April 25, 2018

To the Editor:

As a Princeton resident and local businessman, the upcoming Council race really matters to me. I have known Eve Niedergang for more than a decade and she is someone whom I deeply admire. I consider her a champion of progressive causes and a person who is guided by a strong moral compass. By now, you may know of her tireless work at the Princeton Public Library and various other community organizations and at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. Her commitment to volunteerism seems limitless, an important characteristic in a municipal representative. When she announced her candidacy, we met to discuss her mission as councilwoman and the thing that impressed me most is her willingness to lead. Eve will be thoughtful and thorough in her decision making and will firmly lead our community in the right direction.

The businesses that I own with my brother, Tay River Builders and Willard Brothers Woodcutters, do much of their work in Princeton. We focus on reducing our town’s carbon footprint by building or renovating homes to make them energy efficient. We are interested in innovative types of housing, like micro and accessory dwelling units, that will encourage economic diversity and can allow people from a range of incomes to live side by side in the same walkable neighborhood with a lowered energy impact. We also remove trees, dry the wood, and turn it into furniture. Environmental initiatives that can be enacted locally to reduce Princeton’s carbon footprint and general environmental impact are important to me and mesh with my businesses. Princeton can and should lead in these arenas: we should change the way we think about home energy consumption, disposable waste, and the utilization of the natural resources that our town provides. Eve is ready to tackle these difficult issues through her guidance at the various municipal offices and by encouraging grass roots movements.

I interact regularly with the Construction and Zoning Boards and other local government agencies which do everything from granting zoning approval to inspecting construction. Princeton also cares deeply and is protective of its tree canopy under the Shade Tree Committee within the Department of Infrastructure, which businesses like mine deal with during tree removal. The Princeton Council helps shape the business climate for us and other business owners and it is important to have council members who are committed to minimizing bureaucracy while also ensuring that we protect our town, its architectural character, and our tree canopy. Eve understands that change must be shaped to support the goals of social and economic diversity as well as to protect our environment and natural settings, goals I support both personally and professionally.

For all of these reasons, I’m voting for Eve in the Democratic primary on June 5 and urge you to do so. Eve will be good for the environment, good for business and great for our community.

Abel Smith

Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

We are so fortunate in Princeton to have many well-qualified candidates willing to give their time to serve our community. It is sometimes difficult to decide which candidate to vote for. For me, this year is different. I intend to vote for Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council, and I’d like to tell you why.

There are many reasons to vote for Michelle, but there is one in particular that resonates with me. Both Michelle’s family and mine — as well as many others — came to this community as immigrant workers, stone masons, gardeners, builders, and small business owners a century or more ago. Yet, sadly, many of us have seen friends and family members, who have helped to make Princeton what it is, leave their homes because they could no longer afford to live here. When we lose these people, many of them in their senior years, we lose our history: we lose an important thread in the fabric of our community.

Michelle is committed to finding creative ways to hold on to what she refers to as, “the diverse flavor of our community.” She has the education, business background, determination, and willingness to do the hard work it will take to mitigate this tragic loss. Moreover, without the burden of other commitments, Michelle has the time it will take to do the job.

Already, as a candidate, Michelle has uncovered a state program that can help some of our seniors remain in their homes. The Senior Tax Freeze provides a rebate for seniors on their property taxes each year and freezes in place their base payment depending on when they become eligible for the program.

You can visit www.pironeforcouncil.com to learn more about this program and Michelle’s platform of “Preserving Our Past, Shaping Our Future.” I hope you will join me in voting for Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Town Council on June 5.

Rose (Dede) NinI

Littlebrook Road

To the Editor:

After celebrating National Volunteer Week (April 15-21), VolunteerConnect would like to reflect on our 20 years of connecting the amazing people in central New Jersey to opportunities that are so desperately needed by nonprofit organizations in the region. Originally named Hands On Helpers, our organization was founded with the goal of connecting volunteers to nonprofits. Today, our name and scope of volunteerism have evolved to focus on the skilled needs of organizations, but our commitment to ensure the growth and capacity of area nonprofits has remained steadfast and can’t be done without the support of volunteers.

