July 12, 2012

To the Editor:

In a recent letter to this paper, Richard S. Goldman, Esq., attorney for Princeton University (“Princeton University’s Lawyer Responds to Roger Martindell’s Letter on Lawsuit,” Mailbox, July 4) wrote that we and other Princetonians have brought a “nuisance lawsuit” against the University. No, we believe the University cannot legally commandeer the Dinky’s public right-of-way in order to build a second driveway to its Lot 7 garage. In 1984, when the University bought the Dinky station, and NJ Transit retained the right-of-way, that garage didn’t even exist.

Mr. Goldman also implied that our lawsuit is “following the instructions of a member of Borough Council.” Here, to mix metaphors, Mr. Goldman is grasping at straw men. A simpler explanation apparently eludes Mr. Goldman. Many Princetonians genuinely deplore Nassau Hall’s high-handed insistence that what’s useful for the University is perfect for Princeton. We plaintiffs don’t follow Borough Council’s secret instructions. Isn’t Borough Council sometimes influenced by constituents’ public statements? That’s how representative democracy works.

Walter Neumann and

Anne Waldron Neumann

Alexander Street

To the Editor:

Long-time residents of both the Borough and the Township are familiar with Dick Woodbridge’s many contributions:

Township Mayor 1991-1992

Township Committeeman 1990-1992

Borough Councilman 1977-1987

Borough Council President 1984-1985

Police Commissioner 1977-1980

Fire Commissioner 1981-1984

Public Works Committee Chairman 1986-1987

Consolidation inevitably will be a complicated process to effect starting January 1, 2013. Dick, because of his substantial experience in many capacities serving residents in both the Township and the Borough, is the best-qualified person to harmoniously coordinate this process.

Independents and members of both political parties will benefit by electing him mayor of the unified Princeton because of Dick’s public spirit and wealth of experience.

Therefore, we urge you to vote for Dick Woodbridge for mayor in November.

Norm Harvey,

Florence Lane

Anastasia Marty,

Herrontown Lane

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Spirit of Princeton, a huge thank you to all the people who attended the Spirit of Princeton fireworks on July 2; and a bigger thank you to everyone who helped make this event happen.

This event is one of four annual patriotic events we host. The others are the Memorial Day Parade, Flag Day ceremonies, and Veterans Day ceremonies.

The fireworks happened thanks to the volunteers of the Spirit of Princeton along with the generous help of several organizations in our community. First and foremost was Princeton University for allowing us to hold this event on their property and for doing so much to help coordinate it and provide services from many of their staff in a number of different departments. Likewise, both the Borough of Princeton and the Township of Princeton provided administrative and logistical help before and after the event. Both of our police departments helped with the event, as did both Public Works Departments, the Recreation Department, and administrative staff from both municipalities. Also assisting were the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. And thanks to the West Windsor Township Police Department for their assistance. As well as help from the Mercer County Department of Transportation & Infrastructure.

Our biggest thanks goes to all of you who come out and enjoy our events. Our next event is the Veterans Day Ceremony, November 11, 2012 at 11 a.m., at the All Wars Monument on the corner of Mercer Street and Nassau Street.

Financially, the Spirit of Princeton has a small endowment raised over the years that is a fund of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. All Spirit of Princeton events are free of charge; but donations are always welcome and needed, see our website for information on events and how to donate, Spiritofprinceton.org.

Mark Freda

Vice-Chair, Spirit of Princeton

To the Editor:

I’m writing to express my thanks to all the Democratic voters in Princeton and throughout the 16th legislative district. It was an honor to have the opportunity to compete for the Democratic nomination for Assembly.

I also wish to thank my campaign team and the many volunteers who walked with me, made phone calls, hosted events, distributed literature, and donated to my campaign. Your unwavering energy and enthusiasm helped keep me motivated. You and thousands of other supporters voted for me in the primary, but by the end of the evening it was clear I would not have the votes to prevail and conceded the race to my very worthy opponent, Marie Corfield.

While I’m disappointed that I won’t be your candidate in November, I fully support our Democratic nominee, a fellow progressive and union member. Please join me in congratulating Marie and giving her your full support for the fall campaign!

Sue Nemeth

Township Committee

To the Editor:

The July 4 issue of Town Topics contains the usual newsworthy items that emphasize the seemingly endless friction involving our relationship with Princeton University.

