June 3, 2015

To the Editor:

Over the past two months a group of residents has sought a compromise solution for 31-33 Lytle Street that would retain the porch, façade, character and scale of its 1870’s house, provide two units of badly needed affordable housing, and still expand Mary Moss Playground (MMP) which has occupied the corner of Lytle and John Streets for about 80 years.

We are now very close to a solution involving a nationally renowned builder of low cost housing. The projected economics of this project will provide Princeton with two units of affordable housing at a cost lower than what the Town has paid over the last 3-4 years. It was believed 20-25 years ago that there should not be too much affordable housing concentrated in the Witherspoon-Jackson area. Now the neighborhood has changed with a real diversity of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class. Every study as well as common sense says that this is a great benefit for low income families and their children. The vast majority of neighborhood residents who have spoken at two Princeton Council meetings, a special session on this subject, and last Saturday’s meeting of the W-J Association have spoken strongly in favor of additional affordable housing in their area. Lytle Street is just a short walk from jobs in downtown Princeton; elementary, middle and high schools; the library; and the Arts Council.

So far, Princeton Council has not proactively picked up on this idea, but rather proposed expanding MMP across the whole property — to which most neighborhood residents are strongly opposed. Community Park with playground equipment, both large and toddler pools, is just a few blocks north; there is a small playground behind the Y and Dorothea’s House a few blocks south; and the open space owned by the University leading to Stanworth is even closer.

If you care about these issues please come out and speak for 2-3 minutes at the Princeton Council meeting on Monday June 8 at 7 p.m. This will be our last chance to make the best use of 31-33 Lytle Street, a scarce piece of land in downtown Princeton.

John Heilner

Library Place

To the Editor:

I was delighted to learn that this August McCaffrey’s will celebrate its 23rd year as a member of the Princeton Community. McCaffrey’s is fortunate to be able to implement its desires to do the right things for the community and our Earth. I applaud them for that action. With a record of a 3:1 vote to support a bag ordinance and the use of a fee, we residents should have that right.

Opponents in the plastics industry work hard to fight bag ordinances at the local level because they work. The argument that is often voiced to convince local elected officials not to enact a ban is to let grocers and merchants reduce single use bag use voluntarily. But voluntary measures don’t work, bag ordinances work. Those that enact a fee, result in a 60-90 percent reduction of bag use.

McCaffrey’s has a rebate program and offers reusable bags. Both policies are commendable; however, these policies, like education, don’t result in creating a real, measurable impact. If they did, we would have statistics to show a significant reduction in the number of single bags that McCaffrey’s buys. To date, I do not believe that a single grocery chain in the U.S. has verifiable numbers showing a bag ordinance passed in their local town hurt their business.

McCaffrey’s is 3.8 miles from the Shop Rite and 6 miles from Wegman’s. Gas costs approximately $2.57 a gallon and the average MPG is 24 miles. A McCaffrey shopper would have to spend .40 cents (4 bags) to go to Shoprite, and 80 cents (8 bags) to go to Wegman’s. Does it really seem plausible that a McCaffrey’s customer, possibly one shopping there for years would undertake the expense and inconvenience to not shop at our local, loved McCaffreys?

I frequent both local grocers shopping at McCaffrey’s because it is a local store that provides unique value. I love picking up specialty desserts without a pre-order, running into my friends and knowing the Manager Steve Carney and some of the staff by first name. As a mother of a special needs child, the fact that they employ special needs individuals is appealing. I feel “community” at McCaffrey’s.

When discussing the bag ordinance, with a merchant, resident or individual that works in Princeton, I poll them to see why they shop at McCaffreys.

The replies:

McCaffrey’s has great quality and variety of prepared foods. The store has an extensive salad bar with fresh fruit, vegetables, greens, and interesting salads. Convenience and good parking. It is our local grocer — you run into everyone. Organic and kosher food offerings.  McCaffrey’s has excellent customer service. They treat their employees well and that translates into very friendly employees.·They listen to customers.

Does it seem possible that all the good will created over 23 years could be undone by a 10 cent bag ordinance? Would you stop shopping there over a 10 cent charge?

Bainy Suri

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

I write to support the concerns of Valley Road residents who find the proposed asphalt bike path, which will replace the pedestrian sidewalk, as environmentally intrusive, unnecessary, and unaesthetic.

I want to raise additional safety concerns that are being ignored. The first is the inability of residents on the bike-lane side of Valley to safely walk from their homes. If they walk along the bike path, they may get hit since they have no right-of-way. If they cross the road, then they are jay-walking and at high risk from the high traffic volume and excessive speeding. They have no pedestrian rights. For children, these safety issues are a concern and, in fact, makes it almost impossible for my grandchildren to visit and go to the shopping center.

Users of this “bike path to nowhere” also face dangers of being hit at cross-streets unless they dismount and walk their bikes across intersections that have some of the highest accident rates in town. Hardly a useable bike path. I myself am an avid biker and a “share the road” bike lane would meet all the needs of bike users, as has been done everywhere else in town. In fact in the 38 years I’ve lived on Valley Road, I’ve observed a very limited number of bike riders.

