December 11, 2013

To the Editor:

As we pause to reflect on our blessings over this Thanksgiving holiday, we once again find the generosity of the community overwhelming. Hundreds of individual volunteers and volunteers from businesses and congregations collected and delivered the makings for a traditional festive Thanksgiving dinner to over 6,000 needy parents and children in our community. Over the years, this uniquely American holiday has retained this sense of not only family, but also community. It is a day for all of us, rich and poor, of all races and religions, to symbolically join hands around a bountiful table of wonderful food.

Our community does care about and care for our neighbors, a concept at the core of all major religions and fundamental to our traditions. I want to take this opportunity to thank our neighbors and friends who gave time, money and food to help our client families give real meaning to this great American tradition.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director,
HomeFront

To the Editor:

I was taken aback by your giving full voice to an “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)” recommending dependence on health practices and antibiotics rather than vaccines when faced with endemic meningococcemia (“Physicians Organzation Advises Caution Before Getting Vaccine,” Town Topics, December 4). Consulting their own sources, I found that the AAPS was formed in 1943 to “promote a free market medical system” in the United States. Other sources report that the AAPS has extended its commitment to oppose all social interventions necessary for public health. Self sufficiency is in-sufficient in preventing infectious illnesses. All coherent medical professional and governmental units support immunization. I think that your good graces have been taken advantage of by a group with a political rather than medical agenda.

Robert Karp (MD)

South Harrison Street

Editor’s Note: This was one of several letters pointing out the political leanings of AAPS, which should have been vetted or else acknowledged; however, the Center for Disease Control’s point of view about the vaccine was clearly emphasized throughout the article.

 
December 4, 2013

To the Editor:

When our neighbors directly across the street first rolled their green organic composting cart out for curbside pickup one Wednesday, my initial thought was, why should I pay $65 a year for the honor — and bother — of curbside composting?

But thanks to the weekly appearance of our neighbors composting cart, I realized I was furthering a modern day version of an economic principle called the tragedy of the commons. In the 1830s, English sheep owners utilized public meadows to allow their flocks to graze — but no one paid to reseed. As a result, the commons became bare and unusable. Today, I proudly place my own composting bin out for pickup. My guilt-laden journey to composting nirvana — littered with stained pizza boxes, coffee grounds, and banana peels — may not have been pretty, but it’s one we should all take.

First, consider the potential cost savings. Collecting and transporting waste destined for landfills cost Princeton $200 a ton; curbside composting costs only $75 a ton. The savings can add up quickly. In July of 2013 alone, for example, Princeton collected 445 tons of trash destined for landfills. Of that total, approximately one-fourth was compostable. As a community, we’re literally throwing away our real estate tax dollars by failing to utilize the composting program to the maximum extent possible.

In addition to the cost savings, there are environmental benefits to composting. Compostable material recycled as fertilizer reduces the amount of organic waste buried in landfills where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more hazardous to the environment than carbon dioxide.

As a practical matter, the demands of composting are quite reasonable. Everything you need is dropped off at your home including the wheeled composting cart and a small container you keep in your kitchen to accumulate food waste. After a brief start-up period — Does that waxed cardboard container of Halo’s chocolate ice cream go into the compost bin or the regular trash? — the process requires no more effort than the regular trash.

Although Princeton’s was the first curbside organic waste-recycling program in New Jersey, it’s by no means the first in the nation. San Francisco has been collecting organic waste curbside since 1996 and more than 100 U.S. cities currently have curbside collection of organic waste. As a community, Princeton has the opportunity to be at the forefront of a positive, statewide environmental change. But this will only occur if all of us who can afford the $65 annual fee decide that a tragedy of the commons is not going to take place on our watch.

Mort Zachter

Lake Drive

 

To the Editor:

Following are two issues to illustrate notable gaps in sustainability in Princeton:

1) Public Transit: This relates to a lead article in the Nov. 13 Town Topics (“Task Force Tackles Traffic Increase…”). It’s good to know that there is an effort to focus on current and future transit problems in Princeton because such decisions can enhance or imperil a town’s quality of life. Without good transit planning, gridlock will surely occur especially with several large developments currently being built or planned in Princeton.

This issue has been discussed by several groups over many years and was also taken up in 2007 by the then Princeton Regional Health Commission (now called Princeton Board of Health) of which I was a member. At that time the Commission wrote a letter to the New Jersey Transit’s (NJT) then executive director about their plan to have more Bus Rapid Transit in Princeton. Copies of the letter were sent to relevant others working on transit, including municipal entities and Princeton University.

