October 11, 2017

To the Editor:

As I read about and listen to the positions of the school board candidates, I am concerned about the overly-prescriptive statements of some candidates. Some seem to see the school board as a PTO on steroids, rather than as financial stewards of public assets and a policy making fiduciary body serving our entire community. Julie Ramirez is a refreshing exception, and would be an excellent addition to the Board of Education.

Now more than ever, we need school board members who have relevant financial expertise and professional leadership skills. I worked with Julie for five years in a professional setting where managing expectations, time, and money was key. The initiatives she worked on impacted peoples’ lives on a global scale and they required careful planning and pragmatic execution. Her work required a grasp of the big-picture considerations and attention to the fine details in equal measure, and this is where Julie excels.

Like all good leaders, Julie holds herself accountable. She does the research to understand a problem, takes responsibility for the solution, and owns the results. I trust Julie to represent all Princeton students and taxpayers rather than narrow interests and agendas. She will act in a manner that reflects her understanding that money doesn’t grow on trees. She will ensure the schools achieve broad academic success for all students, while prioritizing the children’s wellbeing.

As the very involved parent of four wonderful kids in the Princeton schools, Julie knows our district well and has a clear vision of where we need to go. I am glad that she is ready to share her many talents with the Princeton community. When you vote on November, 7, please join me in supporting Julie Ramirez for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Kirk Williamson

Cleveland Lane

October 5, 2017

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter together to endorse Beth Behrend for the Board of Education.

We are fellow parents of children who have attended Riverside Elementary, JWMS, and PHS with Beth’s children over the past 10 years. Beth has been a beacon of light for all folks at Riverside. From new families to second generation Princetonians, all have felt the warmth of Beth’s welcome, her genuinely collaborative spirit, and her infectious enthusiasm for community and in particular for our beloved Princeton schools. Beth has been an advocate for all schools in Princeton; she has been an especially dedicated champion of our schools’ gardens.

We have all worked as volunteers with Beth in her role as PTO president of Riverside and PTO vice president garden chair — a position she held for seven years! We can vouch for Beth’s impeccable integrity and her boundless energy. Not only is Beth a hard worker, she is accountable when she promises results. Beth gets things done! While serving in a PTO leadership role at Riverside, Beth developed new ways to welcome families to the school, worked with teachers to bring new arts residencies, and completely overhauled the PTO finances to make them more transparent. She was a driving force behind expanding the garden program, not only at Riverside, but district-wide. Beth also instituted the end-of-summer “kindergarten playdate” for entering kindergarten children and their families to welcome them to Riverside and to give them an opportunity to get to know each other before the rush of the new school year. That is typical of her approach: finding a way to bring more people together, foster a sense of community, and a feeling of belonging.

In addition to her years of volunteer service and her in-depth knowledge of the district, Beth will bring 18 years of corporate legal experience managing and working with corporate and nonprofit boards of directors to the Board of Education. Her legal training means Beth makes decisions based on facts and always listens to all sides of any issue. She confronts issues head-on and works tirelessly and collaboratively to find solutions.

At this critical point in the future of the Princeton Schools, Beth’s experiences as volunteer leader, parent, and lawyer, her leadership skills, her energy, her vision for a school system that is welcoming and inclusive, creative and stimulating, and, finally, her dedication to Princeton schools and Princeton families make her a perfect fit for the Board. Join us in voting for Beth Behrend for the Board of Education!

Betsy Armstrong

Hartley Avenue

Mary Jo DiBianco

Woodside Lane

Alene M. Frankel and Matthew B. Frankel

Prospect Avenue

Mary Ellen and Larry Granozio

Philip Drive

Melissa and Tom Grzymala

Mason Drive

Wendy Wilton

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

This November, Princeton voters will elect three new members to our local school board. We are fortunate to have a wonderful selection of highly qualified candidates, each with unique strengths and experience. When I consider their relative merits, one candidate stands out from the pack: that’s former Princeton Township Mayor, Michele Tuck-Ponder.

Michele brings management expertise, a track record of leadership, a team player sensibility, personal warmth, wit, and intelligence, as well as a strong moral compass.

National rankings consistently highlight Princeton Public Schools. Michele recognizes the district’s considerable assets and will do what is necessary to safeguard and build on them, keeping an eye on costs.

At the same time, Michele will help our school system rise to meet the pressing challenges of the day. Foremost among these is the unacceptable gap both in student achievement and in discipline that correlates disturbingly with a student’s race and socio-economic status. Trained as a lawyer and with a background in civil rights, Michele will use this experience to help the district meaningfully address the scourge of educational inequity that hurts all of our students.

A lawyer, journalist, advocate, and CEO, Michele served three successful terms as mayor of Princeton Township during the 1990s, managing a $23 million budget and a staff of 100.

