March 30, 2016

To the Editor:

The town council is considering an ordinance that has significant financial implications to property owners in the proposed Witherspoon Jackson Historic district as well as to all taxpayers in Princeton.

This neighborhood has been in disrepair for many years secondary to two decisions made by our local government. First they designated this district to be included in the R4 Zone, making EVERY home non-conforming. Property owners are forced to incur added costs to conform to these new standards that are totally opposite of the character of the existing properties. Secondly, town council approved the Clay Street projects that eviscerated the Witherspoon District, cutting it right down the middle and altering it so far beyond what any current “gentrified” property owner has done.

This ordinance will significantly reduce the value of homes in this district, especially for homes currently in disrepair (i.e. the majority). Between the cost of obtaining zoning approval — and now historic preservation approval — easily $15,000 to $20,000 will be spent without ANY guarantee that a building project will be approved. Bringing a home up to existing codes or even the simplest alterations will not be done because it inherently creates a conflict between the building department, zoning, and historic preservation. It is no wonder that when the Historic Preservation committee proposed the same ordinance restrictions in the western section, the property owners did the obvious: hired a lawyer and told the bureaucrats to get lost. They knew it would bring down the value of their property and impose many new oppressive regulations. I feel this proposed regulation will reduce the sale value of the unimproved properties involved by at least 1/3rd or more.

Taxpayers who live outside this district are equally affected. Using my recently purchased property in the district as an example, I added $450,000 in improvements that would not be allowed if this district becomes historic. Using the data from Wise Preservation Consultants, there will be 281 properties that will not be improved in this way, taking away from our tax rolls $126,450,000 ($450,000 X 281) in potential improvements permanently from the town’s tax base, year after year!

Lowering the value of homes, preventing improvements, and freezing the condition of blighted properties is not the way to make a neighborhood affordable. I bought my house in this neighborhood because I love the people IN it. It is a phenomenal neighborhood that will remain so if our local government starts making decisions that prevent long standing citizens from having to move out because they cannot afford their taxes. Our town council should start enforcing rental laws that prevent multiple families from living in a single family house, revise the R4 zone to allow property owners to make improvements without spending a fortune on approvals, and stabilize the taxes of senior citizens that live in this neighborhood. The Wise Preservation Consultants found ONLY three homes in the District that are classified as “anchor” properties. Make these three historic and that’s all. This proposed ordinance will increase house vacancies and slum lord properties, prevent improvements, and financially decimate property owners. Hey, but that’s the Democratic way!

Anthony J Vasselli, MD

Lytle Street

To the Editors:

For over 12 years, the Johnson Park (JP) Koko Fund has assisted JP students from families in financial need by subsidizing enrichment opportunities. The program has grown significantly since its founding and is needed more than ever as nearly one third of Johnson Park’s current students are eligible.

Through financial assistance from our JP Koko Fund, students participate in after-school activities at JP, in the greater Princeton community, and at various summer camps. JP’s Koko Fund partners provide significant program discounts for our youngsters. Without their support, our children would not have these experiences.

Specifically, through the support of our program partners, the Koko Fund has given students the opportunity to participate in after-school classes such as science, sports, chess, acting, and art. Our partners have also allowed JP boys and girls to attend programs at the Princeton Recreation summer camps, Westminster Conservatory, and the Princeton Y.W.C.A. Other program partners include:

The Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Ballet School, Princeton Y.M.C.A., Princeton Soccer Association (P.S.A.), Princeton Football Club (P.F.C.), Princeton Soccer Experience, Rambling Pines Day Camp, and Village Shoes.

The JP Koko Fund Advisory Board would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have helped provide enrichment opportunities.

Now more than ever, we seek support of our Koko Fund, which operates within the JP Parent Teacher Organization, a 501c(3) organization. The JP Koko Fund Advisory Board consists of parents, teachers, and community members who manage the fund and its activities. The Advisory Board strives to work within a framework of fiscal responsibility and mutual respect and sensitivity to the recipient children and their families.

Our Koko Fund’s annual fundraiser, our “JP Move-A-Thon,” is Wednesday, April 6, at JP. To contribute to the Koko Fund, please send a check payable to Johnson Park Koko Fund, 285 Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, or go online at to donate to the Koko Fund via PayPal.