The one constant over the years has been the wonderful ability of people to step up and help — not just in times of crisis, like Hurricane Sandy with many thousands of people providing relief with personal effort and financial support, but day-to-day heroes who help in our soup kitchens or provide after-school arts education, counseling services, animal rescue, environmental awareness, and so much more. In addition, there are volunteers who are working with us to support nonprofits with their business needs in short-term projects and many who are particularly committed to long-term engagement by joining a nonprofit board of trustees.

What we’ve seen during our 20 years of service is that regardless of the time, financial, or skill level available, New Jersey volunteers have a strong desire to help others and a passion for social change. VolunteerConnect would like to thank the more than 1.6 million volunteers in our state for their much-needed service and greatly applaud all of you for thinking outward and moving forward.

Amy Klein

Executive Director, VolunteerConnect

ECLECTIC ENTERTAINMENT: “It’s not enough to give people a cultural experience, you need to give them a place where they want to be. People are eager to have that experience, to come together, and meet others.” Sara Scully, executive director of Hopewell Theater, is shown in the first floor of the newly renovated theater.

By Jean Stratton

The curtain has gone up once again at the Hopewell Theater. Newly renovated, it reopened last September, and offers a revised eclectic entertainment format, including live music, first-run independent films, multi-media events, talks with performers, and dine-in opportunities.

Located at 5 South Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell, the theater has a long and varied history, dating to 1880. Originally known as Columbia Hall, it served as a community center with a lyceum-style theater, and hosted lectures, performers, and films on its second floor until 1939. The first floor was used for community groups, the fire department, and Borough Council meetings. more

April 18, 2018

To the Editor:

Before all else, it’s important to understand that members of the Mayor’s own Task Force on Affordable Housing have openly praised the cooperative attitude of neighbors, our responsiveness to dialog, and our thoughtful approach to housing issues. Similarly at BOE meetings on school expansion, neighbors regularly present courteous, sensible, moderate criticisms and questions. Clearly, given the opportunity before decisions are pronounced, Princeton neighborhood residents seek to help, not obstruct, when the town has a problem.

Therefore, now that the town has the judge’s numbers to work with, it is time for the process of developing affordable housing here to become open and public, i.e., finally transparent. Why work behind closed doors, when there is so much to offer out here?

On affordable housing, two issues concern us: the number of units and where they are built.

We clearly need more low-income housing. We are also losing middle-income housing. Since there are few municipal properties available to build on, they must be used efficiently, but without crowding. However, expensive apartments – Palmer Square, Copperwood, AvalonBay — do not fix the problem. And the bigger the development, the more municipal, school, sewage, police, and traffic problems they bring. Mayor and Council need sensible, low-cost solutions that will work in Princeton. Why not ask those of us who live here? How can our representatives represent us if they don’t know what — and how — we think???

When two or more groups work together to resolve a mutual problem, it’s called visioning. All sides look at the issues, and at each other’s concerns, and at possible solutions. Our authority is purely consultative: we don’t implement ideas; that’s the job of elected officials. But we can provide background facts so that Mayor and Council have an informed basis on which to decide zoning, regulations, and resolutions. The Butler Tract neighbors resolved their concerns with the University by meeting with them and talking. Will Mayor and Council accept input from neighbors?

It’s time for collective visioning.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

A recent letter from Jian Chen regarding the costs of serving the Cranbury students in the Princeton Schools is worth further comment.

As a former member of the Princeton School Board, I learned that sending district (Cranbury) costs are covered by state law and are intended to reimburse the receiving district (Princeton) for all per-cost student expenses. In fact, we receive more per-student from Cranbury than we expend within the district on a routine basis.

However, what is not covered in these agreements, are the capital expense budgetary needs for school districts such as ours, which come under stress when projected higher enrollment might require issuance of a bond or other forms of budget increase to cover the costs of new facilities. This is apparently the current situation.

Despite limitations in current state law, a real budget requires consideration of both running expenses and capital expenditure needs.

While I am not certain, I would bet that current state law forbids sending/receiving districts to even negotiate a capital budget agreement.

