February 13, 2013

To the Editor:

The concerns about nepotism in the hiring of individuals to work for the Township could have been avoided if proper procedures were established and adhered to. Government agencies at every level fill positions by advertising in local and area newspapers as well as posting openings internally. To avoid actual or apparent prejudice or favoritism in selection of an individual, written procedures for vetting and selecting applicants must be adhered to.

This does not have to be a lengthy procedure. Its purpose is to ensure that the most qualified person is hired and to provide a record of the proceedings should an applicant challenge the hiring and possibly sue. The cost of one law suit will offset any minor costs involved. Mayor Lempert and Mr. Liverman were wrong in declaring that the hirings were proper. Princeton is not a “mom and pop” operation. In difficult economic times other individuals would probably welcome part-time work to supplement their income. We encourage our new consolidated government to institute and follow policy and procedures which avoid future controversies and improprieties such as this.

Jerry Palin, Sheila Siderman

Bouvant Drive

To the Editor:

On Saturday, February 2, at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, a group of over 120 young choristers lifted up their voices in song at the Sing with Us! concert that benefited Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Mercer County. The concert epitomized the idea of children helping children.

This amazing group of young singers, in middle and high school (grades 6-12), came from area community music organizations and houses of worship including Princeton United Methodist Church, Princeton Area Homeschool Choir, Nassau Presbyterian Church, American Boychoir, and The Trenton Children’s Chorus. Also lending their considerable talents and passion to the evening were a group of five young music education students from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, as well six students of the Westminster Conservatory.

The singers were led by nationally recognized composer and song leader Nick Page, who has put his unique creative stamp on the model of the sing-along, bringing the chorus and the audience together this night to sing powerful songs from around the world in celebration of many styles and cultures. Accompanying Nick and the chorus were pianist Philip Orr and bassist Sam Ward.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to so many who made this exceptional night happen. Led by co-chairs Sue Ellen Page of Nassau Presbyterian Church and Janet Perkins of Princeton Girlchoir, the Sing with Us! planning team of Lauren Yeh, Lori Woods, Yvonne Macdonald, Maureen Llort. and Denise Hayes made possible a very successful concert, the second in Nassau Presbyterian Church’s acclaimed Nassau Arts series. Also due special thanks are Nassau Presbyterian’s sound engineer, John Baker, and Debbi Roldan, a congregant, and tireless member of the CASA board.

The free will offering taken at the concert raised $2475 to benefit CASA of Mercer County. CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children in Mercer and Burlington Counties who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. The mission of our program is that through trained community volunteers, these children will be assigned an advocate in court to ensure they receive needed services while in out-of-home placement and ultimately, a permanent home as quickly as possible.

With our spring training for child advocates just around the corner, we welcome those interested in making a difference in the life of a child. Visit www.casamercer.org or call (609) 434-0050 for information on upcoming one hour information sessions.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Director of Community Development,

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties, Ewing

To the Editor:

On behalf of Special Olympics New Jersey, I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the support of Governor Chris Christie and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno with the signing of Bill s1855. This Bill designates our organization as one of the New Jersey Charitable Funds residents may choose to endorse with a donation on their 2012 and 2013 New Jersey State income tax form. A special thank you also is extended to Special Olympics parent and Senate President Stephen Sweeney D-Gloucester, Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, and Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, who championed the passing of this Bill.

Special Olympics New Jersey will field a “Home Team” of 265 athletes with intellectual disabilities to the 2014 USA Special Olympics Games, which will be June 14-21, 2014. Under the new law, taxpayers will be able to include a contribution on their tax returns to the “2014 Special Olympics New Jersey Home Team Fund.” This Bill will provide every New Jersey citizen an opportunity to allocate funds to Special Olympic athletes, who represent communities from across the state, so that they may compete at the highest level.

With the signing of this Bill, Governor Christie, Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, State Senate President Sweeney and many others who helped to pass this legislation have paid the very highest tribute to the Special Olympic athletes of New Jersey in their quest to compete at the highest level and represent the “Home Team.”

Special Olympics New Jersey is proud to host the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games and invites New Jersey citizens from throughout the state to visit www.specialolym
pics2014.org to learn more about the Games and www.sonj.org to get involved with Special Olympics New Jersey.

