February 8, 2012

To the Editor:

We write to express our profound sadness at the death of Sarah Hirschman, the visionary founder of People & Stories, I Gente y Cuentos. Sarah died on January 15 at Princeton Hospital after a brief illness. Her daughter, Katia, and Katia’s husband, Alain, were at her side. We know you share our enormous sense of loss.

Sarah led a remarkable life and left an extraordinary legacy. For us, she is an inextinguishable light. She cared passionately about the written word and read widely and deeply. Her belief in the transformative power of literature was equaled by her conviction that no person, regardless of circumstances, should live without its capacity for opening the mind and liberating the spirit. She was determined to make literature accessible to those often thought unable to understand it, and she invented a method and a program to do just that.

The mission of People & Stories, I Gente y Cuentos was central to her life from the day the first participants met in 1972, in a low-income housing project in Cambridge, Mass. Today, the program thrives in prisons, libraries, housing projects, churches, and schools in three languages from Colombia to Paris to Trenton. Sarah has left behind an organization that is strong and committed to her example and vision — to go where circumstances are difficult and offer a program that can lead to measurable improvements in people’s lives.

Our annual spring event, on April 13, will proceed as planned with Chang-rae Lee as our speaker. Sarah’s dear friend, C.K. Williams, will both introduce Mr. Lee and say a few words of remembrance in Sarah’s honor. You will hear more about this event in the coming weeks.

Georgia Whidden

Board President

Patricia Andres

Executive Director

To the Editor:

On behalf of all of us at Princeton Public Library, I want to thank Bill and Judy Scheide for naming the library the beneficiary of the January 27 “Booked for the Evening” concert at Richardson Auditorium. It was a magical evening and the library was pleased to have been part of the celebration of one of Princeton’s leading citizens. Bill’s lifelong devotion to books, music, civic causes and his history of philanthropy are indeed cause for celebration.

In addition to Bill and Judy, I would like to thank the many library supporters who attended the concert; the management and staff of Richardson Auditorium, and University Ticketing, who along with event planner Linda Pizzico produced a flawless event in a beautiful venue. Our thanks also go to Telequest for producing a wonderful video in celebration of the library — view it at http://bit.ly/PPLvideo) — and the many behind the scenes people who made this event possible, including library staff members Lindsey Forden and Tim Quinn. And, of course, we can’t forget the fabulous Wiener KammerOrchester, soloists Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson and the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York for their dazzling performances, all under the skillful direction of Mark Laycock.

Bill and Judy Scheide are longtime library supporters. Their lead gifts to the library’s Cornerstone Campaign for our new building and to the Centennial Endowment Campaign for our endowment demonstrate their commitment to this wonderful institution. Their decision to name the library the beneficiary of Bill’s 98th birthday concert was yet another way to help the library raise much-needed funds.

In keeping with the Scheide’s devotion to books, reading, and learning in all forms, the Princeton Public Library will use the net proceeds of this event to purchase books and expand our collection. Funding for our collection comes solely from private donations and grants, not through municipal support. A gift of this magnitude will result in more books on our shelves and more items to download, check out, and be enjoyed by the entire community in 2012.

Thank you, Bill and Judy. Your gift is truly a gift we can all share.

Leslie Burger

Executive Director

February 1, 2012

To the Editor: 

Many in the Princeton community share Borough Council’s frequently stated belief that shortening the Dinky is ill advised and a far greater loss to the community than is the gain of an unfettered pedestrian plaza to the university. A brand new station farther away would hardly lead to increased ridership. Indeed, those who walk to the Dinky would have to walk an additional 30,000 aggregate miles per year.

One fact is widely acknowledged, however: a straight-shot Dinky originating at Nassau Street with increased trips to meet virtually every train at the Junction would increase ridership and, therefore, add to the shuttle’s utility to the community.

The zigzag easement offered by the university is utterly useless. The principal factor leading to greater transit use is reduced travel time. The increased trip time via the zigzag connection would add an additional 40 hours yearly to a Dinky commuter’s time on the train.

Committing municipal resources to help fund a transportation consultant’s effort to craft arguments to support the university’s selfish intransigence seems indefensible. If logical light-rail routing is denied by fiat, the only other legitimate single-vehicle option to reach Nassau Street is the justly maligned BRT.

Concerning the pending suit challenging the interpretation of the 1984 station sales contract between the university and NJ Transit, the contract as written does not allow, nor does it contemplate, any move of the terminus beyond what has already been effected, and that the counter-interpretation contrived by the University and NJ Transit is contrary to the public interest.

So far there are at least two important proposals to save the current Dinky service at no cost to the municipality: The offer by Henry Posner III to finance the re-acquisition of the right-of-way through eminent domain, and my company’s proposal for converting the Dinky to light rail and extending it to Nassau Street under the federal “Very Small Starts” program. Both require that the ordinance to preserve the Dinky right-of-way as a transit zone be reintroduced and enacted quickly. Such a step could moot the suit challenging the contract interpretation by effectively substituting the community’s interpretation for that of the university and NJ Transit.

As for the danger of a light rail vehicle sharing a pedestrian plaza, there is much precedent. Suffice it to say, the charge to the design engineers would be to make it the world’s safest.

A unique aspect of the new Dinky would be its becoming the only rail-transit service in the country to run without an operating subsidy. Perhaps NJ Transit could be convinced to divert a part of the $1 million per year in Dinky subsidy foregone toward enhancing NJ Transit bus service or other transit options in and around town.

Allowing the university to thwart this exemplary opportunity through sheer, self-serving will would diminish Princeton forever.

Rodney Fisk
Birch Avenue

To the Editor:

Last Thursday night we attended the third Planning Board meeting on the application of The Institute for Advanced Study to build 15 much-needed faculty residences on their land adjacent to Princeton Battlefield Park. It was a tedious continuation of the efforts of the Princeton Battlefield Society to prevent approval through delaying tactics and obfuscation, raising issues not relevant to consideration by this governing body.

This project meets the requirements of our zoning regulations without the need for variations. The IAS development plan carries out the intent of our Land Use Ordinance by accepting cluster zoning options. The application of these guidelines minimize land disturbance, reduce utility runs, limit storm water run-off by reducing impervious surfaces of roads and walks, and create large areas of commonly-owned open space. This is an excellent example of a creative land-use ordinance at work.

