November 6, 2019

To the Editor:

The Princeton Public Library’s annual Beyond Words benefit was a sparkling success thanks to all the Library staff, volunteers, sponsors, attendees, caterers, suppliers, singers, musicians, guest speakers, the Nassau Presbyterian Church, and the Spring Street Garage. It was a delightful party, a fitting celebration of the Library, which does so much good for our community. And it was a successful fundraiser, due to the teamwork and generosity of all involved, which will help the Library thrive and continue to be a beloved resource for all.

The Friends of the Library thank the community for their support and look forward to continuing the Beyond Words tradition next year.

Helen Heintz
President Friends of the Princeton Public Library

To the Editor:

The Princeton Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) is grateful to the Mayor and Council and all who attended the October 21 Special Council Meeting on Transportation to show their support for traffic calming as well as safe biking and walking infrastructure in our town.

We are pleased that support comes from a wide cross section of the public and represents different age groups, most neighborhoods of our town, and diverse modes of bicycle use. As Councilman David Cohen commented at the meeting, the public present was united in their strong support for traffic calming, reducing vehicle speeds, installation of more bike lanes, and better pedestrian crossings.

We would also like to thank Steve Cochrane, superintendent of Princeton Public Schools, for encouraging students to come to school on foot or by bike, in order to alleviate the traffic congestion with the closure of the Alexander Road bridge. To help make walking and biking to school more feasible and safer, PBAC has been working with Princeton’s two local bike shops to offer discounts to Princeton school students. more

To the Editor:

Each year, Yes We CAN! Food Drives collects food items on behalf of Arm In Arm so that everyone in our community, regardless of means, can share in the traditions of Thanksgiving.

Because turkeys will be available from other outlets, we are again collecting Thanksgiving “fixings” for the patrons of the three food pantries operated by Arm In Arm, a nonprofit organization in Trenton and Princeton.

Our volunteers will be collecting such items as stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes or yams, canned green beans, canned corn, cream of chicken soup, packaged gravy mix, canned pumpkin pie filling, and poultry seasoning/ground cinnamon.  No cranberry sauce needs to be collected as several pallets are available from the food bank. more

To the Editor:

I suspect that a number of folks who live on the Princeton side of the Canal have parking permits at Princeton Junction and would welcome an opportunity to swap those permits for ones at the Princeton station during the Alexander Road closing. And there are at least as many residents of West Windsor and East who would love to use those Junction permits and the Dinky to get to work in Princeton rather than get snarled in the impeding traffic mess. Especially if the Dinky ride was free … paid for as just another appropriate cost of replacing the bridges. Have our elected officials, the University, NJ Transit, the Merchant Association, and/or … made any effort to investigate this opportunity that would remove (not just divert to create misery elsewhere) two cars from the congested roadways for each swap? more

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), I would like to thank all those who helped to celebrate our 50th anniversary on Sunday, October 20. Since its founding, FOPOS has quietly and steadily led the way for significant conservation of open space in Princeton by contributing over $4.5 million in public and private grants, as well as private contributions, to preserve about 1,000 acres of land. The open space properties preserved with FOPOS’s help include: the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, Turning Basin Park, Woodfield Reservation, lands of the Institute for Advanced Study, Greenway Meadows Park, Tusculum, Coventry Farm, the Ricciardi property, and the All Saints’ property. more

To the Editor:

It was good to see that fighting climate change made the front page of Town Topics a couple weeks ago [“Environmental Forum, Sustainable Princeton Fight Climate Change,” Oct. 23]. There is a common confusion, though, between talk and action. The urgency expressed at the Princeton Environmental Institute’s Environmental Forum about the need to shift rapidly away from fossil fuel dependence contrasted starkly with what we see on the streets and barren rooftops of Princeton. The most visible evidence is pointing in the wrong direction, as internal combustion vehicles swell in size and number, and PSEG digs up our streets to install new fossil fuel lines. If news of Princeton fighting climate change were real, it would tell us how many solar panels had recently been added to schools, homes, businesses, and parking lots. It would tell us how many more teachers were hired with money saved through energy conservation. We would see trees being strategically planted and trimmed to maximize their carbon absorption and minimize their conflict with solar panels.

