April 20, 2016

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am writing to inform you that after 16 years, seven as executive director, Clare Smith is retiring this spring from Morven Museum and Garden.

With her commitment to historic preservation, her ability to attract the highest quality staff, her boundless dedication and gentleness of character, Clare has led Morven from a young to a maturing museum. The significant milestones achieved during her directorship include:

• Morven’s audience has increased significantly to an annual visitation of 15,000. Recent annual growth of 32 percent has been the product of increased programming, marketing, and collaborations.

• Recent exhibitions have been “game-changing” and underscore the Museum’s ongoing commitment to excellence. The Pine Barrens: A Legacy of Preservation, Coastal Impressions: Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940 and the current Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Couple of an Age have helped transform the museum and raise awareness of this important statewide resource.

• Morven annually offers over 100 public programs including the exceedingly popular recent lectures associated with the Lindbergh exhibit and extending to the July 4th Jubilee, Morven in May, a monthly book group, horticultural classes, and a wonderful collaboration with the Arts Council of Princeton that incorporates special access to Morven’s unique history and site.

• Lastly, under Clare’s direction Morven has fostered collaborations with local non-profit groups whose missions focus on underserved populations and includes Isles, Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, and TASK. She has been a determined advocate for them and others, as well.

These are just a few examples of how Clare Smith’s commitment to excellence has contributed to the strong trajectory of success Morven is experiencing.

I know you join the Board in extending our grateful thanks to Clare and every good wish for her well deserved retirement. We will miss her.

Georgia T. Schley

Morven Board President

To the Editor:

This April 22 is the 46th Earth Day! It all began in 1970 when millions of people called for environmental reforms resulting in the introduction of recycling, keeping plastics, glass, and paper from our landfills for reuse and recycling.

Where is Princeton almost 50 years later?

As the first town in New Jersey to offer curbside food waste pick up, we have moved beyond traditional recycling and created a model program that other towns are copying and adopting. In its first five years, the Municipality’s Curbside Organics Program diverted more than 500 tons of organic matter from the landfill, turning it into beautiful soil.

Princeton residents and retailers have also recycled almost 5 million plastic bags since last year through the ABC’s Recycling Campaign, diverting some 7 tons of plastics from the landfill. The ABC’s is a joint effort between Sustainable Princeton, the Princeton Merchants Association, The Municipality of Princeton, and McCaffrey’s grocery store.

Thanks to the advent of recycling and programs like those mentioned above, we estimate that Princeton now either composts or recycles approximately half of what we would have sent to the landfill on the first Earth Day in 1970.

Where do we go from here? To answer that question, Sustainable Princeton has formed The Zero Waste Working Group comprised of local restaurant owners, retailers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders.

With your help, the working group looks forward to making measurable change between now and Earth Day 2017. We’ll begin by offering six ideas to get us all started toward a Zero Waste Princeton.

1. Commit to a zero waste mindset — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost.

2. Let it Go by hosting a Yard Sale on April 30th as part of the town wide Let It Go event. Sign up on the Princeton Public Library website.

3. Just say no to sending food waste to the landfill. Food scraps are a commodity to be turned back into soil. Residents can join the Curbside Organics Program by calling (609) 688-2566. Retailers can contact a number of compost facilities to pick up their food waste. And, those of us who compost in the back yard, should keep doing exactly what we are already doing!

4. Be Careful with Compostable Tableware — If you are in the Municipal Curbside Organics program, our current compost facility is unable to take compostable tableware such as cups and utensils. Keep putting food and uncoated paper waste in your organics bin — but please, while we’re working out details, direct anything else to recycling or trash. Be watching for more curbside composting information coming soon!

5. Watch for a How to Recycle Brochure to be published soon to help answer your questions about what goes in which recycle bin and where residents can take those hard to recycle items for recycling.

6. Stay tuned for updates about food waste compost options for Mercer County including AgriArk, a locally owned clean compost facility in Hopewell which is already turning food waste into fertilizer. Also, watch for a potential BioGas Facility in Trenton.

