April 22, 2015

To the Editor:

I recently registered to volunteer with the Arts Council of Princeton to help at Communiversity in downtown Princeton on April 26. Doing so reminded me of how much I enjoy volunteering. I truly love the process of meeting new people, lending a hand, giving back, and making a difference. I’m joining more than 1.4 million people who volunteer each year in New Jersey’s schools, nonprofit organizations, and houses of worship and many others who help elderly neighbors or friends in need.

In the last few years, the definition of volunteering has expanded to include those sharing their professional skills. It’s no longer just attorneys who give “pro-bono” service. Volunteering has exploded to include, for example, finance, marketing, communications and IT professionals stepping up to help nonprofit organizations by serving on their boards or sharing their skills in short-term strategic projects.

Whatever type of volunteering you are participating in, I applaud your efforts to make the lives of others a bit brighter. April 12-18, 2015, was National Volunteer Appreciation Week. I encourage any organization using volunteers to thank those who are giving their time, skills, and heart to help your organization succeed. Volunteers are the backbone of any organization.

I would like to publicly thank the many volunteers who have worked with VolunteerConnect to share their skills on boards of area nonprofit groups or by completing a strategic project for a nonprofit organization in need of your talents. Skills-based volunteering not only allows you to contribute your talents and education, but helps nonprofit organizations succeed beyond their expectations.

Amy Klein

Executive Director, VolunteerConnect

To the Editor:

Allow me to introduce us: we’re members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. No, no, please don’t run. We’re not scary. We’re your neighbors. Our kids go to school with yours and you see us mowing the lawn. We drive our cars and heat and cool our homes, just like you. And we want to continue to do so. But we need your help. You see, we read about the drought in California threatening our farmer friends, Glacier National Park losing its glaciers, and our pine forests in Colorado dying because of beetles that no longer go away during the winters. We see our beautiful country changing before our eyes. Even though we don’t all understand how and why, we trust in smart people who study these things and say that fossil fuel use is warming the atmosphere, which causes or exacerbates these issues, and that the changes are happening now and very fast.

Nobody likes excessive regulations, and instead we want to use the biggest force on earth: the power of the American economy, to solve this problem. Our proposal will not increase the size of government, but it will reward good behavior and discourage bad, so it will encourage adaptation. And that is what we do best as Americans: adapt and grow. We do this so well, that independent studies show that we can both reduce fossil fuel use by 50 percent and have a net increase of 2.8 million jobs in 20 years when we act. This means that there is no reason to wait: the best time to act is now.

So please join us. You will not be alone, I promise. We have over 220 local groups in the country, tens in other parts of the world and we’re doubling in size every year. We have people from all faiths, ages, and political denominations and we especially want you. You don’t need to have any special talents or skills, just be a citizen who cares. If enough of us show that we care, and that we are supporting a specific solution that is non-partisan and will work, we will get this done. Go to www.citizensclimatelobby.org and join us now!

Veronique Oomen

Linwood Circle

To the Editor:

Due to the ongoing union negotiations between the Princeton Board of Education and the PREA, the cancellation of the upcoming annual district-wide elementary school orchestra concert on April 23 is imminent. It is a huge loss artistically. This concert is the culmination of the music teachers and children’s entire year of practice and rehearsal. It is a brilliantly orchestrated event that brings together the strings students from all four elementary schools to perform at Princeton High School’s main auditorium. This concert is the pinnacle achievement of the teacher and student’s academic year.

During my 24 years with McCarter Theatre I have seen how a performance experience on our stages can transform a child. Artists practice their craft to ultimately share, perform, and enrich an audience’s hearts and minds. A huge experience is being taken away from over 150 elementary school students in Princeton. The children lose the opportunity to perform in a large venue before an audience in the hundreds. They lose a chance to build their poise, confidence and pride. They lose being part of an extraordinary collaboration with their peers from the other elementary schools and they never get to reach the goal they have practiced for all year, which negatively impacts their motivation.

The children lose.

Taking this concert away from them is equal to telling a winning sports team they cannot play in the championship game; in effect, they never get past the playoffs. A resolution to these negotiations by both sides must be made so that activities such as this concert can take place.

Cheryl Mintz

Franklin Avenue, Parent of a 4th Grade Student,

Resident Stage Manager McCarter Theatre Center

To the Editor:

Princeton was treated to a memorable privilege on Sunday at our public library. US1 Poets’ Cooperative gave their annual celebration in honor of the new volume of US 1 Worksheets. This is, believe it or not, the 60th Issue of their literary journal, featuring skilled poets both national and international.

Our Community Room was Standing Room Only. The first nice day of 2015 gleamed through walls of windows, as life and drama and action and beauty unfolded in that hushed room.