For her vision, experience, talent and commitment, the taxpayers and parents of Princeton Public Schools would do well to elect Michele Tuck-Ponder (#3 on your ballot) to the Board.

Anastasia Mann

Lilac Lane

To the Editor:

We are writing to support Julie Ramirez for the Board of Education. We believe Julie’s uniquely invaluable experience, both as a parent of four children (sixth through 12th grade) in our district, and her successful career as a project manager, leading diverse groups collaboratively to develop sound processes, solve complicated problems within resource constraints, and — critically — achieve measurable, lasting results, makes Julie an exemplary candidate.

In a time when the district is tackling long-term growth initiatives, and addressing strategic issues such as equity, wellness and health, and innovative improvements, Julie’s strengths are of paramount importance. Her financial acumen and governance expertise are deep and impressive. She is extremely competent, and will enjoy a flat learning curve when tackling the school district’s issues around the budget and facilities needs. In addition, Julie understands how to bridge the gap between a good idea in a committee and great results in every classroom, for every child.

It is critical that the school board be objective, understand financial implications, and work to achieve sound goals. We believe Julie has great integrity, understands her fiduciary responsibilities, is transparent, and will work to make all of our children’s educational experiences better. Please join us in voting for Julie Ramirez (ballot position #5) for Board of Education on November 7.

Matt and Sue Bowen

Stone Cliff Road

To the Editor:

On November 7, 2017, Princeton voters will elect three new members to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. To help voters make an informed decision, Not in Our Town Princeton (NIOT) will sponsor a public forum among the six candidates: Beth Behrend, Jessica Deutsch, James Field, Jenny Ludmer, Julie Ramirez, and Michele Tuck-Ponder. The event will take place on Sunday, October 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, 50 Cherry Hill Road.

The forum will be moderated by NIOT’s student advisers, and Princeton High School students Valeria Torres-Olivares and Hamza Nishtar, who will be asking and reading questions submitted by other PHS students, as well as taking questions from the audience. This forum will provide an opportunity to discuss issues that matter to high school students from their own point of view. As such, candidates will face a series of questions from those directly affected by the Board’s decisions and policies, and will have the opportunity to make their case. We encourage students and their parents to attend this event because on October 8, the voice of PHS students will be heard!

Valeria Torres-Olivares ’​18

​Princeton High School

To the Editor:

This past Sunday, September 24, at the fifth annual Send Hunger Packing Princeton’s (SHUPP) fundraiser, it was made clear that Princeton is a caring community. While the SHUPP board did an exceptional job, the true heroes of the afternoon were those who participated and those who attended.

It was the Library, which generously provided the space, tents and equipment. It was the honoree, Nassau Presbyterian Church. It was the restaurants, who agreed to participate in the salsa competition: Olives, Princeton Soup and Sandwich, the Terra Momo Group, Two Sevens, and Tortugas. It was the judges, who donated their time and tasting expertise: Mayor Lempert, Charles Plohn, Jen Carsen of Lilipies and Caroline Trippel from Princeton Spoon. It was the DJ Carlos Hendricks and William Santana and La Bella Luz from Hot Salsa Hot Dance Studio, who generously contributed their talent to the day. And It was all the supporters, donors, and friends who joined us on Hinds Plaza. Lead donors include John and Christine Beckelman with Sandler O’Neill, The Bonner Foundation, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Bank of Princeton, the Albin Foundation, MacLean Agency, and the Princeton Truckfest. And it was the bowls provided by Adam Welch, the Arts Council and the High School and Chef Roberta Pipito. All of our supporters are truly the reason we can do what we do for the kids in our community.

The beneficiaries of our efforts are school children in our town who find themselves food insecure at times. And there are no prerequisites to participate. During the beginning of each school year, applications to participate are given to every student in the Princeton Public Schools and to the Princeton Nursery School. All who submit the application are included in the program. In this fifth year of operation, we expect to reach the milestone of over 100,000 meals delivered.

We are having an impact and that impact has happened because of the contributions and support from members of the Princeton family. Thank you to all. We look forward to a very productive year.

Ross Wishnick

For the Send Hunger Packing Princeton Board

Edgerstoune Road

To the Editor:

I recently attended an event at the Suzanne Patterson Center called “Sourcing Health Locally,” where local physicians and farmers spoke collaboratively to a packed house of people. They addressed a basic truth: what we eat and how our food is raised matters as much (if not more) to our health as having a top notch health care system. What an ingenious idea to bring farmers and physicians together to address our most stubborn health issues! As a physician, I know how impossible it is to address our population’s health issues just from within the health care system. I would like to express my gratitude to our hosts — The Suppers Programs and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey — for creating this inspired forum. These visionary events make me want to settle permanently in the Princeton area.

