March 21, 2012

To the Editor:

The Princeton Borough Council’s decision at its February 28 meeting approving the request by the developer AvalonBay to increase the density of the Hospital site was given in spite of the strong opposition to the developer’s petition expressed by several Princeton community organizations and individual residents and, before receiving impact reports on traffic, waste disposal, water usage and various other municipality services from the developer.

Borough Council members chose to ignore the arguments presented against approving the petition to rezone the site. With the notable exception of Jenny Crumiller, the Council was more interested in facilitating the implementation of AvalonBay’s business plan than in the passing of legislation for the benefit the neighbors and the town.

As elected officials, Council members should examine the arguments of the people they represent, while ensuring that existing legislation, such as the amendments introduced to the Master Plan in 2007 requiring that all new and remodeled buildings use sustainable building designs, are upheld.

Antonio Reinero
Carnahan Place

To the Editor:

I am dismayed that the Borough Council decided to introduce an ordinance:

(1) permitting additional density on the hospital site without understanding the impacts to a consolidated Princeton

(2) while simultaneously considering reducing the percentage of affordable housing and

(3) failing to incorporate requirements for green building.

The 280 units on five acres (56 units/acre) permitted by the current MRRO zoning, is denser than any residential site in Princeton. By way of comparison, the adjacent neighborhood bordered by Valley Road, Witherspoon, Wiggins and Moore Streets currently has approximately the same number of units but is nearly 80 acres larger resulting in 3.5 units/acre. One of the goals of The Land Use Element of the master plan is to “preserve and protect the character of established neighborhoods”. While I believe that compact development reduces costs and environmental impact over spread out development, this must be balanced with an abrupt change in character. It seems to me to be a backward way of doing things to introduce such an ordinance change before reviewing impact reports on traffic, sewage, water use, landfill garbage, human services, recreational services, police and fire services, and schools.

A roof over your head is basic for survival. It is typically the largest household expense and the single most important for determining cost of living, yet it continues to be out of reach for many in Princeton where the median cost of a home is $619,700 in comparison to $359,800 in New Jersey and $185,400 nationally. Homes that a variety of people can afford bring diversity to our town. It is essential that the requirement for 20 percent affordable units not be diluted.

Like the rest of the world, we in Princeton are faced with climate change due to non sustainable development practices. It is therefore imperative that we evaluate all new development through this lens. The Princeton Environmental Commission issued a memorandum calling for the hospital site to be “redeveloped in accordance with a standardized green building rating system resulting in certification.” In 2005, the master plan was amended to recommend that the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system should be used as a design and measurement tool to determine what constitutes sustainable building principles and practices. Furthermore, in 2007 the master plan was revised to “include a goal that all new and remodeled buildings and facilities use sustainable building designs”. I call on the Planning Board and members of Borough Council to uphold the goals of our master plan.

At its February 28 meeting Borough Council members seemed not to hear the citizens of Princeton who ardently voiced opposition to this proposed ordinance change. This site has yet to be developed under the MRRO zoning even once. Other individuals or developers that purchase a property knowing the zoning are not given the opportunity to change the ordinance. I cannot see affording the hospital site differential treatment unless there is an overwhelming benefit to the neighborhood and town.

Heidi Fichtenbaum
Carnahan Place

To the Editor:

With gratitude, the Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale salutes the Princeton Community. When Hurricane Irene did serious water damage to our book supply, we put out a plea for more volumes — and you responded with, well, a flood. Great books, beautiful books, amazing books — 1,844 boxes of books. They are waiting for you at the Princeton Day School beginning Wednesday, March 21 through Sunday March 25. Please come, buy, and accept our thanks in person for your generosity. The proceeds from the sale go to support scholarship funds at our colleges, which means that your donations literally change lives.

Bryn Mawr-Wellesley 
Book Sale Committee

To the Editor:

We, the co-founders of Pi Day Princeton and Geek Freak Weekend, wish to express our sincerest gratitude to everyone who helped make this year’s festivities a huge success. Our goal from the beginning was to create a community-wide celebration that would bring together Princeton residents, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and businesses to celebrate math, science, and Einstein. And we are happy to report that the success of the weekend has gone beyond our wildest, hopes, dreams, and expectations. To everyone who volunteered their time, and to everyone who participated in the weekend — we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for coming together to make Princeton a one-of-a-kind place to live, work, and play!

