May 20, 2020

To the Editor:
Recent letters critical of Council action on a future source of energy for all Princetonians do not provide the kind of information needed to make the right decisions. What appears to be missing is accurate data on where renewable energy will come from, how much it will cost, and how much will be available over a period of time.

We know gas and nuclear power plants supply 94 percent of the electricity used in our state. Measuring the amount of energy used per person over a long period of time, say five years, can provide a rate of consumption for calculating future energy needs. That figure can be used to estimate how much energy must be generated in the future.

How much of it will be renewable, where will it come from, and how long will it be available? The flow of energy over time and space can be shown and configured in such a way by physicists as to provide a profile of New Jersey’s energy future. Data obtained can be scientifically verified. Decisions to be made will be closer to the truth and less controversial – maybe.

Louis Slee
Spruce Street

May 13, 2020

To the Editor:

I am writing to let your readers know how beneficial two Princeton organizations have been to this resident who lives on the Great Road, which is not served by NJ Transit, and whose residents, before COVID-19 arrived, relied totally on the freeB bus to get into town or to the Princeton Shopping Center. The freeB bus has not been running for the past six weeks, so residents have had to piece together other means of accessing necessities which can be delivered to their homes.

Princeton has been extraordinarily active and generous in providing a number of organizations dedicated to helping other residents in need of food, pharmaceuticals, and more. One of these is Share My Meals, which is co-sponsored by Isabelle Lambotte, her team, and a board supporting their efforts. Share My Meals delivers over 200 fully-prepared meals daily to Princeton families who, owing to the pandemic, no longer have adequate financial resources to purchase basic necessities or, like myself, are without transportation to access the markets to purchase them. more

To the Editor:

Just one month ago, the Arts Council of Princeton was approached by town officials asking if the ACP would lead a community-mask making initiative. Eager to help, we added the Sew Many Masks endeavor to our roster of apART together projects within the week. What followed was truly extraordinary.

Upon launching, the Princeton community has rallied behind this effort with commendable compassion and plenty of hands-on help. More than 1,000 masks have been hand-sewn and distributed to those who need them. Upon reaching this milestone, it’s important to recognize and thank the countless folks who’ve helped make this possible.

First to thank are the fabric-cutters and mask-sewers. Many of them are anonymous, as these volunteers pick up fabric, and, in a day or two, return sewn masks! But they know who they are, and they should know that they have our appreciation. Two friends of the Arts Council, Carolina Firbas and Council member Leticia Fraga, deserve special recognition as they’ve contributed a combined 100 masks. Our hats are off to them. more

To the Editor:
I am writing in support of Dina Shaw for Princeton Council. Dina is a person who gets things done, whether it’s building and selling her tech business or her extensive track record in volunteering with many organizations in Princeton. I’m sure this will translate to her work on Princeton Council.

Dina is not afraid to speak up. Dina was the first person to bring concerns about overcrowding in our schools to the Board of Education. Mindful of the costs associated with educating students, Dina also persistently and effectively pushed the PPS administration and Board of Education to set up procedures to ensure that only those students living in Princeton were attending our schools. I was on the Board of Education at the time and was impressed with her persistence in showing up to Board meetings and speaking effectively. If she was able to successfully push the school administration and Board — unfortunately, no small feat — imagine what she can do for Princeton when part of the Council. With the upcoming implementation of the affordable housing plan, we can count on Dina Shaw to use her experience to effectively look out for us all in balancing the competing needs.

We need people in our local government who will speak up, ask questions, and get things done. Please join me in voting for Dina Shaw in the Democratic primary on July 7.