The rebuilding of Valley Road offers many opportunities to reduce traffic and excessive speeding, and thereby improve the quality of life for residents. Over the last 10 years there has been a huge increase in traffic using Valley Road as a bypass between Route 206 and Harrison, which isn’t its designated role in the town’s master plan, and often travelling in excess of 40 mph when there is a 25 mph speed limit.

Sensible solutions exist: adding 4-way stop signs at cross streets would slow traffic and wouldn’t impact emergency vehicles using sirens; adding a “share the road” bike lane would effectively address the needs of bike riders; closing off Valley Road for Route 206 north-traveling vehicles would reduce using Valley Road as a by-pass (as was suggested after the Township building was completed). These are solutions that improve the neighborhood. Yet we’re hearing of plans that negatively impact the neighborhood.

I join my fellow residents in urging Mayor Lempert and the town’s engineers to consider the significant negative impacts and safety concerns raised by this bike path and to withdraw this plan.

Eric Wood

Valley Road

May 27, 2015

To the Editor:

This August, McCaffrey’s Food Markets will celebrate our 23rd year as a member of the Princeton Community! Throughout these years, we’ve focused on providing excellent service, superb community relations and top-quality products to the Princeton area. We’ve also worked very hard to be good corporate citizens, through charitable efforts and solid environmental practices which are outlined below:

McCaffrey’s Markets has cut our landfill waste stream by more than 50 percent by:

• Initiating a food composting program

• Recycling cardboard shipping cartons

• Recycling plastic film

• Starting a single-stream recycling program

• Donating thousands of pounds of food per year to those in need

McCaffrey’s has reduced our energy consumption by:

• Replacing older, inefficient refrigeration equipment with state-of-the-art models that use 20 percent less energy

• Swapping older, fluorescent bulbs with high efficiency L.E.D.s

McCaffrey’s has reduced the impact of single use bags by:

• Offering a rebate on every reusable bag used at our store

• Selling reusable bags at check-out to encourage green behavior

• Recycling 75 percent more plastic bags than we purchase during the year, by encouraging consumers to bring bags from other sources in addition to those obtained at McCaffrey’s

All of the efforts outlined above are simply the result of our desire to do the right thing for the community and our Earth, rather than the result of a government mandate. Recently, there has been an effort in Princeton to impose a 10 cent per bag fee on our customers for every single use bag that leaves our store. While we understand the intent of the proposed ordinance, we cannot support it, as we believe that consumer education and choice are a far more equitable solution to the issues caused by single use bags. We believe continued collaboration between McCaffrey’s and those concerned about our environment can be of tremendous benefit. What’s more, the proposed ordinance would place McCaffrey’s at a significant competitive disadvantage. None of our competitors operate within Princeton which means that none of them would be subject to the mandatory bag fee.

We strongly encourage Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Council to consider all of the above mentioned practices and successes, as well as McCaffrey’s desire to work together with environmental groups that want to better educate consumers about “best” eco-friendly practices, before deciding the fate of this proposed ordinance.

James J. McCaffrey

President, McCaffrey’s Market

To the Editor:

When will Princeton Council members realize that when they make decisions behind closed doors, against the wishes of residents, that they will always face opposition! A majority of the Princeton Council members recently decided to reject a unanimous request made by all seven families directly affected by the plan to place sidewalks on Poe Road. The request to place a sidewalk on just one side of Poe Road would spare four families consisting of senior citizens and physically challenged persons the considerable burden of snow removal. Since this request was nothing more than what has been given to the residents of other local street where sidewalks were added, why would the Council deny this to senior citizens and those physically challenged? Council members should know that seniors on fixed incomes cannot afford to pay a service for snow removal.

It is too bad that Mayor Lempert, who in her official candidate profile states, “I will implement Advisory Planning Districts to give residents a stronger voice in decision-making and to help neighborhoods retain their own special identity and sense of place,” could not convince her colleagues on the Council to listen to the unanimous request of Poe Road’s families. If sidewalks on both sides of the street are essential, isn’t it odd that members on the Council living on streets without sidewalks on both sides are clamoring to put them in other neighborhoods, but not their own?

The Council’s decision forcing sidewalks on Poe Road is a textbook example on how responsible and responsive government should never act: from the three-day notice given for the surprise meeting during August vacation time announcing the sidewalk, to the August 4 meeting itself when Poe residents who could attend were told that discussion of the sidewalk was forbidden, right up to the recent Council decision to turn a deaf ear to residents. At that meeting, when the Council noted that there is little foot traffic on Poe to warrant sidewalk construction, one Council member stated that surely sidewalks would encourage the masses to walk on Poe! Are Council members willing to risk precious taxpayer’s money in a Field of Dreams fantasy of “just build it and they will come?”