Driving there myself, I had slightly yearned toward the Pole Farm. Suddenly, a great sense of the honor of the afternoon event washed over me: We are a community blessed that US 1 Poets’ Cooperative has been meeting to critique, every Tuesday, in and near Princeton, all those decades.

It is equally remarkable that our fine library supports poetry to such a high degree, including readings sponsored by Delaware Valley Poets with US 1 Poets on the second Monday of every month. Your own Linda Arntzenius is one of the strongest members of US 1, in terms of her art and her service. The Cooperative’s astute editors gave greatly of their time, their judgment, their very art, as well as essential logistical expertise, to bring forth this handsome volume.

But there is more. Poetry is about truth, often truths not easily shared. There is secret love, unspeakable grief, astounding encounters, as well as political truths increasingly overlooked in the prose world. Sunday at the library provided a new perspective on freedom of speech in our time.

Carolyn Foote Edelmann

Juniper Court, Lawrenceville

To the Editor:

The PREA would like to thank the many parents, students, community members, and local businesses supporting us as we continue to seek a fair and equitable agreement with the Princeton Public Board of Education. We are truly fortunate to have such a strong and pro-public-education community!

We are especially grateful to the following individuals and businesses for helping make the April 9 rally a success: The parents and community members who showed up to stand with teachers and celebrate the Princeton Public Schools:

Ms. Shirley Satterfield, PPS parent, retired PPS guidance counselor, and well respected community member, for speaking in support of the PREA members and on the importance of educators everywhere; Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for generously providing a letter on behalf of the PREA that was read by Ms. Kari Osmond, district director, Office of The Congresswoman; PREA member, and Electric Stingray band member, Bryan McKenna for providing music; Sarthak Parikh and the Princeton University juggling team for providing entertainment and juggling lessons; Jazams for donating picture books for our book drive supporting Princeton Nursery School.

And a special thank you to the following businesses for generously donating food and drink items to feed our rally participants: bai drinks, Bon Appetit, Dunkin Donuts, Hoagie Haven, House of Cupcakes, The Momo Brothers, Olives, Tico’s Eatery & Juice Bar, and Terhune Orchards.

Joanne Ryan

President, PREA

To the Editor:

You know you live in a very special town when not one but several merchants read in the paper that the public high school is hosting 20 foreign exchange students and they contact you to see how they can make the visit a more special experience. On behalf of Princeton High School and the Pettoranello Italian exchange students, we would like to thank Carlo and Raoul Momo, Adriano DiDonato, William Lettier, Angela Baldino and the Baldino family for their enormous generosity and exemplary civic mindedness.

Over 40 students were treated to after school tapas at Mediterra, picnic fixings from Bon Appetit, and a hometown pizza dinner at Contes restaurant.

The students spent a morning touring the Grounds for Sculpture with a special tour of the Foundry thanks to Maria Lo Biondo, Rena Perrone and Charles Haude. They were given private tours of the public library, Engine Company No. 3, and a special welcome from members of the Princeton Council and our esteemed mayor Liz Lempert. They enjoyed tours of the Princeton University Art Museum and campus. Thank you to Princeton University professors Pietro Frassica and Fiorenza Weinapple who took time out of their day to welcome our guests.

Special thanks goes to Ellie Pinelli for her tireless work on behalf of Dorthea’s House, the Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City foundation, and the Italian American Sportsmen Club, which hosted the students for a luncheon and a farewell dinner with a disc jockey. Ellie put her heart and soul into making sure each of the daily itineraries provided our guests with the fullest American experience and we are enormously grateful for all of her work and leadership.

Mary Stange

James Court

To the Editor:

We moved to Princeton for a number of reasons. Top of our lists was the school system. Academic excellence, strong arts programs, and diverse student population — all proved to be true. But in our quests to advocate for our children we found the system sorely lacking in support of academic excellence for their learning styles. So together we are speaking to parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and more. What we found was that we were not alone.

Student/school/parent communication should be easier! In response, our group Parents Supporting All Learners is reaching out to the community for support. Help us create change in the Princeton Public School System. If you care about:

STUDENTS’ ORGANIZATIONAL BURDEN AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS: The executive functions required for a student to manage the antiquated system of paper calendars, daily handouts, binders, notes, and homework are simply not developed by middle school and even high school for a large population of students. There are affordable electronic solutions that many school systems and charter schools have implemented.

TEACHING TO ALL CHILDREN: There are no developed strategies in place to support students who learn better through discussion, interaction, movement, video learning, or some other modern, non-lecture-based teaching. Luckily we have many creative teachers but that is not enough.

TREATMENT OF STUDENTS LABELED WITH ATTENTION DEFICIT: The Center for Disease Control estimates there are potentially 300-400 or more students in the system with an Attention Deficit diagnosis. A sizeable population yet there are no policies to educate teachers or to communicate with parents on the subject.