We welcome everyone to join in the celebration of GENUINE JERSEY PRIDE and contribute to the “Home Team” as they train for the 2014 USA Games.

Marc S. Edenzon

President, Special Olympics New Jersey

To the Editor:

Four-hundred-plus enthusiastic participants braved the weather Monday, January 28 to attend the 15th annual Princeton Community Works conference held at the Frist Center on the Princeton University campus. Participants from more than 200 non-profit organizations across the state networked and gained insights and information by attending workshops. Our deep gratitude goes to Princeton University for its generosity as our host, to the Princeton Rotary for their significant administrative support, to the 23 workshop presenters who donated their time and talents, and to our keynote presenter, the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department, who shared with us the importance of recruiting, training, trusting, and practicing with your volunteers to ensure your mission is met. I also want to express my sincere appreciation to our dedicated, hard-working, all volunteer operating committee who made this conference a reality.

Marge Smith

Founder and Chair, Community Works

Montadale Drive

To the Editor:

As I prepare to leave the Health Care Ministry (HCM) of Princeton, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Princeton Community who has supported our work. Those of us who work in the non-profit sector think of ourselves as people who care for others, who serve others, and who support those in need. We don’t think of ourselves first as recipients of caring. Yet if it were not for so many in our community who cared for us, we at the Health Care Ministry would not be able to fulfill our mission of assisting the elderly to remain independent in their homes as long as that is safely possible. If individuals did not give of their time as volunteers, if donors did not give us funding, if foundations did not provide grants, if businesses did not give support, or if other organizations did not partner with us, we would not be able to give.

The board of trustees of the HCM has named Beth Scholz as our new executive director. Beth is very fortunate to work in a community that values service and caring. I’m sure it will not take her long to see and to experience the generosity of the Princeton community.

Thank you for all the support you have given to the Health Care Ministry throughout the 19 years that I have been associated with it.

Carol L. Olivieri

Executive Director

To the Editor:

February 11 marks the Princeton Fire Department’s 225th birthday, making it one of the country’s longest operating volunteer departments.

We should all praise the exceptional people who offer their time and energy over long hours of training and risk their personal safety to protect Princeton’s residents and property.

Sima and Edward Greenblat

Leabrook Lane

February 6, 2013

To the Editor:

At last Thursday’s Hospital Ordinance Task Force meeting, the committee heard that Council did not approve their recommendation to reduce the allowed density (number of units) at the site if the buildings are demolished. The issue was the number of affordable housing units at “56.” Although some members of Council may remember otherwise, transcripts and memoranda nowhere support that the number “56” units of affordable housing was an original part of discussions. The discussions were around providing 20 percent affordable. The number “56” does not appear until 14 months from the hospital’s first presentation (memorandum from Lee Solow to Bob Bruschi, August 30, 2006, and Marvin Reed, Borough Council minutes, September 12, 2006). Mr. Reed was very straightforward: “development of the hospital site is a ‘density bonus,’ that of 280 units [of which] 56 will be low/moderate COAH-qualifying houses.” Note: the current ordinance allows “up to 280 units.” A developer may choose to build fewer units altogether.

For whom was the density bonus created? The hospital. The hospital, having now gone back on its promises to the Princeton community, no longer deserves any “density bonus.” It contracted with the one buyer who only builds closed private communities, contrary to Princeton values, and it sold off part of the land destined for a town park.

An architect specializing in designing redevelopments in single-family neighborhoods should work with stakeholders and the neighbors to create a site plan and massing diagram to inform the choice of density. However, there are yardsticks available which strongly suggest that a density of 280 units or 50 units/acre is too high.

1. Task-force architect Areta Pawlynsky stated the view of smart-growth advocate Urban Land Institute: more than 2 times the density of the surrounding neighborhood is too great a burden on a neighborhood. 2 times the neighborhood density in this case is 20 units/acre or 102 units.

2. Task-force architect Heidi Fichtenbaum, presented drawings to support the opinion that redevelopment in scale and character with the neighborhood gives a maximum density of 23 units/acre or 127 units.

3. If we were to set the density at that of the surrounding neighborhood, it would be 10 units/acre or 56 units.

4. Massachusetts legislation defines anything above 8 units/acre as smart-growth density for single-family neighborhoods. In the case of the hospital site, a density above 45 units is smart growth.

