August 15, 2012

To the Editor:

In our opinion the name does not reflect what the Valley Road School Building can be in the future.

Just picture a community center with an auditorium, a gym, rooms for meetings and parties, with very affordable rents, plenty of parking for non-profits and visitors, and a convenient location just a mile away from downtown Princeton.

But this possibility is being blocked by the calculated indifference of the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) board members. They are sitting on their hands rather than let this be accomplished; they do not fix the building, either; they are just waiting for it to rot.

Unfortunately you, the taxpayer, will have to foot the bill to tear the building down. Given PPS’s expensive mismanagement of the renovations of Princeton High School and John Witherspoon Middle School, we don’t have a lot of confidence in them taking on this project. More of the taxpayers money will just bleed out again.

Bleeding is already happening. The school budget has already passed, but now your money is needed for more building improvements. According to the August 8 Town Topics (“School Board Seeks $10.9 Million for Improvements”), “If passed, the Board of Education has estimated the tax impact of the bond at less than $155 annually for the average assessed home in Princeton.”

What if this $155 is too much for a lot of the average Princeton households in anemic economic times? Could this all be deferred maintenance problems, problems that are going to continue to dig into the pockets of the average taxpayer???

At least the Valley Road School Building does not have to pick the pocket of Princetonians if you let Kip Cherry and the VRS-ARC do their job and request that Judy Wilson and the PPS let “Save Valley Road School” take over the building. We are ready to raise the money, get non profit organizations to fill up the space and turn the building into a community center we have never had and can be proud of.

We look forward to Princetonians taking charge and we ask the mayoral candidates Liz Lempert and Dick Woodbridge to let the town know what their views are and what actions they will take regarding this important issue. Write or call 25 Valley Road, Princeton N.J. 08540, (609) 806-4200.

Adam Bierman, Sandra Jordan

Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

Under current law, public colleges and universities are exempt from local zoning and planning rules. If Rutgers University or The College of New Jersey wants to build a football stadium (or office building, dormitory, restaurant, or dining hall) they need not seek approval from any planning or zoning board. As public institutions, they are, however, required to give public notice of their plans and to hold public hearings. A town attorney, or any group of citizens, could then sue to stop the project in the appellate division of the Superior Court. A judge would then hear evidence regarding the appropriateness of the project and would rule on whether it could to go forward. Grounds for denial might be, for instance, that a stadium or dormitory in the middle of a residential neighborhood would violate State laws against creating a public nuisance. In effect, the New Jersey Superior Court would act as a local Planning Board.

While Superior Court might not be the ideal venue for community planning, the law which recently passed the State senate allowing private colleges and universities to ignore local zoning ordinances and planning boards would create circumstances that are far more pernicious. This law would allow a Princeton or Seton Hall University to build whatever they want anywhere in the state. As private schools, no public notice would be required and they would not have to hold public hearings, as is now the case with public colleges and universities. And because no appeals would be possible, no private university property would ever be off-limits for any use whatsoever.

There is little doubt that a law exempting a small group of private property owners from the laws of the communities in which they reside violates the New Jersey State constitution. The State Assembly should reject it.

Ken Fields

Secretary/treasurer,

Eleanor J. Lewis Fund for Public Interest Research

Linden Lane

To the Editor:

Recent issues of Town Topics contain the usual newsworthy items that emphasize the seemingly endless friction involving our relationship with Princeton University.

Viewed by a Township resident with no ties to the University, this never ending antagonism is discouraging.

Virtually any move that the University makes, seems to bring forth a great deal of push back from us. Some may be justified, some not. Many times the criticism seems to contain a degree of vitriol.

The basis for the problem seems to be the never ending desire for greater financial contributions from the University to the surrounding municipalities. Reasonable people can disagree on the appropriate amount of the voluntary contribution.

Zero is too little, but often the argument is voiced that the contribution should be based on what the tax rate for the University would be if it were a taxable entity.

By law, the University is tax exempt, as are the Seminary, the Institute for Advanced Study, and countless other properties in our municipalities, that make this a unique cultural community.

If we devoted the same amount of time and energy to our municipal challenges, we probably could have accomplished any number of worthwhile objectives — such as bringing about consolidation, 25 years ago.

