May 29, 2013

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Princeton Education Foundation, I would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Be True to Your School” Spring Gala and Silent Auction. We raised almost $50,000 net that will directly benefit our public schools’ teachers and students and will further our goal of supporting excellence in education in the Princeton Public Schools. Since its inception, the Princeton Education Foundation has contributed over $1,200,000 to the Princeton Public Schools for capital improvements, educational programs, and teacher support.

We are especially grateful to the Princeton Education Foundation’s lead sponsors, Georgeanne Moss, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, and The Nassau Inn, and to our other major sponsors, Bank of Princeton, Educational Testing Service, Parker McCay, PNC — Palmer Square Office, Princeton Review, Project Builders General Contractors and Construction Managers, and St. Peter’s Healthcare System.

Thanks also go to sponsors Anne Skalka and Associates, CPAs, Beatrice Bloom, Weichert Realtors, Branding Science, Charles Schwab, Dr. Tyl and Dr. Fogarty, Issues Management, LLC, Princeton Chevrolet, Princeton Porsche, Princeton Radiology, Princeton Tutoring, BluePrint Research Group, Dessert Boutique, Gold Buyers at the Mall, Greg’s Landscaping, Lear and Pennepacker, LLP, Lindt Chocolate, Mike’s Barber Shop, Monday Morning Flower Company, Princeton Automobile Company, Princeton Eye Group, Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center, Princeton University Store, Redding’s Plumbing & Heating, Robert J. Lopez, The Geller Real Estate Group of Gloria Nilson Realtors, Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc., and Studio Hillier. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the support of our Grant Donors and Operational Sponsors, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Church and Dwight, David Mathey Foundation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., PNC Bank Foundation, and Terra Momo Restaurant Group. Our silent auction was a big success thanks to donations from over 100 people and businesses. We are also grateful to have the support of many individual benefactors and patrons.

We would like to recognize the hard work of our Gala committee, the group of dedicated volunteers that planned and executed this year’s event. Led by Co-Chairs Jean-Anne Madden, Shazia Manekia, and Grace Normandin, the committee included Molly Chrein, Pooja Datt, Nicole Doran, Edie Kelly, Jan Pierce, Sara Schaeffer, Ronica Sethi, Aman Shergill, Karin Siciliano and Monika Suri.

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

Adrienne Rubin

Executive Director, Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

McCarter Theatre’s Annual Gala Benefit on Saturday, May 18th featured a smashing performance by THE MIDTOWN MEN that had the whole theatre dancing in the aisles (literally!). McCarter is so grateful for the support offered by its donors and by the Princeton community.

The evening was great fun and it was a pleasure to see so many people enjoying themselves while supporting this great institution. Thank you to our wonderful co-chairs, Judy Scheide and Tamera Matteo and the great team at Joss and Jules Catering for all they did to create a magical event for us. Our wonderful volunteers on the gala committee did an amazing job – their dedication and vision created a truly memorable evening.

We would like thank our corporate supporters for their stalwart support of the theatre and of this event. We deeply appreciate their support. The Gold level corporate sponsors, Cure Auto Insurance, and The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, have been supporting the work of the theatre for several years and we are proud that they continue to support our gala in this way.

In addition, we would like to say thank you to our amazing team at McCarter – from our production crew to our team of interns – the entire staff had a role in creating this spectacular event and did so with great professionalism and grace.

Like so many non-profits in our region, McCarter Theatre depends on private donations to help us fulfill our mission. Through this support, we are able to offer truly world-class entertainment in Princeton at very affordable prices. We are also able to offer educational and outreach programs to students and schools in Princeton, New Brunswick, Trenton and many other school districts in our area.

Thank you!

Emily Mann,

McCarter Theatre Artistic Director,

Resident Playwright, University Place

Timothy J. Shields,

McCarter Theatre Managing Director,

91 University Place, Princeton

To the editor:

As co-chairs of the 24th annual spring benefit for the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area, we thank the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters who attended our luncheon at the Hyatt, as well as our benefit committee and the Planned Parenthood staff. With 500 guests and contributors, it was a tremendous success in raising funds in support of the services and programs of Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area.

We were pleased to have as our speaker Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Nationally, one in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental and confidential care. Planned Parenthood has earned this confidence as a nonprofit organization in Trenton for 80 years. The funds raised at the lunch will help ensure that our local affiliate can continue its vital work.

We urge the people of Mercer County who believe that every woman has a right to reproductive health counseling and family planning, regardless of income, to support Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood’s services include life-saving cancer screenings (including breast health services and pap tests), birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, HIV testing, vasectomy services, abortion procedures, sexual health education, information and health counseling. Planned Parenthood works every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and keep women healthy.

Emily Firmenich,


Eleanor Horne,


May 22, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following is presented as an open letter

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are pleased to share with you some great news: The University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) has broken another record, and this time thanks to you — we can now claim the most successful capital campaign in the history of any hospital in New Jersey and of any hospital our size in the nation! Our Design for Healing Campaign raised over $171 million dollars, a record amount which is especially remarkable within the context of the recent Great Recession. The results of our campaign have allowed us to pay for over one third of the construction of our $523 million new hospital through philanthropy alone.

An important point to remember as you consider this recent achievement is that we attained this record because of you and the commitment of our 10,000 donors to making our collective visions of a new hospital not only a reality, but also a dream come true. UMCPP has swiftly become a nationally and internationally recognized landmark. Becker’s Hospital Review [] has just listed UMCPP among the “100 Great Hospitals in the United States,” and a steady stream of international delegations from countries such as China, Canada, Denmark, Russia, Egypt, and Poland have toured UMCPP to learn how they can design and construct their dream hospitals within their own communities.

