January 20, 2016

Feature

For this month’s Princeton Insider, we are celebrating the act of getting outside and being physical in spite of the winter weather. There are so many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Princeton, be it at the D&R Canal or the grounds of Battlefield State Park. Here, we have hand selected our top picks for looking stylish (and feeling great) all winter long. Simply click on each product image to purchase! more

all in a days work

PARKING ENFORCEMENT FROM A TO Z: Greg Glassen is one of three Princeton meter officers, but he does a lot more than just give out parking tickets in his multiple roles with the Princeton Police Department.

Ever have trouble parking in downtown Princeton? You might have seen Greg Glassen around town in his role as parking enforcement officer or perhaps keeping the traffic moving and the kids crossing safely at the morning school crossings. Or maybe at Communiversity, or a parade, or a storm emergency, or any one of many other events and special occasions where he helps out his Princeton Police Department colleagues. Greg, age 55, retired from the West Windsor Police Department in 2009 after 21 years, joined Princeton Parking Enforcement temporarily in 2010, then in 2012 took on his current full-time position as one of three meter officers in town. He loves the job, enjoys the camaraderie with his PD colleagues and enjoys meeting all kinds of people in the course of a day’s work. “He’s outgoing,” says his boss, Sgt. Steven Riccitello. “He’s high-energy. He’s got a great personality, gets along with everybody. He’s an asset to the Police Department with his experience. He wears a lot of hats.” Recently married, Greg lives with his wife and seven-month-old daughter. Here, in his own words, Greg talks about the life of a parking enforcement officer. more

January 13, 2016

To the Editor:

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) has recommended that the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood be designated and formed as an historic district, the 20th in the town of Princeton. The Wise report clearly underscores that the unfair and discriminatory circumstances in Princeton’s past actually created the neighborhood, but the pending decision is really not about reparations (40 acres and a mule), a public apology, or even paying off a long term debt.

The decision to designate Witherspoon/Jackson an Historic District is appropriate because it is one of the first neighborhoods in one of our country’s most historic towns; it represents the immigrant makeup of the American blueprint, it’s maintained its streetscape to a large degree for over 200 years, and its people, past and present, are key contributors to the town’s rich history and historical infrastructure.

There will certainly be opposition to its historic designation. In all likelihood it will come from those interested in development, or more recent purchasers of homes, who whether they admit it or not, did so because of the neighborhood’s affordability, warmth, rich history, cultural and ethnic diversity. These characteristics are all reasons why the neighborhood is being considered for this historic honor. Simply stated, Princeton would not be Princeton without the many facets of entrepreneurial, social, religious, economic and cultural investments, and sacrifices made by people who built and lived in the neighborhood.

There are those who suggest that simply identifying designated structures with accompanying museum, pictures, signage, and artifacts would be a more appropriate way to distinguish the neighborhood’s significance. However the Wise Report clearly indicates that it is the neighborhood that illuminates several key contributing structures like the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, Paul Robeson’s home, and Dorothea’s House … not that these structures individually or collectively are responsible for making the neighborhood historic. In addition the HPC voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of the Wise Report, which acknowledges that “streetscape” includes the visual elements of a street, including the porches, road, adjoining buildings, street furniture, trees, and open space that combine to form the street’s character.

Mayor and council should not allow the contents of the Wise Report to be manipulated. It should be read carefully and considered on its merits.

Lastly I believe the most compelling reason to make the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood the 20th historic district in our town is because it is deserving on so many fronts … it is the “right and the moral thing to do.” Furthermore it should be approved without any guidelines beyond what already exist in the Historic Preservation Ordinance, as no other historic district in Princeton is beset with stipulations.

The council will have the opportunity to create what I believe will be a healing; one of the most meaningful, wide ranging, and far reaching decisions ever to come before the presiding body.

This responsibility requires that voices on both sides be heard; however the voices that cannot be heard are the African, Italian, and Irish American voices that created a living legacy through their everyday lives, giving little if any thought to their pioneering venture, and who have now taken their rest.

I and others speak for them and it is my hope that mayor and Council through our advocacy hear their voices. The right decision will say to their living relatives, the town’s constituents, visitors, and others that Princeton is a town of inclusion, one that recognizes the significance and importance of all people, regardless of race, creed, or color.

It will ensure that our town’s compelling history is unedited and complete.

Leighton Newlin

Birch Avenue

To the Editor:

Too many people aren’t saving enough to adequately fund their own retirement. Only five percent of people who lack a workplace savings plan actually figure out what they need to do and set up a plan on their own. If nothing is done, the staggering number of people retiring into poverty in the coming years will greatly increase the cost of government assistance programs and the burden on taxpayers. So waiting and watching is not a good option.

Fortunately a bi-partisan group of New Jersey legislators are acting now. The Secure Choice Savings Program, a bill supported by AARP and on its way to Governor Christie’s desk, is a simple solution: Make it easy for working people to save their own money for retirement by establishing a pooled system of Individual Retirement Accounts. Make it easy for employers — the vast majority of whom want to offer a retirement plan — by relieving them of the time, cost, and the liability of setting up their own plan. Secure Choice costs taxpayers nothing. Retirement plans will be administered by professional, private sector financial services firms.

Let’s get this done and create a better future for everyone.

