To the Editor:
When will Princeton Council members realize that when they make decisions behind closed doors, against the wishes of residents, that they will always face opposition! A majority of the Princeton Council members recently decided to reject a unanimous request made by all seven families directly affected by the plan to place sidewalks on Poe Road. The request to place a sidewalk on just one side of Poe Road would spare four families consisting of senior citizens and physically challenged persons the considerable burden of snow removal. Since this request was nothing more than what has been given to the residents of other local street where sidewalks were added, why would the Council deny this to senior citizens and those physically challenged? Council members should know that seniors on fixed incomes cannot afford to pay a service for snow removal.
It is too bad that Mayor Lempert, who in her official candidate profile states, “I will implement Advisory Planning Districts to give residents a stronger voice in decision-making and to help neighborhoods retain their own special identity and sense of place,” could not convince her colleagues on the Council to listen to the unanimous request of Poe Road’s families. If sidewalks on both sides of the street are essential, isn’t it odd that members on the Council living on streets without sidewalks on both sides are clamoring to put them in other neighborhoods, but not their own?
The Council’s decision forcing sidewalks on Poe Road is a textbook example on how responsible and responsive government should never act: from the three-day notice given for the surprise meeting during August vacation time announcing the sidewalk, to the August 4 meeting itself when Poe residents who could attend were told that discussion of the sidewalk was forbidden, right up to the recent Council decision to turn a deaf ear to residents. At that meeting, when the Council noted that there is little foot traffic on Poe to warrant sidewalk construction, one Council member stated that surely sidewalks would encourage the masses to walk on Poe! Are Council members willing to risk precious taxpayer’s money in a Field of Dreams fantasy of “just build it and they will come?”
The sidewalk on Poe will be off the current sidewalk grid. Since there are now, and for the foreseeable future, no sidewalks on Princeton-Kingston Road or on the adjoining section of Prospect Road, the Poe Road sidewalks paid for by taxpayers will be Princeton’s “sidewalks to nowhere.” The Council’s claim that sidewalks on Poe would reduce school bus costs in Princeton will not materialize until and unless sidewalks are constructed on Princeton-Kingston Road — a state road with historic status.
There are, of course, some level headed Council members on the sidewalk issue, but they unfortunately are in a minority. Why does the Council keep spending taxpayers’ money on projects nobody asks for or even wants? Apparently the Council members from the former Borough have adopted a “one size fits all” approach to Princeton in their current obsession to cement the Princeton countryside!
Robert De Martino