We look forward to working with you to reduce, reuse, and recycle to move our town closer to zero waste!

Diane Landis 

Executive Director, Sustainable Princeton

To the Editor:

I am voting for Tim Quinn for Princeton Council in the June 7 election and urge that all eligible voters do the same. Tim has demonstrated through his leadership roles on Princeton’s Board of Education and Planning Board that he has the character and skills to be an excellent addition to our council.

In our community, Tim demonstrated his leadership in tough circumstances. When he was president of the school board in 2011, Governor Christie cut the state aid contribution to Princeton schools by two-thirds — 5 percent of the budget — after appropriating most of the budget surplus in 2010. The school board had to take timely and critical spending actions that would impact students, teachers, and taxpayers. In this crisis situation Board members made the difficult decisions after thoroughly considering all perspectives. They communicated those decisions to constituents in a way that citizens understood their reasoning and that left everyone feeling that their individual concerns were heard and considered. This is the type of leadership that we need on Princeton Council.

I have been concerned that the intense passion with which our current Council considers and legislates some of the issues they face can diminish the decisions made, interfere in their pursuit of a longer-term agenda, and obscure opportunities and risks that are appearing in the distance. I think that Tim’s thoughtful and collected approach will be invaluable to the overall performance of Council and thus benefit the long-term well being of our town.

Tim has lived in Princeton for 25 years and works at the Princeton Public Library on its executive team. He is an avid cyclist. He believes in proactively planning and managing growth, expanding affordable housing, building strong neighborhoods, balancing affordability with quality municipal services, and building community consensus around positive changes.

Princeton is fortunate to have so many citizens dedicating their efforts to the well being of our town. We’re fortunate that Tim Quinn wants to be on Council and I urge Princeton voters to give him that opportunity.

Scott Sillars

Patton Avenue

To the Editor:

Over the next few weeks registered Princeton Democrats will have the opportunity to evaluate the perspectives and agendas of the candidates running in the June primary. Anne Neumann possesses a pragmatic insight into Princeton’s problems and needs, and a willingness to examine the issues to find solutions. Her experience of civic involvement has afforded her insight into the workings of municipal government and, as a long-time resident, she has a unique perspective on our character and sense of place.

Anne’s forward-thinking initiatives focus on affordability, the environment, and sustainability, as well as maintaining the character of our unique neighborhoods. Among her initiatives, she advocates for the creation of a volunteer economic development commission to promote new businesses and to bring to fruition the Consolidation promise to establish Neighborhood Advisory Councils aimed at better communicating the specific concerns affecting localized residents. She proposes the adoption of zoning ordinances that facilitate private solutions to affordable housing such as accessory dwelling units and micro-housing. And as the municipality struggles to harmonize and adopt zoning policies, Anne calls for the expedited passage of a temporary moratorium on new construction to protect neighborhoods from over-development.

Anne possesses the intellect and tenacity to research effective ways to govern and to move Princeton forward. Please join me in voting for Anne on June 7 so Princeton can benefit from her varied experience as she furthers her commitment to public service by offering fresh ideas to create an even better community.

Kate Warren

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

I support Jenny Crumiller and Leticia Fraga for Council.

I support Jenny because she questions easy assumptions, taking a broad view of each question as it comes before the council. As a current Council member, she is a recognized advocate for neighborhoods, one who believes in protecting Princeton’s small-town character. We can count on Jenny to represent us fairly and objectively.

I support Leticia because, like Jenny, she is a worker, someone who sets out to solve problems and follows through. She sets concrete goals and achieves them.

The town’s civil rights commission was long ago folded into the Human Services Commission. Leticia, believing it should be revived, formed an advisory committee, studied Princeton’s civil rights experience, and interviewed previous commission members. As a result, Princeton is expected to introduce an ordinance later this month re-establishing an independent civil rights commission.

As chair of the Board of LALDEF, when the Mercer County Community ID card program was terminated here in Princeton due to location and staffing issues, and knowing how important the ID is to many members of our community, Leticia and Bill Wakefield worked with a group of talented volunteers to make the ID card available at the Princeton Public Library on a weekly basis. The Community ID cards help non-driving senior citizens and disabled individuals as well as non-citizens. Since the program was introduced at the library, more than 100 have been issued, 40 of them this month alone.