5. If we want to make the hospital a site for apartments, then anything above 20 units/acre or 102 units is smart growth under Massachusetts law.

Balancing the rights and needs of the surrounding neighborhoods with those who support the building of multi-rise apartment buildings to provide housing, particularly for grad students and postdocs at the University, is important. As former mayor Joe O’Neill said, increased density is a tax on a neighborhood. The major source of jobs within walkable distance of Princeton is the University. If there is a shortage of housing for those who work at the University, shouldn’t the University be pitching in here?

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

To the Editor:

We have all contributed in many ways to help make Princeton what it is today. We all have a stake in its future. It is a wonderful town. I wish everyone could live here, but since that is not possible, we have to make choices and decisions, and the time is now.

Do we want to concentrate all new growth in a monstrously large development ONLY because it would render 56 affordable units? We should take the long view and realize that there are several sites that are ideal for apartments and will likely be built within a reasonable time, and that they would include affordable units as well.

The hospital was always considered an inherently beneficial use and was granted zoning variances time and again. Our neighborhood lost out every time as houses disappeared and the hospital kept growing, along with the traffic. Must we continue to pay forever, for having our neighborhood degraded and for having lost part of it? This condition is now being perpetuated because of the artful deal that the hospital struck with the town. We are once again at risk.

Yes, that is how many of us in our quiet neighborhoods surrounding the hospital feel. We live quite away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Princeton. 280 units built on the site would bring more than 500 persons to the neighborhood and would be severely out of balance for the surroundings. We have never considered our houses to be in the central district of town; only an outsider would describe our area as such.

I really hope that the Task Force will do what the Planning Board charged them with, revising the zoning at the site. The Task Force should not be hobbled at the outset with demands from Council, such as the requirement for 56 affordable units. The resounding rejection of the Avalon plan makes it clear that the spot zoning of the site is severely flawed. It needs revising to be in harmony with the surroundings — urgently.

Why was a task force appointed if they are to be told what their conclusions should be? Are all their meetings and efforts on behalf of a better Princeton in vain? It is up to us to make sure that whatever is built at the site blends in with the surroundings and is a credit to our town. This is the time and this is our chance to make it happen. We will have to live with the results. My wish list: Number one priority is fewer units. The buildings should be of reasonable size and separated, not running along a whole block. Stepped back from the sidewalk would be nice and a plaza which all residents and the public can use. Walking and biking paths should cross the area from road to road. No pool. All building should be done with approved green methods. A small convenience store would be nice so tenants could pick up a few items without getting into their cars.

Berit Marshall

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

This is to congratulate the awardees of the Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards, presented at the Princeton Public Library on January 23 by Mayor Liz Lempert and Princeton Environmental Commission Chairman Matt Wasserman on behalf of Sustainable Princeton.

Devotion to sustainability spans generations — from Robert Hrabchak, a student at Princeton Day School, who retrofitted an old car to run on electricity, to Grace Sinden, who received Sustainable Princeton’s first “Lifetime Achievement Award.” The other awardees are: Dr. Stephanie Chorney, citizen activist; John Emmons, science teacher at Community Park School; Martha Friend, science teacher at Littlebrook School; Jack Morrison, President of JM Group and owner of Nassau Street Seafood and the Blue Point Grill; Stu Orefice, Princeton University dining services director; Bill Sachs, tree expert; and William A. Wolfe, architect.

The awards put a spotlight on citizens who have contributed in a variety of meaningful ways to lighten our footprint on the planet. Following their example, we, individually and collectively, can play a part in our everyday lives through better recycling (including food waste made into compost), greater energy conservation, planting trees, growing vegetables, etc.

Bravo to these awardees who have contributed to sustainable actions and who are an inspiration to us all.

Chrystal Schivell

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

Having the University’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes negotiated by the spouse of a University employee is a blatant conflict of interest. That this negotiation was done behind closed doors, with no involvement of other Council members, raises questions about its legality. That the negotiated figure was then presented to Council as a fait accompli, and that the majority of Council members quickly moved to cut off any deliberation or discussion of it and rushed to vote its approval, raises questions about their integrity. That these shenanigans took place at the very first meeting of our new town’s governing body casts a pall over what we might expect from our local government in the future. Shame!