Andrea Eberly, MD

Innisbrook Road, Skillman

To the Editor:

The closing of the Main Street restaurant in the Princeton Shopping Center was a tremendous blow to so many Princeton residents who enjoy a good tasty meal of simple but well-prepared American food. Main Street’s cuisine was perfectly positioned between fast food and junk food on the one hand, and ultra-elaborate, ultra-expensive food on the other.

Because the shopping center is located in a pleasant residential part of town, Main Street was the ultimate example of a neighborhood restaurant where neighbors and wait-staff knew one another and could appreciate one another. Its food was fairly simple American food (chicken platters, salads, meatloafs, omelets), accented interestingly but never with tons of salt or spices. It was, in short, a very comfortable place for the whole family to dine. And of course, parking in the center’s spacious parking lots was never a problem and was always free.

So, come on, Princeton Shopping Center: with all the empty spaces at the center, including the space previously occupied by Main Street, please bring in a restaurant that can fill the gap that Main Street left. Don’t make it exotic or snooty or filled with platters that seem an incomprehensible mixture of obscure ingredients: just make it a comfortable neighborhood restaurant that all the patrons of the other shopping center stores can once again enjoy dining at. Give us a good neighborhood restaurant!

MARVIN CHEITEN

Meadowbrook Drive

September 27, 2017

To the Editor:

Last week, you reported on the fears that some Princeton residents feel about timber-framed apartment construction [“Senior Living Complex Proposed for Harrison Street Spurs Fire Safety Concerns,” page one, Sept. 20]. I am concerned, however, that a narrow focus on apartment fire hazards runs the risk of sensationalizing a nuanced issue, which in turn could result in safety outcomes exactly opposite of those intended.

Here are some considerations that I hope can “turn down the heat” on this issue:

Fires in personal homes are more deadly than fires in apartment structures. In 2015, 70 percent of fires occurred in to one or two family home structures, but these fires accounted for 84 percent of total fire-related deaths;

There were 3,300 fire deaths in the U.S. last year, compared to 35,000 deaths from car crashes. In other words, on any given day the risk of death by auto for a Princetonian is roughly 10 times greater than by fire;

Third, fire risk in New Jersey is low compared to the rest of the country. According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), only four states have lower rates of fire death per 100,000 than New Jersey: Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Together, these facts suggest that, in New Jersey, it is safer to live in an apartment setting that doesn’t require daily driving to meet basic needs (as on North Harrison Street) than it is to live in a single family home, especially for senior citizens, and even more so for the vast majority without the substantial means needed for home-based care.

I strongly agree with others in Princeton that fire safety is an important concern. But just as President Trump’s sensationalized language about immigration risks is used to justify the grotesque construction of a border wall, I worry that alarmist language about fire safety could create a hostile environment that would prevent the construction in Princeton of much-needed housing for seniors of all income levels.

Housing that increases safety for seniors can also be constructed safely. Let’s work together to make this happen.

Nat Bottigheimer

White Pine Lane

To the Editor:

Beth Behrend has our vote for Princeton School Board! Beth unites communities. Beth values every person. And Beth is passionate about children and education.

Beth has demonstrated her leadership skills in the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation where we have known her best. As a trustee on our Board, she has served during the launch of a comprehensive building renovation and has led efforts to develop a planned giving program to sustain us into the future. She has chaired our religious education committee while teaching Sunday classes to children for the past seven years. Beth also demonstrates the principle of valuing every single person. As a fellow teacher, I have watched her bring a difficult child into the circle to engage positively with others, benefitting the child and the group as a whole.

Beth models and teaches respect and care for our precious planet, another UU principle. She has shown this in her volunteer work with the Riverside gardens and the “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet” garden fair, and in her service on the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association and the NJ League of Conservation Voters boards.

Beth brings her experience of a warm, community-service-centered town to everything she does here in Princeton. She is on the front lines of every project she tackles — planting the school gardens, teaching religious education classes, engaging her students in community service (be it stocking shelves at Arm and Arm or providing childcare for church events) and serving on several boards of trustees. She is never an armchair captain.

Beth lives out the UU principle calling us to promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. She demonstrates that peaceful, productive communities are based on respect for each other’s differences, good communication skills and creative, collaborative problem solving. When Beth walks into a room everyone is included.

Beth Behrend will bring to the Princeton School Board her sense of the value of every person and of our whole natural and human community, and her talent of harmonious community problem solving. Children, teachers, administrators, staff, and all of us who no longer have children in the schools will all benefit from Beth Behrend’s commitment to pubic education in Princeton.

We urge you to vote for Beth Behrend for Princeton School Board.