So what can we do? I would like to see the Princeton schools actively engage the Cranbury community to see if some sort of goodwill gesture is possible that would encourage them to contribute to our capital budgetary needs. A precedent can be found in the efforts of the Princeton government to obtain similar goodwill agreements with tax-free, non-profit institutions (e.g., Princeton University, Institute for Advanced Studies, and the Princeton Theological Seminary) to contribute to the municipal government budget. 

Ultimately, any negotiation of this sort requires awareness of what real leverage we bring to the table. At this point we have the power of persuasion, but also an implied threat of terminating the sending/receiving relationship entirely.

When I sat on the Princeton School Board, we learned of the positive contributions of the Cranbury students to our school system, and I hope that persuasion on the merits of the issue will carry the day. Failing that, we have to be ready to act on our own behalf and consider options for the budget that seriously consider termination of the relationship.

I hope the School Board will represent to Cranbury that there are many people in Princeton who want to see some gesture to address a disproportionate cost to us as a receiving district. The fact that state law does not seem to recognize those impacts should not stop us from pursuing this matter as soon as possible.

Todd Tieger

Dorann Avenue

To the Editor:

As a Princeton taxpayer, I have observed the handling of this Cranbury Agreement renewal for quite some time now. Besides communicating to the Board of Education directly in one of the recent meetings, I have talked to other fellow taxpayers, many of whom also repeatedly express their concerns and questions directly or indirectly to Board.

Since there are so many unaddressed issues and with the Board’s fairly clear indication of their intention to renew the agreement regardless of different opinions expressed, I would like to publicly express my disagreement on the way this issue has been handled by the Board and PPS.

Due to the fact that the Board may take a vote on this issue in very near future, I would like to request this to be published as soon as possible. A copy has been sent to Board members separately.

Shenwei Zhao

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

It will be Earth Day on April 22, an excellent time for me to talk about the environmental qualifications of Eve Niedergang, who is running for Princeton Council in the June 5 primary election. I myself am a member of the Princeton Environmental Commission, and serve as the municipal policy specialist at the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the first environmental organization of Central New Jersey that protects clean water and the environment through a combination of conservation, advocacy, science and education.

I have worked closely with Eve at the Watershed, so I have seen her in operation. Eve has a key position at the Watershed — coordinator of volunteers. Eve has done remarkable things in this position. She grew the volunteer program from 60 volunteers when she started the job to over 250 volunteers now — a great achievement. The Watershed is a nonprofit organization with a lean staff and various programs that heavily rely on volunteers. Eve’s ability to augment the number of volunteers from 60 to 250 continues to enhance our ability to conquer many environmental challenges.

Although high turnover of volunteer staff may create difficulties for organizations, Eve’s ability in attracting, training, and retaining so many volunteers reveals a lot about her as a person. She is a leader who works well with people, motivates them, and makes them want to stay. In addition to her fine work with the volunteers, Eve is well respected by her colleagues and serves as a valued member of the Watershed staff.

Eve is a strong advocate for the environment. She cares deeply about Princeton’s sustainability and reducing Princeton’s carbon footprint. She has been a proactive leader in supporting measures to make our community more sustainable. For example, she testified before Princeton Council on the importance of Princeton taking leadership on controlling storm water runoff. Princeton is one of the first municipalities in our area to have enacted these important environmental regulations. Additionally, Eve takes her own personal commitment to the environment seriously; she drives a hybrid car, is part of the municipal composting program, and made renovations to her home to conserve energy after having a home energy audit.

Eve’s values and experience with environmental issues will make her an excellent member of Princeton Council. Please vote for Eve on June 5.

TAMMY L SANDS

Winant Road

April 11, 2018

To the Editor:

Ever mindful of the comment that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics, I have come across the following information.

The Cranbury students make up about 17 percent of Princeton High School’s population. The high school facilities would not now and would not for at least 10 years be above capacity if the Cranbury students were not included in the high school population. Without the Cranbury students, there would be no need for an addition to the high school.

Furthermore, the tuition rate per Cranbury student is about $17,200. According to the New Jersey Department of Education’s Guide to Education Spending, the budgeted costs amount per pupil in the Princeton Public Schools for 2016-2017 was $19,964.

