June 24, 2020

To the Editor:

Princeton is a place that is held in high esteem the world over. I am proud of so much of what we do and who we are. But there is room for us to do better. 

It is important for all of us to look around us, think about where we stand and identify all the things we can do to be a better community. Let’s look, for example, at the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the country’s, as well as Princeton’s fissures were amplified during the national lockdown and quarantine. Right here in Princeton, where some of the brightest minds are curated and some of the wealthiest people live, some of our neighbors were hungry, some were experiencing homelessness, some were finding it hard to pay their bills, and some were food insecure. The pandemic didn’t invent these social insecurities, it merely left them bare for all to see. How did we get here? I’m no social engineer, but I can see the glaring disparities in funding our priorities. 

The police department got $8 million and the human services department got a couple hundred thousand. My observation was validated at Council meeting on June 8th, when the health officer himself said that he has to use the police to do some of the work the health department needs to do because they don’t have enough staff. The health officer is essentially saying that he does not have the resources to hire and therefore help Princetonians in need. The fact that the police department is so well funded that they can do both crime fighting and assist with social services speaks to our priorities and in turn the problem.   more

To the Editor:

Many people run for elected office for reasons unrelated to public service — perhaps vanity, boredom, or personal grievances, to name a few. That’s why I am once again supporting Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council in the Democratic primary. I have zero doubts Leticia is running only because she wants to continue to serve the community. It’s refreshing to feel that way about an elected official these days. 

Now, I understand it’s foolish to assume anyone’s intentions but with Leticia, we have the receipts. Before being elected to Council in 2017, Leticia had served as chair of various commissions and boards, from the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund to the YWCA, Princeton Community Housing, Send Hunger Packing Princeton, and the Civil Rights Committee of Human Services. As a member of Council, she has continued to pursue issues related to health, equality, and social justice on committees including Human Services, Board of Health and Public Safety. (All even more critical now as we address the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.) more

To the Editor:

As mayor of the former Princeton Township, and as a former Princeton Council president, I ask my fellow Democrats to join me in supporting Leticia Fraga and David Cohen, candidates for re-election to Princeton Council in the Primary Election on July 7th.

Leticia and David have demonstrated their ability to serve the needs of all of our community as members of Princeton Council, and especially during the past five months as Princeton has sought to provide for the health, safety, and well-being of our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leticia has strived to assure that we achieve social equity in providing services to those of our residents who are the least served and often the most needy. David has worked hard to help our municipality achieve our goals of environmental and fiscal sustainability. He has been an advocate for the increasing senior population in our community, and for well planned development of affordable housing. They are both progressive Democrats and are exceptionally well qualified to help guide our town through the changes that we will need to make both as individuals and as a community in an uncertain future.

Please join me in voting for Leticia Fraga and David Cohen in the Primary Election on July 7th, proven leaders for Princeton.

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

June 17, 2020

CREATIVE COLOR: “I like the idea of making art more accessible to people. All ages enjoy coming to Color Me Mine, including kids from 3 and up, as well as their parents and grandparents. They all like to come and paint and create!” Krystal Spadafora, second from right, owner of Color Me Mine in the Princeton Shopping Center, is shown with her husband and co-owner Tom Spadafora, and their three children, from left, Erik, Emily, and Katy.

By Jean Stratton

Explore your inner artist! Release your creativity! Are you ready?

These opportunities are waiting for you at Color Me Mine, the “Paint Your Own Pottery” studio in the Princeton Shopping Center.

Originally opened March 19, “it got off to a great start,” says owner Krystal Spadafora, and then COVID-19 forced a changed in everyone’s lives, including owners of business establishments, and the business was put on hold.

“We were so encouraged with the initial response from customers, and also, all the other Shopping Center merchants were so welcoming,” reports Krystal, who co-owns the business with her husband Tom Spadafora.

“Now, we are so happy to reopen. We look forward to sharing all our programs and workshops with customers and encouraging them to create and have fun.” more

To the Editor:

With the July 7th primary election right around the corner, I am writing to support the re-election of my colleagues David Cohen and Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council.

With so many urgent needs in our community right now, the outcome of this race is critical. David and Leticia bring essential skills, experience, and focus to our Council — and their re-election will assure the successful continuation of key initiatives and goals.