William Stephenson

Governors Lane

August 8, 2012

To the editor:

Re: Town Talk’s Question of the Week “If you could live on any street in Princeton, which would you choose and why?” (Town Topics, August 1).

Two of the six answers named Linden Lane and Chestnut, and another mentioned “Jefferson Road, a beautiful street with huge trees ….” The huge trees there are mostly sycamores, which line many, many streets in Princeton, including Hodge and Battle Roads.

When Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected from U.S.S..R., she came to the U.S.A. in April 1967 with the help of former Ambassador to U.S.S.R. George F. Kennan. Upon arriving in Princeton, where she made her home for a time, she remarked about the abundance of trees, saying that Princeton looked like a park.

Understandable, then, there are lots of Princeton streets named after trees, affectionately called “the tree streets,” most prominently the four parallel streets: Chestnut, Linden Lane, Maple, and Pine St., that run into Nassau Street, while Hawthorne Avenue, Spruce Street and Hickory Court are all perpendicular to Chestnut.

Other streets: Walnut Lane extends Chestnut, Sycamore Lane is perpendicular to Old Hickory Court, Birch Avenue is perpendicular to Witherspoon as Sycamore Road is to Harrison, Cedar Lane, and Hemlock Circle off Philip Drive.

There are other tree streets but its best to consult the interactive map at this link: www.city-data.com/city/Princeton-New-Jersey.html, or the Princeton map in the now defunct telephone Yellow Book if you kept one.

Carl Faith

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

Now is the time to end politics as usual and stop the reckless spending that goes with it. My name is Kenneth J. Cody and I am an independent candidate in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional district. The outrageous amount of money used in campaigning needs to come to an end. In 2010 House candidates raised over one billion dollars to be spent from contributions. I believe we need to change the process for elections to be run more fairly. Strict campaign finance reform should be enforced from local elections to the presidency. All candidates need to focus on the issues instead of fund raising. Think what could have been done with a fraction of the one billion dollars raised in 2010. That funding could have gone to educational programs, medical research, environmental causes, or to help the less fortunate. Strict finance reform will allow other political parties to have more say on a level playing field instead of the monopoly of Democrats and Republicans. My campaign has vowed not to accept any monetary contributions and is self-funded. My goal is to run a candidacy of integrity based on principal. Also as a commitment to the citizens of the 12th district and the nation, I will demand a $30,000 dollar pay cut in my yearly salary if elected. With Congressional approval ratings at an all-time low, I believe it is the least I could do. It is time to end the wasteful spending in Washington and turn politics in a positive direction.

Kenneth J. Cody

Lawrenceville,

Independent Candidate, 12th Congressional District

To the Editor:

Recently, Rep. Rush Holt joined Rutgers officials and other educators to talk with local students and parents about college aid opportunities.

In today’s economy it’s challenging for young people to find a job. College has never been more crucial to our economy and to job creation, but college is also more expensive nowadays. As a longtime teacher, Rep. Holt has seen firsthand the power of higher education to transform lives. He has taken some actions in the Congress to make college more affordable:

1. Keeping college loan rates low. A few years ago, Rep. Holt helped write a law that cut student loan interest rates from 6.8 to 3.4 percent, saving each student $2,000 on average. Recently, some members in Congress sought to undo this rate cut. Rep. Holt helped reach a compromise to ensure that rates will remain low for one more year, helping 144,000 New Jersey students. He is now supporting legislation to make the rate cut permanent.

2. Helping math and science teachers afford college. The TEACH Grant program provides up to $16,000 over four years for students who commit to teaching math, science, or foreign language for at least five years.

3. Supporting graduates who enter public service. Rep. Holt helped write a law that forgives student loan debt after 10 years for graduates who enter public service.

Education is key to the American Dream for individuals and our nation’s economic future. In November, let’s re-elect education advocate Rep. Rush Holt to the Congress.

Yu Zhong

Plainsboro

August 1, 2012

To the Editor:

It is clear that NJDOT intends to close the Harrison and Washington Road jughandles permanently. It’s advisory on the NJDOT website states: “If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will NOT be restored.“ (emphasis added).

What are the measurements of success? Are they that backups at the jughandles will no longer occur? It seems self-evident that this will be true since they will be closed.

What measurements are being taken of traffic congestion coming into Princeton via alternative routes? Where have counters been installed? Do we have adequate historical data in place for comparison?

