September 19, 2012

Dear Editor:

I have had the privilege of working with Liz Lempert on Democratic Party matters and have seen first-hand the strong leadership skills she will bring as mayor of the new Princeton. Liz is an excellent choice to be our first mayor because she will listen to the concerns of ALL Princetonians and work hard for us.

Liz is a levelheaded, poised, and solution-oriented person who uses collaboration and good organization as the tools for success. As deputy mayor and township committeewoman she is well-versed in the issues facing our community and will bring a unique combination of fiscal discipline, commitment to diversity, and a focus on environmental sustainability to the job. I enthusiastically urge my fellow citizens to vote Liz Lempert for mayor on November 6.

Margaret Griffin

Battle Road

September 12, 2012

To The Editor:

I am writing to ask you to vote on Monday, September 24, in favor of the bond referendum to repair and restore the Princeton Public Schools and playing fields. The referendum is necessary because the life expectancy has been exceeded for many of the systems and components in buildings that were mostly built in the 1950s. This is an opportune time to tackle such necessary projects because of low construction costs and very low interest rates.

The district has spent more than a year carefully considering a list of needed projects for the town’s schools with an eye toward making the most conservative request possible. The projects include exterior and interior repairs and refurbishments, field reconditioning and the repurposing of an old middle school gym into a media center.

The referendum will pay for exterior repairs or replacements for select windows, doors, roofs, playgrounds, brickwork and parking lots. Inside the schools, repairs and rehabilitation will take place for some air ventilation systems, climate controls, lockers, select classrooms and class storage, and safer gym flooring at elementary schools.

The referendum also will pay for the replacement of the artificial turf and track at the high school. Heavily used by the school, weekend clubs, and residents, the turf is disintegrating into black particles and the track surface is coming loose in chunks. Both are on the verge of becoming unusable.

Refreshing those surfaces calls for the simultaneous replacement of the aluminum spectator bleachers and press box because heavy equipment cannot cross the artificial surfaces unless they are under construction. In case you haven’t been to a game recently, the narrow (and uncomfortable) bleachers have no stairs, and no ramps for the disabled.

The referendum also includes the repurposing of the old gym at John Witherspoon Middle School into a media center that better reflects the current needs of the students, with more technology, resources, and instructional space. The existing library and its tiny book collection haven’t really changed since I went there as a student in the 1970s — even though the school population is much larger.

For more details about the projects, go to

Every vote counts!

Rebecca Cox

Madison Street, PHS Class of 1982

To the Editor:

Once again, the caring and generosity of our community has been immediate and impressive. This year, through HomeFront’s Back to School drive, 1,200 homeless or very low-income children are going back to school with their heads held high, thanks to the concerted efforts of area businesses, organizations, congregations, and individuals. In these opening days of the school year, these children will proudly open their backpacks, filled with all the school supplies they could possibly want or need. They are confident — and, most importantly, they are ready to learn.

Not only did community members provide clothing, backpacks, and supplies, they also contributed to HomeFront’s Children’s Fund, which will be used throughout the school year to help parents of our client families provide those items that mean so much to their children: school pictures, the fees for a class trip, and even athletic shoes and equipment.

HomeFront knows the critical role that education plays in an independent, positive life and we do our very best to encourage and support academic success for adults and the children we serve. We provide tutoring four evenings a week during the school year, and our summer camps have a strong educational component. If a child has a learning disability, we work to have it remediated. Throughout all of our work, the community plays a vital role; as just one example, we have an amazing corps of volunteers who work one-on-one with the children.

In these difficult economic times, community support is even more meaningful. I only wish everyone who helped with our Back to School drive could have seen the children’s faces when they came to HomeFront last week. All of their excitement as they saw their new clothing, backpacks, and supplies was possible because they lived in a community that cares. For all of you who made this happen, I thank you.

