February 6, 2013

To the Editor:

As I observe the constant flow — and hear the excited chatter — of people carting windows, doors, washing machines, and other materials out of our Habitat for Humanity Restore, I’m reminded that to “restore” is to make whole.

When Habitat for Humanity opened its ReStore, its purpose was to provide a place for residents of Trenton to purchase, at low cost, quality new and pre-owned building materials, appliances, and furniture.

As we prepared for Saturday’s Grand Opening of our ReStore, I’m deeply thankful for the support we have received from all of Mercer county. Homeowners, contractors, and building supply stores have generously donated both new and reusable items to stock the shelves of the ReStore. And, equally important, local residents are shopping at the ReStore. Despite their extremely tight budgets, they are optimistic. They are investing in their homes, their neighborhood, and their community.

On behalf of Habitat for Humanity, I invite all of you to come shop and/or donate gently used goods. Meet the ReStore’s dedicated staff and volunteers; explore the aisles of the ReStore and give us the opportunity to thank you for your support of a better and brighter future.

After you visit the ReStore, I invite you to explore the neighborhood’s revitalization. Drive past homes that have been refurbished thanks to two summers of WorkCamp which brought in hundreds of students to work alongside residents. During the week after school, stop in the Learning Lab where local students have an after school program that rivals the best in any neighborhood. Or remember to come shop at the farmer’s market during the summer. There are other changes too including a new pedestrian friendly crosswalk at the intersection of Olden and Clinton.

There’s much more than I could share with you about what’s good. And so much of it is captured in the doors, windows, and paint cans carted out of the ReStore and into homes, to make them better—to make them whole.

Tom Caruso

Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity, Trenton Area

To the Editor:

I support the suggestion made by Harvey Rothberg to keep the old names for Borough Hall and Township Hall, and I agree with his two reasons, namely ease of recognition and preservation of historic names.

Perhaps a generation from now people will ask why we have both a Borough hall and a Township hall. In finding the answer to that question they will learn a bit about Princeton history, and that will be a good thing.

Jane Kupin

Erdman Avenue

To the Editor:

Princetonians have two opportunities coming up to learn about one of Princeton’s early visionaries. The Veblen name is most commonly associated with Thorstein Veblen, the famous economist and social critic. But his nephew Oswald’s legacy shines as bright, extending beyond the world of ideas and taking multiple physical forms across our fair town.

Who is Oswald Veblen? Well, imagine Princeton without the Institute for Advanced Study, Albert Einstein’s long residency, the Institute Woods, and Herrontown Woods. Veblen’s vision, initiative, and persistence played an instrumental role in making all of these possible.

Called a “woodchopping professor” of mathematics, he combined a midwesterner’s bucolic sensibilities with the European heritage of his ancestors and his English wife Elizabeth. This combination can be seen in the many European scholars he helped bring to America during the Nazi rise to power, and the hundreds of acres of Princeton’s woodlands he worked to spare from development.

This combination, too, can be seen in the house and farm cottage he and Elizabeth donated to the county, which now stand boarded up at the edge of Herrontown Woods. The 1920s prefab house has European touches in its balconies, woodwork, and woodland setting.

This Sunday at 11 a.m., as part of the Princeton Public Library’s Environmental Film Festival, I’ll present a portrait of Veblen’s multifaceted legacy, and discuss efforts to save the house and farmstead they left in the public trust. More information on the film festival’s last weekend of films can be found at princetonlibrary.org, and additional information on Veblen is at VeblenHouse.org.

In addition, the Institute for Advanced Study is currently hosting an exhibit on Veblen’s legacy at their archive’s reading room (library.ias.edu/archives).

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison

January 30, 2013

To the Editor:

Bill and Judy Scheide are indeed “Forever Young” and the overflow crowd at the January 18 concert to celebrate Bill’s 99th birthday, and support the Community Park Pool, demonstrated by cheers and applause the esteem with which this much loved couple is held, as well as appreciation for the superb musicianship of the concert performers.

The English Chamber Orchestra, under the vibrant direction of Maestro Mark Laycock, began the program with Sir Arnold Bax’s Dance in the Sunlight, a lively, romantic and complex score. It was followed by Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter, brilliantly played by violinist Stephanie Gonley.

Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, eloquently and humorously narrated by Malcolm Gets, prompted an acquaintance sitting next to me to remark that her eight-year-old granddaughter, who plays the piano, would have learned a great deal and enjoyed this piece.

It was a pleasure to welcome pianist Andrew Sun back to Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium. His nimble “Variations on Happy Birthday to Bill Scheide” were made up of musical birthday greetings assembled by Samuel Barber for Mary Curtis Book Zimbalist’s 75th birthday. The piece was a recent acquisition by the Scheide Library and performed for the first time.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, completed the inspiring program. Through his mastery of the composition, Maestro Laycock, fluidly, energetically and skillfully inspired the English Chamber Orchestra to perform at their highest level. I know I speak for the community in expressing my sincere thanks to Bill and Judy for this memorable evening!

Linda Sipprelle

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Recreation Department and the Princeton Parks & Recreation Fund, we want to thank the community for its incredible support of the Community Park Pool, which was the beneficiary of last Friday night’s birthday concert for Mr. William H. Scheide. Our community was once again blessed with the opportunity to listen to wonderful music, support a good cause, and revel in the good will that always accompanies a Bill and Judy Scheide Concert.