The Health Commission’s concern in 2007 was the health effects of public transit’s use of fossil fuels, especially diesel, thus it urged a switch to clean alternative energy such as electric, which is also quieter, as well as low emission vehicles such as hybrids. These clean fuel vehicles are particularly suited to the relatively short runs that our local public transit systems use. So far this has not happened in any meaningful way.

As we encourage people to walk and bike more for less traffic congestion, for energy conservation and for a healthier life style, it is important that they not be exposed to dirty air from cumulative public transit vehicles. Such noxious emissions would also be detrimental to local businesses in creating an unpleasant atmosphere. While a reference is made to air quality in the recent URS Consulting company traffic report for Princeton, it does not get much attention. It is essential that public officials, the University and NJT plan now to have cleaner alternative fuel vehicles in our public transit systems, especially in any expanded system.

2) The falling leaves: As another fall ritual comes to an end, it is not sustainable financially and otherwise to continue to use the kind of resources we do annually in expensive heavy machinery and maintenance, fuel and labor collecting tons of leaves to be hauled away. There are at least three alternatives: a) On wooded lots leaves can be raked or blown into the woods enriching the soil rather than being put on roadways for collection; b) on smaller or non-wooded lots a small corner can often be found to place the leaves where Mother Nature will reduce the pile down to a fraction of its original volume over the winter. This can be used as winter cover in garden areas or just left alone; c) leaf shredders are increasingly being used in some areas to keep very fine particles in lawns as a means of enriching the soil.

Homeowners and landscapers should be better educated about these alternatives. Eventually, we may need an ordinance to control wasteful costs especially in areas where leaves can easily be dealt with onsite.

These two issues need some focus now since the wheels of implementation grind so slowly.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

 

To the Editor:

MOOC (which stands for Massive Open Online Courses) gives anyone with internet access a chance to take college level courses for free. I just finished an eight week course, “Introduction to Sustainability,” offered by the University of Illinois by way of Coursera.com. It provided the text book, readings, lectures, TED talks, and other video presentations, weekly tests, and student forums, all on-line, and free.

Sustainability is one of those terms frequently used but rarely defined, probably because it is too complex for brevity. The outline of this course included: Population and carrying capacity; Ecosystems; Extinction and the Tragedy of the Commons; Climate Change; Energy, including peak oil and renewables; Agriculture and Water; Environmental Economics and Policy including cost/benefit analysis and externalities; and Measuring Sustainability, which brought in ethics and culture.

The material is challenging, but being able to work at your own pace and convenience is helpful. I kept thinking, ”What a great opportunity for the housebound, the elderly, and anyone with a tight budget and an eager mind.”

The course is being offered again in January, along with hundreds of other courses from colleges around the world. Check the Coursera.com website.

Pat Ramirez.

Maclean Street

 

To the Editor:

The Capitol Steps left the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter in a benefit for Princeton Senior Resource Center’s (PSRC) Annual Gala Benefit on Saturday, November 23 featuring The Capitol Steps. The evening brought together PSRC supporters and introduced new people to the great work PSRC does in the community.

We are grateful for the support we received from Ellen and Albert Stark, Archer & Greiner, Team Toyota of Princeton, Stark and Stark, Merrill Lynch, our annual sponsors, AARP, Acorn Glen, Buckingham Palace, Greenwood House, Memory Care Living, Merwick Care Center and the many other companies and individuals who made this event possible.

Thanks to their generosity, PSRC will be better able to continue to provide and grow services for older adults who are living longer, healthier, more active lives than any generation before them. Thank you all.

Rebecca Esmi and Michael Kenny,

Event Co-chairs

 

To the Editor:

We write concerning the November 3 Half Marathon that took place here in Princeton and in response to Dr. Elizabeth Casparian’s letter to the editor from November 13. The marathon benefitted Ms. Casparian’s organization, HiTOPS. Thanking all those who supported the marathon, she writes: “This event highlighting adolescent wellness truly involved the entire community of residents, merchants, police, churches, schools, organizations, sponsors, runners and their families.” We are members of the clergy in our community, and we must say that the type of adolescent “wellness” that HiTOPS, through its TeenPEP sex ed curriculum, fosters is based on a far different type of morality than the one we try to share with young people in our community. This curriculum is highly questionable from a scientific vantage point and does not assist teens to achieve wellness and virtue as we understand those concepts.

Readers should not be deceived by innocent sounding labels and rhetoric. Anyone who imagines that the TeenPEP curriculum is merely about health and pushes no values agenda should ask to see the materials and evaluate them for themselves. We have personally looked at the curriculum and are reluctant even to mention some of the types of practices that our kids are being exposed to in the name of “adolescent wellness.” One of the methods of the TeenPEP curriculum, for example, is to promote “outercourse” as a way to prevent “intercourse” (Teen PEP Course Curriculum and Workshops, Unit 3, p. 8). The idea is that by encouraging teens to, for example, shower together or cuddle naked, then they would be less likely to engage in sexual intercourse. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to us.

