the Town’s Environmental Commission and on its Shade Tree Commission. In addition, she has served as president of the Marquand Park Foundation. Roland has served as investment director of the State for over 20 years and finally as State Treasurer, retiring in 2001. From time to time, we have brought our concerns to Liz, in her capacity as mayor, and she has always been open and attentive, and has always made positive recommendations. She has been directly involved with the care of Marquand Park, and she attended special occasions at The Princeton Child Development Institute, a school for autistic children that our family founded in 1970. She provides intelligence and commitment at the highest level to the citizens of Princeton.

Roland and Pamela Machold

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Princeton’s Democrats might reasonably ask why they should consider voting for an aging, white, often grumpy, Protestant male — i.e. a stereotypical Republican.

Perhaps the beginning of an answer can be found in what I think it means to be Republican.

I am the son of a historian who met his future wife at Princeton Theological Seminary. Both cared deeply about people, language, and religion, both became teachers, and both were lifelong Democrats.

I cast my first presidential vote for George McGovern, a man whose faith in human decency caused him to trust that public sector employees would tend to act in the public interest — with the result that government would tend to be a force for good.

Forty years in banking, finance, and real estate have broadened my perspective, making me much less trusting. I have watched in stunned disbelief as fortunes are
accumulated by people whom my principled banking employers would not have permitted to come through the door; as large organizations thrive despite wasting appallingly large sums of money; and as adventurers earn obscene profits by acquiring and gutting old line businesses — cheapening product lines, discharging legions of employees, and shipping production facilities offshore.

And I have watched with increasing dismay as government divides our nation, impairs our economy, obfuscates causes and effects, flouts our laws, and enriches the officials who claw their way to national prominence. In a pattern that is as old as time, federal, state, and municipal officials extract more and more tribute from the populations they govern. Grand sounding laws are enacted. Regulations are imposed. With each new law and regulation we become a little less free. Problems fester; hiring becomes increasingly impractical and/or unaffordable; favored entities are enriched; out of favor entities are savaged; curtailed access to private sector credit throttles our economy; and our elected officials respond by promising more of the same.

I agree that big business is often predatory, but so is big government. The premise of big government is that people are pirates at heart and that, if left to themselves, the strong and the wily will prey upon the weak and the gullible. That may be so. But why would anyone believe that the solution is to submit to government by the pirates? In the private sector I at least have the freedom to choose which products, if any, I wish to buy. Government decrees, by contrast, are compulsory. They usually benefit few but their sponsors. And, more often than not, despite grand sounding titles, they compound existing problems.

I would greatly prefer to lead my own life, make my own choices, bear the costs of my many mistakes, impose as little as possible on my neighbors, and grant my fellow citizens the freedom to do the same. That, to me, is the essence of what it means to be a Republican.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

To the Editor:

This summer we celebrated The Fresh Air Fund’s 140th summer of serving children from New York City’s low-income communities. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to our extraordinary Fresh Air volunteers, hosts, and supporters in Central and Southern New Jersey for their dedication and commitment.

Fresh Air host families open their hearts and homes, and share the everyday joys of summertime with their Fresh Air friends. I am inspired by the commitment of our local volunteer leaders, many of whom are also hosts. They
volunteer to interview prospective host families, help recruit new families, and plan special activities. I would also like to thank the individuals and local businesses who so generously give their time and resources to make The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Towns Program throughout Central and Southern New Jersey a great success each year.

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities. Each year, nearly 7,000 children enjoy outdoor summer adventures through visits with volunteer host families along the East Coast and Southern Canada and at The Fund’s five overnight camps in Fishkill, N.Y. Fresh Air children also participate in year-round leadership and educational programs.

Contact Colin Reinstedt at (212) 897-8970 or visit www.freshair.org to learn more about hosting a child through The Fresh Air Fund.

Fatima Shama

Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund

To the Editor:

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is to be commended for advocating the stockpiling of food and other necessities against the day when these might become unavailable. [“Hughes Urges Residents To Prepare for Emergencies,” Town Topics, Aug. 31, page 6]. I hope all who can will respond to his message and set up emergency supplies of their own.