Brian McGuire

Rockingham Row

To the Editor:

I understand there has been much debate in our community over the use of leaf blowers. Now, in the quiet of the winter season, I imagine those voices from the community are not quite so loud, given the respite we have from all that noise during the warmer months. However, I am reminded every day when I walk through our Riverside neighborhood, what a luxurious quiet there is to enjoy without the incessant noise of those leaf blowers. Why can’t we enjoy this peace and quiet at other times of the year? There should be regulations against indiscriminate use of leaf blowers — particularly unmuffled gas blowers used on an unremitting schedule even when there are few leaves to be blown.

Kate Somers

Riverside Drive

January 6, 2016

“Before I knew it, the lavender was flourishing!”

Marie Voorhees smiles as she relates the success of the fledgling lavender plants she put into the ground four years ago on her family farm.

Located at 890 County Road 601 in Skilllman (down the road past the Montgomery High School), Hidden Spring Lavender Farm & Shoppe has become a popular destination for scores of customers who have discovered the many uses of lavender.

“Lavender goes back to Roman times,” says Ms. Voorhees. “It not only has a lovely fragrance but has soothing and relaxing properties that people enjoy, and they also appreciate the homemade aspect of everything we have. I make everything myself. These are not products made across the ocean.”

Perfect Spot

It all began when Ms. Voorhees left her corporate job, and decided to go in a very different direction. She and her husband had purchased her parents’ farm, and it was the perfect spot for a new career.

“I had always loved gardening,” she explains, “but I had no experience with lavender. I thought I’d like to try it — it’s such a lovely scent. I started with 1000 plants, and I really did it to have something nice for myself.”

Once the lavender began to bloom, people started stopping at the farm, asking to purchase it, says Ms. Voorhees.

“Strangers came by in the driveway, and wanted the lavender. They said the farm was a hidden treasure, and we decided to call it Hidden Spring Lavender Farm & Shoppe.”

The 1000 plants soon became 2000, and now she has 4000 (with 2000 more coming next spring) as well as 12 different kinds of lavender.

“I was particular about including different species and fragrances, and all have an individual character. We combine several different varieties to get our own distinctive lavender scent.”

Charming Showcase

With the lavender flourishing, Ms. Voorhees next step was to open a shop, offering a variety of products, which she would make herself. “My plan was to have sachets, neck rolls, dream pillows, and eye pillows. The shop building was the original cow barn and chicken coop. My husband built cabinets, and we put in new windows and new Dutch doors.”

The result is a charming showcase for the 200 products Ms. Voorhees provides, among them soaps, lotions, bath products, shampoo, dusting powder, heat wraps, even deodorants and pet products. The fact that everything is natural is very important, she adds. With many people concerned about the numerous chemicals in so many products today, the availability of all-natural lavender choices is a definite plus.

“Everything is completely natural, made from essential oils, and lavender has anti-bacterial qualities,” explains Ms. Voorhees. “Our deodorants are all natural and include only lavender and baking soda. They are very popular and very effective. The foaming hand soap, lotions, and our lavender tea are all especially popular.

“I started with aromatherapy, including soaps and lotions, and people started coming in for gifts. Now, we have a steady group of customers who really know what they want. They are from all over, and people find us online too. We once had a rock star come in from New York, and also people from the South, even from Canada. And lots of regulars from the area, including Princeton.

The customers seem to like everything in the shop, including the wide price range, which extends from $3 to $70. And they are often amazed by the variety of products.

Dried lavender branches and wreaths are favorite decorative gifts. Lavender “linen water” sprays for sheets and pillows are wonderful air fresheners, and also have a soothing, calming effect that may help people sleep. The lavender bath tea bag is filled with lavender and herbs, and when put in the bath tub, it can induce relaxation.

Treasure Chest

The “Pampering Hand Set” includes massage oil, cuticle cream, lavender exfoliant scrub, and nail brush. The “Gentleman’s Gift Set” with shaving soap, shaving brush, after-shave, and “mechanic’s” soap comes in a treasure chest-style box and will be sure to please a special guy in your life.

A wonderfully soft plush teddy bear is filled with lavender, offering a very long-lasting scent, and is irresistible to all ages. It is available at $33.

Wedding and baby shower favors include little boxes of lavender soap, and at various holiday times, Ms. Voorhees offers a number of seasonal gift items. Gift baskets are another highlight, and these are available ready-made or customized.

Your four-legged friends will also appreciate the range of lavender pet products. “These can help pets relax, and help them feel and smell good,” reports Ms. Voorhees. “We also have shampoo that can help repel fleas.”

Culinary lavender for cooking is another popular product, and is available for fish, poultry, and baked goods. Sipping lavender tea is a favorite with many customers, adds Ms. Voorhees. She notes that she has a specific recipe for every item, and also offers a recipe book.

The response to all her lavender products has been beyond her expectations and the growing demand keeps her very busy, says Ms. Voorhees. “I love what I make, and I take pride in what I’ve done. I never envisioned this happening. I thought it would be nice to have my own business, but the success is more than I ever imagined. It’s wonderful! I think the most enjoyment I have is being creative and seeing people love the products. I am also so pleased that many people who have received our products as gifts have now become our customers.”

