August 5, 2020

To the Editor:

Does anyone really like, or want, the use of leaf blowers?

Think about how they’re used. It isn’t just dead leaves and grass clippings that get blown into the air. It’s fungi, bacteria, animal and bird droppings, pesticide-laden dust, and anything else that has fallen or been applied to the lawn.

But if you watch landscapers work, they don’t just blow the debris off the lawn, they blow it into the street, where it lofts into the air rubber tire bits, diesel exhaust soot, and brake-pad wearings. (And virus-laden dust? What’s the proper “social distancing” measure for someone using a leaf blower?)

And then, of course, there’s the noise. Are you working at home, or learning at home? Can you concentrate on anything when a leaf blower fires up? Certainly not. So why is your productivity worth less than that of a landscaper? more

To the Editor:

One of the primary charms that encouraged us to re-settle in Princeton over 20 years ago is the proximity of so many interesting people from different backgrounds that help support a diversity of culture and commerce. We congratulate the Princeton Council, and the leadership of Council members Cohen, Lambros, and Sacks for realizing this goal via ordinances to make it easier for new middle-income housing units to be realized.

We were lucky that 25 years ago, there were a variety of housing options for people who a) could not afford $400K+ for an up-to-date, free-standing home, but b) wouldn’t qualify for subsidized housing. Princeton shouldn’t just be just for those who were lucky enough to buy in, or get on the right list a long time ago. We are a more diverse community when a range of housing for newcomers of all wealth levels is available. more

July 29, 2020

To the Editor:

Reopening the schools is an experiment, so let’s consider how we can all — comfortably — participate. This is just too big an experiment for the schools to handle alone.

How can we ensure that the public school system is, and remains, the core, the go-to source for our children’s learning, no matter where it is provided?

School must be safe.

In the ShopRite parking lot I spoke to a woman who was trying to get her (hysterically resistant) 8-year-old to wear a mask. When I asked the woman how she thought the schools would do with reopening, she shook her head in frustration and doubt. My doctor tells me that when West Windsor schools surveyed parents as to whether their children would return to school, 50 percent said no.

What is the best way for all our children to learn remotely, whether full- or part-time? more

To the Editor:

Good morning to Janet Heroux [“Wondering Why Leaf Blowing is Allowed When There Are No Leaves on the Ground,” Mailbox, July 22]. I too would rather not hear, or breathe the dust from leaf blowers: commercial and residential. Often the debris is just blown into the street or “away” from the current property. Mulching bags and rakes are less polluting and energy wise options.

Princeton is unique with our regular municipal brush and leaf pick up. It would be helpful to bikers and walkers, especially as more of us are getting our exercise close to home, if people would observe the dates for collection and not fill the streets with items to be picked up days and weeks before scheduled pick up dates (princetonnj.gov/resources/yardwaste).

Recycling, too has ways to be better at removing the unwanted! Complete instructions are easy to find mcianj.org.

We are fortunate to live where our government and environmental organizations are trying to deal with waste of all sorts responsibly. It is more successful when we all pitch in and do our part.

Kathryn Weidener
Moore Street

To the Editor:

On Saturday, July 25 my tenant arrived home to find her house filled with thick smoke. She immediately ran into my house to tell me that “something has happened.” I asked her what, and she indicated that she had left a pot on the stove, gone out, and had not turned the flame out under the pot.

I called 911, which was answered promptly and extremely courteously. The operator was highly professional and calm. She asked all of the relevant questions. She connected me to the police and the fire department. The police were here before I even got off of the phone. The officers went through their normal procedures and were calm, courteous, and highly professional.