Along with the charismatic climate scientist Stephen Pacala, the most inspiring speaker at the Environmental Forum was George Hawkins, who spoke unabashedly of how government agencies can be innovative and efficient, and how he had made Washington, D.C.’s water, and even its sewage, a source of pride. Sewage, it turns out, can heat buildings, generate electricity, and fertilize crops. Princeton’s own “biosolids,” enriched and ennobled by its many Nobel laureates, surely deserves a better fate than to be incinerated with vast doses of fossil fuel and carted off to a landfill. more

To the Editor:

A town’s success depends critically on its ability to engage community members of all walks of life to be active participants in local government, and for volunteers to feel that they can make a difference. There is no magic formula for how to create broader participation. We must work to foster opportunities for engagement and when volunteers or members of our community become frustrated that they are not being heard we must work to re-engage them moving the narrative back to a positive one. When individuals are engaged in a community and contribute the results are magical. One example of an amazing volunteer is Dorothy Mullen. Dorothy embodies the spirit of inclusivity and was recently honored for her work as co-founder of the Princeton Schools and Gardens and founder of the“Suppers”program.

Dorothy is a local civic hero. She has worked tirelessly to initiate a garden in our schools and to provide food-based education programs. She has profoundly changed how we view food at our schools and leaves a legacy that ensures her influence will be felt for generations to come. And she is informed by a strong desire to include everyone in the discussion about healthy food. When she discovered that I have a non-verbal autistic child at Riverside School, she organized an event to ensure that the special needs children and their families at Riverside received education and support to participate in the healthy food initiatives. The event helped bring families closer together and enhanced relationships with the staff and leaders of the school.

I want to extend a thank you to all the special individuals in our community who volunteer on commissions, boards, in our schools and with community groups. I hope our town will continue to follow the shining examples like Dorothy Mullen and that we can work to find ways to create more opportunities for all community members to engage in a dialogue with leaders.

Bainy Suri
Chestnut Street

October 30, 2019

To the Editor:

We strongly endorse the reelection of Greg Stankiewicz to the Princeton Board of Education.

Greg was elected vice president of the Board in January 2019. He has worked tirelessly with Board President Beth Behrend to increase transparency, bring the community into the Board’s decision-making process, and improve Board operations. For example, under their leadership, the Board created new local resident committees to advise the Board on critical issues such as enrollment and growth and schools capacity and hired a planning firm to actively engage our community in identifying all the options for addressing the overcrowding in our schools.

In addition to becoming Board vice president, Greg also joined the Facilities Committee in January 2019 and became chair, assuming responsibility for oversight of the implementation of the $26.9 million referendum. As chair, Greg opened the Facilities Committee meetings to the public and made referendum implementation data more easily available to the public. Under Greg’s leadership, the committee oversaw a number of successful renovations this past summer, including the installation of air conditioning in the high school gym and throughout Riverside Elementary School, and electrical upgrades at all four elementary schools. more

To the Editor:

To all the hippie HIP supporters attending Housing Initiatives of Princeton (HIP) fundraiser on October 19, my colleagues and I from the HIP Board of Trustees offer a heartfelt and profound thank you.

The event attracted 150 people dressed as though they were going to a Woodstock concert 50 years ago. Instead they enjoyed ‘60s music and non-Woodstock gourmet food and beverage inside the beautiful home of Vanessa and Kenneth Shives, who served as hosts for the evening. The guests were greeted by a vintage Volkswagen Beetle (lent for free by a Highland Park, N.J., used car dealer) that was parked on the Shives’ front lawn.

The $70,000 gross, (approximately $60,000 net), dollars raised from those who supported the HIP Rent Party is dedicated for HIPs transition housing and emergency rental assistance program, helping families avoid eviction. Since HIP is an all-volunteer run organization with very low overhead, donations primarily go right to the heart and hearth of keeping people in their homes. more

To the Editor:

As a former elected representative on Princeton Council, I know that issues come at you fast on the municipal dais. In any given meeting, Council members may consider such disparate issues as invasive species, affordable housing, parking, personnel, streets and sewers, sidewalks, police and the municipal budget, just to name a few. Princeton needs elected officials who are committed to understanding all these issues from a variety of perspectives. Michelle Pirone Lambros and Mia Sacks have demonstrated that they are willing to work hard for the betterment of the entire community.