The sidewalk on Poe will be off the current sidewalk grid. Since there are now, and for the foreseeable future, no sidewalks on Princeton-Kingston Road or on the adjoining section of Prospect Road, the Poe Road sidewalks paid for by taxpayers will be Princeton’s “sidewalks to nowhere.” The Council’s claim that sidewalks on Poe would reduce school bus costs in Princeton will not materialize until and unless sidewalks are constructed on Princeton-Kingston Road — a state road with historic status.

There are, of course, some level headed Council members on the sidewalk issue, but they unfortunately are in a minority. Why does the Council keep spending taxpayers’ money on projects nobody asks for or even wants? Apparently the Council members from the former Borough have adopted a “one size fits all” approach to Princeton in their current obsession to cement the Princeton countryside!

Robert De Martino

Princeton-Kingston Road

To the Editor:

June 2 is the primary election, and I am writing to urge Democrats to vote for Heather Howard and Lance Liverman, two strong Council candidates running for re-election. They have served us with distinction, focused on creating a more effective and responsive government and a welcoming and just community. On the Public Safety Committee, they have worked with the police department to re-introduce community policing and strengthen relations with the community. They bring diverse backgrounds and a shared commitment to keeping Princeton a livable community.

Walter R. Bliss, Jr.

Moore Street

To the Editor:

Your headline “School Expansion Worries Neighbors” caught my eye. Although I don’t take sides regarding the proposed expansion of PRISMS, I have very strong opinions when it comes to Princeton neighborhoods and schools.

As a resident of Walnut Lane, I now avoid walking down my own street so as not to see the “architectural” addition to Princeton High School created there by Hillier Architects. I believe that old and modern architecture can go hand in hand. (Just visit London and you’ll see how well the two can marry.) Our high school’s addition, however, is at odds with the school’s historic building exterior and with our neighborhood.

Schools aren’t just any buildings. My research shows that childhood experience of place remains with us forever, unconsciously influencing our sense of design. Further research indicates that even dementia patients often can recall the look and feel of hometown schools when so many other memories fade. Is the concrete bunker that now forms the back of Princeton High what we want our children to conceptualize and remember as a well-designed environment?

I call upon the Princeton Regional School’s facilities committee to find a remedy to the high school’s visual ills. As his legacy, perhaps Mr. Hillier, himself, as a town leader, would like to contribute to the commissioning of a great public artwork to improve the addition’s façade. We need an inspiring, appropriate intervention to turn this architectural potato into a well-remembered peach.

Toby Israel

Walnut Lane

May 20, 2015

To the Editor:

We are outraged to hear that before the school board settles the teacher’s contract, we are spending additional taxpayer’s funds on another fancy label called IB (International Baccalaureate).

IB is an international designation for schools that meet a certain requirement as defined by the International Baccalaureate Organization. IB schools are often great schools, but an IB label does not automatically guarantee it to be a best school. Good international schools in other countries sometimes seek IB designation to make themselves more comparable to their American peers so that they are more easily recognizable by American universities. Schools in poorer areas sometimes seek the designation to differentiate themselves from other urban, less academic driven schools. Princeton is in neither category.

Moreover, IB designation requires extensive financial investments, not only in the initial three-year approval process, but also on an on-going basis annually. Simply put, IB is not cheap! We would have supported such an initiative if we were not in today’s penny-pinching economic environment. Given the fact that we cannot even secure a teacher’s contract after more than a year of negotiation, we strongly suggest the school board stop wasting taxpayers’ money, and stay focused on more pressing issues such as settling with the teachers.

When the money is tight, let’s invest in those who make a difference in our kids’ lives every day rather than more expensive labels.

Becca Moss, Janice Fine

Nassau Street,

Robert Dodge

Maple Street

To NJ Transit:

In response to the agency’s proposal to discontinue the 655 Princeton-Plainsboro bus route, I would like to express my concern on the record that eliminating this service would be disruptive to the Mercer County region and to the Princeton community.

As you may know, at the time of the relocation of the hospital from downtown Princeton to neighboring Plainsboro Township significant concerns were raised, as the proximity of the hospital had always been an important benefit to nearby residents who often times have fewer transportation options, relying upon walking, biking, or public transportation. Thus, the introduction of a new bus route, the 655, was strongly welcomed, as it was seen as an important way to accommodate the employees, patients, and hospital visitors who prior to the move, had been able to access the hospital without a car.

It is my hope that NJ Transit would consider the real hardship termination of this service would have on riders and the barriers to a vital regional medical service it would appear to impose.

I urge you to maintain the 655 Princeton-Plainsboro bus route.

Andrew Koontz

Freeholder, Mercer County

To the Editor:

In response to the changes proposed at the May 12 meeting concerning the reconstruction of Valley Road, we find the 8-foot-wide construction of an asphalt bike lane which would replace the current sidewalk a poor plan. This proposed lane is both unaesthetic, unnecessary, and environmentally intrusive. We would be forced to give up a 4-foot swath of our lawns, gardens, and shrubs for the sake of this proposed bike lane.

