March 13, 2019

To the Editor:

I urge my fellow Democrats to support Michelle Pirone Lambros for municipal Council at the PCDO Endorsement meeting on March 17. I’m speaking up because I strongly believe the times have met with the right candidate for the Council. Michelle has a rare combination of a tough mind and an activist soul. She has the interests of all Princeton deeply at heart, but knows that saying as much is always subject to proof.  more

To the Editor:

A warm thank you from all of us at the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) to those who attended the March 3 talk by Dr. Diane Lewis on the threats to our shared aquifer of using commercial fertilizers and herbicides on America’s largest crop, lawn. A key plank of FOPOS’s organizational mission is to “advocate for sound policy decisions that protect the environment.” Dr. Lewis’s “Great Healthy Yard Project” (http://tghyp.com/) offers solutions for private landowners who wish to care for their yards as carefully as we steward our public conservation lands.

We also wish to thank Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for their sponsorship of this 50th-anniversary-year event and our membership for their on-going support of our public education programs.

Wendy Mager
President
The Board of Friends of Princeton Open Space

To The Editor:

I followed my letter [Mailbox, Feb 20] with a personal plea for attention to the potholes on the Harrison/Nassau Street intersection at the Princeton Council meeting on Monday February 25. On the evening of Thursday, February 28, that intersection was repaved and is now safe and secure to cross through. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Principal Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton and NJ Department of Transportation Community and Constituent Relations Regional Manager Kimberly Nance for their professional efforts to fix this intersection and create a safe and secure roadway for all of us to use. Kudos, and encomiums to all who made this happen. Keep up the good work.

Howard W. Silbersher
Governors Lane

March 6, 2019

To the Editor:

Ever since becoming executive director of the already sperb Princeton Public Library, Brett Bonfield has worked hard to understand, expand, and improve it. As an inveterate library user and a member of the Council of the Friends of the PPL, I’ve been grateful for the wide range and extraordinary quality of the resources, services, and work/study/meeting spaces that the PPL has been providing under Mr. Bonfield’s guidance. more

To the Editor:

In the story, “Finance Committee Study Finds Mercer County is a Big Spender” [Town Topics, Feb. 20], the assertion that Mercer County outspends its peer counties in every category is misleading based on the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) own report. CFAC failed to consider Mercer County’s unique distinction of being home to our state capital, Trenton. The honor of hosting our state government comes with a cost: the state of New Jersey owns more than $1 billion in property, or well over one-third of all tax-exempt property in the city, and this is a burden shared by all Mercer County residents.  more

To the Editor:

It’s always heartwarming to see the Kids & Camps guide in Town Topics each year. As a young person growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend my summers outside exploring the natural world and learning how to work with kids outside of my neighborhood. It’s one of the many reasons that I joined the board of the Princeton-Blairstown Center after settling in the Princeton area. more

To the Editor:

As acknowledged in newspaper articles and letters, many if not most citizens within Princeton support efforts to, as expressed by Zoning Officer Derek Bridger, “slow down and de-incentivize tear-downs on substandard lots.” That desire is of long duration and growing stronger with each sighting of the dreaded orange plastic fencing and red ribbons around old trees that signals another razing of a house and blighting of a landscape. Bridger and Council members David Cohen and Tim Quinn offer a compelling rationale for why Princeton should adopt the proposed ordinance that would eliminate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses allowing for larger buildings on undersized lots. If amendments need to be made to avoid the unintended consequences of placing minor adjustments to a house such as the replacement of a window under this ordinance then they should be made but quickly. I fear that these complaints mask a competing desire of architects and developers to continue to build structures that are grossly inconsistent with the neighborhoods in which they appear. more

To the Editor:

I support Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council. She offers a range of expertise, skills, and experience that complements the current Council make-up. A diverse Council is poised to be more strategic and creative when addressing our town’s most pressing issues. Michelle knows the difference between talking about diversity, affordability, and lower taxes, and having the creative ideas to do something about them. more

To the Editor:

When people in Princeton think about Mia Sacks, these are qualities that come first to mind: leadership, ability, intellect, and compassion. The exciting news is that she wants to put all that to work for the residents of Princeton as a member of Council.  Mia is our own home-grown talent and a graduate of our public schools where her commitment to progressive politics was cultivated. That commitment is evident in her impressive professional background with several decades working for our nation’s leading social justice organizations. more

February 26, 2019

To the Editor:

With 40 years of involvement in Democratic politics in Princeton and Mercer County, I am supporting Mia Sacks for election to Princeton Council because I believe that her proven abilities, her decade of service to the community, and her commitment to an affordable Princeton equip her to make a difference. Mia is widely recognized for her ability to listen, to understand all sides of an issue, and to help groups with disparate views find common ground. She is energetic, straightforward, and substantive.