KNOWING HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT: There are no clearly communicated guidelines for parents to navigate student services. Information on applicable laws, programs available, and allocation of relevant funds, are not easily found and should be. In addition, educators and guidance staff should not be recommending medication. They are simply not qualified to do so.

Parents Supporting All Learners is a group of parents working to effect change in the Princeton Public School System. Our schools need to step up to the plate and make structural changes to support all students in learning to their full potential. The Academic Achievement Board has heard us, now we need the leverage of parents.

We teach our children to accept and even celebrate their differences. Their classmates may look different from them, speak different languages, play differently, mature differently, and love differently. Why then can’t we fully embrace that they learn differently?

We are reaching out for your support. Please find information at Parents Supporting All Learners on Facebook and join our group.

Beth Hamilton

Linwood Circle

Jill Burd

Broadripple Drive

April 16, 2015

To the Editor:

Over the past dozen years, this paper has published numerous letters from Princeton residents bemoaning the building of “McMansions” in this community. Typically, the Zoning Board kept out of the fray asserting that, as long as the houses meet the zoning requirements, there’s nothing it can do.

Unfortunately, the Zoning Department uses an overly lax standard for determining the size of a house which allows hundreds of square feet to be excluded. This has allowed the construction of houses significantly larger than permitted by the Zoning Ordinance.

At its monthly meeting on April 22, 2015, the Princeton Zoning Board of Adjustment will be considering how the Zoning Ordinance should be interpreted. I shall be urging the Board to abide by the intent of the Zoning Ordinance and to ensure that an accurate measure of the size of a structure be used.

If any readers are concerned about overbuilding in Princeton, I encourage them to attend this meeting and to voice their opinion. (So far, I only have a verbal commitment from the Zoning Department that this matter will be considered at the April meeting. Please check the agenda for this meeting prior to attending.)

Charles Karney

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Why must public school teachers in Princeton “fight” to receive a decent salary contract year after year?

That this occurs in an affluent town dedicated to learning: the University, Graduate College, Rider, Seminary, Institute for Advanced Study, Theological Library, Art Museum, Public Library) is a shame!

Every person reading this letter must agree that there is nothing more important than the training of their kids in education and character as future citizens.

Most teachers I know love the kids, the town, the subjects, despite the fact that they can’t afford to buy a new house in the former Borough or Township or plan to save enough to retire.

William Roufberg

Retired PHS teacher, Kendall Park

To the Editor:

As chair of Trenton Children’s Chorus (TCC) 25th Anniversary committee, I want to thank the Princeton and Trenton communities for helping us hit a high note at our 25th Anniversary Celebration concerts. Audiences were on their feet and clapping to the music at packed performances on March 27 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Trenton, and on March 28 at Miller Chapel in Princeton. The Trenton Children’s Chorus under the direction of Patricia Thel; the Princeton Seminary Singers, directed by Martin Tel; and guest soloist Rev. William Heard joined voices in a glorious evening of gospel music. Included in the program was the premiere of a work commissioned in honor of the occasion, “One Human Family,” by renowned gospel composer Raymond Wise.

We at TCC are so very grateful for the support of all our Princeton and Trenton friends and families. TCC provides exceptional musical, academic, personal, and social opportunities — choral rehearsal, drumming instruction, music theory, enrichment — for young people after school. TCC’s role in the Trenton community couldn’t be more important than it is today. In an urban area where the high school drop out rate is greater than 50 percent, 100 percent of TCC’s graduates attend college.

The Trenton Children’s Chorus will hold their spring concert on Friday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 471 Parkway Avenue, Trenton. A free-will offering will be received. More information is available at www.trentonchildrenschorus.org.

Jane Hynes

Board Member, Trenton Children’s Chorus

April 10, 2015

To the Editor:

Our agreements are the only thing we humans can actually depend on. So, as a Princeton resident who lives off Nassau, I was wondering if this spring we might, as a community, agree on 9 a.m. as the time power tools can be turned on during the week and 10 a.m. on weekends. Currently power tools are turned on any time a person wants to use one — in my neighborhood usually around 8 a.m., any day.

This may seem an insignificant request to consider, yet “sound-noise” can be extremely intense and discordant to one’s whole system — perhaps in the background for many, yet for some, very much heard and noticed, very much a disruption.

Forming win-win agreements offers a truly sustainable benefit now, for all. Perhaps instead of beginning with our power tools in the morning, we can save that part of the project till a bit later? We will thrive with win-win agreements. “More power tool ya!” and everyone else too!

P.S.: Can we also ban squirrel alarms? The intensity of those high-pitched devices also causes incredible discord to the system and, if you live off Nassau, you live in “Squirrel Town.” There really is no keeping a squirrel off your property. They’re everywhere. So how about we agree to consider the possibility of that alarm as an “unsound-solution” to the ridding of squirrels; as actually worse than the “problem” — we’re all connected ….

