March 11, 2015
THE REAL THING: “We are set apart by serving authentic Mexican street food.” The corporate team of The Taco Truck includes from left, marketing director Stephanie Hague, owner Jason Scott, vice president of operations Nolan Woods, and owner Chris Viola. They are enthusiastic about their new restaurant, which offers authentic “taqueria” cuisine — the real thing!

THE REAL THING: “We are set apart by serving authentic Mexican street food.” The corporate team of The Taco Truck includes from left, marketing director Stephanie Hague, owner Jason Scott, vice president of operations Nolan Woods, and owner Chris Viola. They are enthusiastic about their new restaurant, which offers authentic “taqueria” cuisine — the real thing!

“Eat more tacos!” That is the motto — and the hope — of The Taco Truck, newly opened in the Princeton Shopping Center.

Chris Viola and Jason Scott had this great idea — bring the authentic Mexican “taqueria” street food, especially tacos, to the east coast of the United States.

“It was really Jason’s idea,” explains Chris Viola. “He had been in Mexico and had really liked Mexican street food. He wanted to offer customers here authentic Mexican tacos. While he was a businessman, he didn’t have restaurant experience, and that’s where I came in. I had gone to Cornell’s Hotel School, and then worked in food and beverage at Four Seasons.”

So, in 2009, the two entrepreneurs formed a partnership and established their first Taco Truck in Hoboken. They enlisted the expertise of experienced culinary professionals from Mexico City to create the authentic recipes, and then sent their truck out to various events and farmers’ markets in the area.

Brick and Mortar

Their tacos and related items (tortas, burritos, quesadillas, etc.) were such a hit that the partners were inspired to open a brick and mortar restaurant in Hoboken in 2010, and then add new locations to meet increasing requests from customers.

They established a very successful kiosk on Manhattan’s High Line, and opened restaurant/cafes in Boston, Cambridge, Mass., and Morristown, N.J.

The Princeton location is their most recent undertaking, and while only open since December 26, it has received excellent reviews, and has been attracting scores of customers of all ages, including many families, every day.

“Princeton is a great fit for us,” reports Mr. Viola. “We had been here with our truck for events at the university and McCarter Theater, and people have been very receptive. We liked the idea of the Princeton Shopping Center because it is central, and also the parking is so easy and convenient. We are so encouraged. We’re getting great comments from customers and also from the other merchants. We have great neighbors.”

As they enter the “south-of-the-border” Taco Truck restaurant, customers are first enticed by the appealing aromas of tacos in various stages of preparation. The friendly staff is quick to take an order, and also explain any Spanish terms on the menu that a customer may not know.

Among the most popular tacos are “pescado”, served with crispy catfish, red cabbage, pico de gallo, tartar, and chipotle salsa in flour tortillas; “aguacate tostada” with crispy avocado, black beans, sesame seeds, pickled onions, tortillas fritas, and chipolte salsa.

Toasted Sandwiches

Other favorites include “pollo asado” with grilled chicken, lime pickled onions, and roasted red salsa; and “al pastor”, featuring marinated pork, onions, cilantro, pineapple, and fresh green salsa; among other popular items.

Tortas are toasted Mexican sandwiches, explains Mr. Viola. “Not everyone knows this, and we enjoy educating customers about our food. This is a real goal for us.”

Among the sandwiches, which are served with white onion, pickled jalapeno, avocado, crema, and black beans, are “barbacoa” with braised beef and chipotle salsa; “carnitas” or braised sweet pork with cilantro; and “pollo asado” or grilled chicken.

Burritos, served with red rice and black beans in a flour tortilla, include “al pastor” with marinated pork, onion, cilantro, pineapple, and fresh green salsa; “pollo asado” or grilled chicken with lime-pickled onion, and roasted red salsa; and “verduras” (seasonal vegetables).

There is always a vegetarian choice among all the selections.

Guacamole, salsa, and rice and beans are favorite side dishes, along with street corn (on the cob with mayonnaise, cheese, chili piquin, and lime); and La Capital soup with chicken, rice, hominy, lima beans, carrots, corn, cilantro, and chipotle.

A popular salad features mixed greens, cheese, tomato, avocado, pumpkin seeds, crispy tortilla, and pineapple vinaigrette. Chicken, beef, pork, or fish can be added for an extra cost.

Customer’s Taste

Any of the items can be prepared according to the customer’s taste, regarding mild to spicy seasoning.

Authentic Mexican sweets feature “plantano’s fritos” or fried sweet plantains with crema and sugar; and “churros” — fried dough, cinnamon, sugar, and seasonal sauce.

Beverages include Mexican Coca-Cola (with no high fructose corn syrup), Mexican sodas, and fresh fruit waters, among others.

Prices range from $5 for one taco (most taco dishes include three tacos) to $8.75 for the top-priced burrito or torta. Sides and sweets start at $2.50, and beverages at $2. The children’s menu includes tacos and quesadillas for $3.50.

The Taco Truck also has a growing catering business, with off-site birthday parties, corporate events, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc., and the trucks are busy all year round. All sizes of events, from 15 to 500, can be accommodated.

Mr. Viola and Mr. Scott are committed to offering the freshest ingredients with a focus on healthy, high quality products. “We are set apart by our quality ingredients,” says Mr. Viola. “All of our meat is antibiotic-free. We support local farmers who raise their animals on a vegetarian diet without antibiotics or hormones. We get the freshest ingredients we can find and we try to make a positive impact on our planet every day.

“All our packaging is compostable, and we compost our left-over food and packaging three times a week. We compost thousands of pounds of food and packaging waste every year.”


Mr. Viola is pleased that customers, who are a cross-section of families, Princeton University students, high school students, and business people, share The Taco Truck’s focus, not only on healthy food, but on the health of the environment.

