October 22, 2014

To the Editor:

At the Board of Education meeting on September 23 many community members and Princeton Public School (PPS) educators asked some very difficult questions of the Board during the public comment section of the meeting. Understandably the board did not answer those questions at the time or engage in a back-and-forth. All the same, those questions were not rhetorical and deserve a response at the upcoming Board meeting on October 28. Here are four that I heard that I think are particularly important to answer.

1)  Since January the Board has authorized approximately $1 million to be spent for settlement of special education claims. Without breaching confidentiality please explain the nature of these claims. How much has been budgeted for these claims for 2014-15 and where is that amount in the current budget?

2)  Why didn’t the Board budget any pay increases for athletic coaches and faculty advisors? Why isn’t anything offered for the next two years either? Are teachers expected to fill these positions no matter how low the hourly wage? Could this put these programs at risk?

3)  We heard that the Chapter 78 law (that dictates benefit contribution amounts) will sunset at the end of this school year. Twelve districts in New Jersey have negotiated these amounts like the PREA proposes to do for years 2 and 3 of this contract. Does the Board intend to litigate if the PREA does not accept the Board’s interpretation of this law?

4)  The Board insists that negotiating the second and third year of the contract differently than the first is illegal. In that case why not frame the negotiations as two separate contracts — one for 2014-15 and a second for 2015-17? This will allow the bargaining of premium contributions for the second contract without violating the Board’s interpretation of Chapter 78. This is essentially what the Board has done with the administrators.

I also asked the Board a question and I would very much like to hear an answer. Is the entire Board, each and every member, in agreement with the negotiation team’s style and substance in this year’s bargaining? For example, the interpretation of Chapter 78, and the unwillingness to negotiate two contracts?

Malachi Wood

Hamilton Avenue

Editor’s Note: The writer is a teacher at Princeton High School.

To the Editor:

Voters, especially those who vote by mail, have been asking for information about the candidates running for the Princeton Board of Education. The League of Women Voters regrets that it could not hold a debate this year. League protocol requires that there be one more candidate than seats, and although candidates Doran, Shamsi, and Spruill agreed to participate, Ms. Witter did not. However, all four candidates have submitted written responses to League questions, and these are posted on the League website, www.lwvprinceton.org.

Please visit the League website for information about candidates and analysis of the ballot questions, and remember to vote.

Chrystal Schivell,

Voter Service chair, League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, Monroe Lane

 

To the Editor:

On October 2, I injured my left eye. I went to the Emergency Room at the Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. I want to thank Christine, a nurse, and Sharon, a physician’s assistant for the kindness and compassion they showed toward me.

Ethan C. Finley

Princeton Community Village

To the Editor:

Glad we are patting ourselves on the back regarding the LEED Silver designation. Take a step back and let’s bask in the hypocrisy. Funny how Sustainable Princeton was absent from the meetings at the Town Council regarding the controversial AvalonBay development. I do not believe they conversed with members of the Princeton community or the Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods.

Smart Growth is the rallying cry from Sustainable NJ, our Town Planning Board, Planning Dept., and Princeton Futures. Smart Growth is a misnomer; its premise defies the reality of carrying capacity, a basic tenet of ecological, economic, social, and political health. In the end the decisions of these political entities fulfill the goals of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, the mayor, and Town Council’s vision of Princeton to become a denser urban place and the center for tourism and business in Greater Mercer County.

Ask how the small business owners in Princeton view the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. Even the state has awarded Princeton “Urban Renewal” dollars for recent downtown projects. “Smart Growth” in Princeton? If we wanted to live and practice Sustainability, we would outlaw further development of green fields ie. sprawl. And sorry to say this, improve everyone’s life in the area by recommitting to the re-making of Trenton. NOT an easy task BUT it would be Sustainability in action.

Would our Council integrate the advice of independent experts and the hard facts which reiterate the communities’s position in recent controversies? They ignore most of the recommendations of the hardworking volunteers on the Environment Committee, Sprab and Princeton Open Space. The Council repeatedly disregards the professional testimony from the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the Sierra Club, residents. Many “outside experts” live in Princeton, a well-educated, compassionate citizenry. Our town is peppered with architects, planners, academics, scientists, businessmen, and conscientious, ethical developers.

The tenets of Sustainability include social and economic justice, environmental security, community over corporate interests, and improvement in the environment and quality of life. Review Robert De Martino’s October 15 letter to the editor regarding the Council ordinance to construct unwanted sidewalks along Poe Road. Another controversy that violates all the tenets of Sustainablity.

Let’s now turn our attention to the AvalonBay developers and the former hospital site. The hospital has changed from a community hospital to a corporate entity that has thrown Princeton to the wolves. I say Princeton and not the Witherspoon/Jefferson communities because the entire town will be negatively impacted by the 228-unit AvalonBay development. The hospital gorged itself on the finest building materials and architect to build a monument to itself leaving us to pay the bill when it chose AvalonBay, the publicly traded developer responsible to its shareholders not our neighborhoods. This project could have been an award-winning Sustainable design that respects the community, carrying capacity, environmental and historical integrity, and improves the quality of everyone’s life.

The Council and its legal representatives failed to stand behind the people of Princeton. The bullying AvalonBay pushed our weak Council around. AvalonBay refused to address the environmental problems identified by objective, professional consultants. It refused to meet any of the framework set forth by the town. A lost opportunity for Princeton to develop and live sustainably; AvalonBay laughed at our pre-established standards including the highest LEED certification.