Dana Lichtstrahl

Moran Avenue

To the Editor:

One stormy evening, pouring rain, maybe seven years ago, I noticed two creatures running along the brush at the rear of my yard. I opened the door, and one ran toward the house, a muddy, rain-soaked beaglish dog. The other kept going. I must have cleaned him (her?) up a bit, and he promptly found a spot for himself under the dining table. I called the Princeton police, knowing this had to be someone’s pet, in case the person had reported the pair missing.

A nice police officer patrolling the area appeared at my door (to wait for the animal control officer), except that he had one of those sticks with a noose on the end. It looked like a scary and totally unnecessary object to use on this shy, innocent-looking beagle who was hanging out under the table. Childhood images of the maligned ‘dogcatcher’ began to multiply in my mind, and I was prepared for the worst when the Animal Control Officer finally arrived at the door. As I anxiously explained how this “stray” dog had to be someone’s pet and should not be treated harshly in any way whatsoever, the beagle ran up and cheerfully greeted Mark Johnson. Mark said, oh yes, I know him and where he lives, and the malingerer happily trotted off to be delivered home safely.

I have had several other occasions to call Mark for information of one kind or another; he has always been professional, courteous, extremely knowledgeable, and helpful. I hope his departure is not related to “cost-saving measures.” If one were to assign a value to all that Mr. Johnson does for the community, at all hours of the day and night, I would guess that it far exceeds his compensation.

Joanne Diez

Leicester Court

April 2, 2015

Enticing aromas emerge from Nina’s Waffles at 31 West Mechanic Street in New Hope, Pa. It gets even better when you step inside! Not only are the aromas irresistible, but the waffles are prepared right before your eyes.

The 18th Century Liège waffle is the inspiration for Nina’s recipes, explains manager Heather Lacey. “Our owner Louis Zanias was born in Greece, but grew up in Brussels. He had the Liège waffle during recess at school, and from the time he was a boy, his dream was to introduce these waffles to the U.S.”

That dream came true in 2012, when Mr. Zanias opened Nina’s Waffles, which is named for his youngest daughter. His experience in the restaurant business has given him insight into achieving success in the food industry, but Nina’s Waffles is really in a class by itself.

“We have a great following. There has been terrific word-of-mouth,” reports Ms. Lacey. “It’s amazing how many people have become so passionate about it and how many customers keep coming again and again. People come in and bring the whole family, as well as guests who visit.”

Wonderful Aroma

Nina’s Waffles is set apart in many ways. To start, there is no other enterprise in the area offering the traditional Liège waffle, notes Ms. Lacey. “You really have to go to Manhattan, and no one has our special recipe.

“We make our own dough in a bakery here, and import pearl sugar from Belgium. Unlike other sugar, it doesn’t burn at high temperatures, but becomes caramelized. This helps provide the wonderful aroma people experience here.

“Sean Lawson is Louis’ partner at Nina’s, and he helped develop the recipe for the dough. He also works on the ice cream recipes. He and Louis invent new flavors every week. It’s Philadelphia-style ice cream, with no eggs. We have 100 flavors, with 16 typically available at any one time.”

A waffle and ice cream combination is a favorite for many, she adds. “Most people like to have ice cream on top of the waffle, but others enjoy the waffle plain with no topping. We call it a ‘Naked Waffle’, and it’s delicious because it has a light sweet flavor due to the caramelized sugar.”

Waffle bites are another very popular choice, especially topped by chocolate ganache sauce. “Five or six bites are in a serving, and chocolate is drizzled on top. Some people add a scoop of ice cream,” says Ms. Lacey,

In addition to chocolate, the variety of waffle toppings includes nutella banana, homemade whipped cream and strawberries, dulce de leche, apple whipped tatin cream, and peanut butter caramel.

Special Favorites

The ice cream, which is made on-site with milk from a local dairy, is equally popular, and is available in cones and pints as well as atop the waffles. New flavors, such as key lime pie and blushing cheese cake, are added all the time. Special favorites include vanilla (still number one!), double chocolate, double espresso crunch, mint chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, orange honey blossom, roasted raspberry, and toasted coconut — to mention just some!

“Our small batch ice cream has something for everyone,” points out Ms. Lacey. “Our motto is ‘a little sugar and a lot of love’. We want to be sure that people taste the flavor and not the sugar.”

Nina’s Waffles offers take-out, sit-down for 20 as well as catering, and Ms. Lacey is enthusiastic about the waffle and ice cream truck, which is available for parties and corporate events.

“We have done parties for the eating clubs at Princeton University, and we will be adding a second truck this fall. It’s a vintage 1971 British truck, and we’ll be able to handle even more events. We really look forward to watching the business grow.”

Best Waffles

A second Nina’s Waffles opened in Doylestown, Pa. recently at 30 East State Street, she reports, and this, too, is enjoying a very positive customer response.