“Our four core principles are (1) hospitality, (2) authenticity, (3) sustainability, and (4) community involvement. Wherever we open, we focus on the community by being active in our neighborhood through ongoing community involvement. We feel very fortunate that the community has welcomed us in Princeton.”

At the shopping center, lunch and dinner are available seven days, with take-out and sit-down equally popular. Fifty diners can be seated inside, with outdoor seating expected to be available in the spring.

“I want our customers to enjoy the food and have a great experience here,” says Mr. Viola. “We have an opportunity to make a real impact.”

The Taco Truck is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (609) 580-1384. Website:

“This is just a great place. It is so welcoming. It’s a mixture of luxury, comfort, and simplicity. And, the English breakfast is amazing! My parents are from Manhattan; I’m from Vermont, and we love to get together here.”

This comment by April Stein is very typical of the guests who enjoy the hospitality at the Inn At Bowman’s Hill in New Hope.

Located at 518 Lurgan Road, the Inn, which is actually a high-end Bed & Breakfast, opened in 2005.

“We are open year-round, and are especially busy on weekends, when we are nearly always 100 percent full. The summer and Christmas time are also very busy,” says owner and Innkeeper Mike Avery.

Top 10

Located on a 5-plus-acre estate, this exclusive Bed & Breakfast is two miles south of New Hope, and very close to the 100-acre Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, a very popular Bucks County landmark.

The Inn has been named in the Top 10 Most Romantic Bed & Breakfasts in the U.S. by five different organizations, including Forbes Traveler and Trip Advisor.

Guests enjoy walking on the pathways of this splendid estate, taking a dip in the heated swimming pool, lounging in the hot tub, watching the fish in the two koi ponds, and taking time to relax in the beautiful natural setting, amidst extensive woodlands and the sights and sounds of nature.

The Inn is a certified wildlife habitat, points out Mr. Avery. An abundance of flora and fauna, including white-tailed deer, foxes, raccoons, snapping turtles, tree frogs, and large numbers of bird species, adds interest for many guests.

“An ornithologist from Cornell University was here, and either saw or heard 80 different species of birds,” reports Mr. Avery. “One of the things I sometimes forget is what a beautiful environment we live in. The natural beauty we have here — the animals, birds, and flowers.”

The landscaping is indeed lovely, replete with plants and flowers, and tranquil fountains. An orchid conservatory contains an array of beautiful specimens.

Optic Stars

The Inn provides eight rooms, including four suites, each with its own fireplace and private bathroom with heated, two-person whirlpool bath. “We have added two new suites this year,” notes Mr. Avery, “and we put in a corner tub with 300 fiber optic stars in the ceiling that twinkle, a shooting star, and also a steam shower with 11 shower heads.”

Spa services at the inn include a variety of different types of massage, he adds.

Born and brought up in England, Mr. Avery traveled extensively, and worked for more than 30 years with Bristol Myers-Squibb, headquartered in Princeton. Changing his focus in 2001, he purchased the Inn (then a private home) and totally renovated it, with a bow to his English heritage.

“Everything has been completely renovated,” he notes, adding, however, “There’s an old saying: ‘There’s nothing new under the sun; just new ways of combining things.’”

The result of his efforts is a handsome and impressive Inn that is a haven for adults of all ages. Not the least of its attractions is the full scale English breakfast, which in the early days of the inn’s existence, Mr. Avery cooked himself. He now employs the services of chef Anastasio, who prepares everything to order.

“Our signature English breakfast includes eggs any style, bacon, sausage, tomato, baked beans, mushroom, and potatoes,” explains Mr. Avery. “We also offer pancakes, fresh syrup, fresh muffins everyday, and eight or nine different juices. Right now, the most popular juice is the orange and carrot combination.”

Soufflé Omelet

“We also offer eggs benedict and my own special soufflé omelet 70 percent of the guests choose the full English breakfast.”

They also like the fact that the eggs are from the inn’s own chickens, who live on the estate, and many of the tomatoes, herbs, and vegetables are grown on a nearby farm.

Chef Anastasio can accommodate guests with special dietary needs, adds Mr. Avery. “A lot of people have gluten intolerance now, and we have gluten-free items for them. Anastasio creates wonderful dishes for everyone.”

Attention to detail and mindfulness for each guest’s comfort is the key to the Inn’s success, believes Mr. Avery. “The four important words that describe what our guests experience here are: relax, celebrate, reconnect, and remember. Our guest’s privacy and discretion are our number one priority.

“We have a lot of people who come to celebrate their anniversary. Recently, a couple came to celebrate their 70th! We also had a 92-year-old guest with his 88-year-old bride.

“Some people are rekindling a relationship, and other people might come before they are going into surgery or about to experience some other major event.”

English Royalty

Guests are from all over the U.S. and also abroad, he adds. “We have people from Europe, Asia, and Australia. Our guests include English royalty, musicians, actors, and military officers. It’s a wide spectrum. I very much enjoy the diversity of the people I meet at the Inn. They are really, really interesting individuals.”

He adds that a surprising number of guests are people from nearby New Jersey and Bucks County. “We really get a lot of local guests, just looking for a relaxed or romantic time in a beautiful setting. We have a lot of excellent word-of-mouth and many, many repeat guests. A lot of people also find us on-line today.”

The Inn is also a focal point for executive retreats, he points out. The property is ideally suited for a small group of up to 15 persons, and an excellent setting for brainstorming, strategic planning, and high-level client interaction. “We have a great meeting room, and we get a lot of business from corporations on the Princeton Route One corridor,” says Mr. Avery.

New Hope and the surrounding area offer an array of activities for the Inn At Bowman’s Hill guests. Many fine restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing opportunities are nearby.

A classically-trained musician, Mr. Avery now especially enjoys playing blue grass, and can be found every Sunday night playing at the nearby Bowman’s Tavern. In October, he took a rare three days off to attend a blue grass festival in North Carolina.