In our opinion the current nearly 65 acres of Battle Field Park, more than a third of which was obtained from The Institute for Advanced Study, is more than adequate to commemorate, and to exhibit the scope of, this important battle. In fact the proposed plan will enlarge the park by the inclusion of 13 acres of public-access open space adjacent to the park as well as extend visual access by the relocation the bordering tree line some 200 feet back from its present location.

It is sad to contemplate the extent to which visitor appreciation of the battle could have been enhanced through better interpretative signage, pathways, interactive dioramas, and the like had the Princeton Battlefield Society spent their money for such facilities rather than for attorney and witness fees.

Tom and Peggy Fulmer
Hunt Drive

To the Editor:

Historian John Shy was quoted on the IAS website that “the battle proper was about fifteen minutes of intense fighting in the area of the present park.” So by IAS standards, for the land to be preserved it would have to be part of the “battle proper.” Indeed, the contended IAS land is in the area of the present park and in fact it borders it. The IAS-hired historians have harped on the location of the Sawmill Road to cast doubt on the Milner Report’s finding. However, what is not in doubt is that the target of the American attack was the area around the William Clark farm. Simply put, to attack that area the U.S. forces had to cross, while fighting and dying, over Institute land. The Princeton Battlefield Society is not asking for anything but the promise of no development on a very small tract of land. The limited amount of archaeology done by both parties strongly suggests that the contended IAS land was the site of the counterattack and that further archaeology will prove this. Instead of building on this tract, why can’t the IAS either subsidize the mortgages of faculty or better yet, swap out IAS-owned and conserved land that is not in dispute? Finally, the Institute’s housing proposal will not only ruin forever a part of the Princeton Battlefield, but will also ruin the historical landscape of the existing park and that is unacceptable.

Matt White
Sewell, New Jersey

To the Editor:

In Pixar’s movie Cars, Lightning McQueen rescues the town of Radiator Springs from economic devastation caused by the nearby freeway bypassing the town. NJDOT is implementing a “trial” bypass of Princeton to severely limit access to Princeton from the rest of Mercer County via Route 1. This directly impacts Princeton merchants as well as Mercer’s Route 1 merchants who have customers that return home via Route 1 and Princeton. In the recent NJDOT town meeting on the Princeton Route 1 bypass trial, it was made clear that NJDOT is only interested in measuring an improvement in how many more cars could bypass Princeton, when the measurement test really should be whether the economic harm to Mercer’s Princeton and Route 1 businesses outweighs any improvement in traffic flow. If NJDOT is not interested in coming up with a way to measure the economic harm to Mercer’s local businesses, maybe businesses can use the courts to help with generating metrics to measure Mercer’s economic harm during the “trial” period. After all in the children’s story Cars, it took a judge who cared about local small businesses and a court order for Lightning McQueen to realize the economic harm caused by the bypass before he could rescue the town.

Donald Cox
South Harrison Street

January 25, 2012

To the Editor:

People for Princeton Ridge, Inc., wishes to thank Sustainable Princeton and its nominating committee for honoring us with one of its awards for 2011. We also wish to thank the hundreds of Princeton residents who supported us during our negotiations.

We have been part of a remarkable collaboration between private citizens, municipal officials, and business people. We thank our co-recipients — Township attorney Ed Schmierer for his hours of text-work and advice; we thank developer Bob Hillier not only for his donation of 17 acres of land for open space but for his eagerness to redesign his plans with the public interest in mind (using more clustered buildings, thus leaving fully 80 percent of land as open space). Together, we all reached a common understanding: a healthy environment is an economic as well as civic benefit to the welfare of our habitat and all its creations, including the trees, the rocks, and the eastern box turtle — who cannot speak for themselves, whose languages we must learn. The Princeton Ridge Preserve, adjoining the property we all worked so hard to achieve an environmentally smart use of land, testifies to the power of collaborative efforts, needed now more than ever.

We have all benefitted from the direction and enthusiastic oversight that Sustainable Princeton has been providing. The sheer number of awards made this year shows the important work being done by all our citizens, many of them representing civic collaborations. But there is more work to do.

Princeton is virtually built-out; few properties remain to develop. One of them is a 98-acre parcel on Herrontown Road (Block 1001), more or less across the street from the new Westerly Road Church site that is soon to be unwisely decimated. This tract is part of the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge: heavily wooded, with steep slopes. We hope that any developer will honor both the natural habitat land and the public interest of the community by setting aside as much open space as possible, respecting the area’s natural features (not interfering with the steep slopes), and by using clustered development to achieve these ends.

PPR hopes that the present owner and the likely developer will heed the splendid collaboration between municipal, civic, and business interests that enabled us to achieve the creation of the Princeton Ridge Preserve — and will, by proper consultation with municipal officials, choose to respect the public interest.

Let us all collaborate in preservation and recycling. Let us end the habits of waste and unnecessary destruction.

Daniel A. Harris, Jane Buttars

People for Princeton Ridge, Inc.

To the Editor:

This is a “thank you note” to our wonderful Princeton community — from the children enrolled in Princeton Young Achievers (PYA). Thank you all for your generosity and thoughtfulness in providing holiday gifts of books for all 85 of our students. Each one of our children spent the winter break with a new, and special, addition to his/her home library! Sincere thanks to all our “Book Angels” contributors and to Randi Katzman, “Book Angels” founder and organizer.

Special thanks, too, to Bobbie Fishman and her colleagues at Labyrinth Books for their kindness and help in searching for, and finding, just the right book for each child. The care and consideration they gave to each gift was remarkable! PYA is most grateful to have Labyrinth Books as our partner in our “Book Angels” program.

On behalf of the children, teachers and volunteers of PYA, we wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Connie Ban

The Great Road

To the Editor:

I have received word that my son, Christopher Reeve, has been selected to the 2012 New Jersey Hall of Fame. Other winners in the Arts & Entertainment Category are Michael Douglas and Sarah Vaughn. Princeton author Joyce Carol Oates is the sole winner in the General Category. Formal induction will take place June 3 at the New Jersey Arts Center in Newark.