Connie Mercer

HomeFront President & CEO

To the Editor:

As deputy mayor of the Township, Liz Lempert has been closely involved in our town’s road to consolidation. But that’s not the best reason for her to become mayor of a united Princeton. The best reason is her record.

As Liz’s fellow member on the Princeton Environmental Commission, I can say that her commitment to the environment and sustainability has been unsurpassed by any other municipal official who has served on the PEC. One of her greatest achievements was helping preserve 66 acres of open space, including the Princeton Ridge Preserve. With Liz as mayor, our town will become greener faster.

As a fellow public school mother, I am grateful for Liz founding Save Our Schools, which has waged a tough and ongoing fight with the state legislature to give local voters — not the state — power over charter schools that usurp local funds to create boutique schools within a system ranked among the best in the nation. In my two decades in Princeton, I’ve not seen this kind of activism and commitment to public education by any other municipal official. Liz will keep working hard to keep our schools strong.

Liz also has been a local hero for the less fortunate in our town by leading the effort to save Princeton’s Human Service Commission. There are many individuals in Princeton with low-paying jobs and no health insurance who have difficulty paying rent and putting food on the table. The commission exists to help these people when they are in need or in crisis, yet it was nearly abolished.

Lastly, I am grateful for Liz’s successful efforts in working with officials and staff to keep the property tax rate flat, and for her intent to keep it flat once she’s elected mayor.

Liz is short on rhetoric and long on action. She is open-minded, fair, pragmatic, and gets things done, thanks in large part to her collaborative style of leadership. She’s not in the race for the limelight. She loves this town as much as her Princeton born and bred contender, and she’s in it to keep Princeton a great, neighborhood-oriented and progressive place to live.

Wendy Kaczerski

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

I am a mother of a preschooler that folks in the linguistics and child development world call a dual language learner. Most of these children, if not all, go through a phase the American Language-Speech-Hearing Association call a “period of silence,” which is often mistaken for developmental or speech delay. The period of silence usually comes during the time most monolingual children are speaking and answering questions. My child was no exception to this rule and has been placed in a learning disability program here in Princeton. Through some research, I discovered that many dual language learners are in similar situations. The administration has agreed to meet with me to discuss my request to have my bilingual child be assessed with tests and standards appropriate for dual language learners.

While I am happy for the opportunity to discuss assessments with the administration, I fear that at the end of the day, financial considerations will prohibit my child and other bilingual children from getting an assessment that is appropriate for them. I had chatted with the president of one of the PTOs in Princeton about my child. She declared to me “The school doesn’t have money. The school should not pay for any special assessments. I don’t want to spend money on any other assessment.” I worry that the administration will reflect the same attitude as the PTO president.

Her financial concerns for the school are warranted. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which administers an international test called PISA to 15-year-olds worldwide, noted that the top performing nations had very cost effective educational systems. The U.S. was not one of the top ranking nations in PISA. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Governor Chris Christie hope to build educational systems that can run smarter on less money. Today, we can see some of the results of education reform. Recent rankings published in New Jersey Monthly, which had Princeton High School at number 59, reflects how well schools do during times of budget cutting.

While Princeton figures out how to make smarter decisions, I worry that because there are parents in Princeton who do not care about all the different children with different needs, the administration possesses the same ideas as the PTO president. If that is the case my children, other dual language learners in Princeton, the limited English proficiency students who are still trying to learn English, and a host of other children, will never get a fair shot at education.

Aggie Sung Tang

Herrontown Road

To the Editor:

These days one can’t underestimate the element of sustainability when building maintenance issues come to the fore. The Board of Education takes this responsibility very seriously. Both energy efficiency and sustainability have been a major focus in prioritizing the list of capital maintenance projects included in the September 24 bond referendum.