Tending to the needs of his guests is a full-time endeavor, and as he says, “Maintenance must be 100 percent. Right now, we are in the midst of changing 700 light bulbs to LED. This will cut our lighting expenses.

“In this day and age, you are judged every day in the court of public opinion. We work very hard to please our guests, and this is a way to make people happy.”

In addition, giving back to others is an important part of Mr. Avery’s philosophy, This is particularly in evidence every Veteran’s Day, when six rooms at the inn are given free of charge to currently-serving military men and women and veterans. A special musical program is also presented for them.

“This is a part of the ‘Better Way to Stay’ national program,” explains Mr. Avery, “and it is something we look forward to doing every year.”

The Inn at Bowman’s Hill is open year-round. (215) 862-8090. Website:

To the Editor:

This Friday, an unlikely couple will meet at the local library: climate change and comic cabaret. This is not the sort of comedy that makes light of its subject, but rather seeks to give a ponderous subject the lift it needs to rise into people’s thoughts. No other subject challenges our contentment with the status quo like climate change, nor offers as much angst from which to forge comedy.

The environmental movement was built in large part on a fear of what is getting into our bodies. Chemicals, radiation — these are the nasties that threaten to invade. But climate change is driven by seemingly benign gases, invisible, odorless, with consequence often distant in place and time. The usual buttons that traditionally trigger our concern and a sense of urgency are not being pushed.

The challenge, then, is to help climate change make the leap from the intellectual to the visceral, from whence it might more constructively drive our thoughts. Facts and figures, grim forebodings, accurate as they may be, have not been sufficient. Better to find in the subject something rewarding, even pleasurable, and ultimately empowering. Comedy seeks to do that through a belly laugh.

To quote loosely from some of the cabaret’s dialogue: “In the future, our cars will run on irony paradoxide. English professors will publish research on what sorts of irony yield the most energy per page. The humanities: Power for the future! You see, there’s hope after all.”

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street

To the Editor:

Maz Hulk, beloved Mazda MPV born in 2002, died directly in front of Princeton Honda on Route 206 last Thursday. Its caretaker, Laura Hawkins, walked into the Honda dealership and pointed to the expired MPV — to the delight of several car salesmen. Five hours later, Maz was graciously towed and traded by Princeton Honda for an unnamed 2010 Honda Fit. Maz Hulk will be missed for her fake-wood dashboard, many cargo holding places, leg room for dogs, transport for small trees and humans, and reassuring bulk on U.S. 1. The Fit, with bigger hearted fuel economy and less-sweat maneuvering on Nassau Street, will still have much to live up to.

In lieu of contributions, it was Ms. Hulk’s dying wish for all 4-wheeled drivers to read and discuss This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein, and to take seriously the critical world-wide need to transition to alternatives to fossil fuels. A request for group discussion on Klein’s book will go to Princeton Public Library. Local places for prayerful and non-violent action for our earth and inhabitants were also requested as part of her dying wish.

Laura Hawkins

Billie Ellis Lane

To the Editor:

In the article, “Advocates of Cycling Weigh Council’s Decision To Table Bike Ordinance” [page one, March 4], those interviewed seemed sincerely motivated to make life better not just for bike riders but for all residents of Princeton. They also seemed frustrated to various degrees by the tabling of the ordinance, and by extension by their inability to effect a desired change. As someone who has spent a career studying and practicing approaches to change in organizations, I humbly offer three suggestions borrowed from experts in the field:

1. Focus on interests, not positions, is one of the principles of negotiation offered by Sheila Heen of Harvard Law School. A particular bike lane on a certain street is a position, increasing safety and sustainability is an interest around which different people (with different needs) can construct a productive dialogue.

2. The late Edwin Nevis helped people understand that in change efforts, recognizing resistance and adopting a respectful attitude in working through it leads to useful outcomes. Assuming that the people who resist the change ‘just don’t get it’ likely impedes the change. Engage the resistance with transparency and curiosity rather than trying to overcome it.

3. Roger Schwarz, perhaps the preeminent living expert on how groups work best, suggests certain assumptions that are helpful in trying to be productive in a community. One of them seems pertinent to this situation: “People can disagree with me and still have pure motives.” Some of the quotes in the article suggest that the ‘advocates’ are starting to pursue this strategy by identifying information that the other side may not possess, but I would advise that they should be equally curious as to what new information those who spoke against the ordinance hold.

As an observer who has lived in Princeton for 11 years and travelled that stretch of Hamilton Avenue to work and back every weekday that whole time, I think that the current resolution is a useful compromise: ”Under the terms of the tabling of the ordinance, a bike lane will be added on the side of street where parking is already not allowed, leaving the existing parking on the opposite side.” I look forward to sharing the road with those who will use the new bike lane, and also enthusiastically anticipate the continued dialogue on safety and sustainability that will address all concerns of Princeton residents including practicality and livability.

T.J. Elliott

Gulick Road

To the Editor:

Having read the comments presented in opposition to the proposed pipeline, I offer these comments for consideration.

I would caution those that are asking for horizontal drilling in bedrock. The Hudson River fault is some 50,000 years overdue for a release. If and when an earthquake were to happen in this area you only need look at San Francisco to envision what may happen to a pipe threading its way through bedrock. Pipelines are generally set in a compliant material, sand or smaller stone fill, that will absorb some degree of movement.

As for filling the existing pipe with water I would have to question how that would be accomplished. Yes, you can purge your garden hose of air by just hooking it to city pressure. A pipe of this size has numerous hills and valleys and simply flooding it would not remove the gas pockets that would form at the various high spots. There may be a way to remove the gas but it is not as simple as just demanding that result.

Howard Eldridge,

Mather Avenue

March 4, 2015

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board and staff of McCarter Theatre Center, I would like to thank the panelists and our local non-profit groups’ colleagues who participated in last Monday night’s successful Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sensitivity training led by New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Cultural Access Network.