In the Teen PEP curriculum, sex is reduced to a self-satisfying act without consequences; and access to family planning clinics that offer contraception and abortion provide the means to this end (Unit 5, p. 50-1; Unit 6, p. 65-7).

We believe that the entire approach known as “sexual risk reduction” exposes our teens to both physical suffering such as STI’s as well as emotional and spiritual pain. This is not our idea of adolescent wellness. While we believe that healing and mercy are available to us no matter what mistakes we may have made, we also believe that it is best not to encourage teens to engage in practices that cause needless suffering. We believe that a sexual risk avoidance approach to sexual education, of the type offered at least as an option in many other communities, is a far superior approach to ensuring the health and true wellbeing of our teens, and a curriculum based on this approach should be offered to parents as an option for their kids.

Rev. Michael T. McClane

Parochial Vicar, St. Paul Parish

V. Rev. John Cassar

Rector, Mother of God Orthodox Church

 

To the Editor:

Everyone who drives to and from Princeton during the holiday season is greeted with a radiant light that shines so brightly against the nighttime sky; the word of its presence and message has spread both near and far, all the way to the White House. The tradition, which began as a simple strand of a few hundred lights wrapped around a small Colorado spruce tree, has now developed into several thousands of lights intricately wound around the branches of a Blue Norwegian spruce tree that stands nearly 30 feet tall in the schoolyard at 53 Bayard Lane.

The true meaning of The Lewis School’s Tree of Light has inspired people all over the world. Students are proud to explain to anyone who asks about the Tree that each light shines as a symbol of hope and encouragement for learning different persons like themselves. They point out that the Tree is not a Christmas tree; it has no star or decorations. It only has lights that shine for the more than 30 million Americans who are struggling with learning and literacy — those whose “Gifts and Great Promise” have never been recognized; those who have been left behind.

The Lewis School of Princeton will host its 40th Annual Tree of Light Celebration on Friday, December 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the schoolyard at 53 Bayard Lane. Please visit www.lewisschool.org for more details.

Attendees can still expect the same traditions offered every year — delicious gourmet foods and beverages, a holiday concert, student poetry readings, live musical entertainment, a silent auction, and of course, the tree lighting. The event is free and open to the public. All proceeds will benefit The Lewis School’s Annual Fund. Please dress warmly as some activities take place outdoor. Each year, our Lewis School students, faculty, and parents strive to raise greater awareness of those students who have not yet found the educational opportunity they need to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams. The Tree of Light is a celebration to be shared by all who care enough to want to affect change for the better in our world — especially in the lives of children who are our future.

We look forward to seeing you all again this year!

Cathy Byers Reimer

Director of Public Relations and Communications

The Lewis School of Princeton

November 27, 2013

To The Editor:

I would like to thank the voters for their support of my candidacy for Princeton’s School Board. I’m very humbled and honored to have been elected. I will do my best to justify the trust that has placed in me. I would especially like to thank the League of Women Voters and the Princeton Special Education PTO for their work in organizing the two candidates forums.

Tom Hagedorn

Chestnut Street

 

To the Editor:

While we fully supported Princeton’s plan to develop the Arts Center, we now feel duped — paying Princeton taxes and being marginalized by the University’s insensitivity. Why must we choose? The Dinky is a treasure, accommodating the daily commuters, the students, and all visitors to Princeton, making our roads less congested.

Why is Princeton tying up Alexander, closing streets, and collecting money for parking in the now distant Dinky parking lot? They have issued more handicap spots (eight to-date — the old parking lot only had two) that continually go empty while greedily securing more spots for permits. Now that the Dinky is no longer walking friendly, why is the University getting more callous and difficult?

Princeton University, keep your commitment to the community. Support the Dinky, forego permits until the Arts Center is completed and the Dinky is permanently located at the agreed position (925 feet, approximately, from the original location).

Doris Shea

Mercer Street

To The Editor

As one of the Princeton Rotary Club volunteers who prepared food for the HiTOPS half-marathon runners and spectators, I noted with interest the letter from Wai Far Bazar, Aileen Collins, and Joanmarie Zetterberg in your November 20th edition (“Parents for Sex Ed Choice Respond to Half-Marathon Benefitting HiTOPS”). They used the half-marathon event as a platform for expressing their opposition to the approach used by HiTOPS to prevent teen pregnancies and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The letter-writers and their organization are pressing for an abstinence-only approach to sex education instead of the more balanced approach favored by 85 percent of our nation’s parents, and utilized by HiTOPS, which also teaches adolescents how to prevent pregnancy and disease.