Mia has a professional background working at the intersection of law and public policy that will serve her well on Council. She is a member of the Planning Board and previously served on the Environmental Commission and other municipal advisory bodies. Michelle, an experienced entrepreneur, has used her skills to work with the Princeton business community. She serves on the Board of the Princeton Merchants Association and the Zoning Board. more

To the Editor:

I’m excited to see the positive impact that Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros will make on Princeton Council when you elect them on November 5.

Both have family history with generational ties to Princeton and I know they will represent all Princetonians. They bring progressive ideals, Democratic values, and a much-needed emphasis on planning for Princeton’s future.

Mia and Michelle’s work in the community has demonstrated their deep-seated commitment to prioritizing equity and inclusion in every area of our town. They are especially concerned about building resiliency into Princeton’s infrastructure so that our most vulnerable residents are protected from the increasing impacts of climate change. more

To the Editor:

We are writing in support of Susan Kanter, who is running for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Susan would be an assert to the Board as she brings to the table the following:

  1. The rare ability to collaborate with people who hold different or opposing views.
  2. A deep commitment to listening, civil discourse, and problem-solving.
  3. The ability to make difficult financial decisions.
  4. A long track record of working on behalf of Princeton’s most vulnerable students.
  5. Fifteen years of experience as a leader in local community and school organizations, including the 101: Fund, the Princeton Children’s Fund, The Jewish Center of Princeton, the Princeton High School PTO, and the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO.

We urge you to join us in voting for Susan Kanter on November 5.

Jennifer Jang
Russell Road

Shazia Manekia
Windermere Way

Kristen Suozzo
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

While I am a member of the Princeton Board of Education, I submit this letter as a private citizen and am not speaking on behalf of the Board of Education.

I am writing to support Dafna Kendal’s election to the Board of Education. Dafna and I met in the fall of 2015, when we were both running for a first term on the Board of Education. From the initial forum where we shared the stage, I was inspired by her passion to make the district a better place for every single student. Throughout our term, Dafna’s ability to transfer this passion into leadership that had a tangible, positive effect on the experience of all students in the public schools was masterful. more

To the Editor:

We provide this letter as a statement of our strong support for Debbie Bronfeld as she is running for re-election for a position on Princeton’s Board of Education.

We first met Debbie over 19 years ago when our daughter and her second son were each a month old. Since then we have had the pleasure of watching our children grow and flourish, in their own ways, in the Princeton Public Schools.

We think Debbie is a great choice for the Princeton’s Board of Education and here’s why. Since we’ve known her, her volunteer and employment choices always revolved around helping people. For example, she was the executive director of Dress for Success Mercer County, a not-for-profit organization that helps women become economically independent by providing professional clothing and the tools needed to succeed. More recently, she worked for Mercer Street Friends Food Bank as a program associate, first as a volunteer, then as an employee. Her responsibilities there included helping people sign up for food stamps, and providing seniors with needed food supplies. In addition, she ran a program that provided backpacks of child-friendly, non-perishable food that went home each weekend with children in 18 schools across Mercer County.  more

To the Editor:

This year Princeton voters registered as Independents and Republicans have a rare chance to vote in a competitive election for Princeton Council. Democrat Adam Bierman chose to run for Princeton Council this year as an Independent, putting three Democrats in the race the for two Council seats to highlight the need for non-partisan elections in Princeton. Princeton Republicans and Independents know most years the Princeton November election is old Soviet style with one unopposed Democratic candidate for each seat following a competitive Democratic Primary election. According to the Rutgers Center for Government Services, Princeton registered voters in 2018 were 55 percent Democratic, 10 percent Republican, leaving 35 percent as Independents or other party affiliations. If Democrats truly believe in one-person equals one-vote, then there is an urgent need for non-partisan elections in Princeton as 45 percent of registered voters are regularly excluded from the competitive Democratic Primary election.

