March 27, 2019

To the Editor:

Princeton obviously has the most special of reasons to join others around the world to celebrate Pi Day on March 14, our Albert Einstein’s birthday. And how we celebrate this day in our town is clearly fun for all its participants. But I have a concern about what appears to be a uniquely American custom we have adopted in our celebration. “Pie Throwing” in 2019?

Notwithstanding the fun had by those involved and the positive motivations of all concerned, is this really the image we wish to portray to our children, to others around the world? In a world in which hunger remains an issue, in a week in which we observe the suffering in Mozambique from its cyclone? Having experienced hunger as a child, I’m sorry, such a custom just doesn’t work for me in 2019. For what it is worth…

Ursela Taylor
Caldwell Drive

To the Editor:

I learned from Donald Gilpin’s article, “CRC Proposes Inclusive Workplace Policies” [Town Topics,March 6, pg. one] that Princeton’s Civil Rights Commission (CRC) has recommended to the town Council a number of measures to make Princeton a more welcoming place for people who consider themselves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ). I’ve read the CRC’s recommendations, one of which is that “Princeton require all municipal offices and businesses in town to convert all single stall facilities to all gender restrooms.” The recommendation refers to a sample ordinance that requires the replacement of gender-specific signage with gender-neutral signage on single-occupancy restrooms. Implementing this recommendation would be problematic in at least these two ways:

A. It would compel speech, which would be illiberal, and unwelcome to those who prefer to label their restrooms differently;

B. Concepts of gender have become so fluid that “gender-specific” could be taken to mean almost anything, sowing confusion and inconsistency.

Therefore, I encourage the town Council to resist the temptation to dictate to businesses and places of public accommodation how they must label their restrooms.

Martin Erhardt
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

While it’s noteworthy that 40 PHS students followed their worldwide peers by protesting climate change [“Students Strike for Climate Action, Join Global Movement,” March 20, pg. one], it should also be noted that 150-plus PHS students, acted, sang, played in the orchestra, built and moved sets, sold concessions and tickets, ran the backstage and front of the house, to entertain almost 2,000 attendees at four wonderful performances of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Doug Rubin
Laurel Road

March 20, 2019

To the Editor:

One of the reasons I have found living in Princeton to be different from living elsewhere is the variety and depth of contacts I have found possible here. Conversation is lively and intelligent, and people seek earnestly for answers to real problems, both personal and national.

But I think the most remarkable person I have met is Michelle Pirone Lambros. As a member of her campaign’s kitchen cabinet, I’ve seen how she receives the suggestions of a lively group of committed volunteers, all typical of the personalities I’ve encountered in 10 years here. She says little. She listens, she rejects ideas that might offend and explores ideas that make good sense. She takes notes, asks questions. She assigns to herself the task of getting answers, and to reaching out for help from further knowledgeable contacts. When offered help, she has specific assignments and responds freely. “Can you find this out?” “Can you research that?” more

To the Editor:

Last year China, the biggest importer of plastic waste, stopped buying most recycled waste, sending the recycling industry in the U.S. into turmoil. Before the ban, China took in 45 percent of the world’s plastic waste imports for recycling.

Most people in Princeton make an effort to put plastic bottles and other items into recycling bins. But in the past three months, much of plastic recyclables have been loaded onto trucks, and taken to landfills. This new reality especially threatens communities who live near dumping sites. The rest is being sent to Southeast Asian countries who do not have the infrastructure to manage the waste, contributing to the vast amount of plastic in our oceans. more

To the Editor:

As members of the Princeton Environmental Commission, we often hear questions from residents about the safety of our town’s drinking water. As a result, we invited Scott Baxter-Green, manager Water Quality & Environmental Compliance for New Jersey American Water, to our February public meeting. We are grateful to Mr. Baxter-Green for attending and wanted to pass along some of the information he shared with us to the community. Did you know that unless you have a well, the water that comes out of your tap has traveled all the way from Bridgewater, N.J., where the New Jersey American Water treatment plant is located? Their water sources include the Raritan River, the Millstone River and the D&R Canal.