The goal of stockpiling a three-day supply can be attained by nearly everyone. But it is only a token amount of preparation. There are many threats that would cause greater shortages for longer durations.

The British people have been told that they are only nine meals away from chaos. The German government has recently advised its citizens to have a ten-day supply of food and water(!) on hand for emergencies. Our Mormons require each family to stockpile a year’s food, in preparation for the next year that the crops fail. When they formulated this rule, no Federal or State government was able to provide emergency supplies. On a large scale, there still isn’t any government that can (remember Katrina?).

Now a local government official has implicitly admitted as much, and by doing so now has also implied that the likelihood of an emergency has increased, and the time for action has arrived. We need to fully understand that we are individually responsible for our own survival in a large-scale emergency and that we should be personally prepared for it.

Ronald Nielsen

Humbert Street

September 14, 2016

To the Editor:

Princeton has quite a diverse community, those with high incomes and those with low, those with high net worth and those with low, those with advanced degrees and those with none, those who are literate and those who are not, those advancing in age and those very young, those born in America and those born throughout the world. It is these differences and the fact the town embraces them that makes Princeton the special place that it is.

Liz understands these differences and makes every effort to support and celebrate them. By recognizing diversity, she recognizes that there are needs for all. While it is impossible to provide for all needs, she recognizes that regardless of the size of the town budget, it is constrained and that compromises need to be made and made fairly.

Liz, together with the Council, continues to make Princeton the place we all like to call home. While the Council does not agree on all issues and all solutions, it is Liz’s demeanor that sets the tone. With her leadership, all Council members have a voice and are free to express their opinions. The result is a consensus that leads to a resolution.

With Liz’s leadership, the Town encounters and resolves issues as they arise. In a diverse community, there are many opinions. Not all residents will be satisfied with every solution. But one just needs to look around and observe the Town and its people and its community and its activities to bask in its positive atmosphere.

Every day, Princeton is a community most desirable to live in and it’s in large part due to the leadership in our government. That’s why NJ Monthly ranked Princeton in the top 10 percent most desirable communities in New Jersey. It all flows from our Council members and the leadership they and the mayor provides.

Four more years is a good thing. Please join me in supporting Liz’s candidacy for reelection.

Ross Wishnick

Edgerstoune Road

To the Editor:

More than 22,000 people in New Jersey die each year from heart disease and stroke. But we have the power to dramatically reduce that number. Each of us can do that through more exercise and a better diet, and by supporting the work of the American Heart Association.

I’m asking members of the community to join me and NRG Energy in supporting the American Heart Association’s 2016 Central New Jersey Heart Walk, which will be held at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton on Friday, September 30. This will be the first nighttime Heart Walk and the first to be held at Arm & Hammer Park. Heart Walks are held throughout the country to raise awareness for the Association’s important work to educate the public on ways they can reduce their own risk of heart disease and stroke, and to raise funds that will support groundbreaking research.

Heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of Americans. The American Heart Association is committed to helping individuals and businesses foster a culture of health, and to providing science-based treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public.

For more information on the September 30, 2016 Heart Walk at Arm & Hammer Park, please visit www.CentralNJHeartWalk.org.

David R. Hill

Chair, Central N.J. Heart Walk

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA Board of Directors, we want to thank Town Topics for sharing the story in its last issue about the exciting projects we are undertaking to update the facility for our community. We have just one minor correction to note. As co-chairs of the 2016 Centennial Awards, the Y’s one major fundraiser, we want to clarify that the event will be Thursday, October 27, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Y in the Dodge gymnasium.