How will the economic impacts be measured from loss of sales by our merchants? Have our merchants been asked to keep records that can be given to NJDOT? What about the extra time and gasoline required for using alternative routes? How is that being measured?

Has NJDOT run this through a computer model? Why haven’t they presented the results to the public? Where do our legislators stand on this?

No one is denying that Route 1 traffic should be better managed. We are still waiting for an overpass at Harrison Street, which we are being told must be financed by Federal funds that are not yet forthcoming.

In the meantime, the addition of a turning lane into each of the jughandles would improve traffic backups at the jughandles. This could be accomplished more easily at Harrison Street than Washington Road, but this improvement at Harrison would help and could easily be implemented.

Kip Cherry

Dempsey Avenue

To the Editor:

I read with great dismay and outrage that NJDOT continues with their plans to close the jug handles at Washington Road and Harrison Street going north, with the added burden of closing the left hand turn at Washington Road going south.

NJDOT has inconceivably and inconsiderately decided to close a major east west route into Princeton from West Windsor without consideration of the residents in West Windsor. This decision will turn Princeton into an island. It will increase traffic at Scudder’s Mill Road and Alexander to unbelievable proportions. All of this with no plans for building an overpass in the vicinity. What can they possibly be thinking, certainly not about the combined 50,000 citizens who actually live here and use these road daily?

As stated on the NJDOT website: (www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/route1pilot/),

“after the conclusion of the trial, NJDOT will meet with stakeholders to present its findings as to whether the restrictions have proven to be effective in reducing Route 1 congestion and to discuss the extent of any secondary impacts on local streets and roads. If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will not be restored and the department will replace the temporary barriers with permanent and more aesthetically pleasing barriers as expeditiously as possible.”

I’m planning on starting a petition to “Stop the Closings and Build an Overpass” on Change.org. Please contact me at deirdrasilver@me.com if you can help with the wording of the petition, social media, and pro bono legal action.

Deirdra A. Silver

West Windsor

To the Editor:

When my husband first suggested we sign up for the Princeton organic curbside pickup program, I was concerned about the resulting mess and hassle. But I was totally wrong.

The program is clean, easy, and requires no more effort than it took to throw organic waste in the garbage or in using the disposal. But it is much better for the environment than either of those options.

Since we signed up, our non-compostable waste has been reduced to less than a small plastic bag each week, meaning much less landfill.

This program is also much cheaper than what we were previously paying for garbage pickup alone. For just $30 a month, the program provides a weekly pickup of organic waste that is then composted, plus a separate weekly garbage pickup. Alternatively, you can sign up for just the organic pick up for $20 a month.

And the savings don’t stop there. As more people sign up, the cost of garbage pickup and disposal goes down for Princeton as a whole, lowering our taxes. For example, during the three-month pilot for the program, having just 165 homes participate resulted in a $7,000 savings in disposal fees. Imagine the savings for all of us if just a quarter of the 8,000 homes in Princeton signed up?

Even more important, just three months of participation by 165 homes diverted over 25 tons of organics from landfill. That is equal to 31 tons of carbon offsets, 91 trees being planted and 5 cars off the road.

If you care about the environment and want to save money, I encourage you to take part in this wonderful program now. It is still about 100 homes shy of the number it needs to continue. Losing this program because not enough residents signed up would be a real shame, especially as Princeton is demonstrating the benefits of curbside composting to other communities across New Jersey.

If you have any questions or are interested in signing up, please call or email Janet Pellichero, the Recycling Coordinator, at (609) 688-2566 ext. 1478 or jpellichero@princeton-township.nj.us.

Julia Sass Rubin

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

A letter in the July 25 Town Topics mailbox (“If University Were to Expand Without Zoning, Where Would the Town go?”) mistakenly claims that Brown University has increased its payments to its municipality (Providence) to $30 million a year. Here are the facts:

Brown recently reached an agreement under which it will increase its combination of tax payments plus voluntary contributions by a total of $32 million over 11 years. Specifically, it will make payments of $8 million per year for five years, followed by $6 million per year for six years. This compares to a current annual payment (taxes plus contribution) of $4 million.

Princeton University’s current tax and voluntary payment to Borough and Township is over $10 million per year. So Princeton Borough and Township together are already receiving more from Princeton University than Providence will receive from Brown even in the early years of the agreement, and much more than Providence will receive in the later years.