New Jersey American Water provides an annual report on the quality of our water that you can find via this link: http://amwater.com/njaw/water-quality/water-quality-reports/raritan. more

To the Editor:

Now in its sixth year, Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) held its first adult fundraiser at The Johnson Education Center in Princeton. SHUPP was started with its primary mission to provide weekend meals to school children in Princeton.  The concept was to, in part, supplement the meals some children receive at school Monday through Friday. SHUPP’s motto is “Because a child should hunger for knowledge, not breakfast.”  Today, SHUPP has grown to include other programs such as providing snacks to school counselors  to give out as needed,  funding lunches at summer programs such as Princeton Recreation Camp and the Pre K Jumpstart program at Johnson Park School, as well as a number of other programs as the need becomes evident. more

To the Editor:

The United Nations is marking March 22 as World Water Day with the message of leaving no one behind in its global campaign for clean, safe drinking water that is available when needed for all. At the local level, The Watershed Institute will be marking this campaign on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with events and programs for all ages that focus on our local water and natural environment. We believe that the best way to improve local stewardship of our water is to raise local awareness. We call this “Raising the Region’s Water IQ.”

We are so fortunate to live in a place where clean, safe tap water is so abundant and such an incredible resource that is often taken for granted. Many people don’t know that the vast majority of our drinking water comes from our local rivers, including the Stony Brook, Millstone, and Delaware. The other source is groundwater which has percolated from the surface. more

To the Editor:

Recent actions by the municipality of Princeton have made the already overcrowded and dangerous intersections at Cherry Hill, Mt. Lucas, and Route 206 even worse. What’s more, the new, oversized fueling station significantly and negatively alters the character of the area.

The closure of Terhune Road between Mt. Lucas and Route 206 has created even more traffic congestion. Now all cars coming from Valley and Terhune Roads that want to turn left onto Route 206 must do so at the traffic light where they have to wait for east-bound traffic on Cherry Hill Road to clear the intersection. more

To the Editor:

I am writing a final update concerning Princeton University terminating general public memberships at Dillon Gym. As of mid-February, all public memberships have been cancelled.

Initially, the University’s argument was that it is doing this to relieve overcrowding at the gym. A number of people wrote in after that, arguing that this is not the case. Speak with anyone who actually goes there on a regular basis and you will find that they don’t agree either and many actually find the argument laughable. The University seemed to have realized this and changed their story to one in which they just don’t want to maintain a gym program for the general public. Aside from contradicting their initial PR statements about their commitment to the community, this change in direction plus their unwillingness to even grandfather in those who have been members for decades begs the question: What is the real reason?

It’s been mentioned privately that the University is actually presenting the public with a straw dog argument to deflect from their true reason for eliminating the public from Dillon Gym – to protect their non-profit, tax-free status on the facility. If this is the case it bears further explanation and investigation by the press. more

March 13, 2019

IMAGE EXPERTISE: “We have a niche. No one else in the area is just like us. We’re full service, offering new and used cameras, rentals, trade-in, restoration, repair, film processing, and knowledgeable advice.” The staff at New Jersey Camera & One Hour Photo in the Lawrence Shopping Center is proud of their long history of service and quality products. Shown, from left, are manager Eric Kramer and owners Bennie Williams, Doug Masin, and Leon Treskunov.

By Jean Stratton

The changes in photography have been almost unimaginable. Film transitioning to digital; Kodak — an icon of the industry — almost gone.

Who could believe 20 years ago that the general public would regularly snap pictures with their phones? Who heard of a smartphone? The sheer speed of the changes is both amazing and unsettling.

Face-to-Face

Nevertheless, even in the age of instant turnaround and non-stop action, some things remain. Knowledgeable, reliable service, high quality products, and helpful face-to-face interaction are still welcome in our world, and in business transactions.