Bill Hare
Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

Like so many nonprofit organizations in the greater Princeton area, the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) was incredibly fortunate to be the beneficiary of Betty Wold Johnson’s philanthropy. We join the community in mourning her loss, sending condolences to her family, and recognizing her incomparable support over six decades.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Johnson met PBC’s first executive director, John Danielson, and became interested in supporting opportunities for young people from low-income communities to spend a week or two in the woods of northern New Jersey. She helped the Center launch its first capital campaign to winterize buildings so we could move from offering only summer activities to providing year-round programming. She also provided vital support for the Center to build high-quality living accommodations for our staff, which were named The Johnson Apartments in her honor.  more

To the Editor:

On behalf of myself and Princeton runners and walkers at all levels of expertise, I would like to sincerely thank Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, for making the University’s beautiful track available for our use during the COVID-19 lockdown, when so many of our daily activities have been eliminated. While closely adhering to the directive to practice social distancing and avoid group activities, having the opportunity to improve our physical and mental health is greatly appreciated.

Victoria Mews

May 6, 2020

To the Editor:

An expected side effect of the current global pandemic is its impact on our educational system. For many schools, and especially for schools with younger children, the overnight transformation to online learning has been our biggest challenge in a century. The impact of this drastic shift has brought to life the shortcomings and limitations of the traditional educational approach. Montessori schools are well prepared to meet this remote learning challenge.

The basis of Montessori is to follow the natural inclination of a child to learn and to allow their intrinsic motivation to bloom. Montessori students hone their independence, love of learning, and thinking skills from an early age. Our students and families are faring especially well right now because self-discipline is critical for successful remote learning.

Montessori students are used to long stretches of uninterrupted work cycles where they experiment, create, and apply their knowledge independently.  They’ve developed a deep sense of agency through the empowering environments their teachers have designed over the many months or years they’ve been in the school. more

To the Editor:

Given the headwinds we’re facing in Washington — and more to the point, given the Trump administration’s views on energy — we need all to take on the mantle for advocating for a more sustainable environmental future. Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan, finalized in January, is centered on a goal of reaching a 100% clean energy future by 2050. More pressingly, New Jersey will need to ramp up clean, renewable energy use to 50% of our electricity demand by 2030. That means every community will need to assist in a transition from dirty, polluting fossil fuels to a renewable future.

New Jersey communities like Princeton can lead the way forward for this transition to clean, renewable energy by moving towards a Renewable Energy Aggregation program. Other communities across the state have embraced this model, and Princeton would help bolster the demand for other towns to follow by moving forward with this program.  more

To the Editor:

The April 29th Mailbox of Town Topics included several letters reacting — both pro and con — to the Princeton Community Renewable Energy Program (PCRE). That, in and of itself, suggests that any decision should have been made with far more public input. This town is blessed with many brilliant people; shouldn’t we have heard from more of them before a contract was signed with ConstellationNewEnergy (CNe)?

The town may have been working on the PCRE for months/years, but it only appeared on the public’s radar in the last two weeks, and feels rushed. Commissions and boards are not a substitute for the general public. This decision process should have been given broader coverage and publicity in advance. The town phone system could have reached every resident and announced Zoom-type meetings in advance of the decision. My elected officials should have been leading several well-publicized community-wide open discussions about possible changes to our electric utility. Would it not have been better to hear from all sides and hash out any differences before a decision is made? more

To the Editor:

I want to publicly thank everyone at the Princeton Care Center on Bunn Drive. A year ago, my father was admitted to their rehabilitation program after being hospitalized with a bronchial illness complicated by Lewy Body Dementia. We met with the doctors at the hospital regarding hospice, because he couldn’t walk and had to relearn basic skills. The doctors, however, directed us to Princeton Care Center where my dad received great care. They treated my dad with respect and kindness — they listened to him. They  placed him with a roommate who was an excellent companion. They gave my dad a purpose, created realistic goals for him, and everyday he grew stronger.

They also taught our family how important and essential our visits were with my dad’s healing process. They taught us how to provide him with the support he needed to get better and he still is with us today. Because of their care, my dad was able to see his grandkids play sports, enjoy visits from his brothers and sister, spend time outside and take walks with the people he loves and celebrate holidays with his family. We celebrated his 79th birthday with a singing telegram and his eyes were glassy and his heart was full. He said it was one of the best presents he ever received.  more

April 29, 2020

To the Editor:

By the time that this pandemic is past, we will have many to thank for their efforts to get us all through in one piece. I live in Princeton and work at Penn Medicine Princeton Healthcare Center. We have seen the tremendous impact of COVID-19 at the hospital. Health care workers have been widely acknowledged and thanked as frontline workers, but I am writing today to thank the many, many other essential workers who have kept us all going. These include restaurant owners and staff who are providing drive up or delivered meals to all of us, gas stations, truckers, mail carriers, and delivery workers. The outpouring of community restaurant support for health care workers at the hospital is overwhelming.