As many taxpayers will appreciate, the Board has been striving to minimize tax increases and striving to come in under every cap set at the state level. However, large maintenance/replacement projects now need attention and funding. Window and door replacement; new roofs; lighting and lighting controls’ and other building systems are by far the largest portion of the proposed work, representing nearly a third of the dollar value of the referendum. Leaking roofs, windows, and doors put expensive equipment and fixtures of all kinds at risk. Attending to these projects allows the Board to protect district assets while taking steps to minimize our buildings’ carbon footprint and reduce operating expenses.

Some may ask why the Board isn’t going further, why not install solar? Ironically, our joint purchase consortium for energy has seen such a dramatic decline (down nearly 25 percent for the next two years) that a solar project we analyzed for JWMS and PHS would have had a 40-year payback. No tax-funded organization could seriously consider such a project. However, by the time the proposed work is completed, all compatible preliminary roof work will have been done to take advantage of market inducements, such as the NJ SHEQ program, as opportunities present themselves in the future.

Please take the time to vote on September 24, or apply for your absentee ballot now.

Dorothy Bedford

Prospect Avenue,Chair, Facilities Committee, PPS

To the Editor:

At long last the Princeton Township Committee is building a sidewalk on the west side of Ewing Street between Valley Road and Harrison Street North. This sidewalk was recommended to the Township Committee in the early 1960’s by the Princeton Township Traffic Safety Committee, of which I was then chairman. Such a sidewalk would connect the then-existing sidewalk on the west side of Ewing Street at the Harrison Street North intersection to the then-existing sidewalk on the north side of Valley Road. In those days there were two school districts: Princeton Township residents attended Princeton Township schools, Princeton Borough residents attended Princeton Borough Schools.

The Township Committee at that time opined that such a sidewalk could not and would not be built until certain engineering feats were accomplished: some cutting and filling and some resetting of sanitary sewer lines, storm sewer drains, and some other underground lines. Mr. Kiser, currently Princeton Township Engineer, assured the committee that such items either had been, or would be, accomplished before the sidewalk was installed.

In the intervening half-century Princeton Township built many sidewalks, some needed, most not necessary. Whether or not the sidewalks were necessary, a New Jersey law passed in 1915 went into effect; once sidewalks are installed, pedestrians (walkers, joggers, runners) must use them. To quote NJSA 39:4-4, “Where sidewalks are provided it shall bc unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway”.

Henry J. Frank

Valley Road

To the Editor:

A little over a year ago, on August 28, 2011, the Princeton community lost a hero. During hurricane Irene, Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS) EMT and rescue technician Michael Kenwood was swept into floodwaters and drowned while attempting a swiftwater rescue. Michael died in service to his community, trying to help those in need.

PFARS marked the anniversary of Michael’s passing with a memorial service at Greenway Meadows Park off of Rosedale Road. We are grateful to the special guests who spoke at the service of Michael’s altruism and legacy, including Reverend Richard White, Princeton Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz, United States Congressman Rush Holt, and New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

The service concluded with the dedication of a bench in Michael’s memory. Situated on a hilltop that overlooks the location of Michael’s ultimate sacrifice, the location provides a serene place for reflection, not only for his family and fellow emergency services colleagues, but for the community as a whole. For indeed, the heroic actions of Michael and countless other emergency services personnel are what make our community a stronger, more ideal place to live. It is our hope that visitors to the park can reflect on Michael’s devotion to public service and consider how they can help make their community better.

I would like to thank the PFARS members that coordinated all aspects of the service, Shannon Koch, Director Frank Setnicky, Robert Gregory, Jay Padulchick, Matthew Stiff, and Shawn Gallagher, and the PFARS Ladies Auxiliary for the reception. In addition, we greatly appreciate the work of Acting Township Administrator Kathy Monzo and Ben Stentz and the field maintenance staff from the Princeton Township Recreation Department for helping obtain and prepare space in the park for the bench. Thank you also to the Princeton Township Police Department Color Guard members Lieutenant Robert Toole and Sergeant Michael Cifelli. Further, we would like to extend our deepest appreciation to Michael’s family who joined us to recognize their son, brother, husband, uncle, and cousin. We thank you for raising Michael with the character to be an excellent role model, a trusted friend, and a devoted public servant.