We appreciate those in the Princeton community who have long supported the medical center. Impressively, more than 1,800 individuals, business and foundations from Princeton alone contributed to this effort. We also give special thanks to the many first-time donors and all of those who shared the vision of building a hospital with the best care, the best setting, and most advanced technology close to home.

On behalf of the Princeton HealthCare System Foundation Board of Directors, the Princeton HealthCare System Board of Trustees, our Medical Staff, and our more than 3,000 employees, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation for the community’s support. Your generosity helped to make the campaign an unprecedented success and enabled us to build a hospital designed and equipped for the future of medicine.

The success of this campaign is clearly an incredible accomplishment for our entire central New Jersey community. Together, we made a substantial investment to ensure outstanding clinical care for all our families for generations to come.

We did it! We made our dream hospital a reality — thanks to you!

Joann Heffernan Heisen, Bob Doll

Co-chairs, the Design for Healing Campaign

Barry S. Rabner

President and CEO, Princeton Health Care System

To the Editor:

A hearing on the rejection of the AvalonBay apartment proposal held last week in Trenton by Superior Court Judge Jacobson left this retired journalist in astonished disbelief and determined that the public should know what transpired. An attorney for the Princeton Citizens group began to present his brief only to be interrupted by the judge’s dramatic expression of denial, raising her arms and hands as if to repel an attacker, and repeatedly stating “I don’t understand what you are saying.” This went on for several minutes as the attorney continued, citing zoning ordinances the proposal ignored. The judge countered with her belief that they did not apply in this case. Why, I thought, if she does not understand those zoning laws did she not recuse herself?

The disagreement centered on the use of driveways in different zones and the legal need for an easement from the Board of Adjustment. The judge consistently referred to the past use of the thoroughfares as the same as in the proposed use by the applicant saying there is no difference because cars will continue to use them, even though the attorney cited language in the zoning laws that clearly defined the kind of use which required an easement and led to rejection of the project. By now it was clear the judge had already decided in favor of AvalonBay. This was substantiated by the AvalonBay attorney who, echoing the language of the judge, also referred to the past use of the site to support the claim. The judge made an appeal to common sense as the basis of her decision in effect proposing to ignore the ordinances. The Planning Board attorney also testified but it was almost impossible to hear what he said. The overall impression was that a deal had been struck before the hearing began and that its only purpose was to justify the judge’s ruling for public consumption.

Reminds me of what Tolstoy wrote, “Where the law is, no man finds justice”.

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

Social and economic justice requires that AvalonBay earn LEED certification for its entire complex: LEED-Gold for neighborhoods. Maximum energy-efficiency is the only ethical solution to a Mount Laurel “inclusionary development” with 20 percent affordable housing. Addressing the needs of Princeton citizens and the demands for sustainability created by climate change meet here: in Princeton, now.

Without LEED-certification, heating and electric bills will be higher than necessary. AvalonBay must not shove those costs onto those least capable of absorbing economic damage. The corporation dare not truly claim its development as an “inherently beneficial use” if it penalizes the very tenants in affordable units with excessive utility charges resulting from inadequate insulation, building design, and construction materials.

AvalonBay’s record in LEED-certification and sustainability has been abysmal. To date, out of 4114 developments nationwide, AvalonBay has built three (3) LEED-certified and three EnergyStar-certified developments (source: AvalonBay 2011 Sustainability Report, page 7), with another 14 certifications possible. The corporation can use Princeton to improve its performance — its profit margin, its investor confidence, and its responsibility to our global ecosystem. AvalonBay’s competitors — e.g., Prologis, KB Homes, Jones Lang Lassalle — have far outstripped it in numerous awards earned from The U.S. Green Building Council and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Princeton officials must ensure that “AvalonPrinceton” begin catching up here, by achieving LEED-Gold certification.

AvalonBay’s obligation to earn LEED-Gold involves real people, not “units.” If the developer builds 56 affordable units (as expected), 28 units (50 percent) must be for low-income people/families (suppose a 56-person minimum, at two people per unit). Princeton’s tenants must be protected. AvalonBay rents are already too steep for low- and very-low income families.

Furthermore, Princeton officials negotiating with AvalonBay should insist that the developer set aside 13 percent of the affordable units for tenants with “very low” incomes: 7-8 units. The huge complex will have a population nearly equal to 15 percent of the former Borough. AvalonBay is obliged to mirror and fulfill New Jersey’s housing requirements for all municipalities mandated since July 2008.

AvalonBay’s Jon Vogel is quoted as “contemplating doing this as an EnergyStar certified community, and using designs consistent with LEED for Homes” (Trenton Times, 5/14/13). AvalonBay’s website states, “All Projects [are] evaluated for LEED, Energy Star” (2011 Sustainability Report, page 8) Let’s move beyond “evaluation” and “contemplation.”

Mr. Vogel should understand the equation between energy-efficiency and social justice. At Jonathan Rose Companies he “served as general counsel working on affordable housing solutions and … the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, a farm, educational center and restaurant designed to promote sustainable community-based food production …. [He] was previously general counsel for the New York City Housing Partnership, an intermediary in the development of affordable rental and for sale housing” (source:

He must persuade corporate leadership to earn LEED-Gold in Princeton. Using LEED or Energy Star only as “guidelines” will result in substandard performance in energy-efficiency.

