February 10, 2016

To the Editor:

I often attend a duplicate bridge game held at The Senior Resource Center on Thursday afternoons. This game is very well attended by over 80 players. The Senior Center does not have adequate parking for this many people. Morven has formerly allowed the Senior Center to use some of their parking lot. This has been discontinued for this year because of Morven’s present exhibit.

The bridge players now have to park on Stockton Street. I found this to be extremely dangerous. It is difficult to open the driver’s side door or to get across the street because of heavy traffic. This is further complicated when large amounts of snow force the cars further into the roadway, creating a hazardous condition.

I checked the Morven parking lot on a recent afternoon and there were only a handful of cars. I was hoping that Morven would again graciously allow the bridge players to use some of their parking lot.

Audrey Egger

Coniston Court

To the Editor:

Recently, Mrs. Susan Ashmore, instructor of knitting at the Princeton Adult School, alerted her circle of knitters to my plan to visit Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon as one of a delegation from the board of an international relief and development agency. I wanted to thank Susan publicly, and the many folks who knitted the warm hats and blankets that I was able to bring with me.

The situation is terribly difficult and the need is overwhelming. Plastic sheet tents provide little protection from winter weather, and the alleys between them are basically mud when it rains, as it had just before our visit. It is impossible for these families, many with small children, to keep warm and dry. Folks depend upon local generosity and international aid.

The gesture was so appreciated, and in particular, the thought that other mothers from the United States had taken time to hand knit and send these gifts for the children. Many thanks to Susan for assembling these kind offerings that meant so much.

Anne Mackoul

Gallup Road

feature web

This time of year calls for something different to change-up the routine. Why not dash off to a warm weather getaway to indulge in some yoga, fine dining, and relaxation? Below, Princeton Magazine offers up some suggestions. Simply click on each product image to purchase. Bon voyage!


Feature Image

Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with Red-Colored Gifts!

In traditional Chinese art and culture, red is considered to be a very auspicious color. For example, monetary gifts are often packaged in red envelopes signifying fortune and good luck. In honor of 2016’s Year of the Monkey, Princeton Magazine has chosen to shop red! Simply click on each product image to purchase and bring a little luck into your own life. more


Snowed in?

Send the one you love something sweet for Valentine’s Day! From the perfect cup of coffee to a festive box of Cadbury chocolates, these gourmet delights and comforting gifts are sure to warm the heart. Simply click on each product image to purchase. more

February 3, 2016

To the Editor:

Has anyone else noticed the closure of several excellent stores in downtown Princeton this January? It is an absolute shame that Kate Spade, Lily Pulitzer, Aerosole, and The Army and Navy Store have closed down. Our town benefited enormously from having beautiful and cheerful stores like these and I think it is enormously short-sighted to keep jacking up rents.

If we don’t have these stores then what else could be as good to fill their place? What better place than a smart University town to have this type of store? We surely do not need yet another coffee shop or restaurant.

Having made it through the recession of 2008, the town in fact looks worse today with it’s papered over shops. We will certainly all miss these traders for the products and jobs they supplied.

It is a pity the current landlords could not look at the bigger picture and decide to keep tradesmen like these instead of allowing yet another one to fail once the rents came up for renewal.

Louise Wellemeyer

Rosedale Road

To the Editor:

Your readers should know that Senator Cory Booker is one of a handful in Congress who is fighting tirelessly to protect Americans and their retirement savings. Over the last several months, he has helped to save a proposed rule that would make it illegal for financial advisers to give you retirement advice that is not in your best interest.

Do you have a 401k, an IRA or have you ever gone to a financial expert for advice? Then this applies to you. Most financial advisers are professionals who work hard and ethically on your behalf. However, according to one estimate, bad advice from not-so-honest financial advisers is costing Americans up to 25 percent of their hard-earned retirement savings. They line their pockets with fees that should be going toward your retirement savings.

New Jersey voters should call Senator Booker’s office, and thank him for protecting Americans’ hard-earned retirement savings.

Doug Johnston

Interim State Director, AARP New Jersey

To the Editor:

Designation of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood (WJ) as a Historic District needs to happen. Time is of the essence, as we know there are many steps in this process, and properties are being purchased and houses torn down as we speak. There are 19 other historic districts in Princeton. With the WJ community’s unique and significant history there should be no question.

We all understand the importance of the structures that define the living/lived history of the WJ community. But it’s not individual structures alone. It’s their interlinkage with people and culture. The Wise Report states that their survey “found the neighborhood to be a cohesive and intact expression of Princeton’s largest African American community, whose appearance and setting is a result of years of social, economic, and educational disparity brought about by discrimination and segregation. The buildings and streetscape here, opposed to elsewhere in Princeton, tell this story; the district designation should help preserve it” (Wise, page 1). Everyone should note: still “cohesive and intact.”