The concert was a smashing success and all of the money received from sponsors and ticket sales will go toward continuing the Recreation Department’s mandate to keep user fees as low as possible in order to continue to provide access to all members of the Princeton community. The pool has become the town’s summer backyard, and the support shown last Friday night is compelling evidence of how important that is to the community.

The Recreation Department is grateful beyond words for this wonderful support.

Ben Stentz

Executive Director of Recreation

Peter O’Neill

Chairman of Princeton Parks & Recreation Fund

To the Editor:

The idea of guns in our schools is disconcerting at best, and untenable, at least. In addition to making school a pretty scary place for children to be, carrying a gun most likely will deter many fine teachers from practicing their profession. I am wondering if some type of a “Life Alert” device might be worn by adults in the school? While not a perfect solution, and perhaps, simplistic, it may be an effective one.

Robin L. Wallack,

Former President

Princeton Regional Board of Education,

Mercer County Board of Vocational Technology

To the Editor,

There is an ongoing discussion about the appropriate density for the former hospital site. Current zoning for the MRRO zone, created specifically for the site of the hospital buildings, is for 280 units or 50 units per acre, a number arrived at by estimating the number of apartments that could fit into the hospital towers. Many remember the community discussions over rezoning the site for residential use in 2004-06 — it was said that the density would be lower if the hospital buildings came down.

What is a reasonable density if the hospital buildings do come down? I would argue that we should look at the gross density currently permitted in zoning. In the former Township, density ranges from 1.8 to 12 units/acre. In Mixed Use zones in the former Borough, like the MRRO zone, the maximum density is 14 units/acre. Density in the hospital neighborhood is lower than this. Our zoning allows densities higher than 14 units/acre only if there is 100 percent income restricted or age-restricted housing. In the highly-acclaimed design for the Merwick and Stanworth sites, the numerous two to three-story buildings will be built at 14 and 12 units/acre. The university designed open space and playground areas for everyone’s use and pedestrian and bike path connections between the sites and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Much of the discussion has centered on the supposed benefits of smart growth — concentrating development in the center of towns. This does not mean, however, that the higher the density the better. Architects and planners advocate designing buildings in context with their neighborhoods. The minimum smart-growth density in Massachusetts is 8 units/acre for single-family units, 12 units/acre for two- and three-family units and 20 units/acre for multi-family apartments. The 20 unit/acre density — or 112 units on the former hospital site — is already more than double the density in the surrounding neighborhood.

The Task Force is moving in the right direction by considering 39 units/acre or 220 units for the site. Unfortunately, with densities over 35 units/acre you lose a sense of having individual buildings — you get massive bulk and long-runs of frontage like the plans that AvalonBay presented.

Personally, I believe that the density of the Merwick/Stanworth sites is appropriate for the former hospital site. The John-Witherspoon neighborhood, with Merwick/Stanworth on one side and the MRRO zone on the other, averages 14 units/acre. Let’s do the same for the MRRO zone: 14 units/acre or 78 units for the former hospital site. This density will allow for a development in keeping with the scale and character of the neighborhood, as required by Borough Code and the town’s Master Plan. It will allow for green open space and throughways for people to walk and bike through the block (like at Merwick/Stanworth). Green space, walkers, and bikers make town living highly sustainable. Higher densities will bring more traffic, the possible busing of elementary schoolchildren, lower property values and higher taxes for Princeton residents.

Ken Gumpert

Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

As former mayors with spouses who worked at Princeton University, and as a Princeton professor who was married to a former mayor, we were surprised to see that two Council members had questioned whether Mayor Liz Lempert has a conflict of interest in meeting with University representatives to discuss the terms of the University’s 2013 contribution to the municipality.

Princeton has a long history of mayors with connections to the University. All of us in recent memory — Barbara Sigmund, Cate Litvack, Dick Woodbridge, and Marvin Reed — spoke frequently with University representatives and negotiated with them. It is part of the mayor’s job.

Paul Sigmund, Cate Litvack,

Dick Woodbridge, Marvin Reed

To the Editor:

Princeton citizens who want to help ensure that AvalonBay doesn’t submit a new application to build “AvalonPrinceton” (!) should contact Planning Board members right away.

On February 7, the Planning Board will adopt a resolution that “memorializes” their 7-3 vote against AvalonBay (Board attorney Gerald Muller is drafting the resolution). Current Board members who voted against AvalonBay (Jenny Crumiller, Wanda Gunning, Bernie Miller, Marvin Reed, and Gail Ullman) have full legal rights to modify any and all language in the resolution so that it accurately reflects their positions.

Voting members should take care that the final resolution banishes AvalonBay from Princeton — not simply that Princeton doesn’t like AvalonBay’s specific site plan, but more: that Princeton doesn’t want any mark of AvalonBay here at all.

AvalonBay has shown they won’t partner with our community, no matter what the design. As Jenny Crumiller lamented about their refusal to negotiate reasonably with the Borough’s ad hoc committee, “The overriding theme was, ‘AvalonBay is a brand and that’s what you get’” (PB hearing, 12/19/12).

Here are other reasons why Planning Board members should make sure the resolution closes the door on any attempt by AvalonBay to reapply.

