May 1, 2019

To the Editor:

The Arts Council of Princeton staff and its board of trustees thank everyone who helped make the 49th Communiversity ArtsFest such a great success. As a nonprofit that relies on community support, we are so grateful for the collaboration that enabled us to produce another incredibly inspiring event.

The students of Princeton University, Mayor Liz Lempert, and our municipality’s incredible police, fire, and facilities departments worked tirelessly to ensure that the day ran smoothly.  We couldn’t do it without their continued support.

We extend a huge thanks to event coordinator Ann Marciano, who did a superb job handling all the moving parts and addressed issues both big and small with a smile and unending grace. We also thank Arts Council staff and volunteers, whose time and energy helped to pull off Central Jersey’s largest and longest-running cultural event. more

To the Editor:

Small-business owners are the backbone of Mercer County’s economy. In fact, Mercer County is home to more than 15,000 small-business firms, according to the County Office of Economic Development. Last summer, the Board of Chosen Freeholders passed Ordinance No. 2018-5 establishing a Set-Aside Program for qualified Mercer County minority-, women-, veteran-owned businesses or small businesses.  The ordinance makes it easier for qualified businesses to contract with the County. In recognition of National Small Business Week, May 5-11, 2019, I want to ensure that businesses that may be eligible to participate take full advantage of Mercer County’s Set-Aside Program.

The Set-Aside Program reserves 10 percent of the dollar value of all the County’s goods, which total more than $70 million in professional services and construction contracts each year. The program allocates 30 percent for qualified minority-owned businesses; 30 percent for qualified women-owned businesses; 30 percent for qualifed veteran-owned businesses; and 10 percent for small businesses, with an estimated $7 million worth of contracts made available to eligible businesses as part of the program. more

April 24, 2019

To the Editor:

I have a good deal of sympathy for our merchants’ concerns re: parking and agree with much of what they propose. However, to suggest that giving over some sections of our roads to bike lanes, “would not change the nature of the bike ride into town” has no merit at all and could only be asserted by those with very little experience on a bicycle. As an avid bicyclist, I talk biking a lot and have found that people who once happily biked around town no longer do so. The reason? “It’s not safe on our streets.”

I can surely assert that in the brief period last year when bike lanes were temporarily opened on Hamilton, it made the world of difference to one’s ride. One felt, and indeed was, safe. Indeed, in the past year, I have experienced many close shaves with drivers barging their way into my tiny space on the road. And it is getting worse. Bicyclists seem to be regarded as a nuisance rather than fellow drivers.

For everybody’s sake, bike riding and walking should be encouraged. It is cheap and healthy, has no carbon footprint and can be counted as one less 3000lb vehicle on our already busy streets. If you live within a ten minute drive of town, as I do, you can be at your mid-town destination in less time on a bike. And you can arrive right at your destination without wasting fuel driving about looking for parking

We need bike lanes and we need a commitment to opening more. We need more people feeling confident that they can ride their bikes safely into town.

Robert Hebditch
Hickory Court

To the Editor:

We are in the midst of an environmental and wildlife crisis. Earth’s conditions are rapidly changing and extinctions are occurring at expedited rates, with many animals being overtaken by human activity. Since we have caused much of this decimation, it is our responsibility to fix it. Although it seems overwhelming, there are steps we as a community can take to help ensure a future for our local wildlife. So what can you do?

On an individual scale, you can help through responsible pet ownership. Domestic cats kill billions of wild birds, mammals, and reptiles every year, driving many to extinction. If you have pet cats, please keep them inside. Watch your dogs when they’re outside to prevent them from catching wildlife. When getting a new pet, consider if you will be able to care for them at their adult size and for their entire life. If not, choose a different pet. If you can no longer care for your pet, don’t release it. Releasing pets can cause environmental catastrophe, as they can establish invasive wild populations that take over and harm local ecosystems. An example of this destruction is in Florida, where Burmese pythons are taking over the Everglades. Instead, find a place that will take your pet, such as a shelter. more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Council and Engineering Department, while they are concerned about safety on Nassau Street, seem totally oblivious to safety, traffic congestion, and pure ugliness for the Mt. Lucas Road, Terhune, Laurel and Valley Roads neighborhood, in their poorly chosen site for the town refueling station — in a residential, already traffic-challenged, safety-concerned area. They ignored the town’s own Site Plan Review Advisory Board’s (SPRAB) recommendation to place it elsewhere.