I support Adman Bierman running for Council as he intends to represent all of Princeton by pushing for non-partisan elections.

Donald J. Cox, Jr.
S. Harrison Street

To the Editor:

Princeton needs representatives on Council with proven experience building community and making policy to stand the test of time.

Mia Sacks has worked tirelessly and without fanfare, building trust and delivering results for our community for over a decade. If you know Mia even just a bit, you already know she succeeds not by wielding power, but through empowering others.

Mia’s professional experience with nonprofit advocacy, leadership, and governance has prepared her to serve effectively on Council. She has a proven track record of competence and commitment, both here at home and abroad.

For example, as a program officer for public health at the Soros Foundation, Mia was responsible for overseeing the development, funding, implementation, and evaluation of public health projects throughout the former Soviet bloc countries. The scale, complexity, and impact of her programs, which disbursed more than $30 million annually, was remarkable, and required her to skillfully navigate intricate social and political systems. more

To the Editor:

Election day is rapidly approaching and it is important that everyone votes. This year, besides the candidates advanced by the Princeton Democratic Organization, an Independent Democrat is running for a Council seat. This is significant because the issues facing our community are best  understood and resolved when there can be a free flow of ideas for solutions, from a variety of sources, not only from the one group of Democrats who have governed our city for years. more

To the Editor:

On Tuesday November 5, Princetonians will have a chance to vote not only for candidates running for town Council and School Board but also for members of our state assembly. Our two incumbents here in the 16th State Legislative District, Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Roy Freiman, are both terrific candidates who deserve reelection and who need a massive show of Democratic strength here to counter Republican strength in other areas of the district. I know that many of us worked hard in the recent 2018 congressional elections and many plan to work hard again in 2020, but I’d like to point out that state legislative races matter too and deserve your attention and commitment. more

To the Editor:

We are honored to serve on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. We have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to do the difficult work that is required on our Board, and the importance of collaboration, creativity and integrity. We are writing as citizens, not as Board members, nor on behalf of the Board. As citizens, we strongly support Greg Stankiewicz and Susan Kanter for election to the Board of Education.
Both Greg and Susan have the most important skills needed for the challenges that our district faces in the coming years — the ability to work collaboratively and selflessly, to focus on the (complex) big picture, and to unify our community through transparency, compassion, and a genuine commitment to equity, wellness, and inclusivity for all children.

As the Board’s vice president, Greg has strengthened our Board’s governance and increased openness, transparency, and community engagement. He has led in the development of strong student-centered policies around restorative justice and addressing the problem of vaping. Greg has also led a major effort to advocate for increased aid from the state. An early success was $1.7M of additional one-time state aid that Princeton received as partial reimbursement for Special Education expense — a boon to our budget. Greg’s sophisticated, knowledgeable advocacy is essential to address our district’s structural fiscal challenges. more

October 23, 2019

To the Editor:

We support Debbie Bronfeld for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Knowing her over the years, we’ve seen how she has demonstrated her passion for inclusive public education at PPS where we live to learn and learn to live. Debbie’s focus is on providing services and programs to every student, along with support for our teachers and staff. She is fully immersed in the process, reading the materials and asking questions of the stakeholders. We especially appreciate Debbie’s perspective on wellness and her ability to understand the need to be fiscally responsible, wanting to be sure our tax dollars drive student performance and teacher professional development. She gets it…it’s all about the schools!

Debbie is an avid supporter of all programs and proposals that are fiscally responsible. Where she believes the request will waste taxpayer money or where student and teachers will not benefit, she will vote no. Check her record! With Debbie on the Board, our tax money has a steward with an eye on how public education benefits our community and our future. Debbie participated on the finance committee that recommended solutions to manage increasing health care costs, but instead the Board voted to increase the tax levy by almost $500,000. Keeping the school’s community in mind, she has asked for a technology plan versus approving piecemeal technology investments. The December referendum allowed for facility and building upgrades in our schools. Debbie did not approve the contractor’s bid that the board approved, which was not only over budget but resulted in Riverside opening a day late. And finally, she voted against hiring a consultant to work on a feasibility study for harmonizing resources between the school and the town. She believes that our town and Board don’t need to pay $30K, as that is part of the committee’s responsibility. more