Rev. Carol S. Haag

Unitarian Universalist minister

Dr. Carl H. Haag

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

I write to support the candidacy of former Township Mayor Michele Tuck-Ponder for the Princeton Board of Education.

I have known Michele for 25 years (we served together on Township Committee) and can attest to her diligence in examining issues, her genuine commitment to serving all sectors of our community, her creativity in crafting responsible and effective solutions to issues, and her proficiency in the administrative and technical skills necessary for public leadership.

Michele has an impressive record of achievement in both the public and nonprofit spheres. In addition to her service as mayor, she has been the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, interim executive director of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, and assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and the Division of Civil Rights.

Michele has a solid grasp of our significant school issues, both from her service on Township Committee and as the parent of a fifth grade student at Community Park School and a recent graduate of Princeton High School. Among her priorities are: 1) innovative measures to assure educational equity regardless of race or socio-economic status; 2) ensuring school facilities are maintaining and developed in the most cost-effective manner; 3) carefully exploring creative approaches to establishing a school budget that is appropriate but mindful of its impact on taxpayers; and 4) reviewing school disciplinary policies to ensure that they are fair, non-discriminatory, and do not unduly burden a student’s educational progress.

I urge a vote for Michele (#3 on the ballot) on Nov. 7.

Steve Frat

Lake Drive

To the Editor:

This letter is to express our support for Jenny Ludmer, a proven school and community leader, former scientific analyst, and friend. As the parent of three children, ranging from second to seventh graders, Jenny is well aware of the many strengths of the district, but is also aware of its challenges. Raised in public schools herself, she is a passionate advocate for our community schools, as well as an active volunteer for the two schools her children attend: Littlebrook Elementary and John Witherspoon Middle School.

Shortly after moving to Princeton six years ago, Jenny threw herself into volunteer work both for the schools and the community. Her remarkable organizational skills have allowed her to lead successful sustainability efforts at the schools, as well as a chess after-school activity, a thriving garden program, and an annual Science Expo. She also serves on the board of the JWMS PTO and is a member of the Complete Streets Committee for the town.

With her dedication and persistence in pursuing the issues, Jenny is poised to be an effective and active Board member. She cares deeply about issues facing our schools and students, including the challenges of stress, as well as racial bias, and religious intolerance. Jenny also wants to see special education strengthened and differentiated instruction improved. Finally, she understands the need for prudent stewardship of our facilities and responsible planning for future growth.

In order to take on any of these issues, the district must learn to work more efficiently and Board members must work collaboratively. Jenny will be a strong addition to the Board to ensure this happens. Once she gets behind an issue, she knows how to work with administrators, Board members, teachers, parents, and the community to deliver impactful results. With a hard-working Board, we believe the district can become more responsive to the taxpaying public and more financially responsible.

The national pressures facing our schools and our community are critical and have been intensified with the current administration. Now is the time to look closely at your local candidates and ensure they have the time and energy to both protect and promote our schools. Jenny has made the choice to dedicate herself to working with others to see the schools grow, and we are confident she will continue to give 100 percent as a Board member.

We encourage everyone to learn more about Jenny’s campaign by visiting her website: LudmerForBOE.org.

Cheryl Mintz, Harris Richter

Franklin Avenue

Rachael Cooper, Amy and Eran Zacks

Dodds Lane

Rachel and Michael Benevento

Shady Brook

Lara and Josh Winn

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Did I tell you how much I love living in Princeton? One of the most amazing aspects of this phenomenal town is the potential of our public schools. Harnessing this potential so that all of our children learn to live and live to learn is an ongoing challenge that requires mature and responsible leaders from our community on our School Board.

Having said that, I am delighted that we all have the opportunity to elect Jess Deutch to serve on our Board of Education. As a Princeton mom of two student athletes, Jess is tuned into what is most needed for our students in the academic and extra-curricular arenas. While we continue to marvel at the successes of our Princeton students, it’s important that the process is a journey and not just a destination. As a founder of the highly-regarded Princeton Balance, Jess has put many years of work into making sure that the learning experience is truly an enrichment experience. I know that Jess will insure that the wellbeing of our students is paramount to their academic experience.

Jess is a seasoned professional with years of experience serving Princeton University students as an advisor. In addition, Jess is tireless volunteer worker serving in many different capacities to support our community, including taking on leadership board responsibilities for both education-based and charitable organizations. Jess knows what it takes for someone to be a high performing student while also maintaining the appropriate lifestyle balances. Over the years, Jess has articulated, via the online Princeton Balance forum, mechanisms for parents and children to optimize their learning experiences. We’d be very fortunate to have Jess implement these ideas directly into our school system.

