December 25, 2019

To the Editor:

Princeton Human Services thanks donors for their contributions to its 21st Holiday Gift Drive. Princeton Human Services had its most successful Holiday Gift Drive this year thanks to the overwhelming number of donors who contributed. This year, the department distributed gifts to approximately 305 kids aged 12 and under.

The department would like to thank the Princeton Police Department, the PBA Local 130, the Princeton Recreation Department, Stone Hill Church, Lucy’s Kitchen & Market, Goldberg Segalla, JM Group, and Princeton Anesthesia Services for their support and contributions to the Holiday Gift Drive as well as municipal employees, police officers, and the many Princeton residents who made individual donations and sponsored children in our drive.  more

To the Editor:

This is not a political moment in our nation. This is a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.

This is not an event to celebrate. This is a solemn moment to finally acknowledge what our great country has lost.

This is not opposition to a candidate, a person holding office as we speak, or even a specific party. This is recognition of our Constitution and the protections therein.

This is not a gathering meant to vilify any individual. This is a movement meant to move us all forward to regain our national stature, both at home and abroad.

As we journey together as a people on this arduous and painful but ultimately rewarding path back to the rule of law in our great country, we at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice are proud to gather with a strong coalition of allies as well as with our greater community to organize this rally — one of hundreds collectively across the nation to amplify our patriotic voices and affirm our strong belief in the very foundations of our democracy. more

December 18, 2019

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Human Services Commission, we would like to publicly share with our neighbors in Princeton and the larger Mercer County region, our deep appreciation of the bravery and kindness of our migrant neighbors and friends.  We fully support their integration into our communities and applaud their efforts to find a better, safe, and secure life for their children and families. 

On December 18, 1990, the United Nation’s General Assembly adopted a resolution concerning the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. We ask our neighbors in the greater Princeton and Mercer communities to join us in celebrating International Migrants Day this year by commemorating the often difficult journeys of our migrant friends.  more

To the Editor:

It’s good to know that the long and complicated settlement between Princeton and Fair Share Housing Center may be heading toward conclusion [“Town May Be Close to a Settlement on Affordable Housing Obligation,” Town Topics, December 11, p. 12].

Not too many people know that there has been proposed legislation in the NJ Legislature (S854 / A1897) to make large multi-unit dwellings more fire safe. This legislation was introduced after the huge fire in Edgewater, N.J., where 500 people lost their homes on a cold night in January 2015 in the large Avalon Bay wood housing development, causing serious displacement of families.   This event was preceded in 2000 at that site when the same company’s development under construction went up in flames, destroying nine nearby occupied homes and 12 cars. Large fires have occurred at other such sites in New Jersey  (Maplewood and Lakewood) and throughout the country as combustible wood framing is used in ever larger and taller multi-unit dwellings.  more

December 11, 2019

To the Editor:

Well, it isn’t working is it? Leaf piles!

Driving home from the airport last Sunday through the first real (though luckily not major) snow of the season involved dodging around leaf piles of all sizes along the streets of Princeton. Later, the salting trucks were out, facing the same difficult situation.

It seems that when the printed pick-up schedule comes in the mail many homeowners do not read it, do not keep it in a safe place for future reference, or simply decide to ignore it.

Landscapers could be instructed to put the leaves they collect into bags instead of piling them at curbside. Alternatively, households that contribute to the potentially hazardous situation might have to be charged for the removal of their leaf piles.

Elizabeth Danson
Cedar Lane

To the Editor:

I was sorry to learn of the recent departure of senior registered environmental health specialist Keith Levine from the Princeton Health Department. Health specialist Levine was a dedicated civil servant who displayed professionalism, knowledge, efficiency, compassion, and caring in the performance of his duties and was always attentive to that call no matter how busy he was.

Health specialist Levine was the only official I contacted who was responsive to the complaints of tenants of Elm Court and Harriet Bryan House when management was complacent about trash piling up in the trash rooms and other problems too numerous to mention.

He will be greatly missed by everyone who had occasion to solicit his help and Princeton’s loss will certainly be someone else’s gain. We can ill afford to lose people of this caliber in Princeton.

Linda Ricker
Elm Court

To the Editor:

“U.S. Students Fail to Gain Ground in International Test” is the headline of an article in the Wednesday, December 4, issue of The Wall Street Journal. The exam, called the Program for International Student Assessment, is given to teenage students around the world. The American results are nothing to be proud of. In mathematics, for example, the average scores of the ten leading countries, located in East Asia and Northern Europe, ranged from a high of 591 (China) to a low of 515 (Poland). The average score for the United States was 478.

This is nothing new. For years we’ve seen the scores of American students lag behind those of most other civilized countries in reading, mathematics and science. more

To the Editor:

In a federalist system like ours, information about the issues and conflicts faced in local jurisdictions is essential to self-government.

