April 22, 2020

To the Editor:

After careful review and scrutiny of our options, the Board of Trustees and Management of McCarter Theatre made the difficult decision to lay off a majority of our full time and seasonal staff as of May 15th. We will continue to provide health insurance for those impacted employees through June.

We also have been able to meet our obligations to the artists involved with the productions and performances that were canceled this season. With no clear timeline for restarting performances, and the general uncertainty about the length of social distancing, we believe it is best to focus on the long-term health of the organization.

The sacrifices we make as an institution and the financial steps we take at this time are vitally important to securing the organization’s future.  By safeguarding our financial position now, we also improve our capacity to open our doors and stages for employees, audiences, students and community partners as soon as it is safe to do so.  more

April 15, 2020

To the Editor:

Amidst difficult weeks, lights of hope appear in our town, the lights provided by many among us, rising to the occasion in small ways and in large ways. And all of these ways matter.

There are numerous needs identified and yet to be identified, but the search is on. Chief among these needs is sustenance, what we eat at the beginning of the day and what we eat at the end.

To this end, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) is proud to communicate and collaborate with the mayor and Council members, the superintendent of schools and board members, with Mercer Street Friends, Arm in Arm, Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS), and many, many other organizations and individuals.

The goal is to provide meals to those known and those not yet known in the community of Princeton we call our home.  more

To the Editor:

Of all the astonishing changes the invisible coronavirus has wrought, unwelcome or serendipitous, from financial loss to a treasured family reunion with children now grown to adulthood, the most extraordinary has been the silence. Walking down the sidewalk of a formerly busy street, I’m surprised by the sound of my own footsteps. People’s voices, no longer competing with a background din of traffic, have a new clarity. Herrontown Woods was so peaceful yesterday I could hear the buzzing of a honey bee colony 40 feet up in a tree. The sky has been given back to the stars.

This massive shutdown of machinery came after a month in which I was exposed to a progression of traumas inflicted by automobiles. In broad daylight, one started to turn left towards me as I rode my bike down Nassau Street. It came to a screeching halt only a foot away. Not long after, a colleague of my wife’s was run over at night by a SUV and dragged for 60 feet. A friend of mine bicycling home was struck hard by a car at dusk. Another bicyclist, forced towards the curb by traffic, was thrown head first onto the pavement when his bike struck a sunken storm drain just down from my house.

These experiences of vulnerability and unwitting harm brought a new level of tension both to riding a bike and driving a car. COVID-19 has shifted that tension from outside to inside, making streets far safer while injecting a weird sense of terror into shopping at the grocery. more

To the Editor:

Next Wednesday, April 22 marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and this year’s theme is climate action. Similar to the current COVID-19 crisis, climate change affects everyone and disproportionately affects our most vulnerable community members. Tackling this problem takes commitment on many fronts. Governments, schools, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals all have a role to play. No individual or group of individuals can solve climate change on their own.

It is an enormous challenge but one that Princeton can overcome, especially if we face it together. There are 17 Princeton Climate Action Plan actions underway with numerous groups contributing to their progress. Actions include the Princeton Community Renewable Energy program. The program is a result of the municipality, Environmental Commission, and Sustainable Princeton working together to launch a program that offers residents a lower cost of electricity while also increasing demand for renewable energy and pushing our region to invest in more renewable energy. It also helps improve regional air quality and spur the creation of green jobs. Other actions are happening from the ground-up like our Sustainable Together And Resilient (STAR) Neighborhoods program. To date, eight neighborhoods have made a commitment and taken action to reduce their carbon footprint. more

April 8, 2020

To the Editor:

Our family was grateful to Princeton Charter School (PCS) well before COVID-19 came to town. Our kids have thrived at the school academically, socially, and emotionally.  When my husband took a job four hours from home in April 2019 we decided he would commute back on weekends until fall of 2020 when our older son would join him to start high school and our younger son and I would follow in summer 2021 so they would both have the opportunity to finish eighth grade at PCS.

In the past couple weeks, our respect and gratitude for what this small team of dedicated, flexible, and innovative administrators and staff can accomplish has grown exponentially. It has not been flawless but nonetheless ahead of the curve.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Dina Shaw for Princeton Council. I have known Dina for many years as an integral part of the Princeton community and have always been impressed with her energy and intelligence as well as her wide and deep connection with the greater Princeton community. This is a woman who knows everyone, listens to wise advice, and gets things done.

Dina possesses boundless energy which she has applied over the years to the benefit of our schools (president of the Littlebrook PTO, president of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO), our community (officer of the Friends of the Princeton Public Library), and our local business environment (executive and/or founder of two successful local businesses). Princeton Council would be well-served to harness the energy, creative thinking, and passion Dina evidenced in those endeavors, applying those to her stated goals of managed economic development, inclusive communication, increased transparency, and greater collaboration with Princeton Public Schools.