In addition, according to U.S. News, Princeton High School ranks sixth among 424 high schools in New Jersey.

I have seen little of any of the above reviewed in presentations for the $137 million bond referendum. And there is little mention of how maintenance for expenses would significantly increase if the referendum covering the addition and reconfiguring of the high school is passed.

It would be helpful to all voters if the above were discussed in detail before we are asked to approve the bond.

Patricia A. Taylor

Richard Court

To the Editor:

I am writing to endorse Eve Niedergang for Princeton Council. I’ve known Eve since I was co-president of the Riverside Elementary School PTO from 2003-05 and I found in Eve a person who was willing to pitch in and who could work with a wide range of people. She ran the annual Book Fair at Riverside for several years and expanded its funding so that every child walked out of the Book Fair with a book, regardless of means. She also started the trick-or-treat for UNICEF program at the school to encourage our children to collect money to help poor children throughout the world. Equity was always one of her chief concerns. No wonder I worked hard to persuade Eve to succeed me as PTO co-president in 2005.

My faith in Eve’s abilities was well justified. As the PTO co-president, she expanded access to after-school and enrichment programs so that every child could attend. Similarly, every child received a Riverside T-shirt annually, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. She also revitalized and expanded the PTO’s program of mini-grants to teachers. These grants allowed teachers to pursue new instructional goals and to purchase equipment and supplies for special projects. Our School Garden program was already under way but Eve raised money to fund year-round care of the garden, expanding the time period that the garden was available as a resource for teachers and students.

Eve also made sure that the PTO supported the arts and music. One year the PTO funded an opera residency in collaboration with Opera New Jersey that culminated in an opera that the students wrote, produced, and performed in. She also spearheaded a fundraiser to acquire a piano for the school’s music department. Due to the enthusiasm with which parents greeted these programs, the PTO was able to not only expand the programs it offered but also to build up a surplus to use for future programming. In short, Eve took a good organization and made it even better, always mindful that every child should have the same opportunities as her own children.

Eve would bring all of the qualities exemplified in her leadership of the PTO to the Princeton Council: an ability to engage with all members of a community; a zeal to include all; support for innovative approaches; and a commitment to the environment, the arts, and education. I urge all of you to join me in voting for Eve Niedergang in the Democratic Primary on June 5.

Jane Jemas

Riverside Drive

To the Editor:

We should all applaud the Princeton Board of Education’s decision to delay a vote on the proposed $137.1 million bond referendum. Now, we all must urge the Board to take the next difficult but important step: Declare a total moratorium on the bond issue for now.

Let’s be clear. This call for a moratorium is not a judgment on the Board’s stewardship of public education in Princeton. Most of us who live and pay taxes in Princeton are proud of our schools and the teachers and administrators who serve our kids.

But, we in New Jersey are in a financial crisis resulting from the Federal Income Tax Law of 2017. Until the legislature and governor can effect a workable and legal remedy, adding more bond debt is irresponsible. The 2017 Tax Law reduces the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) to $10,000. For high tax states, like New Jersey, California, and New York, this is draconian and punishing – and may have been intentionally so – but it is the law.

Governor Murphy may join with other states to fight this law but that outcome remains to be seen. For now, adding anything to the tax impact on assessed homes should be declared a non-starter. If the Board cannot step outside its own thinking on this issue, then, regrettably, voters must reject the referendum on October 2.

The Princeton Board of Education is a non-partisan body and must stay out of politics. Instead, we citizens and voters must urge our state legislators and governor to come up with a reasonable solution that is sustainable in this new federal tax era and allows communities, like Princeton, to resume funding needed improvements.

David M. Goodman

Duffield Place

To the Editor:

The recently completed 87th annual Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale could not have been the resounding success it was without the help of over 100 volunteers and Princeton Day School. Our volunteers work throughout the year to collect and sort donated books, then expend a great deal of time and energy setting up and running the sale. Thank you for your dedication!