Being residents of Valley Road for nearly 20 years, we have observed the use of our sidewalk. Most people walk on it. About 95 percent of the usage of our sidewalk is for walkers. The few people who ride bikes sometimes use the sidewalk and sometimes the wide enough shoulder of the road. Actually it is one of the roads in Princeton where this shoulder is wide enough for a bike. Elsewhere in town the bikers (including us) share narrow roads with cars.

We urge Mayor Lempert and the engineers of the town to withdraw this inflated, useless plan and apply common sense and respect our neighborhood.

Ilona Melker, Neil Melker

Valley Road

To the Editor:

On May 9 McCarter Theatre Center held its annual Gala, and we would like to thank the community for supporting this effort. The funds raised from this spectacular evening will be used to support our artistic and educational programming throughout the region.

The centerpiece of the evening was an incredible performance by the musical group Pink Martini delivered to a packed-to-the-rafters theatre. The concert was preceded by an elegant, seated dinner for 360 guests catered by Jimmy Duffy’s Catering and followed by a late-into-the-night after-party featuring cocktails, desserts, and plenty of music and dancing.

The success of this event is only possible with the support of the many individuals and local corporations that provide financial contributions, enthusiastic attendance, and volunteer their time on our Gala committee, and donate auction items. On behalf of the entire staff of McCarter Theatre, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to these tireless supporters.

Special thanks go out to our fantastic Gala committee and to committee co-chairpersons — Timothy M. Andrews, Cheryl Goldman, and Liza Morehouse — who orchestrated a striking evening for our guests.

Lending their support to this year’s Gala at the Gold level of sponsorship were six generous corporations: Bloomberg, Cure Auto Insurance, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo, Maiden Re, Mathematica Policy Research, and Saul Ewing. We are deeply grateful for their support.

We also want to give a special thanks to Princeton University, not only for their longstanding support of this event, but for their unwavering support every season.

One can’t help but be awestruck, and humbled a bit, when so many in a community join together in support of a cultural treasure such as McCarter. We are deeply grateful for their support.

Timothy J. Shields,

Managing Director

Emily Mann,

Artistic Director

To the Editor;

We are writing with regard to the contract dispute between the Princeton Board of Education, and the teacher’s union (PREA). Now that the mediation has failed to deliver a contract, and the parties will move to fact finding, the shield of confidentiality is gone. We urge the Board of Education to communicate with the public and let us know the reason for the failure of a resolution. It is our understanding from the public Board of Education meetings, that the Princeton Public Schools have a surplus of money — well in excess of the approximately $400,000 that the PREA is seeking to fairly resolve the contract matter. This was surprising to learn, because since last fall, the Board has maintained that while they honor and respect teachers, they simply don’t have the resources to pay them. Now that these resources have come to light, what is the Board’s reason for not moving forward and settling this contract?

The recent “swatting events” in several of the schools have reminded us that there are people who may intend to do harm to our children. Every day, we leave our children in the care of teachers knowing that they will do their best to look after them. Isn’t it time we look after our teachers and give them a contract, so they can focus on our number one priority, our children? Because not only have our teachers been affected by this contract turmoil, so too have our children. Some school activities, led voluntarily by teachers, have been drastically changed or canceled, altering our children’s education experience. The Board’s lack of leadership has resonated throughout the community. Enough is enough.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation spread throughout the community as to why this contract matter has not yet been resolved. We are hoping to facilitate a public forum before the end of the school year, to give members of the community the opportunity to ask questions and get answers on this issue that is so vitally important to Princeton.

Jonathan and Carrie Besler,

Dempsey Avenue

Debbie Bronfeld, Dafna Kendal

Dodds Lane

Krissi Farrimond,

Michelle Mews

Nadia Di Gregorio,

William Livingston Court

To the Editor:

Recent events have brought to light the unfortunate, prevalent, and detrimental racism that exists in our country. It is often easy to feel detached from the incidents in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore, but the Urban Congo performance (when Princeton University athletes mocked African culture) demonstrated there is so much work to be done within our own town as well.

Groups such as Not in Our Town, on which I serve as the first youth board member, are actively fighting against racism in Princeton. Not in Our Town’s goal is “that Princeton will grow as a town where everyone is safe and respected.” I have been truly inspired by the activism of my fellow board members as they advocate for justice, equality, and peace.

Redefy, the teen organization that I have founded to defy stereotypes and promote acceptance, was fortunate to work with Not in Our Town at its booth at Communiversity and in a social media campaign. Along with Princeton CHOOSE (the Princeton High School group formed to fight racism) and Not in Our Town, Redefy campaigned with the hashtag #PrincetonAgainstRacism to assert that our town will not tolerate intolerance.