Mia understands Princeton local government, how it works, and the challenges it faces. She has learned from the ground up, serving on numerous municipal, school, and community boards and committees. She is a member of the Planning Board and Master Plan Subcommittee and a former member of the Environmental Commission. She is well grounded in issues affecting neighborhood preservation, affordable and “missing middle” housing, and the traffic, parking, and design issues affecting the viability of our central business district.  She has long had a leadership role in Sustainable Princeton and can claim among her accomplishments the introduction of a program supporting sustainability, health, and wellness in the public schools. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is a unique town that is not without its challenges, one of which is perennial … parking. At recent meetings, local merchants shared that the new parking system is presenting real challenges, deterring potential customers, and causing a financial hardship for their employees. Though parking may not be the only challenge facing local retailers, it is something that as a town, we could better control. more

To the Editor:

OK—I get it. The Princeton First Aid Squad has needed a new home for a long time and locating the new headquarters across from the Municipal Complex/Police Department makes all the sense in the world. However, the new location also meant moving the “Municipal Gas Pump” to the adjacent property bounded by Terhune Road, Witherspoon Street, Route 206, and Cherry Hill Road.

When most of the mature trees were taken down last fall, my concern piqued, but maybe they were diseased with ash borer beetles? Nevertheless, strike one — the municipality would probably prevent me from removing established, large trees from my property. Then the surrounding privacy chain link fence was erected to obscure the public’s view from what’s being built and now I know why — strike two. Initially, what looks to be an above-ground gasoline storage tank was intrusive, but last week when two large steel support posts towering over the fence were erected, I sensed a significant problem. And now, the atrocious, commercially lit square canopy is just begging for a neon Exxon sign — strike three. more

To the Editor:

Regarding “Hundreds Gather to Protest Emergency” [page one story, Feb. 20 Town Topics]: This gathering focused on WHO wants to build a barrier on the Southern border and the PROCESS that is being used to try to achieve it.

It would be far more useful if the tens of thousands of IQ points gathered in Hinds Plaza were used to debate the real questions that must be answered: Would the American people be safer and have a better quality of life if the barrier were built or if it were not built? What are the upsides and downsides of the possible decisions?

An honest, beneficial debate would only consider proven facts and expert inputs, not be distorted by politics, personalities, and ideologies.

Arthur Stoller
Ironwood Road,Skillman

February 20, 2019

To The Editor:

We residents of Princeton, New Jersey live in a community that is the seat of a world famous institution of higher learning. Faculty, students, and others from all over America and around the world come to Princeton to teach, study, learn, and accrue knowledge. There is culture in Princeton, good restaurants, a good local school district, and a safe, clean community. Our taxes are high, but living and working in Princeton is considered a privilege. And yet, every time I drive across the intersection of Harrison Street and Nassau Street, with all the potholes, ruts, ditches, my car vibrates, shakes, and veers off to the side, dangerously. With all the taxes we pay in Princeton, with all the amenities, why is there an intersection that is emblematic of a banana republic, a country that is struggling financially, culturally, a country that is unsafe and unhealthy for the citizens who live there. I implore the local government of our community to fix, pave, re-surface that intersection so that crossing Harrison and Nassau is safe and secure for all drivers and that it is emblematic of the community of which we should all be proud.

Howard W. Silbersher
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

I am delighted that Mia Sacks has decided to run for Princeton Council and offer my enthusiastic support. I have watched her deep commitment to our town’s well-being in many capacities, and her ability to approach problems with an open mind, a listening ear, and a determination to find solutions that are a win for everyone involved.

Like Mia, I grew up here and returned later with young children to avail myself and my family of Princeton’s unique opportunities. I’m impressed with Mia’s dedication to the town she loves, and appreciate that her belief in Princeton’s greatness lies not just in its past or a simple nostalgia for “the way things were,” but rather in a vision for what Princeton can be. On Council, she will ensure that our town plans for the future in a proactive and progressive way. more

February 6, 2019

To the Editor:

The last major untouched portion of the Princeton Ridge, 90 acres of meadow and forest at the crest of Mount Lucas, directly adjoins our street. But the Princeton Planning Board will hear a proposal this coming Thursday to build a large and intrusive housing development there.