Ken Fields

Secretary/Treasurer, Eleanor Lewis Fund, Linden Lane

To the Editor:

The proposal before the Princeton Council to prohibit underage consumption of alcohol on private property is a well-meaning initiative that nevertheless raises substantial concerns and therefore should not be lightly considered by the Council.

First, the move to expand the criminalization of alcohol use on private property would necessarily divert scarce municipal resources and attention where they might be better placed: with education as to the dangers of inappropriate or excessive alcohol use.

Second, an ordinance against underage alcohol use on private property provides an inappropriate “foot in the door” invitation to police to enter private property with “probable cause” to search for the source of alcohol use observed in front and backyards. This expansion of police power encourages official snooping that impinges on constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure which, in this post 9-11 age, is all too prevalent.

Third, such official snooping would most likely occur in the denser areas of town where the proscribed behavior would be more easily observed. If adopted, the ordinance will necessarily lead to the perception, generally accurate, that police enforcement will be targeted more at the John-Witherspoon neighborhood than at the Western Section or Riverside neighborhood, and their respective populations. That’s not a good message to send to our diverse community.

Fourth, if alcohol consumption on private property amounts to a real “drinking problem” in a certain area of town such as, say, educational campuses, an ordinance prohibition might be warranted to govern conduct there. But a blanket prohibition on underage alcohol use on private property throughout the community seems an over-broad and insensitive tool by which to unnecessarily enforce cultural values across a much broader population.

Lastly, with scarce tax dollars required to support important police activities, are we prepared to increase taxes to pay for enforcement of such an ordinance, particularly where the real consequences of inappropriate alcohol consumption can be policed by other means, such as summonses for disorderly conduct or noise ordinance violation?

In sum, the proposal before the Council sounds like an easy, paternalist way to govern, but it has many downsides that the Council should explore before adopting it.

Roger Martindell

Patton Avenue

To the Editor:

The use of hyperbole, exaggeration, and false conclusions in David Keddie’s letter promoting AvalonBay style high-density apartments for Princeton (“We Should Welcome Increased Population,” Town Topics, Jan. 23) is the kind of free speech that should not be taken seriously by readers or political leaders concerned about Princeton’s future. Does the notion that increased population density is “the best thing we can do for our tax base” mean taxes will stabilize or decline? On the contrary, taxes will rise and the quality of life in the town will decline because increased density brings with it the need for more government services, increased traffic, accidents, and higher crime rates. The idea that traffic problems will be solved by enabling “hundreds and thousands” of people to walk the streets is a frightening scenario for pedestrians and current residents alike. The solution to housing needs careful planning implemented by improved zoning and architectural design that sustains the unique character of Princeton. We don’t need high density apartment houses designed and built by sardine can factories like AvalonBay.

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

As I observe the constant flow — and hear the excited chatter — of people carting windows, doors, washing machines, and other materials out of our Habitat for Humanity Restore, I’m reminded that to “restore” is to make whole.

When Habitat for Humanity opened its ReStore, its purpose was to provide a place for residents of Trenton to purchase, at low cost, quality new and pre-owned building materials, appliances, and furniture.

As we prepared for Saturday’s Grand Opening of our ReStore, I’m deeply thankful for the support we have received from all of Mercer county. Homeowners, contractors, and building supply stores have generously donated both new and reusable items to stock the shelves of the ReStore. And, equally important, local residents are shopping at the ReStore. Despite their extremely tight budgets, they are optimistic. They are investing in their homes, their neighborhood, and their community.

On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, I invite all of you to come shop and/or donate gently used goods. Meet the ReStore’s dedicated staff and volunteers; explore the aisles of the ReStore and give us the opportunity to thank you for your support of a better and brighter future.

After you visit the ReStore, I invite you to explore the neighborhood’s revitalization. Drive past homes that have been refurbished thanks to two summers of WorkCamp which brought in hundreds of students to work alongside residents. During the week after school, stop in the Learning Lab where local students have an after school program that rivals the best in any neighborhood. Or remember to come shop at the farmer’s market during the summer. There are other changes too including a new pedestrian friendly crosswalk at the intersection of Olden and Clinton.

There’s much more than I could share with you about what’s good. And so much of it is captured in the doors, windows, and paint cans carted out of the ReStore and into homes, to make them better—to make them whole.