Finally, for those in the community that were unable to attend the memorial service but would like the opportunity to honor Michael, PFARS is presenting a Tribute Concert celebrating his life and legacy on Sunday September 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. Broadway Sings, a professional concert production company featuring stars of Broadway musicals and National Touring productions, is donating its talents to provide an evening of joyful music in tribute to Michael. The event, to be held at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, will also feature a silent auction; bidding begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for the one-night event are reserved seating and can be ordered online at Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, visit the PFARS website, or email

Peter J. Simon

President, Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad

To the Editor:

In recent speeches and news articles Superintendent Judy Wilson has commented that “the Valley Road Building does not need any attention; it’s been well-maintained and renovated in recent years.”

She seems to have forgotten the older portion of the building, which the School System still owns and is still responsible for as a community asset.

Valley Road School Community Center, Inc. (VRSCCI), a not-for-profit organization, would like to buy this portion of the building and convert it to affordable office space for nonprofit organizations that serve the Princeton community, need space, and would benefit from the reduced rent and the synergies of being with other nonprofit organizations. Currently Corner House and Princeton Community TV remain in this portion of the building, although they are slated to move to Borough Hall. Besides replacing them with new tenants, VRSCCI wants to install two new black box theaters and badly needed public meeting spaces.

Historic Valley Road School has been suffering from neglect for decades. In 2002, the School System wanted to renovate the newer portion of the building and discovered that the property had been given in 1918 to the people of the Township of Princeton. To make sure they had clear title, the School System purchased Valley Road School from Princeton Township for $1.

Over the past year the School System reroofed the newer portion of the building, but ignored the older portion and has demonized it as being either unrepairable or not worth repairing. Recently a small roof leak has become worse, bringing rainwater into both Corner House’s and Princeton TV’s offices. Officials have been notified and have been out to look. Why wasn’t this roof repaired previously? Will it get repaired now before we get more storms? Why isn’t this asset included in the proposed bond issue?

VRSCCI has developed a plan to separate the two portions of the building. This plan involves constructing a firewall and installing a new boiler and a new fire alarm. What we need now is a commitment by the School System to allow us to move forward. What we want to do now is put a new roof on the building, repoint the parapet wall, replace the lintels over the windows and install new window systems.

Valley Road School played a huge role in the development of Princeton Township. Valley Road School was the First Regional and the First Integrated School in the Princeton Area. During the 40’s and 50’s it became known around the country for its high performance and innovative curriculum.

Let‘s go green, recycle this wonderful asset, and work together to repair historical Valley Road School. Do we want a boarded up building right across the street from what will be our newly reconfigured municipal center? Clearly the School Board has no interest in maintaining the building and has not provided for it in its upcoming bond issue. Assuming the bond issue passes, the School Board will be busy over the coming year with its implementation, while the roof on the older part of Valley Road School continues to leak and the building becomes vacant. Will the School Board do the right thing, sell it for $1 and let others in the community take on this project??

Kip Cherry

President, VRSCCI, Dempsey Ave

September 5, 2012

To the Editor:

People who choose to drive through neighborhoods must obey local speed limit signs. I live on Terhune Road between Thanet Circle and Meadowbrook Drive in Princeton and I see many motorists driving very fast past my house.

Terhune Road is a solidly residential street with children and pets. It is located in close proximity to the Princeton Shopping Center, near Thanet Road and North Harrison Street. This area has experienced explosive business growth and this brings heavy traffic. Terhune Road is densely populated and is used by many pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists. Motorists should not exceed the speed limit. Increased speeds can cause great harm.

According to traffic data in the New York Times (“City Expands 20 M.P.H. Zones Across More Neighborhoods,” July 11, 2012), a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 m.p.h. has only a 30 percent chance to survive. Those struck by a car at 30 m.p.h. survive 80 percent of the time. Those struck by a car at 20 m.p.h. survive about 95 percent of the time.