An added attraction of shopping at Hidden Spring Lavender Farm is its lovely rural setting. The farm’s location invites customers to another world, filled with natural beauty and a relaxed atmosphere.

Hours are Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shop will be open on Saturday only in January through March, so that Ms. Voorhees has time to add to the supply of products to keep up with the increasing demand, and also to get ready for the June harvest.

For more information, call (609) 558-7034 or visit the website at www.hiddenspringlavender.com.

To the Editor:

The African American community has been a vital presence in Princeton since the late 17th century. They were slaves who worked on large farms and in homes as agricultural and domestic servants. The early presidents and trustees of The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) owned slaves. John Witherspoon, sixth president of the college and Richard Stockton, trustee of the college, owned several slaves. Both Witherspoon and Stockton were signers of the Declaration of Independence.

By the 1700’s there were free colored residents who were descendants of slaves and in later years, many families had migrated to Princeton from the south to find employment. The increasing wealth in the community together with the university’s expansion created a high demand for labor and service positions that were generously offered to the colored residents. These families were relegated to the area that is now known as the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.

Because Princeton was a Jim Crow town, the colored population was not welcomed in certain stores, could not eat at restaurants, or frequent social establishments; so by the early 1900’s there were many businesses and establishments owned by the residents in the area of Jackson Street to Birch Avenue: florists, barber shops, beauty salons, candy stores, ice cream parlors, restaurants, clothing stores, and taxi services; as well as teachers, lawyers, and physicians. This community was self-sufficient and many homes were built by skilled carpenters and laborers who lived in the area.

A segregated Princeton created separate housing, schools, YM/WCA, fraternal organizations, establishments, clubs. and the cemetery. Our families were moved from Baker Street to build Palmer Square, and Jackson Street (now Paul Robeson Place) for a municipal thoroughfare. Witherspoon Street, from Paul Robeson Place to Birch Avenue, was referred to as “African or Guinea Lane”. Compared to other communities in Princeton, the Witherspoon-Jackson community was a neglected area by the town of Princeton, but a proud, clean, and welcoming community by the hardworking residents.

For the centuries that African American families have resided in this area of Princeton they welcomed their neighbors who were Italian American, Irish, and Jewish families. After several years many of these families moved to other areas of Princeton leaving the descendants of the African American families to continue to live, contribute, and serve in the Witherspoon-Jackson community.

When a writer makes such statements as “… poverty and decay,” “… lead to decline and deterioration,” “… could create hostility between the different ethnic groups,” when referring to the Witherspoon-Jackson community, the question becomes — how well informed is the writer about the history of Princeton and its people and what authority or research does the writer have to make judgments about what should and should not be preserved?

There are 19 historic districts in Princeton, all based on history, distinction, noted Princeton residents, architectural features, and boundary lines. The Witherspoon-Jackson community meets all of these features and deserves to be the 20th historic district in Princeton, New Jersey.

Through blood, sweat, skills, and faith, generations of proud and contributing residents of the Witherspoon-Jackson community have been the backbone of our town and Princeton University. Their lives, services, love, and hope should remain a lasting and respected presence in Princeton.

Shirley A. Satterfield

Quarry Street

To the Editor:

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, which pays tribute to the 1,563 New Jerseyans who did not return home from the Vietnam War and is located on the grounds of the PNC Arts Center at Exit 116 Garden State Parkway. It also marked 49 years since I first landed in Vietnam, after being drafted by the U.S. Army.

As executive director of the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation (NJVVMF), I have been reunited with my brothers and sisters in our mission at NJVVMF. Together, we offer experiences at the Memorial and adjacent Museum that recognize the sacrifices, courage, and valor of Vietnam veterans.

I want to remind my fellow New Jerseyans that NJVVMF is privileged to operate the only museum in the country dedicated to the Vietnam Era. It is an important place where we educate people of all ages about the era through ceremony, exhibitions, events, and programs. Letters, artifacts, and video testimonies provide rare, personal experiences. Visitors learn history from those who lived it through our Vietnam veteran volunteered tours. Free tours are offered at 11 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month. Each year more than 9,000 school children visit us and their time with the veterans is life changing for both the students and guides. Our veterans have also helped veterans of recent wars through projects like our Huey helicopter restoration and Combat Paper Project.

As a not-for-profit organization, NJVVMF is self-supporting and we need the public’s support, both financially and through participation, to exist. With your help, we will preserve the legacy and continue to honor those who served and our active duty service men and women. Please remember us as we remember them.

Interested residents may check line 61 on the New Jersey tax form to donate. For information on the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum and Educational Center, visit njvvmf.org or call (732) 335-0033.

Bill Linderman

Executive Director, 

NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation

December 30, 2015

Army Navy Store

A young man recently stopped in at the Princeton Army & Navy Store at 14½ Witherspoon Street. It was a chilly day, and he quickly walked to the back of the store, selected a blue hooded sweatshirt, put it on, and left.

“I didn’t realize it was so cold out, and I wasn’t dressed warmly enough,” he explained.

“This was typical,” points out owner Michael Bonin. “People stopped in to get what they needed, they found it, and often wore it out the door,”

That isn’t going to happen anymore. After almost 70 years, Princeton Army & Navy is closing its doors. The advent of on-line shopping has brought challenges to many retail establishments, and Princeton Army & Navy has been no exception.

