December 19, 2018

To the Editor:

Clients of mine have all negatively commented on the new meters, with the exception of the three-hour limit.

I believe they said meters in town are inactive until 9 a.m. so we locals can run errands. Great! Besides coffee shops and bakeries, what’s open?

I am sad to see the parking card has been run out of town; many people who supported the card are now stuck with credits they can’t use.

“Change” needs to happen.

Elaine Staats


Moore Street

To the Editor:

The new parking meters are a catastrophe! Not only have the fees and enforced hours become much more expensive (for explanation see Park Princeton ad, Town Topics, December 12, p. 9: “the new rate structure  . . .  factored in the cost of the new equipment”), these parking meters are also unusable. One cannot read the instructions on the new pay stations in the dark, and as it is getting dark now at 4:30 p.m., but performances start only at 8 p.m., when one has to pay now, one is totally helpless. Looking for meters that could be fed individually, as proudly advertised, either with coins or credit cards, when I recently had tickets for the Richardson Auditorium University concert, I was confronted with every single parking meter up and down University Place and its cross streets covered with a plastic bag saying “Parking by Permit only.” So forget about coins and credit cards, there is zero use for them. more

To the Editor:

I just read Library Director Brett Bonfield’s celebration of walking over driving in the weekly message from the Princeton Public Library. But some of us don’t enjoy the luxury/privilege of walking to where we have to be. Although I have a Princeton zip code, I actually live in Lawrence Township, a little too far to walk to enjoy the attractions of Princeton. I appreciate the library’s Spring Street garage accommodation, but at times it’s full, or not convenient to where I need to go. more

December 11, 2018

To the Editor:

Being a merchant is difficult. Being a merchant in Princeton is extra difficult. Town Council and the mayor’s office can’t possibly spend any time in town. The new parking debacle is an affront to our merchants and citizens. It’s frightening that our leadership made significant investments in parking studies, focus groups and questionnaires and then proceeded with the poorest implementation that I could imagine. We have a different parking system, not a state-of-the-art parking system. Let me count the ways:

  • We lost the grace period.
  • Rates increased significantly, now a cup of coffee is a dollar more — 30 minute meters — 27 minutes for a dollar — no grace period, so you put more in.
  • You can’t get unused time back like you could with the old parking card.
  • There is a 35-cent courtesy charge to use the app and it doesn’t work for less that $1.
  • We lost two parking spaces at every crosswalk.
  • We lost about 25 parking spaces to new loading zones.
  • Trucks still block a traffic lane or park in metered spots, exacerbating the loss of paid parking spaces.
  • The parking app is different than the one at the Dinky and almost everywhere else from here to Philadelphia.

Wake up, it’s not a success, it’s a failure. Talk to us please.

 Lou Valente

Hunter Road

To the Editor:

A critical wetland structure on the Princeton Ridge is under imminent threat. These wetlands — which support a tributary to Mountain Lakes and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife — stretch across several acres near the corner of Ridgeview Road and the Great Road.

Last year, a developer built a 5,000-square-foot home on the corner property at 410 Ridgeview directly abutting wetland areas delineated by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Now the same developer is asking Princeton for permission to build another large home on the adjoining 3-acre lot at 394 Ridgeview Road. The property is zoned for 4-acre construction, so a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is needed before the project can proceed.

These wetlands should be preserved as an integral part of Princeton’s municipal sustainability plan. The property is covered in springs, which are the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a C-1 stream that flows past Stuart School and Tenacre into Mountain Lakes, Princeton’s reservoir. The area is covered by obligate wetland species such as skunk cabbage, rush, vestiges of cattail, sensitive fern, and phragmites.

These wetlands also provide important habitat for a plethora of salamanders, frogs, turtles, migratory songbirds, raptors, and wild turkeys. Neighbors have even reported seeing a bobcat, which is endangered in New Jersey. In addition, the property is a major corridor for deer that move daily between the forests on the north side of the Ridge into the Preserve and Mountain Lakes. If the wetlands are blocked with a fence, it can be anticipated deer will wander onto the Great Road in a school zone near the crest of the Ridge, creating a traffic hazard.

We urge members of the Zoning Board to uphold Princeton’s 4-acre zoning ordinance for this property. And we invite all who are concerned with the preservation of the Princeton Ridge to attend the Zoning Board meeting this Wednesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. Please join us in protecting these critical wetlands on the Ridge and the remarkable creatures they sustain.

Christopher Barr

Ridgeview Road

November 28, 2018

To the Editor:

Concerning the December 11, 2018, $27 million Board of Education referendum, some possibly “overzealous” persons, not prodded by curiosity, have said that people like myself, who were against the original bloated, ill-conceived $137 million referendum were “against our kids,” “against public education,” or even “terrorists.”

Normally, I would not defend myself against kneejerk rhetoric; however, this time I will. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a proud graduate of PHS.  My mom taught in the then-PRS for over 30 years. My dad served as president of the School Board. Myself and others were just against a financially catastrophic $137 million referendum, which  was proposed on the heels of the poorly executed and disastrous 2002 school referendum. more

To the Editor:

I read with interest about the Princeton Council’s approval of the Zoning Board’s ordinance establishing residential zoning standards regarding demolishing existing houses and rebuilding structures that ignore the ecology, character, and scope of Princeton’s neighborhoods.