The Wise report notes one of the chief reasons for that cohesion: “One prevalent feature found throughout the community were front porches, most of which are not enclosed. The massing of houses, though close to most sidewalks, is by default scaled to the community streetscapes” (Wise, page 24). The linkage between architecture and people is evident: the many porches the architectural connection, outdoors, between the buildings and the people on the street. The closeness of the porches to the street has helped all of us survive and maintain our community throughout the decades.

The Report indicates that systemic patterns of segregation created an area based on race, ethnicity, and economics. The WJ neighborhood was not just their neighborhood of choice; it was set apart for them — their only choice. African-American settlers in this community have always been here to serve wealthy Princetonians and the University. To dismiss the neighborhood’s character and relationship to the history of Princeton would also be inaccurate.

Over time as opportunity grew some Italian and Irish families arrived — and then were able and allowed to move on to other neighborhoods in Princeton (Wise, page 54). Some Italian families still remain (census graphs in the Wise Report show this evolution). WJ has always been a neighborhood of inclusion, a community of many languages where all have been welcomed. Its early historic make-up was African American — then Irish and Italian.

The African American community was not afforded similar opportunities. But there was no bitterness. Instead and largely due to discriminatory practices and common necessity, the neighborhood established many successful businesses, schools, and churches, and always with a spirit of neighborliness.

Princeton Council must continue to highlight Princeton as a town of inclusion. It should designate the WJ neighborhood a historic district, and acknowledge that this community’s past represents a significant part of the town’s history. Princeton Council must recognize Princeton’s significance in the state, national, and international mind.

Thomas Parker 

Leigh Avenue

To the Editor:

I am more than disappointed by the direction of the discussion at the Princeton Council meeting of January 25, which I viewed electronically. First, I want to applaud Council President Lance Liverman and Council members Jenny Crumiller and Heather Howard for their far-sighted support of a rare financial opportunity to gain open space in Princeton. Although Mayor Lempert also supports this measure, she is prevented from breaking a tie vote on this type of ordinance which requires a 2/3 vote of Council to pass.

My disappointment is focused on the three Council members who I and others feel are being short sighted in their reasons for either denying or delaying, and potentially not proceeding with the ordinance to approve the purchase of 20.4 acres of heavily wooded land from a developer who would otherwise build a large development on the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. The 20.4 acres would add to the Princeton Ridge Preserve.

The funds for this $4.4 million purchase would come almost exclusively from other sources including the State, County, and Friends of Princeton Open Space. To close the gap, the town is expecting a Green Acres state grant from funds approved by voter referendum last November which constitutionally dedicated a portion of the Corporate Business Tax to Green Acres funding. Of this, $66 million has yet to be allocated from the state’s current fiscal year ending July 1, with another $80 million expected to be available in the next fiscal budget.

Governor Christie, on one of his visits to New Jersey, has pocket vetoed the legislature’s bill which would move forward with open space funding. Meanwhile, the deadline for the option to purchase the land is February 14 and the offer could be withdrawn by the developer if not approved by the Council before then. The Council will take this up again on February 8.

My concern is primarily regarding the three Council members in their lack of focus on the land preservation thesis that “they aren’t making any more” in this, the most densely populated state in the U.S. expected to be the first state at full “buildout”. Two of the Council members’ concerns are related to the possibility that the $397,000 (9 percent of the $4.4 million total cost) would be delayed by the governor’s actions, though Mayor Lempert has received word that the state funding will be available.

Also puzzling are one Council member’s reasons, that the property does not have good access and trails for public use and that we have sufficient open space. Those amenities can be developed later but the land won’t be available to preserve if action is not taken now. This heavily wooded acreage has ecological value even if it is not immediately available for use. Such preservation is made also for future generations, not only for those of us here now.

In addition, the avoidance of more large development, including the removal of many trees, would stem water runoff and flooding as well as increased traffic and other burdens on myriad municipal services. Those factors are also worth quite a lot financially and otherwise.

I urge that the Council on February 8 take the long view on this land preservation, also a unique financial opportunity, and that people who care about open space preservation make themselves heard at that 7 p.m. meeting. Agendas are online at www.princetonnj.gov.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

VDay Gifts_3

Valentine’s Day is often associated with flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears; however, this year, Princeton Magazine is offering up a few new options. These gifts are suitable for all ages, male and female, young and old. To purchase, simply click each product image.