An astonishing 75 attendees showed up on a particularly cold late February evening and had great questions and astute insights about accessibility to the arts in our region. Cultural consumers in Princeton should know that the arts professionals in this town care deeply about thoughtful and well-designed accessibility to arts resources.

McCarter was proud to host this event and pleased to welcome representatives from the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Princeton Festival, Princeton Folk Music Society, and Princeton University Art Museum.

We particularly wish to thank the panelists: Eve Woodman from Princeton University’s Accessibility Office; Ben and Susan Constantini, arts patrons with vision deficiency and loss; Jason Weiland, Field Representative from the New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Linda Scharfman, an Eden Autism Services board member and autism activist, and McCarter’s ADA Coordinator, Janet Dickson.

Congratulations to them all for providing leadership on this important aspect of our community’s life.

Timothy J. Shields

Managing Director

To the Editor:

Many of the Sourland Conservancy’s board members attended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Scoping Hearings in New Jersey. One board member, Jim Amon, struggled to identify the “big picture” regarding opposition to the proposed PennEast Pipeline Project after attending the meeting in West Trenton on February 25. This is what he came up with:

“There were many interesting comments made at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s scoping hearing on Wednesday, February 25, at the West Trenton Ballroom, the sum of which seemed to thoroughly discredit the pipeline proposal. The economic impact statement suffers from poor preparation techniques and reached bogus conclusions; the Environmental Impact Statement is to be prepared by a firm with financial interests in fracking; the alignment through preserved lands violates the trust of New Jersey’s taxpayers who paid to forever preserve the land from just this kind of assault; the landowner compensation plan is inadequate because entire properties — not just corridors through them — are being destroyed; cowbird predation of songbird nests will increase; the migratory route of spotted salamanders will be severed; ground and surface water will be polluted; blasting through rock will seal wells; massive amounts of arsenic will be released from the diabase rock in the Sourlands when it is blasted; forests will be fragmented, inviting alien invasive plant species to proliferate. Many more telling facts were brought forward to support the argument against the pipeline.

“Upon reflection I felt that what was missing was an over-all condemnation of the proposal. Jeff Tittel, of the New Jersey Sierra Club, came close when he talked about the Revolutionary War history of the area and called for a new war, but even he missed the bigger picture for me. When I ask myself, “What is it called when a powerful and rich entity from someplace else comes to an area and despoils their resources in order to increase its wealth, the answer I get is colonialism. What we are struggling against is corporate colonialism!”

Most people may not be aware that the PennEast Pipeline is a proposed gas transmission project of six corporations: UGI Utilities, AGL Resources, NJR Pipeline Company, Public Service Enterprise Group, South Jersey Industries, and Spectra Energy.

Caroline Katmann

Executive Director, Sourland Conservancy

To the Editor:

As concerned residents, we are following up on Susan Jefferies’s excellent letter [“Whole Industries Are Lobbying Against Safety Standards That Would Make Fires Less Likely,” Mailbox, Feb. 25], which not only alerts us to the dangers of lightweight wood construction, but also explains the economic motivators which have led to its wide use in multifamily housing complexes in so many towns in New Jersey and throughout the country. Ms. Jefferies’s thoughtful analysis serves as a clarion call to citizens to act in the interest of the health and safety of all residents.

We ask that you voice support for Bill A4195 — recently introduced into the state legislature by Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R) — that, if enacted, would impose a moratorium — for up to 2 years — on the construction in New Jersey of light wood frame multi-story apartment housing. The official summary of the Bill states:

“A4195 requires evaluation of appropriateness of light frame construction for multiple dwellings and imposes a moratorium on light frame construction until determination and recommendations are adopted.”

Light frame wood construction is the type of housing that burned down in Edgewater, N.J. on January 21, creating an inferno that destroyed 240 apartments, displaced 500 residents and forced the temporary evacuation of 520 more from surrounding houses.

The proposed moratorium would last while the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) reviews the State’s current building code provisions, up to the two-year maximum. The DCA’s review currently is underway, motivated by concern over how the Edgewater complex’s wood frame construction — that met current code requirements — supported a fire of such speed and intensity.

Residents should urge their representatives to support this bill. The following paragraph is a suggested message:

“I support Assembly Bill A4195 that would impose a moratorium on light wood frame construction for multi-family housing in the State of New Jersey and strongly urge the State Assembly and Senate to pass this Bill. The recent raging fire at the apartment complex in Edgewater, N.J., which destroyed 240 apartments leaving 500 people homeless and forcing temporary evacuation of 520 surrounding residents, is proof that current code requirements for such housing allow too great a risk to residents, firefighters, and surrounding properties.”

Linda Auerbach

Lytle Street

Anita Garoniak, Marco Gottardis

Harris Road

Marc Monseau

Jefferson Road

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

To Mayor Lempert and Princeton Council:

Princeton has a unique and vibrant culture that draws visitors and residents from around the world to a community that believes in civil rights and civil liberties. We take the time to acknowledge the anniversaries of significant events — for instance the 350th anniversary of the founding of New Jersey (Nova Caesaria) or the 250th anniversary of the University (and who can forget learning how to correctly pronounce ‘bicenquinquagenary’?). How often do we have the opportunity to commemorate an even more significant milestone?

This summer, on June 15 2015, the world will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta — the Great Charter of the Liberties of England — by King John at Runneymeade on the bank of the River Thames near Windsor — arguably history’s most significant document involving the freedoms that we enjoy today. The Magna Carta is often described as “the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

Because of the principles embodied in the Magna Carta, English settlers in the American colonies brought forth colonial charters to protect individual liberties, and eventually enshrined the protection of rights in the United States Constitution in 1789. Of course, our school students learn about the Magna Carta in eighth grade civics, including the fact that 13 copies were made – the 13th century version of important news “going viral.” How often, though, do we as adults take a moment to consider — and commemorate — the continuing relevance of this event? Considering the many threats to individual liberties in today’s world, is it not time that we did?