The No. 1 traffic killer is speed. Slow down. It will save lives.

Carolyn Barnhaw

Terhune Road,

To the Editor:

I’ve read the letter recently written by attorney Aaron Kleinbaum on the Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods website, and I find it concerning that, although the hospital site is listed as a contaminated site in the Environmental Resource Inventory for the Township and Borough of Princeton (DVRPC 2010), the undated report that AvalonBay cites to claim that the site is really uncontaminated is not available to public officials or the general public.

The hospital is indeed a “known contaminated site,” according to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report submitted by Maser Consulting on behalf of AvalonBay. Yet Maser “has performed no exploratory or testing services”—and doesn’t plan to do so unless “environmental contamination or waste [is] discovered” (EIS, p. 10). The Maser EIS bases its conclusions on “Site specific investigations performed for the property by EcolSciences” that “revealed that no underground tanks or contamination were found in the property” (EIS, p. 10).

But here’s the catch: the EcolSciences report is not documented in the EIS “References” section. Maser won’t release it; the University Medical Center at Princeton — our health provider — has not responded to requests for the EcolSciences report; an Open Public Records Act request for the EcolSciences report yielded nothing. The public can’t see the report. If it’s not made public, who can verify the science of its conclusions? Contamination is a matter of public health; the public has a vested right to know the truth, now, not later.

The problems are stated in a letter sent by environmentalist attorney Aaron Kleinbaum (Eastern Environmental Law Center, Newark) to Jack West and Robert Kiser, Engineers of Princeton Borough and Township, and to all Princeton Regional Planning Board members (22 August 2012). Mr. Kleinbaum insists that AvalonBay’s application be deemed “Incomplete” until “a full site investigation according to State or federal standards” has been performed by an independent party. This is right: clearly, Maser works for AvalonBay; the unavailability of the EcolSciences report gives no one grounds to trust the methods of the report. According to Maser, AvalonBay understands that if “issues related to the presence of contamination … arise,” “a licensed site remediation professional will be hired to see that the issue is properly remedied” (EIS, p. 10). Who will evaluate “the issues”? Hired by whom?

Mr. Kleinbaum cites a New Jersey Superior Court judgment (2001): “a planning board has authority to deny a site plan application if it lacks sufficient specificity … to assess the adequacy of a plan because the plan may have a pervasive impact on the public health and welfare” (p. 3). The Planning Board should heed this legal judgment: AvalonBay proposes that hundreds of people should rent apartments over ground that may be contaminated. Mr. Kleinbaum advises the Planning Board to deny the application “until a thorough [Phase II] Site environmental investigation is conducted” and made public (p. 4).

The letter is posted on our website ( or contact PCSN for a copy of the letter at

Dr. Vojislava Pophristic

Tee Ar Place

Editor’s note: The writer is associate professor and chair, department of chemistry & biochemistry, University of the Sciences, in Philadelphia.

To the Editor:

I read with interest Nancy Green’s letter in the recent Town Topics (“Faulting Hospital for the U.S. Route 1 Closures,” Mailbox, Aug. 28) in which she floats the idea that the closures put into effect on Route 1 might have more to do with accommodating ambulance traffic headed to the new medical center than with easing traffic through the corridor. In fact, it is more than curious that these closures coincided with the opening of the new hospital. I’ve lived in this area for most of the last 30 years. While I have certainly seen the traffic circle at Washington Road back up traffic because of it’s archaic configuration, I have rarely, if ever, seen traffic heading north on Route 1 attempting to make a left at Harrison Road cause any sort of delay. The jughandle there is very long and can accommodate many vehicles. In fact, if there really was an issue, there is no reason, as many have pointed out, that a turn lane can’t be constructed on Route 1 north entering that jughandle. If DOT won’t be open to that idea, I think it is quite clear what the motivating forces are for the closures — at least at Harrison Road.