Long Run

“Recently, the volume began to decline, especially as on-line shopping became more popular,” explains Mr. Bonin. “This became a real challenge. I want to emphasize that the timing is right, however. We are going out on our own terms. We are fortunate to have had a real long run — 65-plus years. We had a buyer for the building, and it was the right time.”

It has been the “right time” for the store since its opening as Princeton Army & Navy at the end of World War II. A family business from the beginning, it was started by Joseph Caplan, Mr. Bonin’s grandfather.

It actually began in 1911, notes Mr. Bonin. “My grandfather started it in 1911 as a clothing and gift shop. It closed for a while, then reopened as an Army & Navy store in the 1940s, and my late father Alvin Bonin, took over the operation in 1960.” more

To the Editor:

There was a thoughtful op-ed on philanthropy in the December 18 New York Times by Darren Walker, president of Ford Foundation. The Princeton community has long had a proud tradition of donating their time and money to support positive change. The important message that Mr. Walker shared, and I would like to echo, is directed to not only all individual donors, but to all foundations, and non-profit organizations with endowments, including colleges and universities: The good that you are doing with your donations is appreciated. Please continue to give and give as much as you can. BUT, the harm that you are presently doing with the investments that are generating the income to produce those donations hugely dwarfs the good. By investing in companies that encourage, support, and facilitate human rights violations, poverty wages, discrimination, environmental destruction, forced labor, and more, you are creating or exacerbating the problems you claim you would like to solve. (Yes, you are personally responsible for the damage done by the companies you own, no matter how small your stake.)

Choosing not to own stock in, or hold the debt of, such companies is one option. So is voting your proxy when another shareowner files a resolution to bring positive change to your company. But not voting, abstaining, or giving your proxy to your money manager or fund manager without ensuring that they will vote as you would is the same as actively voting to support management and continue the bad behavior you (I hope) deplore.

And if you believe, “Oh no. None of the companies I own could possibly be doing that,” it is not hard to check. Ask your financial advisor, wealth manager, etc. “what are the ESG (environmental, social and governance) ratings of the stocks/funds I own?” The answers will likely surprise you. For that matter, ask whether those managing and investing your money adhere to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment, and therefore even look at ESG ratings. (Too many do not. That would be the cause of the blank stare or misdirecting comment when you ask.)

Thankfully, companies that are paying better attention to these issues in their operations have lower costs of capital, lower turnover of employees, higher rates of productivity, and produce better long term returns. For investors concerned about the future, rather than just the next quarter, these are key facts.

Whether you are a $30 billion endowment, a community foundation, or a 401(k) owner writing a check to a local charity, if your goal is truly to make a difference, it may be time to make a difference in how you manage your money.

Theodore Casparian

Lawrenceville

December 23, 2015

To the Editor:

On December 7 the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the U.S. in a challenge from Mexico and Canada regarding our Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law. This challenge was made possible through the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The ruling specified that the U.S. faces one billion dollars in trade sanctions annually until it repeals or significantly weakens COOL.

COOL is a consumer protection law that informs us where the beef and pork we eat are born, raised, and slaughtered. The ruling forces us to either abandon this consumer protection or face exorbitant trade sanctions.

It is of great significance that the WTO arbitration tribunals are heavily weighted to favor corporations. Tribunal judges and lawyers come from a corporate background. Mexico and Canada were representing their meat industries in this suit. Large scale U.S. ranchers also want to see the repeal of COOL.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the most current so called “free trade” agreement looming in our very near future. The TPP would strengthen these arbitration panels by elevating corporations to nationhood status, allowing them to directly sue a signatory government. Challenges would be made on the basis that a law, policy or regulation is a “barrier to trade” causing “potential loss of profit.” This, despite the fact that President Obama insists trade treaties will not change U.S. law.

It is vitally important that Americans educate themselves to the fact that the TPP and other upcoming trade treaties represent a threat to our democratic way of life.

Mary Stevens, Esq. 

Blue Spring Road

Dear Editor:

The Princeton Battlefield Society and some of our local state legislators have a seemingly noble desire to preserve history, yet their historical memory of the Battle of Princeton and the Institute for Advanced Study’s (IAS) faculty housing project are either seriously flawed or intentionally misleading. As the former mayor of Princeton Township when the IAS’s project was approved unanimously by the regional planning board, I felt compelled to shed some historical light on this matter.

First, the IAS has made a concerted effort since the early 1970s to preserve and encourage understanding of the Battle of Princeton. In 1973, IAS conveyed 32 acres to the State of New Jersey increasing the Battlefield Park by 60 percent. In recent years, the IAS has agreed to open their land to the public (as part of the faculty housing project) to allow for interpretative tours to increase the understanding of the Battle of Princeton. This additional public-access open space did not exist previously and presents us with a unique opportunity to further enhance the public’s understanding of the battle.

Second, it is important to understand the Battle of
Princeton — not just that it was an important battle in our
nation’s history, but also that it wasn’t fought on a singular ‘battlefield.’ It was not a stationary battle of simple line formations marching across an open field. In fact, it was a series of skirmishes stretching from the Clarke Farm to Nassau Hall. On the morning of January 3, 1777, the Hessian Captain Johann Ewald wrote upon arriving on the scene that “we found the entire field of action from Maidenhead on to Princeton and vicinity covered with corpses.” [Fischer, Washington’s Crossing] This only makes it quite clear that the land from the Clarke House all the way to and including Nassau Hall was the ‘Battlefield.’ The Princeton Battlefield Society and some of our local legislators would best serve our community and our nation by working with the IAS and helping our nation better understand the battle through interpretive tours, signage, and educational events — along the entire route of the battle.