Profile in Educ

“POSITIVE ENERGY”: Krysten Yee, assistant teacher at Eden Autism Services, works one-on-one with the Eden students, looking forward to helping them to develop the skills that will lead to increasing independence and self-fulfillment.

Krysten Yee started her career in education just last year as a teaching assistant at Eden Autism Services. The 23-year-old Westchester, New York native graduated from James Madison University in 2014 with a major in psychology, a minor in non-teaching special education, and a certificate in autism spectrum disorders. She joined Eden as a counselor at their Crossroads camp program in the summer of 2014, and signed on with the full-time staff at Eden Institute the following fall.


January 27, 2016

To the Editor:

Superficialities during my recent three-day stay at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro were outstanding, much better than anticipated. These included: the palatial single patient room, the very good food that arrived hot, beautiful scenic view from my window, decor everywhere.

The deep down most important aspects of my hospitalization and major surgery-joint replacement are why I am writing to attest to the excellence of this institution in our fortunate midst!

From the pre-hospital test-taking procedures, the seamless admission process on operative day, all the meetings with OR and anesthesia personnel, then the care after the operation, by everyone who came to talk with me or to administer medication or treatment, I was and remain so impressed by the care and attention to detail to make my operation and hospital stay SAFE.

My room was clean, spotless. Everyone who approached me, without exception, made certain who I was. All were pleasant, helpful, and always professional. The nursing staff is incredibly fine.

Details! Tiny details make all the difference. Although now a retired surgeon, I remain a detail person because the most lovely surgical operation can be sabotaged by a tiny detail error.

I am grateful to the UMCPP and especially to Dr. Tom Gutowski and his fine joint replacement team.

Jay Chandler

Russell Road

To the Editor:

On behalf of our staff, our Board of Trustees, and our friends and supporters in the community, we wish a fond farewell to Erin Dougherty as she moves to an exciting new opportunity as the executive director of the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida. The Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) has blossomed under Erin’s leadership over the last nine years. The organization has boldly expanded its programs of learning and discovery for both children and adults. At HSP, youngsters can enjoy bug safaris or digging in the organic garden at the Society’s new Updike Farmstead home. Students come to us to play history detective, studying 300 years of Princeton history by visiting historic places and exploring related topics. At HSP, researchers can lose themselves in a search through our historic manuscripts and drawings. Visitors of all ages can see Einstein’s furniture in a salon exhibition paired alongside a rotating display of Princeton innovators. HSP is where you go for downtown history tours, inspirational lectures, the incomparable fall house tour, and the summer Concert Under the Stars. Under Erin’s leadership, Princeton history has come alive.

Several significant accomplishments of Erin’s deserve particular attention. Erin planned and executed a long-deferred relocation of HSP’s large collection of 3D objects and archival materials into a secure and climate-controlled space under its own direct control. Future researchers and historians will benefit greatly from this significant project to preserve and care for the collection. Erin also managed the transition of HSP headquarters to its owned campus at Updike Farmstead, a location where the organization has ample room for future growth and innovation. Already underway is a significant renovation of the historic barn, a space that is destined to become a magnet for cultural and social gatherings in our town.

As a direct consequence of Erin’s skilled leadership, HSP is now on an extremely secure financial footing. Thank you, Erin, for your stewardship. Because of your work, HSP has been able to live up to its vision: to pass along the important lessons of the past in order to promote respectful and responsible behavior among people, and toward the built and natural world around us.

Scott Sipprelle

President, Historical Society of Princeton, 

Chambers Street

To the Editor:

On Thursday afternoon a very kind stranger named Mary V. came to my rescue when I thought I lost my car keys at McCaffrey’s supermarket.

First she walked through the store searching along the lower shelves. The women at the office were also extremely kind, taking my phone number in case the keys were found.

Meanwhile Mary took the time to comfort me, looked through my bags, and then insisted on driving me home for a spare key, going in the opposite direction of her own home.

We discovered my keys between the front seats in my locked car. Advice: never lock your car without using your key and do not the lock your car from the inside.

Marilyn Freeberg

Leabrook Lane

To the Editor:

Congratulations and thanks to our state legislature for standing up for the environment through its enactment of SCR 180. The bill legislatively vetoes the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed changes to the Flood Hazard Control Act. The changes would have rolled back or weakened rules that restrict further development in flood plains and many other measures that lessen the negative effects of storm water runoff on our streams.

Much of New Jersey was developed before we fully understood the impact that our development actions would have on our waterways. Consequently, property losses from flooding in New Jersey are among the greatest of any state and our water is too dirty. We learn from our mistakes. The Flood Hazard Control Act keeps us from repeating those mistakes, thereby preventing even more flooding and even dirtier water.