Viewed from 10,000 feet 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

July 3, 2012

To the Editor:

It is time to understand the role that affordable housing and rental housing are playing in the conflict over the development of the old hospital site.

I am a very strong supporter of affordable housing. I believe that Princeton should be a place where people of many different income levels can all afford to live. I think that Princeton’s 20 percent affordable housing rule, higher than the usual 15 percent, is commendable. My husband and I have for decades contributed considerable sums annually to an organization that creates affordable housing. I also recognize that Princeton needs more rental housing.

But not at any price.

It is an unfortunate fact that builders exploit New Jersey’s regulations on affordable housing to avoid complying with towns’ Master Plans and building codes. These Master Plans and building codes are very important.

AvalonBay, the probable buyer of the old hospital site, is using the legal situation and Borough Council members’ commendable support  for affordable housing and for rental housing (which AvalonBay would provide) to persuade Borough Council to accept a development that ignores the Princeton Master Plan and Borough Code. In order to obtain the zoning it wanted, the hospital agreed to a large park, a pedestrian zone, thoroughfares, and environmentally sound construction for the old hospital site. These items were written into the Princeton Master Plan and Borough Code. AvalonBay’s proposed development does not include these items.

Current secret negotiations with AvalonBay may restore a few of the agreed-upon items. But the negotiations are unlikely to result in the kind of development that was envisioned by the people who granted the hospital its desired zoning. It is likely that the AvalonBay development would be bad for the surrounding neighborhood, bad for Princeton, and bad for the environment.

Ultimately, it is the hospital’s responsibility to prevent AvalonBay from using affordable housing as a battering ram to avoid complying with the Master Plan and Borough Code. If AvalonBay will not accept the agreements that the hospital made with the neighborhood and the town, it is incumbent upon the hospital to cancel its arrangement with AvalonBay and to find a buyer who will respect the Master Plan and Borough Code.

Affordable housing? Yes. Rental housing? Yes. But not at any price.

Phyllis Teitelbaum

Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

On behalf of myself and the other 650 participants in the June 26 ETS Firecracker 5K Run/Walk, I would like to sincerely thank the YWCA’s Chief Operating Officer, Judith Hutton, and the Educational Testing Service President/CEO, Kurt Landgraf, for a superbly organized event. It is especially gratifying that the record proceeds from the event went to such a worthy cause as the YWCA Princeton’s Bilingual Nursery School. A special thanks to the YWCA’s Jenn Attridge for her courteous and efficient assistance in the registration process.

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

Did you know that the Green Bucket Curbside Food Waste Program that many Township residents have been using is available now to all Princeton residents, even before consolidation takes full effect?

I have recently signed up, even though I do have space in my yard in the Borough for a small compost pile into which I put leaves, grass clippings and selected kitchen waste, such as banana peels, apple cores, egg shells and certain vegetable trimmings that decompose quickly. But this leaves items such as meat, poultry and fish leftovers, including bones, potato peelings, tea bags, used napkins and paper towels, and pizza boxes that go in the garbage and from there to the landfill.

The beauty of the Green Bucket Curbside Food Waste Program is that all these items and many more — coffee grounds and filters, pizza boxes, garden trimmings and weeds, dead houseplants, small branches, and even biodegradable forks, knives, plates and spoons can be collected in the special Green Bucket provided by the hauler and picked up at the curb once a week for composting. Comprising a huge amount of what we throw away (or wish would be taken away), the material is piled together and covered with a special cover so that it gets very hot and becomes usable compost in a relatively short period of time.

Recycling of newspapers and other clean paper goods as well as plastic and glass items continues with pickup once every other week. One item that can be recycled but is not currently on the curbside pickup list is plastic bags, but they can be taken to McCaffrey’s any time for that purpose.

Items that are not recyclable or compostable include Styrofoam and packing peanuts, bulky metals, plastics marked #3-#7, diapers, pet waste and litter, lumber and fencing, aluminum foil, feminine hygiene products, baking and microwave trays, and garden nursery containers.

The cost for curbside recycling is currently $20 a month. Township residents pay an extra $10 a month for trash pickup (both collected weekly). Borough residents may balk at curbside recycling because traditionally they have not had to pay for garbage pick-up, the costs of which are absorbed in the Borough budget. But there is a strong possibility that if enough people sign up for it in the coming months that the costs could be reduced and absorbed by the new consolidated Princeton budget. Currently there are some 350 households enrolled, and the hope is to double this number in the coming weeks.