In recognition of this significant anniversary, we call on the mayor and Council to proclaim June 15, 2015 “Magna Carta Day” in Princeton.

Thank you for your consideration,

T. Jeffery Clarke

Magna Carta Barons, Balcort Drive

Michael T. Bates,

Magna Carta Barons, Boice Lane

To the Editor:

The drama pitting the Institute for Advanced Study against the Friends of Princeton Battlefield reached a critical point two weeks ago when the D&R Canal Commission, which a few days before rendered a decision failing to approve the Institute’s housing development in the Battlefield area, reversed course and approved the application based on a change of vote by one member, a state employee.

The most likely explanation is that someone “upstairs” in the executive branch of State government pressured the employee, demonstrating that the Commission is subject to corruption: intellectual, moral, and possibly legal.

The Commission is a public body charged with protecting the D&R Canal State Park which borders the Princeton Battlefield. When it considered the Institute’s development application, it sat as a quasi-judicial body, taking testimony, weighing evidence, and rendering a decision based on the evidence. The wisdom of the Commission’s decision in initially rejecting the Institute application can be questioned, as reasonable persons may differ. But it is beyond debate that the Commission acted with procedural integrity the first time when it heard testimony, weighed evidence, and reached a decision in public against the project.

A few days later, without taking any additional testimony, without additional weighing of any evidence, and without articulating any basis for the change in vote, the Commission abandoned all commitment to a rational and open legal process by re-deciding the Institute’s application completely contrary to what the Commission had previously decided — and approving it.

Who in State government persuaded the state employee to change his vote? What were the inducements or threats that brought about the change? Is such a tainted process an appropriate way for members of the Princeton community and the larger State community, including the Institute and the Friends of the Battlefield, to have their differences settled?

With such taint so brazenly demonstrated, the matter inevitably will be referred to the judiciary for review. How much more time and how many more resources of the community will be devoted to that effort? And can the public ever have confidence again in the integrity of the decision-making that underlies the Institute/Battlefield dispute?

Roger Martindell

Patton Avenue

YOGA FOR YOU: “Yoga helps in so many ways. It gives you an inner sanctuary where you can separate yourself from the outside world. Yoga teaches us to face and be able to accept the stresses of life. With yoga, you are being grounded and centered.” Annie Isaacson, a certified yoga instructor and owner of Rise Power Yoga, is shown demonstrating the “Compass” pose.

YOGA FOR YOU: “Yoga helps in so many ways. It gives you an inner sanctuary where you can separate yourself from the outside world. Yoga teaches us to face and be able to accept the stresses of life. With yoga, you are being grounded and centered.” Annie Isaacson, a certified yoga instructor and owner of Rise Power Yoga, is shown demonstrating the “Compass” pose.

It has become a $10 billion industry today. It is a worldwide phenomenon, with adherents practicing it at all levels of experience and for many reasons. Among them are exercise, meditation, relaxation, stress release, to mention just a few.

Indeed, those who study and practice yoga are all ages, from all backgrounds, professions, and mind-sets.

“My clients range in age from high school students to people in their seventies,” says Annie Isaacson, certified yoga instructor and owner of Rise Power Yoga. “They include men and women, Princeton University students, professors, a surgeon from Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, as well as people currently unemployed. They represent all levels of society, and everyone is the same here.

“We have clients from all over the world. Princeton is such an international community. The most amazing thing is that despite coming from different places, countries, and backgrounds, everyone is searching for something that is very similar.”

“Magic Window”

Located at 80 Nassau Street, Suite 2D on the second floor, Rise Power Yoga opened last August. It is situated in a studio formerly occupied by Yoga Above, where Ms. Issacson had been an instructor.

“From the first moment I was in this location, it was a transformation, an ‘aha’ moment,” she explains. “I was at the window, which looks out on Nassau Street and across to the Princeton University campus and Nassau Hall, and I felt this connection. I called it my ‘Magic Window’. Connection is very important, and it is an important part of yoga.”

Ms. Issacson began practicing yoga 10 years ago, and then studied with Baron Baptiste, founder of the Baptiste Yoga Institute.

“He is an internationally-renowned yoga teacher, and Baptiste Power Yoga emphasizes Vinyasa yoga and Yin yoga. I was trained in New York City and Montclair, N.J., and I have more than 400 hours of training. Vinyasa is more athletic; yin is a more relaxed form of yoga, with deep stretching. We also have classes in hot yoga and power yoga, which are more vigorous, strenuous, and challenging.

“The Baptiste Yoga practice is designed to empower you with the focus, training, and insight you need to achieve consistent results in the most important areas of your life. A potent physical yoga practice, meditation practice, and active self-inquiry are used as tools of transformation, encouraging participants to reclaim their full potential, discover creativity, awaken passion, and create authenticity, confidence, and new possibilities.”

Whatever the style of yoga, mindfulness of one’s breathing is always stressed, she adds. “With yoga, you become an observer of your breathing. Yoga brings mind and body together through the breath. There are mental and physical benefits. Yoga means ‘yoke’ in sanskrit, to come together.”

Lightness and Vibrancy

“A number one benefit of yoga is promoting healthy circulation and getting the body back into proper alignment,” continues Ms. Isaacson. “This helps to give mental focus, awareness, and well-being. Integrating is also one of the most important elements in the practice of yoga. You need to understand the internal and connect with who you really are. All the poses in yoga are designed to integrate you from the inside out, and the poses require you to concentrate.

“Also, with the practice of yoga we learn to be in the present moment, and then those who practice it will be able to be at their best to face the challenges in the outside world. At the end of a class, they achieve a sense of lightness and vibrancy.”

The studio, which is distingquished by its infra-red heating (from ceiling panels), has room for 30 individuals, with a typical class involving 15 to 20 participants. Most come twice a week, although attending three weekly sessions offers the most benefit, points out Ms. Isaacson. Even coming once a week, however, is helpful.