I also believe that Dina’s wide-ranging network of connections would benefit her future Council efforts. As a newcomer to local politics, Dina’s wide network could infuse some fresh faces and new ideas to the scene, Princeton residents with expertise in finance, management, and civic development and who care deeply about our town’s future.

Audrey Chen
Linwood Circle

To the Editor:
I have not yet met you COVID-19, but I have, like most of humanity, felt your frightening presence. Life as we know it is on hold, people are dying and global commerce has been shuttered. We rarely leave our homes!

I have come to learn that you have always been out there, but we never knew your name. We have been living side by side with your many cousins and some of you have disrupted our lives in challenging but manageable ways. Unlike your brethren, however, you have sadly raised the bar, ruthlessly targeting our most vulnerable population while randomly stealing from every generation to maintain maximum terror.

So here you are, sneaking in surreptitiously, from a part of the world I know little about, hosting in obscure mammals while plotting more sophisticated prey. Your success, I surmise, has far outstripped even your own wildest aspirations while each day you accelerate your deadly advance. Suffering is now worldwide on an unimaginable scale and you apparently are not done yet.

You are, however going to be a “one trick pony” and your time disrupting and killing indiscriminately will soon come to an end. You have grossly miscalculated by invading our lives because, unlike you, we have a loving spirit and collective soul that brings out a ferocity for protecting one another in times of crisis.  more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Festival regrets to announce the cancellation of its 2020 season. This includes 22 performances of nine events in June, plus 15 free lectures, workshops, and special events scheduled to start in May.

Naturally, it is frustrating not to be able to present the wonderful season of performing arts that our Executive and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk, his staff, and our enthusiastic volunteers have worked so hard to put in place. We also know that our valued audiences and supporters in the community will be disappointed to see these events canceled.

Yet we must take this step in the face of the coronavirus pandemic — it is our duty as a responsible member of our community. Our first concern is the welfare and safety of all of our valued artists, staff, volunteers, and patrons, and we are acting in conformance with directives and guidelines put in place by government and health officials at the federal and state levels.

Those who hold tickets to 2020 performances will be able to redeem, transfer, or donate the value of their purchases. We will honor 2020 gift cards for the 2021 season. more

To the Editor:

The Jewish holiday of Passover is to have the first Seder this Wednesday night. Passover is a holiday of family bonding, ritual, songs, special food, and friendship and love.

This year my wife and I will have a “virtual” Seder using Zoom with our son and his family who live in Westchester, New York. It will be different. The Seder reading is from The Haggadah, which has an order of ritual and prayer.

This year, our family will add a prayer, just before the children who participate in the Seder ask the Four Questions, the “Mah Nishtanah.” We will raise our wine glasses and include a prayer to praise, applaud, and acknowledge all the heroic doctors, nurses, and hospital auxiliaries on duty in hospitals across America who are treating, rendering therapy, support, and healing to thousands of patients afflicted with the coronavirus. These health care providers are putting themselves and their bodies in danger, like the brave heroic Americans who fought and won the battle of Midway, the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and other battles that kept our country safe and guaranteed our freedoms and our democracy.  more

To the Editor:

This past Friday, a small yet remarkable piece of the Princeton Ridge was secured for permanent conservation. A consortium led by The Watershed Institute, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), and Ridgeview Conservancy purchased an environmentally sensitive property at 394 Ridgeview Road to protect it from development. The 3-acre lot, which had previously been approved for construction, supports the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a tributary to Mountain Lake in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve.

The headwaters lot lies at the heart of a 20-acre wetland structure, which provides critical habitat and serves as an important corridor for a range of wildlife species. It also plays a key role in stormwater runoff and a much-needed link between preserved lands in the Ridgeview Woods, Mountain Lake, and Woodfield Preserve.

Conserving the headwaters of Mountain Brook was a real team effort, involving a consortium of environmental groups and land trusts, government agencies at multiple levels, members of the Princeton community, and the developer who previously owned the property. On behalf of Ridgeview Conservancy, we want to thank our partners, Jim Waltman and Michael Pisauro at The Watershed Institute and Wendy Mager at FOPOS, for collaborating on this initiative over the past 18 months and for guiding the process to a successful outcome. more

To the Editor:

We at Friends of Princeton Open Space are sorry we have had to cancel our events through the summer, but we are happy that so many of you have chosen to come to the Mountain Lakes open space area for exercise and mental solace during this difficult time. At the same time, we want to remind everyone of the importance of observing rules that keep us safe.