Wendy Ludlum

South Harrison Street

October 15, 2014

To The Editor:

Last month I attended the meeting of the Princeton Planning Board where the Institute for Advanced Study’s plan for new faculty housing was once again on the agenda. What should have been a half-hour discussion of issues largely resolved was stretched into a three-and-one-half hour ordeal by a small group determined to disregard the Planning Board’s own decisions and throw sand into the gears of municipal decision-making.

The Planning Board is scheduled to once again take up the Institute’s request at its meeting on October 16. The opposition is expected to continue to raise objections designed only to delay this project. It is time to let the Institute return its resources and energy to the core mission of curiosity-driven research that benefits our community and everyone who lives on our planet.

Landon Jones
Hibben Road

To the Editor:

The tone of the most recent letter from three members of the Board of Education of Princeton Public Schools (PPS) is quite ironic. They seem to accuse the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) of not moving in negotiations. Anyone who was at the presentation on the status of negotiations during the most recent Board meeting, however, heard it clearly stated by the Board that PREA’s proposals have changed, while the Board’s position has not changed. At the meeting, the Board spoke of “middle ground” but has not moved toward any middle. The letter writers from the Board used the word “demands” when characterizing the PREA’s proposals. They are proposals, not demands, and that is how negotiations work. The Board is the side that seems to be demanding.

The Board letter-writers made other statements about the specifics of negotiations that seem to me, as a former Board member, to be well beyond what should be presented in such a forum and are also not accurate. To see some of the inaccuracies please look at the “Negotiations Fact Check” posted on “A Sea of Blue — Princeton Educators” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/princetonteaches.

The Board letter-writers have also not made clear whether they are writing for themselves or for the Board as a whole. I am a teacher in PPS and a member of the PREA, but these comments are mine alone.

Steven Carson
South Harrison Street

To the Editor:

In last week’s letter to the editor [“Real Issue from Board’s Point of View Is Sustainability of Quality Education”], the three Board members who sit on the negotiations team set forth three goals of the Board: a reasonable salary increase, containment of healthcare costs, and a fair and predictable salary guide. The Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) shares with the Board each of these goals. Who wouldn’t?

It was unfortunate that the letter reduced the position of the PREA to “demands … far in excess of the maximum tax raise … (which) jeopardize the quality of the education we provide our children.” None of this is true.

I’d like to just address one of the Board’s stated goals: control of healthcare costs. Here are the facts.

We have repeatedly stated to the Board during these negotiations that we are willing to work with them to reduce premium costs. Given that we are now paying as much as 35 percent of our premiums, why in the world would we oppose or be unwilling to discuss ways to lower premiums?

The Board’s proposal is to reduce premiums by having PREA members pay higher deductibles and co-pays. The Board states they are willing to share some of those premium savings with us in the form of a higher salary offer. It may be, however, that the increase in salary (which the Board has not specified) will be completely offset by the deductibles and co-pays. In other words, only the Board will experience true savings. We have asked for additional information on this proposal to help us quantify its financial impact on our members. The information has not been provided. The Board would like us to say yes while blindfolded.

The Board says it is interested in reducing health care costs and yet they withdrew a proposal that could possibly save the district $100,000’s more than their current proposal. We have even provided the Board with information to back this up. Why has the Board done this?

Our track record over the past contracts is clear. We have always cooperated with the Board to reduce premiums. We just dropped two health benefit plans on July 1, 2014, to save the district $300,000. In short, there have been and will continue to be discussions of ways to reduce health benefit premiums.

The Board’s other two stated goals are a reasonable salary increase and a salary guide with predictable salary increases. Obviously, the amount that constitutes a reasonable increase is usually at the heart of any labor contract negotiations. And finally, all salary guides, including the one we now have, achieve the Board’s stated goal of predictability — that’s what we’ve been saying all along. What the Board is proposing is to take away, for a second contract in a row, the future our members do rely upon.

It’s been said before, but it deserves repeating. The logjam to these negotiations is the Board’s interpretation of Ch. 78 regarding premium contributions. All the Board needs to do is change from “the law requires Tier 4” to “we the Board propose Tier 4” and progress to a fair contract for both sides will follow.

John Baxter
PREA Negotiations Chair

To the Editor:

As long-time residents of Princeton and senior citizens, my wife and I oppose an ordinance that is before the mayor and Council of Princeton that would force the construction of new sidewalks on the section of Poe Road from Random Road to Princeton Kingston Road. In fact, not a single family living in the seven homes that would be directly affected by the project support the sidewalks. This controversial project would place extreme economic and physical hardships upon Poe Road residents and force unnecessary cement sidewalks on both sides of Poe Road.

Poe Road, in the Littlebrook Elementary School and historic Carnasa Park districts, intersects Princeton Kingston Road, which as part of the Kings Highway has both state and national designation as a historic area, given in part for its scenic beauty and rural character. Sidewalks would permanently destroy the rural character of Poe Road.

Affected residents would be forced to pay half the cost of this wasteful project! My wife and I are being assessed almost $4,200. This is an extreme hardship to us as seniors! Indeed, of the seven affected families, five consist of senior citizens and/or retired and physically challenged persons. To fight the sidewalk proposal, Poe Road residents have formed the Poe Road Preservation Association and six of the seven families have already signed a petition opposing the project.