The 2012 Geek Freak weekend saw the largest crowd to date with over 6,000 people who packed into the Princeton Public Library for the Pi Day events. Each event was standing room only and we were thrilled to have more contestants participate than ever. Pi Day Princeton is indeed here to stay, and we are thrilled that our 2012 underwriters MacLean Agency, Princeton Regional Chamber, and Coordinated Wealth Management all renewed for next year so we will be able to promote even more for 2013.

Again, thanks to everyone who came to downtown Princeton on Saturday either as an observer or a participant, a sponsor or a volunteer. You helped make 2012 Pi Day Princeton and Geek Freak Weekend one to remember.

Mimi Omiecinski
Nassau Street
Joy Chen
Chambers Street

To the Editor:

Do you believe, as I do, that ever-increasing Princeton property taxes and elected officials pursuing their own agendas are negatively impacting the quality of life in Princeton? Have you concluded that one-party municipal government is unlikely to result in outcomes to the benefit of all Princeton residents? If so, please join local Republicans and make your voice heard. A dose of political diversity would be an effective antidote to what ails Princeton. Silence is acquiescence and a guarantee that things will never change here.

A primary election on June 5 and the general election in November will choose a mayor and six Council members who will govern the newly consolidated Princeton municipality. The Princeton Republican Committee welcomes expressions of interest from potential candidates for mayor and council as well as membership in the new Princeton Republican Committee which will be chosen from each of the 22 new voting districts in Princeton in the June primary. The primary election filing deadline is April 2. We also welcome volunteers who want to help in getting out the vote and supporting local Republican candidates.

For more information or an explanation of the process, please feel free to contact Dudley Sipprelle, Chairman, Princeton Republican Committee, tel. 609-497-0740, email:

Dudley Sipprelle 
Chairman, Princeton Republican Committee

To the Editor:

The Democratic Party has ten people who have expressed interest in serving on the new council in 2013. Of those that are running some have previously served on one of the governing bodies and would bring important continuity and institutional knowledge to the new council.

However, I believe that the governing body will also benefit from having some new yet highly qualified members who would offer a fresh perspective for our new community and would not be encumbered in their decision making by having served on one governing body or the other in the past.

To that end, I urge Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) members and Democrats to consider the candidacies from the three new faces that we will see on March 25 at the PCDO endorsement meeting and March 26 at the municipal democratic committee meeting:

Tamera Matteo – Tamera is a 15-year resident who brings the unique perspective of having been a local, downtown business owner. She’s been the PTO President for the John Witherspoon Middle School and also serves on the Corner House Foundation board among others. Tamera understands the needs of the downtown and what it takes to provide a thriving ‘buy-local’ experience for our residents.

Scott Sillars – Scott is a 14-year resident who has served as the chair of the Township’s Citizens’ Finance Advisory Commission (CFAC). He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Transition Task Force. His work on the CFAC has contributed to the Township’s ability to have two consecutive zero-increase budgets and his active role during the transition this year will prepare him well for the new council.

Patrick Simon – A management consultant, Pat is an 11-year resident who has demonstrated strong financial acumen while serving for the last 18 months on the Joint Shared Services and Consolidation Commission (JSSCC). While on the JSCCC, Pat also served on the Finance subcommittee. His clear thinking and analytical abilities will be critical for the new council and his ability to clearly explain complex financial data will be an asset for the community.

Please consider supporting these highly qualified new candidates for the new Princeton Council. It is my hope that we have some new faces on the council and Tamera, Scott and Pat will bring strong and complementary skills to the Princeton governing body. They have my support.

Chad Goerner
Princeton Township

To the Editor:

In Princeton, we have the opportunity to select the individual who will best lead our entire community toward a new, unified Princeton. We have the opportunity to choose a leader who will work tirelessly with the new Council and who has a vision and a plan to address the many challenges facing our community.

As an architect and a builder, a community planner and activist, a business owner and a professional, an artist and organizer, a team leader and a team player, and as someone who has lived in both the Borough and Township, I have demonstrated the skills, dedication, perseverance, and aptitude necessary for this new leadership position in Princeton.

I have a plan for New Princeton and if elected, these are ten points that I will make fundamental to my efforts as Mayor:

Control Spending: No tax increases, as Borough has done for the past 4 years.

Public Safety: Merge police departments while improving street patrols and safety.

Preserve the Fire Department: Maintain an all-volunteer force.

A Strong Downtown: Promote economic development and improve our streetscapes.