“And here in New Hope, we get people from all over, including lots from Princeton. On weekends, many come from Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, and in addition to the great word-of-mouth, many find us on-line. We were also voted the best waffles in the entire area in ‘The Best of Philly’ in Piladelphia Magazine.

Assorted pastries, including small individual tarts and cakes, are also available at Nina’s, as are gluten-free products.

Waffles are priced at $3 for plain and $5.50 with a scoop of ice cream. Ice cream cones are $2.95 and up, starting with kiddie size (available for all ages).

In addition to the tasty waffles and ice cream, customers enjoy the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere at Nina’s. The staff has a good time, as does Ms. Lacey. Elizabeth Duane, points out that “Heather goes out of her way to explain to the staff how everything should be done, and in a very fun and nice way. We all enjoy sharing information about the waffles and ice cream with the customers.”

Adds Ms. Lacey: “We really look forward to greeting the people. I’ve been in the restaurant business a long time, and it still touches my heart to hand a little girl an ice cream cone and watch her eyes light up or to see someone’s face when they taste our waffles for the first time. I think we spread happiness!”

Nina’s Waffles is open Wednesday and Thursday 1 to 9 p.m., Friday 1 to 10 p.m.,  Saturday noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. After Memorial Day, hours will be extended to seven days through the summer and fall. (215) 862-1660.

Website: www.ninaswaffles.com.


March 31, 2015

To the Editor:

It is time we challenge our municipal government to reduce taxes and lower annual operating expenses. The recent “news” that taxes are going up again is disappointing, yet not entirely surprising. We’ve seen property taxes increase steadily for quite some time — and here, I mean the actual bottom-line amount we’re paying each year, not partial figures that are reported as stable with or lower than previous years. We should be concerned with the total dollars we provide quarterly to the town — not the misleading jargon of bureaucracy which makes it seem that things are costing less.

First, let me say that I find it interesting how Council breaks down the expenses (municipal, school, library, etc.), but it really doesn’t matter — more is more if you shave a little here and lard up over there then tweak it a little next year for the same result. So I reject any clever explanations about this or that type of spending that makes it seem like there is some valiant effort underway to trim costs. We get one property tax bill and pay it to the same place before they divvy it up.

It seems our elected officials continually wedge themselves between a rock and a hard place such that when it comes time to do the accounting, they have no options left but to raise taxes and cut services and then blame the usual bogeymen (Oh, that Christie!). They like to claim the rock (sometimes the state of New Jersey) and the hard place (legally binding expenses, obligations, lawsuits) are just the way it is and if we don’t surrender more money every year, then, well — the children or somebody will suffer. By this, I recall discussion about the recent school budget with comments regarding it, ‘for only a few dollars more kids can have ….’ For the smart folks in this town, I’m surprised this blunt tactic and obviously slippery slope approach is acceptable and has been for so long.

So, my challenge to our town’s elected officials is this: try living within or below your means for one year. If we, as residents, don’t do that, we can lose our homes. “Your means” are the total taxes we pay that should not go up more than inflation since most incomes haven’t been going up since the financial crisis. No excuses either — you’re smart folks, and we’re a smart community — we expect (and entrust) you to figure it out. So please figure it out.

Lastly, I want to say that this is not a personal attack against anyone in our local government. We’ve got some sharp folks with big hearts looking out for the best interests of our community. Their hard work is what keeps our streets safe and schools topnotch. Part of the problem seems to be that the taxpayers have been lax in voicing concern about rising taxes and this has allowed some pernicious groupthink to settle in — it’s time to challenge that too!

Aaron Bennett

Markham Road

To the Editor:

The June 2 primary election may seem far in the future, but to be sure you’re ready to vote as you choose, please review the following procedures and deadlines. Forms can be downloaded from the League of Women Voters’ website.

Go to www.lwvprinceton.org 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 8.

May 12 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 26 is the deadline to apply to Vote by Mail — whether you’ll be away on June 2 or simply don’t want to take the time to go to the polls. By applying early, you can have your ballot sent whenever it’s convenient.

Please be prepared, and please remember to vote.

Chrystal Schivell

Monroe Lane, 

Voter Service Chair, League of Women Voters 

of the Princeton Area

To the Editor:

On November 14, 1964, Alice Kent came to work for my dad at Nelson Glass Company. Fifty years later, we wanted to find a meaningful way for Alice’s friends and associates to honor her service not only to the company but also to the community. We decided that, due to Alice’s passion for animals, a perfect way to do that would be to promote donations to SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, in her honor.

To date, donations to SAVE in honor of Alice exceed $2,000! What makes this even more exciting, The Sands Foundation will match the amount, helping SAVE move closer to their campaign building goal for their new facility. Nelson Glass would like to thank and acknowledge the generosity of those in the community who have contributed. You have truly made this milestone anniversary both memorable and worthwhile.