As a percentage of the municipal budget, Princeton’s contribution is much greater. The combined municipal budgets of the two Princetons are just over $60 million while the Providence municipal budget is just over $300 million.

As part of its contribution agreement, Brown acquired title to several public streets near its campus and a long-term lease for 250 parking spaces on public streets for Brown employees. Princeton’s tax payments and voluntary contributions do not involve any real estate acquisitions or leasing arrangements.

Kristin S. Appelget

Director, Community and Regional Affairs

Princeton University

To the Editor:

Why does AvalonBay oppose LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Princeton? LEED is a far more thorough certification program than Energy Star. It differentiates between better and poorer degrees of sustainability achieved by any project; Energy Star does not distinguish degrees. Further, the Energy Star program has been found deficient by the inspector general of the EPA and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Environment.

Ron Ladell, AvalonBay’s chief promoter at Borough Council and the Planning Board stated, “We don’t do LEED on stick-buildings.” Why such a blunt push-back on “stick-buildings” when AvalonBay’s corporate headquarters is certified LEED-Silver and its webpage devotes 13 pages to sustainability? One of the AvalonBay attorneys, Jeremy Lang, took a tough stand at the Planning Board (4/19/12) and stated, “We have successfully litigated against efforts to impose LEED certification standards.” At the same meeting, former Princeton Township mayor Bernie Miller asked Mr. Ladell “Is there anything to stop a developer from volunteering to seek LEED-certification?” The non response speaks volumes. Why such opposition to the environmental health of our community? Why such belligerence on a matter concerning the public good?

Princeton should not be stonewalled—especially on what will surely be the most massive building in town if constructed. New Jersey municipal land use law is 30 years out of date on environmental matters such as LEED and frowns on anything that is “cost-generative” for the developer with no consideration for the future health costs to be incurred by an entire population in consequence of unsustainable building practices. AvalonBay may hide behind outdated state law, but when they refuse to do better, they don’t look good. It is evident that their intentions are out of sync with Princeton, a state-certified Sustainable Municipality. Our public policy may be beyond Avalon Bay’s desire to comply.

AvalonBay’s intentions are outdated, counterproductive, and dangerous to Princeton’s municipal and environmental health. Any development must have an energy performance that is a minimum of 30 percent better than ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) or be equivalent to IECC 2009 (International Energy Conservation Code) improved performance. We don’t need another development that is not LEED certified, another hotspot in our downtown, another massive development with flat roofs and no solar panels.

The Planning Board must do what it can to impose conditions and/or entice this reluctantly green, presently grey developer to do a better job. If Avalon Bay wants to build here, they must learn something about Princeton community values. The market-rate and affordable rental units Princeton needs should not be built by a developer who has little to no respect for Princeton values.

Benjamin R. Warren

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

Some things should stay the same. We’re happy that the pool complex is new and shiny, but we’re happier that the same great community spirit overrides the changes. Today we realized, almost too late, that we needed a lifeguard to sign off on a swim test for crew camp. Vikki, Taariq and Al quickly found Pat Prendergast to witness the swim test. Pat had just gone to the same camp earlier this summer, so he was happy to help. It all couldn’t have gone more smoothly or graciously. Thanks, everyone!

Holly Nelson, Dorothy Weiss

Leigh Avenue

Isabella Deshmukh

Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

The recent Consumer Report safety ranking of Princeton Medical Center of 39th out of 62 New Jersey hospitals reflects the need for the hospital’s president and board to restore the confidence and win back the recognition of all health care consumers in the Princeton area. Not an easy task when you consider the lack of community support by the hospital officials to hold Avalon Bay responsible for adhering to master plan and building code requirements to build on the hospital’s former site. Consider also the competition from two other nearby hospitals among the five in the county.

CEO Rabner rightly observed how important it is for consumers to have the information they need to make intelligent choices about health care. There is, of course, a hierarchy of health care quality which is directly proportional to the expertise and experience of healthcare providers. While facilities and equipment “with welcoming décor and amenities” are important, it is the nursing staff which is the backbone of hospital care, something learned from 20 years of hospital volunteer service. Consumers also need to know medical care is both art and science, not science alone, and that doctors and nurses need recognition for a job well done in the community they serve. The Princeton Medical Center has yet to win this recognition.