The town’s objections to other sites were lame. I went with a neighbor to look at both the Witherspoon Fire Station and Valley Road School site and the John Street Public Works parking lot. Both have the space to install the re-fueling facility, allowing trucks and buses to drive in and exit head-first. SPRAB saw the potential for those sites, and possibly one at the Harrison Street Fire Station. more

To the Editor:

It is clear: Princeton is at a crossroad. Together we either succeed or fail in preserving what makes Princeton one of the most desirable municipalities in the United States.

I have known Mia Sacks since she was a young girl growing up in Princeton. I have watched her mature into an amazing woman — intelligent, committed to making life better for others, collaborative — always working hard behind the scene helping others achieve great things.  She understands the importance of the Master Plan and its long-reaching effects on the future of Princeton. Her hands-on approach in working toward consensus building using her incredible skills to organize and synthesize a complexity of issues proves she is more than competent to take a place at the dais.

I enthusiastically support her candidacy and strongly believe it is time for Mia to come to the forefront and be recognized as the leader she is, working for the betterment of Princeton as a member of council at this critical time in our history. Her actions speak far better than any words in proving her integrity, commitment, and sense of community. Please join me in voting for Mia Sacks on June 4th.

Kate Warren
Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

Today’s Town Topics headline is “Council Considers Some Parking Revisions” (pg. one, April 17).

Great.

Here’s one for consideration — Take out the whole new system and go back to what we had.

We moved back to Princeton 30 or so years ago. We love it. We love all the stores and all the merchants in them.
I personally have been one of the biggest advocates of shopping locally and helping out our hard working friends here. But now I can’t go into town because the parking system is just dysfunctional. Thank God for the Spring Street and Hulfish garages. more

To the Editor:

As former Board of Education members, we can attest that experience matters when it comes to serving this community as an elected official and making hard decisions. Of the Democratic candidates running for Council, only incumbent Councilman Tim Quinn has a track record of successful, responsive leadership in a publicly accountable fiduciary role. Having served with Tim, we know him as a principled, diligent, consensus-driven leader. Given the competing priorities and collective aspirations of our community and the challenges we face, our town needs Tim Quinn on Council.

Tim takes a thoughtful, deliberately collaborative approach to decision-making. He actively seeks stakeholders with varied perspectives, and embraces, rather than avoids, difficult, honest discussions. Tim’s approach is rooted in his deep commitment to transparency, and his understanding that representative leadership begins and ends with intentional listening to those perspectives. As president of the school board during the search for a new superintendent, Tim was adamant that the community be involved to the greatest extent possible. He listened to over a dozen small stakeholder group discussions over several weeks, to ensure that the board’s search criteria and objectives were informed by and responsive to broad community input. more

To the Editor:

One of the reasons I have found living in Princeton to be different from living elsewhere is the variety and depth of contacts I have found possible here. Conversation is lively and intelligent, and people seek earnestly for answers to real problems, both personal and national.

But I think the most remarkable person I have met is Michelle Pirone Lambros. As a member of her campaign’s kitchen cabinet, I’ve seen how she receives the suggestions of a lively group of committed volunteers, all typical of the personalities I’ve encountered in 10 years here. She says little. She listens, she rejects ideas that might offend and explores ideas that make good sense. She takes notes, asks questions. She assigns to herself the task of getting answers, and to reaching out for help from further knowledgeable contacts. When offered help, she has specific assignments and responds freely. “Can you find this out?” “Can you research that?” more

April 17, 2019

To the Editor:

We have had the honor of working with Tim Quinn. First as School Board members and later as members of the municipality’s Civil Right Commission, we’ve witnessed the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that is a foundational aspect of his long record of public service to Princeton. This is why we think it’s crucial that Tim be re-elected to Princeton Council

As president of the Board of Education and the chair of the Board’s Student Achievement Committee, Tim led the effort to ensure that all programs and initiatives presented to the Board were inclusive, equitable, and representative of diverse student communities. more

To the Editor:

It is with great honor that I write to support Mia Sacks in her campaign for Princeton Council. For many years Mia has been passionately involved in what she calls “building community.” She has an exceptional ability to envision and keep the big picture in mind while patiently focusing on the myriad and mundane daily tasks that bring results. Working to bring about change in public institutions is a labor-intensive task that requires infinite patience and fortitude. Mia has demonstrated these qualities to an almost superhuman extent in her work on behalf of our community in many areas.