When you come to the park, please be careful to maintain social distancing at all times, and to keep your dogs leashed. A six-foot minimum from other people is mandated by Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107. Please announce yourself if you are overtaking other walkers from behind so they can move out of your way. Allowing dogs off-leash is not only contrary to Princeton ordinance and the conservation easement we hold, but can set up situations where it is impossible to maintain the appropriate separation. The same rules apply to other parks we help maintain such as Woodfield Reservation, or the Stony Brook Trail.  more

April 1, 2020

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Dina Shaw’s candidacy for Princeton Council. I have had the privilege of knowing Dina both as a PTO colleague and as a friend since 2003 when she moved to the neighborhood. Over the years, I have watched Dina dive into any project she takes on with a positive attitude and with boundless energy.

As president of the Littlebrook PTO, she recognized there was a need for after school programs and launched a new platform of activities that resulted in robust offerings for all children. Next, Dina was president of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO. As co-treasurer of the PTO during Dina’s tenure, I personally felt a true sense of purpose and accomplishment as we raised funds to guarantee that all children at JW could attend the Washington, D.C., field trip, regardless of financial need. more

To the Editor:

We are writing on behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA to share our story and to assure you that we are doing all that we can to endure through this crisis.

At the YMCA, four core values — honesty, caring, respect and responsibility — are embedded in all that we do, but today they are being tested like never before. We can tell you with confidence that they are deeply ingrained in our Y’s culture and community and they will be the foundation by which we navigate this unimaginable challenge and successfully come out on the other side.  more

To the Editor:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new and unprecedented challenges for our entire country and our own Princeton community. Schools are closed through April 30 but likely longer, and possibly for the rest of the school year. For the 500 Princeton children on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program this has had a significant impact. For many of them, the food they receive at school is the only food they can rely on. The school district is helping fill the “weekday” food gap, but the Free and Reduced Program doesn’t provide weekend meals for the children of Princeton. Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPPrinceton) does!

In keeping with our mission, we have agreed to provide weekend meals for ALL of these 500 Princeton school children through the end of the school year if needed. We typically provide weekend meals for approximately 150 children in the four elementary schools, the Princeton Nursery School, and Princeton Charter School. We also support Princeton High School and John Witherspoon Middle School with snacks, and lunches to the Princeton Recreation Department camps during the summer. more

To the Editor:

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month: a time to call attention to the problem of child abuse and neglect in our community. The children who have been subjected to abuse by their caregivers are often further traumatized by removal from their home and parents.

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for these children while they are in the foster care system. CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are appointed by judges to insure that the best interests of foster children are addressed until they find a safe and permanent home.  more

To the Editor:

We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support McCarter received since announcing the cancelation of the balance of our season. This was a difficult decision to make, however we recognized early on that in order to do our part to flatten the curve we needed to darken our stages and keep our audience members safe.

The motto “The show must go on!” is core to our mission and our character. It is very challenging to break out of that mindset, but sometimes the show cannot go on. Theatres and performing arts organizations around the world were forced to close in response to the current situation and McCarter was no exception.

What is truly exceptional is the response from our audience. Our patrons have rallied around McCarter with kind words, ticket donations, and other support. We want to let you know just how much everyone at McCarter appreciates this outpouring of support. When we asked our patrons to consider donating their tickets to support our general operations, the response was overwhelming. more

March 25, 2020

To the Editor:

This has been another challenging and heartbreaking week. Your daily life has undoubtedly been upended by coronavirus, and you are likely making painful economic and personal sacrifices in the interest of public health. We know from the experience in other countries that staying at home and practicing social distancing will work. They are our best existing tools to slow the spread of this disease. “Flattening the curve” is necessary to give our first responders and medical care system the time they need to gear up to deal with the incoming volume of sick people, and to give our scientists the time, hopefully, to invent an effective treatment.

The next few weeks are going to put our patience to the test. Everyone should prepare themselves for what the experts tell us is going to happen: even though we are at home, washing our hands, keeping our distance, watching our favorite businesses close, losing our jobs, not going to school or work, and not visiting with friends, the number of cases in Princeton is going to go up. The number of cases is likely to go up exponentially during this time. This is for a number of reasons: 1) more testing kits and testing facilities are coming online. More tests will produce more confirmed cases; 2) coronavirus is extremely contagious and has been spreading in our community. Recent research (www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces) from a team of scientists including those at Princeton University has shown that the virus can live in the air and on surfaces for hours; and 3) the virus can lay dormant for up to two weeks before making you sick. We should not expect to see any evidence of our collective sacrifice until after more than two weeks of staying at home and practicing social distancing. We must have faith that our efforts are working even when we will not immediately be seeing results. more

To the Editor:

As we honored Albert Einstein on his birthday recently, let us remember his commitment and work as an activist for the rights of African Americans. He was also a friendly presence in our historically African American Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood at a time when Princeton still segregated its schools, restaurants, and other places of business. In 1937 when Marian Anderson, the world-renowned opera star, performed at McCarter Theatre, she was refused a room at the Nassau Inn. Einstein invited her to stay with his family and they remained close friends.