New Jersey Camera & One Hour Photo offers such an experience for its customers. Located in the Lawrence Shopping Center at 2495 Brunswick Pike for the past year, it has served the area in various other locations for many years. more

To the Editor:

I am angry! I am also humiliated and perplexed! Let me explain….

My husband and I decided we wanted to adopt a cat — preferably an adult cat, who would have a more difficult road to a permanent home than a kitten. So we automatically turned to SAVE, since we have a long-time relationship with them.  We have been generous donors, attending fundraising events and sending annual donation checks.  We live on a farm so when a SAVE board members asked, we agreed to shelter and feed any feral cats that they felt were unsuitable for adoption. We have received over 20 in the past and a number of them still reside in and around our barns. Along with the feral cats, we also provide homes for unwanted animals from the entire area, resulting in pastures containing emus, llamas, miniature donkeys, and retired horses. more

To the Editor:

Princeton, like other towns in this state, struggles to shave every penny in taxes, and the Council has tasked the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee in helping with this effort.  Given that 29 percent of our property tax dollars flows to the County — 40 percent more than the town’s share, Council requested CFAC conduct a preliminary analysis of County spending in hopes of identifying room for savings.

In response to last week’s letter in the Town Topics from Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes (“Mercer County Responds to Citizens Finance Advisory Committee Analysis,” Mailbox, March 6), we want to make clear that our intention is to engage the county constructively. Our findings show that the taxes paid to the county by Mercer County residents are out-of-line with taxes in similar New Jersey counties — about 25 percent higher, $54 million higher, than the average of our eight peer counties, equating to $1,151 for the average residential tax bill in Princeton.  more

To the Editor:

I decided not to participate in the Princeton Community Democratic Organization endorsement process because of the dues requirement to vote.  While there still remain Standing Rules that give the PCDO (a private club) a role in the Princeton Municipal Committee (who are elected) selection process, reference to paid PCDO vote has no place in the selection process of the Municipal Committee. There is a need to get money out of the process.

Adam Bierman
Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

We live in a great town! I was born and raised here as a little lad; and I remember how well the majority of community members got along and were good neighbors. We had neighborhood block parties and socialized often by just sitting on porches and talking. Many of the children, regardless of race, economic status, or the part of town they lived in would come together to play. We grew up respecting everyone. This same sense of community that I enjoyed during my childhood is the same kind of community that Councilman Tim Quinn would welcome back with open arms. more

Dear Mayor Lempert:

Last Sunday, (March 3) at about 1 p.m. I drove out to Route 1 on Harrison Street. Alexander Road was closed. The traffic backup extended back from Route 1 all the way to the bridge. And my wife had driven back into Princeton on Washington Road about an hour earlier and had noticed a similar backup there for traffic heading to Route 1 from Princeton.

If this was the situation in the middle of a Sunday afternoon in March, I can only imagine (or maybe I can’t) the nightmare we are going to be faced with when Alexander is closed for eight months because of the bridge replacement. We have been told that this is a NJDOT project and that it must be done, and I accept that albeit reluctantly. more

To the Editor:

It is rare that a candidate for local office elicits the enthusiasm and confidence with which I endorse Mia Sacks for Princeton Council. It is time for Princeton to undertake a comprehensive review of our zoning code and municipal planning processes through the lens of social justice. Princeton’s Master Plan and land use ordinances should be updated to more robustly reflect our community values of diversity and inclusion. Mia’s extensive background in civil liberties advocacy combined with her experience on the Planning Board provide her with the requisite tools to participate in this crucial work. more

To the Editor:

I am reaching out to the Princeton community and friends to share my support of Tim Quinn and Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council. I know some of you support other people in the race and I respect a difference of opinion. However, the future of Princeton is at stake. So I support a sense of history and a sense of where we are and the attributes that these two candidates display. They are both qualified, experienced, and committed to Princeton. The town is changing. Issues and community hot topics are multiplying and the town is not the quaint little college town it used to be. With that said, Tim represents continuity and Michelle represents new ideas. Both of these perspectives are needed on Council to support the great efforts of the other Council persons, the mayor, town administrator, and those talented people who work for the municipality and serve our community everyday. more