Less than four minutes later the fire department arrived, assessed the situation and went straight to work to remedy the problem. The interior of the  house was engulfed in thick smoke. I thank God that nobody was in the home. After questioning me and the tenant, the police officers stayed around until the firefighters got things under control. They and the firefighter worked together like a well-oiled machine. They were very comforting in their tones and instructions for me and the tenant, who was highly upset.  more

To the Editor:

I live in Princeton a few blocks from Nassau Street and walk or bike around town just about every day. While I am very happy that we have a lot of outdoor dining options which will hopefully help keep these restaurants afloat, I am frustrated by the frequent sight of people between the ages of 18 and 25 who appear not to distance themselves and do not wear masks.

I know that I am sounding very old when I say this, but that is what I encounter all too often, by people who should know better. People in that age group feel invincible, but we are now starting see a lot of infected people under the age of 40. They are not invincible. An even if they were, the people they pass in the street are not, their parents are not, and their grandparents are not.

People between 18-25 in this area are usually progressive and forward thinking, which makes this behavior even more difficult to understand. So my message to them is to please distance themselves and please wear masks.

Stuart Lieberman
Western Way

July 22, 2020

To the Editor:

On Monday, July 13, the Princeton Council voted to adopt and introduce several ordinances that will enable the development of much needed affordable housing opportunities in Princeton. Princeton Community Housing applauds the Council’s actions and supports these ordinances, which have the potential to provide housing opportunities for the more than 1,700 very low-, low-, and moderate-income households on our own and other waiting lists in Princeton. 

As several residents and other attendees expressed in comments during the meeting, a stable home in a town like Princeton significantly improved the trajectory of their lives. Mayor Lempert acknowledged that where one lives profoundly impacts one’s future. 

One of the ordinances adopted will allow Princeton Community Housing to proceed with our plan to build 25 new affordable rental apartments at Princeton Community Village. We are excited to move forward with these new affordable family homes, and within the next few months will submit final plans developed in consultation with our residents and the municipality. more

To the Editor:

On July 13, the municipality of Princeton introduced draft Ordinance 2020-25. This proposed overlay ordinance, as written, allows for “up to” 160 apartments to be built on the Franklin/Maple site, which is between Witherspoon Street and Jefferson Road.

Pursuant to proposed Ordinance 2020-25, the municipality could add up to 80 market rate apartments to the 80 affordable apartments that are currently designated for the site. Therefore, proposed Ordinance 2020-25, if adopted, would allow for up to 160 apartments.

Though I am a supporter of more affordable housing being built in Princeton, I, as both a resident of Princeton and resident of an adjacent street, have concerns about the impact of the proposed change from 80 apartments on the Franklin/Maple site to “up to” 160 affordable and market-rate apartments. The site is only 3.2 acres and it was studied in 2018 and 2019 and it was determined that 80 units was the appropriate number of units for this site.  more

To the Editor:

I live on Terhune Road. There is a large and empty office park behind me. At 8 a.m. this morning, a lawn mowing crew began their mowing back there. Then the leaf blowing. Then more lawn mowing, then more leaf blowing. It is now 2 p.m. and they are still running their machines. We have been hearing the noise of those machines now for six hours on a beautiful Saturday morning. 

There is no one back there. Why do the lawns need mowing more than once per week, let alone leaf blowing when there are no leaves on the ground? more

To the Editor: 

We are Collin, Harper, and Ryan, fourth and fifth graders who live on John Street. As children, we definitely support the Slow Streets plan because cars come speeding down our street carelessly every single day and it is very dangerous. As we are writing this, we are witnessing many speeding cars come down the street. But, in addition to making our street a Slow Street, we would like the township to consider adding signs and speed bumps. 

We would like more visible signs on John Street that signify the current speed limit, which is 20 miles per hour, and that it is a one-way street. Currently, there are not many signs that indicate clearly the speed limit. The ones that are visible are very far down the street. Placing these signs on John Street will not take up a lot of space and will be cost efficient. Adding these signs would make the street safer for children and adults both in and out of Princeton.  more

To the Editor:

It is difficult to overstate the current affordable housing crisis within our nation, state, and local community. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates a supply of 36 affordable units for every 100 extremely low-income renting households in the country, an issue that disproportionately affects our non-white and particularly our Black neighbors. In New Jersey, that number falls to 29 out of 100. In Princeton alone, there is a waitlist of nearly 2,000 households in need of affordable housing as of November 2019. About one-third of all of our households are cost-burdened and nearly 17 percent of our renters are severely cost-burdened.