Princeton government has faced budget crunches recently and spinning off the Princeton Community TV and Media Center saves the government money.

Princeton Community Access TV and Media Center, which is funded through regional negotiations with companies like Comcast, serves our  community’s  information needs in the digital age. It is a physical space dedicated to programming created locally and offers residents an outlet to express their views on local issues.

In 2017, former N.J. Governor Thomas Kean asked the state to support public TV after the spectrum auction win. “Public TV network provides critical local news and public affairs programming and also supports New Jersey through community engagement projects.” said Kean, NJ.com commentary. more

December 4, 2019

ITALIAN TRADITIONS: “We are family-owned and operated, and we want to offer people a memorable dining experience. Everything is high quality, and we have special family recipes and the freshest ingredients.” Beniamino (left) and Alison Iovine, owners of Beniamino’s Cucina & Pizza, are shown with pizza expert Alex Iovine, known as the “Pizza Man.”

By Jean Stratton

Italian food is a favorite — and surely not just in Italy! It is on everyone’s menu, and whether it is served at home or in a restaurant it is always welcome.

“People love Italian food because it tastes good and is comforting. It’s ‘feel good’ food!” says Alison Iovine, co-owner and front end manager of Beniamino’s Cucina & Pizza. “It is also healthy, with fresh ingredients, focusing on the Mediterranean diet, with lots of vegetables. We are so happy to share our great menu with customers.”

And, lots of enthusiastic customers are enjoying lunch and dinner at the new restaurant, which opened at the Montgomery Center, 1325 Route 206 North, in July.

Owners Beniamino and Alison Iovine are delighted with the response. “We are very encouraged, and so pleased that everyone is enjoying coming here. We already have lots of regular and repeat customers. Once they come in, they always come back!” more

To the Editor:

I also attended the Mercer County Board of Elections meeting occasioned by the “discovery” of 800 missing mail-in ballots to which Scotia Macrae referred in her letter [“Spare No Expense to Safeguard Our Democracy,” Mailbox, Nov. 27]. In general, I agree with the observations and recommendations she offered. This year, the missing ballots didn’t make a difference in the outcome, but in a close election they could have if the “missing” were somehow not found.

Ms. Macrae raises the specter of potential Russian vote-tampering. The clear and present danger to our voting system is much more obvious, however. To quote cartoon character Pogo, “I have met the enemy and he is us.” That is, the processing, tabulating, and posting of votes are done by people. The possibilities for malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance are ever-present. The arbitrary rejection of mail-in ballots, including for supposed signature discrepancies, has been held unconstitutional in other states, but continues in Mercer County. more

To the Editor:

On behalf of Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), I would like to thank the 100-plus members of the community who attended our OptOutside event on Friday, November 29 at the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve. We were fortunate to have gorgeous weather; a great performance by the Andrew Yan Quintet, a jazz group comprised of PHS students; and a wonderful photography exhibit entitled, “The Beauty of Nature,” with beautiful images taken by Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart student Sam Mao. Friday kicked off our annual photography contest sponsored by REI, the outdoor gear and equipment coop that started OptOutside Friday, and closes all of its stores the day after Thanksgiving. more

To the Editor:

It appears that Rider University is now determined to close down the Princeton campus of Westminster Choir College and move the whole college or whatever parts they can pick up and ship it all to Lawrenceville. This academically excellent college has educated so many singers, choir masters, musicians, and composers, and has prospered in its beautiful Princeton campus, but is now to be melded with Rider’s rather banal university, which only became a university when Rider acquired Westminster. It seems inconceivable that Westminster will ever again be anything like what we have known and admired for so many decades. more

To the Editor:

As we approach the end of the year, we wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to the larger Princeton community for its sustained generosity and support of the YMCA mission. On behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA’s board of directors, we are truly grateful to the many people who are by our side, join us in advancing our work, and help us make the impact we strive to achieve. The list of individuals and organizations is long, and they include special people who participate as members, program participants, volunteers, donors, and advocates. As a cause-driven charitable organization dedicated to strengthening this community, we simply couldn’t do it without you.

Our 2019 Centennial Awards reception was another resounding success, raising $90,000 for critical programs such as Princeton Young Achievers and for financial assistance to ensure that everyone has a place at the Y. We are thankful to all who joined us in October and to our wonderful honorees. This year, we were also the beneficiary of an unexpected and extraordinarily generous gift from an anonymous donor who has transformed our field with a beautiful state-of-the-art basketball court and new surface for the playground — a gift to the entire community! Words are hard to find to describe how thankful we are. more

To the Editor:

Some things disappear because something much better takes its place and there is just no need for it anymore.  Ice boxes, disposable cameras, and flip phones are just a couple of examples.