In 2014, our small publishing house, Wild River Books, published a novel, The Megabuilders of Queenston Park, by poet, translator, novelist, and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Edmund “Mike” Keeley, that chronicles what happens to a family when the house next door is torn down and a McMansion built in its place. more

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to the editor on Thanksgiving Day, one of my favorite holidays, because it gives us a time to reflect. For me, I am thankful that my kids are thriving and that we live in a community that takes pride in all of our children, in their health and well-being, and in their future. We have the opportunity to demonstrate these community values by coming together to vote yes in the December 11 school facilities referendum.

This referendum is a crucial first step in addressing what our community needs to support our kids. It includes security fixes to bring the schools up to today’s standards in an increasingly scary world where the risks are sadly much different than when the schools were built decades ago. It also updates the HVAC and air control systems. These changes provide the very basics in public health and wellbeing for our students, as well as for the teachers and staff whose energy, talent, and passion we need at their best every day. more

To the Editor:

On December 11, a $26.9 million bond referendum will be up for approval. I am in support of the referendum as I was of the referendum back in 2001. My children benefited from the one in 2001 and I want the current students to benefit from this new one.

It has been 17 years since the last referendum, and once again, the student population is growing and the facilities need to be updated and enlarged in order to maintain the district’s superior rating.

Why should other empty nesters support this referendum? Because our children benefited from their schooling in the Princeton Public Schools and the next generation deserves to as well.

Jane M. Sheehan

Mount Lucas Road

To the Editor:

In the November 21 Mailbox, Lincoln Hollister spoke about the environmental concerns of the Ridgeview neighborhood regarding the proposed zoning variance (introduced November 14) to allow a 5,000-square-foot McMansion be built on a non-conforming undeveloped lot.

Mr. Hollister’s letter was prescient, given the concerns of numerous residents regarding the influx of McMansions in the Princeton area voiced at the November 19 Town Council meeting. Over the course of that meeting, it was clear that Princeton residents are frustrated by the free reign allowed to developers to build oversized McMansions with no concern for the surrounding neighborhood. more

To the Editor:

The Watershed Institute wants to share a huge thank you to our community and committee chairs for their amazing support of our 43rd Annual FEST: Passport to Cuba. On October 13, nearly 300 friends helped us celebrate the culture, music, and cuisine of Old Havana with an evening of general festivity.

The evening featured a Cuban-themed dinner, cocktails, desserts and an array of specialty coffees. Many couples enjoyed dancing to music played by the Tren Latino Band inside the LEED-Platinum Watershed Center. more

To the Editor:

Want an easy way to help our local Food Bank? If you shop at McCaffrey’s, Wegmans, or Wawa, be sure to participate in the Check-Out Hunger campaign. Depending on where you shop, just remove one (or several) of the red, green, or yellow tickets posted near each checkout register, give it to the cashier to scan with your grocery order or simply drop your change in the container where provided. That’s it. Couldn’t be much easier. more

November 14, 2018

To the Editor:

The town is now accepting applications for vacancies on a variety of municipal boards, committees, and commissions (BCCs) including the Affordable Housing Commission, Environmental Commission, Planning Board, and Civil Rights Commission. Princeton’s volunteer boards and commissions ensure public involvement in the governmental process and provide vital advice to Council on major decisions.

Board, commission, and committee meetings are open to the public, and the public is strongly encouraged to attend and participate. Applicants are encouraged to attend at least one meeting of the advisory body that they are interested in joining.  more

To the Editor:

In a recent Town Topics article on the proposed transfer of Westminster Choir College from Rider University [“Controversies Continue Over the Future of Westminster Choir College,” pg. 1, Nov. 7], Jeffrey Halpern seriously mischaracterized the situation with regard to the accreditation process. The Westminster Choir College Acquisition Corporation’s efforts to obtain accreditation are proceeding just as they should.  more

To the Editor,

Another Election Day has come and gone and the voters have spoken. Here in Princeton, voters have chosen to support our vision of “A Princeton for All” by electing us to Princeton Council. We are honored and humbled by your faith in us.

We are committed to ensuring that Princeton remains a welcoming and inclusive community — which means tackling the issue of property taxes head on. We will work to hold the line on municipal taxes while striving to maintain excellent services. This process must be transparent and accountable to you, the voters. more

To the Editor:

Count the recent issues with mold in our schools as an indication of things to come when climate change progresses. With large projected increases in heat and humidity, as well as increased flooding, the mold problem in New Jersey will get even worse. This is only one of the factors through which we’re rapidly reaching the point that the costs of not doing anything about climate change far outweigh the costs of taking action.  more

To the Editor:

