January 16, 2019

LEADER OF THE PACK: Aaron Burt is co-director of a camp for local children in the summers — a change of pace from his main job teaching math to third, fourth, and fifth graders, and coaching cross country, girls’ basketball, and girls’ lacrosse at Princeton Charter School.  (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burt)

By Donald Gilpin

Among the driving forces in the life of Princeton Charter School (PCS) math teacher and coach Aaron Burt are his passions for math, coaching, working with elementary and middle school kids, and his hometown of Princeton. 

“I’ve always enjoyed the energy that kids have,” he said. “I enjoy working with that energy. I always thought I’d like to be a teacher. Especially at the elementary level, the kids’ love of learning, their eagerness to be at school, to be with friends, to be with teachers, is great. It’s so much work, but the energy and excitement make every day exciting and fun. I wake up every morning and I’m excited for another day.” more

January 9, 2019

HEALING TOUCH: “We care a lot about our guests, and we want to help them relax. We make them feel welcome and comfortable, and give them a great relaxation experience to make their day a little better.” Ellen Kogan, owner of Tranquility Den in the Princeton Shopping Center, looks forward to introducing more people to the healing benefits of massage.

By Jean Stratton

This was one of the nicest massage experiences I ever had. Everything about it was wonderful, including the relaxing atmosphere and the experienced, friendly massage therapist.”

This recent comment came from a Princeton resident after a visit to Tranquility Den, the new massage spa in the Princeton Shopping Center.

It is only one of a series of rave reviews that have been bestowed upon the new establishment since its opening in October.

“We are pleased and encouraged that so many people love the spa,” says owner Ellen Kogan. “We always try to go above and beyond for our guests. Even though we are new, we already have many regulars, and I think that’s a testament to the quality experience we offer.” more

January 8, 2019

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at McCarter Theatre Center, we would like to thank the community for the incredible outpouring of support and generosity that we experienced during the run of our annual production of A Christmas Carol.

We were delighted to welcome over 28,000 people to see this show. Many in our audience experienced live theater for the first time, and others have made A Christmas Carol an annual holiday tradition. In addition to our regular performances, we offered five student matinees and shared Scrooge’s story with 4,800 children from area schools. more

To the Editor:

I have to assume that our elected officials were either completely bamboozled by consultants or do not have an ounce of sense. Why else would they change from a perfectly good parking payment system to the new one?

As a longtime Princeton resident, I have frequently supported restaurants and businesses in town. No longer. We are relegated to fumbling with change purses or struggling to read dark meters. Or, we are forced into a $1 minimum should we opt for a credit card. And rates have ballooned to pay for these undesired changes. On principle, I refuse to use an app with a 35 cent surcharge per (often small) transaction. I will continue to visit the library, but I presume the library lot will be ‘full’ with greater frequency, as visitors avoid on-street parking.

So, while there are already quite a number of empty Princeton storefronts, I would expect that number will grow as other Princetonians, like me, opt to take their business elsewhere due to this unnecessary change.

Kristine Olson

Lawrenceville Road

To the Editor:

Yes, the Dinky service isn’t perfect and needs improvement, and yes the new station could use some do-able improvements such as holders for paper schedules, improved handicapped accessibility, more flexible seating arrangements, and the relocation of the historic exhibit into the new Station complex so that kids can see it without going into a bar.

But let’s step back and reflect on the institutional environment that has gotten us this far. Significantly, despite the negativity surrounding the Dinky there has been and continues to be private sector interest, the best possible vote of confidence in its future. To be clear, yes, there are people willing to put their money where their mouth is: for example, I am aware of an investor group with extensive railroad experience interested in operating the Dinky service with purpose-built equipment, along with additional stops and increased frequency. But they are not interested in investing in a political quagmire, and such initiatives will continue to go nowhere as long as the basic question of NJT’s governance stands in the way. more

To the Editor:

May I offer a suggestion concerning the Alexander Road bridge replacement?

When the replacement happens might it be possible to adjust the timing of the traffic lights on Washington Road and Harrison Street (intersecting at Route 1) to accommodate the dramatic increase in traffic? Otherwise the typically crummy rush hour back up will become truly horrific.