Redefy took more than 100 portraits as a part of our #PrincetonAgainstRacism initiative, which demonstrate Princeton citizens’ commitment to equality. At the Not in Our Town booth, countless positive conversations could be heard about social justice. The atmosphere was truly one of activism. People of all ages were engaging in meaningful discussions.

I am so incredibly thankful to Not in Our Town, my Redefy team members, and the population of Princeton.

Ziad Ahmed

Princeton Day School Student, Derwent Drive

To the Editor:

I read with concern the past week’s front-page article “Council Weighs In On Overnight Parking” [Town Topics, May 13].The three solutions listed (“leave the boundaries as they are, adjust them slightly, or make no overnight parking a town-wide implementation”) overlook three significant issues:

1. Removing overnight parking entirely is neither fair nor reasonable because a number of Princeton residences do not possess any off-street parking. For example on Chestnut Street, where I live, there are three duplexes, equaling six residences, without driveways. If all overnight parking is removed, these residents will be completely unable to keep even a single car anywhere near their homes. Historically, these properties have always had the ability to park at least one car. Eliminating this option would represent a hardship for homeowners who bought their residences based on this knowledge.

2. The current overnight parking permits for one car per property do not include all-day street parking. This has long struck me as a poor idea for the following reasons. In a town which prides itself on its environmentalism, residents who live within easy walking distance of most services (grocery, restaurants, banks, drugstores, train, etc.) and sometimes also their workplaces, are nonetheless required to drive to work or otherwise move their cars at two-hour intervals, throughout the day, six days per week. When residential parking permits are reviewed and harmonized, I strongly urge the Princeton Council to allow residents with a parking permit to leave a car parked in one spot throughout the day as well as overnight.

3. In addition to the environmental cost of having to move one’s car unnecessarily throughout the day, there is a social justice issue: please consider that the question of overnight on-street parking mostly affects residents in Princeton’s lower-priced homes. The three duplexes on Chestnut Street, which are typical of the properties with no off-street parking, have a valuation at or below the 25th percentile of average Princeton home prices. Let’s not penalize homeowners for their property’s lack of a driveway.

Julie Landweber

Chestnut Street

May 13, 2015

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Princeton Education Foundation, I would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Sculpting the Future” Spring Gala and Silent Auction. We raised almost $60,000 net that will directly benefit our public schools’ teachers and students and will further our goal of supporting excellence in education in the Princeton Public Schools. Since its inception, the Princeton Education Foundation has contributed almost $2 million to the Princeton Public Schools for capital improvements, educational programs, and teacher support.

We are especially grateful to the Princeton Education Foundation’s lead sponsor, Georgeanne Gould Moss, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors and to our Salutatorian sponsors, Bai Brands, LLC; Roger and Theresa Liao and W. Bryce Thompson Foundation.

Thank you to our Summa Cum Laude sponsors, The Bank of Princeton, Beatrice Bloom, Weichert Realtors, Hamilton Dental Associates, Herring Properties, and OnePrinceton. Thank you to our Magna Cum Laude sponsors, Jean Durbin Esq. and Walter Bliss, Esq., Charles Schwab, Dr. Tyl & Dr. Fogarty, Dennigan Cahill Smith, Mathnasium of Princeton, NT Callaway Henderson Southeby’s Intl. Realty, and PNC Bank.

We are deeply grateful for the sumptuous community tasting stations provided by: Alchemist & Barrister, Asian Bistro, Cross Culture, Eno Terra, Jammin’ Crepes, Mediterra Restaurant and Taverna, McCaffrey’s Food Markets, The Taco Truck, Teresa Caffe, Corner Bakery Café, LiLLiPiES Bakeshop, Lindt Chocolate, Seasons 52, WildFlour Bakery and Café, Bai Brands, LLC, River Horse Brewing Company and Unionville Vineyards.

The community businesses and individuals that provided Silent Auction merchandise are too many to name and are a testament to the generosity of community support in our mission to provide excellence in the Princeton Public Schools. We are also grateful to have the support of many individual Benefactors and Patrons.

We would like to recognize the hard work of our Gala committee, the group of dedicated volunteers that planned and executed this year’s event, led by Co-Chairs Nicole Bergman, Jean Durbin, and Theresa Liao. Our Auction Co-Chairs included Sue Bowen, Milena Deluca and Stacy Pibl. Our Wine Grab Co-Chair was led by Mara Franceshi and Décor Co-Chairs included Liz Kaman and Alex Escobar. Thank you to the volunteers that worked to set up and during the event to keep everything running smoothly.

Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the community who participated in this important fundraiser by volunteering time, purchasing tickets, donating wine, or bidding on items in our auction. Thank you for joining with us to say that our children’s public education matters!

Fran Jones

Executive Director, Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

The Princeton Special Needs Prom on May 8 was our most successful yet. With attendance at over 100, it really was a FIESTA!

We are grateful to a long list of incredible people who enable us to offer this annual event to our adult and teenaged neighbors with special needs.