Community Planning: Planning by the people, instead of for the people.

Academic Institutions: Engage our academic partners early and often with candor and transparency.

Affordable Housing: Develop housing at multiple levels of income distribution.

Aging in Place: Promote a transportation infrastructure for senior mobility.

Parks and Open Space: Improve open space management and create Princeton Parks Department.

Youth Services: Provide high-quality programs for our community’s youth.

I have the experience to work with both existing municipal staffs to effectively accomplish our merger. Working as the Princeton Township building inspector for three years in the early 1990s I developed strong positive relationships with Township staff. Working with Borough staff as an elected official since 2008, I constantly strive to improve the delivery of our services to our constituents and business interests.

I am qualified and committed to be your mayor. I look forward to meeting you on the campaign trail this spring – please visit my website to find a calendar of events.

Kevin Wilkes
Prospect Avenue

March 14, 2012

To the Editor:

I am running for Princeton Council because I am very concerned about this moment in our town’s history. It is essential that we seize the opportunity to set off on the right fiscal path and create effective government while preserving and enhancing services that Princeton residents have come to expect.

My recent experience as chair of the Township’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee combined with a successful background in corporate financial management make me uniquely qualified to understand the complexities and meet the challenges as we transition to one Princeton. I will promote robust financial management and transparency to enhance decision making, budgeting, and long-term capital planning.

As Princeton residents, we value our diverse community and unique resources. Our world-class library, human services, open spaces, and a vibrant downtown are at the heart of who we are and why we choose to live here. As Vice Chair of the Joint Borough/Township Transition Task Force, I have been working to achieve the contemplated savings identified in the Consolidation Commission’s report, and on the Council I will demand a balanced approach between fiscal discipline and preserving a high quality of community for our citizens.

I look forward to strengthening relations with Princeton University and our other world-class institutions. The lines of communication need to be open and frank as we wrestle with issues of development and growth.

I have lived in Princeton for 14 years, 9 years in the Borough and 5 in the Township, and look forward to a bright future as we transition to one Princeton.

Scott Sillars
Battle Road

To the Editor: 

As a parent, I have a responsibility to do all that I can to protect my children. When I sponsored the state’s first anti-bullying law in 2002, I did so for the same reason. It is the most basic duty that I share with parents across the state of New Jersey. And when the opportunity arose to act once again in 2010, I sponsored the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, a law that transcends party lines and brought Democrats and Republicans together for the sake of our children. The physical and emotional well-being of New Jersey’s young people depends on that sort of progress.

Ensuring the welfare of our kids is not a choice. When it comes to drugs and alcohol, obscenity, child abuse, and a whole host of other dangers to our young people, no one is looking the other way. Cases of harassment, intimidation, and bullying in our schools should be no different.

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights is more than just words; it is a promise to every child in the state of New Jersey. It is a declaration that we will not condone harassment, nor will we be bystanders in the presence of intimidation. For so many school children across the state, it is a lifeline. The bipartisan enactment of this law was symbolic: right knows no party or ideology. The fact of the matter is that, for a student who fears going to class each day due to harassment or the possibility of physical harm, party labels have no significance.

The state of New Jersey has set an example for generations to come in its commitment to stand up for justice and equality for all people. And if there is any single legacy for which our Legislature may be remembered, I would hope it would be its adherence to these principles.

Educating our kids means giving them all the tools they need to succeed, from simple things like pens and notebooks to the more complicated peace of mind that comes with knowing that every adult in the state of New Jersey stands with them against bullying. We owe it to these children to deliver.

Barbara Buono
Senator 118th Legislative District

To the Editor:

The Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission (PBSTC) would like to recognize and thank Polly Burlingham for her many years of service to this community through her involvement in the PBSTC. Many people may recognize Polly from her annual post at the Communiversity PBSTC Tent, where over the years she helped to hand out thousands of tree saplings to help celebrate Arbor Day, while also taking every opportunity to educate both the young and old on the proper care of Princeton trees. But behind the scenes is where Polly’s leadership as a commission member, and in recent years as the PBSTC chair, has impacted her fellow commission members and the community the most. Under Polly’s leadership the PBSTC has been awarded more than $10,000 in grants by the State Forestry Division, enabling this commission to write and act upon our state mandated second Five-year Forestry Plan. With her guidance we have met many of those initiatives, including the creation of the recently approved Borough tree ordinance and the development and inventorying of a tree database, which we use to monitor Princeton Borough tree diversity, condition, and plantings. Our new web-site has also been created under Polly’s watch, full of information on Borough trees, as well as information on educational programs for the public, such as the recent PBSTC tree walks. We wish Polly well as she steps down from her active role in this commission to pursue new and exciting interests with other very lucky local community organizations.