While you are making that timing adjustment, perhaps consider also changing up the lights at the intersection of Alexander Road and Carnegie Center Drive? The lights currently are timed to stop traffic on Alexander upon demand from Carnegie Center Drive traffic, but this makes little sense. A small number of cars on Carnegie Center Drive will oblige a full light’s worth of Alexander Road traffic to stop, sometimes just as those cars are accelerating from the stop light on the Route 1 bridge. This causes a back up of large numbers of cars that can sometimes extend back to Canal Pointe Blvd intersection. more

To the Editor:

In 1989, my mother, Katharine O’Neil Bidwell and her cousin, Elsie Hillman, sat in a Westminster Choir College board meeting wringing their hands. The realities facing the tiny choir conservatory with its small classes, one-on-one instruction and challenging fundraising demographic made it clear that Westminster needed a partner or it would close.

My mother and aunt had a vested interest in keeping the college alive. Their grandmother (my great-grandmother), Katharine Houk Talbott, was Westminster’s first benefactor in Dayton, Ohio. An opera singer, she helped create the school; Westminster’s Talbott Library is named after her. The Talbott family has endowed scholarships and family members have served on the boards of Westminster and Rider University. Aunt Elsie and Uncle Henry’s legacy lives on in Hillman Hall in Westminster’s Cullen Center. Their foundation endowed a fund that supports recruiting and performance activities. The Bidwell endowment, named for my mother, supports training for opera singers. more

January 2, 2019

To the Editor,

I share the frustrations of those experiencing difficulties using the municipality’s new parking system and want to assure residents and visitors that members of municipal staff are working daily with our vendors on fixes while exploring all possible alternatives. While I can’t speak for all of Council, I expect my colleagues and I will be taking action this month. It is certainly my first priority.

As a member of Council’s Public Works Committee, I know that the overhaul of our parking system was necessary: multiple antiquated meters were breaking down daily and rates hadn’t increased in a decade. Revenue raised by meters funds maintenance of our parking infrastructure and is used for property tax relief. more

ICONIC LOOK: “Our jackets are quality throughout. They can all be customized, with a different lining design and color, for each person. It is a very individual, one-of-a-kind look.” Earl F. Bayer, founder of Forever Love Custom Heirloom Jackets and American Icon Jackets, is wearing one of his popular, high quality, motorcycle-style leather jackets.

By Jean Stratton

You don’t have to be an icon to wear an American Icon Jacket!

Indeed, these high quality leather jackets are available to all individuals who appreciate special, customized luxury apparel.

Founded by Earl F. Bayer in 2017 in Neshanic Station, his company Forever Love Custom Heirloom Jackets and American Iconic Jackets focuses on creativity, high standards, and customer satisfaction.

“‘Forever Love’ is our trademark, and these personalized jackets can be heirlooms, filled with love and luxury, passed down to another generation,” he says. more

December 19, 2018

To the Editor:

When I recently visited the grave of my deceased daughter, I discovered something that would leave any family heartbroken and disturbed: the owners of the Princeton Cemetery had torn down the twin miniature pine trees that flagged her headstone. My wife and I planted these trees 18 years ago when our daughter passed away. Seeing them uprooted and destroyed left us reliving this very painful period in time. In telling my family what happened, they were moved to tears. more

To the Editor:

We are writing in reference to the article [“Neighbors Stress Traffic Concerns At Meetings on Seminary Project,” Town Topics, December 12, p. 5] that covered a recent meeting sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed redevelopment of Princeton Theological Seminary. The article indicated that residents of streets that border the PTS campus “seemed especially concerned about traffic issues that already exist.” more

To the Editor:

Three thoughts about the metergate issue roiling our little town, summarized as: 1. Thank you; 2. Please explain; 3. Watch out.

Thank you: I am grateful to our friends and neighbors who serve on our municipal boards and commissions and committees. While they are spending their evenings on folding chairs in brightly lighted meeting rooms to grapple with civic matters great and small, I am enjoying a book and glass of wine in my favorite chair in front of the fire. Theirs is largely thankless work, and so I thank them now. more

To the Editor:

Clients of mine have all negatively commented on the new meters, with the exception of the three-hour limit.