The property owner is Lanwin Development Corporation, one of the largest and most aggressive in the state. Their site plan calls for 30 McMansions on half-acre lots, 100 feet from our backyards. It demands wetlands destruction, massive traprock blasting, and the loss of the finest old-growth hardwoods in central New Jersey. Herrontown Lane was designed in the 1970s as a small, explicitly environmental development, the first and only such project in Princeton: buried utilities, no streetlights, minimal disturbance, maximum preservation. The Lanwin site plan is utterly unsuited to the special conditions of the Ridge, and its approval will ruin our peace and privacy, cause serious runoff damage to our homes (and also the hundreds of townhouses along Blue Spring Road), add traffic to narrow, heavily-used Herrontown Road, and create a powerful precedent for the inappropriate development of Jasna Polana and Springdale Golf Course.

We invite anyone interested in the issue of overdevelopment in Princeton to attend the meeting. This hilltop, if preserved, could be the keystone for a spectacular greenway running from Rocky Hill to Lake Carnegie. And these 90 Ridge acres are historic as well as lovely: Annis and Richard Stockton of Morven courted there; George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Paine all knew it well. In later centuries, the Herrontown uplands sustained Dutch, Irish, and African American farmers. Now they protect dozens of threatened and endangered species. To save this last section of the Ridge is to save the best of Princeton.

Time and place: Princeton Municipal Building, Main Auditorium, Thursday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Anne Matthews and Will Howarth

Herrontown Lane

To the Editor:

I have been a regular commuter on the Dinky and a parking permit holder for a number of years, both for environmental and convenience reasons. Before the suspension of the Dinky, my one-way commute to upper Manhattan on a “good” day (when NJ Transit trains were not delayed) took two hours door-to-door. The replacement bus service has added another half hour to that commute, as the buses to the Junction leave earlier than the train did to allow for traffic on Alexander Road; there is a wait for the bus after my usual train back from the city (not the case when the Dinky was in service), and that bus then sits in rush hour traffic going back to the Dinky station. Luckily for me, I have grown children, and this extra commute time does not carry an additional childcare cost, though I’m sure it does for some of my fellow commuters.

Having recently renewed my permit, I have just learned that Dinky service will not be restored before work on Alexander Road begins. I can’t imagine what traffic will look like once that happens. And given that I live on the north side of Princeton and have to cross Washington Road to get to the Dinky station anyway, I won’t see any point in parking there just to be driven back to Washington to get to Princeton Junction. I’m sure many of my fellow commuters will feel the same way, and we’ll be contributing to the traffic trying to cross Route 1, which will exacerbate an already terrible situation.

Elizabeth Hamblet

Wittmer Court

January 30, 2019

To the Editor:

On January 21, the Arts Council of Princeton welcomed our community to the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts for a series of discussions and activities in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am writing to extend my sincere thanks to our community partners who helped put the day together, and to all the attendees who made the day truly special.

The day began with a community breakfast, sponsored by Princeton University, which featured speakers Reverend Lukata Mjumbe, pastor of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate and professor and director of creative writing at Princeton University. In their own unique ways, they provided the audience with challenging, yet uplifting, interpretations of the meaning of the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and why we hold a day of celebration in his honor.

Following the breakfast, community members of all ages enjoyed art activities presented by local organizations.  The Historical Society of Princeton, JaZams, and the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice all contributed to make it a thoughtful, interesting, and art-filled morning.  At the same time, participants completed a collaborative mural and the Princeton Family YWCA sponsored a successful canned food drive to benefit HomeFront.

The event concluded with a phenomenal performance by the First Baptist Church Choir. To have over 100 members of our community singing and dancing in our Solley Theater was the perfect way to end such a meaningful day.

My final thanks goes to the staff of the Arts Council, who once again produced a fantastic event, enabling us to bring together friends, neighbors, and strangers to share the life and lessons of a great American.

Jim Levine
Arts Council of Princeton

To the Editor:

As an environmentalist, when I walk around different Princeton neighborhoods I’m really depressed to see how many people are making the mistake of putting their recycling in plastic bags, or lining their recycling bins with plastic bags. PLASTIC BAGS CONTAMINATE THE RECYCLING STREAM, ensuring that many of the recyclable cans, bottles, No. 1 and 2 plastic containers and paper go instead to a landfill. When people put their recycling in plastic, they are undoing not only their own good work in taking the trouble to segregate recyclables and put them out for collection, but that of their neighbors. PLASTIC BAGS MUST NOT BE PUT IN WITH RECYCLING THAT IS COLLECTED CURBSIDE. Plastic bags can be recycled separately in 17 locations in Princeton that are listed on Sustainable Princeton’s website. Residents who generate more recycling than their current buckets can hold can get up to four more FREE at the Department of Public Works, 27 North Harrison Street (behind the fire house), Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Please neighbors, I know you are trying to do the right thing; don’t make this one fatal mistake!