Jess is dedicated, level-headed and works well with a wide variety of people. Jess takes the time to do her homework and fully understand the issues she is working on. Jess is a team player and a good listener. Jess loves sports. For all of these reasons, I hope you’ll join me in giving Jess one of your votes for school board representation on Election Day. Did I tell you how much I love living in Princeton? 

Ernie Barsamian

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

We are ninth grade Girl Scout Seniors who recently completed our Silver Award Project. Over the summer, we painted a 48-foot wide x 7-foot tall outdoor mural to benefit Princeton Nursery School, a preschool that primarily serves families in need and provides a multicultural learning environment and a broad array of educational services.

The mural depicts a beach showing life above and below the sea. Because most of the students are bilingual, we labeled the objects on the mural in both Spanish and English. As a finishing touch, we had the preschoolers put their handprints on the mural in the shape of coral so that they could become part of the project and feel connected with the painting. In creating this mural, we believe the students can learn in a more immersive way and engage in more imaginative play.

A large amount of materials and labor were required due to the large scale of the mural and we would have never been able to execute this project alone. We learned the importance of teamwork and realize that both our friends and businesses in the Princeton community were very generous with their time and donation of supplies. We are grateful for the support we received from the following community members:

J.P. Maman and Chris Czekanski of Hopewell Builders transported, custom-fit and installed the mural; Katrina Nanney and Athena Boutros helped prime and paint the key components; Savannah Alizio, Skylar Peppard, and Jinmee Spagnoli helped prime the wood; Bruce Currie of Niece Lumber donated and delivered 12 large weather-resistant wood panels; Mike Smart of Sherwin-Williams Paint Store donated painting supplies; George Smith of Smith’s Ace donated all colors of paint for the main mural parts; Mark Goldman of The Paint Barn donated primer and surplus paint; and Cheryl Clemmer of The Home Depot provided generous coupons toward supplies.

With Sincere Thanks,

Lydia Griebell and Catherine Howard

Princeton Girl Scouts

September 20, 2017

To the Editor:

The purpose of this letter is to enthusiastically endorse my friend Michele Tuck-Ponder for a seat on the Princeton Board of Education. I have known and worked with Michele for over 30 years and have always been impressed by her leadership abilities, problem solving skills, and willingness to compromise. Her government experience is a major plus. I especially admire her willingness to reach across party lines for the good of the town.

A specific example comes to mind. I stepped down as mayor of Princeton Township at the end of 1992. Michele became mayor in 1995. The first thing she did was to form a “mayors committee” comprised of former mayors of Princeton Township to act as an advisory group as she transitioned into her new job. We met monthly and worked in a bipartisan way to assist the mayor and the township with its challenges. It took a woman of vision and leadership to come up with that novel idea. I believe all of the former mayors were flattered to be asked to participate and impressed by the way Michele was able to mine our experience.

Everyone knows Michele isn’t afraid to speak her mind. I think that is a good thing. More than that, however, she has the ability to work with a broad spectrum of people and make things happen.

Please seriously consider giving Michele your vote (#3 on the ballot) for a seat on the Board of Education.

Richard C. Woodbridge

Former Princeton Township Mayor 

Benjamin Rush Lane

To the Editor:

I am excited to learn that Sustainable Princeton (SP) has received a grant of $100,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to achieve zero waste and offset the dangers of climate change and global warming. Our thanks to Molly Jones and Christine Symington of SP and to Matt Wasserman and other members of SP’s Board of Directors for conceiving and assembling the application.

The grant, if you think of it as a vetting operation, shows how much SP deserves our financial support. Donations (in any amount) will help SP achieve its ambitious goals, including its important sharing of its achievements at the Sustainable Jersey summit gathering in 2019. But SP also needs greater funding than it has yet had from the Princeton community. SP is a 501(c)3 organization; all contributions are tax-deductible. We may contribute online (save paper!) or by snail-mail to SP at 1 Monument Drive, Princeton.

When you visit the SP site (www.sustainableprinceton.org), you will find multitudinous information about how to help us live more sustainably: how to reduce or eliminate waste in our homes or businesses, how to speak to restaurant owners who may be using “dirty” plastics, non-organic foods, or non-postconsumer paper take-out bags (bring your own cloth bag to McCaffreys!). You can also see a list of gardeners/landscapers who follow sustainable practices — and of course we can all urge them to take our lawn and brush litter to a composting area on our properties (for Princetonians whose lots are large enough). And you will get this kind of information: “At the current rate the town of Princeton produces waste, the landfill will be full by approximately 2030: after which we’d have to send our waste to another landfill that could be several hundred miles away [think of the waste of gas!]. Sustainable Princeton aims to alleviate this problem with our goal of reducing waste by 50 percent by 2016” — with a list of ways we can all help.