Countless studies by the Center for Disease Control, Journal of Adolescent Health, and other respected organizations have shown that abstinence-only education ultimately had “no impact” at all on rates of sexual abstinence. These studies have also shown that states, where sex education and health classes stress “abstinence-only” rank the highest in the numbers of underage pregnancies. Abstinence may be a healthy behavioral option for teens, but abstinence as a sole option for adolescents according to the Society for Adolescent Medicine is scientifically and ethically problematic. Moralizing, sanctimony, and withholding information about alternatives for disease and pregnancy prevention promote questionable and inaccurate opinions and can deny teens fundamental human rights to health, information and life.

When I reared my three children and five stepchildren through their teen years to become adults, I wish that I could have insulated them from the sexually-charged TV programs, movies, and popular song lyrics that permeate our modern society. They’ve turned out well, but it was tough going up against the power of the media. The best I could hope to do is to encourage moral behavior and abstinence but also make sure that they had other options to prevent pregnancy and the spread of disease in case they had chosen another path.

Promoting a specific moral viewpoint and withholding the kind of information and services offered by HiTOPS is inherently coercive and denies young people the information needed to make informed choices. The approach to sex education advocated by “Parents for Sex Ed Choice” reduces “choice” and has repeatedly been proven to result in more unwanted pregnancies and a greater transmission rate of STDs which may be incurable and/or fatal. That is a consequence that I don’t believe that most parents would want for their children.

Lewis A. Edge, Jr.

Cleveland Road West

 

November 20, 2013

To the Editor:

We write in response to the November 3 Princeton Half-Marathon, which benefited HiTOPS, an adolescent health organization in Princeton, and the November 13 letter in Town Topics from Elizabeth Casparian, the executive director of HiTOPS, in which she thanks the Princeton community for supporting HiTOPS.

We are a group of concerned Princeton parents who were present at the half-marathon and who oppose the approach HiTOPS takes toward teen sexual health. Many in our community, including some marathon participants, merchants, religious leaders, and parents, were unaware of the controversial teaching on sexuality that HiTOPS promotes. Our organization, Parents for Sex Ed Choice seeks to:

1. Inform parents what HiTOPS and Teen PEP teach children, so that parents can make informed decisions about whether they wish to have their children participate in such programs.

2. Advocate for an alternative program in the schools, so that parents have a choice between two main approaches to sex education: the “sexual risk reduction” approach of HiTOPS/Teen PEP and the “sexual risk avoidance” approach of a program called Yes, You CAN, which meets the Core Curriculum Standards in the State of New Jersey and should be offered in our schools!

Anyone interested in learning more can contact us through our Facebook page: Parents for Sex Ed Choice.

Wai Far Bazar,

Greenbrier Row

Aileen Collins,

Guyot Avenue

JoanMarie Zetterberg,

Library Place

 

To the Editor:

Thank you, Princeton! The Historical Society of Princeton’s House Tour 2013 on November 2 was a great success. We are indebted to the 600 participants who came out on a crisp autumn Saturday to visit five icons of Princeton architecture. It was the perfect day for exploring history, architecture, and design with friends.

The House Tour is our most important fall fundraiser, and we are so grateful to the people who make it possible: our generous homeowners, who open their houses for the tour; David Schure, our House Tour Chair; the hard-working House Tour Committee, that organizes the event each year; and our House Captains and 99 dedicated docents, who heroically oversee operations at each of the houses the day of the event. We are particularly grateful to the enthusiastic agents of Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty for turning out, as always, in great numbers to provide support on the ground.

This year, we were touched to receive especially generous support from businesses in our community. Thanks to all 26 of our business sponsors: Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty and Hamilton Building Supply Company were our lead Bainbridge Sponsors for the event; Acorn Glen: An Assisted Living Residence; Alchemist & Barrister Restaurant; Baxter Construction; Ronica A. Bregenzer, AIA; T. Jeffery Clarke Architect; Glenmede; Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate; Greenleaf Painters; Hamilton Jewelers; Ann Harwood, Weichert Realtors;
Maximillian Hayden, Architect; Ivy Inn; Julius Gross Painting & Home Improvement; Knight Architects; MacLean Agency; McCaffrey’s; Pinneo Construction; Princeton Corkscrew; Princeton Van Service; Tobias Design; Van Note-Harvey Associates; Candy Walsh, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty; Woodwinds; and Viburnum Designs.