The savings in terms of landfill space and municipal trash disposal costs are considerable. In six months since the program began, some 60 tons of waste have been kept out of a landfill, which equals $7,500 in municipal trash disposal costs.

To make it easy to collect your compostable waste you are given a small container that can sit on a countertop or in a cupboard with biodegradable bags to go inside it, as well as the big green container marked “Organic Waste Only” that has wheels and a lid and which you put at the curb once a week. These items are free.

I remember how eagerly Princeton residents embraced recycling when it first became available. Now it is time for us to embrace curbside composting, particularly when it is so easy to do and saves cost as well as landfill space.

To sign up call Janet Pellichero in the Township Public Works Department, email jpellichero@princeton-township.nj.us or phone (609) 688-2566.

Barbara Johnson

Wilton Street

To the Editor:

We would like to thank the Mountain Lakes Association and Steve Hiltner, naturalist and editor of Princeton Nature Notes (www.princetonnaturenotes.blogspot.com) for making possible the entertaining and educational “tree identification and invasive species” walk through Mountain Lakes Preserve on June 24. Perfect weather set the stage!

This free two-hour tour, attended by more than 30 area residents, was one of a series of outreach activities of the Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission (PBSTC) to raise awareness of and interest in the tree resources found in our soon-to-be-consolidated Princeton. Attendees encountered hazelnut trees, redbuds, black locusts, pignut hickories, sugar and red maples, witch hazels, red oaks, black walnuts, among others, and they identified many invasive grass and shrub species as well. Mr. Hiltner introduced hikers to the results of restoration work on dams and waterways in the Preserve. He described successful projects to plant native wildflower gardens and rain gardens on the Mountain Lakes property, and he explained future plans to prepare vernal pools, shallow habitats to protect frog and salamander eggs from hungry fish.

The Princeton Adult School will cosponsor the next PBSTC tree walk on October 6, a Fall Foliage trek through the Institute Woods, to be led by Dr. Henry and Betty Horn. Participants will register through the Adult School.

More about the recent walk, the mystery tree detective contest, and other tree-related events can be found at our website: www.pbshadetree.org.

Alexandra Radbil, chair

Pat Hyatt, vice-chair

Princeton Borough Shade Tree Commission

To the Editor:

I am pleased to report that my bill to create a pilot program to provide social, mental and health care services to communities with large senior populations recently passed the Assembly. I wanted to especially thank Linda Meisel and my friends at the Jewish Family and Children Services for drawing attention to the challenges of extending such services to seniors who wish to remain in their homes.

With the establishment of this pilot program, the State will be able to foster “Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities” or “NORCs.” Unlike housing built specifically for elderly residents, a NORC is a residential area with a high concentration of seniors who remain in their communities. This program would allow these residents to stay in their homes and have the type of services delivered to them that would otherwise come from assisted-living institutional settings. In essence, a NORC addresses the needs of elderly residents by proving a wide array of social, health care, mental health and other support services at a senior center, such as the Suzanne Patterson Center in the Borough or a community room in a senior high rise in Trenton.

The bill directs the Commissioner of Health to provide a grant to a lead agency to establish and coordinate a pilot NORC at a senior center in Mercer County, or at one or more moderate or low-income apartment buildings, in which at least 50 percent of the households are headed by a person who is 60 years of age or older. It is hoped that seniors who wish to remain in their homes will have essential services delivered nearby and save taxpayers health care dollars in the long haul. In this regard, it will help many seniors who are proactive and want to take a holistic, preventive approach to their health and well-being.