Robbie Nelson, 

President Nelson Glass Company, Spring Street

To the Editor:

Friday the 13th was a lucky night for People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos (P&S/G&C). Enthusiastic supporters gathered at the Nassau Club to hear celebrated poet James Richardson read from his work and talk about his life as a poet.

It was also an excellent opportunity to share some news about changes for P&S/G&C. Our new direction will build on community partnerships sharing the programs and workshops we currently offer to adolescents and adults, many of whom come from environments plagued by poverty, violence, and failing educational systems to experience the power of literature and reading.

For our guests and supporters we want to say many thanks/muchas gracias.

Claire Jacobus, Pam Wakefield

Event Co-Chairs

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS), I would like to offer my gratitude for the overwhelming community support of the 2015 Illumination Ball, held February 28 at the Westin Princeton Forrestal Village. The sponsors, guests, auction donors, and committee members truly made the evening special and helped us raise much needed funds to sustain the variety and high quality of services we provide for the community.

Through video-storytelling crafted by Burke Wood of Burkewood Creative, the stories of the community honorees, the Mercer County Holocaust survivors, were shared with the audience and woven with the story of the corporate honoree, Debbie Schaeffer of Mrs. G TV, Appliance, and Sleep Center. The Holocaust survivors shared trials and triumphs — and taught us to appreciate and live life. Debbie Schaeffer, a third generation business owner, continues the tradition of her grandmother by serving the community and incorporating strong family values into her business plan.

A special thank you goes to our celebrity guest, Geoff Schwartz, offensive lineman for the NY Giants. Geoff brought the event to an exciting new level and continued the theme of heritage paving the way for the future.

Finally, this sold out event would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the Gala committee, JFCS Board, staff, and volunteers. We hope to see you at next years’ gala, set for March 5, 2016 at the Westin Princeton Forrestal Village.

Linda Meisel

Executive Director,

Jewish Family and Children’s Service 

of Greater Mercer County 

To the Editor:

McCarter Theatre was delighted to present a Relaxed Performance of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery on March 18 to an audience of 427 guests. A Relaxed Performance is one that’s specially designed to welcome members of the autism community and others with sensory sensitivities, and their families. It was the third time McCarter has held such a performance and was our biggest turnout ever.

We are grateful to our partners from Eden Autism Services who advised us on how to make appropriate adaptations to our production and who conducted a training session for our staff and volunteer ushers. We would like to acknowledge the support we received from the New Jersey Theater Alliance. The Alliance assisted our marketing efforts and were in attendance on Wednesday. Thank you to our amazing cast for so eagerly agreeing to undertake this special performance. Lastly, we appreciate the friendship of Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen of Trenton’s Westminster Presbyterian Church who helped us welcome members of her community to the event and who arranged for transportation.

We also wish to thank The Karma Foundation whose generous support enabled this special performance.

It was an extraordinary evening of theatre for all involved and an event we hope to repeat in future seasons.

Timothy J. Shields

Managing Director, McCarter Theatre Center

To the Editor:

National Volunteer Week marks a special time of the year for The Fresh Air Fund, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere thanks to our wonderful Fresh Air volunteers, hosts, and supporters in Central and Southern New Jersey. Their continued dedication to our New York City children is exemplary for all community members and truly embodies the spirit of the 2015 National Volunteer Week, which is from April 12 to April 18.

Fresh Air volunteers work in several capacities throughout the year in 13 states from Virginia to Maine and in Canada to help make The Fresh Air Fund’s programs possible. Fresh Air host families open their hearts and homes, and share the everyday joys of summertime with their Fresh Air friends. Our local volunteer leaders — many of whom are also hosts — serve on our local committees, plan summer activities, publicize the program, and interview prospective host families. Additionally, individuals and local businesses give generously of their time and resources to make The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program throughout this area a great success each summer.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children since 1877. For more information on how you can help to continue this tradition of volunteering, please call The Fresh Air Fund at (800) 367-0003 or visit www.freshair.org.


Executive Director, The Fresh Air Fund

March 25, 2015

To the Editor:

We, the undersigned, are parents and members of the Princeton community. We are writing to urge members of the Board of Education and the teacher’s union (PREA) to end the almost year-long contract dispute that has been going on between the two parties. The PREA and Board of Education will be meeting again, face to face on Thursday, March 26. They have not met face to face in months. As the participants sit down to negotiate, we ask that both sides keep in mind the values of this community when bargaining. We are ALL stakeholders in the outcome of these meetings. So many of us moved here because of the stellar reputation of the school system. Historically, it has been a district where teachers were respected for their experience and knowledge and their commitment to our children and Princeton schools.