We are also grateful to the Princeton Police and the Lawrence Township Police for helping us manage parking and movement at each of the properties, and to Princeton Public Works for clearing leaf piles in advance of the event. Last, but not least, we would like to extend special thanks to Avril Moore for hosting a tremendous reception at Tusculum at the end of the day. It was a perfect finish to a special day.

Finally, on behalf of the Trustees and staff at the Historical Society of Princeton, thank you to everyone who came out and participated on the Tour. Princeton’s support of this special event each year is truly meaningful. We look forward to 2014!

Erin Dougherty,

Executive Director

Eve Mandel

Director of Programs and Visitor Services

To the Editor:

We would like to thank the voters for reelecting us to serve on the Princeton Council. We are honored to serve our community and we look forward to continuing our work on behalf of all Princeton residents.

For all of their efforts on our behalf throughout the campaign, we would like to thank our supporters and especially our campaign team: Walter Bliss, Helen Heintz, Owen O’Donnell, Peter Wolanin, and Doreen Blanc Rockstrom.

To all of our constituents, as we prepare to begin our new terms, we would like take this opportunity to once again ask for your assistance in making Princeton an even stronger community going forward. You can reach both of us through the municipal website at www.princetonnj.gov. Please contact us with your opinions, concerns, and suggestions regarding Princeton’s municipal government and services.

Jenny Crumiller

Library Place

Patrick Simon

Harriet Drive

 

To the Editor,

I would like to make known the extraordinary volunteer efforts that have transformed Herrontown Woods in recent months. Located out Snowden Lane, up along the boulder-strewn ridge in northeastern Princeton, Herrontown Woods was Princeton’s first dedicated nature preserve, beginning with 85 acres donated in 1957 by the famous visionary mathematician Oswald Veblen and his wife Elizabeth. Once a popular destination, its beautiful trails were made nearly impassible in recent years by storm damage and invasive shrubs.

This summer, however, Kurt Tazelaar and Sally Curtis took on the task of clearing all the trails, not only in Herrontown Woods but in the adjoining Autumn Hill Reservation as well — an area totaling some 200 acres. Their passion and commitment to the task, putting in more than 400 hours over three months, is a testament to the transformative power of community spirit. Town staff, without the time and resources to keep Princeton’s nature trails open, thankfully gave this work the green light. For my part, having helped on some of the workdays, I can speak to the tremendous satisfaction that comes from clearing trails and making the beauty of the eastern Princeton ridge accessible once more, not to mention the significant bonus of physical conditioning for those of us who are gym-averse.

Also exemplifying the can-do community spirit at Herrontown Woods was a recent workday by members of the Rotary Club of Princeton, 12 of whom gave their time and energy to the removing of invasive plants and debris at the preserve. I had somehow managed to live in Princeton for ten years without knowing of the Rotary’s remarkable work, not only here and in Trenton but also on health-related projects internationally, in India, Africa, and northern Argentina. Rotary’s gearwheel logo represents the “meshing” of Rotary with other organizations for useful purpose, and they have meshed beautifully with the newly formed Friends of Herrontown Woods.

These investments of positive energy at Herrontown Woods are well-timed with an initiative by the municipality and local nonprofit organizations to develop a master plan for the eastern Princeton Ridge, which includes all the parcels recently acquired that complete preservation of a wildlife corridor all the way from River Road up to Bunn Drive and beyond.

The success of Kurt and Sally’s trail initiative depended on government acknowledging its shortcomings, and allowing skilled volunteers with a lot of devotion and resourcefulness to fill the void. This arrangement is modeled on the Friends of Princeton Open Space trails committee’s ongoing maintenance of Mountain Lakes Preserve. The Friends group for Rogers Refuge has worked similar wonders, through a mix of volunteer effort and professional services, raising funds when and if they are needed.

The same model needs to be extended to restoring the Veblen House and cottage as historic and potentially functional features of Herrontown Woods. In the void created by government inattention, those who care should be allowed to get down to work and save public assets. A proposal to do so awaits approval by Mercer County.

Stephen Hiltner

Friends of Herrontown Woods, North Harrison Street

 

To the Editor:

I want to sincerely express my thanks to the 35 percent of Princeton voters who cast their ballots for me on November 5 and wrote letters to the editor in support of my candidacy. I would also like to acknowledge the press for its coverage of my campaign and to Democratic organizations for their energetic (but flattering) efforts to defeat my candidacy.

Although I’m disappointed I won’t have the opportunity in this election cycle to work with Democrat Council members to address the significant problems affecting Princeton, including property taxes, problematic relations with Princeton University, traffic, and the lack of inclusiveness for our Latino residents.

