April 29, 2020

To the Editor:

Video messages from our mayor and other officials on the princetoncovid.org website end with the message: “Remember, we’re all in this together.” The Garden Club of Princeton has taken this message to heart and has decided to use money from its Community Trust Account to help fellow Princetonians in new ways in a time of extraordinary need.

In the past, the account has been used to finance various plantings to beautify All Wars Memorial Park, to enhance children’s outdoor experiences at the YMCA, and to encourage pollinators at Greenway Meadows Park. This spring, however, the Club saw a need to use its money in a different way, one not closely tied to The GCP’s traditional mission, but clearly tied to its sense of community. more

April 22, 2020

BUILDING SUCCESS: “We strive for the highest level of customer satisfaction in all of our projects. Our focus is on residential and light commercial, and we do all sizes of projects, as well as new construction.” Jim Baxter, right, founder and owner of Baxter Construction, is shown looking over plans with his longtime colleague (26 years!) and lead carpenter, Weir Strange.

By Jean Stratton

The house is the structure, but the home is where the heart is.

An especially important sentiment during this difficult time of coping with COVID-19, when people are relying on the safe haven of their home every day.

Jim Baxter, founder and owner of Baxter Construction, at 31 West Broad Street in Hopewell, has helped clients enjoy the comfort of their homes for almost 40 years.

Indeed, helping homeowners build memories within their home has been the focus of his company since he opened it in 1981. more

To the Editor:

We in the Princeton community are blessed with many wonderful, caring organizations. Thank you for highlighting one example — the innovative partnership among the Princeton Public Schools, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPPrinceton), and other allies who are working together to try to ensure that none of our school children go hungry.

Academic research provides compelling evidence of the damage hunger causes by making it much more difficult for students to concentrate and learn. In normal times, a key mission for our public schools is to provide free or reduced-price meals to the 14 percent of our student body who faces food insecurity. SHUPPrinceton has played a critical role by supplementing the district’s efforts, providing many of these students with free meals over the weekends, when schools are not in session. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is taking a great step forward in reducing its impact on the planet through the new Princeton Community Renewable Energy program. This program is a win-win for us all as it will increase demand for supply from regional renewable sources such as wind turbines, hydropower, and solar arrays and will save us each a few dollars. One of the most exciting aspects of this particular program is its regional renewable supply lessening the use of fossil fuels by an expected 50 percent. This means that we are helping to improve regional air quality, create green jobs and other environmental benefits here in our region.

I was initially concerned about how the program would impact power delivery during power outages or when demand peaks on really hot summer days. After learning more, I understand that this program will not change our power delivery. PSE&G will continue to maintain our electric wires and deliver power to our homes. We will still receive only one bill from PSE&G and all of their programs such as bank autopay and “Worry Free” appliance services will continue. more

To the Editor:

I write this letter to show my total support for Mark Freda as the next mayor of Princeton. I support Mark because I know him to be one of the most dedicated and responsible people I have met; one who has demonstrated throughout most of his life his love and devotion to Princeton — as evidenced by the service he has given while a member of the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid Squad — all without any sign of grandiosity. Some of you may not know him, but there is a good chance that he knows you because of some helpful service he has given.

I know of which I speak when I say that Mark is the best person for this job because I had the opportunity to work very closely with Mark for 13 years when we both served on Princeton Borough Council. I saw up close his ability to work with others during our many “back and forth” discussions when important decisions had to be made based on what was in the best interest of Princeton Borough; I witnessed his ability to lead without force or offending others when I was fire commissioner and he was very active in the Fire Department; I know that he has the steady hand when reacting to situations before they become out of control; and I know him to be a man of few words who delivers lots of positive action. These are qualities that one can appreciate from their leaders.

Mark is committed to making Princeton the best it can be for all of us. I hope you will join me and support him as our next mayor of Princeton.

Mildred T. Trotman
Witherspoon Street

To the Editor,

I write to recognize and acknowledge the positive and constructive response from the Princeton Public Schools leadership to concerns I have publicly expressed regarding the previous distribution methods and components of meals provided to Princeton families in the free and reduced meal program.