In addition to the unfair additional costs, we would also be forced to maintain the unnecessary sidewalk, both through repairs and through snow removal, and there are liability issues if someone falls on the sidewalks Princeton constructs. Since our home is on the corner of Princeton Kingston and Poe Roads, my wife and I would be required to shovel snow on sidewalks on both State and municipal properties amounting to almost 300 feet! Since we are both well into our sixties with serious health issues, we simply are not physically capable of this feat. At a the public meeting on August 4, Municipal Engineer Robert Kiser stated that residents — including seniors and those physically challenged — would be fined if they do not remove snow and ice in the time allotted under town ordinances.

Other Princeton seniors and physically challenged persons and those living on fixed incomes should watch carefully how the mayor and Council vote on the wasteful Poe Road sidewalk project. After all, if the mayor and Council can force the construction of sidewalks here against the opposition of the community, there is no telling what unnecessary and unwanted construction projects they could force against other Princeton neighborhoods. Greedy outside developers and construction companies need to be constantly fed, and they are licking their chops over the rural neighborhoods of Princeton. Our senior citizens, many who have lived and paid taxes for decades in Princeton, have earned the right to remain in their homes and retire in Princeton!

We ask all concerned residents to tell the mayor and Council of Princeton to vote NO on the Poe Road sidewalk project!

Robert De Martino
Princeton Kingston Road

October 8, 2014

To the Editor:

In the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education’s negotiations with Princeton Regional Education Association (“PREA”) on October 2, 2014, the parties reached a point where it seemed that further discussion was not leading to progress, and PREA terminated the meeting. The issues in this negotiation came down to salary and benefits, but the real issue from the Board’s point of view was the sustainability of the quality education we provide to our students.

The Board is seeking a contract that (i) has a reasonable salary increase for teachers; (ii) controls healthcare costs for both sides, and (iii) includes a fair salary guide that gives teachers a predictable salary increase in each year of the agreement. From PREA’s point of view, they would like the District to reduce their healthcare contributions that have been imposed by State Law Chapter 78.

The problem with the PREA’s demands is that they are simply unaffordable. The PREA’s current proposal for salary increases and healthcare givebacks is far in excess of the maximum tax raise we could ask taxpayers to pay by law under the 2 percent cap on tax increases. As fiduciaries for the children and for this community, we cannot pay what they are asking us to give.

Simply asking taxpayers, or the District, to pay more jeopardizes the quality of the education we provide to our children. If we gave more than a reasonable amount to PREA, we know that programs and teachers would need to be cut. Our children’s class sizes would increase. Our duty as Board members is to our children and our taxpayers, and is to sustain the high quality of our schools, which we all value.

We believe that there is a fair deal that can be done with PREA. It would involve looking at salary increases coupled with health plans that save money for BOTH sides, and we cannot negotiate salary in isolation from health benefits. We need to collaborate on solutions that benefit us both in order to maintain educational excellence — we cannot simply pay more, and certainly not more than we have to give.

In our meeting, PREA asked us to counter-propose on salary only, while refusing to propose any benefit plan other than the status quo, or to discuss any of the Board’s offers on health benefit plans that would save both sides money. In addition, we have proposed a pay increase and a salary guide that provides predictable and fair pay increases each year. PREA refuses to discuss those proposals.

We plan to meet again with PREA on October 22, and a mediator will meet with PREA and the Board on November 20. We hope to arrive at a solution, but in order to do that both sides need to work together and work within the confines of what is prudent, sustainable, and best for our children and our taxpayers.

Molly Chrein, Andrea Spalla,

Patrick Sullivan

Members of the Board of Education,

Princeton Public Schools

To the Editor:

At the last Princeton Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Board member Patrick Sullivan’s explanation of the reasons for the negotiation stalemate with the teacher’s union felt like déjà vu. It was hard not to come away thinking the School Board was crying wolf. How many times have we heard the same arguments about small budget caps and huge budget shortfalls (ranging anywhere from 1.2 to 2 million dollars)? The caps have been in place for years with the slight decrease to the current cap of 2 percent having been instituted four years ago. It is shameful for the Board to use the cost of special needs students as a reason for denying teachers a salary increase; this student population faces enough challenges without being used in the Board’s negotiations game by exaggerating their costs.

In previous negotiation cycles these same arguments were presented, and somehow, the board found a way to negotiate a higher salary increase of 2-3 percent per year (despite the 2 percent cap). The offer this year is 1.8 percent annual increase over three years. It is not a matter of having the money but of the priorities as to how the money is allocated. It does not show respect to teachers to give the administrators an annual increase of 2.4 percent for the first year (which, given the range of administrators’ salaries, means a raise of approximately $2,678 to $4,449) while offering the newest teachers a raise of only $972 that same year (which, in fact, would not be that much because of the increase in payments for health benefits). It would have been more respectful to anticipate the need for settlements with both unions and to pool both sets of salaries so as to disseminate the raises more equitably across the unions.

The Board perennially points to increasing health care costs to help justify its tax hike, but for the past three years the amount the Board has paid for premiums has NOT increased because the teachers have been paying for all of those increases plus an additional $400,000 this year. Apparently, that is not enough. The Board should be showing some gratitude rather than treating our teachers in this manner.