AvalonBay refused to consider local retail stores, desired by many (“We don’t do retail in midrise developments”), and refused to participate in Princeton’s recycling and composting program (“We’re not in the composting
business”). Avalon lags its competitors in sustainable building practices and rejected a push by 48.6 percent of their shareholders to commit resources to significant green measures; any building they did would be already “obsolete,” as Heidi Fichtenbaum noted (PB hearing, 12/19/12).

AvalonBay cannot be trusted. They tried to cover up difficulties with hospital site remediation — matters of public health. Their urban planner plagiarized work from their architect (who also misrepresented the size of the sliver of park by cropping the illustration). The AvalonBay team cheated in representing their open space, claiming as “theirs” portions of land they would not even own! Their architect deliberately misunderstood Borough Code so that he could falsely compare AvalonBay’s “superior” megablock to the existing hospital towers — and chose not to show the monolith in relation to neighborhood buildings so that no one could really grasp its gargantuan scale. Their “plan” for solid waste involved using both the garage and the Franklin Avenue service drive in ways not legally permitted by Borough Code.

AvalonBay’s legal representation was “barely legal.” Ron Ladell played both attorney and witness (an “inappropriate” straddling of roles). He tried to halt cross-questioning of their urban planner by the environmental attorney for Princeton Citizens (an unprofessional and almost malfeasant intervention). Attorney Studholme whispered advice to the urban planner while he was being cross-questioned by PCSN’s land-use attorney — virtually a forbidden practice.

With behavior like this, for over a year, who needs AvalonBay at all? They have squandered trust and credibility. Other developers will serve our community better. The Planning Board must insist that their resolution fully reflects their outright opposition, and the community’s, to AvalonBay’s presence.

Jane Buttars

Dodds Lane

To The Editor:

I’d like to say to the new Princeton Planning Board that when dealing with a new developer for the hospital site, the developer must keep the neighborhood in mind: the height of the apartment buildings, the green space, and that there be no private pool because the tenants could enjoy and support our new Community Park pool that’s right down the street. Not having a private pool could allow more space for low, low income rental units within the affordable units. Remember, “affordable” is not affordable for all Princeton citizens. There should be some more low, low income units with rents below $1,000 per month. There’s a long list of people waiting for low income housing in Princeton, which still shows the need for it.

After sitting through many long planning board meetings listening to the AvalonBay presentation, I hope AvalonBay will completely disappear from the hospital site developers’ list because I don’t trust them. The arrogant, bullying attitude of the AvalonBay developer was unbelievable and we don’t need that kind of unneighborly attitude in Princeton.

Minnie Craig

Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading in last week’s paper about the new appointees to the Princeton Public Library’s Board of Trustees (“Ringing in the New, Library Board Welcomes Six New Members,” Town Topics, Jan. 23). As we welcome them to their new positions and wish them all luck, I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the trustees whom they replaced (in addition to the former mayors): Alison Lahnston, Ira Fuchs, and Richard Levine. During their years of dedicated service, Alison, Ira, and Dick brought impressive skills, careful and creative thinking, and sound judgment to the job of governance, working always to nurture the library’s innovative spirit while helping to ensure its financial stability.

I would also like to thank Director Leslie Burger for her gifted leadership, her unparalleled fund-raising vision and abilities, and her inspiring commitment to the highest levels of excellence for the library and all its programs and services. It was a privilege and an honor to work with Leslie, and with all the trustees, over the last ten years, and I thank them for both enriching my time there, and for their longstanding service to the community.

Katherine McGavern

Past President, Princeton Public Library

January 23, 2013

To the Editor:

It’s great to be living in a united Princeton!

I note that there’s concern about the possible re‑naming of Borough Hall and the Township Municipal Building (or complex). There’s even been talk of a contest for consideration of the best names for the old buildings.

Here’s a serious and sensible suggestion: In our new united Princeton, the former Borough Hall should retain its name, that is, Borough Hall. The former Township Municipal Building (or complex) should retain its name, that is, Township Hall.

There are two major and cogent reasons why this is a good idea: (1) Everyone will know where to find a particular department or service. For example, Administrator, Court and Violations, Tax Collection, and Police in Township Hall; and Public Works, Recycling and Refuse Collection, Vital Statistics, and Fire Safety in Borough Hall.

And (2) preservation of the old names honors and memorializes our history. The 200-year history of the Borough of Princeton and the 175-year history of Princeton Township deserve to be commemorated and preserved in our collective memory.

Retaining the names of these historic (albeit modern) buildings does not lessen our acceptance and recognition of, and pride in the new united Princeton. I hope that this suggestion will be considered seriously by the mayor and Council and others concerned with the matter.

Harvey Rothberg (MD)

Bertrand Drive

To the Editor:

Nelson Mandela insightfully noted, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Last year over 500 of our Mercer County children were living in a place other than their own home. When the child welfare agency determines that child abuse and/or neglect has occurred, a child is removed from the home and placed in out-of-home placement i.e., foster homes or group homes or residential facilities.

The plight of the child after being removed from an abusive situation and placed in the child welfare system turns into a difficult journey, one impossible for a child to navigate through on his or her own.

Fortunately, that is where Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) steps in. CASA recruits, screens and trains volunteers in the community to advocate in court for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and are now in out-of-home placement. The mission of CASA is to find safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible so the children don’t languish in the child welfare system.

Through regular visits with the child, in addition to interviews with caretakers, teachers, therapists, and child welfare workers, the CASA volunteer provides up to date information on how the child is doing and includes it in a comprehensive written report, along with recommendations for services that are disseminated to all of the legal parties, including the Family Court judge.