I won’t be on Princeton Council, but you will see me in the community doing my best to address issues important to us all.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Snowden Lane

 

To the Editor:

I have been a community activist since 1970 when my husband Bill and I moved to West Windsor, but nothing has given me greater satisfaction than my involvement with Yes We CAN! Food Drives. This non-partisan group of volunteers collects donated food from shoppers at area markets. The fresh produce and canned goods are then used to restock the food pantries operated by The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County.

The pantries, located in Trenton and Princeton, provide free food each month for over 3000 low-income individuals, including families, children, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans. Our volunteers have collected 90 tons of food this year alone, which translates to 10 percent of all the food distributed by The Crisis Ministry.

Yes We CAN!’s primary source of donated fresh produce is the West Windsor Farmers’ Market. In fact, we have collected 21 tons of fruits and vegetables since the market opened for the season in May. Saturday, November 23, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., is the final market day for the 2013 season. Yes We CAN! volunteers will be collecting fresh produce and canned goods, along with frozen turkeys. I urge everyone to come out and have fun at the market, while helping others who face a questionable holiday season.

The market is located near the Princeton Junction Train Station on Vaughn Drive, off Alexander Road. If you’ve never been to the market, you are in for a treat.

Fran Engler

West Windsor

 

November 13, 2013

To the Editor:

Diane Ravitch’s recent Princeton speeches let down Princeton residents seeking thoughtful remarks on the state of education, who instead got inflammatory rhetoric.

Ms. Ravitch misrepresented the state of charters in New Jersey, and by implication Princeton Charter School (PCS). Unfortunately she declined our invitation to visit PCS before she spoke. Had she visited PCS, here is what she would have learned:

NJ Charters are Nonprofit Public Entities, Not Profit-Seeking Private Corporations: PCS and all New Jersey charters are school districts under state law and thus public entities. All are run by non-profit boards. Of the 87 schools chartered in New Jersey, only four are managed by for-profit charter management organizations. Our charters are subject to even more requirements than traditional districts. When New Jersey charters don’t perform, the state closes them.

PCS Does Not “Keep Out” minority and special education students: PCS and all New Jersey charters must and do accept all applications to enroll, and PCS admissions are determined by random lottery because of the overwhelming demand. Ms. Ravitch’s suggestion that we “push out” children who are more difficult or expensive to educate is unfounded.

PCS recruits for diversity and supports students: PCS students are incredibly diverse, representing many nationalities, races, and ethnicities from families with native speakers of 16 different languages. PCS has redoubled efforts to reach out to minority and lower income residents. Our parents and teachers go door to door and hold open houses in these communities to attract the broadest possible representation of students. Once enrolled, we provide support programs for every student in academic need, and free after-school facilities for families in financial need.

PCS fully supports special needs students: PCS has enhanced its special education services and classification policies. While other districts are busy declassifying students, PCS encourages the evaluation and support of all students with special education needs.

Rigor, assessment and accountability are good: Ms. Ravitch attacked President Obama’s efforts to instill in all public schools a well-defined, rigorous curriculum, testing to understand what students are learning, and more objectivity in teacher evaluation. PCS was founded by progressive Princeton parents and teachers who embraced these reforms, and makes no apologies for expecting the very best of our students and teachers.

Master teachers, not amateurs: Most outrageous was Ms. Ravitch’s blanket claim that charter teachers are “amateurs.” PCS recruits only highly experienced, fully certified teachers with a demonstrated record of excellence. Our teachers relish the challenge of helping all students succeed, and embrace testing to benchmark both student and teacher achievement.

The real ‘reign of error’ is Ms. Ravitch’s disingenuous attack on charters and teacher accountability on behalf of unions that oppose progressive reforms.

Even Ms. Ravitch concedes there are ‘good’ charters, and PCS is one of the very best anywhere. It is a shame she chose to electioneer on public property on the eve of gubernatorial and school elections instead of recognizing PCS as a model charter offering academic excellence for all, regardless of family resources.

Paul Josephson,

Hardy Drive, President,

Princeton Charter School Board of Trustees

To the Editor:

I want to congratulate Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon on their re-election to Princeton Town Council. Congratulations also to Princeton’s own Andrew Koontz for his re-election as a Mercer County Freeholder.

Our sincere thanks and best wishes go out to Barbara Buono, Marie Corfield, Ida Ochoteco, and Christian Mastondrea for the extraordinary efforts they put forth to represent us.

While the school board elections are rightly non-partisan, we want to extend congratulations to Andrea Spalla, Molly Chrein, and Tom Hagedorn for their re-election and election to the Princeton Public School Board and wish them all success as they and their colleagues work to provide the best possible learning environment for the school children of Princeton.