David brings a wealth of experience as an architect and planner and plays an essential role in anchoring our work on new affordable housing as well as commercial development to bring in tax revenue. David is Council liaison to the Planning Board, all of the Affordable Housing subcommittees, the Code Harmonization and Master Planning committees, as well as IT, Budget, Personnel, the Bike Advisory committees, and to the Climate Action Plan. I share David’s emphasis on smart growth and sustainability.

Leticia’s unwavering commitment to our minority and underserved populations is daily manifest in her work on the Civil Rights Commission, and as liaison to the Board of Health and to the Human Services Board. I look to her for guidance and leadership in these areas. Now more than ever, her input is critical to guiding us through these difficult times and ensuring that the needs of our diverse community are prioritized in all of our work on Council. more

To the Editor:

Per the Town Topics report of the June 8 meeting of the Princeton Council [“Policing Issues Take Precedence at Council Meeting,” page 1, June 10], Councilman Dwaine Williamson was absolutely right and need not have apologized for his words or his justified emotions.

The irrational call for defunding our respected police force demands prompt and forceful response.  Addressing issues of policing with the absurdity of diminishing or even disbanding the very segment of our government that stands between lawful citizens and chaos cannot go unanswered. We have already seen the previews of what happens with inadequate police presence in cities across the country.

Defunding the police would lead to the opposite of the stated goals of its most vocal advocates and is counterintuitive. Unless Shakespeare knows what he was talking about in writing “Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” more

To the Editor:

Why must we live in the shadow of Woodrow Wilson?

Black and brown folks throughout the South have lived their entire lives in the shadow of statues and buildings named in honor of those who advocated for their subjugation and marginalization. As our society comes to terms with its racist past and present, those statues are finally falling. Buildings are being renamed. It is a first step whereby our society reckons with the reality that those held up as heroes are in fact the perpetrators of the horrors of our racist society. As a first step in healing the wounds of a racist legacy, it is long overdue.

Not only is it long overdue in the South. It is long overdue right here in our hometown. In Princeton, we see no movement from the University to reverse course and rename the Woodrow Wilson School. In 2015, the University took the mind-boggling position that Wilson’s legacy was complicated and nuanced, and we must see him in that light. Therefore, the University kept his name on buildings as well as its association with the school.

Wilson’s history is not complicated or nuanced when it comes to race. To say that Wilson was anything other than a racist is straight-up nonsense. Princeton University has an obligation to its students, faculty, and staff — as well as this community — to lift the shadow of Wilson by removing his name from the school. It is time for the University to fully and completely come to terms with its racist past and divorce itself from the legacy of Wilson and his racist views. If they cannot do it now, when will they?

Frank (Dean) Smith
Maclean Street

To the Editor:

At this point, it’s just under three weeks until the primary on July 7 (and you may have already gotten your vote by mail ballot). There are three candidates for two positions on the Princeton town Council. All three have strong supporters who have shared, on these pages and elsewhere, the skills and experience each of them have to offer if elected. In an ordinary year we assess candidates, often influenced by the opinions of friends and neighbors, and our feelings about the issues each candidate highlights and the problems they propose to solve. This is not an ordinary year. What strikes me about this one is the way in which the Council has pulled together as a group and addressed the many issues they expected to face, in the midst of a pandemic, and providing leadership while learning to conduct the business of the town  in an entirely different way.

For me this is a strong argument for re-electing the incumbent Council members,  David Cohen and Leticia Fraga. In addition to what they individually have to offer, they have been working through this unique time effectively with others on Council. When there is competence and collaboration, sometimes what we need most is continuity. This is one of those times.

Eve Coulson
Russell Road

To the Editor:

We are writing in support of Dina Shaw’s candidacy for Princeton Council. We know Dina through her volunteer work and her many years of involvement in our community. We have found Dina to be the kind of person that cares about our community and who knows how to unify people and bring all different groups to the table.

Dina reaches out and builds bridges. She has demonstrated warmth and consideration toward all residents of Princeton that we very much need at this time. People have written about her business background and of course that is incredibly important.

But she also believes in the things that we believe in — strong community, strong communication, and a get-it-done attitude. How do we make our town stronger; how do we reach out to all parts of our community so that everyone can be lifted up?  Dina brings the moral compass and spirit and energy that our town needs right now. Please join us in voting for and electing Dina Shaw for Council in the Democratic primary on July 7.