But some things are timeless and beautiful just the way they are, and one of those things is our special downtown that adds sparkle and life to this community. There is nothing quite like downtown Princeton.

Walking into your local coffee shop and having the barista greet you by name and ask how your vacation was.  Stopping by the wonderful little gift shop and buying that friend a handmade mug or homemade soaps or leather goods for the holidays, instead of ordering something from Amazon. Getting that haircut at the little local barbershop or hair salon where you can chat with your friends and catch up on the local “news.” These are all small things that build a community. more

November 27, 2019

To the Editor:

You have the key to unlock the tool chest to rejuvenate and save the most basic foundation needed to support human life. “And what is that?” you ask. It is the vast and quickly diminishing community of native pollinators of bees, birds, butterflies, beetles, flies, and small mammals that work together to supply 85 percent of the main global crops that feed people — fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and oils. This hardworking group also provides the food for many other animals, besides us, in the worldwide ecosystem. If they go, we go. And you can do something right now where you live to help them regenerate!

You can accomplish this, and it does not depend on the size of your yard, your balcony, your community garden, an empty urban lot, or on large corporate campuses. Plant and they will find you! You will discover the incredible beauty of the plants that are native to wherever you live and the knock-your-socks-off intricate and colorful patterns that our native pollinators are dressed in. Not even our most outstanding clothing designers can match the delicacy of detail on display. more

To the Editor:

On Thursday evening, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine offered a wonderful music performance to a very appreciative McCarter Theatre audience. It was a very wonderful evening with the Orchestra presumably being paid for their performance and with the audience showing their appreciation through their loud and extended applause. It was a wonderful example of a quid pro quo with presumably all parties, both audience and members of the Orchestra, receiving their just rewards. The difference between this quid pro quo and that receiving national attention is worth noting since the benefits provided by the Orchestra were not targeted at a single member of the audience but to the audience at large.

May we have many more such quid pro quos.

Joel S. Greenberg
Parkside Drive, Princeton

To the Editor:

It was recently discovered by the Mercer County Board of Elections that more than 300 vote-by-mail ballots from Princeton had not been counted in the recent election. There were more than 250 vote-by-mail ballots from Trenton that had not been counted; as well as smaller numbers (32 or fewer) from East Windsor, Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell Township, Lawrence Township, Pennington, and Robbinsville.

According to a Board of Elections Commissioner Anthony Francioso, who presided at the meeting, the uncounted ballots were locked and secured in the Board of Elections vault with the ballots that had been counted and the ballots that had been rejected.

On Monday, November 25, I and others attended a public meeting at the Board of Elections to witness the counting and scanning of the uncounted ballots, including the 362 from Princeton. more

November 20, 2019

MINDFULNESS: Erin Galbraith teaches mindfulness to all levels, preschool through middle school, at Princeton Montessori School, helping overwhelmed children and teachers “to be able to stop and pause, use their breath to find equilibrium, and allow their nervous system to balance.”(Photo courtesy of Princeton Montessori School)

By Donald Gilpin

Erin Galbraith had been teaching yoga in the area when she started an after-school program at the Princeton Montessori School, where her son and daughter were enrolled. Her classes were popular, so she offered an additional class for parents, and then started teaching teachers some yoga once a week after school, emphasizing with them the value of taking care of yourself. 

One day five years ago Head of School Michelle Morrison came to her with a vision for a program that would involve all the students in the school. “I didn’t have to sell anyone on anything,” Galbraith said. “She came to me with ‘This is our need. I want you to do this.’ and I said ‘great.’”

Galbraith continued, “She was seeing children who were very busy outside of school, with a lot on their plates in this sped-up culture. I think she was feeling that they needed a way to resource that inner calm that lies inside us, to help children become aware of their inner world. I think she knew this would be a real resource for children in this chaotic world.” more

To the Editor:

Especially in this month of Thanksgiving, I want to call out a special thanks to our Princeton Engineering Department, our municipal engineer Deanna Stockton, and her very good staff as well as others involved, including our Princeton Police Department, for the complex work in getting the previously hazardous Cherry Valley Road reconstructed so beautifully.

This was not only a complex engineering project with dangerous side deep trenches on a narrow, winding, hilly road and a rough surface, it was complex in that Cherry Valley Road is the border between Princeton and Montgomery Township as well as Mercer and Somerset counties.

All levels of government; the state, two counties, and two municipalities had to be involved in the funding and complex coordination.

I also want to thank our Mayor, Liz Lempert, who helped to push the funding, etc. when that slowed things down considerably on this nine-month work project. It is now a safe pleasure to drive on Cherry Valley Road.

I know that our municipal employees and our mayor hear various complaints. I’m glad to be able to shout out a big Thank You! for a job very well done along with many others, such as reconstruction of Valley Road, making it much more attractive and functional.