This is a great honor, and I wish to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to the many friends to whom I mentioned the fact of his nomination and invited their vote on line before the December 31 deadline, as well as to the readers of Town Topics who read my earlier letter about his nomination and took the time and trouble to vote for him.

Chris’s roots in New Jersey are deep and varied. He began school in kindergarten at the Nassau Street School, transferring to the former Princeton Country Day School (PCD) in fourth grade, graduating in 1970 from Princeton Day School (PDS), where he sang with the Madrigal Group and was goalie for the varsity hockey team. He played Pee-Wee Hockey and Little League baseball as a youngster here, had his first horseback riding lessons at Hasty Acres in Kingston, learned to sail a boat on the Manasquan River in Bay Head and to fly a plane at Princeton Airport. At age eight he asked for piano lessons and began studying piano with the late John Diehlenn, a near neighbor of ours when we lived on Campbelton Circle.

His earliest acting experience seems to have been playing the Prince in a first or second grade classroom rendition of the Cinderella story, but his love of acting was nurtured in leading roles in just about every play or musical produced at PCD and at PDS, all directed by his great mentor, the late Herbert McAneny. The summer after his ninth grade year, he attended a theater workshop for teenagers held at Lawrenceville School, which brought in professionals from New York to teach technical aspects of acting and stagecraft.

Well before he left for college at Cornell, Chris was drawn to McCarter Theatre and occasionally given bit parts in its productions. He also played roles in musicals staged at McCarter by PJ&B (Princeton Junction and Back), founded and directed by the late Milton Lyon, whose aim was to give amateur thespians in Princeton the experience of working with professionals in a professional setting.

Much later it was the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange to which Chris was sent following hospitalization in Virginia for the neck injury he sustained in a horseback riding competition that rendered him a paraplegic.

I am very grateful to Princeton, as was Chris, for the important role this town and its institutions and organizations played in his development. I thank everyone who voted for him for this honor, which seems especially fitting. Chris would have been pleased.

Barbara L. Johnson

Wilton Street

To the Editor:

The IAS plan to build faculty housing on land that includes the Princeton Battlefield may seem like a local issue to Princeton, but it is not. Historians, both local and international, recognize that the Battle of Princeton was pivotal to the American Revolution. The actions of Washington at this battle added to his reputation and aided in his ability to lead the war effort. The sacrifice of the men who gave their lives was deemed heroic by their contemporaries. Those contemporaries went on to form the Republic we now enjoy.

A local issue it is not! The Institute would make it seem so, as if it were a question of neighbors disagreeing. The IAS has a local attorney and local architect representing them, but the Trustees of the Institute want that local impression because they are from Manhattan, Washington D.C., Chicago, California, Florida, London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Stockholm, Cambridge, and Budapest. This is a national issue  of respect, pride, and heritage.

I hope the Planning Board will deny approval.

J. Carney

Trustee, Princeton Battlefield Society

To the Editor:

I have been following the dispute between the Princeton Battlefield Society and the Institute for Advanced Study with great interest. I have written many books about New Jersey’s Revolutionary history, including 1776: Year of Illusions, which deals with the battle. In 2007 I received the Gov. Richard Hughes award for lifetime achievement in writing about New Jersey.

There is no longer the slightest doubt in my mind that the Institute is ignoring fundamental facts about the battle. They are planning to build housing on a part of the battlefield that is vital to understanding the event — the site of George Washington’s climactic counterattack. This is like asking people to enjoy a famous play, minus the last act.

I am disturbed by the IAS’s cavalier and arrogant attitude toward the convincing evidence that the Princeton Battlefield Society has presented. It is especially troubling to discover they have space for the housing elsewhere on their acres, but they are simply not inclined to use it.

Thomas Fleming

New York City

To the Editor:

With all the furor being created by the Princeton Battlefield Society about “preserving” for posterity a 22-acre parcel of land contiguous to the existing acreage of the Princeton Battlefield Park, you have to wonder where the Society’s members have been all these years while the Park’s infrastructure has been steadily decaying before their eyes. Have they added any additional land to the Park’s boundaries, as has the Institute (32 acres)? Have they provided any historical markers to better explain the progress of the actual battle? Have they helped maintain the existing infrastuctures in the Park itself?

As an example of constructive involvement, I can refer them back to the year 1957 when the Park’s Portico/Colonnade was about to be dismantled from the nearby Mercer Manor, a private home nearby, on Institute land. At the time, my father, Sherley W. Morgan, was dean of Princeton’s School of Architecture and president of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Because he felt the Battlefield lacked a focal point to direct visitors to the Unknown Soldiers’ graves which lie on the Park’s northwestern boundary, and because the portico was designed by Thomas Walters, the first president of the A.I.A., he set about raising sufficient funds to move the columns to their present location. In this effort he was greatly helped by congressman Frank Thompson, Governor Robert Meyner and the architect members of NJ’s Chapter of A.I.A., and by the Institute.

I think everyone today will agree that his goal has been achieved and the portico is what people remember when they recall a visit to the Battlefield. Unfortunately, both the portico and the grave area behind it, are in urgent need of cleaning, repair, and consistent maintenance.

Instead of hiring expensive “experts” to worry about how many musket balls may/may not be found under the land which the Institute owns and has every legal right to build on, or wasting everyone’s time in endless public meetings, I believe the Battlefield Society’s efforts would be more productive if they hired the appropriate experts to take care of what we already have in place for the public’s edification and enjoyment.

Arthur Morgan

Springdale Road

 

To the Editor:

I am a retired professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. I have enjoyed the beauty of our Battlefield Park and the memory of its history for more than 50 years. To serve as a fitting memorial of the battle, the Battlefield Park does not need to include the whole area over which fighting took place. Fighting extended over a wide area and into the center of Princeton, including the Institute buildings. Nobody suggests that the town or the Institute should be demolished in order to include the whole area of the fighting within the park. So I find it strange that the building of 11 houses for Institute faculty on Institute land should be opposed, just because this little piece of Institute land was included in the area of the fighting. The building of these houses will do no damage to the beauty and solemnity of the Battlefield Park. They will be as harmless and as respectful to our history as the existing Institute buildings.

Freeman Dyson

Professor Emeritus,

Institute for Advanced Study

 

To the Editor:

The Institute for Advanced Study is seeking approval to build faculty housing on its campus. I am writing to express my strong support for the project.