We are also grateful for the warm and professional collaboration we enjoy with the PDS staff during the event when we sell over 80,000 books in just five days. Together we raise college scholarship funds for Bryn Mawr and Wellesley students from throughout central New Jersey.

Elizabeth Romanaux

President, The Bryn Mawr Wellesley Book Sale

To the Editor:

By now, the debris from Hinds Plaza has been swept, the air above Nassau Street quieted, and our tears wiped from our faces. I have lived in Princeton for 22 years and nothing has made me prouder to call it home than seeing Witherspoon Street flooded with people of all walks of life at the March for Our Lives. Despite this tense and sobering reminder about how gun violence cannot simply be someone else’s problem, odds are many from the March will return to their lives around town, which can often be called “quaint,” “comfortable,” or “idyllic.” There will be a strong urge to return to normal.

There will also be a strong urge to say “what can I really do?” or “we can never really eliminate gun violence or even make a dent.” A lot of the measures being proposed in Congress and even in Florida won’t do much to curb gun violence as a whole. Not only is there a massive advocacy network with rock-solid financial backing in the firearms industry, but there are a lot of Americans, some of them our elected officials, who genuinely believe that guns not only make us safer, but are important cultural touchstones. Guns are durable, transportable goods; so here in Princeton, what good can we really do?

The only problem with that line of thinking is that every great accomplishment in history has been impossible until it wasn’t. I have met so many of the most impressive, courageous people in my life in Princeton who continue to inspire me to this day, and I’m sure there are just as many more that I haven’t had the good fortune of meeting. It would be an incredible shame if that ability and that skill set could not be channeled into collective action on problems as difficult and as urgent as gun violence, but also issues like mental health, race, and privilege.

Princeton has the opportunity to turn this energy into action. Imagine a community where things like violence, anxiety, masculinity, and their effects on people could be talked about in an open forum — students and adults alike. Imagine being an example for the rest of the country on how to make our schools safer not with guns or metal detectors, but teaching students how to be active and informed citizens.

Survival of our students is far too low a bar to clear for a community I have seen so much from. Our goal should be for every student to flourish not only in the classroom, but as a person. Let us take advantage of the opportunity for reflection and bring students and young people to the table and have a discussion.

Zack DiGregorio

William Livingston Court

To the Editor: 

The primary election to be held on June 5 for the two open Princeton Council seats will likely determine the ultimate winners in the November general election. Given that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by five to one in Princeton, the Democratic Primary has produced the final general election outcome in recent council and mayoral elections.

In reflecting on recent elections, some voters have expressed that they don’t have a voice in our local government.

Many of the over 6,700 unaffiliated voters in Princeton may not realize that they can easily vote in the Democratic primary, either by changing their party affiliation prior to the election or by simply declaring that they would like to vote on the Democratic ticket at the polls on June 5. 

For Republicans who would like to participate in the Democratic primary, they can do so by submitting a political party declaration form by April 11. All voters can check their party affiliation on the website www.njelections.org, where they may also print the Political Party Affiliation Declaration forms. There is no limit to the number of times voters can change their political party affiliation.

Historically, voter participation for “off-year,” or non-presidential year, primary elections is very low, with fewer than 10 percent of registered voters turning out to the polls. The more voters participating and voting in the primary election, the better representation the election will have for the population at large.

Our Council is the main legislative body that makes important decisions affecting our community. With many critical issues facing us and two open seats to fill, this is a very important election.

I encourage everyone to vote in the primary. Let your voice be heard.

You can find out more about me and my platform at www.pironeforcouncil.com.

Michelle Pirone Lambros

Grover Avenue,

Candidate for Princeton Town Council

April 4, 2018

To the Editor:

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area supports students in their March for Our Lives and urges those who can vote to become informed about their candidates and then vote. On May 1 at 7 p.m. in Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, the Democratic candidates for Princeton Council will meet in a forum co-sponsored by the League and Princeton Community TV, which will videotape the forum. The video will be rebroadcast and posted on its website and on www.lwvprinceton.org.