Thanks to John Groeger, Stacie Ryan, and Joe Scullion of the Recreation Department for all of their hard work, and particularly heartfelt thanks to the Rec’s Program Supervisor Joe Marrolli for his extraordinary commitment to creative programming. Princeton is very lucky to have him!

Special thanks to Jaime Escarpeta and Alicia White, our photographers who once again donated their time and sent every participant home with a beautiful formal portrait. Thank you, too, to our DJ Drew Zimmerman, and to the Mexican Mariachi Grill for supplying a fabulous dinner and being so easy to work with. And huge thanks to Olivia and Courtney Browndorf for generously donating sombreros and other fun favors.

We are fortunate to have an exceptional group of busy professional women who carve out time each year to bring the prom to life: Katerina Bubnovsky, Ann Diver, Radha Iyer, Hana Oresky, and Susan Simonelli. Thank you also to event volunteers Oleg Chebotarev, Liz Cutler, John Diver, Sethu Iyer, Tom Kreutz, Katie Lynch, Joan Morelli, Abitha Ravichander, Trudy Sugiura, and Valerie Walker. We so appreciate you all!

But it is indisputably our student volunteers who make the prom such a tremendous event. Thank you to these outstanding middle, high school, and college students: Joanne Adebayo, Matthew Ams, Caroline Black, Josh Bonaparte, Olivia Browndorf, Anna Cao, Callia Cordasco, Sonia DaSilva, Chris Diver, Phoebe Elias, Amy Hauer, Barbara Kaminska, Marysia Kaminska, Caley Knox, Jack Lynch, Kaity Mattia, John Mochia, Lauren Morelli, Kathryn Murphy, Ella Quainton, Rhea Ravichander, Caroline Sasser, Grace Seward, Jessica Sheridan, Kaitlin St. Amour, Sydney Vogel, Charlotte Walker, Jimmy Walker, Eli Wasserman, and Isaac Webb.

It’s hard to express how much it means to us when our community leaders engage with our population. Thank you to Jo Butler of the Princeton Council, and to Leslie Germaine and Dick Nosker of the Recreation Commission, for joining us.

And finally, thank you to my colleagues on the PSS Board. Now in our 15th year, these dedicated volunteers continue to make special needs sports and social programming available to this wonderful community: Katerina Bubnovsky, Carmine Conti, Ann Diver, Hana Oresky, John Pecora, John Rutledge, and Barbara Young.

The next and last dance of the season is our pool party, dance, and BBQ at the Princeton Community Pool on June 5. Swimming will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by BBQ and dancing from 7:30 to 9 p.m. For more information or to register, go to princetonrecreation.com or princetonspecialsports.com.

Deborah Martin Norcross

Co-President, Princeton Special Sports

To the Editor:

Two front page stories in the May 6 issue of Town Topics, one describing the negotiating breakdown between the Board of Education (BOE) and teachers’ union (PREA) [“District/Teacher Talks Break Down”], and the other describing a $2.9M public library upgrade [“Library Seeks to Raise $1.7 Million for Second Floor Redesign, Upgrade”], present an interesting contrast.

Ms. Burger, director of the Princeton Public Library, commendably observes that “the world has changed dramatically” since the library opened in its new building 11 years ago. She specifically identifies radical upgrades and redesigns of space, technology, and programs to accommodate the ongoing information-age renaissance we are living through. The BOE/PREA, article, however, could’ve been written in the early 20th century, when labor and management clashed perennially over compensation policy in the old manufacturing-based economy. Nowhere do we read that BOE and PREA acknowledge the “dramatic changes” in our new knowledge-economy, or frame their dispute in the context of a world undergoing radical transformation by technology and the systemic improvements it enables.

While today’s pre-schoolers face a future world radically different from that of their grandparents in: manufacturing, retail, transportation/logistics, consumer services, even, finally, in healthcare, those grandparents would be quite at home in today’s educational institutions. The EdTech revolution is desirable, inevitable, and already underway. Princeton’s Public Library administration seems to understand that in a way our public school establishment does not.

Brandon Hull

Linden Lane

May 6, 2015

To the Editor:

In November, Princeton residents voted in favor of considering a charge on single-use bags as part of a Mercer County voter sentiment referendum. The idea of that proposal was to help reduce the amount of single-use bags taken at the register, thus leading to a decrease in landfill and environmental waste. People would be encouraged to bring their own bags to avoid the fee and to avoid polluting the environment.

The question passed overwhelmingly three-to-one in Princeton encouraging us to now consider actual legislation on this topic. Princeton could follow the lead of many other towns, cities, and states in the United States and around the world who have enacted such single-use bag policies.

The Princeton Environmental Commission has come out in support of a draft ordinance calling for a 10¢ charge on plastic and paper single-use bags at carry-out in stores in Princeton. The merchants would keep the entire proceeds from this charge, as they would for any other item purchased in their establishment. Shoppers would be encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to avoid paying for them at the register.