The DEP has disingenuously claimed that the proposed revisions only eliminate bureaucratic red tape and streamline rules. Most advocates for our waterways, such as the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association (where I am a Trustee), dispute this claim. Indeed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the proposed revisions conflict with federal regulations.

Many citizens contacted their state representatives to urge that they vote to block the new rules. We are grateful that they heard us and acted. There are still several actions the legislature may have to take if the DEP continues to ignore the legislative intent of the Act. I urge New Jersey’s legislature and citizens to keep up this fight to protect our water.

Scott Sillars

Patton Avenue

January 20, 2016

To the Editor:

In discussing the designation of a neighborhood as an historic district, issues such as protection from demolition; neighborhood pride; and recognition of significance are often cited as rationales for establishing a district. A factor that is often overlooked is the financial advantage that may be gained by utilizing Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits for the improvement and preservation of income-producing properties in an historic district.

These are not deductions but credits, reducing the owner’s income tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. To make them even more flexible and attractive, these credits may be carried back one year and forward up to twenty years. Credits are designed for income-producing properties, but this may include rental housing and the property owner is permitted to occupy the structure after a period of five years. The credits can be as much as 10 percent of the value of improvements of non-contributing non-residential structures constructed prior to 1936 and up to 20 percent of the value of improvements of any contributing structure, subject to specific guidelines established by the IRS and the National Park Service. Most of the cost of rehabilitation and preservation of structural components (wall construction, windows, roofs, hvac, plumbing, electrical, and even professional fees) can be submitted for credit so long as work conforms to the Secretary of the Interior Guidelines for historic structures, although the cost of additions cannot be included.

As one example, a couple desiring to eventually ‘downsize’, yet remain in Princeton, could purchase a property, rehabilitate it to suit their eventual use and submit 20 percent of the qualified cost for credit on their tax return. They could then rent the property, sell their present house after five years and move into the renovated house, benefitting from both the rental income and the credit. Of course, opportunities for the same tax credits exist for qualified business properties. The proper documentation and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is required, but the value of the tax credits far outweighs the additional cost of following the rules. Consultation with a tax advisor is recommended, and more information is available at www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/before-apply/irs.htm.

T. Jeffery Clarke, AIA

Balcort Drive

Editor’s Note: Mr. Clarke is a practicing architect in Princeton and an original member of the Borough Historic Preservation Review Committee.

To the Editor:

Historic Preservation for the Jackson Witherspoon (JW) community: the HPC examined and determined that the community has all elements necessary to become the 20th HPD in Princeton. In addition, the Wise report fully supports the rationale for the designation. Given all of the study that has gone into this, I would hope that mayor and Council vote it into being.

Though the Lenni Lenape are recorded as the earliest identifiable inhabitants of the Princeton area, there exists no artifact with provenance to evidence this. For all intents and purposes they have been written out of Princeton’s history. I fear the record of an established African American community in Princeton is being slowly written out. Ms. Shirley Satterfield’s chronology of the history (Mailbox, January 6) bears this out. We do matter!

In the early 1920s, along with his wife and many children, my great-grandfather was uprooted from South Carolina by the KKK. Forced to find safe housing in the north, they settled in a house in Princeton. My maternal great grandparents, my grandparents, my mother, her sister, a great aunt, and I all lived in that house. The house was located in an enclave within the former Borough where most of the members of my family (including my paternal grandmother) resided at the time. As a child I was not aware of the danger outside of that protective quarter, though I knew all of the boundaries beyond which I was not to wander. As an only child back then I played on my porch, my Nana’s porch, an aunt’s porch, and several neighbor’s porches. These were all safe places owned by loving/nurturing people. As a child I heard the best gossip in town on those porches.

Ms. Satterfield’s letter cited the fact that segregation forced the community into self-sufficiency. Several hairdressers, home cooks, barbers, and other entrepreneurs operated businesses from their homes. One of the churches actually began in a Green Street living room. We had no fancy air-conditioned business offices, but we did have porches. The closely built houses all have porches less than 15 feet from the curb. These porches said “welcome!” These porches said, “Pull up a chair and let’s talk.” This finely tuned, ultra-efficient micro-economy porch sitting, in addition to supporting social interaction and/or retreat, served as the board room. In my lifetime, with no exaggeration, I’d say that I have sat on every porch in the community.

If new builds in the community are examples, porches are a thing of the past.