Be sure you are registered with the party of your choice. If you are currently unaffiliated, you may declare your party at the polls on June 5. If you mistakenly registered as an Independent, you cannot vote in the primary since only Republicans and Democrats hold a primary election. The deadline for changing Party Affiliation for the June primary is April 11. Political Party Declaration forms are available at www.njelections.org and must be received at your county clerk’s office by April 11.

The deadline to register for the June primary is May 15; your voter registration form must be postmarked by that date. Applications for vote-by-mail ballots can be downloaded and must be received by your county clerk at least seven days before the election, May 29. All forms are available at www.njelections.org, where you will be directed to your county clerk.

Please attend or watch the forum and VOTE.

Chrystal Schivell

Voter Service chair,

League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area,

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

The facilities referendum that calls for spending $137M on a new 5/6 school, PHS expansion, and various other upgrades will have a huge financial impact on our town decades after the current School Board members’ term expires. The need for this spending is driven by the projected increase in student enrollment. According to the third-party consultant retained by the district, enrollment is estimated to grow about 10 percent (with a 5 percent standard error) by 2022.

What if we have an opportunity to reduce that enrollment growth to only 3 percent (±5 percent) by 2022? Will that change the need, or at least the timing of the need to spend? $137M amounts to almost a year and half of the school district’s budget, definitely not a small number. For every year this $137M spending is postponed, the district would effectively put $5 million back into residents’ pocket.

Under the existing send-and-receive agreement, our district educates 280 high school students from Cranbury, or 18 percent of PHS enrollment. By terminating the agreement with Cranbury, the district can achieve an immediate 7 percent reduction in enrollment. This agreement is scheduled to expire in June 2020. The school district owes residents a detailed explanation as to why extending this agreement is still in our best interest. To justify an extension by only focusing on the $4.8 million we receive but not the corresponding costs of serving the Cranbury students makes no sense. It is disappointing that the district told us that any cost reduction from terminating the Cranbury agreement will be minimal because there are on average only 3-4 Cranbury students in each of the high school’s 85 classes. This picture of averaging is misleading and far from the reality. I urge our elected officials to make smart and pragmatic decisions on our behalf rather than take the path of least resistance.

Jian Chen

Ettl Farm

NIGHT LIGHTS: “Photography has a universal way of connecting people. Photography opens up your world,” believe Alan Kesselhaut and Barbara Cuneo, owners of Princeton Photo Workshop. They are shown in a night shot at Sydney Harbor in Australia. (Photo by Alex Kesselaar)

By Jean Stratton

“Everyone may have a camera, but not everyone knows how to see,” explains Alan Kesselhaut. “A famous photographer once said, ‘The pictures are out there. We have to learn how to see them.’”

Adds Barbara Cuneo, “A good photographer has to notice.”

They should know!

Owners of Princeton Photo Workshop, Kesselhaut and Cuneo opened their firm in 2013, after a successful career in the construction business. more

PLEASING THE PALATE: “We wanted to offer the best food at affordable prices. We specialize in unique grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade soups, all with our original recipes, developed over the years.” Nadir Gillani (left) and Karim “Mike” Sopariwalla, owners of the Eatery@Princeton, look forward to welcoming customers to their new restaurant.

By Jean Stratton

Nothing tastes better on a cold day than homemade soup and a tasty grilled cheese sandwich.

Now, a new restaurant in town provides both, and a lot more too!

Eatery@Princeton opened in January at 180 Nassau Street, the former location of Cox’s Market, that long-time Princeton mainstay. more

March 28, 2018

To the Editor:

Many residents live here because we value the ethnic and economic diversity of Princeton, not to mention the excellence of its schools. Now we have to absorb significant costs and potentially higher taxes for another expansion of our schools and the construction of potentially 753 affordable housing units. The exact number of units is unknown since discussions about the New Jersey Court ruling have been conducted in two closed Council meetings.

Princeton residents (and taxpayers) need to be included in the resolution of these issues. Creative solutions can then be sought from all, and not just implemented at will by our elected representatives, municipal staff, and the School Board. For example, Princeton has significant passive land resources that should be considered to reduce the cost impact of both these requirements. Remedial zoning could also contribute to the solution.