Johnson Park Koko Fund Advisory Board

To the Editor:

Saturday night, March 26, hundreds of commuters to Princeton Junction saw first hand how inadequate New Jersey Transit would be in the event of a large serious emergency situation. At least four trains that left New York from 8 p.m. on were prevented from stopping at Princeton Junction because of what we were told on the speaker system was “police action at Princeton Junction.” Before New Brunswick, our train, the 9:01 express due in at 10:04, was halted. After we limped late into New Brunswick, the speaker system announced that we would go backward a bit to a different track and then would have to bypass the Junction and get off at Hamilton and then take the train on the “opposite platform” back to Princeton Junction.

When we arrived at Hamilton, there was no human being to direct us through the long walk on the platform to the escalator to the street level, and to the east-bound platform which we had to reach by going out into the street. We never saw an employee of NJ Transit after getting off the train at the low-level platform where there was a conductor. And no one came or even announced at 11 p.m. while we were waiting out in the cold at Hamilton when the next train would appear. There were babies, children, older people, and several who needed but could not find the way to an open bathroom. If we had found one, we’d have been afraid to leave the platform because we had no idea when the train home would arrive. Others had come from the airport with luggage after perhaps a day of traveling.

We kept hearing announcements about trains going west to Trenton. Several more trains came in with passengers destined for Princeton Junction. We arrived back at the Junction after midnight, two hours late for us but longer for the earlier trains that had been through the same situation.

Yes, it was an emergency at the Junction. When we passed going south we saw a car on the tracks and several police and fire vehicles. Yes, it was obviously a sad situation. But — where were conductors who could be trained in human communication? Why weren’t they walking through the cars? And why did no employee appear at Hamilton to direct us, open restrooms, and give us information?

Ideally, a bus would have been there to take us back. There were hundreds of people from several trains waiting.

Yes, it was not a national emergency and we all were aware that this was just a great inconvenience. And because the tragedy in Belgium was in many minds, the complaints were not large. Everyone seemed to bear it despite the cold and lateness of the hour.

My concern is where will the human being employees of New Jersey Transit be if a far more serious situation arises?

Obviously some training and serious preparation and mock situations need to be put into action.

Phyllis Spiegel


To the Editor:

As I run for Council in New Jersey’s June 7 primary, I look forward to discussing issues with Princeton’s Democratic voters.

I see three main issues facing Council: affordability and municipal property taxes, affordability and Princeton University, and affordability and McMansions. (The school budget is not within Council’s purview.)

First, I believe Council does control spending carefully. But what about increasing revenue? Having met for four years with Princeton Future’s Neighborhood Retail Initiative, I propose a volunteer economic development commission to help us retain existing businesses and attract new ones in keeping with our town’s character.

Second, affordability and the University: Council should begin consulting with the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the case questioning the University’s non-profit status. The University has agreed to explore mediation, and we need to ensure the best settlement for our town. Having met for five years with a committee that studied this issue, I favor a greatly increased Payment in Lieu of Taxes that grows predictably each year, according to the University’s annual income or the value of its real property, fairly assessed.

Third, affordability and McMansions: I served seven years on Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board. To slow tear-downs of modest homes and their replacement by million-dollar spec houses, I favor toughening the Borough’s 2006 McMansion law and applying it also to denser parts of the former Township. Set-backs, floor-area ratio, and height should reflect each neighborhood’s existing averages.

For more information, please email

Anne Waldron Neumann

Alexander Street

March 23, 2016

To the Editor:

Be sure you’re ready to vote in the June 7 primary election! Please review the following procedures and deadlines. Forms can be downloaded from the League of Women Voters’ website. Go to and, on the home page, click on whatever form you need.

In New Jersey, only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to vote in a primary election and then only for candidates in their own party. If you are now registered as Unaffiliated, you may declare yourself either a Democrat or Republican at the polls. You will then be allowed to vote. If you wish to change your party affiliation — from Democrat to Republican or vice-versa — or to become Unaffiliated so that you can declare your party at the time of the election, you must submit a Party Affiliation Declaration Form by April 13.

May 17 is the deadline to register to vote in the primary election or to file your new name or address if either has changed since the November election. For high school seniors who have turned 18, the primary will be their first chance to vote!