There are ample provisions for implementing this program on a timeline that is both merchant-friendly and also considerate of families in need. Families participating in assistance programs would be exempt from the charge, free bags would be distributed to those in need, and merchants could continue to give refunds to customers who brought their own bags … an additional incentive.

We thank the residents of Princeton for understanding the issue and for voting for a policy that we know makes the world a cleaner place. Enacting a charge on single-use bags has been shown to decrease their use by 60-90 percent. We would like to see the same happen in Princeton. While other New Jersey towns are considering this, we hope Princeton will take the lead on passing this legislation.

Princeton Environmental Commission

To the Editor:

Princeton Council is considering demolishing 31-33 Lytle Street, in the heart of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Say “No” to Council: no demolition.

The lovely porch (1870-1880), which retains its original architectural details and roofline, should be designated an Historic Site. The historic home, owned and possibly built by an African-American who came from Virginia to Princeton after the Civil War, is eligible as part of an Historic District.

Who among us will endorse, now, demolition of yet another African-American building? — after white-skinned Princeton razed African-American Princeton homes (and displaced people) to establish Palmer Square, and then destroyed Jackson Street (with more people removed)? The house is community heritage.

The Historic Preservation Commission formally opposes demolition. Funds from The New Jersey Historic Preservation Trust can restore the house. Trishka Cecil, Council attorney, has given approval for using Princeton Open Space monies for historic preservation. Mercer County Open Space funding should remain available, prorated, for the area not covered by the house.

How should this beautiful porch and its building best be used? Affordable housing needs remain critical in Princeton: hikes in property taxes and school taxes have just been announced. Pressures on our economically challenged citizens intensify daily. Families are being divided, forced out. Princeton cannot promote our valued diversity without unswerving commitment to affordable housing opportunities.

The Lytle Street house could become two affordable units — for sale or rent, with resultant income to the appropriate municipal body. Concept plans have been generated. Despite extensive rehabilitation needed, reasonable estimates are less than the $250,000 cited by the municipal Administrator, Marc Dashield. A John Street house was rehabilitated for $150,000 (2012). Participation by Habitat for Humanity and Isles, together with volunteer labor, can reduce costs — particularly if the mayor and Council enthusiastically support the initiative and make the political effort.

If not affordable housing, what? As Councilwoman Butler proposed (March 23), the building can become part of the adjacent Mary Moss Playground, currently slated for expansion; building rehabilitation would be simpler, with restrooms and an indoor play area in inclement weather. (Only a small minority of speakers at the three Council sessions dealing with the park favored expansion, not affordable housing.)

More significant: the historic porch — the neighborhood is a “community of porches” — can become a public architectural focus to celebrate African-American life in Princeton. Booker T. Washington himself visited the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, as a photograph attests. If white Princeton celebrates Einstein’s birthday, why not Paul Robeson’s (April 9, 1898)? — or the constitutional amendments that legalized citizenship and suffrage for African-Americans? The first floor could become “passive” exhibition space documenting Princeton’s African-American community (Robeson House highlights Robeson himself). The expanded park on the house’s north side could include a community garden — environmentally sustainable, probably much cheered.

Council should buy the property and retain both porch and house. Otherwise, the owner-developer Roman Barsky would probably subdivide the lot and build two expensive houses that are not consistent with neighborhood values.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

Dorothea’s House once again demonstrated on Sunday, May 3, why it’s such a bright star in Princeton’s cultural firmament. In its unique role of furthering the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of Italy, it hosted a packed house for a discussion of Giuseppe Verdi’s operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth by Joseph Colaneri, the music director of the Glimmerglass Festival, held annually near Cooperstown, N.Y. The production is slated for the 2015 summer season.

Often using Italian words and phrases punctuated by Italian verve, Colaneri said that Verdi’s operas represented the very soul of Italy. While Macbeth depicted Scottish exiles, Italians believe Verdi was really characterizing Italy’s history. Colaneri noted that although Verdi was not religious, he was spiritual, and tinta (color) was very important to him. In Macbeth, Verdi insisted on very dark colors (mood). Colaneri said that the Yale University professor and foremost expert on Shakespeare, Harold Bloom, has written that there are two human icons: William Shakespeare and Giuseppe Verdi because both express the essence of who we are as individuals.

Two talented soloists, Hunter Enoch and Mitra Mastropierto, understudies at Gliimmerglass, sang arias and a duet from Macbeth, bringing the audience to its feet in enthusiastic appreciation.

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

An event that began eight years ago in Princeton and Trenton — demonstrations for Stand Against Racism day — grew exponentially and is now the signature campaign for the national YWCA. Not in Our Town (NIOT) wishes to thank all those who contributed to the success of Stand Against Racism days, past and present. We remember Nassau Inn employees helping make a human chain around Palmer Square, merchant participation directed by Kathleen Maguire Morolda, and well-attended rallies at Hinds Plaza — all these programs benefited from the YWCA’s leadership.