And (what some people know) you can plant trees, which store carbon monoxide (which if released contributes to global warming). Asphalt driveways continue to be a major problem: they contribute to polluted storm-water run-off, thus endangering the health of individuals and the capabilities of communities to withstand the realities of global warming and climate change.

As, indeed, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have just shown (not to mention Superstorm Sandy).

The RWJ grant will help Sustainable Princeton to act responsibly and sustainably as we witness with incredulity the federal onslaught against the science-based Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association — all by Pruitts and tweets.

Locally and regionally, SP is attempting to slow the pace of global warming so that the next generations have a greater chance of adaptation.

Please sign on to the SP newsletter list; support SP with your online eyes and your credit cards or checks.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

I want to share some reasons why I enthusiastically support Jess Deutsch’s candidacy to serve on the Princeton Public School Board of Education. Jess has long been committed to the twin goals of providing schools that support students’ academic development while nurturing their emotional well-being. With a background in education and social work, she has acted on this commitment by working on behalf of students and their families nationwide and in Princeton.

At the start of her career, Jess was involved in the Department of Education Health and Human Services’ Guidebook, Together We Can: A Guide to Integrating Education and Human Services. She subsequently turned her attention to working with both students and parents in Princeton. In her capacity as a 101 Board member, she created the semi-annual Author’s Luncheon Series to raise scholarship funds that enable students from economically disadvantaged families in our community to attend college. She has also been a board member of HiTops, a local non-profit youth health and wellness center, was active on the Riverside Elementary School PTO, and currently serves on the Princeton Public Library Friends Council.

Jess is especially passionate about the importance of providing students with supportive learning environments that allow them to balance their educational aspirations and wellness. To this end, she founded Princeton Balance — an on-line community for like-minded parents — and organizes community events featuring experts who speak about evidence-based best practices for raising happy and healthy children in an increasingly competitive culture. As a professor of sociology whose research focuses on the adverse effects of stress on well-being, I applaud her efforts.

With deep roots in Princeton and strong relationships with local teachers, administrators, and parents, Jess is excited about collaborating with other board members on the development of inclusive policies that serve the needs of our diverse population of students and their families; she respects and supports each student’s unique needs, educational goals, and future trajectories. Now that her children are young adults, she would like to give back to our community by serving on the Princeton Public School Board of Education. Her track record of advocating on behalf of all children and their families makes Jess Deutsch an excellent choice for this position.

Robin Simon, PhD

Knoll Drive

To the Editor:

According to a Town Topics article on page 8 dated August 23, a 76-unit senior community has been proposed at a site near the Princeton Shopping Center at the corner of Harrison Street and Terhune Road. As longtime residents of Princeton, we welcome the application for a much needed community for seniors in our town. That said, it would also be reassuring to know that future residents will be safe in a complex which is built to the highest possible fire safety standards.

Assuming the application is accepted, we believe it would be prudent for Council to request that the developer build the units to incorporate masonry fire walls through the roof. Equally important, they should also include an upgraded sprinkler system which complies with NFPA 13 standards requiring that sprinklers be installed in concealed combustible spaces. This is not required under NFPA 13R, the current acceptable standard for residential complexes. We know that recently some New Jersey developers have voluntarily agreed to meet similar upgraded safety measures for some of their projects.

Some have argued that extra fire safety precautions in construction of multi-residential buildings are not necessary and that building to state code is sufficient. Actually, existing codes are minimum standards and upgrades by developers do not occur often enough. And we have seen from the recent massive fire in Edgewater, New Jersey (Jan. 2015) that building to state code did not prevent that conflagration from happening.

Nor did building to state code in Georgia manage to stop the fire which burned over 70 units of the Marshall Square Community (June 2015) in Evans, Georgia, even though these buildings were rigorously inspected. That fire forced 80 senior residents to evacuate their homes, many in pajamas and using walkers or wheelchairs. From a safe distance, they could only sit back and watch as their homes and all of their belongings were destroyed. One woman, age 91, died in the fire and another 81-year-old woman was rescued after seven hours, being pulled from burning rubble.

The proposal of the senior complex in Princeton is for elderly residents who may be spending the last years and months of their lives at this location. They may be disabled or less mobile and therefore should be living in an environment which is completely safe for them. Community residents, who may have family members or friends living at this facility and ultimately may be living there as well, will want to know that their complex is built to the best fire-safety standards. These measures for the new senior complex should be viewed as a worthwhile investment in protecting our senior citizens for many years to come.