I believe they said meters in town are inactive until 9 a.m. so we locals can run errands. Great! Besides coffee shops and bakeries, what’s open?

I am sad to see the parking card has been run out of town; many people who supported the card are now stuck with credits they can’t use.

“Change” needs to happen.

Elaine Staats


Moore Street

To the Editor:

The new parking meters are a catastrophe! Not only have the fees and enforced hours become much more expensive (for explanation see Park Princeton ad, Town Topics, December 12, p. 9: “the new rate structure  . . .  factored in the cost of the new equipment”), these parking meters are also unusable. One cannot read the instructions on the new pay stations in the dark, and as it is getting dark now at 4:30 p.m., but performances start only at 8 p.m., when one has to pay now, one is totally helpless. Looking for meters that could be fed individually, as proudly advertised, either with coins or credit cards, when I recently had tickets for the Richardson Auditorium University concert, I was confronted with every single parking meter up and down University Place and its cross streets covered with a plastic bag saying “Parking by Permit only.” So forget about coins and credit cards, there is zero use for them. more

To the Editor:

I just read Library Director Brett Bonfield’s celebration of walking over driving in the weekly message from the Princeton Public Library. But some of us don’t enjoy the luxury/privilege of walking to where we have to be. Although I have a Princeton zip code, I actually live in Lawrence Township, a little too far to walk to enjoy the attractions of Princeton. I appreciate the library’s Spring Street garage accommodation, but at times it’s full, or not convenient to where I need to go. more

HOLIDAY LOOK: “We take a lot of time with our clients to consult about their style and what they are looking for. And not just with our new clients — but with everyone. We have a talented, knowledgeable staff, completely trained in every aspect of hair and skin care.” Larissa Leary, managing partner and advanced education director of La Jolie Salon & Spa, looks forward to introducing even more clients to the salon’s many services, and to helping them get ready for the next holiday party.

By Jean Stratton

La Jolie Salon & Spa is ready and waiting to give you the perfect look for an upcoming holiday party or event. Whether it is for a new cut or color, special updo, facial, or makeup application, the talented staff at this longtime salon can ensure that you will look your best.

In addition, gift card opportunities are available for all services and products, at all prices, and are a wonderful holiday remembrance. It can be a very thoughtful way to remember someone on your list and introduce them to the benefits available at this all-purpose salon. more

December 12, 2018

PDS Wins Green Restaurant Award

The Princeton Day School (PDS) campus food service has been awarded the highest rating of four stars from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA). PDS is one of only three secondary schools and 30 restaurants in the country to achieve the four-star status. 

“We started the qualifying process in 2011,” said PDS Sustainability Coordinator Liz Cutler, “and everyone has worked hard to make our food services more sustainable according to GRA standards.”

Cutler noted that Flik Independent School Dining Director Brian Mochnal, Chef Mason Irving, the Flik staff, and PDS Building and Grounds “have been amazing partners in this endeavor.” She emphasized PDS’ progress in the areas of water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable durable goods and building materials, sustainable food, energy, reusables and environmentally preferable disposables, chemical and pollution reduction, and transparency and education.

Pen Pal Project Connects Waldorf Students with the World

Waldorf School of Princeton (WSP) students have joined a global initiative to connect with over 1,000 Waldorf Schools all around the world. Students are writing and designing unique postcards to send to each of their sister schools around the world.

The halls of WSP are decorated with postcards from other participating schools alongside a map that marks the origin of each card. Each postcard contains an illustration or anecdote that communicates something about the students, telling or showing something about their country, community, or values.

“This has been an inspiring exercise for the children,” said WSP Arts Teacher Pamela Shafer. “They are gaining an awareness of something larger than themselves, understanding their place in history and the history of the school. When they see the pins on the map they feel connected to their peers around the world.” 

The postcards will be completed and mailed to all the schools in time to kick off the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education in 2019.

St. Paul Eighth Grader Wins Holocaust Essay Contest

St. Paul School of Princeton (SPS) eighth-grader Claire King has been named a winner in the Fifth Annual Holocaust Essay Competition, sponsored by Fegelson-Young-Feinberg Post 697 Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A.