We implore both the Board of Education and the PREA to keep our children in mind during their meetings, and consider how the lack of a resolution has adversely affected them. Princeton is a community that treasures its public school system and its teachers. We want our spring activities back. This includes the Gettysburg trips, spring concerts, and AP review sessions, so that every child gets to experience the amazing opportunities that Princeton schools have to offer. A positive outcome to the negotiations can still be achieved in time to salvage the rest of the school year for all our children. We hope that both parties approach the negotiations on Thursday seeking an end and not a win.

Debbie Bronfeld, Dafna Kendal,

Daniel Harris, Joy Saville,

Andrea Sacchetti

Dodds Lane

Andrew Bush

Turner Court

Sarah Lewis Smith

Gulick Road

Jane Manners, John Collins

Wheatsheaf Lane

Grayson Barber

Locust Lane

Janice Fine, David Donnelly

Nassau Street

Inkyung K. Yi

Shadybrook Lane

Carol Golden

Snowden Lane

Beverly Kuo-Hamilton.

Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

As a parent with children in the Princeton Public Schools I have watched with deepening concern over the past several months as the contract dispute between the School Board and PREA, the teachers union, has festered. Without a new contract, teachers are now refusing, in many cases, to conduct after-school activities they have traditionally supported. Cherished programs at the schools are in jeopardy of being cancelled or delayed for lack of teacher participation — The annual 5th grade trip to Gettysburg, this fall’s 8th grade trip to Washington, the middle school’s participation in the high school’s own Jazz Festival, to name just a few. And yet I have no understanding of specifically what the two sides are fighting about. Nor do any of the other parents I’ve spoken with. To try to learn more I attended last week’s School Board meeting and came away utterly dismayed. My impression was of a School Board hunkering down and convinced of its positions without feeling the need to explain itself to the community. And of teachers who, in their anger, have backed themselves into a corner from which they now cannot or will not back down. With both sides seeming to be more interested in brinksmanship and ‘winning’ it is our children who are losing.

I would have some sympathy for the School Board if it had done a better job articulating what the issues were at the outset. I could understand if, at a time of growing healthcare costs, expanding enrollment, and limited budget resources, they need the teachers to make certain sacrifices. But if the Board members think they have communicated what this means in practical terms, I can assure them the message has not gotten through to the people who elected them — at least none that I’ve spoken to.

I would have more sympathy for the teachers too. An affluent school district like Princeton should be able to treat its teachers well and, if sacrifices are needed, it should have the courtesy to make them transparent enough for the whole community to understand and weigh against the tax increases needed to avert them before they are decided. But if the teachers thought that their refusal to support after-school activities would bring attention to their plight and pressure on the Board to end the impasse, they are also alienating many parents in the process — the very group they need support from most. So, in the end, I don’t have much sympathy for either side in this mess. But I do have growing exasperation at the inability of both sides — over the course of nearly a year of talks — to find the compromises that invariably will be needed from both the Board and PREA to reach resolution. I understand that representatives will be meeting this Thursday for direct discussions for the first time in months. I urge both sides, for the sake of the children in our schools, to COMPROMISE and REACH A LASTING AGREEMENT. If it doesn’t happen soon, the damage to our prized school system will grow exponentially. Enough damage has already been done. It needs to stop now.

Cliff Birge

Crooked Tree Lane

To the Editor:

Peter Madison’s letter [“Former Member of Planning Board Faults Frequent Lawsuits Initiated by Self Interest,” Mailbox, March 18] displays the same contempt for contrary opinion that he exhibited as a Planning Board member.

According to Mr. Madison, “a foundation of democracy” is our agreement to be governed by the “wishes of the majority.” That is sophomoric nonsense. Our Constitution is distinguished by the many protections it affords minorities. Our citizens are guaranteed certain inalienable rights. Those rights extend to property. “Democracies” that function as Mr. Madison suggests devolve quickly into tyrannies. “Majority rule” is the rallying cry of the mob and the argument of despots, both of which offer unverified claims of “majority support” to justify trampling over those with opposing viewpoints. Closely related is the heretical assertion that the “golden rule” is “he who has the gold makes the rules.”

Mr. Madison boasts that he and his fellow solons labor to divine the will of the “majority of Princeton residents” and to determine “what is best for the entire community.” What stunning conceit, and how utterly naive.

It is far from clear that all residents should be entitled to vote on all issues, or that their votes should be equally weighed. The Master Plan, e.g., seeks to preserve the “green belt” that was formerly known as the Township. Well and good, but should green belt residents be permitted to blight our downtown with high density fire traps that loom like vultures over established middle class neighborhoods? I don’t think so.

Nor do I think that municipal officials deserve our deference when they permit historic designations to be disregarded, public assets to be turned to private use, and national monuments to be encroached upon.

Does Mr. Madison not see the irony in our taxing ourselves to preserve open space, while he and his fellow [former] Planning Board members rezone Springdale Golf Course for ten story buildings?