To the Editor:

As a representative of the Jewish community of Princeton, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. According to our tradition, the world was created 5,780 years ago and we have just celebrated two major holidays to mark this time in our calendar. Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are unique days that include rituals and prayers — apples with honey and casting away our sins of the past as we move into the future. Among the prayers that we recited at The Jewish Center this year was a special prayer for our country and our community when I acknowledged both the challenges of anti-Semitism and the gratitude we have for those who support us as we fight against these and other acts of hatred. We are proud to be a part of a greater community that accepts us for who we are and that allows us to worship and come together for special occasions. We know we have many friends and allies in this community and we appreciate the support and partnership with so many of you who stand with us.

There is one group of people who have gone above and beyond to help us at The Jewish Center and I want to publicly thank them. I am referring to Chief Nicholas Sutter and the members of the Princeton Police Force. These men and women work so hard every day to keep us all safe and comfortable and we all owe them so much gratitude. When we came together as a congregation for our recent holidays, many Princeton Police officers were with us to help us address our security concerns and to make sure everything went smoothly. Whenever we had a question or concern before the holidays, we received quick and professional responses from the officers. As our congregation came together in large numbers for the holiday services, the officers who were with us did their job with warmth, kindness and a high level of professionalism and care. more

To the Editor:

I write in support of Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Municipal Council and to urge all eligible voters to exercise their privilege to vote on November 5. Voter participation in non-presidential election years is notoriously, and regretfully, low. However, the outcome of local and state elections is of as much or more importance to our everyday lives, than that of presidential elections. Taking elections for granted, and underestimating the power of our individual vote, can bring unintended consequences, as we saw in 2016.

This year we have contested elections at the local level — both for Council and Board of Education and the State Assembly. It’s incumbent upon each of us to do our due diligence and carry out our duty in selecting those who will best represent our principles and defend the public interest. more

To the Editor:

On November 5, Princeton residents will vote for three candidates for School Board, and we urge you to vote for Susan Kanter. Susan offers the very special combination of a fresh new voice on the Board of Education, while also bringing extensive relevant school experience from more than a decade of volunteering as PTO co-president in the high school and PTO treasurer in the middle school. In these capacities, with her positive approach to problem solving, Susan developed strong working relationships with PTO presidents from all the local schools, as well as with teachers, parents, students, administrators, and even School Board members. We cannot think of a person who is better qualified to bring a new, positive, and informed perspective to School Board deliberations than Susan. more

To the Editor:

Voters who believe that more money and buildings will solve the schools’ problems are the voters most apt to turn out on November 5.

Your vote can help change that. Princeton schools need a BoE majority that will determine the reasons for PPS’s continuing budget shortfalls. A Board’s job is to lead, not to follow. BoE members must seek, and find, real alternatives. Of all four candidates (for only three seats), Dafna Kendal and Deb Bronfeld are the most likely.

To those who say, “The schools can’t wait,” note that enrollment numbers will not be known until:

1. The judge’s final rules on Affordable Housing are announced publicly.

2. Public hearings are held and evaluated.

3. The town opens bids.

4. Construction is completed (AvalonBay took more than two years to be built, much less affect enrollment).

5. The Mt Laurel rules require only that building be made possible through zoning changes, and allows ten years to build.

6. Until the town re-zones, and site plans are presented, it won’t even be clear which schools we need to expand.

7. Thus expansion can wait at least until the current debt is paid, in 2023. Likewise another bond referendum. more

To The Editor:

On November 5, the voters of Princeton will have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in what has been characterized as an “off-year” election. The very phrase “off-year” has a negative connotation, implying that an off-year election is of lesser importance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While the Democratic Party is running excellent candidates who deserve our support for the positions of Mercer County Executive and Mercer County Freeholder, Princeton is located in New Jersey Assembly District 16 where we are represented by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Roy Freiman, both Democrats. Historically, the 16th is a district that had not been represented by Democrats. This was changed by the support, and especially by the turnout of Princeton voters. Only by achieving another large turnout of Democratic voters can we assure the re-election of Andrew Zwicker and Roy Freiman to the New Jersey State Assembly. more