After shelter, there is nothing we all need more than food. I want to especially single out grocery stores, their operators, and workers for thanks during this crisis. My own local store, McCaffrey’s, is a shining example, and it was after shopping early this morning that I decided to write.

McCaffrey’s has done a great job keeping the shelves stocked and customers moving through the store. They have given us all the confidence that we don’t have to buy in panic worrying that what is on the shelf today won’t be back again for some time. As we shelter in our homes, we need reassurance that the structures that keep our society in one piece still exist. Fortunately, they do, through the daily work of so many people.

Donald F. Denny Jr., MD
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

In an April 14 press release the municipality of Princeton announced the Princeton Community Renewable Energy (PCRE) Program, having signed a contract with Constellation NewEnergy (CNE) on behalf of Princeton residents to provide electricity that is slightly less (3.5%) expensive and with a 50% (compared to the current 24%) renewable energy content, with 100% renewable content available at a slightly higher price. Princeton residents who have PSE&G as their electricity supplier are automatically enrolled in this Program but may opt out at any time.

Unfortunately, what the PCRE Program actually offers is significantly dirtier electricity with a true renewable energy content of less than 4%.

By law all New Jersey energy suppliers must provide an Environmental Information Disclosure Statement which lists the fuels used to generate the electricity they supply. This enables consumers to compare suppliers and use a supplier that sells cleaner electricity. Suppliers such as CNE that make no effort to provide cleaner energy are allowed use the average power plant fuel usage over the entire grid. Suppliers such as PSE&G that do claim to provide cleaner energy must supply proof to the NJ Bureau of Public Utilities which in turn validates this assertion. These Disclosure Statements are available on the CNE and PSE&G websites. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Community Renewable Energy (PCRE) program sends a clear message that our community has a preference for renewable energy sources in our region. Princeton joins the ranks of cities like San Francisco to lead the transition away from fossil fuels to cleaner, renewable energy through this community energy aggregation program. Similar programs are also employed by Sierra Club Ready for 100 cities to achieve their renewable energy goals.

The PCRE program was identified as a priority by the Energy Working Group of the Princeton Climate Action Plan — a plan that drew on the expertise of over 50 community members and topic experts. The development of this program was overseen by a task force including members from the Princeton Council, Environmental Commission, and Sustainable Princeton and was informed by community members with years of experience in the electricity markets.

We want to address some of the concerns expressed about this program. Electricity markets are complex and no single tool will accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. The PCRE program benefits our environment by encouraging investment in more renewable energy supply. more

To the Editor:

Our town Council means well, but they’ve been sold a bill of goods that they’re presenting to us as the Princeton Community Renewable Energy Program. Contrary to the marketing hype, buying your power from Constellation NewEnergy will NOT reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to generate the power in the electric power grid, and it will not reduce pollution from local power plants. What it WILL do is reduce revenue to our local utility company, and instead send that revenue to Houston, Texas.

In New Jersey, electricity suppliers are now required to provide 21 percent of their power from renewable sources. New Jersey renewable power generators — from large commercial operations to small residential roof-top solar arrays such as the one on my home — receive one Renewable Energy Credit from the NJ BPU for every 1,000 kWh they generate. The way electricity suppliers satisfy the renewable sourcing requirement is by purchasing those credits, which allow them to (literally) take the credit for generating that power, even though they do not own the generators. Both PSE&G and Constellation NewEnergy actually produce only a tiny fraction of their power from renewable sources. The only way either company is able to claim to provide a significant amount of electricity from renewable sources is by purchasing the credit for that power from independently-owned renewable power generators.   more

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Environmental Commission Subcommittee who worked on the municipality’s renewable energy aggregation program, we would like to respond to Beverly Wilson’s and Al Cavallo’s letters suggesting that participation in Princeton’s Community Renewable Energy (PCRE) program will undermine PSE&G’s finances and contribute to worsened pollution.