One particularly salient example is the way in which Mia introduced and built the Sustainable Jersey for Schools (SJ for Schools) program within Princeton Public Schools. The program is the schools’ arm of the municipal certification program overseen by Sustainable Princeton. It provides tools, training, and financial incentives to support and reward schools for sustainability and wellness actions. In 2014, as co-chairs of the Princeton Green Schools Coalition, Mia and I were asked to participate in one of the statewide task forces that met for over a year to establish the SJ for Schools program. Subsequently, Mia wrote start up grants and spent countless hours meeting with students, parents, teachers, administrators, facilities personnel, board members, and the superintendent, in order to successfully launch and nurture the program within PPS. Three years later, all six schools now have individual Green Teams and Wellness Committees that meet regularly to coordinate action with a District Sustainability Team. All the schools have achieved Bronze certification, with some aiming for Silver in 2019. more

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage Democratic voters to vote for Michelle Pirone Lambros in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

I have been impressed with Michelle’s positive energy and the fresh ideas that she will bring to the Princeton Council. Michelle is focused on helping small businesses and creating more foot traffic in our community. I am concerned about the empty storefronts in the Princeton Shopping Center, downtown, and the Witherspoon-Jackson area. I am concerned for the small business owners who are in Princeton, and wonder how much business they are getting. These empty store fronts did not just happen overnight, and I have not read or seen any major plans from the Council on how they plan to help.   more

To the Editor:

In 1776 women and blacks could vote in New Jersey if they were worth 50 pounds. It was only our second constitution of 1844 that restricted suffrage to white males. In the same clause it denied voting rights to persons convicted of a crime.

These facts come from a white paper of the NJ Institute for Social Justice, which seeks to extricate voting from criminal justice.

It dismays me that New Jersey leads the nation in racial disparity of incarceration rates and the result that 5.28 percent of the black voting age population is denied the vote, more than twice the percentage of New York and Pennsylvania. Do we want our communities to be shaped by elected officials unaccountable to those in their districts on parole or probation? Extending the right to vote can facilitate re-entry. I invite readers to learn more about this issue and to support reforms.

Terry Lyons
Deer Path

To the Editor:

Protected open space is a priceless resource to nourish and restore the human spirit.

Not long ago I lived in a subdivision that could be described as a builder’s bombing run — miles of cookie cutter houses on postage-stamp lots. I was a misplaced Thoreau who yearned for “pasture enough for my imagination.”

Little did I realize when my address changed to the Great Road in Princeton, I would be the beneficiary of D&R Greenway’s stellar efforts to serve the public interest by preserving Coventry Farm, the 160-acre jewel of Princeton. more

April 10, 2019

To the Editor:

The Council needs a new voice!! I support Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council because she sees Princeton’s potential for 21st century greatness. She has real plans for strategic partnerships between the municipality, the University, and the local economy. Princeton should be a crucible for innovation, and our town must work hand-in-hand with the other sectors to make change happen. She’s the only candidate who understands the importance of a strong local economy to offset property tax increases.

The recent parking meter fiasco hurt local businesses, actually decreasing revenue more than 10 percent on average during the critical retail Christmas season. It also created the opposite of the intended result — to help the local economy; now residents are resistant to patronize businesses they were otherwise supporting. The fact that the Council spent $150,000 on two parking consultants, and this mess was the resulting plan, should concern taxpayers. more

To the Editor:

Our PMA survey results (posted on our website) and public feedback shows the new parking plan has not been well received by residents, customers, visitors, or employees, and has had a chillingly negative impact on the businesses in town through the holiday season and the first several months of 2019. Our town Council and professionals, on the advice of consultants, believe that there is not a shortage of parking spaces and may be pleased to hear that parking is freeing up, but the fact is, fewer people are coming to our downtown to shop. Our shopkeepers are struggling to keep their businesses open and commercial properties, which account for 20-plus percent of our town’s tax base, are experiencing the highest vacancy rates in decades.