This year, our focus is Youth Development and we are recognizing individuals who demonstrate outstanding commitment to nurturing the potential of youth, and lead by example through community service, scholarship, philanthropy, and by putting others first. This year’s honorees are: Robert O. Carr, creator and founder of the Give Something Back Foundation; Thomas J. Espenshade, Princeton University sociologist, educator and researcher; Tonie Forbes, Esq., community advocate and youth; Lenora Keel, social worker with Princeton High School for 23 years; Joanne Parker, youth leader with the First Baptist Church of Princeton; and for our institutional recognition, Princeton Special Sports, a volunteer-driven organization providing children with opportunities to play youth sports in an environment tailored to their special needs and abilities. Our event is like no other: young people interview the honorees in advance and conduct the entire presentation. We also feature catering by Mediterra and a silent auction.

To receive an invitation or learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit the YMCA’s website princetonymca.org. If you have any questions, please contact Denise Soto at (609) 497-9622 ext. 209. We look forward to another wonderful celebration of our community’s best!

Prashanth Jayachandran, 

Cameron Manning

Co-chairs

September 7, 2016

To the Editor:

I was inspired to write in response to Anne Levin’s August 17 article [“‘Welcoming Week’ to Recognize Princeton’s History of Inclusiveness,” page 7] which prompted me to reach out to Elisa Neira, Princeton’s Human Services Director, who nudged me to write a Letter to the Editor.

In what can feel like a wildly fast-paced mobile and globalized world there is a strong need to find stable communities in our lives which ground and orient us.

As a recent immigrant from the Show-Me state, I arrived in Princeton eagerly anticipating my work at a local religious ministry. Yet I wondered whether I would fit in to this storied Ivy League community to which I initially felt no connection.

Author Charles Vogl in his book The Art of Community helped me think more expansively about community as “a group of individuals who share a mutual concern for one another’s welfare.” I’ve been delighted to discover that Princeton strives to bring people together and is a community determined to break down the walls that would try to divide us.

Who we are as a community is seen in the many volunteer and civic initiatives that help foster a genuine connection with one another. I found people who care deeply about justice and love for their fellow human beings at monthly meetings of Not in Our Town Princeton (niotprinceton.org), an interracial, interfaith group whose monthly meetings help build bridges of understanding. In the meetings I’ve attended, there have been thought-provoking discussions that have helped me to move out of my comfort zone, which is where growth happens.

Out of a desire to connect with the larger Princeton community, I convinced my crowd-adverse Brazilian wife to join the joyous throng in celebrating Communiversity Day this past April. Never before have I lived in a community with an Arts Council that collaborates with the town and a major university to pull off a multi-cultural event that attracted over 40,000 people.

Princeton is about to celebrate and welcome immigrants, refugees, and other new Americans this month. It’s prompted me to dig deeper and think about qualities that might define the perfect community for one and all. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: fulfillment, health, justice, intelligence, abundance, and the brotherhood of man.

The ideal community is also one where people feel unified and validated so that any group’s talents, skills and abilities can flourish. Here’s an uplifting thought in support of a perfect community written by Mary Baker Eddy: “Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love bring to earth a foretaste of heaven.”

Is there such a thing as a perfect community? Perhaps not…every community has its challenges…but I have no doubt that Princeton is the perfect community for me.

Steve Drake

The Great Road

August 31, 2016

To the Editor:

On the evening of August 24 the front lawn of McCarter was a sight to behold as more than 2,000 members of our community gathered to celebrate the beginning of our 2016-17 season. The 6th Annual Block party was a tremendous success as partygoers enjoyed the music of the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra; took behind the scenes tours of our Matthews stage; enjoyed terrific food from the 11 restaurant vendors and food trucks or even had an ice cold craft beer in our beer garden. We can’t think of a better way to begin our season than by throwing open our doors and having a party on our front lawn!

Of course it takes many hands to make it all happen and I would like to thank the remarkable volunteers from Bloomberg L.P. who came out to lend a hand at our arts and crafts tables; and also offer thanks to the people at Art Sparks and Princeton Face and Body Art for donating their time, talent, and supplies. Thanks also to the members of the Princeton University Security staff who helped us with traffic flow and public safety. Thank you to our immediate neighbors who graciously accommodated the road closures needed around the theatre to make room for the food trucks and our other activities. Finally, I would like to thank and acknowledge the hardworking staff and volunteer team at McCarter. Everyone from our production crew to the education teaching artists look forward each year to the event and have a hand in making it a success.