As background, the PCRE program’s goal is to provide electricity supply with higher renewable energy content than PSE&G at a lower price and no change to the level of service. The program utilizes Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). A REC represents the environmental attributes, but not the electrons, of 1Mwh of renewable energy on the electric grid. RECs are a widely accepted mechanism that create a market for the positive attributes of clean energy, allowing these assets to be traded efficiently, something otherwise impossible in a region with a unified electrical grid. RECs are strictly regulated to ensure that they reflect the generation of clean energy and that they can only be used once. We use this kind of symbolic “currency” to represent value all the time in our daily lives – stock certificates, deeds, even a $20 bill. RECs are no different. If we reject all such tools of the trade, we will find ourselves in a barter economy. Sustainable Jersey, an organization whose purpose is to promote sustainability and sustainable practices by municipalities, has endorsed the purchase and retirement of RECs as the means of providing enhanced renewable content for energy aggregation programs, recognizing that, while imperfect, it is currently the most feasible mechanism available to municipalities to support the renewable energy market, which in turn supports investment in generation of new clean energy.  more

To the Editor:

I have been troubled by the ongoing resistance of the Westminster Foundation and some members of the community to Rider University’s plan to move the Westminster Choir College campus to Lawrenceville [Westminster Foundation Filing an Appeal to Dismissal of Lawsuits, April 22, page 1]. I am a longtime resident of the Princeton area with ties to and affection for both the institutions. The talented organist and choir director at my childhood church, Nassau Presbyterian, was a Choir College faculty member. I have enjoyed the Westminster Conservatory’s Opera Outings for many years. I have an MBA degree from Rider.

There are several aspects of the situation that do not make sense to me. First, there seems to be little recognition of or gratitude for Rider’s rescue of the Choir College in 1992. The Choir College was, as the New York Times put it in a March 7, 1993 article: “Staggering under a $2.5 million debt. Its borrowing power had been exhausted, its enrollment was declining, and its physical plant was in decay.” The merger with Rider provided the Choir College with “a new lease on life.”  more

To the Editor:

As I write this on Earth Day 2020, I find myself thinking back to Earth Day 1970. On that day, 50 years ago, after participating in the first Earth Day Rally, a number of us went down to Carnegie Lake. A badly deteriorated road ran along the north shore of the lake from Washington Road to Broadmead. With the support of the University, we dug up portions of the old road and planted trees to enhance the beauty and cleanliness of the lakeshore.

Those small events, and thousands more like them around the country, marked the beginning of an environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and many other milestones in the protection of our health and well-being, all of which the current administration is tragically dismantling.  more

To the Editor:

Video messages from our mayor and other officials on the website end with the message: “Remember, we’re all in this together.” The Garden Club of Princeton has taken this message to heart and has decided to use money from its Community Trust Account to help fellow Princetonians in new ways in a time of extraordinary need.

In the past, the account has been used to finance various plantings to beautify All Wars Memorial Park, to enhance children’s outdoor experiences at the YMCA, and to encourage pollinators at Greenway Meadows Park. This spring, however, the Club saw a need to use its money in a different way, one not closely tied to The GCP’s traditional mission, but clearly tied to its sense of community. more

April 22, 2020

To the Editor:

We in the Princeton community are blessed with many wonderful, caring organizations. Thank you for highlighting one example — the innovative partnership among the Princeton Public Schools, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPPrinceton), and other allies who are working together to try to ensure that none of our school children go hungry.