King, who read her essay at the recent awards ceremony, received her honor from Allan Silverberg, chair of the Holocaust Remembrance program. The essay reflected on the childhood experiences of Holocaust survivor Daniel Goldsmith, who spoke at SPS last spring as a culmination of the SPS Holocaust Studies Program.

Wilberforce School To Host Author of Book on Marijuana

Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter and award-winning novelist, will be at the Wilberforce School in Princeton Junction on Thursday, January 31, as part of a speaking tour and book-signing event focusing on his new book Tell Your Children the Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence.

Revealing links between teenage marijuana use and mental illness and violence, the book warns about the impact of the recent legalization of marijuana in nine states. New Jersey might legalize marijuana in the near future.

Morgan E. Bunting married Samuel C. Finnell IV on September 22, 2018, in Nantucket, Mass., at the First Congregational Church, followed by a reception at Sankaty Head Golf Club. The bride’s parents are Robert L. Bunting, Jr., of Westfield, N.J., and Dana L. Bunting of New York City. The groom’s parents are Mr. and Mrs. (Molly) Samuel C. Finnell III, of Skillman, formerly of Princeton.

The bride is a 2013 graduate of Villanova. The groom is a 2006 graduate of Princeton High School and a 2011 graduate of Bucknell. He earned a master’s degree in real estate from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University in Chicago. The bride is an investment analyst at TIFF, The Investment Fund for Foundations. The groom is an associate director at Bentall Kennedy, a real estate investment manager. Attendants included PHS classmates Emory Long, best man; Ned Konin; and David Giancola.

The couple resides in Boston, Mass.

FASHION FORWARD: “We focus on quality, style, versatility, wearability, and the right price. We offer boutique lines not found in department stores,” says Jill Wargo, owner of Highbar Boutique on Palmer Square. “What I have in the store is something I would wear, buy, want to receive, or give as a gift.” Shown is one of the store’s holiday window displays.

By Jean Stratton

What is your fashion style? Your best look? Your signature color?

A visit to Highbar Boutique, the charming women’s boutique at 7 Palmer Square West, will both help you underscore your established style, or if you need advice for a new look, assist you in discovering your best fashion focus. more

December 11, 2018

To the Editor:

Being a merchant is difficult. Being a merchant in Princeton is extra difficult. Town Council and the mayor’s office can’t possibly spend any time in town. The new parking debacle is an affront to our merchants and citizens. It’s frightening that our leadership made significant investments in parking studies, focus groups and questionnaires and then proceeded with the poorest implementation that I could imagine. We have a different parking system, not a state-of-the-art parking system. Let me count the ways:

  • We lost the grace period.
  • Rates increased significantly, now a cup of coffee is a dollar more — 30 minute meters — 27 minutes for a dollar — no grace period, so you put more in.
  • You can’t get unused time back like you could with the old parking card.
  • There is a 35-cent courtesy charge to use the app and it doesn’t work for less that $1.
  • We lost two parking spaces at every crosswalk.
  • We lost about 25 parking spaces to new loading zones.
  • Trucks still block a traffic lane or park in metered spots, exacerbating the loss of paid parking spaces.
  • The parking app is different than the one at the Dinky and almost everywhere else from here to Philadelphia.

Wake up, it’s not a success, it’s a failure. Talk to us please.

 Lou Valente

Hunter Road

To the Editor:

A critical wetland structure on the Princeton Ridge is under imminent threat. These wetlands — which support a tributary to Mountain Lakes and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife — stretch across several acres near the corner of Ridgeview Road and the Great Road.

Last year, a developer built a 5,000-square-foot home on the corner property at 410 Ridgeview directly abutting wetland areas delineated by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Now the same developer is asking Princeton for permission to build another large home on the adjoining 3-acre lot at 394 Ridgeview Road. The property is zoned for 4-acre construction, so a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is needed before the project can proceed.

These wetlands should be preserved as an integral part of Princeton’s municipal sustainability plan. The property is covered in springs, which are the headwaters to Mountain Brook, a C-1 stream that flows past Stuart School and Tenacre into Mountain Lakes, Princeton’s reservoir. The area is covered by obligate wetland species such as skunk cabbage, rush, vestiges of cattail, sensitive fern, and phragmites.