Plans for future distributions that will take place every Tuesday, starting April 21, going forward, will be made in a collaborative fashion with other community agencies. By sharing resources, and monitoring feedback from the families, the method of distribution will be modified, and back up plans developed, to hopefully achieve the ultimate goal of reaching all Princeton residents in need of food assistance.

I am very grateful to all those involved for their tremendous efforts and to be a member of the caring Princeton community.

Maria Juega
Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

We just received the letter describing the Constellation Energy program that Sustainable Princeton and Princeton put together for its residents. I can’t tell you how proud I am that our town has made the effort to step up to not only reducing our overall carbon footprint, but also finding a way to have both clean energy and lower utility bills.

I know the utility discount is not great at this point, and renewable content is only 50 percent, but I am fully confident that both will grow as renewable energy cost continues to decline, and solar and wind generation becomes more available. This is a great start and I want to congratulate and thank the mayor and city Council for their vision and good care of its residents.

Tom Leyden
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Congratulations to our intrepid mayor. She had succeeded where years of telemarking scammers have failed: she has unilaterally changed my electric supplier from PSE&G to some outfit in Houston. Odd, but I’m sure she thinks she knows best.

James L. Gould
Herrontown Circle

To the Editor:

Community Options is a nationally based nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Robert Stack. The mission is to develop housing and employment for people with significant levels of disability. During this COVID-19 crisis Community Options has been mandated to close all its adult programs and programs for students with disabilities who attend community-based work activities.

During a time when our nonprofit struggles to provide needed care to persons with disabilities in group homes in central New Jersey, it is so refreshing to receive assistance from an unexpected philanthropist.

You can imagine our surprise to find the Haldeman Ford/Subaru GM, Greg Hritz, dropping off a check for $25,000. While their industry is struggling with the challenges of COVID-19, they remembered our direct care staff providing care to people with disabilities in group homes with such a generous contribution.

Robert Stack
President and CEO, Community Options Princeton

To the Editor:

After careful review and scrutiny of our options, the Board of Trustees and Management of McCarter Theatre made the difficult decision to lay off a majority of our full time and seasonal staff as of May 15th. We will continue to provide health insurance for those impacted employees through June.

We also have been able to meet our obligations to the artists involved with the productions and performances that were canceled this season. With no clear timeline for restarting performances, and the general uncertainty about the length of social distancing, we believe it is best to focus on the long-term health of the organization.

The sacrifices we make as an institution and the financial steps we take at this time are vitally important to securing the organization’s future.  By safeguarding our financial position now, we also improve our capacity to open our doors and stages for employees, audiences, students and community partners as soon as it is safe to do so.  more

April 15, 2020

To the Editor:

Amidst difficult weeks, lights of hope appear in our town, the lights provided by many among us, rising to the occasion in small ways and in large ways. And all of these ways matter.

There are numerous needs identified and yet to be identified, but the search is on. Chief among these needs is sustenance, what we eat at the beginning of the day and what we eat at the end.

To this end, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) is proud to communicate and collaborate with the mayor and Council members, the superintendent of schools and board members, with Mercer Street Friends, Arm in Arm, Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS), and many, many other organizations and individuals.

The goal is to provide meals to those known and those not yet known in the community of Princeton we call our home.  more

To the Editor:

Of all the astonishing changes the invisible coronavirus has wrought, unwelcome or serendipitous, from financial loss to a treasured family reunion with children now grown to adulthood, the most extraordinary has been the silence. Walking down the sidewalk of a formerly busy street, I’m surprised by the sound of my own footsteps. People’s voices, no longer competing with a background din of traffic, have a new clarity. Herrontown Woods was so peaceful yesterday I could hear the buzzing of a honey bee colony 40 feet up in a tree. The sky has been given back to the stars.