The IAS has received full local and state approvals for the faculty housing it critically needs on land that it owns. It has also clearly stated its intentions to collaborate with the community, state, and other stakeholders to further enhance our nation’s understanding of the Battle of Princeton. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity and move forward with a more robust educational and tour program on the Battle of Princeton to make sure that its importance is preserved for future generations.

Chad Goerner

Former Township Mayor

To the Editor:

In 2011, West Windsor reconstructed the S bend of Alexander Road near the boundary line with Princeton, after a lawsuit involving the fatality of a teenage girl. Attempt was made to reduce the sharp curvature and to properly bank the curves. The road was designed, built, accepted, and paid for by West Windsor, with a $190,000 grant from the state. The total cost of the project was roughly $938,000; including $61,000 for design and $43,000 for construction management and inspection by a hired consultant.

Being a civil engineer, it was apparent the first time I drove on the new road, that it was constructed incorrectly, with numerous defects, but most importantly, the road was banked in the wrong direction. The last bend to the right before reaching the canal, is sloped downward toward the outside of the turn, contrary to proper road design. This has a tendency to throw cars toward the outside of the turn, across the center line into the path of oncoming traffic, especially in wet or slippery conditions. In my opinion, the road, as constructed, is now more dangerous than before construction, and there is little doubt that another accident will occur.

A meeting was finally held with the mayor and Township officials to discuss the dangerous conditions. The officials dismissed the conditions as minor, and refused to meet on site. The mayor acknowledged that his son had an accident on the road, yet stated that there is no more money to fix the road.

Township officials will argue that the New Jersey Department of Transportation issued a design exception for the project allowing the road to be banked at a lesser degree than is required by the design standards. That did not allow the road to be banked in the incorrect direction. If a design exception is issued, it must then be followed properly. A design exception is not a license to build incorrectly.

New Jersey DOT officials lay the responsibility for proper construction on the Township, and refuse to meet on site.

Typically, an independent surveyor prepares as-built (record) drawings showing how the road was actually built to verify compliance with the design plans. The Township officials made recommendation to the Council for final payment to the contractor a month and half prior to even having the as-built drawings in their possession. The as-built drawings, which show discrepancies, were prepared by a surveyor hired by the contractor.

A review of the Township’s project files reveals lack of oversight and management. Critical documents are absent and crucial steps are not mentioned in the available inspection reports.

Taxpayers should be asking West Windsor many questions and should demand that Township officials take corrective action to eliminate the dangers on the road. Portions of the road need to be rebuilt to eliminate the dangerous condition. The Township is now on notice that a roadway defect exists and therefore cannot seek immunity from liability when the next accident and lawsuit takes place.

Martin Lyons, P.E.

Montadale Drive

December 16, 2015

To the Editor:

The Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) Neighborhood has a compelling legacy that we should never forget in acknowledging the inhumanity of slavery and segregation. Structures in the neighborhood date back to the early half of the 19th century, but the roots of those whose ancestors were slaves (some were slaves right here in Princeton) date back to before the American Revolution. This unique history of a once-segregated neighborhood is the story of the whole neighborhood, and is not that of any one person or structure.

Action is required to preserve the physical representation of the fundamental legacy of Princeton’s African American community (as well as its Italian American history) so that it is not lost forever. The buildings and their distinctive porches are the memory-bank of a close-knit community that has survived through struggle and hardship that is unique, nationally.

The formation of an historic district will preserve this legacy by maintaining the structures, character, and streetscape of the W-J Neighborhood, augmenting the physical and cultural viability of a neighborhood that has been the home for generations of African Americans, and later also a home for immigrants chiefly from Italy and Ireland, and most recently from Latin America.

This very neighborhood was found in 1994 by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to be eligible to be on the National Register of Historic Places. Now the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) recommends that this neighborhood join with 19 other local districts that have far less profound stories.

Many people hope that this historic district designation will help to stabilize property values. While the mission of the HPC is to preserve just the historic character of the neighborhood, its reviews of proposed tear-downs with an eye for alternatives, along with limits on the construction of outsized buildings that are out of scale, may also help to moderate growth in valuations for the neighborhood.

The HPC has recommended a Type II designation for the district, which permits considerable flexibility for its home-owners. Routine maintenance that does not change the house’s appearance from the street is permissible without HPC review, and the HPC will work with the homeowner to find less expensive alternatives for more extensive alterations. And just because the neighborhood is an historic district doesn’t mean that developers and architects alike can’t participate in preserving the neighborhood’s critical important legacy, while still moving forward with creative projects.

A review of recent tear-downs of historic structures in the neighborhood reveals a genuine urgency for immediate action. In my career I have had major roles in setting up both a residential and a commercial district; I have prepared applications that put two structures on the National Register; and I have had a major role in restoring three structures, one of which was converted to a multi-modal transportation center. None had the compelling legacy of survival and cohesion of the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood. Let us preserve that legacy and learn from it.