May 31 is the deadline to apply to Vote by Mail — whether you’ll be away on June 7 or simply don’t want to take the time to go to the polls. By applying early, you can have your ballot sent wherever it’s convenient.

Please be prepared, and please remember to vote.

Chrystal Schivell

Voter Service Chair, League of Women 

Voters of the Princeton Area

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March 16, 2016

To the Editor:

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who is looking forward to the day when the obsessive and futile efforts of the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) to halt the construction of new faculty housing on the grounds of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) come to an end. The PBS’s hyperbolic misrepresentations of the motives and actions of the IAS are an embarrassment.

A fact the PBS ignores is that the Institute is also an important part of our local and national history. And where is the PBS’s gratitude for the glorious Institute Woods, which the IAS generously shares with the community? The time and energy and funds the PBS has poured into this fruitless fight would have been much better spent on improving and maintaining the Princeton Battlefield State Park’s monuments and buildings — some of which are in serious disrepair.

Jane Eldridge Miller

Laurel Circle

The news, of course, is the foundation of any newspaper. Right alongside, however, are the advertisers, who support and contribute to the success of the publication.

As Town Topics marks its 70th anniversary, it has been fortunate to count upon many loyal advertisers over the years. They differ widely in merchandise and type of services; what they share is a commitment to quality products, customer consideration, and support of this newspaper over many years.

Many are family businesses, which have been passed down through the generations. All have remained competitive in changing times and tastes, while retaining the individual qualities that make them unique. And, above all, they have stood the test of time. more


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March 10, 2016


Chef Max Hansen has announced plans for a 25,000-square-foot new catering venue in an old farmhouse on Carter Road in Hopewell. The $7 million project geared to weddings, corporate events, and catered affairs is scheduled to open by the summer of 2017. The project will create some 100 full-time jobs.

The location will also become the headquarters for Mr. Hansen’s entire operation. For the past 25 years, Max & Me Catering, Max Hansen Caterer, and Max Hansen Carversville Grocery in Bucks County have served the area. more

March 9, 2016

To the Editor:

I was delighted to hear that Princeton is considering installation of a PV (photovoltaic) array on the municipal garage near the library [“Bridge Closing, Solar Array Among Council Topics,” Town Topics, March 2, page one], and thought that my recent experience putting an array on my own roof might be helpful. Much to my surprise (why should I be surprised?) I discovered that Wall Street has found a way to turn my roof into their gold mine. Had I accepted their proposal I would be able to buy somewhat cheaper renewable electricity while Wall Street collected the 30 percent federal tax rebate and New Jersey state incentives (Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs) which currently are worth about 29 cents/kWh for electricity generated by the array. (For comparison, the PSE&G generation plus distribution charge is currently about 17cents/kWh.)

The key to the Wall Street financial engineering approach is that these extremely generous incentives are collected by the owner of the array, not the customer, and are never mentioned in the contract proposal.

I discovered what might be termed “a walk down the garden path” when I tried to obtain a quote for my own solar array, saying that I was interested in ownership, not leasing or any other arrangement. After much searching, one of the large national solar installers sent me a very professional, detailed proposal, but for a 20-year power purchase agreement, not ownership. In this case the homeowner pays nothing and the installer owns and maintains the array and sells the homeowner electricity at a rate below that of the local utility but with an escalation clause (2.9 percent per year in my case). Tax credits and SRECs were never mentioned.

I did some rapid calculations of my own based on the Installer’s power production projections and a reasonable array cost and found that over the lifetime of the agreement I was over $50,000 better off owning the array. This is somewhat astonishing as the array is relatively modest: 21 panels, 340 square foot, 5.67 kW ($15,050 installed cost after the Federal income tax credit). I am sure the array on the garage roof would be many times larger and thus much more profitable.

Princeton should carefully examine different contractual arrangements (one possibility: a short term, 5 year, lease-purchase agreement) for its solar arrays with the objective of capturing as much of the incentive payments as possible. An array with excellent solar exposure, such as on the top of a parking garage, may have a payback period for the installed cost of less than four years, after which SREC sales and avoided power savings would provide a steady and substantial income stream.

All such income should be dedicated to funding additional energy efficiency and fossil fuel reduction projects such as electric and hybrid vehicle purchases, EV charger deployment, and geothermal heat pumps for heating and cooling municipal buildings and schools.