As a faculty member who lives on campus and a former member who spent his postdoctoral years at the IAS I can attest to the importance of the residential nature of IAS. Living on campus greatly facilitates my work, substantially increasing my interactions with IAS members and faculty. This residential nature makes the IAS unique and benefits members and faculty alike.

I believe that through the years the Institute has been a model citizen of this community. As a current neighbor of the Institute I deeply value the Institute’s commitment to preserving open spaces that include the wonderful “Institute woods,” nearly 600 acres of woodlands available to public use, and a substantial fraction of the Battlefield Park. The proposed project will add 13 acres of new land that will be permanently preserved as open space next to the Park.

During the last meeting of the Township’s planning board, Prof. Mark Peterson, a specialist in the American Revolution and early American History at the University of California at Berkeley, gave a very interesting presentation about how different localities preserve their historical heritage. Prof. Peterson helped towns in the Boston area develop plans to better preserve their historical sites and enhance the experience of visitors. I moved to Princeton from the Boston area, so I am very familiar with the sites he described, having enjoyed them on multiple occasions. As I heard him speak, I could not help but think that the current discussion surrounding the Institute’s project presents a perfect opportunity to improve the experiences of visitors to the Battlefield Park and their connection to this area’s past. I was glad to learn that the Institute has stated that it was ready to be a partner in trying to enhance the experience of visitors to the Battlefield

Park, for example by improving the interpretive materials provided in the site.

The Institute is by now also an important part of Princeton’s history. It has housed as faculty and members a large number of Nobel-prize winners, Field medalists, and the intellectual leaders of many fields of study. In my own area, astrophysics, the contributions of scientists who spent time at the IAS can be found almost everywhere and have shaped our current understanding of such diverse topics as cosmology and celestial mechanics.

I am convinced that this project will not only benefit the IAS community but also the Princeton community at large. It will help maintain one of its vibrant academic institutions; it will add permanently preserved open land and can create the opportunity to improve the way the area’s residents can interact with its history.

Matias Zaldarriaga

Battle Road

 

To the Editor:

The Battle of Princeton is surely a remarkable moment in the history of Princeton as well as the United States. In January of 1777 Patriots battled for American Independence and to protect the rights of future generations.

It is important to commemorate and memorialize the Battle of Princeton, and that has been done with the Battlefield Park. The Institute for Advanced Study, another great historical institution in Princeton, has been a vital partner and supporter of the Battlefield Park. In fact, the Battlefield would not even exist in it’s current state, without the generosity of the Institute. The Institute donated the Portico that stands in Battlefield Park and commemorates the common grave of American and British soldiers. In 1973, the Institute conveyed 32 acres of land to the State which more than doubled the size of Battlefield Park. This conveyance was completed with the express understanding that the Institute could and would build housing on some of the remaining land. The Institute for Advanced Study has also preserved all of the land surrounding the Battlefield, and has made it accessible to the public.

The Institute for Advanced Study owns the tract of land on which they are proposing to build faculty housing. They have met every requirement of the planning board and the historical preservationists that would allow them to build the site plan currently proposed. In fact, they have gone above and beyond what was asked and have made sure the project has minimal impact on the Battlefield Park.

To suggest that the Institute should be prohibited from using their property, simply because it was a site upon which some of the battle took place, is exactly the type of oppression the Patriots were trying to eliminate. We are a country that values the rights bestowed upon us by law. Property rights are certainly one of the oldest and most treasured rights. Those trying so desperately to restrict those rights, by waging a battle against the Institute, should consider whether they value their own property rights. Surely the Patriots did not expect future generations to use the battle as a means of restricting the rights they were fighting for.

Shari Black

Allison Road

 

To the Editor:

I write in strong support of the Institute’s proposal for more faculty living on its campus, maintaining its walkable community. It would provide landscape screening along its border with the Battlefield Park; and build a memorial pathway as conceived by distinguished historians James McPherson and David Hackett Fischer. Altogether, the Institute’s proposal commemorates our historic past, and sustains our living community.

Robert Geddes

Dean Emeritus, Princeton University

School of Architecture

 

To the Editor:

It is vitally important that any new construction at the Institute for Advanced Study not detract from the dignity of the Battlefield Park. The faculty and friends of the Institute (of whom I am one) understand the importance of honoring our history. The proposed new faculty housing at IAS meets this test. The proposed housing consists of a small cluster of single family homes and townhouses located over two hundred feet from the edge of the park. A row of evergreens will stand between the housing and the park. The housing will barely be visible from the park, much less intrusive.

The need to preserve the dignity of the park should not be used as a reason to block all development in this part of Princeton.

Lewis Maltby, President

National Workrights Institute

Wall Street, Princeton

 

To the Editor:

Based on decades of experience we have long believed that controversies such as the current one involving the Institute’s proposal to build faculty housing near the Battlefield can be resolved in such a way that everyone comes out ahead, especially where people of good will are involved, as is the case here.

If you stand in the middle of the present Battlefield site and look up toward the land in question, what do you see? Well, what you don’t see is the Institute’s land. What you do see is a rather unattractive angled slash of tall trees impeding the overall perspective of the Battlefield site.

Now let’s look ahead around two years and what will you see? First, you will see another row of trees but these, replacing the ones currently there, will be set back some 200 feet and will screen the new housing. What you will also see is another 13 acres of unimpeded land which will greatly open up the visual experience. This land

will have been donated in perpetuity to the Battlefield by the Institute.

We had the privilege of living virtually across the street from the Institute for 21 years and found them to be outstanding neighbors and citizens. It is our great pleasure to strongly endorse their proposal, an outcome where everyone wins, the Battlefield, the Institute and the community.

Harriet and Jay Vawter

Constitution Hill

January 18, 2012

To the Editor:

The fact that the Township and Borough are selecting their own consolidation team representatives separately seems odd. Given that the residents have already voted for consolidation, why isn’t the team being formed jointly? It would appear that our elected officials continue in the mindset of separatism. It’s time to move forward!