This massive shutdown of machinery came after a month in which I was exposed to a progression of traumas inflicted by automobiles. In broad daylight, one started to turn left towards me as I rode my bike down Nassau Street. It came to a screeching halt only a foot away. Not long after, a colleague of my wife’s was run over at night by a SUV and dragged for 60 feet. A friend of mine bicycling home was struck hard by a car at dusk. Another bicyclist, forced towards the curb by traffic, was thrown head first onto the pavement when his bike struck a sunken storm drain just down from my house.

These experiences of vulnerability and unwitting harm brought a new level of tension both to riding a bike and driving a car. COVID-19 has shifted that tension from outside to inside, making streets far safer while injecting a weird sense of terror into shopping at the grocery. more

To the Editor:

Next Wednesday, April 22 marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, and this year’s theme is climate action. Similar to the current COVID-19 crisis, climate change affects everyone and disproportionately affects our most vulnerable community members. Tackling this problem takes commitment on many fronts. Governments, schools, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals all have a role to play. No individual or group of individuals can solve climate change on their own.

It is an enormous challenge but one that Princeton can overcome, especially if we face it together. There are 17 Princeton Climate Action Plan actions underway with numerous groups contributing to their progress. Actions include the Princeton Community Renewable Energy program. The program is a result of the municipality, Environmental Commission, and Sustainable Princeton working together to launch a program that offers residents a lower cost of electricity while also increasing demand for renewable energy and pushing our region to invest in more renewable energy. It also helps improve regional air quality and spur the creation of green jobs. Other actions are happening from the ground-up like our Sustainable Together And Resilient (STAR) Neighborhoods program. To date, eight neighborhoods have made a commitment and taken action to reduce their carbon footprint. more

April 8, 2020

FARM FRESH: “We grow an assortment of organic vegetables, and we are also planting blueberries and strawberries this year. In addition, we have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share program.” Owners and brothers Alex, left, and James Klett of Fairgrown Farm In Hopewell are shown with their special vintage Industrial Harvester tractor, with back hoe and front loader.

By Jean Stratton

Better Food, Better Lives” — this is the mission of brothers James and Alex Klett, who established Fairgrown Farm in 2018. Its eight acres on Aunt Molly Road in Hopewell produce organic seasonal produce for the surrounding community.

“We are committed to growing great-tasting food that is healthy and safe,” explains James Klett, who is farm manager and head farmer. “Our farm is in the process of being certified as USDA Certified Organic. Although we are not yet officially certified, we comply completely with the organic principles, often going above and beyond what is required of an organic farm. You can be assured that everything we grow is safe and healthy for your family.”

There is no question that farming is one of the most challenging — and, of course, essential — occupations one can undertake. Both James and Alex, who is operations manager and charged with keeping the machines and equipment in good working order, know they are in the right profession. more

To the Editor:

Our family was grateful to Princeton Charter School (PCS) well before COVID-19 came to town. Our kids have thrived at the school academically, socially, and emotionally.  When my husband took a job four hours from home in April 2019 we decided he would commute back on weekends until fall of 2020 when our older son would join him to start high school and our younger son and I would follow in summer 2021 so they would both have the opportunity to finish eighth grade at PCS.

In the past couple weeks, our respect and gratitude for what this small team of dedicated, flexible, and innovative administrators and staff can accomplish has grown exponentially. It has not been flawless but nonetheless ahead of the curve.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Dina Shaw for Princeton Council. I have known Dina for many years as an integral part of the Princeton community and have always been impressed with her energy and intelligence as well as her wide and deep connection with the greater Princeton community. This is a woman who knows everyone, listens to wise advice, and gets things done.

Dina possesses boundless energy which she has applied over the years to the benefit of our schools (president of the Littlebrook PTO, president of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO), our community (officer of the Friends of the Princeton Public Library), and our local business environment (executive and/or founder of two successful local businesses). Princeton Council would be well-served to harness the energy, creative thinking, and passion Dina evidenced in those endeavors, applying those to her stated goals of managed economic development, inclusive communication, increased transparency, and greater collaboration with Princeton Public Schools.