Kip Cherry

Dempsey Avenue 

To the Editor:

It has been heart wrenching for me to see the Islamaphobic response to the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. However, I was uplifted after attending the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Muslim Jewish Women’s Leadership Conference held this past weekend right here in Princeton. The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is a national organization with the goal of bringing Jewish and Muslim women together. This historic event brought together 350 women committed to spreading peace, and I am honored that it took place in my hometown.

As part of the conference I attended the jummah prayer at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey in South Brunswick, where Imam Hamad Chebli talked about how the Prophet Muhammad deplored extremism.
Most Muslims react to acts of terror with the same revulsion, fear, and sadness as everyone else. On top of that, they experience the verbal and physical abuse of strangers, fear that their children will be bullied, and live with the narrative in the mainstream media that casts them as threats to our society.

There are more than a thousand years of Muslim history and a billion and a half Muslims in the world today. It’s terrifying to me that people judge Islam by the actions of a small number of people and a few verses of a book they have never read. My Muslim sisters have the same hopes and fears, the same generosity, vitality, and curiosity, as everyone else. I can only hope I do them justice in trying to combat the wave of hatred they are currently experiencing.

Aliza Alperin-Sheriff

Robert Road

To the Editor:

Thanksgiving is over, but like turkey sandwiches, our gratitude lingers on.

From the very first feast up in Massachusetts, Thanksgiving has been a community affair, and it still is. Without help, 2,100 needy families in Mercer County would have found hunger to be a distraction from counting their blessings.

But hundreds of HomeFront helpers stepped forward, some individually and some from businesses and congregations, to collect and deliver the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinners like the ones enjoyed by most other Americans. The clients cooked for their children in their own kitchens and served turkey dinners at their own tables, because HomeFront and friends believe in the home.

But we also believe in the community — and our volunteers and contributors of money and food, have renewed that faith.

So, thank you, neighbors and friends, you’ve done it again. You’ve shared love and encouragement that made each client family’s Thanksgiving celebration so much more sustaining than just one meal could ever be.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director, HomeFront

To the Editor:

To evaluate President Wilson one must weigh the following:

At Princeton he increased teachers’ salaries, required an honor code, a senior term paper, and promoted graduates to serve the nation.

As U.S. President, he helped create the Federal Reserve System, the Child Labor Law, the Interstate Commerce Act, and the Clayton Anti-Trust Act.

As a citizen, he was for slavery and the state’s right to secede. Wilson opposed women voting and their voice in family or business affairs. His relationship with Mary Peck was kept secret from his three daughters.

Wilson overcame dyslexia as a child and despite periodic strokes wrote volumes of American history.

This is a human being of many parts.

William Roufberg

Kendall Park, Retired history teacher, 

PHS, 1958-1988

To the Editor:

Fifty-three percent of New Jersey private-sector workers don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan. Since workers are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if their employer offers a plan, this means that many will be unprepared for retirement. This is a problem. In a recent Republican debate, Governor Christie said emphasis should be on solving problems through the private sector rather than government policies. The Secure Choice Savings Act would create a public private partnership which will help millions of New Jersey workers easily save for retirement. Just like a 401K, they can choose whether or not to participate, and can select their contribution level. This allows flexibility to accommodate any circumstance workers may face. Employees will be able to save money for retirement, and small businesses will be able to provide a benefit with very little effort. Only employees can contribute to their accounts, so neither taxpayers, nor employers, fund the program thereby not costing anything to those not involved.

As a senior in college who will soon enter the job market, I join AARP and the many legislators from both parties in support of this bill. Governor Christie should sign this bill which will secure a better financial future for all New Jerseyans.

Atif Ahmad

Princeton Junction

NTU edpascal

FESTIVE SCENE: “I enjoy creating. I design all the clothes, and I also designed the decor in the boutique, as well as the holiday windows.” Christina Depascal, owner of the new Depascal Atelier, looks forward to introducing customers to her intriguing collection. Shown is the holiday window display, highlighting the handmade papier maché dress, crafted from vintage newspaper. Also included are festive poinsettias, a variety of jewelry, and contributing to the natural motif, a rustic bird house, bird’s nest, and birch tree branches.

“We want women to be able to look their best. The first thing people notice about you is how you are dressed. Everything here is handmade and one-of-a-kind.”

Christina Depascal, owner of Depascal Atelier, also designs the clothes at the new women’s boutique. Opened in October at 20 Nassau Street, this is a unique and inviting new fashion studio. more

December 9, 2015

To the Editor:

Nassau Presbyterian Church has been resettling refugees in the Princeton community for over 50 years. Families have arrived in our community from Cuba (1964), Cambodia (1980), Vietnam (1984), Hungary (1989), Bosnia (1994, 1999), Sudan (2003), Burma (2006), and Iraq (2010). The effort has involved serving one family at time, providing support of all kinds, offering a brief stay in a church member’s home, building relationships, and celebrating the launch toward independence. We have witnessed family members in various careers: restaurant management, computer networking, dentistry, tailoring, library science, teaching, and more. Several families have joined in our effort to support subsequent families resettling. Together with Princeton Theological Seminary, our congregation is working with Church World Service (CWS) to receive a Syrian refugee family soon after the first of the year. We look forward to the next chapter of what has become an essential part of one congregation’s attempt to live out our faith, honor our heritage, and give glory to God.