Princeton’s officials have responsibility for inducing AvalonBay to do the morally right, financially smart thing: match social justice and LEED-certification for the sustainability of all.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

Recently, I was able to confirm what I had already suspected. There isn’t any open space in Princeton where dogs are able to run free and exercise off leash. Every field and every public open space has a posted sign indicating “no dogs allowed or dogs must be on a leash at all times.”

Well, I own a five-year old Labrador retriever, a female named Callie. Needless to say, she is a beautiful dog and very friendly. All dogs need some form of exercise and in particular, large dogs love (and need) to run freely, chase tennis balls by the hours, and swim. Unfortunately, Callie doesn’t have any opportunity to do this form of exercise in the Princeton Community. Hard to do when tied to a six-foot leash.

When we drive by all the beautifully manicured recreation spaces and fields in Princeton, I am sure she and many other dogs would love to have their own space and feel the soft green grass beneath their feet. Perhaps, they could share some of those beautiful fields with the other groups that use them.

Or better yet, perhaps the new Princeton could provide a “dog park” — what a great idea! The number of families who have dogs increases every year and communities across the country are establishing areas where canine citizens can exercise and socialize. I believe there would be a lot of interest among Princeton residents who have dogs in a “dog friendly” park.

I have approached the recreation department personnel who were somewhat supportive but offered no clear plan of action. Could we find some area for a dog park? Other communities have them. Why not Princeton?

Bill Humes

Forester Drive

Editor’s Note: The writer was a mathematics teacher and tennis coach at Princeton High School from 1960-2000 and has been a Princeton resident for 52 years.

May 15, 2013

To the Editor:

It is an old saying — a picture is worth a thousand words — but it still rings true. This was starkly evident at the series of Planning Board meetings in the fall dedicated to the hospital site redevelopment. For weeks the applicant, AvalonBay, pressed its case using too many words, while giving the Planning Board and the public the most minimal information, particularly in regards to what the proposed project would look like once constructed. Finally, local architects took it upon themselves using their own resources to create a series of three-dimensional representations of the Avalon Bay project and its relationship to the surrounding neighborhood context. All of a sudden, after hour upon hour of testimony and public comment, the impact of this project on the neighborhood was made clear to all assembled.

This type of “evidence” should not have to be done at the expense and time of our citizens. Three-dimensional views illustrating the massing of building and landscape elements and scale relationships to surrounding context should become a submission requirement of all substantial development proposals to the Planning Board. These types of views, often called “renderings,” used to be an added burden to the design professionals who prepared the drawings for construction. However, software development over the past 15 years has transformed the way architects and other designers do their work. Now, every architectural student graduates with the skills to use advanced visualization tools.

As a practicing architect, I can attest to the routine use of simple renderings as part of the design process. Three-dimensional views offer tremendous benefits in terms of understanding and time-saving to clients and the public who are not trained in reading “floor plans.” For the hospital site redevelopment, these tools would prove invaluable in determining compliance with the MRRO Zone Ordinance’s Design Standards.

Now, AvalonBay is trying to gain approval for a revised design, but have not yet come forward with documents to allow the Planning Board or the general public to fully understand the nature of the proposal. It is time that three-dimensional representations of substantial proposed developments become a requirement of the Planning Board submission, and not just for AvalonBay, but for all future projects. This will not impose appreciable hardship on developers and in fact will help expedite the approval process. The gain for Princeton will be significant.

Evan Yassky

Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

The article on the Williams Transco Pipeline Project [“Town Releases Documents On Transco Pipeline Project,” Town Topics, May 1, page 1] contains a couple of inaccuracies about the intervention process before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. First, although the pre-filing process is an extremely important phase during which the public can and should participate actively in commenting on the Transco project, FERC procedures do not allow intervention at the pre-filing stage. Parties can only intervene after Williams files its application for a certificate of public necessity and convenience with FERC.

Second, intervention before FERC is not like intervening in a court case. It does not require filing a complaint and it does not commit anyone to participating in litigation. A party should move to intervene as soon as possible after the application is filed if it might eventually want to challenge FERC’s order in court. Only intervenors have the right to request rehearing of a FERC order granting a certificate; the rehearing process is a prerequisite to a lawsuit in federal court to challenge that order. However, concerned citizens can always comment on applications without moving to intervene.

For more information on the FERC intervention process see

Jane P. Davenport McClintock

Senior Attorney, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

To the Editor:

Incorrect conclusions have been reached about the cause of Princeton High School’s failure to appear in the U.S. News and World Report public high school rankings this year [see page one stories May 1, May 8, Town Topics]. Once ranked tenth in New Jersey and 196th in the United States, Princeton is reported by school board and district representatives to have done more poorly this time around because the ranking system does not fully appreciate PHS’s AP program, the range of international colleges graduates attend, or the fact that, due to the school’s diverse student body, students are exceptionally likely to miss school due to religious holidays and vacations. The fact is, however, that none of these factors had any effect on Princeton’s ranking. U.S. News does not use attendance or college data in its rankings at all, and AP (or IB) participation rates do not come in until the last of three steps used to determine a school’s rank. Princeton High School failed to pass the second step, which examines the effectiveness with which a school serves its economically disadvantaged population, and were thereby rendered ineligible to receive a bronze medal or a rank.