For homeowners, the “Go Solar for $0 Down” plans and derivatives, including unsecured “Solar Loans,” should be avoided. If one cannot afford the installed array cost with available funds, one might take out a home equity loan. Otherwise, save your money for a few years until you can pay for the array yourself.

Alfred Cavallo

Western Way

To the Editor:

My parents moved to Princeton in 1992 when I was three years old, shortly after McCaffrey’s Supermarket opened its doors in the Princeton Shopping Center. Shopping at McCaffrey’s quickly became an almost everyday ritual for us, for everything from Jersey Fresh produce to delicious baked goods. When I return home to visit my folks and I shop at McCaffrey’s, I often recognize many of the same faces from my youth who have made successful careers for themselves at our neighborhood market. The store is a welcoming place and always has everything I need, including the best donuts I have ever tasted. The employees are always helpful and knowledgeable. I cannot tell you how many times while I am shopping at the chain grocery store near my home in Washington, D.C., that I think to myself, “Gee, I wish I was at McCaffrey’s right now.”

How lucky the Princeton community is to have such a wonderful grocery store! Many towns could only dream of having a supermarket like McCaffrey’s. And yet, I happened upon Diane Landis’s letter in this paper last week [Mailbox, March 2] scolding the store for not adhering to certain standards of plastic bag distribution. As someone who holds a Bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and lives in a city that charges 5 cents per plastic bag at all retail outlets, I am fully aware of the environmental consequences of improper plastic bag use and disposal, as well as the many benefits of well-crafted regulations to curb plastic bag consumption. I am also fully capable of telling a cashier, “Thank you, but I won’t be needing a bag today.”

It is my opinion that Mercer County, or preferably the state of New Jersey, should be the jurisdiction to set regulations on plastic bag use. Only then can there be fairness amongst stores in the region in competition for our grocery dollars, as well as a comprehensive plan to utilize fees realized from plastic bag use in a way that benefits the environment of the greater Mercer County region, or even the entire state.

Those that insist that the town of Princeton pass its own (flawed) municipal plastic bag legislation fail to see the bigger picture and, consequently, single out the only substantial grocery store in town. McCaffrey’s has done so much over the years to promote reusable grocery bags, as well as provide a convenient location to recycle plastic grocery bags — from any store — well before this “ABC” campaign got started. Their support of the Princeton community in many other ways is so generous and far-reaching that I could not possibly put it into words. I only hope that rational, forward-thinking heads can prevail in this effort to make the Princeton community (really, all of New Jersey) a cleaner, greener, friendlier, and healthier place.

James Steven Beslity

Washington, D.C.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Beslity was a Princeton resident for 17 years and a graduate of the Princeton Public Schools.

To the Editor:

The Battlefield Society’s president recently wrote that supporters of the IAS (Institute for Advanced Study) have “subscribed to the Big Lie theory” and that “IAS is intent on destroying the heart of one of the most important sites in American history.” [Mailbox, March 2]. How I wish the Battlefield people would redirect their laudable intents but lamentable language. Such demonization has too long impeded what should by now have been a better outcome for the hallowed ground where Washington saved the American Revolution.

But how I also wish that the IAS would break out of its hermetically sealed Eurocentric bubble. For our neighborhood and our nation, IAS, with its global connections and gigantic funding sources, should be doing much more to help preserve the uniquely significant American heritage land under and around its control. And how I wish the State of New Jersey would properly care for our public lands. The decrepit state of Battlefield Park under its stewardship, with its crumbling monuments and collapsing Clarke House, is a national disgrace.

But mostly, how I wish our community leaders would lead us out of this sorry stalemate. The prestigious and powerful Civil War Trust (CWT) now wants to help, but IAS is refusing to meet. Meanwhile, PBS (Princeton Battlefield Society) is filing a Federal lawsuit of uncertain prospects against IAS. Now seems a good time for a constructive compromise. OK, IAS has the right to build its houses. Let’s help it build them even more discretely. In return, get IAS to sell to CWT the rest of Maxwell Field, which can then help fund a suitable Battlefield visitors center near Clarke House. With CWT’s help, get Crossroads of the Revolution to forge public-private partnerships to restore the Clarke House, refurbish the Colonnade, and repair the monuments.