Grace Sinden
Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

On Sunday, November 10, the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF) celebrated its Quinceañera in our new home in the beautiful historic 1892 building, formerly a social club for immigrant workers at the famous Roebling Wire Works in Trenton. Approximately 100 supporters and volunteers joined board members and staff to lift a glass of champagne and celebrate 15 years of providing legal representation and consultation, English-as-a-second language and citizenship classes, community identity cards, tax preparation, support to victims of domestic violence, and mentoring and coaching to 60 young students preparing for college as part of our FUTURO program.

We write today on behalf of LALDEF’s staff, board of trustees, and the more than 3,000 people we serve each year to thank The Harvest Restaurant Group/Fenwick/Agricola and Lucy’s Kitchen/One53 Restaurant, which provided the delicious food and beverages enjoyed by all who attended.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my sincere thanks to the Princeton voters for electing me to a second term on the Board of Education. I especially look forward to working on behalf of students and families that are underrepresented in decision-making in which they are directly affected. During the campaign, I spoke with community members throughout Princeton, all of whom share a common belief that our public schools, and a commitment to quality education for all students, are a cornerstone of our town. Recent budgetary decisions eliminated teaching positions and services, which particularly impacted students of color, struggling learners, special education, and low-income students. Thanks to the trust and confidence of Princeton voters, I will begin my second term on January 6, 2020. I look forward to sharing ideas and collaborating with my fellow board members for the benefit of our community during the next three years.

Dafna Kendal

To the Editor:

The Princeton Board of Education (BoE) has just mandated that its members may not publicly question School Board actions and policies, resolving that:

“Board members will serve as ambassadors for their district, emphasizing the positive aspects of the district.”

School Board members are not elected to represent the schools. They are elected to provide oversight for the community. How much oversight can be exercised if all communications must pass through the superintendent? more

To the Editor:

For the last three years, President Dell’Omo and the Rider University Board of Trustees have pursued a disastrously conceived program to sell the Princeton property where Westminster Choir College — one of the colleges of Rider University since the merger in 1991 — has resided since 1932. Its purpose is pure greed for the cash that the University might gain from the sale of real estate, regardless of the consequences for a college that is one of America’s greatest choral institutions.

The resultant destabilization has alienated students and their parents, faculty, and alumni. Widespread negative publicity has damaged Westminster’s image so badly that new enrollment has dropped by 60 percent, stellar members of the faculty have left for more secure positions, and alumni giving has evaporated.

Now since that strategy failed, Rider administration has announced what can only be perceived as a vengeful plan to abruptly move Westminster Choir College by fall of 2020 onto the Lawrenceville campus of the University. There the facilities are completely nonexistent for the proper practice, teaching, rehearsal, and performance needs of a music conservatory. Such a move will certainly result in the demise of the college. more

To the Editor:

The Arts Council of Princeton would like to extend its sincerest gratitude and appreciation to everyone who turned out in force on Saturday, November 9 for the Journey mural reveal and dedication. The mural, created by Marlon Davila, the fall 2019 Anne Reeves Artist-in Residence, is located at the corner of John Street and Leigh Avenue.  A special thank you to Mayor Liz Lempert and members of Princeton Council who joined us for the dedication of this mural, which celebrates the artistry and creativity prevalent in our town.

This project would not have been possible without the support of Timothy M. Andrews, who has generously underwritten the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program. The Arts Council of Princeton also acknowledges mural sponsors Studio Hillier, Kucker-Haney Paint Company, Jerry’s Art-a-Rama, and Smith’s ACE Hardware for their support of public art in Princeton. Great thanks go to Lupita Groceries for providing the perfect “canvas” for our mural, and who, along with Local Greek, provided delicious refreshments for the mural celebration. And most importantly, thank you to Marlon Davila for sharing your art with the community and for reminding us of the importance of encouraging dialogue and following one’s passion.

Maria Evans
Artistic Director
Arts Council of Princeton

November 13, 2019

To the Editor:

After several false starts, the 3 Megawatt (MW) Princeton Solar Array was inaugurated on October 11, 2017. For the Array owner, NJR Energy Ventures (NJR), this project is a both a technical success and a stunning financial bonanza. For Princeton taxpayers, it is a fiscal debacle. Incentive payments and electricity sales worth nearly one million dollars per year, or more than 14 million dollars over the 15-year life of the NJR contract, will be collected by the array owner, NJR, instead of going to Princeton taxpayers.

The attempt to install a solar array on Princeton’s former municipal landfill off River Road began in 2011. Shortly after discussions started, Princeton officials hesitated and stopped the effort. The project restarted in 2015, but once again was paused due uncertainty, it was said, in the SREC market (a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate certifies generation of one million watt hours (MWh) of solar electricity).  Finally, when Princeton officials felt that the price of SRECs had stabilized, the project went ahead. more