Sadly, long gone are the days when Joel Cooper, former Princeton Board of Education president, gave an impassioned speech about why teachers should be paid a fair, professional wage. He did not have to use the word “respect” because his eloquent, inspiring elucidation of the value of teachers demonstrated it.

Ann Summer

Cedar Lane

To the Editor:

The Princeton Public Schools teachers and the Princeton Board of Education are currently locked in an acrimonious battle over the teachers’ contract. The previous contract expired in June, and the teachers are working now without a contract. This happened three years ago too, during the last negotiations; teachers worked without a contract from summer 2011 to February 2012, when the contract was finally settled. Here we go again, and the fight has gotten uglier.

We live in Princeton because of its outstanding schools, which our two children have attended for the last 10 years. These schools offer amazing opportunities, great kids, and, above all, dedicated and excellent teachers.

This dispute is bitter and long. These teachers feel they are being treated unfairly, and the more we learn, the more we must agree with them. The Board doesn’t really seem to be responding meaningfully to the proposals of the teachers’ union, the PREA. So we address the following to the Board.

Here is what we see. You have already lost the teachers’ morale. We fear that soon you may lose their willingness to go above and beyond, as so many Princeton teachers do every day — something that sets our school district apart. And our biggest fear is that, finally and far too soon, you will just plain start to lose them, one by one.

Please do not jeopardize the reputation of this school district — Princeton, a name synonymous with excellence in education. And please — do not jeopardize the quality of our children’s education.

Amy Goldstein. Owen O’Donnell

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

On September 18 residents of all ages gathered at Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street for a night of Poems and Percussion organized by myself and Sustainable Princeton. The event was designed to educate residents so that they can help reduce pollution and the impact of single-use plastic bags by bringing their own reusable bag.

This November 4 Mercer County voters will have the opportunity to take action and join other communities across the country and around the world by voting “yes” on a non-binding referendum to impose a 5 cent fee on single-use plastic bags. The referendum is simply intended to gauge voter interest in this serious issue. It is an important first step in reducing the “plague of plastic pollution” that endangers our environment and our health. Fee imposition has been shown to be a very effective method to prevent the use of single-use bags.

Single-use plastic bags create immense issues for our environment, posing a threat to the health of the entire oceanic ecosystem. Many of us have been working for three years on this issue in Princeton.

On October 18 the New Jersey Environmental Lobby will sponsor an event I am organizing called “Soapbox Saturday — Shout Out on the Bag Referendum.” To be held in Hinds Plaza in Princeton, the event will offer residents a chance to share their position on the issue of single-use bags. Details can be found at http://on.fb.me/1uwUjuq.

Bainy Suri

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton High School Homecoming Committee, we would like to thank our Princeton community for showing their support at the PHS Homecoming Weekend Celebration. The planning of this event included many people: The Princeton High School Student Council, PHS Administration and personnel, PHS PTO, PHS Football Booster Club, Town Administrators, our Princeton Public Schools Superintendent and Facilities Crew as well as countless enthusiastic and dedicated students, volunteers, teachers, and custodians, all of whom came together to pull off this amazing event. With over 2000 people in attendance at our Friday Night (under the lights) football game, it was a sight to behold! The celebration continued on Saturday with soccer and field hockey games at the high school and John Witherspoon Middle School’s annual Super Saturday celebration.

Thanks to everyone, including neighbors and the greater community, for all your support! It was a homecoming that our students and community will remember for years to come … a great tradition at PHS!

Roxanne List, Tamera Matteo

Homecoming Committee Co-Chairs

To the Editor:

Our town has lost an invaluable treasure, Ted Vial, a founder and past-president of Princeton Community Housing, who passed away on September 17, 2014. As a fervent and steadfast advocate for affordable housing for Princeton’s most vulnerable citizens, Ted was a pioneer who spurred our community to do the right thing.

Starting in 1967, he and his colleagues organized the leaders of our major religious and educational institutions and led the way to create what would become Princeton Community Housing (PCH). Ted worked tirelessly with the Township Committee and the Planning and Zoning Committees, with surveyors, planners, engineers, architects, and funders to create our first community, Princeton Community Village (PCV), located at Bunn Drive and Karl Light Boulevard.

In the ensuing years Ted served as a dedicated PCH trustee and officer, working on many PCH committees and supporting the non-profit organization’s efforts to provide, manage, and advocate for affordable housing.

Today PCH is the largest provider of affordable housing in Princeton, providing rental homes for close to 1,000 people — individuals, families and seniors — in over 460 townhouses and apartments at PCV, Elm Court, Harriet Bryan House, Griggs Farm and other sites situated throughout the community.

As a conservator of PCH’s institutional memory, Ted remembered every detail of every issue over the past 47 years and could be counted on to help its board understand the complex history and background of all aspects of every affordable housing effort in Princeton.

Ted will be sorely missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him or to benefit from his extraordinary efforts to make Princeton a better place to live for all its citizens. The memory of Ted’s giving nature and his service to PCH and the Princeton community help ease the sadness of our loss — and inspire us all to continue our work in support of the community.

Rich Gittleman,

President

Edward Truscelli,

Executive Director, Princeton Community Housing

To the Editor:

The stars were all in alignment for us on Sunday, as we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Dorothea’s House — an institution that first served as a gathering place for Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, but has evolved through the years to serve the whole community.