Research clearly shows that we face this massive shortage of affordable housing because of structural factors like stagnating wages and declining federal support for affordable housing, but also because of local decisions – namely, exclusionary zoning and needless foot-dragging with development. Some residents are frustrated with the settlement process, but it seems to be the only tool left to shake municipalities out of the complacency of decades of underdevelopment. Furthermore, it is meaningless to profess support for affordable housing, but then protest every detail of any feasible affordable housing plan. Whatever the intent, the result is more delay and less housing. Ultimately, concerns about obstructed views and neighborhood character pale in comparison to the fact that nearly 2,000 households in our community are in need of affordable housing and cannot currently secure it.  more

July 15, 2020

To the Editor:

The Princeton Festival has just wrapped up Virtually Yours, one month of performing arts events presented entirely online. On behalf of the Festival’s Board of Trustees, I would like to thank the Festival’s Executive and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk, his hard-working staff, and our dedicated volunteers for creating a spectacularly successful replacement for our regular June season of live performances. Thanks to them, and to the creativity of our passionate artists, we were able to fulfill our mission of bringing world-class performing arts to our community in spite of the challenges and limitations of a global pandemic.

Creating Virtually Yours threw us into the deep end of a pool of new technologies. But these tools enabled us to enlist artists, musicians, and poets in countries from around the world, including Japan, Hong Kong, the U.K., Spain, and Trinidad and Tobago in addition to the U.S. They also allowed our programming to reach far beyond our traditional audiences.

All told, Virtually Yours made nearly 50 events available online, free of charge, ranging from live events streamed out of artists’ homes to opera performances from our archives, plus recordings of past concerts broadcast by our partner WWFM, The Classical Network. There were also online lectures by distinguished local scholars, podcast interviews with esteemed artists, and a live panel discussion on the future of Princeton’s performing arts community with representatives of Princeton Pro Musica, Trenton Children’s Chorus, Westrick Music Academy, the Princeton Singers, Bohème Opera NJ, and WWFM.  more

To the Editor:

For over a decade, Princeton’s Human Services Department has sponsored an annual drive to ensure that all children start school each year equipped with a backpack and essential school supplies. Last year, the drive helped 200 children from low-income Princeton families get ready for school. We expect that the need will be even greater this year, given the challenges faced by many families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Year after year, about 1 in 8 Princeton public school children qualify for free or reduced cost meals, an indication of the financial insecurity that some families experience in our town. In the past several months, due to COVID, many families have experienced a further drop in income, because they have lost a job or had a reduction in work hours. Economic uncertainty has increased in our community during the past several months, frequently among essential workers, with a discernable impact on their children. We know this because the Human Services Department, along with community partners, has been involved in providing relief to community members suddenly unable to pay rent or utilities, or facing other financial emergencies. We know this because local meal programs and the grass roots organizations that have recently sprung up are working hard and successfully to ensure that children and families in our community have adequate nutrition.  more

To the Editor:

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project (MRNKP) free store at 190 Witherspoon St. – an ongoing project that has been caring for the Princeton community during COVID-19, particularly those in need.

During Monday, Wednesday, and Friday volunteer shifts I set up goods and distributed meals and daily necessities to our neighbors. These distributions have been made possible through donations from local businesses and community members. Clients, face-masked and physically distanced, wait patiently in the queue, and then express sincere thanks for these acts of kindness. more

To the Editor:

This week the board of the Bryn Mawr–Wellesley Book Sale made the difficult decision to suspend operations and will not accept book donations until further notice. 