The U.S. News data for Princeton High School and West Windsor High School South, ranked eighth in the state, is remarkably similar. The only significant differences are West Windsor’s higher minority enrollment (58 percent to PHS’s 33 percent) and the proficiency rates of the two schools’ disadvantaged students. While the proficiency rates of non-disadvantaged students at the two schools are nearly identical at around 96 percent, free and reduced lunch students at Princeton High School are far less likely to be proficient than those at West Windsor South: 65 percent of the disadvantaged students of PHS and 80 percent of those of West Windsor pass the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). Consequently, the achievement gap at PHS is about twice the size of that at West Windsor. These differences put Princeton High School below the state average for economically disadvantaged student proficiency and West Windsor well above. Similarly, Montgomery High School, which has an even better disadvantaged student proficiency rate than West Windsor, was ranked 20th regardless of the fact that it has a much lower AP participation rate than PHS. I hope that readers will become aware that the true problem is not the ranking system but the school district’s apparent difficulty educating economically disadvantaged students. U.S. News’s commitment to evaluate how schools educate all students is explanation enough for Princeton High School’s ranking.

Margaret Schrayer

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

Each weekday morning as I drive to work, I pass the corner of Witherspoon and Paul Robeson and feel amazed. Where once was a beautiful garden, there now looms a brick façade. Yet in my mind’s eye, I see the garden’s radiant beauty — the sunflowers so tall as if standing sentry, the blue morning glory so mystical as to seem an apparition, and the late zinnia, a riot of color uprising at summer’s end. Now that it is springtime, I again keenly feel the absence of the garden. The presence of the absence of the garden. Where once was a garden that all the townspeople could enjoy, there is now a structure for the very rich. No longer can the people who work in town be refreshed by the garden on their lunch hours. No longer can lovers enjoy or solitaries be soothed by the beauty of the garden at night. No more the laughter of children frolicking. The garden was a transformative space. Its power was much larger than its one-fourth acre, and the magic and happiness it inspired was immeasurable. But now, where once was a gateway, there’s a brick wall.

Patricia Donahue

Hamilton Avenue

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and everyone at the Princeton Senior Resource Center we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all those who helped make this year’s Brunch at Home event on April 7 such a resounding success. We met our goal of 300 baskets and had more sponsors than any other year.

First, we’d like to thank the scores of volunteers who make this unique event, now in its fifth year, possible. From the volunteers who arrive as early as 5:30 a.m. to help assemble the baskets to the drivers and their helpers who deliver the baskets by 9 a.m. There’s also our in-house team of volunteers that coordinate the orders and map out the driving routes plus the men and women who work behind the scenes sending out gift cards and soliciting donations from local area establishments.

A particular heads up goes to the Bloomberg organization which encourages employees to participate in volunteer opportunities in the community. This year 18 Bloomberg employees worked Brunch at Home. Employee’s from Bobst Center for Peace and Justice at Princeton University also volunteered to assemble baskets.

We are especially grateful for the support of our sponsors. Our annual sponsors: Acorn Glen, AARP, Princeton Windrows, and Buckingham Place. Brunch sponsors and advertisers: Wells Fargo, Brandywine Senior Living at Princeton and Pennington, Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center, Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, Bear Creek Assisted Living, Avalon Assisted Living-Bridgeway Care & Rehabilitation Centers, LIFE St. Francis, Massage Envy Spa, McCaffrey’s, Dunkin Donuts Princeton, ETS/Chauncey Conference Center, IQuisine, Trader Joe’s, Bill Miller, WWFM, Olives, Memory Care Living, Green Mountain Coffee, Bagel Barn, Dave Saltzman Insurance, Robinson’s Chocolates, Wegman’s, Heidi Joseph-Fox & Roach, Roberts Florals, Alfonso’s Pizza, Main Street, Freedom Home Healthcare, and Dunkin Donuts Montgomery.

Last, but not least, we’d like to thank those who purchased a Brunch at Home basket either for themselves, a friend, or as a gift to someone in the community who otherwise would not be able to participate.

Sharon Naeole

Director of Development

To the Editor:

We want to thank everyone who made the 2013 Princeton Special Needs Prom so much fun. Since 2008, Princeton Special Sports and the Princeton Recreation Department have partnered to host monthly dances for our teenaged and young adult neighbors with special needs. Through these dances and other events, our friends have had more opportunities to socialize in a comfortable environment.

We could not do it without a long list of exceptional people.

Thank you to everyone at the Recreation Department, and especially Program Supervisor Joe Marrolli. You rock, Joe!

Thank you to Jaime Escarpeta, our talented photographer who again donated his time and provided every participant with a professional formal photograph right on site. Thank you, too, to McCaffrey’s, George’s Roasters & Ribs, Radha Iyer, and Ann Diver for supplying our delicious theme-inspired dinner. And, of course, thank you to our terrific DJ, Drew Zimmerman.

Thank you also to the group of professional women who took time over many months from their already packed schedules to put everything together: Katerina Bubnovsky, Ann Diver, Jackie Mckelvie, Hana Oresky, and Evelyn Rutledge.

Our student volunteers are the ones who really make the prom a standout event. Thank you to this year’s volunteers: Scott Bechler, Ben Danis, Talia Fiester, Maddy Gostomski, Holly Greaver, Maria Kaminska, Sara Leeper, Peter Luther, Lauren Magid, Alexus Mckelvie, Lauren Morelli, Isaac Rosenthal, Adam Straus-Goldfarb, Sarah Trigg, Charlotte Walker, Sydney Watts, Erica West, and Alina Zhao.