Fern and Larry Spruill
Oak Lane

To the Editor:

Princeton is a place that is held in high esteem the world over. I am proud of so much of what we do and who we are. But there is room for us to do better.

It is important for all of us to look around us, think about where we stand and identify all the things we can do to be a better community. Let’s look, for example, at the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the country’s, as well as Princeton’s fissures were amplified during the national lockdown and quarantine. Right here in Princeton, where some of the brightest minds are curated and some of the wealthiest people live, some of our neighbors were hungry, some were experiencing homelessness, some were finding it hard to pay their bills, and some were food insecure. The pandemic didn’t invent these social insecurities, it merely left them bare for all to see. How did we get here?  I’m no social engineer, but I can see the glaring disparities in funding our priorities.

The police department got $8 million and the human services department got a couple hundred thousand. My observation was validated at Council meeting on June 8th, when the health officer himself said that he has to use the police to do some of the work the health department needs to do because they don’t have enough staff. The health officer is essentially saying that he does not have the resources to hire and therefore help Princetonians in need. The fact that the police department is so well funded that they can do both crime fighting and assist with social services speaks to our priorities and in turn the problem.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Leticia Fraga’s re-election to Princeton Council. For a town that touts diversity, inclusion, and equity on its platform of behavior it is critical that the Council’s make-up reflect that core philosophy and belief.

As the only woman of color on Council, Leticia has targeted critical issues facing lower income residents while also demonstrating an ability to look at issues on a variety of other levels with balance, thoughtfulness, and insight.

Being both a councilwoman and a mom helps Leticia find solutions in creative ways to manage conflict and focus on the end result while navigating through the proper steps to get there. She understands the value of listening carefully and the importance of guidance and nurturing, and demonstrates that care in her deliberations and public discourse. more

To the Editor:

When the last banner will have come down from the protests prompted by the sadistic and public murder of George Floyd, communities across the country will need to take a critical look at their policing practices. Princeton is no exception.  Our demographic make-up and political leanings are not that dissimilar to Minneapolis.  That city has a population 15 times the size of ours and, therefore, presents many more opportunities than we do for interactions between police and its minority population.  That we have not experienced the kind of traumatic incidents the nation witnessed last month is simply a manifestation of the laws of probability.  The more these encounters take place, the more likely it is that these sorts of tragic incidents will occur.  The fact is few, if any, of us here in Princeton even today have cared to ask how the police in our town have treated our black residents. At some point, the laws of probability will catch up with us unless we get genuinely interested and involved with how we choose to police our community.

In the short term, the surest way to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic incidents involving police and the black community is to simply reduce the number of unnecessary interactions between the police and the public at large. Here in Princeton, traffic stops and nuisance calls are two areas in which we can effectuate change immediately. 

Do we really need cops staking out motorists on Mountain Avenue to make our streets safer?  Wouldn’t speed radars and cameras be in fact more effective at deterring aggressive driving?  Maybe we should impose higher summons to reflect the income levels here in town. Even better, let’s make a portion of the summons means-based.  more

To the Editor:

We have known Dina Shaw for close to two decades and wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for Princeton Council. Whether in the capacity of PTO President for Littlebrook Elementary School or JW Middle School, or in a board position at The Jewish Center, Dina has proven herself to be an innovative leader who has never wavered from tough decisions. While PTO President for Littlebrook she saw a need for, and implemented, a slate of after-school programming which continues to be extremely popular with children and fulfills a vital need for parents. In addition, while PTO President at John Witherspoon Middle School, she helped develop new and creative fundraising solutions, including reconstructing the dues collection process and designing sponsorship opportunities for local businesses which significantly increased the funds available for PTO activities.

Due to Dina’s extensive involvement in the Princeton community, we have seen her network expand significantly over the years and believe that this will make her an informed contributor to the Council should she be elected. Further, her approachable and inclusive style encourages diverse viewpoints. Dina offers a fresh voice to enrich the Princeton Council, with new ideas that are grounded by the long-standing principles we value such as education, smart planning for our community to maintain its unique character that we cherish, and support for a vibrant central business district that serves our needs. more

To the Editor:

Tomorrow evening the Planning Board is considering adopting a Green Building and Environmental Sustainability Element (GBESE) into Princeton’s Community Master Plan. Adoption of this element ensures the integration of sustainability and climate action in the development of community policies and land-use decisions.