In Mercer County, we greatly need more volunteers. There are many good souls in the area who want to protect all of our children and judge it a basic human right to have a home and family of their own. Visit our website at www.casamercer.org or call (609) 434-0050 to become a CASA volunteer.

Lori Morris

Executive Director, CASA of Mercer County, Inc.

To the Editor:

Princeton is in a unique position within the surrounding region as the one place that can provide a car-free lifestyle. While residents of West Windsor or Montgomery face the daily requirement to fight traffic on Route One or Route 206, the historic core of Princeton, built before the advent of the automobile, provides a critical density of employment and amenities built for walking rather than driving. Many in the heart of town live without owning a car and many others only drive once or twice a week for groceries.

The popularity of apartment living in dense, walkable neighborhoods has skyrocketed in recent years. Those of us who grew up in isolated suburban homes and spent half our youth in the car being driven from one activity to the other are very attracted to a life with fewer parking lots and highways. Access to this lifestyle in Princeton however has been frozen in time. According to the census, the population of the former Princeton Borough is lower now than it was in 1950. While enrollment and employment at the University and in town has exploded in the past 60 years, the supply of housing within walking distance has remained essentially the same due to the effects of restrictive zoning. Instead of greater population density we’ve seen an exponential rise in the number of cars commuting into town with the attendant need for ever more parking and roadwork.

What’s the solution? Princeton needs apartment buildings like the one from AvalonBay so recently rejected by the Planning Board. The only solution to un-met demand is to increase the supply of housing. The solution to our traffic problems is to enable the hundreds and thousands who would prefer to live in walking distance to do so. The best thing to do for sustainability is to allow apartment living in town. The answer to our water runoff issues is to allow population growth to be accommodated at greater densities in town rather than amidst the suburban, car-dependent sprawl. The best thing we can do for our tax base is to encourage these many single and childless households to locate in Princeton rather than only allowing single-family homes which bring far more children to the schools. Opponents argue that four- and five-story apartment buildings aren’t in keeping with Princeton’s neighborhoods. Right in the heart of town, at Nassau and Witherspoon, the First National Bank built a five story office building as far back as 1902. That building covers the entire lot and the historic core of town has many similar structures. It’s that very density of population, employment, and amenities that makes Princeton something other than just a commuter suburb. We should welcome increased population density in town, or else we will continue to live with increased density of traffic and asphalt.

David Keddie

David Brearly Court

To the Editor:

If Princetonians want to see something sad, they should drive down Alexander Street. Between the WaWa and Skillman Furniture, opposite the golf course, Princeton University is demolishing the pleasant mid-nineteenth-century houses that grace this major entry into Princeton.

These houses were considered for historic preservation some years ago, but protection was never granted, Why? Sometimes municipalities don’t get around to doing things they should do. And maybe historic preservation seemed less urgent for houses that already have gaps between them.

In contrast, northern Alexander Street’s 1834 houses remain intact within the protected Mercer Hill Historic District. But isn’t protection nearly as urgent for the few remaining houses below the WaWa that suggest how beautiful this streetscape also was?

And isn’t it cynical of the University to begin making way for arts classrooms by tearing down houses? Yes, the University owns those houses, and, yes, it has every legal right to destroy them. But, although the University’s arts classrooms recently received Planning Board approval, the development is still the subject of litigation. No fewer than three lawsuits seek to enjoin the University from building arts classrooms and moving the Dinky.

Shovels in the ground would be met with an injunction. Demolishing history and charm is a cheap way to create a fait accompli. Must Nassau Hall destroy an authentic gateway to its historic campus and our historic town, especially when a new University president will soon be appointed, one who may know better what our university owes itself and us?

Anne Waldron Neumann

Alexander Street

January 16, 2013
DINING OUT: “We like to offer comfort food. We have larger portions, with an attractive, straightforward presentation. Our food is from different cultures, and we take the best features of each, and come up with a unique cuisine.” Chef/co-owner Mark Valenza of Za Restaurant in Pennington is shown in the popular Wisteria Garden, which offers al fresco dining in warm weather.

DINING OUT: “We like to offer comfort food. We have larger portions, with an attractive, straightforward presentation. Our food is from different cultures, and we take the best features of each, and come up with a unique cuisine.” Chef/co-owner Mark Valenza of Za Restaurant in Pennington is shown in the popular Wisteria Garden, which offers al fresco dining in warm weather.

Za Restaurant is a special place. Its distinctive “cross cultural comfort cuisine” delights many diners, both regulars and those discovering the restaurant for the first time. Its welcoming setting and decor, featuring colors of yellow, pink, coral, and burgundy, with handsome shade panels, fresh linens, and hanging lanterns invites customers to linger over lunch or dinner.

Opened in 2006 at 147 West Delaware Avenue in Pennington (across from the Pennington Market), Za is the creation of brothers and co-owners Mark and Chaz Valenza. Chef Mark, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute (voted top of his class by the Master Chef faculty), had also worked at the Frenchtown Inn in Hunterdon County, and at Nodo and The Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton.

“It was always Mark’s hope to have his own restaurant,” says Chaz Valenza, who oversees the business end of the restaurant. While the menu is upscale, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, he adds. “What is really unique about us is that we are not a stuffy ‘quiet’ restaurant. There is no dress code; it’s ‘come as you are’, and we want people to relax and enjoy themselves. We offer comfort food, and we want people to come and be comfortable in the restaurant.”