The Sale was started 89 years ago to raise local college scholarships and has evolved into the oldest and largest sale on the East Coast, annually attracting hundreds of book dealers from as far away as Maine, Illinois, and Florida.

It operated through a World War, a Depression, and other major challenges, but met its match in COVID-19. If readers have books to donate and can keep them in a dry place until we are open again, we would cherish their contributions at a future date. 

Elizabeth Romanaux
Board Member, Sycamore Place

July 8, 2020

To the Editor:

We write to commend Princeton officials for their efforts to ensure social distance while still protecting and strengthening the community’s social fabric.

The Slow Streets pilot program, which the mayor and Council have approved for this summer, will improve safety and encourage outdoor recreation on our own block and several others throughout town.

Here on Patton Avenue, we frequently see cars and trucks that have bypassed the traffic light at Nassau and Harrison in order to speed through our block on their way to Route 1.

Slow Streets will limit Patton and other blocks to local traffic. The program, which only runs through September, does not change existing parking regulations and it does not restrict movement by emergency vehicles. Nor does a Slow Street become a public plaza. more

To the Editor:

The Alexander Road project is a great success. The two old bridges over the Canal and Stony Brook have been replaced by two wide bridges with a single rail allowing a long view of each waterway. This provides a great entrance to Princeton. The road has been widened, painted for safety, and also has flowering trees and a sense of open space.  

The project involved two municipalities; two design firms are listed on the website. Congratulations to all. Deanna Stockton, the Princeton engineer, followed the project for us. 

Claire and David Jacobus
Cleveland Lane

To the Editor,

The Slow Streets initiative is part of a larger effort to rebalance our roadways in response to changed patterns of use during the COVID pandemic and the associated shut-down. Fewer cars have been on the road because people have not been commuting to work, either due to layoff, furlough, or because they have been working from home. Unfortunately, statistics (and our local police) have seen increased reckless behavior by drivers and increased rates of crashes and injuries during this period. At the same time, many more Princetonians of all ages have been out walking and biking, for recreation, for exercise, and/or to get around town. 

Strict public health guidelines for social distancing create the need for even more space on the roadway for these users. Our narrow sidewalks do not permit pedestrians to pass each other safely without stepping into the road, and many of our peripheral streets do not even have sidewalks, so pedestrians must be in the road all of the time. New Jersey, Mercer County, and Princeton all have long-standing Complete Streets policies which state that all classes of roadway user are equally entitled to be accommodated in our public rights-of-way. Slow Streets are an attempt not to change behavior but to validate, and formally authorize, the new patterns of roadway use during the pandemic. more

July 1, 2020

To the Editor:

As I enter my final week as artistic director and resident playwright of McCarter Theatre Center I want to thank all of you who sustained our dream.

I came here in the summer of 1990 expecting to stay for 3-5 years, and I am still here 30 years later. Why? It’s very simple. I fell in love — with my staff and Board, with our audience, an audience Athol Fugard called “the best audience in America.” I fell in love with this beautiful garden of a town, graced by one of the finest universities in the world. Princeton became home — my artistic home and my personal and spiritual home.

The audience here believed in my vision of the classic repertoire seen as if new and new work seen as if it were already classic. They flocked to new work by Ntozake Shange, Nilo Cruz, Regina Taylor, Athol Fugard, Edward Albee, Danai Gurira, Chris Durang, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Ken Ludwig, and so many others. They supported my new work as well — from Betsey Brown and Having Our Say to this season’s Gloria: A Life. They reveled in the classics of Marivaux, Ibsen, Chekhov, and Shakespeare and cheered the finest actors, designers, and directors in this country and abroad. These artists created plays and productions that became some of the most frequently produced work in America.

We developed a nationally recognized Education and Engagement department to bring the healing magic of theater to all in our community, both those who could afford a ticket and those who could not — to those in shelters and challenged school districts, to those in senior facilities and half way houses. more

To the Editor:

I am publicly expressing my support for Dina Shaw for Princeton Council.