Although Princeton’s new 16th District legislators voted against the measure, nonetheless, the concept has been well received in the community and I appreciate the Jewish Family and Children Services for the groundwork they provided on this bill. It is hoped that through delivering elder-care services directly into the community, seniors who are often shut in will have greater access to preventive health screenings, a social network at the community centers, and hence a longer quality of life to come.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

District 15

To the Editor:

If Roger Martindell wants to save himself the time and expense of responding to a legitimate request for documents under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, he is directing his attention to the wrong party in the lawsuit that gives rise to this request (Mailbox June 20, “University’s “Unconstitutional” Demand for Dinky Communications “A Chilling Exercise of Legal Power”). The only reason this request was made is because a group of plaintiffs has challenged a 1984 contract between Princeton University and New Jersey Transit that has already been reviewed and found valid by the state Attorney General’s office, the Township attorney, attorneys hired by the Borough, and attorneys for both parties to the contract. The Plaintiffs have challenged this agreement in a baseless lawsuit, clearly as a tactic to try and block the University’s proposed Arts and Transit project. This is an important project to the community and the University, and we intend to defend the lawsuit thoroughly.

If Mr. Martindell prefers not to reveal his communications as a public official, he should be trying to persuade the plaintiffs (who are not parties to the contract they now challenge) to withdraw their nuisance lawsuit, rather than trying to persuade the University not to defend itself in a legal action. Mr. Martindell knows the importance of discovery in any litigation.

As was pointed out at a recent Borough Council meeting, in a different but related matter, one of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit admitted publicly that in that matter she was following the instructions of a member of Borough Council. The University has a right to learn whether she or other plaintiffs in this case were similarly receiving direction from elected officials, or whether there were other communications that are germane to this case if and when it goes to trial.

Finally, our law is clear — there is no constitutional first amendment right for elected officials to maintain confidential communications with constituents. New Jersey has recognized the preeminent importance of transparency in government, even when it makes participants in the process uncomfortable.

Richard S. Goldman

Attorney for Princeton University

June 27, 2012

To the Editor:

Sometimes it takes an entire community to keep our young people safe. On May 23, the day before the Princeton High School prom, junior and senior students witnessed a graphic and frighteningly realistic simulated drunk-driving car crash. From the first words of the amplified 911 call to the reading of the “obituary” of the “fatality,” the event sent a powerful message to its audience — drinking and driving can be lethal.

The re-enactment has been staged every two years since 2006 so that every 11th and 12th grader at PHS has the opportunity to witness how life can change in a matter of seconds. Putting together such a major event takes a great deal of energy, cooperation, and coordination, and many members of our Princeton community gave their time, their talents, and their support to the effort.

The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad created, ran, and narrated an elaborate scenario in which two cars (provided by Stewart Towing) were involved in a head-on crash. Princeton Township and Borough police were on the scene in minutes, just as they would be in a real accident, and they performed a field sobriety test and subsequently “arrested” the “drunk driver.” The Princeton Fire Department and The Capital Health System also played important roles, as did Mather Hodge Funeral Home, which provided a hearse to remove the body of the “deceased.” As the PHS students watched the event unfold, their faces reflected horror, shock, and disbelief.

Crash Committee members from the community who must be thanked in person include Director Frank Setnicky; Greg Paulson, and Shannon Koch, of PFARS; Kim Hodges and Michael Cifelli, Princeton Township Police; Robert Currier and Steven Riccitello, Princeton Borough Police; and Robert Gregory from the Princeton Fire Department. Thank you to Princeton High School Principal Gary Snyder; Kurt Zimmerman, Media Department; PTO Presidents Cheryl McCormick and Bonnie Itkoff; Substance Awareness Coordinator, Gwen Kimsal; Diana Lygas; Jessica Baxter; the PHS guidance counselors who assisted at the debriefing; and Tony Diaforli, grounds crew at Valley Road. Coordinated by their English teachers, John Witherspoon Middle School sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students wrote persuasive essays to every PHS junior and senior, asking that they not drink and drive. These letters were heartfelt and passionate, and showed a wisdom beyond the students’ years.

Corner House and the Princeton Alcohol and Drug Alliance have been involved in and committed to this effort from the very beginning. The actors were all members of the Corner House Student Board, a group of seniors from Princeton High, Princeton Day School, Stuart Academy of the Sacred Heart, and The Hun School. They did a remarkable job. They, and their peers, are the reason why so many people come together to work on this project every other year. It is hoped that every student who saw the simulation will remember the message and stay safe and sober. May we never experience this tragedy in real life.

Wendy Jolley

Crash Simulation Committee

To the Editor:

Just last week I read with great interest an article about ParaTerra, a company which advises developers, architects, home owners, etc. about the many new, sustainable, money-saving products available across the country. This is in response to a need and desire by many to build for the 21st century to lessen environmental impact, including energy and water conservation and also benefit financially by doing the right thing socially.