In collectively reviewing the current parking plan, we want to propose a set of improvements that would honor the intent of the new plan, as articulated by Mayor Lempert, to serve first and foremost as a tool for economic development of Princeton’s vital downtown. more

To the Editor:

I was quite disappointed when the organics recycling program was suspended due to a variety of errors, most of which it seems could be corrected. Going further, it may be that changing the way we charge for trash collection might make it much easier to expand the program and solve the problem.  

In thinking about this issue, we should acknowledge that our current methods for disposing of trash/garbage are unsustainable. We not only generate far too much waste, we pretend to make it disappear by dumping everything in a large pile (landfill) for future generations to deal with.  The easiest first step for a better system would be to separate organic recyclable materials from the trash. Organics make up about 40 percent of the waste stream and can be processed into compost for use on farms and gardens.    more

To the Editor:

It’s very disappointing to hear that the NJDOT has not approved the all pedestrian phase system for traffic lights on Nassau Street. A casual walk along the street quickly shows how much this would contribute to pedestrian and auto safety, in contrast to the puzzling conclusion the State cited that this would “decrease the level of service for cars.”  Actually it’s quite the opposite if you’ve seen this system in action, as I do frequently in New Haven.

But I commend the Council for pursuing this and urge all members to press for an immediate and serious reconsideration of this decision in the interest of pedestrian safely and an increased “level of service for cars.”  Perhaps Princeton can then  serve as a model for other communities in New Jersey through this program.

David H. Miller, Ph.D.
Hawthorne Avenue

April 3, 2019

To the Editor:

Michelle Pirone Lambros brings a new perspective to Princeton Council. One of her many strengths is her focus on Princeton’s economic development. She has been a business owner/operator herself, and has just finished up on a promotional program for Restaurant Week (March 10-17). She also has been representing the Merchants Association on Princeton’s Economic Development Committee. She is very aware of the challenges our merchants face as they carve out niches where a physical presence in Princeton makes sense. She has innovative ideas for growing downtown retail sales, while enhancing the valuation of commercial property as a percentage of Princeton’s tax base. She is interested in working with Princeton University to understand better how its development plans will benefit Princeton’s downtown and tax base, and where joint development opportunities might exist. She is also well aware of the challenges of our new parking system and has been exploring possible ways to make it serve the community better.

She also understands land use and issues of neighborhood character, and is on the Zoning Board. She sees new opportunities to craft zoning variance agreements that better enhance both the project and the surrounding neighborhood. She also favors defining form-based neighborhood zoning that supports the individual character and specific features of each of the 12 or so neighborhood zones. In addition, she is very aware of the pervasive concerns about teardowns and feels that we need to develop incentives that encourage renovation over teardowns, with the additional requirement that neighbors must be notified prior to proceeding with a teardown. more

To the Editor:

As members of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, our hearts are heavy with the news of the terrorist attacks on the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We come from various backgrounds and faiths, and some of us do not follow a religious tradition. Today and every day we stand with you against this craven act of violence and cruelty, united in our belief that human rights and freedom of religion is fundamental. Dr. King reminded us that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

Following in the tradition of the Civil Rights struggle in the United States, we will never abide white supremacy, Islamophobia, or any other form of white nationalism.

All human beings deserve freedom, respect, dignity, and safety as their birthright. Protecting that birthright is both our highest calling and our gravest responsibility. Standing shoulder to shoulder, our love will conquer hatred and racism.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission,
Thomas Parker (chair)
Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

I attended Planning Board meetings on March 21 and the Council Meeting on March 25. The experience brought me back to high school English and a variation on the words of George Orwell, in Animal Farm  — “All Princeton neighborhoods are equal — it’s just that some Princeton neighborhoods are more equal than others.”