Leticia is an experienced professional negotiator and arbitrator who can work “across the aisle,” with different personalities and in response to different needs. She will be a creative and independent member of Princeton Council.

My two votes go to Jenny Crumiller and Leticia Fraga.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

April 13, 2016

To the Editor:

I am writing to support the candidacy of Jenny Crumiller for Princeton Council. She has consistently questioned authority and advocated zoning and other policies and regulations that will keep neighborhoods from becoming absorbed in a faceless city. She is a thoughtful steward of the community and an advocate for the variety and diversity that we cherish.

When she was elected president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization some years ago, it was as a reformer to open up the group and make it more widely representative. I look forward to her election to Council to continue to play that role in the wider arena.

She is the candidate with the widest experience and the strongest record of accomplishments. It gives me pleasure to endorse her for another term on Princeton Council.

Peter Lindenfeld

Harris Road

To the Editor:

If you’ve noticed a little yellow flower starting to take over your lawn and garden, you aren’t alone. Appreciation soon turns to distress as the plant spreads to become a form of green pavement, outcompeting other plants, then leaving the ground bare when it dies back in early summer. It has lots of names — lesser celandine, fig buttercup, figroot because of its fig-shaped underground tubers, or the scientific name Ficaria verna.

Like many introduced species, it gains competitive advantage by being inedible to the local wildlife. Along with non-native shrubs that wildlife also avoid, like honeysuckle, winged euonymus, privet, and multiflora rose, lesser celandine prevents solar energy from moving up the foodchain from plants to insects to birds. This foiling of natural processes effectively shrinks the acreage of functional open space Princeton has worked so hard to preserve.

The most dramatic example of this plant’s dominance locally is in Pettoranello Gardens, from where it has spread downstream into Mountain Lakes Preserve. That situation is beyond control, but in homeowners’ yards, and many local parks and preserves, early detection and treatment can nip invasions in the bud. I’ve been encouraging homeowners and the town rec. department to take this work seriously, because one small infestation can quickly spread to affect downhill neighbors, parks, and preserves. Effective treatments can be found online, but typically consist of using 2 percent glyphosate, the active ingredient in products like Roundup, the wetland-safe Rodeo, and other similar formulations.

As with the abuse of antibiotics by the meat industry, glyphosate is now vastly overused to grow bio-engineered corn and soybeans. That abuse has in part driven a demonization of herbicides in general. But just as antibiotics remain a critical medicine, various herbicides remain a critical means of dealing with invasive plants. Personally, my avoidance of herbicides is nearly total, but in the case of lesser celandine, with its tuberous roots, no other approach is practical. Only if there are just a few plants can one dig them out, bag them up, and throw them in the trash, not the compost.

Adding to the distress of these radical transformations of our landscapes is a strange narrative that is showing up in places like the New York Times and the radio show You Bet Your Garden. Through a denial of both the problem and the solution, reminiscent of climate change, it claims that we should learn to love invasive species, and hate those who dare to take action against them.

This view cheats us of the deep satisfaction of identifying a problem and working together to solve it. This past weekend, as part of my work for Friends of Herrontown Woods, I was able to convince a couple neighbors of the preserve to treat their lesser celandine. By doing so, they will not only spare their own yards but also the stream just down the hill.

As a bonus, I got to meet some new neighbors. By taking our local nature’s problems seriously, we also build community.

Stephen Hiltner

President, Friends of Herrontown Woods, 

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of everyone at McCarter Theatre Center, I want to express thanks to all who attended and supported our recent “relaxed” performance of “Sing Along with The Muppet Movie” on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day.

This is the fourth consecutive season that McCarter has offered a special performance for individuals who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory sensitivities and their family members. Slight adjustments to the lighting, special effects, and music allow for everyone to enjoy the thrill of live performance in a somewhat altered environment.