Barry Goldblatt
Andrews Lane

To the Editor:

Mr. Durkee’s accusations notwithstanding (“Latest Lawsuit Filed Against University,” Town Topics, January 11), the Eleanor J. Lewis Fund’s support of the legal challenges to the recent revaluation of Princeton real estate, the tax exempt status of several University properties, and the zoning change allowing the University to move the Dinky are not a try for publicity, but rather a challenge to the old Princeton tradition of its public officials abdicating their civic responsibility whenever Mr. Durkee’s employer, the Trustees of Princeton University, asks for a tax reduction, tax exemption, or zoning change.

The laws of the State of new Jersey can protect the public only if they are followed and enforced. When our public officials refuse to do so, the only recourse is the courts. In our legal actions, we do not seek publicity, only redress.

Jane DeLung, President
Ken Fields, Secy/Treasurer
The Eleanor J. Lewis Fund for Public Interest Research
Linden Lane

To the Editor:

The 2011 holidays were made brighter for persons with disabilities in our community thanks to over 100 generous individuals, groups, businesses, congregations, and schools who donated gifts, non-perishable food items, and food store gift cards to 247 individuals with disabilities and their families during the season of giving. Many others made monetary donations, delivered gifts, wrapped presents, and sorted gift items. This annual outreach conducted by Enable, Inc. would not be possible without the help of caring citizens who make this effort a success. On behalf of all who benefitted, we extend our heartfelt thanks to them.

Enable is especially grateful for the support of employees at Bloomberg; Hopewell Valley Community Bank in Princeton; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; NRG Energy, Inc.; the law firm of Pepper Hamilton, LLP; and Petco in Monroe Township. Students from Rider University; The Hun School of Princeton; Rutgers Empowering Disabilities; and West Windsor Plainsboro High School South’s National Honor Society played active roles along with members of congregations at Pennington United Methodist Church; Rutgers Community Christian Church; St. David’s Episcopal Church; St. David the King RCC; and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton. Special support was also offered by associates from Kohl’s in Hamilton; Boy Scout Troop 5700; Girl Scout Troop 971; Kingston Women’s Chorus; Montgomery Moms Club; and Miss Barbara’s Schoolhouse in Hamilton. We extend our thanks to the many other individuals and groups too numerous to mention.

For many recipients, the gifts are immeasurable in value. The significance of the generosity shared was expressed by the mother of a son who received a new pair of shoes for use with his foot braces; by the woman who was recently robbed and now has a coffee pot once again; and the mother of a neurologically impaired daughter who received pajamas and slippers. “It felt like whoever the donor was, they knew what I was going through. I loved every one of the gifts,” a caregiver handwrote in a special note of gratitude.

On behalf of the entire family at Enable, we thank you and wish you a blessed new year.

Sharon J.B. Copeland, MSW, LSW
Executive Director, Enable, Inc., Roszel Road

To the Editor

I’ve been watching for an obituary for Robert H. Staples, who died in late October in Lakewood; he should certainly be remembered for moving the library from Bainbridge House to Witherspoon Street and overseeing most of its life in the Longstreth building. Much of his tenure involved looking ahead to the electronic future (computers) and the need for an enlarged structure, as well as encouraging the growth of The Friends of the Library. A member of the Nassau Club, he was an old-school gentleman and a wonderful mentor. Eric Greenfeldt, former Assistant Director, and Barbara Johnson, former Friends’ president, could doubtless add details, as could former Township mayor Phyllis Marchand.

Dudley Carlson
Portola Valley, California

To the Editor:

I attended two previous Planning Board meetings at which IAS’s real estate development on the site of a critical point in the Battle of Princeton was challenged. As a Princeton Battlefield Society trustee I cannot question the good neighbor position held by residents near the Institute. Nor can I question the IAS’s tree line defense, its required design for housing, or the road’s width on the site. What I must question is: What does this defense have to do with the historical significance and proposed desecration of the property in question?

But I have other questions, such as what happened to the due diligence of the Historic Commission in researching and studying the issues raised by the Society? Did the Commission read and consider the APBB study? With all property owned by the Institute, why must this real estate development take place on this historic site? What consideration was given by the IAS board and administration to the implications of this real estate development on land critically important to American history and heritage? This was one of the reasons for the APBB study, which confirmed the Society’s position and was subsequently confirmed by noted historian, Dr. James McPherson.

I am not against the Institute. I am against its real estate development of this property. When a faculty member has to acquire land rights from the IAS and to build a required house design at his or her own expense, it can only be considered real estate development. A vote must come down to real estate development versus heritage. Not surprisingly, I would vote for heritage.

Bill Marsch
Old Georgetown Road

To the Editor:

Our back yard is full of treasures. We have dance, music, art, science, and history to explore. Behind all of this are educated people who deeply believe in what they study and perform.

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) is one of the most special of these treasures. There is probably no other institution in the world that is comparable. The interaction of the scholars is fostered by their living together. The freedom to engage with one another within the community of the Institute develops ideas, theories, with often groundbreaking results.

The land between the IAS and the Battlefield is in dispute. It shouldn’t be. This land is legally owned by the IAS and great care has been taken in honoring and responding to all concerns. The grounds of the Battle of Princeton reach far into our community, well beyond the land in question. The Institute is a good neighbor, has helped develop and enhance the park, and it’s important to the future of the IAS to allow it to offer housing to its faculty.

Louise and John Steffens
Brookstone Drive

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in support of the Princeton Battlefield Society efforts to save the Princeton Battlefield. This Battlefield is an important part of American history. Without George Washington’s victory at Trenton and Princeton we may not have become a nation. This Battlefield must be preserved much like Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. The New Jersey Society of the Sons of the American Revolution supports the Princeton Battlefield Society efforts.

Clark D. McCullough
President, New Jersey Society Sons of the American Revolution
Middletown

To the editor:

Given the seminal contributions the Institute for Advanced Study has made for over 50 years to preserve the Princeton Battlefield and its environs, the current fractious opposition to its plans to build some faculty housing on a site clearly earmarked for that purpose at the time these contributions were made would be a breach of good faith. It would not augur well for future similar acts of philanthropy by other institutions in the community if that understanding were to be abrogated.

I concur fully with the Battlefield Society in its argument that the Battle of Princeton was a critical turning point in the Revolution and that its place in our history should be amply commemorated. As a staunch advocate for battlefield preservation in Virginia before moving to Princeton in 2006, I am quite sympathetic to the Society’s objectives.