The Princeton Borough
Shade Tree Commission
Sharon Ainsworth, Welmoet Bok van Kammen,
Patricia Hyatt, Alexander Radbil, Marie Rickman,
Jenny Crumiller, Council Liaison

To the Editor:

The other afternoon, I was finishing up a rejuvenating walk in the tranquil and lovely Mountain Lakes Preserve and heading up the long driveway back to the parking lot. I stepped off the road to allow a delivery truck going to Mountain Lakes House to pass me and when I returned to the pavement, I slipped and crashed down onto the asphalt. Luckily, five fellow nature lovers heard my calls for help and responded swiftly.

Thank you very much to the jogger who reached me first. He supported me to the parking lot, called 911, and stayed on the phone with the police to completely assess my needs. Thank you, as well, to the woman in the parking lot who kindly proffered paper towels for my extremely bloody face, and to her husband, a doctor, who further evaluated my injuries (you were right: stitches and a broken nose). Thank you, especially, to Jamie Anderson and her husband who also helped escort me out of the woods, who phoned my husband, and who drove me to the emergency room. Thank you to the two dogs in this assemblage who were sweetly sympathetic, even though I was delaying their romp in the woods. I am extremely grateful that I had such concerned, capable help within moments of my fall, and I’m sorry that your afternoon idyll was interrupted.

I have additional thanks to all the people at Princeton Medical Center, whose kind, friendly, professional care was gentle, reassuring, and efficient. Thanks for still being right down the street from Mountain Lakes.

I also have a request to anyone driving a car or truck into Mountain Lakes Preserve: please drive slowly and cautiously. The driveway is narrow and the verges are slippery and uneven in many places. More and more walkers and runners will be in the woods as the weather improves, so please share the road.

Sally K. Chrisman
Stanley Avenue

To the Editor:

In the past few weeks I have given much thought to running for the new Princeton Council in the primary election in June. After talking through the prospect of a campaign with many of my family, friends, and colleagues, I have decided that I will enter the campaign and seek the endorsement of PCDO for the primary election.

I have arrived at this decision because I believe that the successful campaign to unite Princeton was not a culmination but a beginning. Much remains to be done during the next few years to carry forth the work of the Consolidation Commission in order to ensure that our community can realize the benefits of consolidation. In addition, during the last few years we have built a vastly improved working relationship with Princeton University. It is important to make certain that the new Princeton Council continues to build on that relationship for the betterment of the community.

For the past ten years I have been honored to serve the people of Princeton Township as a committeeman, deputy mayor and mayor. I was a member of the Consolidation Study Commission and worked for consolidation. I am a member of the Transition Task Force that is working with the professional staffs of the Borough and Township to merge our two communities into a new town of Princeton.

I ask for your support to help move our new Princeton forward and to implement what we as a community voted to do on November 8, 2011.

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

In this era of fiscal recklessness and mismanagement, I wonder how many Princetonians are aware that tens of thousands of their hard-earned tax dollars are being squandered yet again this year in ex-mayor Marchand’s barbaric deer slaughter program. In this, the eleventh year of the township’s war on wildlife, White Buffalo once again came to town to visit carnage and cruelty on Princeton’s surviving deer population. The few stragglers that remain are relentlessly persecuted in our parks and preserves because a few well-heeled snobs value their bushes more than they do living creatures.

The invalid link between deer and Lyme Disease is still promoted by an intolerant and ignorant few as a reason to continue the cull ad infinitum. If Princetonians were as concerned about this subject as they are about the Institute development debacle, the deer killing would end now.

Hopefully, once the two communities are joined, a sane policy regarding deer/human coexistence can be implemented that does not include killing.

Bill Laznovsky
Mandon Court

March 7, 2012

To the Editor:

This week, the Princeton Borough Council undertook an important reform that will promote greater public engagement in local government — we will move our meetings to an earlier time (7 p.m.) and hold our public meeting before our closed session.