The Rev. Dr. David A. Davis

Pastor, Nassau Presbyterian Church

To the Editor:

While I am not a resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, I would like to share some of my observations about the conflict over the proposal to consider the designation of the neighborhood as a historical district and one that is referred to as historically African-American.

As we learned from the presentation on November 30, the neighborhood was never exclusively African-American. There were Irish and Italian immigrants also in the neighborhood at various times, as there are now a number of Hispanic residents (whose needs interestingly were not represented at all at the “crowded” meeting last Monday).

Although there are significant buildings in that neighborhood that ought to be preserved and protected — such as the African-American churches; the Dorothea House for its significance to the Italian residents of Princeton; places related to Paul Robeson, an outstanding resident of the neighborhood, his birthplace; the African-American cemetery — much of the neighborhood can use a facelift. There are also some buildings that would no longer serve the needs of residents where a teardown may be the best solution. Let’s not preserve poverty and decay.

There are two arguments I would like to make against designating the neighborhood historical and favoring its African-American constituency.

1) Such favoring of the African-American neighbors, although it may sound politically correct in our time, could create hostility between the different ethnic groups that make up the current neighborhood. It is not a move toward “coexist” and respect, but one toward resentment.

2) Hearing from residents who already live in historically designated neighborhoods that the cost of repair and upkeep to maintain historically approved looks can become prohibitive and thus can lead to decline and deterioration, rather than preservation, would discourage people moving into the neighborhood and providing the facelift.

I would like to recommend that the Council and the mayor of Princeton designate historically valuable property protected in the neighborhood, look at each house not as a district, but as an individual case when evaluating whether it should be preserved rather than replaced with something new. Such a one-by-one evaluation could be sensitive to all residents of that neighborhood and may add to its revival rather than freeze it in time and space for the emotionally motivated reasons of a few.

Ilona Melker

Valley Road

To the Editor:

The December 2, 2015 meeting of the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission provided all in attendance with a comprehensive history of the formation of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. We learned about the complex factors that contributed to the settlement of this neighborhood. We saw with pictures and heard by first person testimony the experiences of those that have lived in this neighborhood. We also learned about families, individuals and organizations that were able to overcome adversities imposed by the “law of the land”.

I listened with a sense of pride about the role of the Princeton Nursery School (PNS) in shaping the lives of many in the audience who were representative of the more than 5,000 students that have attended PNS since 1929. The Wise Preservation Planning LLC described the work done by a large sector of the people living in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood in the 19th and 20th centuries as “menial.” It was for the children of these hard working parents that the PNS’s Board of Trustees provided “care for and help to develop the whole child, to enrich his or her physical well-being, mental development, and cultural opportunities in a child’s formative years.” Scores of PNS graduates have gone on to serve the community as teachers, attorneys, doctors, clergymen, scholars, community activist, and in countless other professions.

Another noteworthy historical fact is that from its inception, Princeton Nursery School was integrated. While the elementary schools in Princeton were not integrated until 1948, Princeton Nursery School opened its doors in 1929 serving the African American and Italian American families that lived in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. The late John Mathews spoke of the difficulty his cousin Margaret experienced in obtaining funding for the school because of its integrated student body. Margaret’s parents, Rev. and Mrs. Paul Matthews, and many of their friends provided financial support to the school.

Another historical milestone that intersected at PNS was in the hiring of Mrs. Simeon Moss, the teacher–nurse of the infant group in 1930. Mrs. Moss was a Princeton resident and had the distinction of being the first black woman to graduate from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore. And her son Simeon was the first black student to graduate from Princeton University.

The Princeton Nursery School’s mission remains constant; to provide high quality preschool and childcare for the children of working parents that is affordable for all. We celebrate the rich racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the families from Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and the greater Princeton community. Our student body and staff reflect this diversity. We thank past donors and volunteers for your support of our work. Your continued support will make Princeton Nursery School’s place in Princeton’s history and in serving children and families secure.

Wendy Cotton 

Executive Director, Princeton Nursery School

Dear Governor Christie:

Hi, I am in middle school in Princeton and I am writing to you on behalf of many kids about the lack of enough sidewalks in this state. Sidewalks are very crucial for child safety and health; therefore, I believe that we need more.

In terms of safety, most kids like me love skateboarding and riding their bikes around town and in their neighborhood. Many kids also ride their bikes to school. Unfortunately, in my case, when I was younger, I was sometimes not allowed to ride because of the lack of sidewalks. As I am getting older, I realize the reason for this and how it is still dangerous for kids to ride bikes on roads without sidewalks. Although I am allowed to ride now, it is still unnecessarily dangerous. On average, in the United States, 12 people a day are killed by the lack of sidewalks on roads. In 2006, New Jersey recorded 171 pedestrian deaths. Many of these came from the lack of sidewalks. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there would be 88 percent fewer road injuries with sidewalks on every road.

I think that we can agree that more sidewalks for our roads would be very useful for the people of New Jersey. So I am asking you, as governor of this state, if you would do everyone a favor and build more sidewalks.