A priority action of the Princeton Climate Action Plan (CAP), the GBESE affirms and reinforces the CAP’s mitigation and resiliency goals. This new element provides the essential planning foundation required to enable Princeton to meet its emission reduction goals and better prepared for the impacts of the changing climate.

Sustainable Princeton commends the Environmental Commission, the Master Plan Subcommittee, and the Planning Board for their diligent work on this major milestone and wholeheartedly supports the GBESE’s adoption into the Master Plan.

Sustainable Princeton

To the Editor:

It must have been a divine nudge that led me to check my Twitter feed in April to see a promotional “tweet” for a free online course titled “The Medieval Pursuit of God,” offered by Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). 

Spontaneity and curiosity caused me to click “enroll” as my stay-at-home circumstances felt very isolating. Yet, while I always dreamed of taking a PTS course, I had a nagging thought that the medieval period wouldn’t offer anything transformational to enrich my own faith tradition.

And then I learned about the fascinating life of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century woman who lived at the time of the Bubonic plague. Julian’s faith and dedication to church was foundational. At the age of 31, she had a miraculous recovery from an undiagnosed deadly illness through multiple visions of Christ on the cross. 

This transformative experience led her to become an anchoress — someone who “sheltered in place” for over 40 years in an apartment connected to St. Julian’s Church of Norwich, England. One of her windows faced the chancel of the church, another faced the main village street where town folk came to share their troubles and ask Julian’s council and advice.  more

June 16, 2020

To the Editor:

New Jersey is already experiencing the effects of climate change. Local temperature data shows that Mercer County has experienced a 3.6°F degree increase in average temperatures during the past century. We are also experiencing precipitation peaks, 2018 was the wettest year since record keeping began in 1895.

By adopting the Climate Action Plan, Princeton committed to reducing our community’s greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Buildings are Princeton’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for nearly two-thirds of production-based emissions. The Princeton Environmental Commission and the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Planning Board have drafted a Green Building and Environmental Sustainability Element for the town’s Master Plan. more

June 10, 2020

SPRING SPLENDOR: “We have quality products, and customers know our reputation and that they can count on us for helpful and knowledgeable service. We look forward to helping people grow their gardens.” Jeff Baumley, owner of Baumley Nursery, Landscaping & Garden Center, is shown beside a variety of shade-loving plants.

By Jean Stratton

“The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of the birds is come;”

—Song of Solomon

Indeed, in the midst of this season “of our discontent,” the flowers are here, and the birds and pollinators are helping to ensure that more blossoms will thrive and continue to provide beauty to the land.

And this is always important at Baumley Nursery, Landscaping & Garden Center. For more than 30 years, owner Jeff Baumley has been helping customers take home the right plants for the right space, and encouraging homeowners to learn about the proper care and maintenance of their new acquisitions.

Any visit to the Garden Center at 4339 Route 27, just past Kingston, is time well spent, both to appreciate the splendid display of flowers and plants in all colors and sizes, and to meander along attractive brick pathways, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.

Customers also appreciate the convenient arrangement and identification of the products, including helpful explanatory information.  more

To the Editor:

As an active member of my community, I am involved with many organizations that serve the needs of the most vulnerable residents of our town. Among these, a quiet but steadfast partner to the low-income children in Princeton is the Arts Council of Princeton. I am writing this letter to encourage each family and household in our town to consider a gift to the Arts Council’s emergency Spring Appeal.

Each Friday, in three locations across our town, (or at least before the COVID-19 shutdown) the Arts Council’s ArtReach program provides hands-on arts programming to children residing in low-income and community subsidized housing. These classes are integrated into an afterschool enrichment program aimed at improving academic performance, encouraging literacy, and supporting the emotional well-being of our most vulnerable children.