The Muppet Movie event was a joyous interactive afternoon performance for a family audience, many of whom have limited opportunities to enjoy theatre together with their entire family.

We thank The Karma Foundation for their leadership and support of these “relaxed” performances at McCarter. We are also grateful for the contributions of Jazams and Olives Deli to the Muppet Movie event, and of course, we thank our incredible volunteer ushers.

Timothy J. Shields,

Managing Director, McCarter Theatre Center

Emily Mann,

Artistic Director, McCarter Theatre Center

To the Editor:

Your article [Wilson’s Name to Remain on University Buildings,” page one, April 6] on the decision to leave Woodrow Wilson’s name on two campus buildings begins by stating that Princeton University made this choice “despite a recent outcry over his views on race.”

The protest by students of the Black Justice League and the attendant national outcry for the removal of Wilson’s name on a school of public policy was not motivated by Wilson’s “views” on race but by his egregious actions, both as Princeton’s president and, more terribly, as president of the United States.

At Princeton, Wilson adamantly denied African-American men admission to the University. As president, he packed his cabinet with like-minded racists. Together, they methodically dismantled nearly 60 years of progressive policies enacted since Reconstruction. Wilson ended integration throughout all federal government agencies; his bigoted minions purged and demoted thousands of African-American federal employees.

To say it’s all about Wilson’s “views” trivializes the issue: Wilson’s deeds were retrograde and reprehensible by the standards of his era, never mind ours.

Patrick Walsh

Maybury Hill Road

To the Editor:

What I can tell you about Leticia Fraga is that she is a great friend to all of Princeton. That includes those whom she knows and others she has not yet met. Every person in every neighborhood matters to her.

As a Council member, she will be a voice for the unheard people of Princeton. In the years that I have known her, she has been a champion for civil rights and a passionate advocate for social justice. These are the qualities we need to carry our recently consolidated town into the future. Leticia takes pride in all that Princeton has to offer and she will work to see that all are included to share in Princeton’s continued and new prosperity.

Old-school values like hard work, integrity, untiring commitment, and endless generosity are what define Leticia. She works tirelessly to tackle social issues of great concern in our community. Child hunger, affordable housing, educational opportunity, civil rights, traffic safety: Leticia goes all out to advance inclusion and to make our great community even better.

Thomas Parker

Leigh Avenue

home improve 4-13-16

GLORIOUS GARDENS : “We plant containers that our customers bring in or purchase so that they have exactly what they want without having to do all the work at home.” Lisa Miccolis, owner of Bountiful Gardens in Hillsborough, is shown working on a special container garden.

How does your garden grow? It’s probably not in full-fledged bloom yet, but it is definitely time to get started. As so often in life, preparation is key. Preparing the soil, adding compost and mulch, planning for color and texture, sun and shade are all very important considerations. more

April 6, 2016

NTU_Dr Charles Allen Princeton Eye Care

CLEAR VISION: “In my practice, I see patients of all ages, and focus on three specific areas: children, glaucoma, and specialty contact lenses.“ An optometric physician (optometrist), Dr. Charles Allen, O.D., F.A.A.O. often consults and lectures on these vision conditions. He will attend a meeting In New York in April regarding the development of myopia in children.

“On a clear day, rise and look around you …

“How it will astound you …

“On a clear day, you can see forever … more

To the Editor:

When the Planning Board meets Thursday to consider Princeton Council’s ordinance proposing that the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood be established as an Historic District (HD), it should honor the authoritative report prepared by Wise Preservation Planning Group LLC and the reports subsequently presented to Princeton Council by the Historic Presentation Commission (HPC).

The Planning Board should make every effort to keep intact the firm boundaries set by both Wise and the HPC: no exceptions. It should challenge seriously any individual who wants an exemption and ask for detailed explanations for the request for exemption. A Historic District represents the common good of Princeton as a whole, so the reasons anyone gives for wanting an exemption should really be tested by the Planning Board, as well as Princeton Council.