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

I’m one of the fans of the Montgomery Theater and would not like to see its demise. How about doing what film groups in other cities have done by charging an annual membership fee for the privilege of buying individual tickets. A higher price could be charged for non-members (many of whom might then join) unaware of the organization and the policy. This might even allow for sprucing up the auditoriums and lavatories.

Phyllis Spiegel

Plainsboro

July 25, 2012

To the Editor:

The Princeton Medical Center and developer AvalonBay (AB) can still salvage a deal that will damage the Princeton community.

It is doubtful that hospital leadership (or its president and CEO, Barry Rabner) directed AB’s attention to the 2006 Master Plan, which lays out an exciting vision for the civic rejuvenation of the site. The lapse is disturbing because Mr. Rabner himself, in countless meetings with the Borough’s Task Force, negotiated a housing density of 280 units to boost the property’s value — in exchange for which Mr. Rabner agreed to public open spaces and walkways crossing the site, a public plaza, LEED “to the extent practical,” and retail stores for the neighborhood’s economic health.

None of this appears in the site plan submitted by AB. A draft version was sharply criticized by the Site Plan Review Advisory Board for manifold violations of Borough code. Revisions show only perfunctory changes, one of which simply agrees to comply with fire code. AB stubbornly disallows public walkways crossing the site. The AB plan still proposes two conjoined monolithic squares: a gated community that wrecks the vision of a newly diversified community. The opening of the smaller block into a dead-end space for “quiet meditation” is a mockery of the code. The economic fallout for the Princeton community is unknown; if the Lawrenceville AB development is a model, renters will be slapped with a $500 annual maintenance fee in addition to rent. Other communities — no wonder — have rejected AB: Scripps Ranch in California, Greater Huntington (Long Island), and Highland Park, N.J.

Hospital leadership and AB should collaborate to do better. AB’s architectural firm, PerkinsEastman, has recently merged with EE&K, a creative group of architects who deliberately design “green” and generate solutions to foster healthy neighborhoods (see www.eekarchitects.com). Fully one-third of their staff are LEED-accredited architects; three of their recent buildings qualified for LEED-Gold certification; and The Aventiene (Gaithersburg, Md.), certified LEED for New Development, won a National AIA Design Excellence Award.

EE&K’s website states: “Our approach starts with an acute awareness of how residential buildings can both contribute to and benefit from the public realm.” This is exactly what is missing in the AB site-plan and in Mr. Ladell’s dismissive approach to Princeton communal needs. It is what Mr. Rabner supported while he negotiated for the hospital’s economic benefit — and now seems to have forgotten.

Why should Princeton settle for anything less than excellent design that does not violate Borough code?

The botch-up of the Princeton Master Plan and Borough code embodied in AB’s site plan application can be rectified by turning to EE&K now instead of courting conflict later. The hospital has a profound obligation to press its contract-purchaser to heed the dictates of that plan and code. Princeton residents are tired of hearing Mr. Ladell say what he won’t do — for example, “zero” LEED; we do not want affordable housing at the any price. Mr. Ladell should try not to smash the potential for neighborhood revitalization. The Master Plan lays out public policy: both parties should work, now, for the public good.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

Thank you for keeping residents up to date on major site planning now underway in the Princeton area. After hearing the recent presentation of AvalonBay at Princeton Borough Council, I would say that the developer is prepared to do a competent, responsible job of constructing 280 housing units on the Princeton Hospital site. It appears, however, that future residents will be comfortable — but contained.

What invites them to explore the Community Park School neighborhood nearby? To enjoy our wonderful new pool and excellent recreation program? To eat in the growing number of local restaurants there and share in programs at our outstanding Public Library — all within walking distance? This is a vibrant community. Why turn inward? At the same time, I have to ask myself, what would invite me into the proposed AvalonBay project? The touted wide-arch doorway on Witherspoon becomes narrow and leads to a distant cluster of benches, nothing more. I would feel that I was an intruder in a private space, which is clearly how residents under the current plan would view me. Why the expense of a private pool, with a first-class pool just a few blocks away? It doesn’t have to be this way.