Emily Mann and Bill Lockwood have put together another fantastically compelling artistic season at McCarter. Beginning on September 9 with our first play, the world premiere of Bathing in Moonlight by Nilo Cruz, McCarter will be the place to be for engaging entertainment this season. We have a new production of A Christmas Carol, a great line-up of dance and music performances and plans are in place for another spectacular gala in the spring featuring a concert by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. We are grateful to be a part of this engaging and wonderful community, to have the support of so many in the community, and are so proud to be a home for the arts here in Princeton.

Timothy J. Shields

Managing Director

To the Editor:

I AM SO SICK OF BEEPING! I live on the block of Walnut Lane between Valley Road and the side street, Oakland. I love the (supposed) lazy days of summer. I love the natural sound of crickets and cicadas and the various birds that come to my feeders. I like fresh air, so my windows are open. We do not have air conditioning, thus my home is not locked up tight as a drum with a constant AC hum, both of which would assist in drowning out sound. (I won’t comment on a country where nearly every home runs ACs that significantly contribute to pollution and global warming … that’s another letter.) No, this letter pertains to noise pollution.

To my left is a construction site — a tear-down, now McMansion. To my right is the work being done on Valley Road. And in front of me, as of Monday, is a new curb and sidewalk. I understand that someone years ago had the bright idea to install back-up beeps to construction and other large vehicles as a safety measure. I understand that outdoor workers prefer to work early in the morning when the temperatures are cooler. BUT … we have had weeks on end of dump trucks, concrete mixers, caterpillars, front end loaders … engines idling, spewing fumes, empty dump truck beds having concrete dropped into them from above CLANG-C-CLANG-CLANG and the incessant BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP. (It seems they never go forward!) The trucks begin at 6:45 a.m. and the beeping starts at 7 a.m … 7:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening!! I cannot sit on my outside patio and enjoy summer because of the McMansion noise right next to my ear. I cannot sit on my lovely enclosed porch to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner without being assaulted by noise. I can’t even avoid the noise by going to work … I have a home office.

Just take a drive around town and note the number of tear-downs and new construction …. I cannot be the only one with this complaint. I have a couple of suggestions. One: There should be an option to soften the caliber of the sound of back-up beeps when the vehicles are being used on an enclosed construction site. Two: the town or the company doing the work should put a notice in the mailboxes of local neighbors to let them know when said construction work is to be done. I was jarred awake Monday morning at 7 a.m. by a metallic grinding noise. I assumed they had begun grading Valley Road with one of those big machines. No. It was one man with a REALLY LOUD grinding machine, cutting the curb across the street. Couldn’t someone have dropped a note in my mailbox Friday afternoon saying. “Early Monday morning work will begin on the curb and sidewalk on your block”? Princeton is certainly ceasing to be a sleepy little town.

Jean Prall Rosolino

Walnut Lane

August 24, 2016

To the Editor:

Evergreen Forum (EF), a program of the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC), is thriving. Course offerings just get more interesting (and numerous), and participant numbers keep rising. Well into its second decade, the Forum provides stimulating daytime study and discussion programs for adults living in the greater Princeton area. It encourages active participation for those who enjoy learning for its own sake. Course leaders are drawn from teachers and other professionals devoted to their subject and wishing to share their enthusiasm.

“Some of the ideas in this class may boggle the mind,” warns Evergreen Forum instructor Stuart Kurtz as he describes his upcoming course, What is Time? An Overview. “Time” is among the 24 courses being offered this fall by EF. Most courses, which begin at the end of September, meet once a week for two hours for six to eight weeks. Many classes are held at EF’s home base, the Princeton Senior Resource Center at the Suzanne Patterson Building, 45 Stockton Street, Princeton; others will take place at convenient nearby locations.

Course descriptions and registration details may be found online at www.theevergreenforum.org, as well as in print brochures available at PSRC and area libraries and churches.