Does he not appreciate the extent to which selective enforcement of the law — in our habit of delivering spot zoning to favored constituents — is encouraging a corrosive cynicism?

Yes, elected and appointed officials devote “considerable thought and time” to the affairs of our town — but they are not alone in doing so. For the rest of us, “self interest” is a motivation only to the extent of a desire to preserve, in recognizable form, a town that we consider to be special. When our municipal officials behave like tyrants or toadies, our only recourse is to litigate.

What is “sad” is not the fact of our litigation but the frequent need for it — and the mismatch between shallow pocketed plaintiffs and officials who too often mistake dollars for sense.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

To the Editor:

It’s decision time for Princeton: Will we continue in the forefront of sustainability efforts throughout New Jersey, as we do now? A plastic bag ordinance will come before council soon, and I urge the members to pass it.

In the November 4, 2014 election, Princeton overwhelmingly voted yea on a nonbinding referendum to ban the plastic bags distributed routinely by stores. This meant that we supported the idea and resolved to greatly reduce our use of plastic shopping bags. It was a bold, progressive decision; the only issue was that it had no teeth to it. Although many Princetonians have switched to reusable shopping bags, the majority still expect plastic bags for their purchases, and vendors are happy to oblige.

Now herein comes our opportunity: Many among us are concerned about the decay of our environment, but the problem is so overwhelming that we feel powerless to change it. Plastic bags, distributed ubiquitously with almost every purchase in the United States, end up polluting the land. There they leach toxic chemicals, which end up in our bloodstream, for up to 1000 years. They pollute the oceans, killing sea animals and washing ashore our beaches. This is something we can do something about. At the estimated rate of 500 plastic bags per person, a town of our size could spare the environment about 14,500,000 bags annually, and many more towns would follow suit.

Our new plastic bag ordinance, developed by Bainy Suri, environmental consultant to the Environmental Education Fund and New Jersey Environmental Lobby, among other organizations, will mandate that all stores in town charge 10 cents per plastic bag distributed. Research has shown that it is only with some sort of consequence attached that people will change their habits (in most cases up to 98 percent comply). Thus the likelihood of success of the ordinance is extremely high.

We all proclaim that Princeton is a unique place, a progressive and charming, clean town where many people visit, and many people want to live. Let us continue that legacy by leading the way in sustainability and putting this ordinance in place.

Suzanne Neilson

McComb Road

To the Editor:

I have been following the news regarding Lytle Street for a while [“Vote on Purchase of Lytle Street House Is Postponed by Council After Protests,” Town Topics, March 11, page one]. I live on Lytle and own two houses there. I recall when I knew ALL of my neighbors. For nearly five decades I have witnessed what gentrification has generally done to the community, specifically Lytle Street.

The municipality seems concerned about the Mary Moss Playground and the adjoining property currently owned by the Barskys. It sounds like the municipality would like to purchase the Barsky property, which Barsky will raze. This will allow the municipality to expand the playground by 60 percent. It seems the county will reimburse the municipality 50 percent of the purchase price if it is used as “open space.” This seems a wise economic investment for the municipality. However, it’s a severe blow to the human need for affordable housing.

The Task Force on Affordable Housing claims to have no options. Hendricks Davis is cited as saying “There is a tremendous need for affordable housing in this community, and not just in our neighborhood,” On the other hand, Council Member Lance Liverman supports the idea of the tear-down/park expansion. He cited other possible uses for the park. Actually, there are already activities in the park after hours: activities that are not something anyone in the neighborhood would support.

The Mary Moss playground is public land, right? The Barsky property, if purchased by Princeton will become public land, right? Wouldn’t the prudent land use solution be to rebuild/or renovate the houses already standing on that property as affordable housing?

The use of the publicly owned playground seems intrinsically tied to the privately owned Barsky property. The suggestion by Mayor Lempert, 75 years after the fact, that the lack of a filtration system in the playground’s pool is unhygienic is valid. If a sprinkler is in the planning/funding for an expansion of the playground, why not leave the playground as it is and use some of that funding/planning to provide a pool with a filtration system?

Six houses on Lytle Street have been or will be torn down/rebuilt. Only one was replaced with an affordable unit. Mr. Tash’s old liquor store, was torn down and replaced by Habitat for Humanity. In 70 years I have seen the community diminished, first, street by street (Upper John, Baker, Jackson Street, the alley behind First Baptist Church) and now, house by house.

I read some place where former Mayor Jim Floyd asked if the municipality can give consideration for the desires of the community members on these properties. He and I both know that the municipality has never really given more than lip service to the desires of this community.

As I said, once upon a time I knew all of my neighbors. The people who move in now, for the most part will not even share a “good morning” with me. They act like I don’t belong here. Gentrification/eminent domain kills a community.

Jacqueline L. Swain

Lytle Street