Tom Caruso

Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity, Trenton Area

To the Editor:

I support the suggestion made by Harvey Rothberg to keep the old names for Borough Hall and Township Hall, and I agree with his two reasons, namely ease of recognition and preservation of historic names.

Perhaps a generation from now people will ask why we have both a Borough hall and a Township hall. In finding the answer to that question they will learn a bit about Princeton history, and that will be a good thing.

Jane Kupin

Erdman Avenue

To the Editor:

Princetonians have two opportunities coming up to learn about one of Princeton’s early visionaries. The Veblen name is most commonly associated with Thorstein Veblen, the famous economist and social critic. But his nephew Oswald’s legacy shines as bright, extending beyond the world of ideas and taking multiple physical forms across our fair town.

Who is Oswald Veblen? Well, imagine Princeton without the Institute for Advanced Study, Albert Einstein’s long residency, the Institute Woods, and Herrontown Woods. Veblen’s vision, initiative, and persistence played an instrumental role in making all of these possible.

Called a “woodchopping professor” of mathematics, he combined a midwesterner’s bucolic sensibilities with the European heritage of his ancestors and his English wife Elizabeth. This combination can be seen in the many European scholars he helped bring to America during the Nazi rise to power, and the hundreds of acres of Princeton’s woodlands he worked to spare from development.

This combination, too, can be seen in the house and farm cottage he and Elizabeth donated to the county, which now stand boarded up at the edge of Herrontown Woods. The 1920s prefab house has European touches in its balconies, woodwork, and woodland setting.

This Sunday at 11 a.m., as part of the Princeton Public Library’s Environmental Film Festival, I’ll present a portrait of Veblen’s multifaceted legacy, and discuss efforts to save the house and farmstead they left in the public trust. More information on the film festival’s last weekend of films can be found at princetonlibrary.org, and additional information on Veblen is at VeblenHouse.org.

In addition, the Institute for Advanced Study is currently hosting an exhibit on Veblen’s legacy at their archive’s reading room (library.ias.edu/archives).

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison

January 30, 2013

To the Editor:

Bill and Judy Scheide are indeed “Forever Young” and the overflow crowd at the January 18 concert to celebrate Bill’s 99th birthday, and support the Community Park Pool, demonstrated by cheers and applause the esteem with which this much loved couple is held, as well as appreciation for the superb musicianship of the concert performers.

The English Chamber Orchestra, under the vibrant direction of Maestro Mark Laycock, began the program with Sir Arnold Bax’s Dance in the Sunlight, a lively, romantic and complex score. It was followed by Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter, brilliantly played by violinist Stephanie Gonley.

Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, eloquently and humorously narrated by Malcolm Gets, prompted an acquaintance sitting next to me to remark that her eight-year-old granddaughter, who plays the piano, would have learned a great deal and enjoyed this piece.

It was a pleasure to welcome pianist Andrew Sun back to Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium. His nimble “Variations on Happy Birthday to Bill Scheide” were made up of musical birthday greetings assembled by Samuel Barber for Mary Curtis Book Zimbalist’s 75th birthday. The piece was a recent acquisition by the Scheide Library and performed for the first time.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, completed the inspiring program. Through his mastery of the composition, Maestro Laycock, fluidly, energetically and skillfully inspired the English Chamber Orchestra to perform at their highest level. I know I speak for the community in expressing my sincere thanks to Bill and Judy for this memorable evening!

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Recreation Department and the Princeton Parks & Recreation Fund, we want to thank the community for its incredible support of the Community Park Pool, which was the beneficiary of last Friday night’s birthday concert for Mr. William H. Scheide. Our community was once again blessed with the opportunity to listen to wonderful music, support a good cause, and revel in the good will that always accompanies a Bill and Judy Scheide Concert.

The concert was a smashing success and all of the money received from sponsors and ticket sales will go toward continuing the Recreation Department’s mandate to keep user fees as low as possible in order to continue to provide access to all members of the Princeton community. The pool has become the town’s summer backyard, and the support shown last Friday night is compelling evidence of how important that is to the community.

The Recreation Department is grateful beyond words for this wonderful support.