On behalf of the members of our congregation and the Jewish community of Princeton, we wanted to express our sincere gratitude to the countless members of the greater Princeton community who were in touch with us after the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. When we read news stories like this, the first reaction of so many is shock and horror — how can something like this happen in our country, in a house of worship, or in a school or any other place that is supposed to be safe. When we heard the news, we felt scared and we wondered how best to reassure the people in our congregation that we are safe here in Princeton. The feelings of fear and shock and sadness were quickly met with feelings of comfort and support and love that we received from so many local friends. Many religious leaders reached out to us immediately to express their sorrow and to offer their comfort to us. Mayor Lempert of Princeton and Chief Sutter of the Princeton Police were among the first people to contact us after the attack to offer assistance. As we mourned the loss of life and renewed our conversations about security, it felt good to know that we have so many friends and allies in this local community. It meant so much to join with over 700 people at the special Community Prayer Service on the day following the attack that our friends hosted for the community at the Nassau Presbyterian Church.  more

To the Editor:

As owners of an independent small business, we are writing to thank the Princeton Public Library (PPL) and the town for creating and supporting the Children’s Book Festival, held on Saturday, September 22 on Hinds Plaza.  

We are proud to have partnered with Susan Conlin head of Youth Services, the staff of Youth Services, and everyone at PPL as the bookseller for the Children’s Book Festival for the last eight years.  It is heartening to see so many children and their families engage with authors, illustrators and the library in a celebration of books and reading.  We have watched the Festival grow over the years with authors and illustrators coming from across the country to have a spot on the plaza.   more

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, December 11, Princeton voters will be asked to approve a $26.9 million referendum to fund critical updates at all six Princeton Public Schools. I urge voters to say Yes! for the good of all school children in Princeton.

If passed, the referendum would fund, among other things:

Upgrades and expansion of HVAC systems. This would add air conditioning and ventilation to some 128 classrooms at the elementary and middle schools, and help prevent future mold outbreaks in wet summers such as the one we just weathered.  more

November 7, 2018

To the Editor:

Each year at this time, Yes We CAN! Food Drives collects donated turkeys so those in our community who are less fortunate can share in the traditions of Thanksgiving. This year is different.  Instead, we are collecting Thanksgiving “fixings” for the patrons of the food pantries of Arm In Arm, located in Trenton and Princeton. Turkeys will be available from other outlets.

Our volunteers will be collecting such items as stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes, canned green beans and/or corn, cream of chicken soup, packaged gravy mix, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling, and poultry seasoning/ground cinnamon.  Arm In Arm asks that no cranberry sauce be donated as they receive several pallets from the food bank. more

To the Editor:

On Sunday, October 28, the Princeton Youth Program for Civic Engagement and the Princeton Public Library recognized the school-aged participants in our Constitution Day poster contest. In recognition of Constitution Day, which is celebrated each September 17, Princeton youth citizens submitted posters illustrating the importance of the U.S. Constitution in their lives and to our community.  Several elementary and middle school aged students submitted beautiful and inspiring posters. During the celebration, stand out posters by Mitalee Pasricha (eighth-grader, John Witherspoon), and Sabella Williams (second-grader, Community Park) were recognized.  Congratulations to Mitalee, Sabella, and all the wonderful students who participated in this event! more

To the Editor:

Princeton is a privileged community, both culturally and economically, but poverty nonetheless touches the lives of some of the children and families among us. About one in 10 children in our community qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school, an indicator of economic insecurity. Coupled with the high cost of living in the area, the holidays can be particularly trying for parents who struggle to make ends meet. 

As the holiday season approaches, we urge Princeton residents to consider participating in Princeton Human Services’ 20th Annual Holiday Gift Drive to help make the holidays a memorable one for these youngsters.   Princeton’s gift drive is unique in that residents can respond directly to the holiday wish-lists of individual children and thus give a helping hand to their parents, who would otherwise be unable to meet their desires. The drive offers an excellent opportunity for individuals, families and businesses to share in the spirit of the holiday in this season of giving – and can go a long way in making the holidays more joyous for the families among us who are in precarious economic circumstances.  more

To the Editor:

An article entitled “Planners Recommend Redevelopment Zone for Seminary Properties” [Town Topics, October 3] describes the proposed designation of the Princeton Theological Seminary campus and surrounding residential area as “an area in need of redevelopment” (ANR) without disclosing that this is a public relations euphemism for “blighted area” pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution, Blighted Area Clause, Article VIII, Section 3, paragraph 1. more

To the Editor:

On October 12, the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) hosted our 2018 Soirée Under the Stars, in celebration of our 110th Anniversary. I am writing to extend our sincerest thanks to the greater Princeton community for supporting our efforts.

Proceeds from the event directly support PBC’s award-winning Summer Bridge Program that allowed 540 young people from Trenton and Newark to spend a week in Blairstown, completely free of charge. Through experiential and adventure-based programming, focus is placed on team-building and leadership skills, closing the summer learning gap, STEM and environmental education. PBC strives to empower young people with the skills needed to create and sustain positive change within themselves, their environment, and in their home communities.  more

October 30, 2018

To the Editor:

The courageous move on October 9 by the vote of the BoE to scale back the expensive old proposed Referendum and replace it with a new doable Referendum was brilliant. The BOE is asking the public to approve, on December 11, the sale of a $27M bond to pay for the security needs and needed repairs and refurbishments to the school infrastructure. A MUST-do-now undertaking. more