Then, get the U.S. Park Service and the Historical Society of Princeton to place interpretative markers and pathways throughout the whole area. Get the municipality and Friends of Open Space to create another local trail, a National Heritage History Trail, from the Quaker Meeting through the Battlefield, along Olden Avenue and Battle Road, through the Frog Hollow area around the Grad College, up to Nassau Hall. That trail might include other epic historical sites, like the IAS nursery school in which John von Neumann pioneered the ENIAC computer and the grand ground floor chamber in the Grad College tower that memorializes Grover Cleveland.

We need some honest brokerage to break this impasse. I call for some Princeton “tribal elders” interested in both promoting our local community and preserving our nation’s history to step forward. I’m thinking of the likes of Kristen Appelget (University Community Relations), Mark Freda (Spirit of Princeton), Chad Goerner (Friend of IAS executive committee member), Scott Sipprelle (Historical Society of Princeton president), and Patrick Simon (Council liaison to the Princeton Historical Preservation Commission). Let’s ask such leaders to get the stalemated parties together for a better solution for the Battlefield and IAS, our community, and America’s posterity.

Tom Pyle

Balsam Lane

To the Editor:

Princeton Council will soon introduce an ordinance that, upon passage, will establish the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood as Princeton’s 20th Historic District (HD). I commend Council members Heather Howard, Jenny Crumiller, and Bernie Miller for their enthusiastic support of this measure, which passed unanimously. The “work session” unfolded before a full house, was laced with dozens of passionate speakers from neighbors and their allies — most, focusing on the historic presence and inestimable value of the segregated African-American community in Princeton, but also on the importance of the district to the more recent Latino population.

The boundaries of this HD should be those set forth unanimously by the Historic Preservation Commission on February 22, 2016, without exception, as ably set forth by HPC Administrator Elizabeth Kim and Chair Julie Capozzoli on page 6 of their presentation). The integrity of Witherspoon Street will thus be assured; the HD will then include the historic Sears-Roebuck catalogue homes dating from the 1920s at 190-194 Witherspoon Street, the last of which retains its original porch and stained glass.

This HD needs no “guidelines” beyond those spelled out in Consolidated Ordinance 2014-44. Any builder read about what is expected in terms of building “preservation” or “visual compatibility” or dimensions in relation to height and width, neighboring buildings, porch projections, front lawns, roof shape, etc. By these standards, some of the recent buildings in this HD — which have eliminated porches (the core of street life in the community) — and “make an architect’s statement” but do not resemble the neighborhood’s styles over a 100-year period would not have been allowed. Some are eyesores; others unnecessarily shadow neighbors’ homes.

Among the many aims of this HD are these: preserve buildings and architectural styles which have been key to this community’s survival; control tear-downs and the erection of dysfunctional mansions; steady the valuations and thus the taxes, so that neighbors whose families have lived in Witherspoon-Jackson for generations can continue to do so — Princeton’s most affordable, and most diverse. Architects I know have said that HD designation is the most effective method for achieving these goals. While some buildings need repair, preservation (even replication) should take precedence over destruction (often, from the perspective of sustainability, the worst thing you can do to a building).

One of the chief aims of HD designation is to “foster civic pride” in our history and architecture (Art. XIII. Sec.10B-373[3]). All Princeton, and not only the people of Witherspoon-Jackson, whose homes from Nassau Street north to the vanished Jackson Street have been demolished or “removed,” should indeed feel satisfied that, as a community, we will come together to overcome the shames of the past and to build on our shared history to make us better.

The “usable past” (Van Wyck Brooks’s phrase) is what is of value to create the future. I urge Princeton Council to pass an HD ordinance with the HPC boundaries intact, and to acknowledge the thorough and sufficient guidelines in 2014-44.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

As a Princeton resident, I was shocked to learn of Princeton University’s non-renewal of the contract of the brilliant and learned Near Eastern scholar Dr. Michael Barry, after 12 years of University teaching and just two years from retirement. Michael Barry is a world-renowned scholar whose lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Princeton are among the most absorbing I have ever attended. Anyone who doubts the richness of his background and the extent of his contributions should read his biography on the Princeton University website or watch one of his lectures available on YouTube. The decision by this immensely wealthy university not to renew the contract of such an illustrious lecturer after so many years is incredibly shabby. To their credit, University students and alumni are protesting the decision, which certainly does not reflect an attitude of age-friendliness at Princeton University.

