April 4, 2012

To the Editor:

For the current hospital site, any building permitted by Borough Ordinance 2012-05, as introduced, will result in a megablock. Such a monolith is specifically disapproved by Borough Code Sec. 17A-193B.a.6.

The draft ordinance should be withdrawn now — either that, or the Planning Board must vote against it to prevent folly: the ruin of the hospital neighborhood, the historic character of Princeton, and the diversity of our newly consolidated community.

I have read the proposed ordinance in light of the Borough Code, and have examined plans proposed by AvalonBay. Did Borough Council members really write this ordinance, or did they take dictation from AvalonBay?

When Borough Code was rewritten some years ago, in contemplation of the hospital’s eventual (now imminent) move, virtually all phrasing aimed to get any new construction back down into scale with the neighborhood (one- and two-story houses — rarely three, as incorrectly stated in Sec. 17A-193B.c.1). The text allows for “up to” 280 housing units but also wants those units to blend with the neighborhood. Some of many samples: residential “uses” (plural) means a variety of building types, not an Avalon monolith (Sec. 17A-193B.a.2. New construction should “help soften” its own presence (17A-193B.a.4). People should be able to walk through the site (17A-193B.d.1). Site plans must show “how the public and residents will circulate in and through the site” (17A-193B.e.3) — currently impossible according to AvalonBay’s design.

The Council ordinance disregards all these stipulations and their specific intent. If a code is not written to be honored, then what is its use?

With the increased density bonus it would permit, it allows for a completely closed, gated community (AvalonBay’s standard format). A closed “community” should be anathema to Princetonians, and to our officials who have vaunted so highly the values of diversity. Where will the contradictions and “inconsistencies” of judgment stop?

And what of signage for this gated community? The ordinance permits AvalonBay to turn Witherspoon Street into our local Route One: a facade sign can be ten feet square (the writers of the ordinance did not think in three dimensions); a free-standing sign (also ten feet square) “shall” (not even “may”!) jut out into open space within five feet of the sidewalk.

I do not want my Princeton to look like this. I also want our hospital, which has achieved such outstanding regional excellence, to take some responsibility for its choice of buyers, even in this tricky market.

Borough Council members should have the good sense to withdraw the draft ordinance. Additions to residential housing stock can be gotten without selling out Princeton downstream.

Joe McGeady
John Street

March 28, 2012

To the Editor:

So now we learn the truth — the consolidation wasn’t a merger, it was a takeover of the Township by the Borough.

If this weren’t one sided, both administrators and both police chiefs should have offered their resignations. Then the personnel committee could have made their decision in the open and shared with all residents their rationale.

Jim Pascale and Bob Buchanan have served our town with distinction for 30 years, but now they get 10 days to clean out their desks. During the first Battle of Princeton in 1777, the Americans lost a number of able officers: General Mercer, Colonel Haslet and several others. Who will be the next to fall in the 2012 version? In consolidation right now, the Township is clearly losing.

John F. Kelsey, III
Winfield Road

To the Editor:

The Princeton High School Boys/Girls Track and Field team thanks the community for its support of the 2nd annual Princeton 5K Race, held Sunday March 18. Special thanks goes to the Princeton Running Company for presenting the event, and to our sponsors Small World Coffee, IvyRehab, in8Graphics, Princeton Soccer Association, Buckley Theroux Kline & Petraske, LLC, Tiger Noodles, Gibbons Foot & Ankle Group, LLC, Twist, Mercer Bucks Orthopedics, the Cody family, the Whaley family, the Cavallaro family, the McIsaac family, the Monks Family, and USAF, and to all the individuals who supported the race with additional registration donations.

The race could not have been a success without the support from the Borough and Township Police Departments, the Borough Department of Public Works, Princeton First Aid Squad, and the Princeton School district. We also appreciate the residents who cheered while we ran past their homes on this fast and friendly neighborhood course.

The race was a successful fundraiser for the team and on behalf of the athletes we say “Thank You!”