Unfortunately, AvalonBay Communities, which proposes to build a 280 apartment monolithic structure on the old hospital site, lacks sufficient social conscience to go beyond a very limited sustainability effort and has outright rejected using LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Development) the certified standard which would leave a legacy of which Princeton could be proud. AvalonBay’s failure to adhere to its “Green Living…Sustainable Commitment” articulated on its website is yet another example of AvalonBay’s disregard of Princeton values, especially so since Princeton was pronounced by the state of New Jersey as a sustainable municipality because of its continuing efforts in this area. One wonders why the residents of three AvalonBay Communities developments — two in California and one in Washington — have benefited from LEED certification and Princeton will not and why Princeton will not even benefit from LEED standards.

Could it be that AvalonBay Communities and its chief spokesman, Ronald Ladell, have chosen to use a State loophole that lets them avoid LEED because of an affordable housing component in their proposed building, despite the fact that Princeton’s Master Plan requires LEED? If one watches Mr. Ladell closely during public meetings wherein LEED is discussed, you will see him mouth the words “cost generative” to Borough Attorney Chou. Yet to date Mr. Ladell has failed to demonstrate why AvalonBay should be exempted from Princeton’s Master Plan requirement for LEED. There have been no cost analysis or comparisons and no projection of savings in the long term that would mitigate ‘cost generative’ measures during the construction phase.

What is at stake is that people of lesser means will not have the environmental benefits of sustainable building because AvalonBay has a short-term view to sustainability and environmental protection. On average they retain their developments for 16 years and then sell leaving the residents of towns like Princeton with a less than sustainable monolith structure. This is unconscionable. We all lose while AvalonBay ups their profit margin.

Kate Warren

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

A deal is a deal. The hospital, the Borough, and the neighborhood that surrounds the hospital’s old site on Witherspoon Street, agreed to a deal in 2006. Re-zoning was done specifically for the hospital’s benefit, in a way that would allow it to receive a good price for the site. In exchange, the hospital agreed to requirements that would benefit the neighborhood and the community.

The new zoning is still in place. The Borough and the neighborhood are not challenging it. The hospital has a tentative buyer for the site and has received the benefit of that part of the deal. But AvalonBay, the hospital’s tentative buyer, is not adhering in any significant way to the agreements the hospital made that would benefit the neighborhood and the community.

I was interested to read a recent letter to the editor from the hospital’s CEO. I expected him to deny that the agreements exist. Interestingly, he did not deny them. Instead, he did not mention them. He ignored their existence.

Ignoring the agreements will not make them go away. Community members will continue to remind everyone of them. The Planning Board is fully aware of them. Everyone knows that a deal was made in good faith.

The hospital needs to uphold its part of the deal. It needs to require the buyer of the site — whether AvalonBay or some future buyer — to fulfill all the requirements in the agreements. A deal is a deal.

Anthony C. Lunn

Hawthorne Avenue

June 20, 2012

To The Editor:

I was disappointed to learn that Princeton’s Curbside Food Waste Recycling Program is in jeopardy for lack of adequate participation in the pilot program.

Instead of sending our organic waste to the landfill, where it produces methane (a greenhouse gas with a warming effect more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide), Princeton residents can now send it to an organic waste recycling facility designed to speedily turn it into compost.

As participants for the past year, we separate our organic waste into a green compost cart collected by the hauler as part of our weekly trash pick–up. I use biodegradable bags or a sheet of newspaper and deposit our waste in the green can daily, a simple procedure since we throw this stuff in our trash anyway, don’t we? We have never had bugs or any other undesirable consequences.

To my surprise, I found that curbside pickup accepts many items that cannot be composted in my backyard, including meat, fish, dairy and cheeses, bones, fat, sauces, greasy pizza boxes, paper food wraps, paper cups plates and napkins, paper towel and tissues, hair, orange rinds, vacuum cleaner and dryer lint, and every other organic item, even natural fiber clothing!

Princeton is reportedly the first town in New Jersey and one of the first on the east coast to offer this program. Full participation would bring a reduction of 30 percent in the trash Princeton generates, which would mean a large reduction in municipal trash disposal costs as well.