Academic research provides compelling evidence of the damage hunger causes by making it much more difficult for students to concentrate and learn. In normal times, a key mission for our public schools is to provide free or reduced-price meals to the 14 percent of our student body who faces food insecurity. SHUPPrinceton has played a critical role by supplementing the district’s efforts, providing many of these students with free meals over the weekends, when schools are not in session. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is taking a great step forward in reducing its impact on the planet through the new Princeton Community Renewable Energy program. This program is a win-win for us all as it will increase demand for supply from regional renewable sources such as wind turbines, hydropower, and solar arrays and will save us each a few dollars. One of the most exciting aspects of this particular program is its regional renewable supply lessening the use of fossil fuels by an expected 50 percent. This means that we are helping to improve regional air quality, create green jobs and other environmental benefits here in our region.

I was initially concerned about how the program would impact power delivery during power outages or when demand peaks on really hot summer days. After learning more, I understand that this program will not change our power delivery. PSE&G will continue to maintain our electric wires and deliver power to our homes. We will still receive only one bill from PSE&G and all of their programs such as bank autopay and “Worry Free” appliance services will continue. more

To the Editor:

I write this letter to show my total support for Mark Freda as the next mayor of Princeton. I support Mark because I know him to be one of the most dedicated and responsible people I have met; one who has demonstrated throughout most of his life his love and devotion to Princeton — as evidenced by the service he has given while a member of the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid Squad — all without any sign of grandiosity. Some of you may not know him, but there is a good chance that he knows you because of some helpful service he has given.

I know of which I speak when I say that Mark is the best person for this job because I had the opportunity to work very closely with Mark for 13 years when we both served on Princeton Borough Council. I saw up close his ability to work with others during our many “back and forth” discussions when important decisions had to be made based on what was in the best interest of Princeton Borough; I witnessed his ability to lead without force or offending others when I was fire commissioner and he was very active in the Fire Department; I know that he has the steady hand when reacting to situations before they become out of control; and I know him to be a man of few words who delivers lots of positive action. These are qualities that one can appreciate from their leaders.

Mark is committed to making Princeton the best it can be for all of us. I hope you will join me and support him as our next mayor of Princeton.

Mildred T. Trotman
Witherspoon Street

To the Editor,

I write to recognize and acknowledge the positive and constructive response from the Princeton Public Schools leadership to concerns I have publicly expressed regarding the previous distribution methods and components of meals provided to Princeton families in the free and reduced meal program.

Plans for future distributions that will take place every Tuesday, starting April 21, going forward, will be made in a collaborative fashion with other community agencies. By sharing resources, and monitoring feedback from the families, the method of distribution will be modified, and back up plans developed, to hopefully achieve the ultimate goal of reaching all Princeton residents in need of food assistance.

I am very grateful to all those involved for their tremendous efforts and to be a member of the caring Princeton community.

Maria Juega
Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

We just received the letter describing the Constellation Energy program that Sustainable Princeton and Princeton put together for its residents. I can’t tell you how proud I am that our town has made the effort to step up to not only reducing our overall carbon footprint, but also finding a way to have both clean energy and lower utility bills.

I know the utility discount is not great at this point, and renewable content is only 50 percent, but I am fully confident that both will grow as renewable energy cost continues to decline, and solar and wind generation becomes more available. This is a great start and I want to congratulate and thank the mayor and city Council for their vision and good care of its residents.

Tom Leyden
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Congratulations to our intrepid mayor. She had succeeded where years of telemarking scammers have failed: she has unilaterally changed my electric supplier from PSE&G to some outfit in Houston. Odd, but I’m sure she thinks she knows best.

James L. Gould
Herrontown Circle

To the Editor:

Community Options is a nationally based nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Robert Stack. The mission is to develop housing and employment for people with significant levels of disability. During this COVID-19 crisis Community Options has been mandated to close all its adult programs and programs for students with disabilities who attend community-based work activities.

During a time when our nonprofit struggles to provide needed care to persons with disabilities in group homes in central New Jersey, it is so refreshing to receive assistance from an unexpected philanthropist.

You can imagine our surprise to find the Haldeman Ford/Subaru GM, Greg Hritz, dropping off a check for $25,000. While their industry is struggling with the challenges of COVID-19, they remembered our direct care staff providing care to people with disabilities in group homes with such a generous contribution.

Robert Stack
President and CEO, Community Options Princeton