The program doesn’t get a lot of press or attention. If you weren’t one of the families served, you might never know it exists, but you might have seen some of the artwork created by these children. As an art instructor at the Pannel Center location on Witherspoon Street, I can attest to the sheer joy this program provides the children who participate. In the Fall of 2018, my art class at the Pannel Center created an art piece called “Mixed Media Monarch Butterflies” exhibited at the Princeton Public Library. These students have also contributed with artwork to several cultural events organized by the Arts Council like Day of the Dead, Martin Luther King Day, Three Kings Day, Sweet Art Market, and many others. more

What if…we start calling our law enforcement professionals “Peace Officers?” What if promoting peace was the driving force as they train at the “Peace Academy,” and the core of policies developed by the “Peace Department?”

What if…we in Princeton were the first to embrace this idea and implement it as a model for other communities in our country?

What if…?

Ruth Goldston
Bouvant Drive

To the Editor:

Councilman David Cohen has proven himself to be a great asset to Princeton. I strongly urge my fellow Princetonians to join me in voting to re-elect him in the upcoming primary election.

As a member of the Princeton Environmental Commission I have worked with Councilman Cohen on a variety of environmentally-related projects including the development of Princeton’s Climate Action Plan, important changes to the stormwater management ordinance, and the planning and implementation of the Princeton Community Renewable Energy Program. Each of these projects was complex and time consuming, and David’s commitment to their successful planning and execution was evident. more

To the Editor:

As a pediatrician, I am aware of how implicit biases (attitudes/stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner), institutional structures, and interpersonal relationships lead to the negative impact of racism on the health and well-being of all children.

New Jersey has the second largest disparity in infant mortality  — black babies born in New Jersey are three times more likely to die than white babies. Research also shows that racism is linked to mental health problems, such as chronic stress and depression, especially in children and adolescents. 

Like any public health crisis, we must address the crisis of racism through prevention, education, and treatment.  more

To the Editor:

We all appreciate the ability to get out and walk and run and ride bicycles during this difficult time.  

But, my daily walks would be much improved if the bike riders and joggers who pass by would either practice social distancing or wear masks.

Unfortunately, typically they do neither and just zip by often breathing heavily.

David Dobkin
Hibben Road

To the Editor:

Collectively, we are living through some of the most turbulent weeks of our lives — so turbulent that an election was postponed. When we mail our ballots for the July 7th election, we will vote to re-elect Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council. We urge Princeton voters to join us. In the name of peace, prosperity, an inclusive, empathic community, and for responsible spending that prioritizes collective well-being, Leticia Fraga offers the best choice for Princeton. 

From the moment she took office in January 2018, Leticia has been a dynamic force, offering thoughtful, original perspective and then taking action. Throughout her first term, Fraga has shown intelligence, perseverance, empathy, and a willingness to listen to a variety of voices — including those from historically marginalized populations. 

When news of COVID-19 hit, Councilwoman Fraga snapped into action. As liaison to the Board of Health as well as the Commissions for Human Services and for Civil Rights, Fraga helped assure that our community managed an unprecedented set of challenges compassionately and responsibly.  more

To the Editor:

We are writing to express our support for Dina Shaw, who has declared her candidacy for the Princeton Council.

We have had the good fortune to serve with Dina as co-presidents of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO and Littlebrook Elementary School PTO, respectively. Dina brought tremendous energy to both PTO’s over several years, infusing the organizations with new ideas and successfully attracting more parents to collaborate and volunteer on school-related events and issues.

She worked tirelessly to improve communication, create transparency, maintain fiscal discipline, and ensure that both PTO’s were well-organized and sustainably-run. Dina also demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting Princeton’s most vulnerable students. In short, Dina’s passion for Princeton, her business acumen and experience, and her commitment to collaboration and problem-solving make her an excellent candidate for the Princeton Council.

Jennifer Jang
206 Russell Road

Christina Walden
75 Dodds Lane

June 3, 2020

To the Editor:

As a lifelong cyclist, I am thrilled that more people are biking for all the right reasons. I would like to raise the awareness of the importance of wearing a bike helmet.

I have been cycling for 40 years all over the world, and most importantly right outside my front door. On April 25, 2020 I was hit by an inattentive driver on a quiet country road in the Sourlands. The fact is my helmet saved my life.

I suffered a concussion, fractured rib, and fractured sacrum. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle helmets are 85-88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries. This fact makes helmets the single most effective way to reduce your risk of a traumatic brain injury or death.

Facts are facts.

Jill C. Feldman
Southern Hills Drive, Skillman