Gary Maltz

Braeburn Drive

August 29, 2012

To the Editor:

I am writing because I have seen no media reports of problems with the US Route 1 left turn closings at Washington Road. I have been crossing at Washington Road for decades and I have never seen anything like the dangerous situation that now exists. Each time I cross I see cars on both sides attempting u-turns on Washington in the face of onrushing traffic. On Sunday (August 19) when I crossed US Route 1, there were the usual u-turns being attempted on both sides. At the same time, there was an accident in the middle of US Route 1, a northbound car having hit the center median wall while behind them another vehicle was turned sideways blocking the northbound lanes. I am not a traffic engineer but it looks to me as if some adjustment or cancellation of this experiment needs to be made immediately.

Peter Smith

Princeton Junction

To the Editor

Princetonians should not necessarily believe that the lack of access into Princeton is based on easing “rush” hour traffic. Remember DOT already explored the rush hour traffic dilemma by making the green lights three minutes longer on US Route 1 and the outcome was a disaster since the traffic on the feeder roads was not taken into consideration. I have heard that the reason for changing the access into Princeton is to keep the lanes at the turn-a-rounds empty so that ambulance drivers are able to get to the UMCPP without having to be concerned about other vehicles’ turning on to US Route 1 since the drivers will be able to control the traffic lights.

In addition to inconveniencing most Princetonians, the UMCPP has been irresponsible with regard to promises and agreements with the Borough for disposing of the old hospital buildings. How can anyone think that a gated community in the middle of the Witherspoon-Jackson street neighborhood makes sense? AvalonBay has no intention of considering anyone else’s plans but their own and seem to have bullied the Council. The UMCPP no longer considers the old buildings their responsibility or concern. Does anyone know what restrictions, rules, regulations, etc. are being enforced to safeguard our neighborhood from being covered with dust, dirt, grit, etc. when the buildings are knocked down?

Nancy Green

Lytle Street

August 22, 2012

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, August 8, 2012, I was in an accident and was charged with DUI. I know that my actions could have hurt someone. Each day, I thank God that no one was injured.

I am hoping that my lapse in judgment, in some way, will prevent others from making the same mistake that I did. The future is often shaped by past experiences. This accident was definitely a life-changing lesson for me. I thank all of those who have called and expressed concern over my physical wellbeing. I truly appreciate this support. I can only say that my future decisions will be guided by this unfortunate experience.

Lance Liverman

Witherspoon Street

Editor’s Note: The DUI charge referred to in the above letter, headed “Apology for lapse of judgment,” was the result of Mr. Liverman’s refusal to take a breathalyzer test following the incident in which his Honda Pilot hit a parked tractor-trailer on the shoulder of Interstate 95 near Scotch Road. He is scheduled to appear in Hopewell Township Municipal Court on September 11.

To the Editor:

The DOT has declared the experiment at Route 1 and 571 a success in less than four days into the 12 week experiment. Those of you that had any high school science might remember that you were told to collect ALL of the data before writing the conclusion. Seems DOT may have limited the scope of data they were willing to review before reaching the conclusion or could it be they knew the conclusion they wanted?

Had they set up an experiment that not only looked at a single factor, the flow of traffic on Route 1, they might have noticed the secondary effects. There is now effectively only one way to get into Princeton while traveling north bound on US Route 1, Alexander Road. The traffic into Princeton west bound from Hightstown now backs up to the railroad bridge, resulting from the new signage at US Route 1. Tractor trailers coming southbound on US Route 1 and headed to Hightstown now have to use the Alexander Rd. exit off and cross 3 lanes of Alexander Rd. traffic in less than 50 yards to return to US Route 1, an accident waiting to happen. Numerous cars, trucks, and buses are making K turns along 571 to turn around and head for Princeton and Hightstown. The Scudders Mill Road bridge, already a nightmare at rush hour, has been asked to carry an additional load of those that missed Alexander Road while headed north on US Route 1. One concession in the experiment, reopening of the Harrison Road entrance to SRI, had to be made just to allow the employees to even get to work because of the log jam on 571.