The skies were sunny, the food was delicious, and the entertainment was delightful as nearly 500 people turned out to help us celebrate the Princeton institution that was built as a living memorial to Dorothea van Dyke McLane, a young Princeton volunteer who unselfishly gave her time and efforts to help Princeton’s poor Italian immigrants.

Many, many thanks to the public, who turned out in droves, and to the myriad sponsors who helped make the day such a success. The food was abundant, thanks partly to Carlo and Raoul Momo, from the Terra Momo Restaurant Group, who helped us brainstorm from the first germ of an idea for the festivities a year and a half ago. Grazie mille to all the other food purveyors from Princeton for their generosity: D’Angelo’s, Mezzaluna, Osteria Procaccini, College Park Cafe, Chambers Walk; and the Bent Spoon, who provided gelato pops served from an ice chest attached to a Vespa scooter. Thanks also to Princeton University for supplying the bottled water, to an anonymous donor for the soft drinks, and to Firriato Winery for the wine-tasting.

Pondini Imports and Marcelli Imports also kept the crowd happy with their abundant Italian cheese selections; and Le Virtù restaurant in Philadelphia, as well as Rana Pastificio from New York, wowed everyone with a wealth of delicious food, from grilled lamb skewers to pasta with lobster. We capped off the day’s events with a luscious cannoli and nutella-filled cake provided by Chez Alice. It was a feast worthy of a centennial celebration and we on the Dorothea’s House board of trustees are so grateful for everyone’s participation.

Bravi also to the Coro D’Italia, an Italian folk ensemble from Montclair, and to Joe and Sandra Pucciatti, founders of the Boheme Opera NJ, for providing us with two talented opera singers for the occasion and keeping the public entertained all afternoon.

A big grazie also to the organizations that donated door prizes, including McCarter Theatre, Despaña, the Bent Spoon, Boheme Opera, North End Bistro, Mezzaluna, Chambers Walk, and Mediterra, as well as board member Dino Spadaccini for his donation of two tickets to a 76ers basketball game. The day would not have been such a stellar success without the hard work of everyone on the board and the myriad volunteers who stepped up to the plate.

Sunday’s event highlighted the good will and camaraderie that is evident throughout the year at Dorothea’s House and we are grateful that Dorothea’s grace continues to shine down upon us. For more information about Dorothea’s House, its mission, it classes and programs, visit our website at www.dorotheashouse.org.

Linda Prospero, Chair

Dorothea’s House, John Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at Princeton Senior Resourse Center (PSRC), I would like to thank the donors, volunteers, and sponsors who made our 40th Anniversary Gala on September 21 such a rousing success. It was thrilling to see such a huge crowd of enthusiastic attendees. We were especially pleased to be able to honor individuals and organizations that have been essential to our growth and ability to serve older adults and their families in the greater Princeton area: Bill and Judy Scheide, Betty Wold Johnson, Bloomberg, L.P., The J. Seward Johnson, Sr. 1963 Charitable Trust, Albert Stark, and Norman Klath.

A special thanks goes to the benefit committee, which did an outstanding job of putting the event together. Honorary Chairs were Claire Jacobus, Todd Lincoln, Jane Gore, and Richard Bianchetti. Members included Bradley Bartolino, Rebecca Esmi, Paul Gerard, Audrey Hallowell, Norman Klath, Robert Hillier, Robert Levitt, Victoria Leyton, Joseph Maida, Dave Saltzman, Albert Stark, and Fiona Van Dyke. The auction committee created PSRC’s best auction ever and was led by Richard Bianchetti. Members included Helen Burton, Chris Stadelmeier, Karen Cunningham, Robert Levine, Victoria Leyton, Barbara Purnell, Hazel Stix, Joel Tennenbaum, and Elliott Sylvan.

I want to add a special thanks to the board of directors who worked tirelessly on this event and we are grateful to the staff for giving their time and effort to make our 40th a success.

We also appreciate the generosity of this year’s sponsors. PSRC would not be possible without them: Bloomberg L.P., BWell Rehabilitation Centers, Hamilton Jewelers, Betty Wold Johnson, J. Seward Johnson, Sr. 1963 Charitable Trust, Michael & Marylou Kenny, Norman & Nancy Klath, Bill & Judy Scheide, Stark & Stark, Albert & Ellen Stark, Team Toyota, Callaway Henderson Realtors, Dave Saltzman Insurance, Mercadien Group, Princeton Global Asset Management, Dr. Katherine M. Klotzburger, Silver Century Fund, Richard Bianchetti, Borden Perlman, Capital Health, Jenny Crumiller, The Gordon & Llura Gund Foundation, Claire & David Jacobus, Haldeman Lexus, Hill Wallack, LLP, Julius Gross, Lauren Davis, Hilton Realty, LLC, Lear & Pannepacker, Robert & Joan Levitt, Maida Mackler, LLC, Mistral, Princeton Healthcare System Foundation, Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group, Henry & Arlene Opatut, Irwin & Cecilia Rosenblum, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Acorn Glen, David Atkin, Bank of Princeton, Andrew & Carol Golden Fund, Merwick Rehabilitation Center, PSRC Ping Pong Players, Saul Ewing LLP, Stifel Nicolaus, Studio Hillier Architecture, Szaferman Lakind, Michael & Lynn Wong.