The integrity of the neighborhood must be maintained for this historic district to represent the true history and culture of the African-American, Irish, Italian, and now Latino lived experience in Princeton. This is particularly true for Witherspoon Street itself, which has always been the backbone of the neighborhood, an area where businesses thrived despite segregation and where we figured out how to manage in the face of segregation elsewhere.

Some individuals fear the supposed constraints of HD designation. But the HPC has stated time and again that because of the simpler, small scale style of houses in this proposed historic district, it will be flexible in reviews of any proposed small changes. Normal maintenance does not even require a review. In addition, creation of an historic district has nothing to do with the normal zoning regulations already in place. Princeton Council has already placed review of these other zoning regulations on its list of high priority items for 2016.

Other individuals want to chip away at Witherspoon Street for financial gain. That’s just a little repetition of what happened when Palmer Square was created and Jackson Street was destroyed.

Princeton can’t let this happen again. The Planning Board should recommend to Princeton Council that Council grant no exclusions to the boundaries of the proposed HD set by the HPC.

Henry F. Pannell 

Clay Street

To the Editor:

 The forced closing of Jordan’s, in the Princeton Shopping Center, is a calamity. Management has declined to renew Jordan’s lease because the store does not generate income sufficient to cover the new higher rent required.

Jordan’s is a card/stationery/candles/novelties store. Obviously a store selling $3 birthday cards will produce less income than a hair salon selling $80 haircuts. But while there are many hair salons in Princeton, there is only one store like Jordan’s. Is there no room for reasonable accommodation here?

By forcing Jordan’s out of the shopping center, management strips the Princeton community of convenience, tradition, and one of the few remaining mom-and-pop enterprises in town. Unintentionally but undeniably, its action accelerates the process of faceless franchising and McMansionization that is draining Princeton of its once unique charm. There must surely be a compromise available to people of good will.

Linda Dowling

Harriet Drive

To the Editor:

When Anne Neumann asked for my support in her bid to join Princeton’s municipal leadership team I said yes without hesitation. First of all, she is her own person, with her own perspective shaped by years of varying experiences in public service.

One of her most endearing attributes is that she supports affordable housing because she understands the importance and historical significance of cultural diversity in our town. She is for a “Princeton preference” offering affordable housing to Princeton residents where possible and an advocate for having older residents age in place. She understands the need for fiscal responsibility to ensure that municipal services are supplied in a cost effective manner.

Anne exhibits clear thinking when arguing that both the University and the town rely heavily on each other and that the relationship between the two entities should be fair and equitable. To that end she favors an increase in Payment in Lieu of Taxes along with a predictable formula for growth by making a correlation between the University’s annual income and the fairly assessed value of its real property. Whenever I have heard Anne speak in public forums she had always stood up and solidly represented social justice issues while advocating for the whole of Princeton. She supports paid sick leave for full/part time workers, and a hire-local program.

Anne can be trusted to keep her word and has the unique ability to think outside the box when solving problems. She is an active listener, perhaps the most important characteristic of effective leadership.

Lastly, she is running for council because she genuinely cares about our town, and wants to make it better and more livable for all its residents. She is deserving of both your confidence and your vote.

Leighton Newlin

Birch Avenue

To the Editor:

We write to urge Princeton voters to consider at least three reasons to support Jenny Crumiller for re-election to Town Council.

First, she is an extraordinary talent. Jenny finished college while she and her husband Jon were raising three children in Princeton. She finished her degree at Rutgers and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

Second, she is dedicated to community. Long before running for office, Jenny was a go-to volunteer in school and church activities. As a concerned citizen, she never failed to answer the call to protect neighborhoods, promote diversity, or defend civil rights.

Third, she is an effective member of Council. In her first four years, Jenny has worked hard for the success of consolidation; and she is determined that it continue to deliver quality services at affordable cost. She has helped produce affordable housing for our most vulnerable citizens. She is working with our mayor and others to address neighborhood preservation. She has collaborated with the University on accessible public transit and with the police department on improving the safety of our streets for bicycles and pedestrians.