We know how to design economically for livable space. I’ve seen urban buildings with a completely open network of wide sidewalks interspersed with playground equipment and benches for parents and passersby. Parents can keep an eye on the children from their apartments, yet both adults and children have a wonderful sense of freedom of movement, and of belonging. AvalonBay must of course have to pay attention to the lay of the land and project costs, as its architects have done. But planning also has to encompass a deeper feel for the surrounding community and the interactive possibilities. AvalonBay is being pushed by Princeton’s residents to put more effort — and more imagination — into its planning for the hospital site. The results could be AvalonBay’s finest — a real step-up for this builder. AvalonBay gains, and Princeton continues to be the kind of diverse and welcoming community that we know is possible.

Nancy Strong

Maple Street

To the Editor:

Even as the University is being sued over its plan to move the Dinky, the State Legislature is moving to exempt private universities from municipal zoning ordinances. Interestingly, when I asked random riders whether they thought the Dinky should be moved, most said no, but that the University can’t be stopped. Does the University already have all the power it needs? In his published discussions with NJ Transit, Mr. Durkee has generally avoided mention of the consistent and ongoing objections of townspeople.

The Borough worked long and hard to create its Master Plan and a transition to consolidation representing all of Princeton’s issues, from trees to sewers and back again. We approach saturation on land use: if we are to grow in any direction it will have to be largely by improving what we have, rather than expanding. But the University is our largest landowner. If it were to expand regardless of zoning, where would the town go? Land values (and taxes), which have recently doubled for some, would continue to rise, our working neighbors would continue to move out, and the Master Plan’s goal of inclusion — a varied community, not just for the privileged — would fall apart.

While A-2586, already approved in the Senate, purports to “equalize” private universities with public ones, it would actually put their bar below that of public universities, which are funded by taxes and thus must also be approved by voters.

We all appreciate what the University brings to the town; we hope though that its response to the changing times will come to resemble that of Brown and Yale: both have voluntarily increased municipal payments by many millions of dollars — to $30 million/year for Brown. Will Princeton, with an endowment about 15 times larger than Brown’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_the_United_States_by_endowment) make a similar contribution, e.g., for its use of land for other than direct educational purposes?

Cooperation with and from the University is critical. We hope it will seek more input, rather than less.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

Other communities have rejected AvalonBay developments including Highland Park, New Jersey, and Huntington, Long Island. Princeton should do the same unless it can be assured that AvalonBay will be an asset to the community and not just an opportunistic developer that muscles its way in using affordable housing as its battering ram while building undesirable, huge structures that are not sustainable over the long haul. Their interests are relatively short term while Princeton will be left with the problem of poor site use for generations. Of particular interest are several recent letters to the editor of the Town Topics: “AvalonBay’s Closed Compound Impedes Connectivity between Our Neighborhoods” (6/6/12 ); “AvalonBay’s Revisions to Plans Still Do Not Comply with Borough Code (6/20/12); and “AvalonBay Should Build to LEED Standards” (6/25/12).

Why should Princeton settle for a less than desirable, sustainable development in a premier location once occupied by the hospital? Aside from its financial profits, AvalonBay will gain a lot from having the Princeton connection and will likely use the connection to attract other communities that may reason “If AvalonBay’s cookie-cutter design is good for Princeton, it must be good for us,” making assumptions that are inaccurate.

Princeton can do better and should. The Planning Board will have a heavy burden to justify approving this proposed development and it will need an astute planning staff to address the many issues raised over the past several months by the public for the benefit of the community. The Board must exhibit the mettle necessary to ensure the best design possible, one that adheres to the Princeton Master Plan and the promised compromise reached between the Hospital and the community that resulted in the MRRO zone. Our community cannot afford to be intimidated by the tenor of the June 11, 2012, letter written by AvalonBay’s local attorney Anne Studholme to Borough Attorney Chow and Planning Board Attorney Porter and included as part of AvalonBay’s Site Plan submission of June 8, 2012.

Diane Perna

Carnahan Place

To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the Princeton Borough Police Department for their hard work in responding to the rash of burglaries in the east end of Princeton. They worked tirelessly, often undercover and in extra shifts, and coordinated closely with neighboring law enforcement, which resulted in the arrest of a suspect. In addition, they were diligent and responsive to neighborhood concerns throughout the investigation.

Of course, we should remain vigilant and continue to take precautions to protect our families and property. For example, as residents travel this summer, they should be aware of the opportunity to take advantage of the vacant house check service. The Vacant House form, which is now available on the police department’s website and can be submitted electronically, allows a resident to notify the police that they will be away so that the police can monitor their home during their absence.