The program needs 500 participants to ensure its continued operation. Princeton residents, contact Janet Pellichero at (609) 688-2566 ext. 1478 to become part of an important Princeton initiative.

Barbara Cuneo, Alan Kesselhaut

Herrontown Road

To the Editor:

Princeton Borough and Township — soon to be the Town of Princeton — have reasonable zoning laws to protect the character and quality of this community. Those laws must be honored. Do not let Avalon Bay build a monstrosity in our midst.

Rev. Carol S. Haag

Unitarian Universalist Minister, retired

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

In the June 6 edition of Town Topics, the new owner of the Princeton Shopping Center refused to commit to having a contract Post Office in the Shopping Center (Topics of the Town, p. 5). Jodie McLean says in the article that “our role is to enhance community”. With the upcoming loss of the Palmer Square Post Office, allowing one of the Shopping Center’s businesses to include a contract Post Office would be a great way to serve the Princeton community. The Shopping Center has the benefit of ample parking. If the Shopping Center’s popular Ace Hardware store is still willing to commit space to a Post Office as a way to serve the community, it would be a win-win situation for both merchants and customers at the Shopping Center.

Joyce Howe,

Walnut Lane

To the Editor:

On behalf of Friends of Princeton Open Space, I urge that the governing bodies of the Borough and Township vote on June 26 to submit a blended open space tax of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to the voters this November. This will enable a united Princeton to continue good stewardship of its recreation and passive open space and make key acquisitions contemplated by our joint Master Plan. Studies of the finances behind this number show that it is more than justified.

In the past, voters in the Township have voted twice to support an open space tax (2 cents/$100), and one was also passed separately by Borough voters (1 cent/$100). Because those entities will cease to exist on December 31, it is necessary to have a new ballot question to re-authorize the “joint” tax. The Joint Consolidation Commission included a 1.7-cent tax in its calculation of the tax savings of consolidation, and it was recommended by the Finance Subcommittee of the Transition Task Force. Without an open space tax, the unified Princeton will lose its access to Green Acres Planning Incentive Grants and much of its ability to leverage purchases and recreation projects.

Beyond the aesthetic and health benefits we enjoy from preserved lands, open space helps decrease costs caused by flooding, heat-sink effects and loss of species diversity, and dampens the need for expensive infrastructure. By protecting open space at the same time we proceed with various contemplated developments, we can achieve a balance that will keep our united community a financially viable and environmentally desirable place to live.

We encourage all Princetonians to urge your representatives to support this measure on June 26. The voters will have their say in November; they should not be deprived of that opportunity.

Wendy L. Mager

President, Friends of Princeton Open Space

To the Editor:

Do AvalonBay’s revisions to their plans for a 280-apartment complex on Princeton’s hospital site comply with Borough Code or Master Plan? Not yet. I write to inform residents about AvalonBay Communities’ revisions, presented at Borough Council, June 6.

Other than the reduction in height of the complex to four stories, the revisions were fairly minor. The height reduction was not a concession, according to the SPRAB chair, but was required because a six-story wood-framed complex violates international building codes. Wood-framed buildings can be dangerous — a wooden apartment complex that AvalonBay built (and subsequently sold) burned to the ground in Quincy, Massachusetts. A state-ordered investigation called because similar fires had occurred in other large-wooden apartment complexes determined that in Avalon’s building “draft stopping was not built in accordance with the State Building Code and the sprinkler systems were not installed according to the accepted standard” (Department of Fire Services, Mass., Nov 1 2011).

Other revisions to AvalonBay’s plans:

The driveway from Witherspoon into the complex has been moved slightly north to create a green area of about 15,000 square feet. This is less than half the size of the 34,000 sq. ft. park that was part of the concept plan resulting from two-years of meetings between the community, town officials, and the hospital. Also resulting were a Master Plan for the site and new Borough Code to which AvalonBay is in non-compliance — and is bullying the town by threat of lawsuit so that officials will not enforce the code. In the concept plan (as opposed to Avalon’s current plan), there is no driveway interfering with the park along the Witherspoon side of the block, which is meant to be a pedestrian zone; the other two entrances to the garage were deemed sufficient.