Jenny is Council’s representative on the Planning Board while also serving on a broad range of Council committees responsible for the nuts and bolts of government. She understands the challenges facing Princeton and is equipped to address them. She is committed to maintain Princeton’s historic character and to ensure its affordability for all citizens.

We have known Jenny for 30 years. She is accessible. She listens. She involves people. Princeton cannot ask for more in a public servant.

Walter and Mary Bliss

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

African Americans have for centuries sustained and strengthened the lives of the people of Princeton. They have done so without recognition, without favor. They have done so in spite of discrimination and humiliation. But their spirit and determination endure.

One of the very significant places that spirit and determination show themselves is in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. It is a neighborhood of joy and sorrow, of celebration and slights. It is a neighborhood that welcomed and still welcomes new immigrants to our community. It is a neighborhood that deserves the recognition, now pending before the Town Council, of Historic District status.

Not in Our Town stands against racism in all its forms, outward and subtle. We are an interracial, interfaith social action group united to advance the cause of racial justice in Princeton. And that mission clearly calls for us to support the designation of Witherspoon-Jackson as a historic district of Princeton.

This designation will help to assure that the full story of the lives of those who created this vital community and those who continued to contribute to its vitality, even through today, will be told for decades to come.

Ted Fetter, Linda Oppenheim, 

Wilma Solomon, Larry Spruill

Not in Our Town

To the editor:

It’s spring! There are crocuses, daffodils, sweet birdsong — and the roaring of leaf blowers.

There have been many attempts to deal with leaf blower noise in Princeton in the past, but they have had no significant effect. Now a group of Princeton residents has developed a constructive, win-win approach to this distressing problem. We are identifying landscapers who are willing to do lawn maintenance without leaf blowers, and we are providing information to residents to let them know that they have a new option.

Would you like to decrease the noise of leaf blowers in your neighborhood? If so, e-mail Quiet Princeton for information: QuietPrinceton@verizon.net.

Phyllis Teitelbaum 

For Quiet Princeton, Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

AARP supports a bill (S992) awaiting Gov. Chris Christie’s signature that would tremendously help women facing employment discrimination in pay and benefits. This bi-partisan legislation should be made law to address continuing and persistent gender-based wage discrimination.

In 2014, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent.

The gender gap is worse for minority women. In 2012 the median annual earnings of Hispanic women were $28,424, just 54 percent of the median annual earnings of white men.

Unless we act now, most women currently working will be long retired before equal pay for men and women is a common practice. According to projections from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, we’ll have to wait until 2058 — 42 years from now — before the gap in paychecks between men and women employed in the same occupations is expected to close.

Women’s earnings are ever more important to their families. More than 40 percent of children under 18 live in households where the mother is the sole breadwinner.

Gov. Christie: Do the right thing for women and their families. Please sign S992.

Brian McGuire

Rockingham Row

all in a days

“GET A LEG UP ON LIFE”: Kristin Friberg, librarian at Princeton Public Library, loves her job and recommends a visit to the library to take advantage of its collection and its many other valuable resources. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

“To Listen, to Engage, to Grow” — Kristin Friberg, Readers’ Services Librarian

Kristin Friberg has been a librarian at Princeton Public Library (PPL) for the past 11 years. According to Brett Bonfield, executive director of the library, “Kristin is an extraordinary librarian, a wonderful colleague, and terrific asset to our community. She clearly loves her work, takes pride in her ability to help people enjoy this great library and its outstanding collection, and brings other significant talents to our workplace as well. She’s a skilled, funny, and poetic writer and editor who helps the library tell its story through its blog and via Instagram, and, though she rarely needs to make use of this talent, at least during her desk shifts, she has a marvelous singing voice. The more I get to know Kristin, the more grateful I am for the work she does in our community’s behalf.” more

NTU PTS Fitness 2-17-16

FRIENDLY FITNESS: “We are set apart by our size, standards, and personal service. We have a very friendly atmosphere and accessible space. The members enjoy knowing the owner and the trainers and our interaction. We know your name when you come in!” Alex Obe, owner of P.T.S. (Personal Training Studio) Health & Fitness, is shown in the center’s new Wall Street location.