However, a careful review of analyses by historians retained by both sides has convinced me that the Society has pressed its case too far based upon questionable evidence and assertions. The Institute’s plans do not jeopardize the integrity of the site, nor recognition of the battle’s crucial importance.

Historian James McPherson has proposed an accommodation that meets many of the Society’s concerns. Why not accept them and get on with making history rather than just commemorating it? After all, some of the intellectual contributions that have emanated from the Institute since 1939 are just as much a part of Princeton’s rich historical tapestry as the battle.

Ralph Widner
Elm Road

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge the Institute for Advanced Study to reconsider its ill-advised plan to build faculty housing on the Princeton Battlefield. There are few places in America where the hinge of history swung so dramatically, and precious few of them are left from the American Revolution in New Jersey. The Princeton Battlefield is New Jersey’s premier revolutionary historic site and is in relatively pristine shape. Putting up condos to serve the short term interests of the Institute would short change future generations of Americans, and hinder our study of how this critical battle was fought and won by Washington’s heroic troops. Moreover, the planned truckloads of landfill would bury our understanding of the fight along with potentially precious historic artifacts. I trust the Princeton Planning Board will see the folly of this plan and deny it accordingly.

Ben Strong
Harlingen Road, Belle Mead

January 11, 2012

To the Editor:

The task force to be charged with making recommendations to implement consolidation of Princeton Borough and Township is getting off to a slow start, partly because of apparent confusion over how to proceed in this uncharted water. This is to suggest one method for steering the municipalities on an appropriate course.

First, the municipal governing bodies must recognize that they, as the local elected representatives (and not the State or any appointed collection of residents), are charged with the responsibility of consolidation. Thus, the governing bodies must take the initiative and define the responsibilities of all interested parties.

Second, the municipal governing bodies must act together if consolidation is to become a reality.

Third, the governing bodies can act together only by joint written resolution adopted by vote. The resolution should identify who will be in charge of making recommendations concerning consolidation, the powers and resources granted to such persons, and the nature and timing of the product to be delivered to the governing bodies for action next autumn. The joint resolution should be discussed in public and, as those who serve on the task force will be required to follow its mandate, they should be able to comment on its mandate before adoption.

Fourth, after adopting a joint resolution that defines the tasks to be performed, the governing bodies should select volunteers to serve on the task force. The task force itself should not be much larger than about 15 persons, so that it is manageable. But to aid the task force, the governing bodies might select a much larger group of volunteers to serve on subcommittees. The subcommittees could include local experts assigned to address specific issues, such as consolidation of police, public works, and finance.

Fifth, the selection of task force members by the governing bodies should be an open process in which the criteria for selection are publicly acknowledged and discussed. Should residence (as opposed to office) in the Borough or Township be a requirement for appointment to the task force or its subcommittees? Should employment by Princeton University or service on the Consolidation Study Commission bar appointment to the task force or its subcommittees? If the public is going to have confidence in the task force, the selection process should be thoughtful and transparent.

The sooner the governing bodies move along this course, or any other reasonable and publicly-decided course, the better will be the implementation of consolidation that the voters required by their vote last November.

Roger Martindell
Patton Avenue, Member, Princeton Borough Council

To the Editor:

Let us think about the Princeton that might have been had the partisans of expansion of the Battlefield Park prevailed almost two hundred years ago.

In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette returned to America on the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. There were giant celebrations everywhere the old warrior went, and a tremendous upwelling of pride in the battles which gave us our freedom. Most of Lafayette’s comrades in arms were gone or in fragile condition, but they, with he, were honored for their achievement.

Imagine if the good people of Princeton, swept up by these emotions, had raised a subscription to purchase the considerable open lands over which the battle had ranged, and had created a grand memorial park to honor those who had helped to make it possible for them, and us, to live in liberty. What we would now have would not be Princeton as we know it, but a Gettysburg, looking backwards to a great moment a quarter of a millennium ago, and thriving on tourist dollars.

What we would not have would be much of the Seminary and the residential neighborhoods of the westerly part of town, the Graduate College, McCarter, much of Princeton University’s undergraduate campus and parts of the Central Business District.

We would have no Institute expansion problem, because we’d have no Institute. And we wouldn’t have a dinky/Arts District problem, because we’d have no campus there and no dinky. (No railroad tracks over sacred ground!)

The emotional demand for greater and greater honoring of the dead and their legacy can of course divert resources from the living and the future of a community. Princeton could be Gettysburg now had things played out differently. Is that what we would wish?

We do the patriots of 1777 an injustice to believe that that is what they fought for. They fought for a better future for their families and their people. Let us honor them by continuing to build a community which is a light to the world, with great and thriving institutions such as the University, the Seminary and the Institute.

Peter Bienstock
Stockton Street

To the Editor:

I write concerning the tempest that has arisen over the modest and thoughtful plans of the Institute for Advanced Study to provide additional housing for its faculty on its own grounds.

Princeton’s worldwide fame and distinction, and the justifiable pride of its residents in the pleasures and advantages of its cultural and intellectual life, rest in no small measure on the presence and well-being of its greatest institutions: the University and the Institute for Advanced Study. All who care for the future of our town will wish to encourage their vitality and applaud their mission to advance knowledge and learning. The Institute’s plan to enhance opportunities for its scholars to work and live together will benefit the entire community, even while carefully preserving the traditional setting of our beloved battlefield.

Respect for our hallowed landmarks is a requirement of good citizenship. But to constantly expand their perimeter by declaring each blade of nearby grass to be an historic shrine undermines serious and balanced efforts to honor our heritage, and thus weakens the cause of preservation itself. I hope that the Institute’s housing plan will be approved.

Dr. Allen H. Kassof
Mercer Road

To the Editor:

Last week marked the 235th Anniversary of the Battle of Princeton, a seminal event in world history. With the Continental Congress running out of money, commissions of many soldiers also were running out on December 31, 1776. To try to keep his army together, General Washington gave an extra $10 pay to those who would stay a few more weeks beyond the end of their commissions. On January 2, 1777 General Cornwallis and his large professional army arrived in Trenton. That night, leaving bonfires and a small group to make noise, Washington managed to move his army out of Trenton, marching all night in freezing temperatures, reaching Princeton via a circuitous route. He marched his army of about 5,500 soldiers up the unguarded Saw Mill Road as dawn was breaking, hoping to initiate a surprise attack against the Princeton Garrison of about 1,500. In the first phase of the Battle, General Mercer and his brigade were defeated and General Mercer was repeatedly bayoneted and then carried to the Thomas Clarke House, where he died over a week later.