For this year’s observance, Not in Our Town assembled photos of 100 merchants from Town Topics ad pages sponsored by an anonymous donor. (These merchants were among those who pledged to support this cause by putting up our We Stand Against Racism posters in their stores.) And this year the Princeton YWCA, implementing its motto “eliminating racism,” held an 80-person legislative breakfast, cosponsored by Lori Rabon of the Nassau Inn. After presentations by the CEOs of Trenton and Princeton YWCAs, the mayors of Trenton and Princeton, NIOT’s co-chairs Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill, Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, chair of the Latin American Legal Defense Fund (LALDEF), challenged all, saying being against racism is merely good manners. “We should really focus on inclusion, which is a lot harder because it forces us not just to be well-mannered, but to really open our hearts and our spaces to people not like us.” Then everyone clustered in small groups, and NIOT facilitators led discussions of down-to-earth concerns about bias. Thanks to all who helped and participated. This program truly fulfilled the Y’s intention: “to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism.”

Marietta Taylor,

NIOT board member, Hartley Avenue

Howard Hudson

Franklin Park

Joyce Trotman-Jordan

Trenton

To the Editor,

Each year the Arts Council of Princeton’s (ACP) Communiversity brings the Community and University members together to celebrate the things we love about our town. This year was no exception.

In keeping with the Communiversity spirit, Art +10 (a group of Princeton-area artists) wanted to honor our Volunteer Fire Department. In a unique collaboration with the department, the group hosted a joint paint-out and art show at the Chestnut Street Fire House.

Dubbed “Fired-Up,” the event welcomed visitors to view artists painting and learn the rich history of Princeton’s Fire Department.

Members of Art +10, want to thank Bill Shields, president of Princeton Engine Co. #1, the Princeton Fire Department, and the Blue Jersey Band (which provided a festive background), for making this event happen.

Members of Art +10: Priscilla Algava, Heather Barros, Jim Bongartz, Betty Curtiss, Katja De Ruyter, Suzanne Dinger, Johanna Furst, Jeaninne Honstein Ryan Lilienthal, Meg Michael, Tasha O’Neill

To the Editor;

As co-chairs of Planned Parenthood’s 26th annual Spring Benefit, we thank the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters who attended our luncheon on April 24 at The Hyatt Regency Princeton, as well as our benefit committee and the Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers. With 400 guests filling the room, it was a tremendous success in raising funds to support the services and programs of Planned Parenthood.

We were pleased to have as our speaker Alexis McGill Johnson, 2013-15 Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A true champion for women’s health and rights, Alexis shared her journey and the reasons for getting involved with Planned Parenthood. She described Planned Parenthood as part of a movement not just for reproductive freedom but also to uplift our friends in the fight for justice.

For more than 82 years, Planned Parenthood has worked every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy. We urge those who believe that every woman has a right to reproductive health counseling and family planning, regardless of income, to support Planned Parenthood.

Kathy Herring, Reba Orszag

Co-Chairs Spring Benefit

April 29, 2015

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board, staff, artists, members and volunteers of the Arts Council of Princeton, we would like to thank everyone — including 40,000-plus visitors, 200 vendors, and over 40 performance groups — who helped make the 45th annual Communiversity ArtsFest such a spectacular event on a gorgeous spring day. As a nonprofit, community-based organization that relies on community support, we are very grateful for the collaboration that allowed us to produce another hugely successful event.

When the Arts Council plans the Communiversity ArtsFest, we envision a “town meets gown” celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, artists, nonprofit and campus groups. By all accounts, we achieved our goal. We would like to thank the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event the popular success that it was. We also appreciate the extremely talented artists and performers who participated in many creative activities including the “ACP Atelier,” ceramics and monotype printmaking, “Paint Out Princeton,” children’s art activities, performances on stage and street, sidewalk chalk drawing and all the many forms of creative expression that make the event unique and memorable.

We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to: the students of Princeton University, University President Christopher Eisgruber, and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs; Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert; Princeton Council and administrative staff; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman; Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz; the Princeton Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Public Works Department; the Princeton Clergy Association; the Princeton Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce; Princeton Public Library; Event Planner Harper McArthur; and our major sponsors: AT&T, Bloomberg, Palmer Square Management, and the Princeton Garden Theatre. A complete list of all our generous event and in-kind sponsors can be found at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Ted Deutsch

President, Board of Trustees

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

On behalf of the New Jersey AARP State Office staff and volunteers, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for his leadership on the issue of earned paid sick leave. Considering that over half of AARP members still work either half or full time, earned sick leave is a highly relevant issue for the community.

It goes without saying that the membership of AARP is greatly appreciative of Assemblyman Greenwald for lending his voice in such a worthy matter.

Furthermore, the Assembly Majority Leader and his colleague, Assemblywoman Lampitt, have sponsored the Caregivers Tax Credit, which could provide needed relief for those who unselfishly commit countless hours and resources in order to care for a loved one. This, as well, is deserving of recognition and kudos.

Ryan Lind

Rockingham Row