Why the change? For many years, the Council has held closed session meetings before its open public meeting. As a result, the public meetings have often gone late into the night, frustrating the public and creating suboptimal conditions for good decision making. Switching the order will prioritize open government over deliberations behind closed doors, thereby promoting transparency and greater community participation. I want to thank my colleagues for supporting my motion to make this change, and hope the public will find that this new schedule makes our meetings more accessible.

Heather Howard
Aiken Avenue 

To the Editor:

There is a current movement toward declaring historic districts that would cover much of Princeton. Over 50 percent of neighborhoods could be declared historic based on recent proposals by the HPRC. We are very happy that our work to restore our beautiful old home has been recognized by The Princeton Historical Society. However, we firmly oppose the current effort to declare our area an historic district.

We are opposed to this designation in spite of the fact that our home has been recognized for its historical restoration. Over the 60 years that Bill has made this a home, he has done what many people do: remodel to accommodate a growing family. This is something that homeowners would no longer be able to do without lengthy and costly committee approval in an historic district. There are a number of historic sites in Princeton already covered by historic designation, but the current wholesale declaration that most of the town needs a committee to tell homeowners what they can and cannot do with their property seems to be a solution in search of a problem. Historic designation may sound like a harmless “merit badge” but it is also a very restrictive legal designation that dictates what a homeowner can and cannot do and how much it will cost.

It seems both short-sighted and self-interested to systematically attempt to call a halt, or create a substantial disincentive to remodel or build in neighborhoods across Princeton.

There is an existing and working system to protect our historic sites, but trying to put most of Princeton in a bureaucratic bell jar to protect it from any and all change is not the answer. While we place tremendous value on the importance of history, at the same time, we believe that homeowners should be allowed to make decisions about how their homes might evolve to adjust to the needs of growing or aging families; just as we have been permitted to do since 1952.

Bill and Judith Scheide
Library Place

To the Editor:

A record-breaking more than 450 enthusiastic participants attended the 14th annual Princeton Community Works at the Frist Center on the Princeton University campus on January 30. Participants from more than 200 non-profit organizations across the state, networked and gained insight and information by attending workshops. Our deep gratitude goes to Princeton University for its generosity as our host, to the Princeton Rotary for their significant administrative help, and to the 27 workshop presenters who donated their time and talents. A special thank you to our keynote presenter Robert Loughran for conducting the wonderful Princeton High School Orchestra, and to the 50 very talented students who performed. I also want to express my sincere appreciation to our dedicated, hard-working Community Works volunteers and to the on-going support of the media.

Marge Smith
Founder and Chair Princeton Community Works
Montadale Drive

To the Editor:

I was happy to read that the NJDOT has agreed to postpone its experimental closing of the Harrison Street and Washington Road jug-handles on Route 1. It was refreshing to see what can be accomplished when our merchants, University, and elected officials present a united front. My only concern is that this experiment will lead to biased results (in favor of permanent closure) if it is conducted in August. Many employees and customers who would typically enter Princeton using one of these jug-handles will be away on vacation in August. Since many of the folks who will be most impacted by the proposed closures will not be around to voice their concerns, the cost of the closure will be underestimated. Furthermore, the benefits of the experiment will be overestimated since NJDOT will observe reduced congestion at these intersections and attribute it to the jug-handle closures (and not to the fact that fewer cars are on the road). Thus, I propose that the experiment be conducted in September or October, not August.

Smita Brunnermeier
Maclean Circle

To the Editor:

I am running for mayor because I am excited to lead our newly united town into an era of financial savings, improved services, and more responsive government. The new government must deliver on the savings promised by consolidation and reduce the burden on our taxpayers. Achieving that goal will involve examining and improving nearly everything we do. Last year I was part of the team that put together a zero-increase Township budget — the first in decades — while preserving our valuable AAA-bond rating and high level of services. I will continue to make it a priority to deliver services more effectively and efficiently and make our community an even better place in which to live.

As deputy mayor and as a member of Township Committee, I’ve learned how to make tough decisions. I listen with respect, tackle problems thoughtfully and honestly, and work to bring people together. This approach has garnered me support from residents throughout our community, including members of both Township Committee and Borough Council. As mayor, I would strive to be a unifying figure to lead Princeton through this time of tremendous challenge and opportunity.

I will work to find ways to preserve and enhance the character of the downtown, and insist that any redevelopment projects reflect our values by incorporating green building principles and fulfilling our affordable housing obligations. Redevelopment should fit within the context of the surrounding neighborhoods. I would encourage Advisory Planning Districts to participate in the planning process so that local neighborhood voices will help us make better decisions.