The cuisine, which has received consistently high praise from food critics in many publications, is an intriguing blend of wide-ranging cuisines from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S.

Big Favorite

“All the food is cooked to order, and the ingredients are fresh. We include local products, and everything is fresh every day,” notes Chef Mark Valenza. “Our food is unique.”

Lobster is a big favorite at the restaurant, he points out, and it is available in seven different versions. Lobster comprises one third of the dinner sales, and there are also lobster salads and lobster quiches.

Another popular choice is apricot lemon quail with tabouleh and pico de gallo salsa, featuring a combination of flavors and tastes from the middle east and Latin America.

Grilled items include pork, steak, salmon, and quail. “We have the finest prime rib-eye steak,” says Chef Mark. The blackberry Berkshire pork chops, another popular choice of customers, are served over a bacon, potato, English pea, and pepper hash, finished with blackberry cognac sauce. They are hormone-free, corn fed, and farm raised.

The marsala chicken schnitzel, served with wilted garlic spinach, sauteed mushrooms, large Japanese bread crumbs, and marsala wine sauce, is a big favorite. Another favorite is sole bonne femme, poached filet of sole, served over saffron pepper rice in a broiled shallot and mushroom cream sauce.

“Our goat cheese salad is always in demand, and can be a side order or an entree with chicken or shrimp,” adds Chef Mark. “It is our most popular salad, and includes Montrachet goat cheese dredged in Japanese bread crumbs, served with mixed greens, green apple cranberry chutney, and white balsamic vinaigrette.”

Cross Cultural

Another popular salad is Arabian lentil and spinach salad, with hot cumin and coriander and green lentils, served with sauteed spinach, cherry tomatoes, curried pistachio nuts, and raisins.

In keeping with the cross cultural theme of the menu, Indian naan flat bread is served with entrees and is also included with “Zaanwiches”, the variety of sandwiches available for lunch. Ham, Swiss cheese, and sage; cheddar cheese, hot cherry peppers and sage; blue cheese and Granny Smith apples; and bacon, cheddar, with green onions are among the popular sandwiches.

In addition, “Zaiders”, a boxed lunch, featuring two grilled hamburger sliders with American cheese, caramelized onions and pickle, served with boardwalk fries or green salad, are offered. Individual tandoor oven pizzas, with fontina cheese, spicy tomatoes, and crispy tandoori naan bread are another lunch favorite. A variety of pasta dishes is also available at lunch.

Desserts are a big favorite at Za, especially the delectable chocolate souffle with homemade whipped cream, creme brulee, and key lime pie, among other delicious choices.

Coffee, tea, and a variety of soft drinks are offered, and set-ups are provided for customers who bring wine. There is no corkage fee.

Prices cover a wide range, with lunch sandwiches and salads from $7.99; boxed lunch Zaiders are $8.99. Dinner entrees are in the $20, $30, and $40s.

Great Meal

The restaurant, which is popular with families, couples, and singles, can seat 76 in its two dining rooms, as well as 48 outside in its Wisteria Garden area in nice weather. It is also available for private parties.

Both Chef Mark and Chaz Valenza are very encouraged with the growing popularity of their restaurant. “We have been successful even during the difficult economy and the storms we’ve had. We try to turn every customer who comes into a repeat customer. We look forward to even more people finding us. And when someone says they had a great meal with us, it makes us feel really good!

“Also, even if people can’t come all the time, we hope they will come for a special occasion, a birthday or anniversary. It will be something to look forward to.”

Reservations are recommended, and Za is open for lunch Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner 5 to 9, Sunday 4 to 8. (609) 737-4400. Website: www.zarestau

FINANCIAL FITNESS: “We offer a boutique service with a holistic approach and very personalized service.” Elizabeth and David Scafa are partners in Scafa Financial Services LLC in Pennington, and provide full service financial and investment planning.

FINANCIAL FITNESS: “We offer a boutique service with a holistic approach and very personalized service.” Elizabeth and David Scafa are partners in Scafa Financial Services LLC in Pennington, and provide full service financial and investment planning.

There is a world of uncertainty out there. The fiscal cliff, the president — Congress impasse, unemployment, the problems of the European Union, the Middle East conflicts — all of these can weigh in on the health and stability of the U.S. economy — and it makes people worry.

Will I lose my job? Will I find another? What about my investments? Will there be money for my kids to go to college? Will I have enough when I retire? Will I be able to retire?

Many people are seeking the advice of professionals to help them with these and other financial concerns. It is more and more of a specialized world today, and most people need help navigating its twists and turns.

Elizabeth and David Scafa, partners in Scafa Financial Services LLC, have been helping their clients for 30 years, first in New York and then in New Jersey. They consolidated their practices in 2004 in West Windsor, and recently moved to 54 Route 31 North in Pennington.

Financial Quarterback

They are both Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), and also investment-licensed and insurance-licensed. Elizabeth Scafa is a certified financial planner (CFP), and David Scafa is a personal financial specialist (PFS). Wealth management areas they emphasize in their practice are investment management, cash flow and debt management, family risk management, retirement planning, education planning, estate planning, business planning, and special situations planning.