Not only would this make riding around town safer, but it would encourage people to get out and exercise. One out of three kids is obese. There are two main ways to prevent people from becoming overweight: exercise and healthy eating choices. I think that exercise is the more important. Not only is it good for your body, it is good for your mental state. Because exercise is so crucial for losing weight, if we had more sidewalks it would be easier for practically everyone to exercise. The number of kids who are obese is growing and more sidewalks will encourage kids to go outside and lose weight. Instead of staying inside and playing video games, if kids felt safer, I guarantee they would exercise more.

I really hope you consider my request to make New jersey a safer and healthier place.

Aiden Silverstein

Talbot Lane

To the Editor:

On November 24, Princeton’s Council and Planning Board revealed how Princeton plans to meet its Mount Laurel affordable-housing obligations. A Fair Share Housing advocate had already suggested we add 1163 new affordable-housing units through 2025, and a court-appointed consultant suggested 424. Alas, the plan presented chooses the lower number.

In fact, the plan includes only 339 housing units plus 107 “bonus credits” we’ve earned in the past. Of those 339 units, moreover, 154 have already been constructed, including 67 units at Harriet Bryant House, which opened in 2007. Another 120 units are already under construction, including 56 units at AvalonBay and 56 at the University’s Merwick/Stanworth housing.

The plan envisions only 85 genuinely new affordable units: 40 added to Princeton Community Village, 5 (a 20 percent set-aside) of 25 homes on the Franklin Street parking lot, 10 of 50 homes by the Princeton Shopping Center, and 30 of 150 residential units added to commercial buildings along Route 206 near Herrontown Road.

The plan seems less about adding affordable housing than about surviving judicial scrutiny. Those 339 units are “new” because they haven’t yet been counted in meeting Princeton’s Mount Laurel obligations. Meanwhile, of Princeton’s 9,328 actual households in 2013 (the last year I have figures for), 1,461 (15.7 percent) had incomes below $30,000, while another 1,537 (16.5 percent) had incomes between $30,000 and $60,000. This means that 2,998 Princeton households (32.2 percent) would have (depending on family size) been eligible for affordable housing in 2013. Unsurprisingly, our various affordable-housing authorities have a combined waiting list of some 1,600 distinct applicants. The average waiting time is one-and-a-half to three years.

One bright side of this dismal picture is that more land in Princeton (including lower Alexander Street and the Butler Tract) could also support affordable housing. And once Princeton meets its Mount Laurel obligations, it might be legal to offer any additional affordable housing to Princetonians first. Furthermore, we need not limit the number of affordable housing units on any site to 20 percent of the whole. If the land is sold to builders to develop, the town could offer zoning benefits in exchange for 50 percent affordable housing. Incentives like tax rebates, fast-track approval, lower parking requirements, and permission for greater density could all help shape future development to our benefit.

Finally, these sites need not be sold to for-profit developers. Council should allow the community time to raise funds so non-profit groups could develop some of the sites. Then 100 percent of the new housing could be affordable.

Surely many of us share the Princeton Community Master Plan’s stated goals: to “Provide Princeton’s fair share of affordable housing,” to “Promote, preserve, and enhance Princeton’s unique community life,” and to retain Princeton’s “diversity” in age, income, and ethnicity. As we age, our incomes may decrease. Affordable housing is crucial because, sooner or later, you and I may need it.

Anne Waldron Neumann 

Alexander Street

To the Editor:

Ten years ago, within a week of each other, Eli Wiesel at Princeton University and the Dalai Lama at Rutgers University, responded to the question “What gives you hope?” with the identical answer: “Young people!” That has stuck with me all these years. At the time I was a little annoyed as their response seemed to remove responsibility from those of us no longer young, yet still working for change. Recently, I have every reason to be hopeful based on knowing these young members of our community. I met them through my membership in Not in Our Town, a Princeton-based grass roots group committed to racial justice.

Ziad Ahmed, a Princeton Day School junior, started redefy, an organization committed to countering stereotypes, and on Sunday, December 13, at the Carl Fields Center, Princeton University, redefy will host a day long program, #TheGenerationofNow. The event will focus on racial justice and the goal is to inspire teenagers and community members to become engaged in social justice work.

Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi are Princeton High School juniors, and founders of CHOOSE, an advocacy effort to “overcome racism and inspire harmony through exposure, education, and empowerment.” In their “Engage” program, working with Princeton school administrators and faculty, they are organizing the many personal stories they have collected so that teachers can use them in the classroom to bring up the issues of race, racism, and racial justice.

Tatianna Sims, a 2015 Princeton High School graduate, winner of a Princeton Prize in Race Relations and a Not in Our Town Unity Award, recently spearheaded a community Unity Walk and panel discussion. With the help of her student committee (and some support from the older generation) the event exemplified her mission of bringing people together to support youth, particularly those who feel disconnected from our community. Over a hundred adults and youth, including political, community, and student leaders of all backgrounds, walked and talked. Adults spoke about the importance of their own mentors; students spoke about the need to reduce stereotyping and wondered how they could be advocates for their peers. The panelists ranged from the first African American Princeton mayor Jim Floyd, in his nineties, to Princeton High School student leaders.

During the event Mayor Lempert announced the imminent establishment of a Youth Commission so that our younger voices can be heard in making decisions affecting our community.

So, what gives me hope? Young people AND not so young, in partnership!

Wilma Solomon

Tee-Ar Place