This past year the Princetons received Bronze-level certification from Sustainable Jersey. It was a significant first step, but I believe we need to do more, and I will make it a priority to earn Silver certification and realize the associated environmental and financial benefits.

The consolidation study and transition have inspired many bright people to volunteer their time and skills. The next few years promise to bring positive changes to our community, and we need continued citizen involvement in order to be successful. I’m always interested in hearing your ideas as we move together toward a united community. You can reach me at or (732) 997-7212.

Liz Lempert 
Deputy Mayor Princeton Township

February 29, 2012

To the Editor:

This year Princeton will hold historic elections to elect the new consolidated Princeton Council and a new mayor. As the president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) and as the municipal chairs of the Democratic Committees in the Borough and the Township, we are writing to encourage all genuinely interested Democrats to step forward as candidates for these offices, and to briefly outline the endorsement process. Potential candidates should feel free to contact us to learn more about endorsement and election process. We will also host an open reception on Sunday, March 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 210 Moore Street, for those interested in running to ask questions and get advice.

The endorsement process will involve two steps. First, the PCDO will hold its annual endorsement meeting for local candidates on Sunday, March 25beginning at 6 p.m. in the Suzanne Patterson Center (behind Borough Hall). After what we expect will be a lively debate, PCDO members will vote to endorse Democratic candidates for six members of the new Council and for mayor. The PCDO endorsement is an important step for Democrats who wish to compete for the nomination for these offices.

Second, the joint Democratic Committees from the Borough and Township will hold their endorsement meeting the following evening on March 26, where candidates will each appear for a “Q & A” with the Democratic Committee members. The results of this two-step endorsement process will decide which candidates will receive the Democratic Party endorsements for the June Primary. Candidates will have until April 2 to file nominating petitions in order to actually appear on the primary ballot. The Democrats selected in the June Primary will then appear on the November ballot.

Candidates seeking the PCDO endorsement must notify PCDO President Dan Preston by March 11 (14 days prior to the meeting) by email at or at 609-252-0011. Similarly, Princeton Democrats should join the PCDO or renew their membership by March 11 to be eligible to vote at the March 25 meeting (dues are annual per calendar year, $15 suggested and $5 minimum). Membership information and a downloadable form are available at

Running for local office and joining the PCDO are just two ways to get involved. The Princeton Democratic Party also needs committee women and men to represent each of the 22 new voting districts comprising the new consolidated town. This committee, to be elected in the June Primary, serves as the “official” (i.e. established by state law) representative body of the party, and has important statutory duties, such as endorsing candidates, as well as a key role in campaigns. For more information, please contact Jon Durbin, Municipal Chair of Princeton Township ( and/or Peter Wolanin, Municipal Chair of Princeton Borough (

Dan Preston,

President, PCDO

Jon Durbin,

Municipal Chair, Princeton Township Democratic Committee

Peter Wolanin,

Municipal Chair, Princeton Borough Democratic Committee

To the Editor:

The Princeton Regional Schools needs to “do the right thing” and let the rehab the old Valley Road School.

Picture this, Princeton and Central New Jersey. Affordable non-profit office space in the heart of Princeton, with convenient parking. A community center with a gym, theater, rooms for rent for toddler birthday parties. Close to the Princeton Shopping Center if you need some office supplies or food. This can all be done with out costing a dime to the beleaguered taxpayer. No bond referendum needs to be fussed over. This seems to be an inspirational future. But the PRS is too busy with other issues and will not let “Save Valley Road” do the job.

Picture this, Princetonians, a dilapidated Valley Road School with a hurricane fence around it. Just sitting there unused, while some commission is looking for a consensus, having endless meetings on how to raise money to be able to tear the building down. As time marches on.

The Save Valley Road School non profit already has donors lined up. Tenants who want to occupy the building. I ask the PRS to have the courage to lead. Make the right choice and let Valley Road Reuse Committee get on with the business of recycling Valley Road for future generations.

Right now, at least let the VRC fund spot repairs to the Valley Road roof with no cost to you and no obligation.

The future is NOW.

Adam Bierman

Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

As mayor, I have received numerous letters for and against the proposed housing development for the Institute for Advanced Study. As many may know, the Battle of Princeton was not just a battle at what is today’s Princeton Battlefield park. It was a battle that moved through a number of sites all the way to Nassau Hall. It is clear to me that the most value in interpreting many revolutionary era battles, as they typically spanned large areas of ground and consisted of various skirmishes, is to do so through interpretive signage, archaeology, historical tours, and of course, preserved land.