These wetlands also provide important habitat for a plethora of salamanders, frogs, turtles, migratory songbirds, raptors, and wild turkeys. Neighbors have even reported seeing a bobcat, which is endangered in New Jersey. In addition, the property is a major corridor for deer that move daily between the forests on the north side of the Ridge into the Preserve and Mountain Lakes. If the wetlands are blocked with a fence, it can be anticipated deer will wander onto the Great Road in a school zone near the crest of the Ridge, creating a traffic hazard.

We urge members of the Zoning Board to uphold Princeton’s 4-acre zoning ordinance for this property. And we invite all who are concerned with the preservation of the Princeton Ridge to attend the Zoning Board meeting this Wednesday, December 12 at 7:30 p.m. Please join us in protecting these critical wetlands on the Ridge and the remarkable creatures they sustain.

Christopher Barr

Ridgeview Road

December 5, 2018

ONE-STOP SHOPPING: “We have adapted to the times. We see what the customers want and see that we do it right. Service is more important than the price. Everyone who comes into the store is treated equally. There is respect for everyone.” Marty Resnick, co-owner of the Flemington Department Store, is shown on the second floor, overlooking the vast array of merchandise at the signature store.

By Jean Stratton

As the holidays approach, time is both important — and limited. One-stop shopping is appealing and helpful to busy shoppers as they try to navigate through those long Christmas lists.

A visit to the ww Department Store can ease a lot of that shopping anxiety. Customers will find an enormous selection — from furniture and flooring to mattresses to outerwear, as well as workwear, shoes, boots, gloves, hats, scarves, backpacks — and much, much more.

Located at 151 Route 31 in Flemington, the store has been family-owned for 60 years and has a fascinating history.

Jacob and Sara Resnick, parents of the current owners Marty and Ted Resnick, arrived in the U.S. in 1946. Survivors of the World War II onslaught (Sara endured a lengthy period in a concentration camp), they first went to Brooklyn, N.Y., and then joined other Jewish refugees who had left Europe and formed a partnership in a chicken and egg farm. They settled in the Flemington area. more

FILLING IT UP: Princeton University women’s hockey player Sarah Fillier heads up the ice in recent action. Freshman forward Fillier came up big last weekend, chipping in three assists as Princeton edged Quinnipiac 3-2 in Friday and then scoring two goals a day later as the Tigers topped the Bobcats 4-1 in the finale of a two-game set between the rivals. Fillier was later named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week. The 6th-ranked Tigers, now 7-2-3 overall and 6-0-2 ECAC Hockey, play at Rensselaer on December 7 and at Union on December 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Sarah Fillier had to skip four games this November during her freshman campaign with the Princeton University women’s hockey team but she had a pretty good excuse.

The star forward was competing for Team Canada for the 4 Nations Cup from November 6-10 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan as the only collegiate freshman on the squad. more

November 28, 2018

To the Editor:

Concerning the December 11, 2018, $27 million Board of Education referendum, some possibly “overzealous” persons, not prodded by curiosity, have said that people like myself, who were against the original bloated, ill-conceived $137 million referendum were “against our kids,” “against public education,” or even “terrorists.”

Normally, I would not defend myself against kneejerk rhetoric; however, this time I will. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am a proud graduate of PHS.  My mom taught in the then-PRS for over 30 years. My dad served as president of the School Board. Myself and others were just against a financially catastrophic $137 million referendum, which  was proposed on the heels of the poorly executed and disastrous 2002 school referendum. more

To the Editor:

I read with interest about the Princeton Council’s approval of the Zoning Board’s ordinance establishing residential zoning standards regarding demolishing existing houses and rebuilding structures that ignore the ecology, character, and scope of Princeton’s neighborhoods.

In 2014, our small publishing house, Wild River Books, published a novel, The Megabuilders of Queenston Park, by poet, translator, novelist, and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Edmund “Mike” Keeley, that chronicles what happens to a family when the house next door is torn down and a McMansion built in its place. more