Ben Stentz

Executive Director of Recreation

Peter O’Neill

Chairman of Princeton Parks & Recreation Fund

To the Editor:

The idea of guns in our schools is disconcerting at best, and untenable, at least. In addition to making school a pretty scary place for children to be, carrying a gun most likely will deter many fine teachers from practicing their profession. I am wondering if some type of a “Life Alert” device might be worn by adults in the school? While not a perfect solution, and perhaps, simplistic, it may be an effective one.

Robin L. Wallack,

Former President

Princeton Regional Board of Education,

Mercer County Board of Vocational Technology

To the Editor,

There is an ongoing discussion about the appropriate density for the former hospital site. Current zoning for the MRRO zone, created specifically for the site of the hospital buildings, is for 280 units or 50 units per acre, a number arrived at by estimating the number of apartments that could fit into the hospital towers. Many remember the community discussions over rezoning the site for residential use in 2004-06 — it was said that the density would be lower if the hospital buildings came down.

What is a reasonable density if the hospital buildings do come down? I would argue that we should look at the gross density currently permitted in zoning. In the former Township, density ranges from 1.8 to 12 units/acre. In Mixed Use zones in the former Borough, like the MRRO zone, the maximum density is 14 units/acre. Density in the hospital neighborhood is lower than this. Our zoning allows densities higher than 14 units/acre only if there is 100 percent income restricted or age-restricted housing. In the highly-acclaimed design for the Merwick and Stanworth sites, the numerous two to three-story buildings will be built at 14 and 12 units/acre. The university designed open space and playground areas for everyone’s use and pedestrian and bike path connections between the sites and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Much of the discussion has centered on the supposed benefits of smart growth — concentrating development in the center of towns. This does not mean, however, that the higher the density the better. Architects and planners advocate designing buildings in context with their neighborhoods. The minimum smart-growth density in Massachusetts is 8 units/acre for single-family units, 12 units/acre for two- and three-family units and 20 units/acre for multi-family apartments. The 20 unit/acre density — or 112 units on the former hospital site — is already more than double the density in the surrounding neighborhood.

The Task Force is moving in the right direction by considering 39 units/acre or 220 units for the site. Unfortunately, with densities over 35 units/acre you lose a sense of having individual buildings — you get massive bulk and long-runs of frontage like the plans that AvalonBay presented.

Personally, I believe that the density of the Merwick/Stanworth sites is appropriate for the former hospital site. The John-Witherspoon neighborhood, with Merwick/Stanworth on one side and the MRRO zone on the other, averages 14 units/acre. Let’s do the same for the MRRO zone: 14 units/acre or 78 units for the former hospital site. This density will allow for a development in keeping with the scale and character of the neighborhood, as required by Borough Code and the town’s Master Plan. It will allow for green open space and throughways for people to walk and bike through the block (like at Merwick/Stanworth). Green space, walkers, and bikers make town living highly sustainable. Higher densities will bring more traffic, the possible busing of elementary schoolchildren, lower property values and higher taxes for Princeton residents.

Ken Gumpert

Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

As former mayors with spouses who worked at Princeton University, and as a Princeton professor who was married to a former mayor, we were surprised to see that two Council members had questioned whether Mayor Liz Lempert has a conflict of interest in meeting with University representatives to discuss the terms of the University’s 2013 contribution to the municipality.

Princeton has a long history of mayors with connections to the University. All of us in recent memory — Barbara Sigmund, Cate Litvack, Dick Woodbridge, and Marvin Reed — spoke frequently with University representatives and negotiated with them. It is part of the mayor’s job.

Paul Sigmund, Cate Litvack,

Dick Woodbridge, Marvin Reed

To the Editor:

Princeton citizens who want to help ensure that AvalonBay doesn’t submit a new application to build “AvalonPrinceton” (!) should contact Planning Board members right away.

On February 7, the Planning Board will adopt a resolution that “memorializes” their 7-3 vote against AvalonBay (Board attorney Gerald Muller is drafting the resolution). Current Board members who voted against AvalonBay (Jenny Crumiller, Wanda Gunning, Bernie Miller, Marvin Reed, and Gail Ullman) have full legal rights to modify any and all language in the resolution so that it accurately reflects their positions.

Voting members should take care that the final resolution banishes AvalonBay from Princeton — not simply that Princeton doesn’t like AvalonBay’s specific site plan, but more: that Princeton doesn’t want any mark of AvalonBay here at all.