Kathryn McIsaac, Julie Cavallaro,
Donna Dourney, Coach John Woodside
and Coach Jim Smirk

The Princeton 5K Race Committee, 

Princeton High School

To the Editor,

Borough Council (BC) recently voted to introduce an ordinance that would give a density bonus to “any developer” who builds on the almost “old” Princeton Hospital site. AvalonBay (AB), a national builder of residential complexes (the likely developer), has requested a density bonus of 44 rental units that are NOT fully subject to the standard 20 percent set-aside for affordable housing. The ordinance, if passed, would allow AB to bypass affordable housing in the bonus units (44, in addition to the 280 units allowed under current zoning) by making a per-unit payment to Princeton Borough’s Affordable Housing Trust.

The ordinance tramples historical commitments to diversity of opportunity in the Princeton housing market, which are here diluted by substitute provisions for “workforce housing.” While most Council members voted for the ordinance to “get the ball rolling,” AB has seemingly won the first round against a full commitment to affordable housing. What has Borough Council gotten in exchange for this variance-by-means-of-ordinance? Nothing. Why has BC initiated rezoning without getting a quid-pro-quo?

AB has submitted a preliminary/final site plan (unexpectedly bypassing the “concept plan” phase) that is incompatible with neighborhood needs and concerns: a four- or five-story monolith fronting residential streets that have one- or two-story houses — without any setbacks. Residents are upset and disturbed. Environmentally, the plan shrugs off Princeton’s push towards sustainability; we are proud of our Bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey. For example, the roof could have solar panels or gardens — the plan shows neither. Nothing indicates high-performance measures for energy-conservation.

AB has apparently agreed (in writing?) to comply with Energy Star standards (less stringent than LEED). But why should a company that vaunts its LEED-Silver headquarters on its website (for 13 pages under the “Sustainability” link: go look!) be permitted to do anything less than LEED-Silver in Princeton? The Princeton Regional Master Plan in its most recent revisions gives high priority to the following: diversity in Princeton, maintaining the integrity of neighborhoods, “continuing to provide Princeton’s ‘fair share of affordable housing,’” satisfaction of LEED requirements (strongly recommended by the Princeton Environmental Commission) — all of these issues are at stake in Ordinance 2012-05. Borough Council should honor the master plan, now.

And Borough Council and the Planning Board should insist that AB seek LEED-certification at the Silver level. They must reject Ordinance 2012-05 as written and restore full commitment to 20 percent affordable housing, along with major provisions for sustainable building. If “any developer” disappears because it can’t get everything for nothing, so be it. Consolidated Princeton is not a town impoverished in resources, networking, or reputation. Another builder will appear, and in short order. Princeton Hospital, which owns the land, will soon find another buyer; it has no stake in paying taxes on land it will not use after May 2012.

Jane Buttars
Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

In “Hoping that Consolidation Brings End to White Buffalo Deer Culling” (Town Topics March 12), Mr. Laznovsky makes the right arguments about the squandering of tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on deer killing in the eleventh year of the so-called “management program,” and the invalid link between deer and Lyme disease.

With respect to the economic argument, it is hard to miss the connection between the anguished cries of the school board members and others (“Princetonians among those protesting Christie’s ‘Reverse Robin Hood Budget,” Town Topics March 14) on the one hand, about diminished resources for education, and on the other, money squandered for the extermination of deer. The specious argument made by Phyllis Marchand in 2002 that Princeton’s program “is bringing the township’s residents much needed relief from the deer” (New York Times, March 10, 2002) remains specious to this day. Princeton should put these taxpayer dollars not into the extermination of deer, but into needed investments to educate its children.

On one point I disagree with Mr. Laznovsky, however. It will take more than hope to effect change. Princeton’s own Einstein wrote: “Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” The task of a consolidated Princeton is to end the ludicrous “deer cull” once and for all, by active citizen involvement through the democratic process.

Sheila M. MacRae
Orchid Court

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: princetongop@yahoo.com.

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
Mayor
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. www.kevinwilkes.com.

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 www.pbshadetree.org 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 lizlemp@gmail.com 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 dan@princetondems.org 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 www.princetondems.org/join.

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 (jonwdurbin@gmail.com) and/or Peter Wolanin, Municipal Chair of Princeton Borough (pwolanin@princetondems.org).

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 http://savevalleyroadschool.org/Home.html 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