Simply increasing our taxes will only drive out the long-term residents who have contributed to the diversity of Princeton. Transparency is needed so we can all participate in the solution.

Peter Madison, Lorraine Skidmore

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

Two-and-a-half months after the tragic December 27, 2017 fire at Griggs Farm, nearly all of the 34 displaced residents who needed to find temporary housing have secured affordable homes in the area, enabling them to maintain key community, school, and employment connections over the next 10-12 months while the building is being reconstructed. Princeton Community Housing (PCH), a nonprofit organization, and the Human Services Department (HSD) of the municipality of Princeton have been working closely with the residents throughout this time.

PCH greatly thanks all the donors who provided generous support to help the residents. Recent gifts have provided financial support to all the displaced residents, including instances where funds were needed for security deposits or to close the gap between the monthly rent for temporary affordable homes and the monthly rent a resident was paying at Griggs Farm (approximately 30 percent of their income). Previous gifts, as noted earlier, helped PCH to pay for six weeks of emergency housing, as well as to provide money, gift cards, food, clothing, and other items directly to the residents.

Because we have reached this temporary housing milestone and distributed this financial and other support to the displaced residents, we know we have helped them regain a measure of stability and independence to move forward with their efforts to bring normalcy back to their lives. We will continue to work with residents to help them identify the area organizations that can best provide the resources other than temporary housing that the residents may need. While PCH will be transitioning from active solicitation for donations to the Griggs Farm Fire Relief Fund, we will distribute to residents any additional contributions we may receive.

We will be focusing efforts on working with the Griggs Farm Condo Association to restore the building — and on moving forward with our larger mission to build, manage, and advocate for affordable housing opportunities in Princeton. The challenges PCH and HSD faced in locating temporary affordable homes for the residents demonstrate the significant need for additional affordable homes in the area. PCH was not able to place the Griggs Farm residents in other PCH apartments because there are no vacancies and wait lists are 12-24 months long.

In Princeton, six percent of families are below the federal poverty level and another 18 percent are below the “ALICE Threshold” (the United Way’s measuring a Household Survival Budget). Additionally, because only about 10 percent of Princeton homes are deed-restricted as affordable for low- or moderate-income households to rent or buy, there’s a wide gap between the supply and demand for affordable housing.

We continue to welcome unrestricted contributions for PCH to support our mission. These gifts will be used for the programs benefiting the over 1,000 current residents, as well as ongoing efforts to expand the inventory of affordable homes in the area. To make a gift, please see our website: www.princetoncommunityhousing.org.

Edward Truscelli

Executive Director

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the Historical Society of Princeton held its public annual meeting, with the Board and staff extending gratitude to the community partners, members, donors, and volunteers who all help execute the important work of HSP. I want to echo those sentiments here.

2017 was an exciting time of growth and innovation for HSP, a hub for experiential history education and stewardship of collections and places. By promoting historical curiosity at all ages, we are building citizens who are critical thinkers, who consider nuance and multiple perspectives, and who know how to make informed decisions. This is essential for healthy civic culture.

With this in mind, we devoted our energies in 2017 to expanding the diversity and reach of our public programming, often partnering with other like-minded community organizations, which ultimately doubled the audience for our history education services.

We launched the Historical Fiction Book Group, with the Princeton Public Library, the Open Archive series, the Speaking of History series of panel discussions, and family programs such as the Chasing George! bike ride. Walking tours, including new themed tours, continued to grow in popularity.

We amped up our co-curricular support for schools, completing third-grade local history curriculum units, offering professional development free-of-charge to teachers, and piloting outreach programs for high school students that promote exciting, skills-based history classrooms.

These are just a few of the many public history programs HSP provides, benefiting thousands of people each year. Our supporters and partners make this work possible. In particular, I would like to celebrate the efforts of HSP’s stellar volunteer trustees. I am thrilled to announce that the HSP Board elected four new trustees during the Annual Meeting. All are members of the Princeton community and together form a cohort of unprecedented quality.

Peter Gibson is the founder and owner of Princeton Online, a hyper-local community web presence in Princeton. He has served on many local nonprofit boards, including those of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (now Learning Ally).