Eric and Minnie Craig

Witherspoon Street

Paul and Yoshie Driscoll

Harris Road

Stephen Griffies

Maple Street

Dosier Hammond

Leigh Avenue

Wendy and David Ludlum

South Harrison Street

James and Audrey Mack

Carnahan Place 

Sue Tillett

Moore Street

September 13, 2017

To the Editor:

Allow me to deviate from the angst of politics, school budgets, mini-mansions, and traffic woes to mention something that brings me pleasure in each week’s Town Topics. I’m referring to the sports photography of Frank Wojciechowski. Speaking as an amateur photographer aspiring to photograph objects in motion (in my case, birds in flight), I can attest to the difficulty of stopping the action at just the perfect moment. If I get one good one every few months, I’m pleased. I don’t know Frank or how he does it, but week after week, sport after sport, game after game, he manages to capture a clear shot of the pass leaving the quarterback’s hand, the goalie making the save, the brilliant soccer move. So thanks, Frank, for your contributions to this paper and to the sportsmen and women of this community. With another school year beginning, I’m looking forward to your images of yet another sports season.

BILL DIX

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

I am writing to introduce myself and to ask for the support of your readers as a Princeton School Board candidate in the November 7 election.

As a 16-year Princeton taxpayer, community volunteer, public school parent and corporate attorney with financial and governance expertise, I will leverage my experience and passion to build on the excellence of our public schools. I will do so, however, in a financially prudent manner that helps preserve the quality of life and economic diversity of our beloved town.

We as a community face ongoing challenges in ensuring that our tax dollars (48 percent of our property taxes) are spent wisely to secure the best possible education for each and every one of our 3800-plus public school children. Rising enrollment, limited land for expansion, and the politics of state/federal funding and charter schools can either divide and frustrate us, or they can be viewed as an opportunity for us to think “outside of the box” and seek creative, equitable, and fiscally-responsible solutions. I believe the latter approach benefits us all.

Our School Board, working with the Princeton Council, must develop a long-term fiscal plan, calling upon financial and other experts in our community, and use it to make sound strategic decisions that will positively impact budgets into the future. The Board must embrace innovation and transparency, adopt best practices from other districts, capture savings through energy audits and sustainable technologies, and review administrative positions to ensure that the jobs people are doing reflect current needs. As a community, we should model for our children how respectful listening and dialogue can help bridge our differences, leading us toward our common goal of seeing our children thrive.

Those who know me professionally or from my years of public and board service — for our schools and school gardens, on the boards of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed or the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton — know that I bring critical thinking, objective decision-making, and passion to all that I do.

With your support on November 7, I’d like to become part of a school board that is transparent, forward-looking and sees opportunity in challenges. Together let’s focus on fiscal prudence, long-term planning and unifying our community to enhance the educational experience of all of our children. I welcome your thoughts and ideas at behrendforboe@gmail.com.

Beth Behrend

Riverside Drive

To the Editor:

Students in Princeton are often taught the importance of diversity, but not always given the opportunity to practice it and reap its benefits. With each year, the number of students at Princeton High School who report high anxiety levels and staggering sleep deficiencies remain alarming and disheartening. Princeton is recognized nationally for how its best students fare as far as college admissions, but we seldom hear about, and are just starting to talk about, the mental health cost students are paying to achieve the admission results about which we are so proud.

These issues concern me not because I do not love Princeton or the experiences I have had there. It is precisely because I love Princeton that I insist that these issues be addressed, so that more students can share in and benefit from the experience I had in Princeton, or forge their own path in the community.

These issues are complicated and systemic; if they weren’t, they would’ve been addressed long ago. This is a community that has more resources, both human and otherwise, than almost any other in the country and possibly the world. The solution lies not in new resources but in new ideas.

Jess Deutsch, who is running for Board of Education this fall, has the rare blend of passion, enthusiasm, and expertise to try get at the root of some of these problems.

Jess has spent much of her adult life seeking out the most vulnerable among us and extending to them a helping hand. Whether through her work as a mental health professional and a non-profit consultant with Princeton Balance, helping quite literally change the path of entire families with the 101 Fund, or her involvement in trying to bring fresh ideas and conversations to the community through Princeton Common Ground, Jess has consistently shown that she is willing to use her voice for those who have been left behind.

The truth is that all of the candidates running are very qualified. They all want to make the district better for Princeton’s children and, in many cases, their own children. Running for office is not a decision to be taken lightly and all the candidates in the race and their families deserve a tremendous amount of credit and respect for that.

What I can vouch for, though, is Jess’s courage to seek out problems and address them head on. What I can say with absolute certainty is that she deeply and unconditionally loves this community and its children. As someone who has been the direct beneficiary of Jess and the Deutsch family’s tenacious love, I feel that there is no one I would rather have as an advocate for the students and families of the Princeton school system.