The classes, which are one hour and 15 minutes, are for those of all levels of experience, and also for people with a variety of health conditions. “Classes can be modified to accommodate those who have been injured, have arthritis, or other issues,” explains Ms. Isaacson. “I am also looking forward to sharing yoga with people with special needs and challenges, and encouraging them to practice yoga. I want it to be accessible to everyone.”

A variety of payment arrangements are available, she adds. An introductory special for new students is $40 for 30 days unlimited access. Others include $50 for five classes, and $90 for 10. A membership is $108 a month for unlimited classes.

Ms. Isaacson is very enthusiastic about the benefits yoga offers to everyone, and she is proud of her instructors. “We are set apart by the experience and level of training our instructors have. Their minimum numbers of hours of training are 200 and three have 500 hours. I continue to take classes myself four times a week. To be the best instructor you can, it is very important that you be consistent with your own practice.”

Shining Light

“In addition, our instructors stay current in their teaching and personal practice by continuous education and training at advanced teacher workshops. It is our goal for our instructors to be a shining light for each student.

Ms. Isaacson looks forward to continuing to share the benefits of yoga with more and more practitioners, and she sees many possibilities ahead. “The most surprising thing was that while it was a dream for me to open this studio, I found that once you achieve your dream, you see that the journey continues. This is just the beginning. There is so much more that you can achieve. You feel so limitless.

“Yoga, for me, is community service. It’s about giving back. I am so excited to see how much more the clients can understand and learn about yoga. There is birth and death, and in between, there is the unknown. Yoga gives us an opportunity to create with the universe. We believe that connection is the key to progression, knowledge is confidence, and confidence is power.”

Rise Power Yoga offers classes seven days a week, starting at 5:45 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. The last class is held at 7:30 p.m. Call or consult the website for hours of specific classes. (908) 752-8769.

MATH MAGIC: “Math is very functional. It underlies so much of what we do in ordinary life. With our Mathnasium method, a thorough understanding of math and development of number sense is the goal.” Jennifer Zhang (left), director of Mathnasium of Princeton, The Math Learning Center, is shown with Alice Barfield, director of programs for the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, at the center’s grand opening.

MATH MAGIC: “Math is very functional. It underlies so much of what we do in ordinary life. With our Mathnasium method, a thorough understanding of math and development of number sense is the goal.” Jennifer Zhang (left), director of Mathnasium of Princeton, The Math Learning Center, is shown with Alice Barfield, director of programs for the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, at the center’s grand opening.

“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”

This comment by Albert Einstein is displayed on the wall of the new location of Mathnasium of Princeton, The Math Learning Center.

It is included with the sentiments of other great thinkers, as well as with the original remarks of some of Mathnasium’s students. These comments are consistent with the center’s approach to make math both accessible and enjoyable.

Mathnasium, located in the Princeton Shopping Center, opened in December, and is dedicated to helping students in kindergarten through 12th grade understand the underlying concepts of mathematics and improve their overall mathematical ability. The tutors and teachers use the Mathnasium Method designed and developed by founder and chief instruction officer Larry Martinek.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Mathnasium has gained wide recognition, and now has more than 500 independently-owned franchises in the U.S. and Canada.

Success in Math

Whether the goal is to “catch up, keep up, or get ahead”, Mathnasium can provide the means for success in math.

Director of Mathnasium of Princeton Jennifer Zhang is enthusiastic about the center’s mission both to help students who have trouble in math class as well as to challenge those who exhibit strong mathematical ability.

“Parents will notice if their child is not doing well in math, even struggling, and they can come to us for help,” says Ms. Zhang. “In other cases, a child may be doing very well, and their parents want them to have additional challenges.

“Sometimes, even the very good students can have some gaps in their knowledge of math, however, and our job is to find and fill the gaps.”

Ms. Zhang explains that students are given an initial test to assess their level. “The instructors use our unique assessment process to determine exactly what each child knows and what they need to learn. Then we design a customized learning plan for teaching the concepts the student needs to master and offer personalized instruction.”

She adds that the instructors continually check the students’ progress to make sure they truly understand and retain the concepts. She also emphasizes that a friendly and comfortable learning environment is established in which students are encouraged to ask questions. “We provide a wonderful learning experience and environment. We want our students to be engaged and feel free to ask questions.”

Excellent Opportunity

A native of China, Ms. Zhang came to the U.S. to attend the Stevens Institute of Technology, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s in computer science. In addition, she obtained an MBA at New York University.

Her career path led her to banking and finance in New York City, and after 20 years in those fields, she wanted to change direction. The chance to open the Mathnasium franchise in Princeton was an excellent opportunity.

“Princeton is a perfect fit for Mathnasium, and the shopping center is a great location. I really wanted to help students do well in math and come to enjoy it. I started by helping my own daughters, and I found I wanted to help others too. One of the main reasons students struggle in math class is because they lack the prerequisite knowledge for advanced classes. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including changing schools, missing classes because of illness, etc. If these gaps are not filled, it will just become worse.”

On the other hand, she points out, “The more you do math, the better at it you become, and you are prepared to meet its challenges.”

Sessions at Mathnasium are one hour, and students usually attend two to three times a week. Typically, there are two to four students working with one instructor. The students sit at a long table, and work with pencil and paper, as well as with “manipulatives” (props) which provide hands-on understanding of mathematics concepts, notes Ms. Zhang.

Each student works with the materials in his or her binder, she adds. “The binder has materials that specifically address the student’s individual gaps and what they need to learn to build a strong math foundation.”

Learning Center

Their work is very individualized according to their needs and learning goals, but students of similar ages can work together. Also, homework help can be provided.

Ms. Zhang looks forward to Mathnasium of Princeton becoming a sought-after learning center to help students appreciate and value mathematics and build their math skills while having fun.

“We are set apart because we are very specialized and focus only on math. It allows us to be more effective. We are teaching for understanding. That is the underlying method of our curriculum and the way we teach.