While much work remains to map the exact location of the now lost Saw Mill Road, all scholars who have carefully studied the Battle of Princeton have nonetheless concluded that Washington’s winning counterattack took place on the property just to the east of what is now Princeton Battlefield State Park. This has been established by mapping the original accounts of soldiers who fought in the battle, and has been confirmed overwhelmingly by archaeological evidence.

Today, without walking the sloping topography of the battlefield and understanding the dynamics of the counterattack, you cannot appreciate what happened on January 3, 1777. When, if the Continental Army had not prevailed, the American Revolution almost certainly would have been lost, and George Washington would have been hunted down and hanged. Just as the Battle of Normandy cannot be understood without seeing the topography of Normandy Beach, this pivotal moment in history can’t be memorialized by a sign or a monument, but must be experienced by walking the battlefield. Saving the property where the counterattack occurred is not a matter of whether an organization might be a good neighbor. It is a question of meeting the requirements of Princeton’s Master Plan to preserve the town’s vital historic resources for the best and highest use. If the Institute for Advance Study were to be a willing seller, funds almost certainly could be obtained to purchase the property and put it into the public domain.

What is the alternative for the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), whose faculty, we are told, just cannot afford to live in the neighborhood immediately around the IAS. There are several, but one that I find compelling is the establishment of a mortgage subsidy program, similar to that of Princeton University’s, which would allow faculty to choose the neighborhood and home of their choice, and enjoy the benefits of gaining equity in their homes. I invite faculty with or without a subsidy to check out my own wonderful neighborhood, only about six minutes from the IAS campus.

Dan Thompson
Member, Princeton Battlefield Society, 
Dempsey Avenue

To the Editor:

We have both lived in or been associated with the town of Princeton since the late 1950’s and have benefitted from the town’s many significant intellectual attractions, principally, of course, Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). Our friends and acquaintances and those of our children have all been a part of this fabric, or been positively influenced by proximity to these two world class institutions. Our lives have been enriched.

We write to weigh in on the discussion surrounding the proposed IAS housing and the use of a portion of their land that was, coincidentally, a part of the Revolutionary War Battle of Princeton. We all know that this battle ranged from the famous Christmas crossing of the Delaware river, the engagement in Trenton, and the continuing march across the fields and streams to fight with a British force on the Thomas Clark farm in Princeton. Cannon balls were found lodged in the walls of Nassau Hall, a short distance from the battlefield.

We also remember and honor the IAS for giving up the development rights to the woodlands now known as the Institute Woods and to agree to sell that enormous parcel to a conservation group assembled in the 1970s under the leadership of Frank Taplin together with other town residents. Negotiations at that time specifically set aside land for the further use and expansion of the Institute. Any attempt to renegotiate that understanding seems to us inappropriate. The IAS has already done more than its share to preserve open space, including helping to preserve an important part of the battlefield. The town Planning Board should grant whatever permissions are required as soon as possible to allow the IAS to move forward with its planned limited development project.

Michael and Cecilia Mathews
Bedens Brook Road

To the Editor:

I attended two previous Planning Board meetings at which the Institute’s real estate development on the site of a critical point in the Battle of Princeton was challenged. As a Princeton Battlefield Society trustee I cannot question the good neighbor position held by residents near the Institute. Nor can I question the tree line defense, its required design for housing, or the road’s width on the site. What I must question is: What does this defense have to do with the historical significance and proposed desecration of the property in question?

I have other questions, such as what happened to the due diligence of the Historic Commission in researching and studying the issues raised by the society? Did the commission read and consider the APBB study? With all property owned by the Institute, why must this real estate development take place on this historic site? What consideration was given by the IAS board and administration to the implications of this real estate development on land critically important to American history and heritage? This was one of the reasons for the APBB study, which confirmed the Society’s position and was subsequently confirmed by noted historian, Dr. James McPherson.

I am not against the Institute. I am against its real estate development of this property. When a faculty member has to acquire land rights from the IAS and to build a required house design at his or her own expense, it can only be considered real estate development. A vote must come down to real estate development versus heritage. Not surprisingly, I would vote for heritage.

Bill Marsch
Old Georgetown Road

January 4, 2012

To the Editor:

Testimony at the recent Planning Board hearings leaves little doubt that a significant part of the Battle of Princeton was fought on and around the spot where the Institute for Advanced Study proposes to build its condominiums for faculty housing. Princeton is not Europe, where nearly every plot of land was fought over at one time or another. American battlefields are thankfully few, and most of them have already been built on. Those whose terrain remains as it was on the day when the fighting took place are exceedingly rare; in New Jersey, Monmouth Battlefield is the only other field left undeveloped.

The justification the Institute has offered for its proposed development is that the atmosphere of its campus would be further enhanced by having additional members live there. While some sympathy might be in order, there are no professional reasons for building these condominiums.

Physicists and mathematicians have been walking across town to their offices for years. Among the members of the Institute itself, Einstein lived on Mercer Street, Von Neumann on Library Place, and Kurt Gödel on Linden Lane; none of them lived on the Institute grounds. They somehow managed anyway, and I am sure that the present and future members of the Institute will continue to thrive, both professionally and socially, even if their walk to work is longer than it might have been had this subdivision been approved.

Ken Fields

Linden Lane

To the Editor:

My 11-year-old cousin in China has a cell phone with only four buttons: “Mom,” “Dad,” “Home,” and “Police.” Our school does not allow kids to use cell phones at school unless it’s an emergency. Even with this rule, I still think children should have their own cell phone in their backpacks.

Working parents worry about their children during after-school hours. If they have a cell phone, parents and children can call each other after school. They will feel safe. They can also contact police if they are in danger after school.

Secondly, a child with a cell phone can call parents when he needs help. Sometimes school has early emergency dismissals. If this happens, children can call their parents for them to make arrangements.

If parents don’t want their children to make trouble with cell phones, they can just get the version with only four buttons. If parents want to save money, then they can give children their old phones.