Heather Howard

Princeton Borough Council

To the Editor:

We are fortunate in the Princeton area to have two very good independent movie theaters; the Garden and the Montgomery Cinemas (“Montgomery Cinema Ponders Future as Digital Projection Takes Hold,” July 11, 2012). With the advent of digital technology and the large expense to the smaller independent theaters to convert to digital (which is not used by foreign filmmakers) we are in danger of losing such theaters and that would be a loss of a valuable amenity for many in our community. The Garden Theater is likely more secure because of its eligibility for funding from the large U.S. movie studios to defray digital conversion costs and because of Princeton University’s ownership of the Garden Theater building.

The Montgomery is the more threatened theater because it is not eligible for the large studios’ funding since it shows exclusively first run independent and foreign films not available elsewhere in our area and does not show studio mainstream films.

I have spoken to the owner of the Montgomery theater who is trying various strategies over the next few months to see how he can deal with these technical and financial problems. In the meantime, increased attendance is one way of showing that the community cares about the kind of films Montgomery shows on its six screens.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

On behalf of Eden Autism Services, and the children and adults and their families whom we serve, once again I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for the generosity of our community.

On July 15, Eden held its 9th annual Eden Autism 5K Race and one-mile Fun Run in the Princeton Forrestal Village, the location of Eden’s recently opened Education and Outreach center. I am thrilled to announce that we exceeded our previous fundraising record for this event with more than $150,000 raised to date.

Special thanks to Tony Kuczinski, president & CEO of Munich Reinsurance America, and the Munich Re staff and interns, for Munich Re’s leadership role as title sponsor of the race; Curt Emmich of Princeton Forrestal Center, who served as race director; the numerous volunteers, sponsors, and the many other individuals and businesses who provided monetary or in-kind support for our event.

We are deeply grateful to the dedicated Eden Autism 5K steering committee that helped plan this remarkable event and to the more than 800 walkers and runners who participated in the race and Fun Run. The funds raised will help Eden continue its mission of improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.

Thomas P. McCool

President and CEO, Eden Autism Services

July 18, 2012

To the Editor:

Thanks so much for your July 11 front-page article (“Montgomery Cinema Ponders Future As Digital Projection Takes Hold”) that clearly explained the grave financial dilemma confronting small, independent cinemas, which are being forced to decide whether to convert from 35 millimeter film projection to digital projection.

Profound thanks also go to Bob Piechota, owner of Montgomery Cinemas, who was interviewed for your story. Mr. Piechota has somehow managed to keep his unique but fragile enterprise alive, even though the financial realities imposed by the explosion of other entertainment options, most of them available on home screens, has significantly diminished the number of people who go out to the movies. For movie lovers who savor independent and foreign films, as well as acclaimed documentaries, Montgomery Cinema has been a godsend. We do not take for granted the luxury of having in our area a theater that consistently offers rewarding alternatives to mainstream Hollywood fare — alternatives that are challenging, ambitious, layered, and nuanced (but also beautiful, enlightening, entertaining, and well-acted), and that provoke us to think and talk about what we’ve just seen, often for days afterward.

We worry about how limited moviegoing in our area would be if we no longer had the good fortune of being able to choose to see the kinds of films presented by Montgomery Cinema. I urge everyone to recall how exhilarating it can be to see exceptional films on a large screen, in the company of others who share one’s anticipation and responses — and then to take advantage of this remarkable theater while we still have it. Perhaps if there is an upsurge in patronage, Mr. Piechota will be further encouraged to find a way to keep Montgomery Cinema in operation, and eventually see it thrive.

Janet Stern

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

Something fun for kids is happening on Thursday afternoons at 4:30 through August 23. “Under the Red Umbrella,” which is a story time for kids of all ages, will be held at the Mary Moss Park on John Street.

A recent special guest reader was Township Councilman Lance Liverman. Last week’s theme was Fireman. After the stories, we all shared some juicy, cold, watermelon slices!

On July 19 at 4:30 our stories will be in both Spanish and English and our guest reader will be Senora Blanco. On July 26 we will be celebrating Dr. Seuss and our special guest reader will be Ms. Judy Cashmore from the F.I.S.H. Foundation..