I have personally known Dina since first meeting her at Littlebrook, where she was very active in PTO leadership, and created after school clubs available to all kids, no matter their background or ability to pay fees. She took this leadership to JW where she strengthened the PTO and saved one of the biggest fundraising events in Princeton Public Schools, Super Saturday. While she was doing this for our school community, she was also a hardworking businesswoman, which comes out in her dedication, strength, and ability to get results. When she’s working on a project, Dina wants everyone involved; you ask her a question and she comes back with an answer. She doesn’t mind being in the fire and is eager to learn from everybody. more

To the Editor:

We love the festive atmosphere that has been created on Witherspoon Street. And we appreciate the continuing improvements — the concrete blocks, once stark, are now painted, and flowers have been added.

We have one suggestion, though — how about eliminating traffic after 6 p.m.? This shouldn’t affect merchants, and will improve the dining experience. In any event, keep up the very good work!

Meredith And Henry Von Kohorn
Library Place

To the Editor:

When deciding to vote for a candidate for any office, I make an assessment of their demonstrated values, the positions that they have actively taken over time, and their accomplishments. I tend to go on what is a known quantity based on a candidate’s engagement, knowledge, substance, consistency, and effectiveness. Leticia Fraga is just that candidate.

When asked to respond, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga offers suggestions and actively seeks solutions. She is sincerely interested in the entire community, but also has a unique sensitivity to those who meet the challenges of survival on a daily basis. 

It is both timely and significant that Leticia, as the first Latinx member of Council, is also Princeton’s police commissioner and liaison to the Civil Rights Commission. Her work with local events, in coordination with the Police Department, has facilitated meaningful and respectful community relationships. Because of her professional experience, she brings the same connectivity to her work with the Human Services Commission and the Board of Health.  more

To the Editor:

There are many Princeton residents whose families have, for generations, been the backbone and sustainers of their neighborhood and this town. These are the rooted families whose names may not be known, however, their services and struggles have engulfed every entity of Princeton.

One such family is the Broadway Family whose rich history and services, for four generations, have enriched, not only the Witherspoon-Jackson Community, but the town of Princeton as domestic employees, entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers, artists, athletes, and authors.

The history of a people is told through the written word, by oral interviews, and by taking a walking tour of noted places. What really brings the history of an individual, families, and a community alive and appreciated is to see their pictures displayed with pride and respect! Romus Broadway was the photographic historian for centuries of proud residents who lived in the Witherspoon-Jackson Community. When his many well displayed posters were viewed at various events, church services, schools, community programs, or showing a display for families who were celebrating a reunion, a conversation would start among persons who recognized themselves, their friends and family members.  Romus often spoke about the close and lasting friendships of those who lived in this neighborhood. “…we were Black, Italian and Irish and we all got along….” more

To the Editor:

I write in strong support of Leticia Fraga who is seeking a second term as member of the Princeton City Council. I can’t think of anyone better qualified, in terms of character and temperament, to advance a progressive agenda for our city.  Leticia has worked hard to expand human rights and inclusiveness in Princeton. She has shown courage and persistence when supporting some of our most vulnerable residents: older Americans, low-income people, and recently-arrived immigrants.  more

To the Editor:

David Cohen and Leticia Fraga deserve your support for re-election to Princeton Council. I have known them both for more than 12 years and admired their efforts on behalf of Princeton.

David brings his skills as an architect to his civic advocacy for Princeton.  He supports smart growth and has made it his special portfolio to work with many groups of contrasting points of view to seek consensus. It is challenging to plan for a town that we would like to be and not default to the town we were in the 1970s – but David brings his intelligence, passion, and hard work to the table every day in order to envision a safer, more equitable, more sustainable and beautiful Princeton. David has also shown his dedication to the cause of Princeton’s seniors and to advancing a more equitable relationship with Princeton University through his work on the local issues committee of the PCDO. more