“I look forward to having more students and helping them understand math and do well in school. I really enjoy seeing the kids ‘get’ it, and working with them is so much fun.”

Six month membership programs are available at the center, with classes Monday through Friday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. (609) 256-6284. Website:

February 25, 2015

To the Editor:

Following the Edgewater fire, I wasn’t immediately curious about lightweight wood construction until I read a list of talking points developed by a public relations firm hired by AvalonBay that were not only used by AvalonBay, but also forwarded to state and local officials, some of whom then used them when speaking publicly about the fire. The apparent lockstep between developer and government officials piqued my interest.

It took little effort to discover that fire fighters have long known that lightweight construction burns hotter and collapses faster than other types of construction, posing increased risk to fire fighters and occupant safety. For years fire fighter associations have been calling for more stringent construction and fire codes in light weight wood structures. Unfortunately their efforts have been thwarted by construction lobbies. From a 2009 National Fire Prevention Association publication: “What is most disturbing … is the movement by states, influenced by the builder community, to … prohibit counties and municipalities from adopting a sprinkler requirement.” Some think that sprinklers alone don’t go far enough to ensure safety; in the same article: “fire safety in this area needs to be [fully] reconsidered.”

On the heels of the Edgewater fire and with AvalonBay Princeton construction plans currently under review by the Department of Community Affairs, it’s not surprising that AvalonBay is now willing to increase the number of sprinklers and add fire walls to the Princeton design. But we should not count on the largesse of development and construction companies to maximally protect the lives and property of those who live in their developments or the larger communities in which they are built. AvalonBay sees the tightening of fire and safety codes as a financial risk: “Lower revenue growth or unanticipated expenditures may result from our need to comply with changes to building codes and fire and life-safety codes.” (AvalonBay 10K report 2013).

But what about the financial and lethal risk to occupants, taxpayers, and towns touched by fire in buildings that burn hotter and collapse faster? The Borough of Edgewater spent $230,000 fighting the recent fire. Edgewater Council set aside $230,000 to pay for expenses from the apartment complex fire, and AvalonBay “donate[d] $20,000 to the borough’s official gofundme account.” Can occupants, taxpayers, and towns shoulder the financial burden of catastrophic fires when whole industries are lobbying against safety standards that would make them less likely? The dollars corporations save go into their pockets, the dollars spent after such events come out of yours. Your life may be lost — likely not theirs. If you care about safety and sound investment in your community, support a rigorous and thorough review of all relevant construction and fire codes and until the code review is finished, a moratorium on the approval of new lightweight construction in New Jersey.

Susan Jefferies

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

I am surprised that health-conscious, educated Princetonians breathe without protest the woodsmoke belching from their neighbors’ chimneys. Even a cursory search under “woodsmoke and health” will show them the following: 70 percent of the woodsmoke outside of their homes will enter and pollute the air inside; and it will have the following effects on the health of people breathing it:

aggravating lung disease symptoms — asthma, emphysema; heart disease: irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Not to mention that it contains carcinogens, and contributes to global warming!

Ludmilla Wightman

Balsam Lane

To the Editor:

Taking the first step to changing the status quo is never easy. Yet, humanity’s most beneficial changes often begin with seemingly impossible visions that become reality.

Mercer County residents currently use 183 million plastic bags per year. In November 2014, the Princeton community, voted overwhelmingly for the referendum on single-use plastic bags 3:1. Today, it is time for Princeton Council to make a reality of reducing single-use carryout bags by passing an ordinance.

On January 28, 2015 I was afforded the opportunity to introduce a draft ordinance I wrote for the Princeton Environmental Council (PEC) who voted unanimously to support the ordinance.

The new draft ordinance differs from a previous one I co-authored with Daniel Harris in 2011 that called for a ban on single-use plastics, by proposing a charge of 10 cents per bag. The intent is both to significantly reduce the impact of single-use plastic and paper carryout bags and to promote a major shift in consumer behavior toward the use of reusable bags. Across the nation, in towns that have enacted charges, a 60 to 90 percent reduction in single-use-bags has occurred.

When Princeton Council passes this ordinance, Princeton will become the first municipality in the state to legislate its single-use bag waste, advancing Princeton’s reputation as a community with Sustainable Silver accreditation from Sustainable Jersey.

When change is proposed, the response is often to cling to the status quo. After President Obama announced his decision to run for election, he was advised that the timing was not right and that he must wait. Many fought against the civil rights movement and many continue to resist eliminating single-use bags.

As Sam Cooke so beautifully sings: “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.”

Visions that change and impact lives are infused with passion and purpose, and often require heroic activism and bold action. I want to acknowledge those that have taken bold action to move forward with an ordinance over the last four years:

Sophie Glover for starting the BYOBAG Campaign, supporting an ordinance in 2011.

Daniel Harris for co-authoring the first draft in 2011 with me, writing countless letters to the editor, editing countless documents and the new draft ordinance.

Noemi de la Puente founder of NJThinkoutsidethebag for her passion around organizing people around this issue.

Brian Hughes, county executive, for the heroic step to put the referendum on the November 2014 ballot.

The entire Mercer County coalition that met at the StonyBrook Millstone Watershed and worked to support the referendum.

Jenny Crumiller for being willing to introduce a resolution on the referendum in 2014 and publically supporting the draft ordinance.

Stephanie Chorney for her work and advocating to get the draft ordinance in front of the PEC now, and for all the PEC Members for voting yes on the ordinance and for action now.

Heather Howard for publically supporting the draft ordinance.

Jennie Romer for her incredible advice, education, expertise, and wiliness to explore new solutions on this issue.

I hope this vision becomes contagious and that Princeton Council acts boldly and heroically, allowing Princeton to take that first step toward leading New Jersey to reduce single-use carryout bags.