I want to give a special thanks to a number of colleagues who played a major role in helping get out the vote: Peter Wolanin, Sue Nemeth, Owen O’Donnell, Dan Preston, Doreen Blanc Rockstrom, David Cohen, all the members of the Democratic Municipal Committee, the PCDO Executive Board, and other friends and families around town who helped along the way for which there are too many to name here.

Finally, while we may not have won all the races we wanted to, I think we should be very proud of the ones we did, and the fact that New Jersey has its first ever African American Senator in Corey Booker! And how can we not be proud of the fact that “Marriage Equality” has become a reality in New Jersey, an issue that the PCDO took a strong leadership role on nearly four years ago!

As always there is much work for us all to do to make Princeton, the state of New Jersey, and America the best places to live.

Jon Durbin

President, PCDO

 

To the Editor:

At the public meeting of the task force dealing with traffic and transit issues in town, held last Saturday at the University, several attendees advanced the belief that the principal goal of the study effort should be broadened to become regional transit, focusing on a Princeton hub with lines radiating to other areas with reciprocal transit needs. The meeting showed that Princeton has the talent to contribute to such a challenge, in the person of Ralph Widner.

Although the transit element of this study focuses solely on the corridor from Princeton Junction to Nassau Street, Mr. Widner suggested what the beneficial impact on local traffic would be with a more comprehensive (perhaps partially light rail) transit network to include Plainsboro and West Windsor, even Lawrenceville and Montgomery. It appears that the zombie Dinky-devouring BRT scheme will soon be re-entombed, although another important element of a regional transit improvement plan could well start with a Bus Rapid Transit along Route 1, very logically connecting with the Dinky.

Rail costs seem daunting, however, considering that NJ Transit’s River Line cost some $100 million per mile (without electrification) to construct, and the tracks were already there, although it is a wonderfully useful service (I used it recently to go to Burlington to meet a friend for lunch). Shouldn’t we consider starting on a smaller scale? Like by determining the added traffic-mitigating benefits of improving service in the study corridor by converting the Dinky to light rail and extending it to Nassau Street and meeting more trains at the Junction? Already the Dinky carries a thousand riders — many not driving cars along Alexander — each way each day.

A while back I floated a plan to do just that and at what seemed to be at an unbelievably low cost, plus with financing identified. Let’s hear what the task force recommends and consider that as a reasonable first step in the still important broader plan to serve a Greater Princeton. If a new Dinky demonstrated that light rail in Princeton could be significantly more efficient to operate than the current Dinky, that fact could only bolster the arguments for adding rational light-rail extensions more widely, sooner rather than later.

Rodney Fisk

Birch Avenue

 

To the Editor:

Last Sunday HiTOPS presented the inaugural Princeton Half Marathon. We want to thank the many people and organizations that helped make this a wonderful community event for our town. An endeavor of this magnitude — 13.1 spectacularly beautiful miles, 1000 runners representing 26 states, 300 volunteers — was made possible because of the collaboration of many people and entities over two years of planning.

We thank Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Princeton Battlefield, and the Town of Princeton for allowing us to include their sites on the course. Mayor Lempert and the Town Council, Palmer Square Management, and the Nassau Inn worked early on with HiTOPS and the Princeton Police Department to plan and problem solve. The event would not have been as smooth without their collaboration, support, and counsel.

Arm and Hammer served as the cause sponsor, supporting HiTOPS in their goal to bring awareness about how health decisions made during adolescence affect the overall health of our community and the future success of our youth as they become adults. This event highlighting adolescent wellness truly involved the entire community of residents, merchants, police, churches, schools, organizations, sponsors, runners and their families. In addition to the seven distinct neighborhoods hosting water tables sponsored by NRG, it was thrilling to see so many people out cheering the runners and making the event fun and inspiring for everyone involved.

HiTOPS congratulates the top winners and each of the runners for going for their personal best. You are models of what community health looks like — happy, healthy, and enthusiastic individuals of every age, race, size, and ability.

For all of this, we are deeply and truly thankful and look forward to serving this community and bringing next year’s Princeton Half Marathon to you in 2014!

Elizabeth M. Casparian, PhD

Executive Director, HiTOPS

 

November 6, 2013

 

 

To the Editor:

The Arts Council of Princeton would like to thank everyone who attended the Annual Hometown Halloween Parade on Sunday, October 27. It was great to see so many new and familiar faces on the streets of Princeton — and in some amazing costumes! A big congratulations to the winners of our costume contest!

We would like to thank our supporters, sponsors, and partners — Novo Nordisk, the Princeton Public Library, Jazams, small world coffee, Palmer Square Management, Princeton Police, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton Public Works, N.J. State Council on the Arts, and the Town of Princeton. Also a special thanks to the Princeton University Marching Band who continue to make the Halloween Parade a fun and energetic event year after year.