We are grateful for the generous donations from F.I.S.H., JaZams (in Princeton), and the Bryn Mawr and Wellesley Book Sale that supplied us with funds to buy books and as well as some wonderful, gently used children’s books. No child leaves without a few new books to add to their personal library.

Please consider joining us “Under the Red Umbrella” on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30. Mary Moss Park is at the corner of John and Lytle Streets. The program is run by the Red Umbrella Group of the Princeton Public School’s Board of Education’s, Minority Education Committee.

Joyce Turner

Secretary for the Minority Education Committee

Woods Way

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Riverside School PTO (Parent Teachers Organization), we would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet 2012” celebration of school gardening and healthy living last month. We raised approximately $12,000 net that will support garden education programs at Riverside and other Princeton public elementary schools.

We are especially grateful to our Golden Orchid sponsors, the Princeton Radiology Group and YogaStream, and to our Silver Sage sponsors, BlackRock, Church & Dwight Co., Inc., Morven Museum & Garden, Neil McKeon, Merrill Lynch, Pinneo Construction and Rhone Bryant, LLC. Thanks also go to our Bronze Dahlia sponsors Bagel Barn, Bent Spoon, Richard Holstein, DMD, FADH Pediatric Dentistry, The Ivy Inn, Mason, Griffen & Pierson, McCaffrey’s, Minuteman Press, Naturally Nora,
Princeton Shopping Center Merchant’s Association,
Rambling Pines Day Camp, Terra Momo Bread Co., The Whole Earth Center, and our Garden Friends, including Bounce U, Donald Cox, Esq., The Majeski Foundation, Princeton Ace Hardware, Princeton Windsor Pediatrics, The Suppers Program, Trader Joe’s, and Dr. Tyl and Dr. Fogarty, Dental Healthcare Associates. Our silent auction was also a great success thanks to generous donations from Riverside families and local businesses.

As co-chairs, we are grateful for the enthusiastic support from fellow PRS school gardeners Stephanie Chorney, Amy Mayer, Karen Nathan, Elizabeth White, Lee Yonish, and Alan Zetterberg, as well as dozens of Riverside parents, students and alumni volunteers and the strong-armed PHS football team. Our gardens blossom thanks to garden educator Dorothy Mullen, whose vision, tenacity, and hard work are the life force of our school gardens, and Roger Martindell, who invests countless hours in garden labor and care.

A special thanks goes out to Principal Bill Cirullo for his years of support for garden education programs and his positive energy and vision, as well as the Riverside teachers and staff who have invested enormous energy into integrating the garden residency into their teaching of our children.

Finally, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to those in the Princeton community who turned out on June 9 and enjoyed the beautiful day, while supporting vital programs that teach our children about healthy food choices and active living. Thank you for joining us in support of Princeton school gardens!

Beth Behrend, Julie Capozzoli,
Marianna Torok, Heather Aton,

Co-Chairs, Healthy Children, Healthy Planet 2012

Riverside School PTO

To the Editor,

On July 26 ground will be broken on Copperwood in Princeton. After almost a decade of discussion, debate, design, and deliberation, a modern, sophisticated community designed for those Princetonians who want to downsize and still stay in the town they love will come into being. The project is a model of land preservation and sustainability, of which Princeton should be very proud.

This project would not have come about were it not for the support, mentorship, guidance, and positive actions of both civic volunteers and Township staff. My thanks go to former Township mayors Phyllis Marchand and Bernie Millier and to the current mayor, Chad Goener. They also go to the Princeton Township Committee and their attorney, Ed Schmierer, to the Regional Planning Board under the leadership of Peter Madison and Wanda Gunning, and to the Site Plan Review Advisory Board under the thoughtful leadership of Bill Wolfe.

Of course, the “devil is in the details,” and the Township staff has been diligent, appropriately demanding, understanding, cooperative, and, when deadlines were imminent, especially responsive. The Township engineer, Bob Kiser; planner, Lee Solow; zoning officer, Peter Kneski; building official, John Pettenati; and their respective staffs all deserve a big “thank you” for not only enabling the project to proceed, but for the fine work they do in protecting the interests of the Township and preserving that special quality that is Princeton.

Through everyone’s efforts, Copperwood is a better project. It will finally bring to Princeton the much-needed active adult community that it has needed for so long.

J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, PP

Principal