Ellen Gilbert

Stuart Road East

To the Editor:

I’d like to offer some corrections to an August 10 front page article about proposed revisions to Princeton’s tree ordinance [“More Discussion Due On Tree Ordinance at Next Council Meeting”]. I write as a botanist and former member of the Shade Tree Commission (STC) that generated the proposal. At the council meeting, ash trees were not characterized as invasive, and the arborist referred to one that might be attacked by the notorious Emerald Ash Borer in 10 years, not 30.

The proposed changes would make it much more expensive for homeowners to remove healthy, mature trees. The primary aim is to discourage, or at least compensate for, the clearcutting associated with Princeton’s epidemic of teardowns. Replacing a house on a small lot typically means removing all trees, since even trees beyond the new building’s (larger) footprint will be damaged by construction activity. The increased fees — $400 for roughly every 9” of girth, up to $1600 per tree — would provide funds for new plantings to compensate for the lost trees.

There’s clear public benefit here, but the new fees or replacement obligations will also fall on homeowners who may have valid reasons to remove a tree. The proposed changes penalize removal of our two most common invasive trees: Norway Maples, which compete with native species, and the Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven) whose allelopathic root exudates interfere with gardening. The ordinance also penalizes homeowners who wish to install solar panels, grow a vegetable garden or plant wildflowers to feed pollinators. Shade is a wonderful thing, but creating an opening for beneficial plants not blessed with xylem should not be penalized.

Inflexibility is further evident in the decision to levy the fees on homeowners wishing to proactively remove ash trees. Trying to defend the STC’s proposal, the arborist claimed that a healthy ash tree “might” succumb to Emerald Ash Borer in 10 years. There’s no “might” about it. Barring a miracle, every untreated mature ash will succumb. In fact, penalizing proactive removal ignores the warnings of STC’s own Community Forestry Management Plan, which states: “An underlying concern is that municipal employees and private contractors may not be able to keep up with the demand for removal of dead and dying hazardous ash trees.”

Council was scared away from suggested improvements to the proposal by imaginary worst-case scenarios, misleading “slippery slope” arguments, and unnecessary appeals to emotion, as when native plant advocates were characterized as fanatics ready to “wipe out” people’s perennial beds.

The rigidity of the proposed changes, their focus on penalties rather than incentives, and their dependence on expensive nursery trees rather than selectively nurturing the “free forest” of volunteer trees that sprout in people’s yards, deprives the arborist of adequate enforcement flexibility. Large trees provide shade, cooling, habitat, but they also interfere with other social and ecological goods: solar panels, orchards, gardens. Surprisingly, Princeton’s Historic Preservation and Environmental commissions were not asked to comment on the proposed changes. The STC’s important defense of trees needs to be tempered by awareness of other sustainability goals.

(Public comment continues at council’s September 12 meeting.)

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

As parents, few things are scarier than finding out something is wrong with your baby, but that’s the news we received six years ago before our daughter, Evalyn, was born. It was then that we found out Evalyn had a congenital heart defect.

Many people believe heart disease only affects the elderly. Yet by age two, Evalyn had undergone two open heart surgeries, three cardiac catheterizations, a stent placement and countless other tests and procedures. While the journey is sometimes difficult, Evalyn is doing well thanks to breakthrough research funded by organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

But the need for more research is unquestionable. In the U.S., nearly 40,000 children are born with a heart defect each year. Many congenital heart defects are diagnosed in infancy and some, like Evalyn’s, can be detected prenatally. After diagnosis, there are medical treatments available to help the heart perform its best.

This year, Evalyn and our family will share our journey at the Central New Jersey Heart Walk. For the past four years, we have walked with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to raise funds and awareness for the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke. It is our hope that one day no family will need to learn their child has a heart condition.

Join us on Friday, September 30 at the 2016 Central New Jersey Heart Walk at Arm & Hammer Park, home of the Trenton Thunder. For more information, visit www.CentralNJHeartWalk.org.

Fred and Mia Carella

Volunteers, American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, Yardley, Pa.