Thank you to PHS Principal Gary Snyder, PHS staff Renee Szporn, and Kate Anderson, Recreation Commission representatives Dick Nosker and Andrew Koontz, and Laurie Koontz. It means a lot when our community leaders participate in our population’s activities.

And finally, thank you to my fellow PSS Trustees. This steadfast group has been making sports and social programming available to our special needs friends for more than 13 years: Carmine Conti, Ann Diver, Hana Oresky, John Pecora, John Rutledge, and Barb Young.

The next and last dance of the season is our pool party, dance, and BBQ at the Princeton Community Pool on May 31. Swimming will be from 6:30 to 7:30, followed by dancing and BBQ from 7:30 to 9:30. Registration is required. For more information, go to or

Deborah Martin Norcross

Co-President, Princeton Special Sports

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board, staff, members, and volunteers of the Arts Council of Princeton, I would like to thank everyone — including over 40,000 visitors, 200 vendors, and close to 40 performance groups — who helped make the 43rd annual Communiversity Festival of the Arts such a spectacular event on a gorgeous spring day. As a nonprofit, community-based organization that relies on community support, we are very grateful for the collaboration and support that allowed us to produce another hugely successful event — this year on a Sunday for the first time.

When the Arts Council plans Communiversity Festival of the Arts, we envision a town-meets-gown celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, nonprofits, and campus groups. I would like to thank all of the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event a success. We also are appreciative to all the extremely talented artists and performers who participated in the Paint Out, hands-on art activities, chalk painting, and all the many forms of creative expression that make the event unique and memorable.

I would like to express my gratitude to our major sponsors: The MINI Delaware Valley Dealer Group, AT&T, Whole Foods, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Palmer Square Management. (A complete list of over 35 sponsors and media partners is available on our new Communiversity website: I would like to thank several major event partners including the students of Princeton University and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs; Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert; Princeton Administrator Bob Bruschi and his staff; the Princeton Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Public Works Department. Finally, I would like to applaud our talented and hard working event planners, Harper McArthur and Stacy Ducharme.

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

May 8, 2013

To the Editor:

The image of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand came to mind when reading your article [District Criticizes State Reports, Rankings, Town Topics, page 1, May 1] regarding Superintendent Wilson’s and the Princeton School Board’s responses to the demotion of Princeton High School’s ranking among other state high schools in recent evaluations from the NJDOE and the US News and World Report. Defensive official statements by the Board president and Superintendent Wilson aside, many in the local community have been aware of decreasing quality in the educational standards at Princeton High School for quite some time. While Princeton High School has some notable strengths, especially its music and jazz band programs, it remains seriously lacking in other institutional learning opportunities, such as science research programs, which are present in many other competitive high schools. Although Princeton High School certainly has many talented teachers, my experience as a high school parent has been that complaints about the questionable teaching methods of some of the faculty are handled in a superficial manner, if at all. Where is the accountability, on the part of the local educational leadership? If these reports were issued about a health care system, administrators would be scrambling to make changes, not responding in the manner used by this school administration. While health is not at issue here, is the education of our children of less importance? Great hopes are invested in true leadership from the next superintendent, for a demand for accountability and a system for improvement, in addition to the recommendations made by the DOE, and parents should be able to participate more fully in this process.

The US News and World Report’s status change was not a call to defensiveness but a true wake-up call for change in a school system that has become increasingly inert and unprogressive, and is not acting in the best interests of its excellent students.

Nina Belfor

Kimberly Court

To the Editor:

What is our community hospital’s role in the redevelopment of its old facility in the heart of Princeton?

Harris Road’s long-term residents put down roots close to a small hospital built on donated land. As the hospital transformed itself from a local institution into a regional medical center, it had to confront the physical reality of not being able to fulfill its aspirations in the available space in town. We should recall that our hospital came to this conclusion only after its proposal to tear down the houses on the west side of Harris was rejected.

Despite many years of flexibility and accommodation by Princeton, the hospital continues to opt for financial return at the cost of the community’s well-being. Harris Road residents challenge the hospital to hold its current or future developer to a substantially higher set of standards than those accepted when selecting AvalonBay, which led to last year’s ill-fated and time-consuming submission.

Let us recall some recent history. Beginning in 2004, the hospital and the town’s stakeholders engaged in a public series of meetings facilitated by Princeton Future. In May 2005, six distinct concepts for new construction were presented to the Planning Board in easy-to-understand 3-D drawings. Only one of these concepts permitted continued office use at the northwest corner. None kept the garage.

Rather than follow any of these concepts, the hospital hired Robert Hillier [a Town Topics shareholder] to develop a scheme for the “adaptive reuse” of the hulking buildings that included residential and retail elements. The town’s officials, with the Hillier scheme in mind, then enshrined a new set of density standards into an ordinance that raised the allowable density up to four times more than previously allowed in the John Witherspoon neighborhood and 10 times more than the adjacent neighborhood to the northeast. And although these higher density standards were written into the 2006 MRRO Zone Ordinance with only the “adaptive reuse” of the existing structures intended, the ordinance’s density standards were applied to new construction.

The hospital’s success in reverse-engineering from reuse of large towers to new construction yielded a very different and highly undesirable scheme last year. Having benefited from our community’s longstanding support, isn’t it time for the hospital to give priority to humane and environmentally-friendly design with community engagement rather than profit?