Francesca Benson

Bainbridge Street


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March 3, 2016


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March 2, 2016

To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of a group of concerned citizens who would like the Princeton Council to designate the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood as a local historic preservation district.

In New Jersey, there are few places that embody the African American experience like the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. African Americans were among the first settlers of Princeton, which boasted a higher concentration of black residents than most other towns. However, this community was subjected to racial and discriminatory practices, which essentially created the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Now, those same discriminatory practices are tearing apart a significant piece of African American and Princeton’s history, brick by brick.

The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood exceeds the architectural guidelines for historic preservation. By preserving this neighborhood, we preserve a piece of our nation’s history.

Shirley K. Turner

Senator – 15th District

Editor’s Note: The following letter from New Jersey State Senator Shirley Turner was received too late to meet the press deadline for last week’s issue.

To the Editor:

There is much misinformation floating around on the Battle of Princeton. We have learned much over the last few years from artifacts and original accounts, much of which is included in John Milner Associates’ Princeton Battlefield Mapping Study on our website. This report was funded under the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) of the National Park Service which vetted and approved the study.

The study represents the most comprehensive study of the battle ever done. Our efforts to save the Counterattack Site are largely based on that report and we are strongly supported in our conclusion that the Battle of Princeton was fought and won on the Counterattack Site by the two premiere historic preservation groups in the country the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Civil War Trust.

In 2011, professor and acclaimed historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in a letter to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to support the nomination of the Counterattack Site to its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the U.S.: “One question of historical fact is disputed by the Institute. Several spokespersons asserted that major fighting in the battle did not occur on the land it wishes to develop. They are mistaken. The climax of the battle was a major assault by Washington’s Continental troops, who broke the British line in very heavy fighting. This event happened primarily on the open field that the Institute proposes to use for a housing project. Five major studies have all reached the same result. Several archaeological digs have turned up more density of artifacts from the battle than in the park itself. This land is as central to the battle of Princeton as the field of Pickett’s Charge is to Gettysburg and as Omaha Beach is to D-Day.“

Esteemed Princeton University Professor Jim McPherson testified before the Princeton Planning Board on the historic significance of the Counterattack Site on December 8, 2011 as follows: “So we’re not talking about something unimportant here. We also agree, as David Fischer does actually say this we agree with the Battlefield Society, that the right wing of the American Counter Attack that won the Battle of Princeton took place on Institute Land, including the buffer zone and part of the land on which the housing is planned.”

There have been some repeated misguided claims that the ”Battle of Princeton was just a series of skirmishes all the way to Nassau Hall, none particularly important. It seems that the Institute and its supporters of the destruction of the counterattack site have subscribed to a publicity campaign based on the “Big Lie” theory that if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe it is true.

Enough is enough. It is time to own up to the fact that the IAS is intent on destroying the heart of one of the most important sites in American history.

Jerald P. Hurwitz

President, Princeton Battlefield Society

Editor’s Note: The 2011 statements by Mr. McPherson and Mr. Fischer were made prior to a compromise proposal that the Battlefield Society did not find acceptable.

To the Editor:

The ABC’s Campaign (Ask First, BYOBag, and Collect) has been a huge success in two of its three goals — the B and C. In the program’s first six months, this town has collected approximately 1,000 pounds of plastics that would have been sent to our landfill. These are the plastics that are not typically recycled such as bread bags, cereal bags, and the back of the house plastics that cover palettes for local businesses.

McCaffrey’s is doing an excellent job keeping track of weight and size of all the plastic collected so we can report how many pounds we have kept from the landfill — which is our goal.

What’s missing from the ABC’s campaign is the A. I just popped into McCaffreys this morning and was not asked if I needed a bag. Instead, the cashier pulled a plastic bag out readying it for my purchase. For the woman before me, the cashier actually wrapped two small candy bars in a huge plastic bag!

This campaign is all about changing habits. And, with a little effort, it could become a model for other towns. McCaffrey’s just needs to get the A figured out and hand out fewer plastic bags to its customers by Asking First. Pardon the dopey pun, but it’s as easy as ABC.