Fitness is for you … and you … and you!

Alex Obe, owner of P.T.S. (Personal Training Studio) Health & Fitness Center at 390 Wall Street, just off State Road, is determined to bring fitness to everyone. Size, shape, age, previous experience are all part of one’s individual package, but none of these should be an obstacle to a positive session at the gym. more

March 30, 2016

To the Editor:

The town council is considering an ordinance that has significant financial implications to property owners in the proposed Witherspoon Jackson Historic district as well as to all taxpayers in Princeton.

This neighborhood has been in disrepair for many years secondary to two decisions made by our local government. First they designated this district to be included in the R4 Zone, making EVERY home non-conforming. Property owners are forced to incur added costs to conform to these new standards that are totally opposite of the character of the existing properties. Secondly, town council approved the Clay Street projects that eviscerated the Witherspoon District, cutting it right down the middle and altering it so far beyond what any current “gentrified” property owner has done.

This ordinance will significantly reduce the value of homes in this district, especially for homes currently in disrepair (i.e. the majority). Between the cost of obtaining zoning approval — and now historic preservation approval — easily $15,000 to $20,000 will be spent without ANY guarantee that a building project will be approved. Bringing a home up to existing codes or even the simplest alterations will not be done because it inherently creates a conflict between the building department, zoning, and historic preservation. It is no wonder that when the Historic Preservation committee proposed the same ordinance restrictions in the western section, the property owners did the obvious: hired a lawyer and told the bureaucrats to get lost. They knew it would bring down the value of their property and impose many new oppressive regulations. I feel this proposed regulation will reduce the sale value of the unimproved properties involved by at least 1/3rd or more.

Taxpayers who live outside this district are equally affected. Using my recently purchased property in the district as an example, I added $450,000 in improvements that would not be allowed if this district becomes historic. Using the data from Wise Preservation Consultants, there will be 281 properties that will not be improved in this way, taking away from our tax rolls $126,450,000 ($450,000 X 281) in potential improvements permanently from the town’s tax base, year after year!

Lowering the value of homes, preventing improvements, and freezing the condition of blighted properties is not the way to make a neighborhood affordable. I bought my house in this neighborhood because I love the people IN it. It is a phenomenal neighborhood that will remain so if our local government starts making decisions that prevent long standing citizens from having to move out because they cannot afford their taxes. Our town council should start enforcing rental laws that prevent multiple families from living in a single family house, revise the R4 zone to allow property owners to make improvements without spending a fortune on approvals, and stabilize the taxes of senior citizens that live in this neighborhood. The Wise Preservation Consultants found ONLY three homes in the District that are classified as “anchor” properties. Make these three historic and that’s all. This proposed ordinance will increase house vacancies and slum lord properties, prevent improvements, and financially decimate property owners. Hey, but that’s the Democratic way!

Anthony J Vasselli, MD

Lytle Street

To the Editors:

For over 12 years, the Johnson Park (JP) Koko Fund has assisted JP students from families in financial need by subsidizing enrichment opportunities. The program has grown significantly since its founding and is needed more than ever as nearly one third of Johnson Park’s current students are eligible.

Through financial assistance from our JP Koko Fund, students participate in after-school activities at JP, in the greater Princeton community, and at various summer camps. JP’s Koko Fund partners provide significant program discounts for our youngsters. Without their support, our children would not have these experiences.

Specifically, through the support of our program partners, the Koko Fund has given students the opportunity to participate in after-school classes such as science, sports, chess, acting, and art. Our partners have also allowed JP boys and girls to attend programs at the Princeton Recreation summer camps, Westminster Conservatory, and the Princeton Y.W.C.A. Other program partners include:

The Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Ballet School, Princeton Y.M.C.A., Princeton Soccer Association (P.S.A.), Princeton Football Club (P.F.C.), Princeton Soccer Experience, Rambling Pines Day Camp, and Village Shoes.

The JP Koko Fund Advisory Board would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have helped provide enrichment opportunities.