Time magazine’s cover story of March 14, 2013, entitled “Bitter Pill”, describes the reality we are now living in Princeton: “[t]he American health care market has transformed tax-exempt ‘nonprofit’ hospitals into the towns’ most profitable businesses and largest employers, often presided over by the regions’ most richly compensated executives.” Our hospital is a nonprofit that “ranks among the top 5 percent in New Jersey in excess revenue” as advertised when CEO Barry Rabner addressed the Princeton Chamber of Commerce last month.

Last week brought news of a future unveiling of revisions to AvalonBay’s rejected 2012 scheme. The hospital still owns this land. How engaged is it in improving the scheme? Or is it only interested in the site’s price-tag?

Janet and Gareth Williams, Eric and Sue Ellen Johnson, Xiao and Jaipeng Hua, John J. Pesce, Umberto Perna, Dan Shea, Kate Norton, Marilyn Besner, Fred Appel,

Areta Pawlynsky, Yaron Inbar

Harris Road

To the Editor:

Upon reading the article on page 5 of the May 1 Town Topics [“With District Resolution, Princeton Gets Closer to Sustainable Jersey’s Silver Certification”], I felt a diatribe coming on. Precluding the good works of Princeton’s sustainable supporters, what about a certain brick building on the corner of Valley Road and Witherspoon Street directly across from the sustained new Community Park Pool?

Yes, I am talking about the almost 100-year-old Valley Road School Building being held hostage by Princeton Public Schools (PPS), whose indifference is stopping the Valley Road Committee from turning the building into low cost non-profit office space and a conveniently located community center, at no cost to the taxpayer.

PPS claims the cost is too high to make the building sustainable. As Mark Twain says, “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics”.

The building has become a storage place that is deteriorating. PPS says it has not been kept up as it has not been used as a school; however, if the property is left to rot, it will become something that belongs in a war torn village, leaving all of us, taxpayers, to dig into our sustainable and unsustainable wallets to pay for the mess.

With this vivid example in front of our faces, PPS should not have dared to issue a Sustainability Resolution. I found it contradictory though what I actually want to say is hypocritical. How could they endorse the “Principles of Sustainability” and present it to Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition? How could they?

I want to believe that Sustainable Princeton and the group of concerned parents and residents that form its Green Schools Coalition are not fully informed of the way that PPS picks and chooses, at their convenience, what the model of Sustainable Jersey emphasizes as the school district’s role.

I don’t see any integration of ecological, economic, and social goals that improve the quality of life in this equation. And, should I be somehow wrong in my comments, I eagerly await a public response to this letter from any concerned member of PPS, Sustainable Princeton, or Sustainable Princeton’s Green Schools Coalition.

Sandra Jordan

Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

In response to the article “Town Releases Documents on Transco Pipeline, Citizen Group Is Formed,” (Town Topics, May 1, page 1), the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is pleased that Princeton has responded affirmatively to disclosing the maps and other information on the proposed pipeline expansion. The maps were disclosed as a direct result of the Watershed Association filing a formal request under the Open Public Records Act.

Now that we and other like-minded organizations have copies of the proposed plans, we can better evaluate the proposal’s environmental and community impact. We have concerns about a proposed expansion that would dissect streams in nine different locations and would have a major impact on water quality and habitats. We are committed to working with concerned citizens and other organizations to address the effect on the community and environment. In our evaluations of the plans, we will be developing recommendations for alternative solutions that would minimize the effects, and restoration proposals where impact cannot be avoided.

The time for concerned citizens to review the proposed plans and make comments is now. Once Transco finalizes their applications to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), there will be minimal opportunities for public input. FERC is expected to hold a hearing within approximately a month to ‘scope out’ potential issues with regard to Transco’s proposal. It is essential that citizens attend and voice their concerns. The Watershed Association will publicize the hearing information when it becomes available. We will continue to work hard to be your voice for your water and environment, but we also need public engagement.

Jennifer M. Coffey

Policy Director,

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

To the Editor:

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area thanks the organizers of Communiversity for a well-run festival that allowed the League to publicize its mission to a wide audience. Over 120 youngsters voted at the League’s booth for their favorite color, flavor, pet, and activity. The winners were blue, chocolate, dog, and art respectively, but the fact that vanilla and sports were close seconds in their categories proves that it’s important to vote and that every vote counts. The League commends everyone who voted and those who posed as Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam, and thanks parents for their support.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. The League is well known for its active role in protecting the right of every citizen to vote and in enhancing access to voting as well as for publishing the positions of candidates on a variety of issues so that each voter can make a decision based on non-partisan information. Less well known is the League’s involvement in the areas of justice, education, fiscal policy, government, natural resources, and social policy/women and family issues. The League studies issues in these areas, develops positions on these issues, and then (often in collaboration with other organizations) advocates for its positions. To read more about the League’s positions and to join, please visit

Thanks again to Communiversity for providing fun along with a public service.

Sandra Smith

LWV-Princeton Area

To the Editor:

So far Princeton residents have been able to glean little of AvalonBay’s new plans for the former hospital site — we have heard a few words: multiple buildings, smaller interior courtyards, and townhouses along Franklin — but no concept plans have been shown. Meeting with a few elected officials and staff, AvalonBay has followed its standard strategy of ignoring neighbors and citizens groups while working up site plans and using litigation as a negotiating tool to scare municipal officials.

Municipal officials, staff, and residents must resist this approach to creating homes in a community. To begin with, AvalonBay needs to present a concept plan for public review. Such a presentation must include 3-D modeling of masses for not only the MRRO site but for the surrounding neighborhood. Internet communication can be used to gain further, thoughtful public comment (e.g. an email address to field comments and a public meeting to explain how AvalonBay will incorporate community responses into plans). Presenting fully engineered plans as the first glimpse residents have of the proposed redevelopment is a way to preclude dialogue rather than work toward a resolution of differences.