Ms. Satterfield’s letter also speaks to the fact that in Jim Crow Princeton, African Americans have done as well if not better than non-African Americans, by gaining prosperity. Being only one block wide by eight blocks long, this community has suffered much, yet contributed mightily to the life of this town. All eight architectural types identified as meeting the HP requirements exist in the JW area. The structure of each porch holds cultural history that should be protected.

Jacqueline Swain

Lytle Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Westminster Conservatory and the Westminster Community Orchestra, I would like to thank the residents of Princeton and the neighboring communities for their generous support of our recent Holiday Sing-a-Long concert. Our generous audience members contributed over 100 pounds of food (donated to the Crisis Ministry) and $270 (donated to HomeFront, Womanspace, and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen). The orchestra greatly appreciates this thoughtful assistance which helps our neighbors in need. We look forward to collecting even more donations at next year’s event.

Ruth Ochs, Conductor

Westminster Community Orchestra, 

Westminster Conservatory of Music

To the Editor,

As we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of 55PLUS, we were speculating how was it possible that three retired, bored men in Princeton could form an organization that has become the primary non-university meeting venue in Princeton. In 1985 Bernie Gerb and Murray Reich, then both recently retired but who have now passed on, and Harold Loew, were sitting around the community pool discussing what to do with themselves. In order to meet some new people and become involved in the community, they decided to hold a series of lectures on matters of common interest. They hoped that they would meet some new men, and that the attendees would also get to know one another.

They arranged to hold the lectures in the Princeton Jewish Center Library, and agreed that although it was at the Jewish Center, the talks would be nonsectarian, both in the subject matter and for the attendees. They initially talked about their own work and careers, but soon realized that Princeton was a gold mine of interesting and very well qualified speakers from the University as well as from local research labs, as well as other schools like Rutgers, Westminster Choir College, and other centers of intellectual and artistic excellence.

After some local publicity the talks became so popular that the Jewish Center agreed to let the speakers use the large auditorium. The founders had originally intended it to be just a men’s group and at an early meeting actually had a man at the door who stopped a former mayor of Princeton from attending! They quickly realized that discriminating against women was a bad idea, so that everyone is now welcome regardless of sex.

The meetings, which now average from about 150 to 200 people in each session, cover a wide range of subjects in politics, science, technology, economics, medicine, and the arts. Two presidents of Princeton University including the current one, have spoken along with at least three Nobel Prize winners, national columnists, professors from Princeton, Rutgers, NYU and other universities, a CIA spy, a local member with humorous skits, and during the early years of the internet, a young woman who with her computer, showed the group how to get on line. All speakers come at their own expense and are not paid.

If you do not know about 55PLUS and want to know what the organization is currently doing, go to: www.princetonol.com/groups/55plus.

The meetings are held in the Princeton Jewish Center from 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Thursdays of every month except during the summer. There is no charge to attend, but a $3 contribution is requested to cover the costs of the coffee and cookies, gifts for the speakers, other expenses; also requested is a substantial semi-annual contribution to the Jewish Center, which charges no rent.

We want to thank all the speakers in the Princeton area and elsewhere for the past 30 years who have delivered such timely, interesting, and informational talks, making 55PLUS the success that it is.

Bob Levine

55PLUS and all the other 55PLUS helpers

To the Editor:

It is often necessary for people in Princeton to use local taxi service to get around town. I do, and have had a chance to talk to the drivers and learn about their lives. Recently I was told how current use of Uber for transportation in this area was affecting the drivers’ livelihood. One said that he could hardly make $30 a day. He also said that West Windsor had protected their local taxi drivers by passing a town ordinance that fined Uber drivers $300 if they were found to be operating in West Windsor. I would like to call this situation to the attention of our town residents and government. It would be sad if our local taxis were driven out of business. Maybe we should do what West Windsor did.

Sallie W. Jesser

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

These days, there are very few things that both political parties agree on. So, when something receives unanimous bipartisan support in the New Jersey legislature, it’s worth paying attention to.

This week the New Jersey Assembly unanimously passed legislation to establish a New Jersey Caregiver Task Force (S2640/A4026). This task force will work to identify the services and supports that are currently available to caregivers and solicit input from family caregivers on where the shortfalls are based on the everyday, real work they do. The task force will develop recommendations to the governor and the legislature on the types of services and supports that our state’s 1.2 million unpaid family caregivers need to make their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, a little easier.

The State Senate has already passed the bill with unanimous approval. Now, the bill sits on the desk of Governor Christie awaiting only his signature.

AARP believes that it’s time to give back to our tireless caregivers who give so much of themselves to others each and every day. We urge Governor Christie to sign this important bill into law.

Evelyn Liebman

AARP New Jersey Associate State Director, Princeton


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