Now more than ever, we seek support of our Koko Fund, which operates within the JP Parent Teacher Organization, a 501c(3) organization. The JP Koko Fund Advisory Board consists of parents, teachers, and community members who manage the fund and its activities. The Advisory Board strives to work within a framework of fiscal responsibility and mutual respect and sensitivity to the recipient children and their families.

Our Koko Fund’s annual fundraiser, our “JP Move-A-Thon,” is Wednesday, April 6, at JP. To contribute to the Koko Fund, please send a check payable to Johnson Park Koko Fund, 285 Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, or go online at www.JPPTO.storenvy.com to donate to the Koko Fund via PayPal.

Johnson Park Koko Fund Advisory Board

To the Editor:

Saturday night, March 26, hundreds of commuters to Princeton Junction saw first hand how inadequate New Jersey Transit would be in the event of a large serious emergency situation. At least four trains that left New York from 8 p.m. on were prevented from stopping at Princeton Junction because of what we were told on the speaker system was “police action at Princeton Junction.” Before New Brunswick, our train, the 9:01 express due in at 10:04, was halted. After we limped late into New Brunswick, the speaker system announced that we would go backward a bit to a different track and then would have to bypass the Junction and get off at Hamilton and then take the train on the “opposite platform” back to Princeton Junction.

When we arrived at Hamilton, there was no human being to direct us through the long walk on the platform to the escalator to the street level, and to the east-bound platform which we had to reach by going out into the street. We never saw an employee of NJ Transit after getting off the train at the low-level platform where there was a conductor. And no one came or even announced at 11 p.m. while we were waiting out in the cold at Hamilton when the next train would appear. There were babies, children, older people, and several who needed but could not find the way to an open bathroom. If we had found one, we’d have been afraid to leave the platform because we had no idea when the train home would arrive. Others had come from the airport with luggage after perhaps a day of traveling.

We kept hearing announcements about trains going west to Trenton. Several more trains came in with passengers destined for Princeton Junction. We arrived back at the Junction after midnight, two hours late for us but longer for the earlier trains that had been through the same situation.

Yes, it was an emergency at the Junction. When we passed going south we saw a car on the tracks and several police and fire vehicles. Yes, it was obviously a sad situation. But — where were conductors who could be trained in human communication? Why weren’t they walking through the cars? And why did no employee appear at Hamilton to direct us, open restrooms, and give us information?

Ideally, a bus would have been there to take us back. There were hundreds of people from several trains waiting.

Yes, it was not a national emergency and we all were aware that this was just a great inconvenience. And because the tragedy in Belgium was in many minds, the complaints were not large. Everyone seemed to bear it despite the cold and lateness of the hour.

My concern is where will the human being employees of New Jersey Transit be if a far more serious situation arises?

Obviously some training and serious preparation and mock situations need to be put into action.

Phyllis Spiegel


To the Editor:

As I run for Council in New Jersey’s June 7 primary, I look forward to discussing issues with Princeton’s Democratic voters.

I see three main issues facing Council: affordability and municipal property taxes, affordability and Princeton University, and affordability and McMansions. (The school budget is not within Council’s purview.)

First, I believe Council does control spending carefully. But what about increasing revenue? Having met for four years with Princeton Future’s Neighborhood Retail Initiative, I propose a volunteer economic development commission to help us retain existing businesses and attract new ones in keeping with our town’s character.

Second, affordability and the University: Council should begin consulting with the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the case questioning the University’s non-profit status. The University has agreed to explore mediation, and we need to ensure the best settlement for our town. Having met for five years with a committee that studied this issue, I favor a greatly increased Payment in Lieu of Taxes that grows predictably each year, according to the University’s annual income or the value of its real property, fairly assessed.

Third, affordability and McMansions: I served seven years on Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board. To slow tear-downs of modest homes and their replacement by million-dollar spec houses, I favor toughening the Borough’s 2006 McMansion law and applying it also to denser parts of the former Township. Set-backs, floor-area ratio, and height should reflect each neighborhood’s existing averages.

For more information, please email anne.neumann@verizon.net.

Anne Waldron Neumann

Alexander Street