In addition to celebrating PSRC’s 40th, Susan Hoskins, Executive Director and Mayor Liz Lempert announced that the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland had designated Princeton Borough an Age Friendly Community, the first community in New Jersey to be so named. Founded 40 years ago to provide programs and services to promote healthy aging for Princeton area older adults and their family caregivers. PSRC offers affordable services, programs and opportunities that support, educate and engage older individuals, their families and caregivers.

Because of the generous support of everyone involved, PSRC is truly “Fired Up for 40 More!”

Paul Gerard

President, Princeton Senior Resource Center

October 1, 2014

To the Editor:

We write to share an experience with the new Access Princeton service. One recent evening when we were not at home, a large, tree-sized branch fell from one of the century-old oaks that line our street, doing damage to our roof. Happily, no one was injured (though the health of the Jugtown oaks is a cause of great concern).

Early the following morning, we reported the incident using the SeeClickFix feature of the Access Princeton app. Very shortly after, our municipal arborist, Greg O’Neill, had responded to the scene and made arrangements for this branch and debris to be removed. He advised us to follow up with Human Resources Manager Jackie Nagin to report the damage. Ms. Nagin’s response was similarly prompt, thorough, and very helpful. By mid-morning, the debris had been removed and we were well on the way to resolving this issue.

Princeton government and the public employees who work on our behalf should be very proud of this new service, which makes it easier for residents to connect with municipal resources. We suspect that not all incidents can be resolved in the time frame we enjoyed, but there can be no doubt that Access Princeton is an excellent municipal service.

Mary Chemris and Timothy Quinn

Wilton Street

To the Editor:

On Election Day, November 4, there will be a single-use shopping bag fee referendum on the ballot. Your opinion matters, so please vote on this non-binding referendum!

Mercer County is posing a non-binding question to gauge voter sentiment regarding whether a five cent purchase fee per single-use bag should be imposed at check-out when shopping at Mercer County stores.

Why add a five cent purchase fee to single-use bags?

Our landfills are overburdened. Our waterways are polluted causing marine life to suffer, and the recycling sorters are clogged and damaged.

As a result, taxpayer dollars need to be used to clean up all of this mess. It is estimated that New Jersey residents use over four BILLION bags each year! A five cent fee to single-use bags makes the shopper stop and think about whether they need to take that single-use bag instead of reusing one that they have brought from home.

The ultimate goal of this bag fee is to reduce waste and save tax payer money – and it is a proven approach to accomplish these objectives. Washington D.C., Austin Texas, Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties in Maryland, the entire state of California, and countless cities around the world all have mandated a fee for single-use bags and the result has been extremely positive in helping the environment.

This referendum is just to gauge voter sentiment. It will not actually impose the fee. That will be the next step should this referendum pass. All of the specific details of the program would then be further discussed and crafted. For more information about the single-use bag issue, please visit www.NJThinkOutsideTheBag.org.

The Princeton Environmental Commission, Sustainable Princeton, and the Princeton Board of Health hope that you vote YES for this referendum, so that Mercer County can lead the charge in N.J. to a cleaner community. Keep Mercer Clean and Vote YES on November 4!

Thank you,

Princeton Environmental Commission.

Sustainable Princeton,

Princeton Board of Health

To the Editor:

My son’s a freshman at PHS — it’s an entirely new environment.
Kids his age.
Kids who are now adults.
Kids wearing grown-up attire.
Kids with beards.
Kids dating, openly showing affection.

We attended our first PHS Football game — their first Friday Night Lights. Earlier that day he attended the pep rally wearing blue and white, like everyone else. Friday was the end of “Spirit Week,” which had students come in one day dressed as superheroes, another day in pajamas, and so on.

I want to give my son every opportunity to see friends and forge new friendships. I can see that with his autism, he aches emotionally for normalcy, for friendships, for inclusion. I can see that he may be aware of perceived, if not actual, limitations.

So what’s a dad to do, if his son is less interested in the game and much more interested in meeting the senior guy on the school stoop, and the senior gal leaning on him affectionately — well of course let him go up to them, shake hands, engage in polite conversation.

Or what to do when he wants to frantically scan the crowd until he sees familiar faces from Riverside or John Witherspoon — well of course let him stop them to shake hands, engage in short polite talk.

Or what to do when there are so many people in the bleachers that you must find a better spot to see what’s going on? — keep walking until you find the spot, but keep reminding him that he can’t tell people to move out of his way so that he can have a better view, and instead wait his turn for a better vantage point.

Or what to do when he eagerly wants to say hi to the cheerleaders. I told him he could wave, which he did frantically for a few minutes to get the girls’ attention. But high school girls aren’t celebrities and not used to a freshman trying to get their attention. I felt my heart straining a bit on this one so decided to join in, waving until one of the ladies looked and I got her attention briefly enough to wave her over. Thanks, Brianna, for being such a good sport and giving my son a high five. A little gesture can make a day.

Or what to do when he wants to break away from his constant overlooking father, to be independent and say hi to friends on his own, even if in his excitement he’s not fully certain about what to say? You let him go and try, and then let your heart break for the hundredth time when you see him strive awkwardly, only to be told by the friend that she’s busy ‘cuz she’s with someone. And that’s how he learns. And how he keeps learning, about perhaps what a friend is, or is not.