Zack DiGregorio

William Livingston Court

September 6, 2017

To the Editor:

I learned about the sad closing of the American Boychoir from your lengthy article last week [“Alumni of American Boychoir School Mourn Closing and Share Memories,” page 5, Aug. 23].  The American Boychoir was frequently described as America’s foremost boychoir, perhaps even the best in the world.  It provided an exceptional education for the boys, both academically and musically.

I was honored and proud to be chairman of the boychoir for 20 years.  At that time we were able to grow the choir size from 30 to 81 boys, and increase the number of concerts in which they performed, both nationally and internationally.  The school produced many accomplished students who went on to have successful music careers, performing at some of the best venues in the world.

I cherish these musical memories, and am sad that it had to close.

Herbert W. Hobler ‘44

Former Princeton Resident

Hollinshead Spring Road, Skillman

To the Editor:

I write in support of the candidacy of Jessica Deutsch for the Board of Education.

Jess’s and my paths have crossed in many ways over the years as we raised children that went through Riverside School, particularly the garden-based education program. She has demonstrated both leadership and a huge capacity for service, particularly where balance and wellness for all children are concerned.  She founded the social media group, Princeton Balance, out of concerns we share about pressures to achieve that may not serve educational goals or the health of the child.  She has deep connections in the community, having served on numerous nonprofit boards, and she’s been involved in the school system at so many levels she’s forged valuable connections with the players and partners of the system.  I know Jess to be a voice of reason, calm, knowledge, and compassion for children and parents.  I know her to be resourceful, sturdy, and fearless when embracing difficult conversations and issues.

Dorothy Mullen

Patton Avenue

To the Editor:

When the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the library had given out its last protective glasses for the afternoon’s solar eclipse, due to arrive in just a few hours, I thought no big deal. We were only going to get the 72 percent version; you can be partially pregnant after all.

So I was completely unprepared for the line of cars streaming into town as I was leaving to go home for lunch. I was suddenly in the closing shot of Field of Dreams only it wasn’t dusk and this wasn’t Iowa but New Jersey. Turns out that they were all headed to Palmer Square as if this were the only spot for observing this near-beer of an event.

Sometimes I just don’t get it.

A few weeks earlier my friend, a well-known astro-physicist, tried to convey the excitement of a total eclipse.

“The screams are like nothing you’ve ever heard.” Really? Clearly, my friend had never been to a Michigan/Ohio State football game. So he tried another tack. “You have to imagine the experience of the light and then suddenly it’s dark.” Again, no luck. Did he not recall November 8?

The fact is that I love my fellow man but sometimes we are completely out of sync. A substantial number of them, for example, believe that we are either headed for the rapture, going to return after death for a potential star turn in a Nature documentary, or need to cover one-half of humanity in some very scary clothing.

Anyway, I got home and was looking forward to watching the decidedly anti-eclipse High Noon, a notion prompted by a recent book describing its making. Plans changed when my wife came home and turned on CNN, which I must say did a very creditable job of giving the whole event a little panache.

We also went out at the appointed time to watch our 72 percent version of the event. My pulse, slow to begin with, almost stalled.

Still, I did enjoy one aspect of the thing. It turns out that a total eclipse is really caused by the moon’s being so close to earth that it can blot out the sun that’s a gillizion times its size just like, so the CNN astronomer explained, you can blot out the person right in front of you simply by holding your thumb up to your eyes. Wow, what a revelation. I tried it and it works. It turns out that you can make almost anything disappear if you just hold your thumb up close enough to your face. How elegant. How cool. How useful. The day was not a total waste after all.

Walter Frank

Riverside Drive

August 30, 2017

To the Editor:

I have heard anecdotally that some Princeton residents feel the Sunrise Senior Living project proposed for North Harrison Street would have negative effects on our community. I feel differently, and would like to point out a few ways in which this project would benefit Princetonians.

As proposed, the senior living project would provide 76 units in two low-rise buildings on 3.5 acres of land.

A senior living project would enable Princeton residents to continue living in their community without the burdens of maintaining a single-family home and lot.

The location for the Sunrise project is ideal because it is adjacent to the shopping center. Because residents of the project can walk to stores and services, it will support regular exercise, health, and personal independence.

By adding customers next door, the project will support retail that caters to daily needs, and in a way that will not increase traffic or demand for parking at the shopping center. The fact that the shopping center is already served by transit means that no new transit or shuttle services would be needed, and car-free independence for seniors is available.

Finally, a senior living project would strengthen the local tax base without adding demand for new local services.

For all these reasons, I believe the addition of the new senior living project is something to be applauded rather than opposed.

I hope the conversation locally will focus on how to take advantage of new construction to deliver local improvements rather than on questions of whether it should be developed at all.

Nat Bottigheimer

White Pine Lane