To the Editor:

I urge my fellow Democrats to support Michelle Pirone Lambros for municipal Council at the PCDO Endorsement meeting on March 17. I’m speaking up because I strongly believe the times have met with the right candidate for the Council. Michelle has a rare combination of a tough mind and an activist soul. She has the interests of all Princeton deeply at heart, but knows that saying as much is always subject to proof.  more

To the Editor:

A warm thank you from all of us at the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS) to those who attended the March 3 talk by Dr. Diane Lewis on the threats to our shared aquifer of using commercial fertilizers and herbicides on America’s largest crop, lawn. A key plank of FOPOS’s organizational mission is to “advocate for sound policy decisions that protect the environment.” Dr. Lewis’s “Great Healthy Yard Project” (http://tghyp.com/) offers solutions for private landowners who wish to care for their yards as carefully as we steward our public conservation lands.

We also wish to thank Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for their sponsorship of this 50th-anniversary-year event and our membership for their on-going support of our public education programs.

Wendy Mager
President
The Board of Friends of Princeton Open Space

To The Editor:

I followed my letter [Mailbox, Feb 20] with a personal plea for attention to the potholes on the Harrison/Nassau Street intersection at the Princeton Council meeting on Monday February 25. On the evening of Thursday, February 28, that intersection was repaved and is now safe and secure to cross through. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Principal Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton and NJ Department of Transportation Community and Constituent Relations Regional Manager Kimberly Nance for their professional efforts to fix this intersection and create a safe and secure roadway for all of us to use. Kudos, and encomiums to all who made this happen. Keep up the good work.

Howard W. Silbersher
Governors Lane

March 6, 2019

To the Editor:

Ever since becoming executive director of the already sperb Princeton Public Library, Brett Bonfield has worked hard to understand, expand, and improve it. As an inveterate library user and a member of the Council of the Friends of the PPL, I’ve been grateful for the wide range and extraordinary quality of the resources, services, and work/study/meeting spaces that the PPL has been providing under Mr. Bonfield’s guidance. more

To the Editor:

In the story, “Finance Committee Study Finds Mercer County is a Big Spender” [Town Topics, Feb. 20], the assertion that Mercer County outspends its peer counties in every category is misleading based on the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) own report. CFAC failed to consider Mercer County’s unique distinction of being home to our state capital, Trenton. The honor of hosting our state government comes with a cost: the state of New Jersey owns more than $1 billion in property, or well over one-third of all tax-exempt property in the city, and this is a burden shared by all Mercer County residents.  more

To the Editor:

It’s always heartwarming to see the Kids & Camps guide in Town Topics each year. As a young person growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t have the opportunity to spend my summers outside exploring the natural world and learning how to work with kids outside of my neighborhood. It’s one of the many reasons that I joined the board of the Princeton-Blairstown Center after settling in the Princeton area. more

To the Editor:

As acknowledged in newspaper articles and letters, many if not most citizens within Princeton support efforts to, as expressed by Zoning Officer Derek Bridger, “slow down and de-incentivize tear-downs on substandard lots.” That desire is of long duration and growing stronger with each sighting of the dreaded orange plastic fencing and red ribbons around old trees that signals another razing of a house and blighting of a landscape. Bridger and Council members David Cohen and Tim Quinn offer a compelling rationale for why Princeton should adopt the proposed ordinance that would eliminate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses allowing for larger buildings on undersized lots. If amendments need to be made to avoid the unintended consequences of placing minor adjustments to a house such as the replacement of a window under this ordinance then they should be made but quickly. I fear that these complaints mask a competing desire of architects and developers to continue to build structures that are grossly inconsistent with the neighborhoods in which they appear. more