Caroline Hayes is a co-founder and principal of Finitive, a technology company that facilitates direct institutional investment into the alternative lending sector. She has over a decade of experience advising and investing in companies within the financial services industry.

Matthew Henderson is a managing partner at Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, where he handles the firm’s finances. He is a Princeton native, and previously worked for Bear Stearns on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and in brand management for Johnson & Johnson.

John Marshall is a 45-year Princeton resident and the former owner of Main Street Café, Bistro, and Catering from 1988-2016. He is currently the president of the Princeton Merchants Association and has also served as the president of the Friends of Carson Road Woods since 2003.

The annual meeting culminated in a lively lecture by Seton Hall University’s Professor Emeritus Richard J. Connors. In honor of the centennial of World War I, he delivered a talk entitled New Jersey and the Great War, outlining New Jersey’s important economic function in the war, and the lasting impact of the war industry. HSP supplemented the talk by displaying collection items that illuminated the war’s effect on Princeton.

The annual meeting is always a happy celebration of the Princeton community and HSP’s contributions to its vibrancy. We thank everyone in attendance and all those who help advance the work of the Society throughout the year.

Izzy Kasdin

Executive Director, Historical Society of Princeton

To the Editor:

Princeton residents deserve more information before the budget vote for new school construction. We have been told that the architectural plans are based on new pedagogical approaches. Why haven’t we been given information about what they are? Or are the building schemes driving the pedagogy?

It’s time for the superintendent and Board of Education to open up and share. Why does it seem that every major decision in Princeton is made behind closed doors? Let the sunshine in and let the public and the media see what is proposed so that a real discussion can take place.

Sheila Siderman

Bouvant Drive

To the Editor:

On Sunday, March 18, the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) met to endorse candidates for local and county office. After a spirited and informative debate among the seven candidates for Princeton Council, I was honored to receive 77 percent of the votes cast by the more than 200 PCDO members present and, thus, the endorsement of the PCDO. I would like to extend my appreciation to the PCDO executive board, which worked hard to plan and orchestrate the endorsement meeting; to the members of the PCDO who devoted three hours of their Sunday evening to attend the debate and vote for their candidates of choice; to Nicole Plett of the League of Women Voters, who moderated the debate; and to Mercer County’s three incumbent Democratic Freeholders — Ann Cannon, Sam Frisby, and Pat Colavita — who also addressed the audience and took questions on Sunday evening.

The energy in the room and the interest in the political process was tremendous; it is an exciting time to be a candidate here in Princeton. As I said in my remarks on Sunday, Princeton is a vital community, but we face some serious challenges (among them affordability, sustainability, and how to deal with development). I want to listen to your concerns so that we can work together to surmount these challenges in a way that enhances Princeton’s unique character. I ask for your vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, June 5. Further information about my candidacy and my contact information can be found on my website, eveforprinceton.org.

Eve Niedergang

Forester Drive

SMALL BITES, BIG SMILES: “I thought Princeton would be a great opportunity for a Greek restaurant. There’s nothing like us here, and I’m so encouraged. Business is great, and people love what we’re doing.” Tony Kanterakis, owner of Local Greek, is shown in his new restaurant on Leigh Avenue.

By Jean Stratton

Local Greek, the new restaurant at 44 Leigh Avenue, is off to a great start. Customers are lining up to try the special Greek dishes, and they are coming in all day and into the evening.

“Breakfast is very popular. In fact, it’s actually even busier than dinner right now,” says owner Tony Kanterakis. “People love the Greek-style breakfast, especially the free range eggs in the pan, we serve every day.” more

COMPASSIONATE CARE: “I feel I am able to be there when people need you the most. It is important for someone to be there for them at this difficult time. A compassionate nature is a must for a funeral director.” Christopher Merlino, funeral director of Hopewell Memorial Home, is shown in the chapel of the newly renovated facility.

By Jean Stratton 

It is no doubt the most difficult time for most people. Making the arrangements for a loved one’s burial or cremation and all the accompanying details is an emotionally stressful experience.

Being able to rely on compassionate support and knowledgeable assistance can help to ease what is often an unbearable situation. more