A 25-foot-wide arch has been added into the smaller of two interior courtyards (the other private courtyard has a swimming pool). This arch was described by Avalon’s architect as the “main entrance” to the complex. This one passage into the complex does not change AvalonBay’s “community” from a closed one to an open one. Still missing is the open space that provides “linkages between and through the development,” and the “public walkway system” “crossing the site” — required by Borough Code. Nor can the front lawn between the apartments and the sidewalk, with walks up to individual units and Avalon’s signage, be considered usable public space.

Asked about green building construction, so necessary to the public well-being, the AvalonBay Senior Vice President Ladell said that he would comply with “zero” LEED standards.

Towards the meeting’s end, the citizen’s representative and the chair of SPRAB, both on the ad hoc subcommittee which has been negotiating with the developer out of sight of the public, tried to speak about the revisions to MRRO-zone Code that the Planning Board had requested (vote of 9-1) and were shut down by Mr. Ladell and his lawyer, with the acquiescence of Council.

Please join Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods and help us achieve a better solution: princetoncitizensfor@gmail.com.

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

To the Editor:

In its lawsuit with Save the Dinky, Inc., Princeton University has demanded copies of all written communications between all representatives of Save the Dinky, Inc. and all Princeton Borough employees, including elected office holders, since January 2006, regarding the proposed movement of the Dinky terminus 460 feet south.

The University’s legal counsel admitted that the demand is a litigation strategy to discover potentially embarrassing communications between Borough residents and their elected representatives. While that strategy may possibly advance the University’s private litigation goals, it imposes substantial cost on taxpayers and infringes on the constitutional right of the public to petition its elected representatives. This letter is to publicly request that the University withdraw its demand.

Aside from its unconstitutional dimension, the University’s demand over-reaches: it will require potentially dozens of persons employed by the Borough to search their records for communications for more than six years, comprising thousands of emails and other documents. Such a broad request will adversely impact the functioning of Borough government and cost thousands of dollars, simply to advance the University’s private litigation interest.

But the University’s demand also violates the federal and state constitutional guarantees of the right-of-petition government. If every communication between a Borough resident and an elected representative is subject to University inspection and attack simply because it references the Dinky, will Borough residents have confidence that they can freely communicate (petition) their elected representatives?

No. And that’s why the University’s demand is unconstitutional; it cannot but chill Borough residents’ First Amendment rights.

The University’s demand for documents is disguised as a request under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, a progressive statutory program that protects openness in government. But the demand is not for disclosure of documents pertaining to any governmental action; instead, it is for the disclosure of private communication between elected office holders and their constituents. Thus, the OPRA policy of open government is not advanced by the University’s demand. The only goal advanced by the demand is the University’s own private interest in defeating Save the Dinky in litigation.

If every constituent private communication with his or her elected representative is subject to inspection by private litigants simply because the communication may touch on a public issue, constituents would be reluctant to be free and frank in their communications with their elected representatives. Thus, the University’s demand is an unconstitutional exercise of its OPRA rights and a chilling exercise of legal power that the community should resist.

Roger Martindell,

Member, Princeton Borough Council

Patton Avenue

To the Editor:

Many thanks to the Princeton Athletic Club (PAC) for Wednesday night’s wonderfully run — in every sense of the word — Community Mile at Princeton High School. On a glorious June evening dozens of runners, ranging in age from grade-schoolers to senior citizens, turned out to test themselves with a four-lap effort around the PHS track. There were fast times, close finishes, plenty of cheering from friends, family, and fellow runners, and — when everyone had caught their breath — smiles on a lot of faces.

The meet was accessible, affordable, and very smoothly run. At a time when the promotion of healthy physical activity is more important than ever, events like this are an inspiration and a huge boon to the community. We should all — runners and spectators alike — salute the PAC. And turn out for their next event with running shoes laced tight!

Richard O’Brien

Linden Lane

To the Editor:

I want to say “thank you” to the registered Democrats in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township who voted to endorse my candidacy for the new Princeton Council in the primary election on June 8.

To Tamera Matteo and Scott Sillars, the two new candidates for municipal office who were not successful, I offer my thanks for making this a most interesting primary race. As the campaign showed, you have much to offer our community and I hope that you will continue to remain involved in both the political and municipal life of Princeton.

I have been an advocate for consolidation since I first worked on the consolidation study commission in the 1970s, and I firmly believe that the new Princeton can be better than the sum of its two individual parts. With your continued support in the general election in November, I pledge to work to make the merger of our two Princetons a success and to bring the benefits of consolidation to all of the residents of our community.