Lastly, we send a special thanks to our volunteers, who help us fulfill our mission of “building community through the arts.”

On behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton staff,

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

 

To the Editor:

Princeton is well served by myriad volunteer organizations, many of which are recognized with official proclamations and fundraising galas replete with local news coverage. Others go about their service quietly.

The Princeton Hook & Ladder Fire Department recently celebrated its 2225th year of community service with no public acknowledgement by the governing body, an unfortunate but easily remedied oversight.

In addition there are 13 volunteer firefighters who are to be commended for a combined 535 years of public service:

Robert Higgins, 65 years (Engine Co. #1)

Bucky Cupples, 60 years (Engine Co. #1)

Eddie Moyer, 50 years (Hook & Ladder)

Kevin Delaney, 45 years (Engine Co. #1)

Roz Warren, 45 years (Engine Co. #1)

Peter Hodge, 40 years (Hook & Ladder)

Henry Shields, 40 years (Engine Co. #1)

Alfred Kahn, 40 years (Engine Co. #3)

Eric Karch, 35 years (Engine Co. #3)

Robert Toole, 30 years (Hook &Ladder)

Ray Bianco, 30 years (Engine Co. #3)

Scott Perone, 30 years (Engine Co. #3)

Otto Cifuentes, 25 years (Hook & Ladder)

Kudos and a heartfelt thank you to those who serve quietly with humility and valor!

Kate Warren

President, Engine Co. #1 Ladies Auxiliary

 

To the Editor:

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee congratulates Princeton on its recent designation by the League of American Bicyclists as a “Bike Friendly Community” (BFC). Princeton achieved the bronze level, the first of five levels awarded, joining only four other municipalities and Princeton University for recognition in this state. The BFC program recognizes the commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure, and pro-bicycling policies.

In Princeton, efforts to improve bicycling safety and accommodations have been made by Mayor Liz Lempert and the current Princeton Council, and by the prior Borough Council and Township Committee. On the recommendation from our Committee, “sharrows” were approved and installed on a network of roads to assist with safe positioning and driver awareness. Complete Streets resolutions were also adopted to ensure bike and pedestrian infrastructure is designed into any road construction and resurfacing projects. Other improvements and community rides are in the works.

We would like to thank the many departments and organizations that have included bike education and encouragement in Princeton. Their efforts contributed to our bike friendly recognition. These groups include our engineering department, especially our Bike Advocate, Deanna Stockton for her advice and encouragement; the Human Services Commission and Princeton Police Department for conducting the annual bike rodeo; the Traffic and Transportation Committee for their Safe Princeton Campaign and efforts to improve intersections and crosswalks; Whole Earth Center, Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association and Sustainable Princeton for providing incentives and encouraging cycling as an environmentally friendly and healthier mode of transportation; Mercer County for adopting a Complete Streets resolution, creating the bikeability map, and rehabilitating the Province Line Road bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use; West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Association for extending their education programs to Princeton, and collaborating with us on family rides and the Communiversity booth; Princeton Freewheelers for leading a variety of rides in our area for all levels of cyclists; and Princeton University for creating their own bike plan and being designated the first Bike Friendly University in New Jersey.

Our Committee will continue to work with the town to improve conditions for cyclists and encourage more residents, employees and students to choose biking for transportation and recreation. If you missed the mayor’s Community Bike Ride October 27th, other rides are being planned for 2014. Look for future rides and receive bike related news by visiting us at http://pjpbac.blogspot.com/ or by emailing pjpbac@gmail.com.

Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee:

Steve Kruse, Chair

Cedar Lane

David Cohen, Vice-chair

Terhune Road

Laurie Harmon

Spruce Street

Karen Jezierny

Mount Lucas Road

Anita Jeerage

Wiggins Street

Lisa Serieyssol

Olden Lane

Carolyn Sealfon

Chestnut Street

 

To the Editor:

We would like to commend employees of the Municipality of Princeton, and their contractor, ICUNJ, for their professional and courteous service during the reconstruction of the sanitary sewer connection from our building to the main beneath Park Place on October 28, 2013. As an initially simple project became complex in light of late-emerging issues related to an easement and concerns of an adjacent property owner, the town officials and their contractor bent over backwards to present and re-present options to minimize the unforeseen costs and impact of the construction. The Municipal Engineer even convened a conference call on a Sunday evening to facilitate our decision making. The execution of the project was a fine example of government in action and again made us proud to be residents of this town.

Jim and Galina Peterson,

Tina Clement and Jim Firestone

Vandeventer Avenue