To date, AvalonBay has been severely faulted for failing to provide adequate site plans. In 2012, Attorney Gerald Muller, writing the Resolution that memorialized the Planning Board 7-3 vote against AvalonBay, argued that AvalonBay’s presentation of massing, facade materials, and heights of various segments was inadequate and insufficient. The Planning Board’s legal brief now submitted to Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson (5/1/13) repeats that argument: “The fact is that the quality of the visual materials presented by AvalonBay was so poor, as well as self-contradictory and misleading, that the Board was not given a reasonable opportunity to even see what AvalonBay was proposing and to determine if AvalonBay had met the pertinent standards” (brief, page 22). “AvalonBay basically chose … to present so few visuals of such poor quality that the Board was not given a fair opportunity to review the details of the proposal on the critical matter of how it related to the surrounding neighborhood” (brief, page 28).

Attorneys for Mayor and Council, the Planning Board, and Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods submitted three strong briefs to the court last week on behalf of the town in the case of AvalonBay against Princeton. Negotiations with the developer should proceed from a position of strength; the town should be confident that they will prevail in the case if necessary.

Princeton officials now negotiating with AvalonBay must insist that AvalonBay produce 3-D concept plans and allow a real dialogue between residents and AvalonBay to occur. Residents are concerned that the staff review of AvalonBay Plan B and the hearings scheduled for July (!), with shortened timelines, reduced submission requirements, and the cutting down of testimony required of the applicant, will simply become a rubber stamp for a plan that was negotiated by a very few.

Robin Reed

Leigh Avenue

May 1, 2013

To the Editor:

When the Mayor and Council of Princeton hear, they do not heed what they hear; when they listen, they do not hear what is said; when citizens speak, they rarely listen; and when they make decisions or pronouncements they do not adequately explain (if they completely understand) the consequences of their words and actions.

1. Despite Council members indicating that most, if not all of their neighbors, like the Nassau Street kiosks the way they are, they vote to lease (give) the kiosks to the Chamber of Commerce.

2. Serious issues about the mayor and Council’s forced resignation of Chief Dudeck were raised by serious people with years of experience far in excess of the current mayor and Council (former Council members Martindell, Wilkes, and Trelstead, and former Mayor Trotman). Lifelong residents of Princeton also raised questions about the treatment of Chief Dudeck and the problems with our police department. The Council and mayor (with one exception) accepted the resignation. By way of explanation they simply read statements prepared in advance of the meeting without dealing with the significant issues raised by the many people who spoke on behalf of the Chief and his previously unblemished, exemplary career. No one will ever know the bona fides of the complaints made nor the motivations of those who made the complaints. This is now a zero tolerance town. If we applied the same standard to the mayor’s and Council’s performance, would any of them still be in office? Who would willingly agree to work for such a harsh and “supportive” supervisor?

3. Any member of the public who has faced most of the stone faced or distracted elected members of our community knows that the message is hurry up and finish so that we can do what we want to do. The major (almost the sole) reaction to public comment is “can you sum up” or “your three minutes are up.” Even when a fellow member of the Council (trying to understand one of the complex issues to be dealt with) seeks to ask a question, his or her colleagues try to hurry the proceeding along rather than learn from their colleague’s intelligent question and its answer.

4. Had they chosen to explain the import and content of the consent order in the AvalonBay matter, they may have faced many fewer angry comments about it. Had they not proclaimed a savings of 2 to 3 million dollars from consolidation before their own commission said it was only $750,000, the citizens would have had more confidence in their financial stewardship.

The mayor and Council have many important issues to deal with. Because they choose not to heed, hear, listen, or explain to even the wise experienced people who once sat in their shoes, I, a mere citizen, wonder if it is worthwhile to address them. They know it all.

Joseph C. Small

Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

It is extremely encouraging that Sustainable Princeton (“In Honor of Earth Day, Sustainable Princeton Offers Advice on Best Sources of Green Energy,” mailbox. April 24), is urging everyone to consider choosing a renewable electricity supplier. About 35 percent of all U. S. carbon emissions are generated by burning fossil fuels for electricity generation, so that if we are to minimize climate change this source must be reduced substantially. Our local utility, according to PSE&G 2011 data, obtains about 31 percent of its electricity from coal, 17 percent from natural gas, 42 percent from nuclear reactors, and 10 percent from renewables. Thus, choosing all renewable electricity also avoids participation in numerous other environmental insults such as mountaintop removal (coal), nuclear reactor risk and nuclear waste storage (nuclear reactors), and hydraulic fracturing (natural gas).

Selecting a renewable electricity supplier is not as straightforward as it should be, but it’s possible, for example, through New Jersey’s Clean Power Choice Program ( We buy wind energy from a company listed on this site; this adds about $6 per month to our utility bill which we find completely affordable. Our electricity bill is exceptionally large (about $100/month) since we installed a heat pump to heat and cool our house and provide some hot water, but this means our home is virtually carbon-emission free.

It is somewhat disturbing but understandable that one should be forced to pay more for clean energy, but unfortunately dirty energy is almost always dirt cheap energy: that’s why it’s cheap. As fossil fuel prices have increased over the past ten years, the differential has narrowed considerably but still exists.