Wendy Mager
Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

When the county tapped Princeton to pilot curbside collection of organics back in 2011, I was skeptical, despite being a strong supporter of environmental initiatives in town. It seemed inefficient — the heavy truck chasing down green carts scattered around town, the hour-long drive to distant composting centers struggling to stay open, the considerable staff time spent promoting and coordinating.

I was less than impressed because I knew there was a better way, having lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, yardwaste is collected in rollcarts with double or triple the capacity of the small green rollcarts used for Princeton’s organics. The large rollcarts accommodate not only leaves, sticks, and clippings from the garden, but also any foodscraps residents wish to toss in. It’s all collected once a week, and the foodscraps are so diluted that they are barely noticeable in the windrows of composting yardwaste just outside the city. more

To the Editor:

Given how valuable the Dinky is to our community, how can we accept the fact that New Jersey’s public transportation company has found it to be too small to matter?

Is it not time for those of us who cherish it to alleviate NJ Transit’s pain by stepping up and creating a public private partnership to run the Dinky as it should be run?

Alain Kornhauser and Elizabeth Monroe
Cleveland Lane

January 23, 2019

To the Editor:

At the end of January, the state Senate will vote on a bill that would diminish the local voice in the care of trees and shrubs, particularly those in the right-of way along streets, including trees on private lands whose branches extend over the right-of-way and those in municipal parks.

The Vegetation Management Response Act (S2505) would do this by exempting public utilities and cable television companies from needing to comply with municipal laws and, more generally, from taking local vegetation management priorities or concerns into account. The Assembly recently passed the bill (A2558) with nearly unanimous approval.

The bill is presented as if it is urgently needed to prevent disruption of electric power supply during extreme weather events. But the mandate and the authority to carry out vegetation management to ensure reliable electric supply was granted to electric utilities more than a decade ago under state statute and rules. This bill is not needed for that purpose. more

To the Editor:

We are now one year after the #MeToo movement began, but for so many, justice does not exist. The YWCA Princeton is focused on building a safe, economically secure future for women and girls. Our mission, which is to eliminate racism and empower women, can only be accomplished when we secure a future that is free from social inequities. Every action counts and now is the time that we need you to step up.

On Thursday, January 24 the YWCA Princeton will host a community forum on sexual assault and gender-based violence, right here at our building on 59 Paul Robeson Place in Princeton. We will be joined by Womanspace, #NotOnMyWatch, and Princeton University’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising unit. Both events are free and open to the public. More information can be found on our website, www.ywcaprinceton.org.

Join us in this fight, march with us, and believe survivors.

Judy Hutton

Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Princeton

To the Editor:

I would like to suggest that Princeton consider returning to a recycling method that we used for many years before curbside pickup began. That is, a central collection station (which used to be at the Princeton Shopping Center) which could serve as a location for people to drop off organic compostables. With an attendant (as we had in the past), it should be possible to monitor what is dropped off and also cut fossil fuel consumption, since it does not involve large trucks driving all around Princeton. In fact, perhaps other municipalities/local shopping centers could follow suit if this were to prove successful. A shopping center with a grocery store is ideal because so many people go shopping for food and could conveniently drop off their organics at the same time. Perhaps a similar drop-off point could be set up (seasonally) once a week in conjunction with the farmers market near the Princeton Public Library, as well.

Anne Soos

Hun Road

January 16, 2019

To the Editor:

There are many groups in Princeton who espouse fine civic concerns. I imagine that if several of them approached the authorities to suggest that we shut down the center of town for half a day in order to demonstrate peacefully, the idea would be dismissed out of hand. How ironic that the threat of some white supremacists standing in the middle of Princeton on January 12, 2019 to represent their own repugnant beliefs achieved this peaceful plan and more.

Lacking the white supremacists, the quiet demonstration by hundreds of townspeople, University people, and likeminded visitors, was a success. But we did not get to everyone’s civic concerns! I would be inclined to suggest that we do this again in a few weeks (minus the white supremacists), were I not concerned for Princeton’s beleaguered downtown merchants who lost revenue, and the taxpayer expense of the dozens and dozens of fine policemen who protected us all from each other.

Tobias D. Robison
Longtime Jefferson Road Resident