Or what to do when he desperately wants to go on the field to meet the football players? Well that’s when you stop right there and let him know he can’t do everything he wants, and would need to wait until the game was over, or just see them at PHS.

This was our first Friday Night Lights.
I don’t think it will be our last.

Adnan Shamsi

William Paterson Court

To the Editor:

Most of us know someone who has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Whether striking a close relative, a friend, or neighbor, this disease has an impact that is pervasive and devastatingly sad. Tremendous loss occurs before the final loss of the loved one.

Something that millions of sufferers do not lose, however, is a vital connection to music, which for many helps integrate their memory and lives. Music is a source of joy and inspiration, of grounding and life. In beautiful form, the documentary, Alive Inside, reveals the power that music has on memory.

The public is invited to a special screening of this film — a 2014 Sundance Film Festival winner — at the Garden Theatre, Sunday, October 5, at 10:30 a.m. Proceeds of the screening will benefit the non-profit Hopewell Valley Chorus Scholarship Fund.

Hendricks Davis

John Street

To the Editor:

Over the past decade, our County Government, consisting of the County Executive with the Board of Seven Freeholders, have been managing a budget that has been increasing every year, that has resulted in Hamilton Township having the highest County tax levy (Times of Trenton dated June 11, 2014) and other towns being negatively impacted as well, including Princeton.

Last year as the federal, state, and local governments made a concerted effort to reduce spending, our county increased their budget by nearly $17 million, from $288.6M to $305.3M. It is not difficult to identify the reason — a one party, unresponsive Democrat rule.

In these economically challenging times, it is prudent to be reducing wasteful and non-essential spending, as others in our nation are doing, to effectively manage the budget, reduce taxes, and to lower the burden on the citizens. Every line item expense needs to be carefully reviewed, both for justification and suitability, to ensure that there is no more borrowing, to add our current debt and total deficit.

Special attention needs to be paid to the raising of salaries for officials prematurely (Times of Trenton Sept. 10, 2014.) This has been a much debated subject in our country and has resulted in the actions of several cities and counties being regarded as both inappropriate and disproportionate.

Our county should stay focused on providing an environment conducive to meet the needs of our local businesses and industries, and refrain from activities, like the 5-cent bag tax levy, contrary to counsel advice.

Mercer County needs a new voice with a fresh perspective to manage its budget and meet their responsibilities toward its citizens. With my financial and community-oriented background, I am seeking your support to be that voice, along with my colleague, Andrew Curcio,

Bhanu “Sunny” Kirpalani

Hamilton Republican candidate

for Mercer County Freeholder.

September 24, 2014

To the Editor:

I applaud your recent front-page photo of Blair Hall, where, you note, the Dinky once stopped. On June 25, Henry Posner III, chair of Railroad Development Corporation (RDC), addressed the Transportation Research Forum in Newark. RDC owns — and has owned — railroads from Malawi to Iowa (the former Rock Island Line). Mr. Posner (Princeton ’77) titled his talk “Worth More Dead than Alive? Lessons in Railroading from Guatemala, Estonia and … New Jersey” (see www.rrdc.com/speech_nwk_TRF_062514_print.pdf).

In Guatemala, an abandoned railroad, restored by RDC, was virtually appropriated by the government for its real estate value. After operations subsequently ceased, tracks and bridges were pilfered and sold for scrap. The lesson: Guatemala had then what Posner called “a Culture of Impunity.”

In Estonia, RDC acquired interest in a former state-owned railroad but was forced to sell it back after the government expropriated access to the main line. The lesson? Another “Culture of Impunity”!

Princeton’s Dinky station, Posner noted, was listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Sites in Spring 1984. That October, with railroads in trouble, NJ Transit sold the station property to Princeton University for $900,000, reserving the easement and operating rights. The contract let the University move the terminus southward (a provision never submitted for NJDEP approval). And, in 1988, the terminus was moved, to the southern half of the platform.

In 2006 — quoting Posner’s transcript — “the University received its largest-ever gift from Peter Lewis” and began talking “about how it would really, really, really be helpful to make it easier to drive to the campus … and then Governor Chris Christie is elected and becomes a Trustee at Princeton.” Suddenly, “there are discussions about how funding for the Dinky might be at risk” without “some serious cooperation.” Even NJ Transit “argues that the University has the right to move the station, etc. The Governor writes letters of support.” One letter claims relocating the station will increase ridership. “Well,” Posner says, “nobody who knows anything about transportation is going to argue that moving a station away from the market will increase ridership.”

Indeed, Posner notes, Dinky ridership fell 13 percent while ridership on the Northeast Corridor increased 10 percent.

NJ Transit then petitions “the NJ State Office of Historic Preservation seeking approval to prematurely abandon its easement,” Posner continues. “Not surprisingly, the various New Jersey agencies involved including the Historic Sites Council (HSC) all agree.”

Meanwhile, in August 2011, RNC “offer[s] to partner with the borough to condemn the station through eminent domain in order to keep the footprint in place.” Borough Council demurs. “The University claims that it will indemnify NJT to put the station back if there is an unfavorable legal development.” But “who could have predicted that ‘Bridgegate’ would come along? Now … the entire process by which decisions are made in New Jersey is brought into question.”