I also believe that Dina’s wide-ranging network of connections would benefit her future Council efforts. As a newcomer to local politics, Dina’s wide network could infuse some fresh faces and new ideas to the scene, Princeton residents with expertise in finance, management, and civic development and who care deeply about our town’s future.

Audrey Chen
Linwood Circle

To the Editor:
I have not yet met you COVID-19, but I have, like most of humanity, felt your frightening presence. Life as we know it is on hold, people are dying and global commerce has been shuttered. We rarely leave our homes!

I have come to learn that you have always been out there, but we never knew your name. We have been living side by side with your many cousins and some of you have disrupted our lives in challenging but manageable ways. Unlike your brethren, however, you have sadly raised the bar, ruthlessly targeting our most vulnerable population while randomly stealing from every generation to maintain maximum terror.

So here you are, sneaking in surreptitiously, from a part of the world I know little about, hosting in obscure mammals while plotting more sophisticated prey. Your success, I surmise, has far outstripped even your own wildest aspirations while each day you accelerate your deadly advance. Suffering is now worldwide on an unimaginable scale and you apparently are not done yet.

You are, however going to be a “one trick pony” and your time disrupting and killing indiscriminately will soon come to an end. You have grossly miscalculated by invading our lives because, unlike you, we have a loving spirit and collective soul that brings out a ferocity for protecting one another in times of crisis.  more

To the Editor:

The Princeton Festival regrets to announce the cancellation of its 2020 season. This includes 22 performances of nine events in June, plus 15 free lectures, workshops, and special events scheduled to start in May.

Naturally, it is frustrating not to be able to present the wonderful season of performing arts that our Executive and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk, his staff, and our enthusiastic volunteers have worked so hard to put in place. We also know that our valued audiences and supporters in the community will be disappointed to see these events canceled.

Yet we must take this step in the face of the coronavirus pandemic — it is our duty as a responsible member of our community. Our first concern is the welfare and safety of all of our valued artists, staff, volunteers, and patrons, and we are acting in conformance with directives and guidelines put in place by government and health officials at the federal and state levels.

Those who hold tickets to 2020 performances will be able to redeem, transfer, or donate the value of their purchases. We will honor 2020 gift cards for the 2021 season. more

To the Editor:

The Jewish holiday of Passover is to have the first Seder this Wednesday night. Passover is a holiday of family bonding, ritual, songs, special food, and friendship and love.

This year my wife and I will have a “virtual” Seder using Zoom with our son and his family who live in Westchester, New York. It will be different. The Seder reading is from The Haggadah, which has an order of ritual and prayer.

This year, our family will add a prayer, just before the children who participate in the Seder ask the Four Questions, the “Mah Nishtanah.” We will raise our wine glasses and include a prayer to praise, applaud, and acknowledge all the heroic doctors, nurses, and hospital auxiliaries on duty in hospitals across America who are treating, rendering therapy, support, and healing to thousands of patients afflicted with the coronavirus. These health care providers are putting themselves and their bodies in danger, like the brave heroic Americans who fought and won the battle of Midway, the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and other battles that kept our country safe and guaranteed our freedoms and our democracy.  more

To the Editor:

This past Friday, a small yet remarkable piece of the Princeton Ridge was secured for permanent conservation. A consortium led by The Watershed Institute, Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), and Ridgeview Conservancy purchased an environmentally sensitive property at 394 Ridgeview Road to protect it from development. The 3-acre lot, which had previously been approved for construction, supports the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a tributary to Mountain Lake in the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve.

The headwaters lot lies at the heart of a 20-acre wetland structure, which provides critical habitat and serves as an important corridor for a range of wildlife species. It also plays a key role in stormwater runoff and a much-needed link between preserved lands in the Ridgeview Woods, Mountain Lake, and Woodfield Preserve.