I trust this is a shortened version of the problems that will be present when school reopens and the end of the reduced traffic during the summer vacations period is back upon us. I doubt that will change the conclusion of this experiment.

Had DOT looked a little deeper into the problem of traffic flow on US Route 1 north they might have found that the light at Carnegie Blvd. was to have been removed 25 years ago when the Meadow Road overpass was finished. To stop thousands of cars all day long for the convenience of a few wanting to cross US Route 1 makes little sense when compared to the short duration problem 571 presents during rush hour. Carnegie Blvd. should be a right turn only entrance to US Route 1 from both sides, forcing those wishing to cross to use the overpasses at Alexander or Meadow. SRI had agreed to work with the DOT. A lane could be provided along US Route 1 all across the front of SRI, similar to the entrance to Lowes and Carnegie Center, providing stacking for 50-plus cars waiting to cross US Route 1 at Harrison into Princeton. There is little reason to have wasted the money spent on the improvement at Harrison Street with this experiment on the drawing table.

My only hope is that this experiment has a greater “end game” in mind. The general inconvenience it has presented to the locals may in fact be the justification to get them to agree to the long talked about plans that would include the bypass to Harrison and an overpass at the circle. One can only hope that government could be that farsighted. If not, this shows the creativity of a preschool sandbox experiment.

Howard Eldridge

Mather Avenue

To the Editor:

I recently experienced the new US Route 1 traffic pattern imposed by the DOT. Northbound drivers can no longer make left turns into Princeton at Washington Road or Harrison Street, but must detour up to the Scudders Mill overpass. Southbound drivers may no longer turn left at Washington Road, but must detour to the Alexander Road overpass.

Although the rush-hour blockage of US Route 1 by left-turning cars at those intersections is a real problem, the solution reminds me of the adage of swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. To give one example. The detour from Washington Road to Scudders Mill Road and back clocks 2.5 miles. If 1,000 cars are forced to take this roundabout route on a daily basis this would total 2,500 miles or more than 80 gallons of wasted fuel. Not only is this expensive ($280 a day, $102,000 a year) but it is environmentally harmful. And that involves only one of the three newly prohibited turns.

Surely a problem that occurs only two hours a day, five days a week can be addressed without penalizing everyone at every time. What, for instance, about closing those jughandles only for weekend rush hours. The newly legal cameras could be set up to detect illegal turners and the fines should be a welcome source of income to the DOT.

Whatever is eventually decided, the current situation is unacceptable.

Fred Hirsch

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

Recent lightning strikes and fires in Princeton (“Lightning Strikes More Than Twice in Princeton,” Town Topics, August 15) remind us that AvalonBay (AB), applicant to develop the old hospital site, may pose unacceptable dangers to our community. Princeton should be alarmed.

AB’s fire prevention plans (available in the Planning Board office) are woefully inadequate:

1) AB has not yet tested water flow from hydrants for use by fire hoses (tests to be performed by NJ American Water have not been requested by AB). If water pressure is insufficient, then fire trucks cannot function. AB claims it lacks permission to order tests since hydrants are on Princeton Medical Center property; but the hospital has granted permission.

2) AB measures distance between hydrants “as the crow flies” (AB plans, Sheet 7). But hoses do not go through houses; they go on “traveled roadway.” AB plans do not comply with National Fire Protection Association recommendations. Fire trucks use hoses between hydrants: firemen must know a site’s hydrant-distances to function efficiently, rapidly. AB distances must be recalculated, now, not later.

3) Access to this AB residential complex by fire trucks with ladders: the proposed main entries to the AB site (from Witherspoon and Henry Streets) may not have a turning-radius broad enough to accommodate fire engines. The entry area must be redesigned, if necessary, before the Borough engineer deems the AB application “complete,” i.e., ready for review by SPRAB and the Planning Board. AB thus far refuses to supply illustrations showing how fire trucks would navigate roads on-site, saying that such illustrations are not required by the completeness checklist. This arrogant response puts the Princeton community at risk.