Bernie Miller

Governors Lane

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Liz Lempert for winning a hard fought primary. Congratulations also to Heather, Lance, Patrick, Bernie, Jenny and Jo for their strong finishes. Scott and Tamera are to be thanked for their spirited campaign. For relative newcomers, they ran good races and we sincerely hope they run again.

Special thanks to Kevin Wilkes and Roger Martindell. Kevin did a yeoman’s job as Council president. It isn’t widely known but we appointed Kevin assistant building inspector in the Township when Phyllis Marchand and I were members of the Township Committee in the early 1990s. Kevin was hugely helpful to Betty Jablonski, our late building inspector.

Finally, heartfelt thanks to Roger for an incredible 23 years of unbroken and unblemished service on the Borough Council. I had the pleasure of overlapping with Roger, and his institutional knowledge and willingness to speak up – even when it was unpopular to do so – will be sorely missed.

Potholes don’t belong to any known political party. National and state political agendas should have no place in local government. For that reason, our campaign this year will be a complete departure from the past — a strictly nonpartisan campaign, a tent big enough to comfortably hold all Princetonians who want real change, Democrats, Independents, Republicans and every party in between. The campaign will emphasize that we are one Princeton moving forward with one spirit in mind – a brighter future.

January 1, 2013, marks the beginning of a challenging and important era in Princeton’s history. If we don’t deliver on the ambitious promises of the Consolidation Study Commission it will be at least another 50 years before a New Jersey town seriously considers merging with a neighboring municipality. We cannot afford to let the voters down. There is a lot more riding on consolidation than the reputations of the governor and the Consolidation Study Commission.

In that spirit, I encourage all candidates and their supporters to keep the rhetoric cool and focus on the only things that really matter, namely, cooperation and getting dedicated, competent and experienced leaders elected for what promises to be a tough couple of years.

Geoff Aton and I look forward to a vigorous campaign this fall filled with debates, passion and maybe a little humor and excitement — “One Princeton – One Spirit”

Richard C. Woodbridge

Candidate for Mayor, Prospect Avenue

June 13, 2012

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone in the Princeton community who supported me in the primary campaign. Whenever I asked for your help or came to your door, you encouraged me and you made me feel welcome in your homes, regardless of whether we agreed on all of the issues.

Thank you also to my fellow candidates. I recognize the contributions that each of you has made and continue to make to the Princeton community. Together we shared a common goal to work for the betterment of our community, and that shared sense of purpose surpassed the competitive aspect of the campaign.

This was an unprecedented and historic vote, the first time we voted as one Princeton, and I am proud to be part of that. I am honored to have been chosen as a Democratic candidate for Council, and I remain committed to delivering on the promise of consolidation for our community, focusing on the safety and security of Princeton during weather and other emergencies, and nurturing more collaborative and productive relationships between our town and its key institutional stakeholders.

Finally, thank you to all who voted in the primary on Tuesday June 5. Through our collective participation, we recognized and expressed our differences while at the same time helping to set Princeton more firmly on its path to a promising future as one united town.

Patrick Simon

Harriet Drive

To the Editor:

The Nearly New Shop (located above Redding’s, at the corner of Nassau and Chestnut Streets, and open since 1947) is scheduled to close at the end of July, by directive of the Head of Princeton Day School, which oversees the second-hand clothing shop. We and our friends deeply value the Nearly New Shop, and are distressed about the announced closing. We appreciate the shop as a way to recycle goods within the local community and often come there for economical clothing for both ourselves and our children. We love the cheerful ladies who manage the shop so wonderfully and have kept it going all these years. We especially appreciate the store as a pleasant and convenient center-of-town donation location for both clothing and other household goods — in fact, this is the only such donation location in central Princeton that is an actual store rather than a faceless “drop-box” for charity operations. Most important of all, we appreciate all the good the shop does in the community by providing truly affordable quality clothing and other goods to local people in need.

We ask the Princeton Day School to reconsider their decision to close the store. If it is simply no longer possible for the Princeton Day School to support the Nearly New Shop, then we hope this letter might inspire another institution, perhaps another local private school, to take over the shop and keep it going, rather than close it altogether.

Julie Landweber, Tom Hagedorn

Chestnut Street