Conserving the headwaters of Mountain Brook was a real team effort, involving a consortium of environmental groups and land trusts, government agencies at multiple levels, members of the Princeton community, and the developer who previously owned the property. On behalf of Ridgeview Conservancy, we want to thank our partners, Jim Waltman and Michael Pisauro at The Watershed Institute and Wendy Mager at FOPOS, for collaborating on this initiative over the past 18 months and for guiding the process to a successful outcome. more

To the Editor:

We at Friends of Princeton Open Space are sorry we have had to cancel our events through the summer, but we are happy that so many of you have chosen to come to the Mountain Lakes open space area for exercise and mental solace during this difficult time. At the same time, we want to remind everyone of the importance of observing rules that keep us safe.

When you come to the park, please be careful to maintain social distancing at all times, and to keep your dogs leashed. A six-foot minimum from other people is mandated by Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107. Please announce yourself if you are overtaking other walkers from behind so they can move out of your way. Allowing dogs off-leash is not only contrary to Princeton ordinance and the conservation easement we hold, but can set up situations where it is impossible to maintain the appropriate separation. The same rules apply to other parks we help maintain such as Woodfield Reservation, or the Stony Brook Trail.  more

April 1, 2020

BEST BREW: “We are the first licensed brewpub — an on-site brewery and restaurant — in New Jersey. We brew the beer right here, and have 250 different styles.” Eric Nutt, left, director of corporate sales, and Ray Villano, general manager of Triumph Brewing Company, look forward to celebrating the brewpub’s 25th anniversary with all their customers as soon as circumstances allow.

By Jean Stratton

These are unusual times, and nowhere is that more visible than in Princeton’s downtown, with the myriad of businesses that are temporarily closed or otherwise affected by the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

Triumph Brewing Company, the longtime Princeton favorite brewpub, is marking its 25th anniversary this year, and although celebration plans have been placed on hold, it is still open for takeout and bottled beer purchases.

“We can’t wait to get back to normal — with our customers, and also to see all the people on the street again,” says director of corporate sales Eric Nutt. “In the meantime, however, we do offer takeout, and also, we are delivering food to HomeFront and the Trenton Soup Kitchen. In addition, our Red Bank and New Hope locations are delivering to food banks in their areas.

“We have always been community-oriented, and we support local organizations and charities.” more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Dina Shaw’s candidacy for Princeton Council. I have had the privilege of knowing Dina both as a PTO colleague and as a friend since 2003 when she moved to the neighborhood. Over the years, I have watched Dina dive into any project she takes on with a positive attitude and with boundless energy.

As president of the Littlebrook PTO, she recognized there was a need for after school programs and launched a new platform of activities that resulted in robust offerings for all children. Next, Dina was president of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO. As co-treasurer of the PTO during Dina’s tenure, I personally felt a true sense of purpose and accomplishment as we raised funds to guarantee that all children at JW could attend the Washington, D.C., field trip, regardless of financial need. more

To the Editor:

We are writing on behalf of the Princeton Family YMCA to share our story and to assure you that we are doing all that we can to endure through this crisis.

At the YMCA, four core values — honesty, caring, respect and responsibility — are embedded in all that we do, but today they are being tested like never before. We can tell you with confidence that they are deeply ingrained in our Y’s culture and community and they will be the foundation by which we navigate this unimaginable challenge and successfully come out on the other side.  more

To the Editor:

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many new and unprecedented challenges for our entire country and our own Princeton community. Schools are closed through April 30 but likely longer, and possibly for the rest of the school year. For the 500 Princeton children on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program this has had a significant impact. For many of them, the food they receive at school is the only food they can rely on. The school district is helping fill the “weekday” food gap, but the Free and Reduced Program doesn’t provide weekend meals for the children of Princeton. Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPPrinceton) does!

In keeping with our mission, we have agreed to provide weekend meals for ALL of these 500 Princeton school children through the end of the school year if needed. We typically provide weekend meals for approximately 150 children in the four elementary schools, the Princeton Nursery School, and Princeton Charter School. We also support Princeton High School and John Witherspoon Middle School with snacks, and lunches to the Princeton Recreation Department camps during the summer. more