AvalonBay has shown they won’t partner with our community, no matter what the design. As Jenny Crumiller lamented about their refusal to negotiate reasonably with the Borough’s ad hoc committee, “The overriding theme was, ‘AvalonBay is a brand and that’s what you get’” (PB hearing, 12/19/12).

Here are other reasons why Planning Board members should make sure the resolution closes the door on any attempt by AvalonBay to reapply.

AvalonBay refused to consider local retail stores, desired by many (“We don’t do retail in midrise developments”), and refused to participate in Princeton’s recycling and composting program (“We’re not in the composting
business”). Avalon lags its competitors in sustainable building practices and rejected a push by 48.6 percent of their shareholders to commit resources to significant green measures; any building they did would be already “obsolete,” as Heidi Fichtenbaum noted (PB hearing, 12/19/12).

AvalonBay cannot be trusted. They tried to cover up difficulties with hospital site remediation — matters of public health. Their urban planner plagiarized work from their architect (who also misrepresented the size of the sliver of park by cropping the illustration). The AvalonBay team cheated in representing their open space, claiming as “theirs” portions of land they would not even own! Their architect deliberately misunderstood Borough Code so that he could falsely compare AvalonBay’s “superior” megablock to the existing hospital towers — and chose not to show the monolith in relation to neighborhood buildings so that no one could really grasp its gargantuan scale. Their “plan” for solid waste involved using both the garage and the Franklin Avenue service drive in ways not legally permitted by Borough Code.

AvalonBay’s legal representation was “barely legal.” Ron Ladell played both attorney and witness (an “inappropriate” straddling of roles). He tried to halt cross-questioning of their urban planner by the environmental attorney for Princeton Citizens (an unprofessional and almost malfeasant intervention). Attorney Studholme whispered advice to the urban planner while he was being cross-questioned by PCSN’s land-use attorney — virtually a forbidden practice.

With behavior like this, for over a year, who needs AvalonBay at all? They have squandered trust and credibility. Other developers will serve our community better. The Planning Board must insist that their resolution fully reflects their outright opposition, and the community’s, to AvalonBay’s presence.

Jane Buttars

Dodds Lane

To The Editor:

I’d like to say to the new Princeton Planning Board that when dealing with a new developer for the hospital site, the developer must keep the neighborhood in mind: the height of the apartment buildings, the green space, and that there be no private pool because the tenants could enjoy and support our new Community Park pool that’s right down the street. Not having a private pool could allow more space for low, low income rental units within the affordable units. Remember, “affordable” is not affordable for all Princeton citizens. There should be some more low, low income units with rents below $1,000 per month. There’s a long list of people waiting for low income housing in Princeton, which still shows the need for it.

After sitting through many long planning board meetings listening to the AvalonBay presentation, I hope AvalonBay will completely disappear from the hospital site developers’ list because I don’t trust them. The arrogant, bullying attitude of the AvalonBay developer was unbelievable and we don’t need that kind of unneighborly attitude in Princeton.

Minnie Craig

Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading in last week’s paper about the new appointees to the Princeton Public Library’s Board of Trustees (“Ringing in the New, Library Board Welcomes Six New Members,” Town Topics, Jan. 23). As we welcome them to their new positions and wish them all luck, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the trustees whom they replaced (in addition to the former mayors): Alison Lahnston, Ira Fuchs, and Richard Levine. During their years of dedicated service, Alison, Ira, and Dick brought impressive skills, careful and creative thinking, and sound judgment to the job of governance, working always to nurture the library’s innovative spirit while helping to ensure its financial stability.

I would also like to thank Director Leslie Burger for her gifted leadership, her unparalleled fund-raising vision and abilities, and her inspiring commitment to the highest levels of excellence for the library and all its programs and services. It was a privilege and an honor to work with Leslie, and with all the trustees, over the last ten years, and I thank them for both enriching my time there, and for their longstanding service to the community.

Katherine McGavern

Past President, Princeton Public Library

January 23, 2013

To the Editor:

It’s great to be living in a united Princeton!

I note that there’s concern about the possible re‑naming of Borough Hall and the Township Municipal Building (or complex). There’s even been talk of a contest for consideration of the best names for the old buildings.