“We focus on being our clients’ financial quarterback,” explains Mr. Scafa. “Our relationship with them is deep-rooted. We’ve had clients for many years, and we are looking after their best interests. 95 percent of them are more worried than they were before. We hear more about their fears and what is important to them.”

“The key is that there is always worry, fear, and uncertainty,” adds Ms. Scafa. “You have to have a plan. The challenge is to try to explain to clients the possibility of what might happen and how to plan so they can weather the storm, if there is a problem.”

A diversified portfolio is essential, agree both partners. “Investment is based on a time horizon. Investments for a 20 year-old can be more aggressive; as people get older, the investments are more conservative.”

Number One Concern

Retirement is the number one concern of most clients today, they add. “People want to be sure they will have enough money. We are living in an age where people need help managing their retirement assets. Employers are not doing this now. And, people are living longer. You have to focus on ‘how do I project what I will need in the future?’”

Assisting their clients with these and other financial issues is very satisfying for both Scafas, who are also husband and wife, and each has a specialty. Ms. Scafa focuses on financial planning, and Mr. Scafa on taxes. They are also licensed to provide life and disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

“Tax preparation and tax advice dovetails together with financial planning and management,” points out Mr. Scafa.

“A lot of clients are knowledgeable today, and they want to know what is happening and often make suggestions. We always keep clients informed about their investments,” says Ms. Scafa, who has enjoyed working with numbers from the time she was a child. “I knew in the eighth grade, I wanted to be an accountant.”

Successful Advisor

She has recently been recognized by H.D. Vest Financial Services as one of its most successful advisors, and she received the prestigious H.D. Vest Excellence Award. She is also a member of the New Jersey State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Mercer County Estate Planning Council, and member and former secretary of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners.

Mr. Scafa has had long experience working with the New York City government, holding several positions. He was formerly deputy chief accountant for the City of New York. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Mercer County Estate Planning Council.

Scafa Financial Services has been recognized for the past four years in the “Accounting Today” publication as a top firm in the business of financial services combined with public accounting.

Helping clients achieve their goals is their biggest reward, says Ms. Scafa. “I enjoy the satisfaction we get in helping people. We can come up with an actual plan based on the client’s goals and objectives and manage the program, adjusting it along the way. We feel we are helping them with their money and also understanding finance.”

“We are always the voice of reason for our clients,” adds Mr. Scafa. “We always have their best interests in the forefront. We are involved in continuing education, keeping up with new regulations and trends. This is a very challenging profession. You put in a lot of hours, but we really enjoy it. We also have had great word-of-mouth from our clients. We operate our practice with a focus on personalized service and attention, and our clients know they can count on us.”

Scafa Financial Services can be reached at (609) 750-0002. Website: www.scafafinancial.com.

To the Editor:

Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN) wishes to thank the entire Princeton community for its help in rejecting AvalonBay’s application to build a fortress-megablock on the old hospital site that would have destroyed all chance to return the site to appropriate neighborhood scale. The Planning Board’s 7-3 vote to deny the application was a firm announcement that the new consolidated Borough will not be bullied into submission by a national corporation. Among those to be thanked:

The Planning Board (PB): for its tireless review of the application, its commitment to the Master Plan and related documents going back to 2004 — that is, its commitment to public policy and the public interest as attested by citizens working on urban planning for nearly a decade. The Planning Board upheld Design Standards, stating that they were not all “subjective” and could not be tossed out; two members asserted that AvalonBay had essentially ignored Design Standards. They also defended the fundamental commitment to publicly usable open space. They scorned the monolith. They told outside corporations they could not take over our Princeton. Even those members who voted to approve the application publicly stated that they disliked the design (but were swayed either by the 20 percent affordable housing component — required of any developer — or by concern that AvalonBay would appeal).

Municipal staff: for its long-term wrestling match with complex site plans and related documents, often inconsistent or lacking required information, and for its final memorandum to the PB firmly stating how much information AvalonBay had not provided as of December 19!

Our public citizen-activists: no fewer than 36 speakers argued against the application with passion, exactitude, and deep understanding of the site plans and their dangers to the community. They spoke eloquently. Their visual presentations had outstanding value in showing the Planning Board how destructive to neighborhood values this development would be. The Planing Board heard quotations from testimony dating back to 2005, as PCSN has recovered and transcribed Planning Board hearings.

The PCSN legal team and urban planner: Robert Simon, after questioning the Planning Board’s legal right to judge the application, systematically exposed problems of “permitted use” in AvalonBay’s case. Aaron Kleinbaum probed issues of environmental safety and has notified the community that an ad-hoc “see or smell” method of evaluating possible carcinogens, among other contaminants, is not sufficient. Peter Steck showed that AvalonBay did not meet the bulk requirement for 20 percent open space for “both public and private use” and was actually over 25 percent under the legal requirement.

Contributors who have helped fund our professional team: many have stepped up, in difficult economic times, to protect Princeton’s future. They have realized that, while we need both rentals and 20 percent affordable housing, we must not have them at the price of destructive development.

Princeton can do better. We are committed to returning the site to human scale. If AvalonBay sues, we believe the Planning Board will prevail. We know that you will continue to support our efforts. We thank you deeply.