To that end, I agree with the two esteemed historians, Jim McPherson and David Hackett Fischer, in their proposed compromise regarding this development. They have put forth a compromise that would allow for the housing project to move forward with the ability to preserve a large area of the overall site from development through a permanent conservation easement. The size of the land preserved would be about double the footprint of the Institute’s housing project.

In addition, the Institute will provide for archeological work on site before and during construction, access to a path through the preserved land and public interpretive signage upon completion of the project, and potential coordination with historical agencies for historical tours, thereby enabling the public to learn more about the Battle of Princeton.

Compromises inevitably leave both sides with perceived gains and losses. However, in this case I believe the right balance presents itself. We will enable many generations to more fully understand the Battle of Princeton and its importance through interpretive signage, historical tours, archaeology, and preserved land. We will also see to the housing needs met for the talented and creative faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Chad Goerner

Mayor, Princeton Township

To the Editor:

Recently several people claiming to be “independent observers” have said that the Princeton Battlefield Society has been unfair in challenging the Institute for Advanced Study’s proposed faculty housing project. Please note that the Battlefield Society was founded as the Princeton Battlefield AREA PRESERVATION Society, with the express mission of preserving and protecting the battlefield, much of which lies outside the park.

A number of people are under the impression that the Institute had a major role in founding the park. Untrue. Governor Edge approached the Institute about contributing to the park in 1944, and he provided a map showing his plan. The IAS indicated to the governor that they were “interested,” but they did nothing to contribute to the park until 1973, almost 30 years later. At that time they finally sold two pieces of property to the State, many years after the park was founded. Further, it could easily be argued that the IAS undermined formation of the park by purchasing property that Governor Edge was expressly seeking for the park, much of which, to this day, is still not a part of the park. This includes the site of the winning counterattack, the very property where the IAS wants to build its housing project.

A recent letter to the press claimed that the State assured the Institute that it could build on the location it now proposes. This statement only represented the perspective of a single individual at the time. Further the State of New Jersey does not have authority over determinations of local land use.

Hopefully the IAS isn’t saying that it doesn’t have to meet the requirements of local land-use laws and environmental regulations. To qualify for Cluster Zoning, the developer must show that its project meets the standard 1-acre zoning required for this property. The Institute has not done this. In addition, there are wetlands that were identified on the property in 1990 and again in 2011 that were somehow not included on maps submitted by the IAS to DEP.

The “compromise” that was offered to the Battlefield Society was essentially what the IAS was proposing all along as a cluster development. Furthermore, Professor McPherson clearly confirmed at the Planning Board meeting that the counterattack that won the battle occurred on the site the Institute wants to develop. This is something the Institute has always denied.

The Planning Board should decide that this project with its multiple violations of land use and environmental regulations does not meet the requirements of the town’s ordinances and master plan.

Daniel Thompson

Dempsey Avenue

Member, Princeton Battlefield Society

To the Editor:

It was good to see a creative and thoughtful discussion regarding affordable housing at the hospital site during the February 14 Council meeting. This discussion should be part of a larger conversation on Princeton’s housing policy. Future policy decisions must be informed by good data and should ultimately be driven by identified needs.

The rezoning of the UMCP site has always called for a 20 percent set-aside for those making less than 80 percent of the area median income. Avalon Bay has requested that they be allowed to both build more units and reduce the percentage of affordable units. If Princeton wishes to grant the developer a density bonus, it should only be done in exchange for a commensurate benefit to the town. One possibility worth considering is that they be required to provide additional units for a slightly higher income range — so-called ‘workforce housing’.

Princeton has been losing its middle class residents since the 1970s. According to the 2010 census, households earning between $75,000 and $100,000 now make up only 7 percent of the population of the Borough and Township while a quarter of our households have incomes over $200,000. This imbalance is neither healthy nor sustainable.

The affordable range (paying no more than 30 percent of earnings) of housing costs for area median-income households is between $1,714 (for a one bedroom) and $2,376 (for a three bedroom). According to Avalon Bay, rents in the development will range from $1,600 for a studio to $3,200 for a three-bedroom unit. This indicates an affordability gap — the three bedroom units will be affordable only to those making 135 percent of the median.