Thanks to deregulation and temporarily low U.S. natural gas prices, many independent power companies are bombarding New Jersey residents through bulk mailings, robot and cold telephone calls with offers of exceptionally low “teaser rates” for electricity. You should not be tempted by these offers, which say nothing at all about where or how power is generated. These companies buy the lowest cost power available, which will most likely be from coal-fired generators in the near future.

Climate change is such an overwhelming problem that there seems to be very little an individual can do. This is actually not the case, and every homeowner or apartment dweller has the possibility of substantially reducing their carbon emissions for just a few dollars per month by buying renewable electricity from the grid.

I hope Sustainable Princeton becomes a forceful advocate for this approach to reducing carbon emissions. As they note in their letter, widespread participation will send a powerful and unmistakable message that climate change is being taken seriously.

Al Cavallo

Western Way

To The Editor:

I would urge the Princeton Town Council to drop the current kiosk plan. Yes, the current kiosks are a bit messy, but so is democracy. In both cases, the alternatives are worse. The kiosks are a free venue that allows all Princeton residents to post flyers. They should not be replaced or diminished by a plan to allow for-profit private businesses to post advertising. A private business has many advertising alternatives. Princeton citizens only have these kiosks.

I am particularly concerned by the plan’s details. Under it, the Council will be leasing the kiosks to a private group for $1 a year. While the Chamber of Commerce will be able to sell advertising (or equivalently, provide advertising to its members who pay their membership fee), the town of Princeton will not receive any financial benefit. Why would the Council allow a private group, and not the taxpayers of Princeton, to financially benefit from using public space? If the goal is to raise revenue, there should be a formal Request for Proposals that would be open to all groups to ensure the town receives the greatest financial benefit. If the goal is to support Princeton’s local downtown businesses, the plan should restrict the advertising to locally owned businesses located in the downtown. Companies such as Verizon, PSE&G, and Bank of America (all members of the Chamber of Commerce) should not be allowed to advertise, as the current plan would allow.

I am also concerned by the relationship between the plan’s supporters and consolidation. While we were told that consolidation would not affect the character of either the Borough or Township, this plan would change the downtown’s character. I am troubled that the Council’s vote to introduce the kiosk was approved by a 3-2 vote, with the three votes in favor coming from former representatives of the Township, and the two votes against coming from former representatives of the Borough. Also, Mayor Lempert, former Township deputy mayor, broke a tie on a previous kiosk proposal by voting in favor of the plan. While I think all the Council members are working for the best interests of Princeton, I would ask those from the former Township to listen more carefully to the concerns of their Borough colleagues.

Tom Hagedorn

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

I am quite dismayed about our Princeton leadership’s settlement position in the AvalonBay matter. In the consent agreement signed by counsel for Princeton Mayor and Council, and the Princeton Planning Board; our Princeton leaders have agreed to the following:

“If the Planning Board denies the application or imposes conditions on its approval of the application that AvalonBay opposes, AvalonBay, at its option, may continue with the current litigation while, if it so chooses, filing litigation challenging the Planning Board’s denial of the Application or conditions imposed on an approval of the Application ….”

This is a remarkable solution that essentially abdicates Princeton’s right to review and object to AvalonBay’s new application. If Princeton objects to the “yet to be submitted application” and AvalonBay does not agree with the objections raised, then AvalonBay has the right to bring two legal actions against Princeton. This is a double-barreled legal shotgun pointed directly at the application review process. What had been a considered review process which addressed Princeton’s regulations and community concerns, is now a rubber-stamping exercise. Through this settlement condition, AvalonBay has now established itself as both the applicant and Planning Board. Our leadership also agreed to other conditions which salt the wound. Princeton has agreed to an expedited process with limitations on public testimony. Perhaps once you have given the Planning Board seats to AvalonBay, you might as well let them control the complete process.

Vincent Giordano

Maple Street

Editor’s note: The writer is a corporate attorney for General Electric who focuses on environmental issues.

April 24, 2013

To the Editor:

After attending the special council meeting that was to decide the fate of Police Chief David Dudeck, I came away more concerned, more confused. I do not understand how accusations such as were given to the public and residents could bring the perception to prejudge a man without a real trial. You would think an investigation would do, and Chief Dudeck would deserve that much. It’s obvious that the Chief’s accusations were born out of department infighting and disgruntled former officers. It is a well known fact, that the two former police departments did not like each other. And nothing has changed to this very day. Consolidation might be good for Princeton as a whole. But the two police departments are a story yet to be told.

Many people saw this dysfunction within the departments coming. Those that did not see it were the former Borough Council and Township Committee. At the meeting, I heard nothing except praise for Chief Dudeck, and higher praise from Council. Yet, Council chose to accept his retirement. I’ve seen bad officers in my life in the Princetons, but Dave Dudeck was not one. Chief Campbell. Chief Porter, Robert “Big Mac” Avenia, or, Harry Carney, Howard Sweeny, Anthony Pinnelli, Walter Eman — these were top-of-the-line officers and top-of–the-line men. Chief Dudeck is such a man as well. And I hope that his family realizes accusations such as the ones presented to them are just that, accusations. And in fact, they should be proud, and hold their heads up high.

Princeton has changed for the better in many ways. However, the present situation within the police union and department needs to be addressed. Appointing a new chief from within in today’s department is a bad idea. There is no way the residents of Princeton will see this other than promoting from within. This total situation is currently shameful and sad. Good luck Chief Dudeck.

Jerome McGowan

Redding Circle