Robin Reed

Member, PCSN, Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

I attended the January 3 open meeting of the new Princeton municipality. The meeting was advertised as setting priorities. For the first hour, Joseph Stefko of the consulting firm, Center for Government Research, gave a generic textbook lecture about setting priorities. The only specific he mentioned was a pie chart representing the answers to a survey of council and staff members, ranking the importance to them of various issues. The largest slice of pie showed that 47 percent ranked as most important the category called, “Preferences.” In other words, 47 percent had ranked the quotidian details of life as most important. Without any further specifics available, I thought, “Yes, they’ve got that right. Preferences are about the individual quality of life issues around town.”

Then Mr. Stefko disparaged that 47 percent by downgrading “Preferences” to bottom priority in importance. He urged the Council members and Mayor Lempert to shelve those “preference” items in favor of larger policy issues.

During his talk, Mr. Stefko repeatedly stressed tackling the large, overwhelming policy issues first and letting the simple, easily resolved problems fall to bottom priority.

He strenuously advocated listening without acting on the citizens’ concerns as a way to rob them of their urgency. At that moment I felt the hopes of the citizens in the room deflate as if pricked by a very sharp pin.

When the microphone was opened to the public, we heard about storm debris blocking side streets, frequent power outages, and the eruption of an unwanted cell booster tower in a residential area. These are the so‑called smaller issues, those “preferences” that affect the daily lives of the citizens.

In contrast to Mr Stefko’s admonitions, during 25 years running my own business, I learned that taking care of the small problems clears the deck for then dealing with the large ones. And from the sum of those myriad decisions will emerge the long‑term vision of the new Princeton government.

While it is important to set priorities, we think the new Princeton government has been advised to set them the wrong way. On behalf of its citizens, I urge the new government to put its priorities where its initial instincts lay — with the residents.

A longtime Princeton resident,

NL Tatz

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

Yina Moore’s term as mayor of Princeton Borough was short, but distinguished. That it was distinguished should surprise no one.

Yina is uniquely informed, both by an intimate, first hand knowledge of our town’s history and by decades of training in the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, engineering, and transportation. Few of our recent mayors and elected officials have been blessed with her generations-long associations with Princeton, its neighborhoods, and its institutions. No mayor in recent memory — of either municipality – was remotely her equal in evaluating large scale development proposals and anticipating the often adverse consequences of proposed zoning changes.

Yina put her knowledge to good use in her twin roles as the most outspoken member of the Planning Board and the last mayor of our historic Borough. Recognizing the risks inherent in the process of combining two municipalities with very different priorities, she has been in the habit of taking courageous, far-sighted, and often lonely positions — in the process making herself a reliably effective advocate for the core neighborhoods and traditions that have long defined our lovely town.

Thank you, Yina, for persevering in the face of smears and denunciations that seemed to this resident often to be slanderous. Would that your term had been longer and your initiatives less overwhelmed by the exigencies of consolidation. I hope you remain actively engaged. We need your wise counsel now more than ever.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Human Services Commission and department, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the 52 individuals/families and 17 community/University organizations for their generosity during our 13th Annual Holiday Gift Drive for Princeton youth.

Thanks to the generous participation of these donors, 164 children were adopted and had at least one of their holiday wishes come true. It is indeed wonderful to be a part of a community that provides such a spirit of caring, compassion, and support.

Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Cynthia Mendez

Director, Princeton Human Services Commission and Department

January 9, 2013

To the Editor:

Princeton has gained a second chance for a smart, sustainable development on the old hospital site, now that AvalonBay’s plan was rejected by the Planning Board. Our new Princeton Council can now work on a fresh ordinance to ensure that community goals are met by any developer, even if AvalonBay re-applies with a “substantially” different site plan.

What should a new ordinance include? The primary aim has always been to reintegrate the entire hospital block back into the physical scale of the neighborhood, making it suitable for ordinary human living, as opposed to the extraordinary functions of a hospital.

First, let’s exclude a swimming pool. Our new Community Park Pool is three blocks away.

Next, sustainable building is imperative. Energy conservation measures must be specified. “Obsolete” new construction — as Heidi Fichtenbaum told the Planning Board — must not be allowed, whether at the hospital site or throughout the entire municipality. As a simple matter of social justice Princeton Council should seek lower utility costs for low-income tenants. Princeton must move forward into the 21st century and continue to set an example.

Many speakers at the hearings, and others, have stressed a required minimum percentage (3-4 percent) for local retail shops (dry cleaners, laundromat, drugstore, etc.), and stores that invigorate the neighborhood economically, encourage people-flow, and keep tenants from wasting time and gas driving elsewhere for shopping.

The current megablock must be broken into livable building areas. New public streets or pedestrian/bicycle pathways should truly “cross the site” to connect with already existing streets such as Carnahan Place, Franklin, and Leigh Avenues.

The hospital promised Princeton and the neighborhood a sizeable park (35,000 square feey). The new ordinance should mandate a park as part of the minimum required public open space. Let’s hope for public open space for a neighborhood playground (architect Robert Hillier proposed two).

Density: “up to 280,” not 280 flat. Princeton Council should find incentives to lower a density that many people consider outrageously high, especially since Mr. Rabner on behalf of the hospital and its trustees contracted with a developer known by historical practice to do everything except build according to the Master Plan and Borough Code.

Our municipal leaders must incentivize more “very low income” units than the 13 percent of affordable units required by law. Princeton needs to mandate social justice for the sake of a thriving community.