So if you don’t want that worried feeling again, get your child a cell phone. Don’t forget to tell them to turn the phone off during classes if they bring it to school.

Andrew Zhong,

5th Grader (Mrs. Barbara Osburn’s class)

Millstone River School, Grover Mills Road, Plainsboro

To the Editor:

Now that the rush of the holidays is over, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the caring, kindness, and generosity of a multitude of congregations, corporations, organizations, and individuals over the past year. HomeFront can’t thank you enough for all you do to help us give hopeless, homeless, and very low-income families every opportunity for an independent and rewarding future. You provided them with food, donated clothing, furniture, and household supplies. You tutored children and mentored parents. You changed lives.

These things give our families the “necessities.” But the joy and wonder that should be in the eyes of every child at Christmas isn’t a necessity, and you made it happen for 2,284 children this year. Your generosity and thoughtfulness in providing presents made wishes (and dreams) come true. I’m sorry you all couldn’t have seen for yourselves how much it meant, not only to the children but to their parents as well, who knew they were powerless to make Christmas merry.

Our thanks to everyone who embodied the Christmas spirit. We are indeed blessed to have so many people who care enough to brighten the lives of impoverished children during such a busy time of year. And thank you, people of Mercer County, for remembering the homeless in so many ways all year long.

Connie Mercer

Founder and CEO, HomeFront

December 27, 2011

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Historical Society of Princeton, I would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our two major 2011 fundraisers: the Princeton Antiques and Fine Art Show and the House Tour. Our mission is to preserve, collect, and interpret Princeton’s rich history through innovative exhibitions and programs — and we could not have succeeded without your help.

We would like to recognize the hard work of our Steering Committee, which planned and executed this year’s Antiques Show, led by Meghan Donaldson, Jody Erdman, Midge Fleming, Milly King, Chris Mario, Jennifer McGuirk, Dee Patberg, Dorothy Plohn, and Anita Trullinger. For the seventh year running, the Nierenberg Family and Princeton Airport graciously hosted the show. We are grateful to our show sponsors including: Baxter Construction, Honda of Princeton, Leapfrog Advancement, Shepherd Foundation/Bovenizer Family, Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, Knight Architects LLC, PNC Bank & PNC Wealth Management, Rago Arts and Auction Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Wilmington Trust, Dumont & Watson Attorneys, The Mercadien Group, Mills + Schnoering Architects LLC, Princeton Orthopaedic Associates, Saul Ewing LLP, Viburnum, Antiques and Fine Art Magazine, BUCKS Life Magazine, Design NJ Magazine, Packet Publications, Princeton Magazine, and The Magazine Antiques.

HSP also thanks all those who made the 2011 House Tour a success. First, the owners of the five homes that offered such a delightful exploration of Princeton’s dynamic domestic architecture. Thank you! The tour would never happen without the hard work of our House Tour Committee, our House Tour Chair David Schure, House Captains Colleen Hall, Nancy Henkel, Pete Peters, Shirley Satterfield, and Merlene Tucker and over 80 dedicated Docents. We also owe a very special thank-you to Wanda Gunning. Our lead sponsors, N. T. Callaway Real Estate and Glenmede, have our sincere thanks, as do our other House Tour funders including: Viburnum, T. Jeffery Clarke Architect, Garden Makers Landscaping, HMR Architects, Infini-T Café & Spice Souk, Knight Architects, Lasley Brahaney, Van Note-Harvey Associates, Candice Walsh of N. T. Callaway, Woodwinds Associates, Julius H. Gross Painting, and — last but not least — our special sponsor for 2011, The Princeton Area Community Foundation, which honored us with a generous grant for the House Tour. Even the weather cooperated this year — it was a perfect autumn day, crisp and sunny!

Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the community who participated in our fundraisers by volunteering time, purchasing tickets, buying antiques, or supporting us in any way. We are blessed to be stewards of the history of such a vibrant, caring community!

Erin Dougherty
Executive Director, Historical Society of Princeton

To the Editor,

The winter holiday shopping season offers Princetonians an easy challenge: let’s bring our own reusable cloth bags to shop with when we buy for people we love. Let’s refuse a new bag if it’s offered; let’s bring our own bags. Let’s help save Planet Earth.

A reusable cloth bag is the only environmentally sane bag to use. It comes from a renewable resource (unlike reusable plastic bags, which are oil, or recyclable paper bags, which destroy our rainforests, their carbon-storage systems, their erosion-prevention through root-systems, and their habitat for countless species of creatures). A reusable cloth bag will last for decades; free of toxins in production, it is entirely washable.

Here are some scary figures on plastic bags:

Each American uses 500 single-use plastic bags a year, the equivalent of 12,000,000 barrels of oil, from extraction to landfill (Americans use 1 billion single-use grocery bags per year). These numbers translate as follows: each person is responsible for 125 lbs. of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) that contribute to climate change. In Princeton, 10,000 households (3-plus persons per household) are responsible for 1,250,000 lbs of carbon dioxide. Single-use plastic bags cost far more than money: they clog sewage systems, cause danger to workers at landfills; they kill wildlife and aquatic life; because they do not biodegrade, they come back through the food chain to poison humans and contribute to endocrine disruption.

Princeton Borough and Princeton Township passed a Joint Resolution last winter urging everyone to replace single-use plastic bags with reusable cloth or plastic bags, or recyclable paper. Let’s do it! Let’s all contribute momentum to the burgeoning BYOBag Campaign (Bring Your Own Bag) in Princeton.

Let’s be responsible shoppers. Let’s know that recyclable paper bags cost more to produce than plastic bags, cost 71 percent more energy to produce than plastic bags and use 69 percent more energy to compost than plastic bags, which are oil. So let’s refuse both paper and plastic. Let’s go for cloth: cotton, hemp, jute, and other materials.

Sustainable Princeton just received accreditation by Sustainable Jersey as a community in the vanguard of environmental activism for sustainable living.

Let’s validate that accreditation once again. Let’s all help make Princeton a Sustainable Princeton by using reusable cloth bags. Remember to bring them when you shop. Let’s be a truly responsible community by respecting the limited resources of our planet — all the time, not just during a holiday shopping season.

Daniel A. Harris
Dodds Lane