As early as 1931 Einstein was an advocate for racial justice, backing a campaign to defend the Scottsboro Boys, Alabama African American teenagers falsely accused of rape.

In 1946 Einstein and Princeton native Paul Robeson, international performer and human rights activist, worked together on a federal anti-lynching campaign. Einstein continued to invite Robeson to Princeton, publicly supporting him through Robeson’s difficult blacklisted years. more

To the Editor:

In an earlier crisis, FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How disappointing and sad it is to walk through a supermarket and realize the extent of hoarding, when we should be concerned instead about the welfare of our entire community and not ourselves.

Peter Madison
Snowden Lane

To the Editor:
In a time that is unlike any other in my 68 years of age (and 17 of those years living in Princeton), conversations with friends and neighbors turn again and again to the subject of leadership. I’m grateful for the leadership of our current elected officials, and I support strongly the bid of Mark Freda to succeed Liz Lempert as mayor of Princeton.

My family and I have known Mark for close to a decade, but in a nonpolitical context. Our acquaintance came about because of our joint involvement in aiding a family in crisis. His willingness to give of his time and expertise impressed me, but his integrity and judgment made me especially glad to have the opportunity to work with him in some small way.  more

To the Editor:

We write in strong support of the candidacy of Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council. As a member of Council Leticia has worked tirelessly to address issues of social inequity that exist in our society, including in our town. She has worked on behalf of providing a quality public education for the children of Princeton and for housing that is affordable for all economic levels of our society, including seniors who want to age in place.

Leticia’s voice has been an important one on issues of civil rights and the status of Princeton as a welcoming community. Her experience leads her to recognize the need for a vibrant downtown, and she leads the municipality’s Economic Development Committee.

We ask you to join us in supporting the leadership and unique voice of Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council.

Ruth And Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

To the Editor:
Now that governments have imposed total shutdowns to slow the COVID-19 virus infection rate, let us pray that we will have bought enough time for our health care system. But the economic consequence to the country may well be apocalyptic.

The Federal government is racing to fund a rescue package up to $4 trillion. That amount may equal 30 percent of the GDP!  But even at that amount the Feds can’t do it all. What can we do for ourselves at the local level?  more

To the Editor:

At the last two monthly meetings of the Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee, I brought up the need for some missing street signs and a guide rail to be installed. Those signs mentioned were: a four-way intersection sign on Jefferson Road going downhill before the Terhune Road intersection; a stop ahead sign on Herrontown Road going towards River Road; a three-way intersection sign on Mt. Lucas Road going north before Poor Farm Road; replace the three-way intersection sign that mysteriously disappeared on Mt. Lucas Road going south before Poor Farm Road; a guide rail on Mt. Lucas Road going north between Campbell Woods and Poor Farm to prevent drivers and cyclists from landing in the ditch; and perhaps a controversial sign — a no left turn sign from Ewing Street onto State Road during rush hours.

Town Engineer Deanna Stockton was able to help my, make that everyone’s, cause by addressing these concerns with the Department of Public Works (DPW). The first three signs mentioned were installed in less than two weeks! I feel overjoyed by the promptness of the DPW to my request.  more

To the Editor:

In addition to all the other worries on my mind right now about COVID-19, I’m worried about the local businesses and nonprofits in town that have had to temporarily shut down due to the outbreak. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are easy ways to help support them, even while practicing social distancing. Many restaurants are offering curbside pickup, more local retailers than you might think have online ordering, and local nonprofits make it easy to donate or get a membership online.

My wife and I decided to commit to make at least three purchases from a local business or nonprofit every week until COVID-19 is under control and stores can reopen again. If we all do the same, we can help keep Princeton’s small businesses and nonprofits going through this crisis. more

March 18, 2020

To the Editor:

We got the hand-washing message down: do it and do it for 20 seconds!

We got the social proximity rules knocked: avoid!

But what about the obvious flip side: if avoiding large groups is potentially lifesaving, what are we doing indoors?
Faced with such momentous shifts in social norms as school closings nationwide, isn’t it worth asking: If social proximity is our foe, isn’t the outdoors our friend?

Shouldn’t we get a gardening program and get those kids outdoors? But wait, Princeton has that! more