Let’s remember that the ordinances resulting from the 2005 concept plan won two awards: 1) Sustainable Bronze accreditation from Sustainable Jersey, for permitting recycling of the hospital “towers” (not their destruction, which Pam Hersh, hospital spokesperson, called “a travesty” [Borough Council, July 11, 2006]); 2)The Delaware River Valley Smart Growth Award, 2006, for the ordinance provision, “A new neighborhood street is envisioned” — smaller blocks, human scale, more bikes and feet.

Janice Hall

Park Place

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Transition Task Force and the Consolidation Commission, I want to thank residents who came out on New Year’s Day to celebrate the official merger of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township.

The spirit of unity was fantastic. Though a lot of hard work still lies ahead, Princetonians rightfully took time to enjoy our merger milestone — culminating more than two years of intensive efforts. Hats off to all of our neighbors, elected officials and municipal employees who made this day possible.

Princeton businesses also helped celebrate our consolidation. Local merchants provided the wonderful Consoli-Cakes, drinks, refreshments, and prizes. We’d like to recognize and thank the following merchants and organizations for their donations and support:

Arts Council of Princeton, Black Squirrel, Dunkin’ Donuts (Princeton Shopping Center), elements Restaurant, HG Media, Joe Teti, McCaffrey’s Supermarket, McCarter Theatre Center, Palmer Square Management, Princeton Printers, Princeton Recreation Department, Princeton Tour Company, Princeton University Athletics, Princeton University Conference Services, Small World Coffee, Smart Card/Princeton Parking Operations, Terhune Orchards, Terra Momo Restaurant Group.

What a wonderful way to ring in our new town and a New Year.

Linda Mather

Dorann Avenue

Chair, Transition Task Force Communications

and Public Outreach Subcommittee

To the Editor:

I just read the notice of General Norman Schwarzkopf’s passing and it brought back a flood of childhood memories. Is there anyone else in town who remembers Mrs. Baum’s fifth grade class in 1945? It was in the old Nassau Street School, upstairs on the back side of the building.

Two new boys joined the usual kids that year — Norman and someone named Joel. I think they both lived near Hibben Road. Norman and I struck up a friendship. We were assigned to make the scenery for a play the class was putting on; each class was responsible for two assemblies a year. Our play was Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. We got big orange crates from the Acme Supermarket across the street and cut out paper jugs to put on the vertical standing crates so the thieves could hide behind them. There were great rolls of brown paper in the halls that you could roll out, cut and paint on. We were allowed to make the scenery by ourselves in the hall. I remember that we laughed a lot and got to know each other. I had a part in the play — Cassim’s wife — and had to pretend to cry when Cassim was killed. Norman would stand in the wings and make funny faces at me.

Norman was a large boy. He was well liked by all the kids even though he was new and bigger than most but always gentle and modest. When good weather came in the spring, he started waiting for me after school and walked me home. It was about a mile and we laughed a lot. He wouldn’t stay, just said good‑bye and walked on home. I liked him a lot and when the year ended, I looked forward to sixth grade when I’d see him again. Sixth grade came but Norman didn’t. I heard he was going to a military academy in Bordentown. I was sad.

Barbara Brickley Dollard

Elm Ridge Road

To the Editor:

As a member of the Princeton community for the past 17 years, I want to commend the staff, teachers, and volunteers who work with the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program of the YWCA Princeton. Over the years, both as a student and volunteer in the program, I have come to realize how important the program is for adults who want to improve their English and who want to become more productive members of their adopted home country. The ESL Program offers more than 40 courses to more than 400 students each year, as well as free Citizenship — and GED preparation courses by the 25 teachers. One feature that distinguishes this program is its capacity to offer enrolled students free additional sessions conducted by community volunteers. These 40-50 volunteers provide an “immersion-type” atmosphere in which students can practice their English skills beyond the classroom. Also, varied cultural events and field trips are organized for the students, including productions at McCarter Theater, visits to the State House, State Museum, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University campus, Princeton Public Library, and Grounds for Sculpture, just to mention a few.

In our community, the ESL Program is an essential part of the effort to build self-sufficiency for individuals and families whose native language is not English and whose goals include seeking employment or obtaining better employment, gaining the ability to communicate with officials and social service workers in order to obtain needed services, and becoming more involved in their children’s education. The YWCA Princeton offers partial financial aid through its own scholarship program, and relies on government and private funding for support. In this season of giving, my request is that members in our community contribute to the YWCA Princeton ESL Program by becoming a volunteer or making a contribution to the ESL Scholarship Fund. Please visit the Web site at www.ywcaprinceton.org/esl for more information.

Inkyung Yi

Shady Brook Lane,

Volunteer for ESL Program, YWCA Princeton

To the Editor:

I am looking forward to participating in our new Princeton refuse collection and would like to make a suggestion/request.

When the yellow and green plastic recycling barrels were first distributed it was possible to obtain lids that fit them, first at a town municipal facility and then by driving to the Mercer County facility and purchasing a lid there for $2. Over time it was easy to lose them due to careless pick up practices or windy conditions, so many of us no longer have enough lids to cover these barrels when we also use them for garbage disposal.

It would be a real help if the Department of Public Works could obtain a quantity of these lids for resale to Princeton residents so that they can fully comply with the new disposal regulations. Princeton has been my home for over 85 years and it is difficult for me to drive to the Mercer County facility but a short drive within the town limits would be no problem. Until then, I will have to improvise to provide lids for all my trash receptacles.

Sallie W. Jesser

Prospect Avenue