4) What dangers result from a site plan that includes many apartments that face interior courtyards? Will apartments be accessible to firemen? These legitimate questions indicate that AB’s site plan, already denounced as a monolithic gated community, may pose a genuine safety hazard for the 500-plus people who rent the units.

Some issues above are slated for “technical review” after any application is deemed “complete.” But risks to human life currently posed by the inadequacies of AB design are so grave that municipal staff must evaluate them at the earliest possible time.

We also worry about AB’s building materials: all wood. AB’s wood-frame development in Quincy, Mass., caught fire in 2008 and burned to the ground; AB was faulted for a dysfunctional sprinkler system. You can see another AB fire (Uniondale, NY, 4/11/12) on YouTube (type in “AvalonBay fires”). We worry about the safety of Princeton’s all-volunteer emergency services first responders (as well as renters). AB deficiencies imperil Princeton and endanger emergency resources. Shortcomings must be rectified. Municipal staff and Boards must ensure public safety, with or without AvalonBay.

Kate Warren,


Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods

Maria Delaney,


Princeton Engine Company #1 Ladies Auxiliary

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

When is the University Medical Center at Plainsboro going to supply Google maps with a detailed ground plan (with labels) of the new facility? It is horrifying enough to have to cross US Route 1 to get to the site. It is worse to find your way around to the entrance to the campus. Once in, and when in need, locating the emergency room for the first time is frightening. Please create a detailed map/ground plan, get it on Google, and make sure all the information about the old building on Witherspoon Street is removed from Google.

Marilyn Aronberg Lavin

Maxwell Lane

To the Editor,

I recently returned home from a group trip to Fonds Parisien in rural Haiti. The focus of our group, Princeton based Konekte, was to aid with the construction of a vocational school and to establish a connection with local Haitians through a love of soccer. We were a group of 22 motivated and energetic people of ages 15 to 52, but I would like to draw attention specifically to the role played by four coaches from the Princeton Football Club. Stoyan Pumpalov, Vesco Marinov, Hristopher Tsochev, and Brian Ruddy were truly inspirational in their level of enthusiasm, capacity for hard work, and their ability to bring a smile to the face of every Haitian with whom they interacted. They worked a 12-hour day pouring concrete, they held babies, made children laugh, conducted soccer drills on dirt fields, distributed shirts and cleats to boys who would otherwise play barefoot and organized a tournament between four local teams the likes of which had not been seen before. They were an inspiration to me and to all the people on our trip and I feel that any young Princeton soccer player should feel honored to know and be coached by these men.

Judith Sarvary

Province Line Road

Editor’s Note: See the related sports story on page 37.

August 15, 2012

To the Editor:

What a fabulous and fun day! On August 7 my family and I went to the Community Pool Night. I just wanted to take my time and thank everybody who was involved to make this day so wonderful! All my children (8 months, 2, and 8 years) had a blast, great DJ, great vendors and food and the pool renovation turned out to be absolutely beautiful and great! Whoever thought of the soft pool floor is an absolute genius: no more scratched toes while carrying your children through the lane pool, and the descending ramp is so much fun for parents and children alike. We don’t have to worry so much anymore when our young children decide to suddenly slide down on the pool floor. I also would like to mention the life guards: they are always so polite, friendly and helpful. They all do an excellent job and should be praised more often for all their hard and responsible work! The pool staff is extremely professional and nice and they, as well as the nice young people at the food kiosk, should be praised no less. Thank you for such a great event and thank you for making every day at the pool so much fun!

Daniela Plessl

N.Tulane Street

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


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:, or the Princeton map in the now defunct telephone Yellow Book if you kept one.

Carl Faith

Longview Drive