In New Jersey too, Posner concludes, “the fix is in.” Save the Dinky, Inc., which has applied for 501(c)3 status, doesn’t agree. Its legal efforts are ongoing. Please visit www.savethedinky.org to help.

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN

Alexander Street

To the Editor:

September 14 was an extremely busy and exciting Sunday in downtown Princeton. We would like to thank everyone who stopped by the Arts Council of Princeton’s annual Free Fall Open House at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts that afternoon. It was great to see hundreds of new and familiar faces here. Many of our visitors had the opportunity to meet our artist-instructors, enjoy the live mural painting by SAGE Coalition artists and the musicians that accompanied them, and learn about the ACP’s diverse programming. Quite a few visitors later in the afternoon attended our Annual Members Exhibition Artists’ Reception for “Creature Comforts?” and Gilette Good Griffin’s exhibition opening for “The Eyes Have It.”

We would like to thank the many people who helped to make the event a success: Will “KASSO” Condry and James “Luv1” Kelewae of the SAGE Coalition, our Fall Artist-in-Residence Lisa Botalico, and our fabulous artist-instructors who were both gracious and informative. We would also like to thank the Members Show Opening Reception sponsors, Julia and Eric Gilbert, and our friends at Bai Brands and McCaffrey’s for providing the perfect refreshments to keep us energized all afternoon. Lastly, we send a special thanks to our volunteers, who help us on a daily basis to build community through the arts. The public is invited to visit and enjoy our newly completed mural, and is encouraged to read an artist’s perspective on the new ACP blog, which can be found on the homepage of artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

This Sunday saw a huge outpouring of concern for our planet and how changes in its climate, both past and expected in the near future, have had and will have an impact. The official count was that 311,000 of us marched from the Upper West Side (some started as far north as the 90s) down Central Park West, east to Sixth Avenue, then down to 42nd St, and West to 11th Avenue. As well, marchers in over 200 other cities in more than 140 countries worldwide joined in solidarity. Marchers ranged from infants to aged, all with a stake in what is happening around us and all asking for collective help in bringing about positive change. Marchers from Princeton were numerous, representing groups both local and global, like Citizens Climate Change Lobby, The Sierra Club, and As You Sow. If you did not participate, we marched to represent you and we were happy to do so.

Stephen Hiltner has already spoken of the issues the march raised in this space, so I would like to focus on one aspect of what we can all do to help bring change. No matter where your savings are kept (CD, savings/checking acct, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) you are providing capital for one or more corporations to operate their business. Questions that should arise are: Are those businesses operating in alignment with your values? What is their carbon footprint? What efforts have they made to shrink it? How have they addressed the impact of future climate change? Are they prepared for what will come next or is their plan to ‘wing it?’ These questions are just as important as price/earnings ratio or dominance in their market when assessing an investment. Do you, your financial advisor, 401(k), or mutual fund manager consider all of these data when selecting components of your investments, or does your bank consider these issues when lending your money to others?

In the same vein, I will bet that quite a few people in Princeton own stock in Avalon Bay without realizing it, or own stock in Transco, the company planning on building a pipeline through the Princeton Ridge. It is important to be informed about what you are bankrolling.

Answering these questions is not hard, but to be truthful, more people do not know what behavior they are funding than those who do and most do not realize how unprepared the companies they own are for many inevitabilities. The website is an educational site with links to many sources of information to help learn what questions to ask and how to find answers. A good path to start with is Useful Websites, and click Non-Profits Advancing Sustainable Investing. As well, any question can be directed to SustainableInvesting4All@gmail.com and it will typically be answered promptly.

Theodore Casparian

Jefferson Road

September 17, 2014

To the Editor:

The time has come to put an end to endless objections to the perfectly reasonable and legal request of The Institute for Advanced Study to build needed faculty housing on its own property.

Every accommodation has been given to objectors to make their case, but they have failed to do so. After extensive hearings the Planning Board approved the Institute’s application. In a particularly thorough and thoughtful 72-page decision Superior Court Judge Jacobson rejected the objectors’ appeal, fully approving the Planning Board’s process, while soberly dissecting and refuting the objectors’ arguments.

Now once again this Thursday, the objectors come back to the Planning Board with still another attempt to block the Institute, this time its amended plan that completely addresses points made by the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission last January. The Planning Board should quickly dispose of these objections, so flimsy they may well be little more than a last gasp attempt at more delay.

In my experience as Chair of the Borough Zoning Board (for 20 years or so, some years ago), there were occasionally times when I saw good citizens become so enamored of the rightness of their own positions that it became difficult for them to have an independent and fair perspective. I would like to think that is the situation here, rather than just vexatious obstructionism.

Others have spoken in these pages of the high standard of good citizenship the Institute has demonstrated in our town over many years, and throughout the whole history of this episode. It is an institution of world-wide renown and of local neighborliness. It is a genuine national treasure. Beyond all that, it has proven its legal right to build needed homes for its distinguished faculty.

It is time for closure. In our system, everyone is entitled to his or her day in court, but everyone is not entitled to his or her own decades in court. This dispute has gone on far too long. The town and the legal system have extended every right and benefit to the objectors, and the time has come to end this proceeding that no longer serves any purpose but delay.

John L. McGoldrick

Vandeventer Avenue