The discussions centered around changes to two land use ordinances. In one, Ordinance #2019-2 — Eliminating Proportional Increase in Floor Area Ratio on Undersized Lots, the density would be consistent with adjacent parcels. The other, Ordinance #2019-10 — An Ordinance to Create an AH-3 Affordable Housing 3 Residential Zone, would permit density more than 25 times that of its neighbors. One proposed to reduce the permitted floor area ratio, the second would allow the maximum floor area to be double that permitted on neighboring properties.  One would reduce the area covered by impervious materials, the other would permit the area of impervious surfaces to double. One would reduce the allowable building mass, the second would allow building height to increase by 50 percent. The discussion of one ordinance focused upon concern about changes to the character of neighborhoods caused by new development while the neighborhood adversely impacted by the latter was never mentioned. more

To the Editor:

The letter is also addressed to members of the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, members of the Princeton Council, and  Mayor Lempert.

The Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice wants to thank and applaud Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission for recommending inclusive workplace policies to the City Council, including gender neutral restrooms. Such principles are not only in keeping with our state’s strong civil liberties values as demonstrated by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, specifically in public accommodations (NJSA 10:5-12), but implementation of such literally saves lives as well.

In 2018, a study from The American Pediatric Association determined that suicide rates among transgender and non-binary youth were alarmingly high. This is a sad but logical truth as we currently have a nation that is both structured and strictured in such a way that our youth, struggling to determine their identity, are marginalized at every corner.

Our kids face these difficulties daily — whether it be in the classroom, in their homes, or out in their communities, and also when facing use of a public restroom. Unrecognized, unidentified… unnamed. Not the name they know to be true; not the identity with which they were born. Rightful name identification results in lower depression, reduction of suicidal ideation, and a decrease of suicidal behavior. When trans youth hear their names, have their identities confirmed and recognized, their chances of committing suicide go down 56 percent.

When we make our world more inclusive, we save lives.

Thank you, Princeton, for recognizing, respecting, and indeed loving all our beautifully diverse people and the communities to which they belong.

Robert Seda-Schreiber
Chief Activist
Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice
Wiggins Street

To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the Mercer County community, for supporting Hope Loves Company’s fourth Night of Hope on Saturday, March 16 at Union Fire Co. and Rescue Squad in Titusville. Hope Loves Company, Inc. (HLC) is the only nonprofit in the United States with the unique mission to provide emotional and educational support to children, teenagers, and young adults who have had or have a loved one battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. HLC was founded in 2012 and we are located right here in Pennington.

There is currently no known cause or cure for ALS, which affects appropriately 30,000 Americans each year. I know a lot about the disease because I personally lost my husband, Kevin O’Donnell, to ALS in 2001. He was 36 years old. more

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, the Democratic candidates for Princeton Council will meet in a forum co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Princeton Community TV, which will videotape the forum. Video will be rebroadcast and posted on its website and on www.lwvprinceton.org.

Be sure you are registered with the party of your choice.  If you are currently unaffiliated, you may declare your party at the polls on June 4. If you mistakenly registered as an Independent, you cannot vote in the primary since only Republicans and Democrats hold a primary election.  The deadline for changing Party Affiliation for the June primary is April 10. Political Party Declaration forms are available at www.njelections.org and must be received at your county clerk’s office by April 10.

The deadline to register to vote in the June primary is May 14; your voter registration form must be postmarked by that date. Applications for Vote-by-Mail ballots can be downloaded and must be received by your county clerk at least seven days before the election, May 28. All forms are available at www.njelections.org, where you will be directed to your county clerk.

Please attend or watch the forum and VOTE.

Chrystal Schivell
League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area
Monroe Lane

March 27, 2019

To the Editor:

Organizations in and around Princeton do a good job providing opportunities for residents to come together around issues of race. I have attended Civil Rights Commission meetings, Princeton Public School District-led community forums, and Not In Our Town conversations. YWCA Princeton (where I work) founded the now-national annual STAND AGAINST RACISM signature campaign. We also hold Thought Provoking Talks throughout the year. The Princeton Public Library regularly hosts race-related lectures and McCarter’s recent run of The Niceties could not have put a finer point on race and representation. Princeton University recognizes and rewards high school students making a difference in their communities with the Princeton Price in Race Relations. When there was a hint that a white nationalist group might march in Princeton this January, our collective response was so swift that the white nationalist group did not show up.

But something is missing. If you have attended any of these events — and maybe even if you haven’t — the need for more is palpable. Talk of reparative justice abounds, but I had not seen a map on how to get there until now. more