Here’s a serious and sensible suggestion: In our new united Princeton, the former Borough Hall should retain its name, that is, Borough Hall. The former Township Municipal Building (or complex) should retain its name, that is, Township Hall.

There are two major and cogent reasons why this is a good idea: (1) Everyone will know where to find a particular department or service. For example, Administrator, Court and Violations, Tax Collection, and Police in Township Hall; and Public Works, Recycling and Refuse Collection, Vital Statistics, and Fire Safety in Borough Hall.

And (2) preservation of the old names honors and memorializes our history. The 200-year history of the Borough of Princeton and the 175-year history of Princeton Township deserve to be commemorated and preserved in our collective memory.

Retaining the names of these historic (albeit modern) buildings does not lessen our acceptance and recognition of, and pride in the new united Princeton. I hope that this suggestion will be considered seriously by the mayor and Council and others concerned with the matter.

Harvey Rothberg (MD)

Bertrand Drive

To the Editor:

Nelson Mandela insightfully noted, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Last year over 500 of our Mercer County children were living in a place other than their own home. When the child welfare agency determines that child abuse and/or neglect has occurred, a child is removed from the home and placed in out-of-home placement i.e., foster homes or group homes or residential facilities.

The plight of the child after being removed from an abusive situation and placed in the child welfare system turns into a difficult journey, one impossible for a child to navigate through on his or her own.

Fortunately, that is where Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) steps in. CASA recruits, screens and trains volunteers in the community to advocate in court for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and are now in out-of-home placement. The mission of CASA is to find safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible so the children don’t languish in the child welfare system.

Through regular visits with the child, in addition to interviews with caretakers, teachers, therapists, and child welfare workers, the CASA volunteer provides up to date information on how the child is doing and includes it in a comprehensive written report, along with recommendations for services that are disseminated to all of the legal parties, including the Family Court judge.

In Mercer County, we greatly need more volunteers. There are many good souls in the area who want to protect all of our children and judge it a basic human right to have a home and family of their own. Visit our website at www.casamercer.org or call (609) 434-0050 to become a CASA volunteer.

Lori Morris

Executive Director, CASA of Mercer County, Inc.

To the Editor:

Princeton is in a unique position within the surrounding region as the one place that can provide a car-free lifestyle. While residents of West Windsor or Montgomery face the daily requirement to fight traffic on Route One or Route 206, the historic core of Princeton, built before the advent of the automobile, provides a critical density of employment and amenities built for walking rather than driving. Many in the heart of town live without owning a car and many others only drive once or twice a week for groceries.

The popularity of apartment living in dense, walkable neighborhoods has skyrocketed in recent years. Those of us who grew up in isolated suburban homes and spent half our youth in the car being driven from one activity to the other are very attracted to a life with fewer parking lots and highways. Access to this lifestyle in Princeton however has been frozen in time. According to the census, the population of the former Princeton Borough is lower now than it was in 1950. While enrollment and employment at the University and in town has exploded in the past 60 years, the supply of housing within walking distance has remained essentially the same due to the effects of restrictive zoning. Instead of greater population density we’ve seen an exponential rise in the number of cars commuting into town with the attendant need for ever more parking and roadwork.

What’s the solution? Princeton needs apartment buildings like the one from AvalonBay so recently rejected by the Planning Board. The only solution to un-met demand is to increase the supply of housing. The solution to our traffic problems is to enable the hundreds and thousands who would prefer to live in walking distance to do so. The best thing to do for sustainability is to allow apartment living in town. The answer to our water runoff issues is to allow population growth to be accommodated at greater densities in town rather than amidst the suburban, car-dependent sprawl. The best thing we can do for our tax base is to encourage these many single and childless households to locate in Princeton rather than only allowing single-family homes which bring far more children to the schools. Opponents argue that four- and five-story apartment buildings aren’t in keeping with Princeton’s neighborhoods. Right in the heart of town, at Nassau and Witherspoon, the First National Bank built a five story office building as far back as 1902. That building covers the entire lot and the historic core of town has many similar structures. It’s that very density of population, employment, and amenities that makes Princeton something other than just a commuter suburb. We should welcome increased population density in town, or else we will continue to live with increased density of traffic and asphalt.

David Keddie

David Brearly Court