The 2010 census also shows us that existing gaps in housing affordability range widely. 100 percent of owner-occupied households in the Borough earning less than $20,000 are paying more than 30 percent of their income. Significantly, an average of 69 percent of all households making below $75,000 are paying more than 30 percent of income towards their housing costs.

Because the biggest need for affordable homes exists in low-income families, it makes sense that we continue to provide units for that population, even in the absence of state mandates. We should also be encouraging a greater diversity in our town by making units affordable to residents whose incomes fall outside of the range that typically benefits from housing subsidies.

For the developer to request both a density bonus and a reduction in the required affordable percentage is audacious, to say the least. Avalon Bay should be compelled to provide 20 percent of the total number of units as set-aside for traditional affordable units and 20 percent of the bonus units should be designated as affordable to households earning between 80-120 percent of the area median.

I hope that the current negotiations with Avalon Bay will lead to a discussion about overall goals for affordability and diversity in our housing stock and what can be done, on a policy level, to reach those goals.

David Schrayer

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

When Princeton Hospital moves to its new site in May 2012, it is widely anticipated that AvalonBay, the nationwide developer of residential rental housing, will sign on to develop the present site: Princeton surely needs rental units.

But it’s critical that AvalonBay ( generate designs that represent to the fullest extent possible the real future needs of the new consolidated Princeton. This site is possibly the last large tract to be developed in our downtown: its effect upon Witherspoon Street and surrounding neighborhoods will be dramatic. Princetonians are entitled to know what AvalonBay plans to do; we are equally entitled to have our voices heard as plans evolve.

Important issues include the following:

First, the site plan itself should be compatible to the fullest extent with present neighborhoods and their future needs; this matter includes both the height and the appearance of the buildings that will have frontages on Witherspoon Street and Franklin Avenue.

Second: AvalonBay must commit to a full complement of units (20 percent) to be marketed to/for low- and lower-middle income housing. It is essential that Princeton be able to draw into the community a truly diverse population that includes the young, the non-affluent, seniors, and others who contribute to our local workforce. Present zoning calls for 20 percent affordable housing on 280 units; I understand that AvalonBay will seek a variance to build 40 additional units WITHOUT affordable-housing constraints. AvalonBay’s likely request for such a variance should be scrutinized carefully.

Third: AvalonBay must “build green” to the fullest extent possible. AvalonBay’s website advertises that its headquarters is LEED-certified at the Silver level — no mean achievement. The developer should feel equally responsible for making comparable commitments to meeting these or similar standards (e.g., Energy Star) in the development project itself. Building green includes managing storm water, developing an integrated approach to optimizing energy and water use, installing renewable energy sources including solar panels, using non-toxic materials, and installing the most advanced infrastructure for managing construction waste and the waste produced by occupants. (AvalonBay will then of course be able to advertise itself as a “green developer” when it seeks to develop projects elsewhere: Princeton can be their first exemplar of the green intelligence in city planning that we all need.)

Finally, AvalonBay should be invited to present one or more public information sessions for all proposals, and the Princeton community should be welcomed by AvalonBay to provide feedback. While the public may provide input at Borough Council and Planning Board meetings when AvalonBay’s proposal is on the agenda, less formal information sessions would be a more community-friendly way for Avalon to learn about and address community and neighborhood concerns. Such sessions might be sponsored and organized by either Sustainable Princeton or Princeton Future (as both bodies are non-partisan). Mayoral candidates should also be asked publicly to state their views of the AvalonBay proposals.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

February 22, 2012

To the Editor: 

Having lived in Princeton for decades, I remember less than fondly the traffic backups at the Harrison Street/US 1 intersection — particularly those at rush hour. Recently this situation has been greatly improved as a second lane was added by the DOT. This has effectively alleviated the traffic jam exiting Princeton via Harrison Street. The traffic light timing has been optimized, and there are now two lanes, both of which allow left turns onto US-1 North. Since the improvement, I have yet to wait more than a single light cycle to proceed onto US-1. I am sure there are exceptions, but I have yet to see them.

For those who are concerned that they will be delayed getting to the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro in an emergency, the situation seems much less serious than it had previously. Emergency services vehicles can easily traverse Harrison Street, and the recently announced traffic light override equipment being installed will expedite access to Route 1 and the emergency vehicle access drive to the hospital.

We may be losing our downtown hospital, but the state-of-the-art facility opening soon will still be readily accessible just on the edge of Princeton.

Peter Thompson

Hornor Lane