Diane M. Landis 

Executive Director, Sustainable Princeton

To the Editor:

As readers now know, New Jersey’s appellate court has upheld the legality of NJ Transit’s relocation of the Dinky terminus to accommodate the University’s development goals. We respect the legal process, but we are disappointed that these rulings have shown so little sensitivity to the public interests involved. We fought this battle to give voice to the interests of public transportation users, and we are grateful many, many supporters who have recognized that this was a battle worth fighting, win or lose.

We brought our cases to court because we believed, and still do, that the relocation of the Dinky terminus and destruction of our historic and charming station was a terrible idea. Princeton has lost an in-town station with easy pedestrian access that provided a mass transit link to the Northeast Corridor. Princeton has also lost an iconic train station with irreplaceable literary, cultural, and political associations. The park-and-ride facility we have in its place has all the charm of an industrial site and is inconvenient. It is no surprise that Dinky ridership has declined significantly.

When Borough elected officials debated zoning approvals for an Arts complex that involved relocating the Dinky, they were told by NJ Transit that a 1984 contract gave the University the absolute right to relocate the terminus. Our cases established that this was not true: the judges said that NJ Transit retained the full authority to approve or disapprove the move.

We also argued that before giving any approval NJ Transit was required to hold a meaningful public hearing to show the move was in the best interests of NJ Transit riders. Instead, with the backing of our governor, who controls NJ Transit and also is an ex-officio University Trustee, NJ Transit assented to the move behind closed doors and presented the plan to the public as a fait accompli. The Court has said the law permits this. However, if this is the law, the law should be changed. NJ Transit should not be permitted to make backroom deals to turn over precious public transportation assets to a private entity without any public hearing or accountability.

We encourage Princetonians who rely on the Dinky to join us in pressing for enforcement of the promises made in the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) and to identify steps that can and should be taken to improve service and ridership on the Dinky. We also urge our elected officials to press NJ Transit to move quickly to honor its obligation to promote public awareness of the history of the Princeton Branch through the installation and permanent maintenance of interpretative displays at the new station.

Anita Garoniak

Harris Road


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3-2-16 profiles in ed swainIn the fall of 1969, as a sophomore, I walked into the Princeton University Office of Teacher Preparation to investigate the possibilities for a career in teaching. Mrs. Swain was presiding. Last week, a 41-year teaching career behind me, I walked into the Teacher Prep Office again. Mrs. Swain is still presiding.

The Office has moved, from West College to William Street. The program has seen five different directors, many changes in personnel and about 1000 University students gaining New Jersey Teacher Certification. Jacqueline L. Swain remembers, and has helped, all of them. “She is Teacher Prep,” said current program director Christopher J. Campisano. “If you want to know, Jacqui’s the one to talk to. She’s the heart and soul of the program. It’s the extraordinary program it is because of her work, because of Mrs. Swain. Anybody who walks through that door, regardless of whether they’re graduating or they were here 10 or 20 years ago, Jacqui will know their name.”

Jacqui Swain was born in Princeton, where her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents lived in a rambling old house on Clay Street near Witherspoon. Her parents moved to Rahway, where she went to school. She attended Rider College, graduated with a degree in Commerce and returned to Princeton, where she still lives.  more

February 24, 2016

To the Editor:

I write to join the Princeton community in mourning the passing of Bill Cirullo, the longtime principal and teacher at Princeton’s Riverside School. I first met Bill when he taught my son’s fourth grade class at Riverside. He was a force of nature in the best possible way. He was proof that a teacher can inspire, motivate, and teach children while still being strict and demanding.

When Bill applied to become principal of Riverside School, I was a member of the Princeton Board of Education. In my nine years on the Board, the vote of which I am most proud is the vote to appoint, and later to tenure, Bill as principal. He inspired the teaching staff to be the best they could be. He assumed he could make a poor teacher good and a good teacher great. And he always aimed for great. Although his position at Riverside made him the supervisor of teachers, he never forgot the children or the parents. He made education the business of the entire community: the children, parents, teachers, and community. Those of us who are fortunate to live in the town of Princeton know that we have lost a great leader. It is said that no one is irreplaceable, but it will be very difficult to replace Bill Cirullo.

Joel Cooper

Prospect Avenue