Questions on the specifics of the draft ordinance can be directed to

Bainy Suri

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

Understanding Black History is important because we must understand the past in order to guide our current and future actions — both as individuals and as a Town.

African Americans in Princeton have had a particularly difficult history, although the Town has had some achievements in race relations along the way. Blacks did much of the work, along with Italians, of paving our roads and performing menial tasks at the University for generations. They also worked in the homes of wealthy professors and industrialists — but were excluded from shops and services on Nassau Street. In the 1930s, blacks were forcibly relocated from their homes in what is now Palmer Square to Birch Avenue and other streets in the Witherspoon Jackson area.

On the other hand, Princeton was the first town in New Jersey to integrate all its schools, under the “Princeton Plan” in 1948. The “Nassau School” at 185 Nassau Street became the elementary school for all, while John Witherspoon became the middle school. Interestingly, Princeton High School was already integrated by then.

While African-Americans are just 5.4 percent of our residents, a percentage that has been declining as housing costs increase and many children of black families cannot afford to live here, organizations such as Not in Our Town, Committed and Faithful Princetonians, and the municipal Human Services Department work every day to support this group as they do all others. Of course, these organizations/agencies recognize that there is a huge range of economic resources within the African-American community — from wealthy to very low income.

With the unfortunate events of last summer and fall in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland — exactly the opposite of what Police Chief Sutter is striving for here in Princeton — it is more crucial than ever that each of us treats everyone with dignity and respect, to help ensure all negative past practices are truly gone from Princeton. As FBI Director James Comey, whose forebears were Irish, said in a very recent speech at Georgetown University, “What the Irish had gone through was nothing compared to what blacks had faced. That experience should be part of every American’s consciousness …. It is our cultural inheritance.” This is why we study Black History.

Elisa Neira

Executive Director Princeton Human Services,

On behalf of the PHS Commission

February 11, 2015

To the Editor:

Everybody loves somebody and I love McCaffrey’s. Their generosity to our community is never ending. From their most recent Valentine’s Day food drive all the way back to their Katrina Home Away From Home open house, they have been there for us. Their everyday commitment is further demonstrated through their one percent receipt program which benefits local charities.

Thank you McCaffery’s for being so easy to love. Princeton is lucky to have you.

Jeannie Crane

Hedge Row Road

To the Editor:

When I spoke at the February 3 meeting of the Princeton Board of Education, I spent too much of my five minutes on labor negotiations and too little on my main message, which was to parents of students in the district. I hope to finish my remarks here.

To summarize my comments about negotiations: It seems to me that members of the Princeton Regional Education Association have propagated two false narratives. The first is that the Board doesn’t respect teachers and consequently cannot understand the stress teachers feel about the economy and protracted negotiations. The second is that the Board lacked leadership, foresight, and ingenuity in negotiating in difficult times. Having worked with a majority of the current Board and after reviewing all public statements from both sides, I find the first narrative absurd and the second simply inaccurate.

While I think it’s important to call attention to these false narratives, my real motivation in addressing the Board was to speak to the parents who have attended Board meetings for the past six or seven months, expressing concern about negotiations, particularly the parents of elementary-school students. What gets lost as the Board listens in open forum is that its members are acting in the best interests of these parents, with a goal of ensuring that as their children grow, they will have the same — or even better — learning experiences as those currently offered to John Witherspoon and Princeton High School students.

The Board is acutely aware of the forces working against the district’s culture of continuous improvement, including the 2 percent cap, flat or declining state aid, rising enrollment, and expenses that outpace revenues. Last year’s Board was forced to cut $1.6 million from the 2014-2015 budget, which it did without significant impact to programs. While I’m not in the loop for the upcoming budget cycle, I assume this situation has not improved. In fact, I’m guessing this year’s Board will need to make difficult decisions about district programs, decisions that will affect the lives of students in ways that are much more significant than the amount their teachers are required to contribute for health insurance.

Boards of Education are elected to reflect the educational values of their communities and to communicate those values to district administrators. It’s not an easy job in any town, and it is particularly difficult in Princeton, where we value a wealth of opportunity for every student in our diverse community. That said, I urge parents to fully educate themselves about the fiscal crisis: think about what you’d be willing to live without; share your priorities with Board members; and learn just how relatively small a percentage of the district budget constitutes discretionary spending. Go to the Board’s budget workshop, and follow up by sharing your impressions at the budget hearing.

It’s easy to go to Board meetings and express support for teachers — just about everyone here is pro-teacher. What’s far more difficult is for a volunteer Board of elected officials to take a hard look at the numbers and start weighing the merits of various programs and the impact that cutting or reducing programs will have on students. This is the true challenge Princeton faces and I wish the Board and everyone in the school community the very best as they work to find solutions to this difficult situation.

Timothy Quinn,

Wilton Street

Editor’s note: The author served on the Princeton Board of Education from 2008 to 2014 and is the immediate past president.

To the Editor:

I would like to thank former Board of Education President Tim Quinn for beginning a conversation with the public about recent contract negotiations with teachers. It is difficult to make progress with set speeches and with the Board unable to respond. My letter is in response to Mr. Quinn’s remarks at a Board meeting and in a public letter, regarding an “absurd” narrative characterizing the Board as anti-teacher and the need for the public to educate itself on the school budget. I have been attending Board meetings and I find these things startling:

• 1. The members of the Board voted to use funds saved from the salaries of teachers who had retired and give that money to administrators as a raise. I understand that because there are fewer administrators, the cost of their raise was less than a raise for the teachers, but the effect on the individuals is the same. An administrator gets a raise but a teacher does not get offered a comparable raise.

Is hierarchy playing a role here? Is the Board playing its proper role as one of the legs supporting the organization — administration, staff, teachers, students, parents, the Board — with a balance of power between all legs ensuring the healthiest organization?

• 2. The members of the Board refuse to speak with John Baxter and the PREA negotiating team. The Board speaks through a lawyer and a state mediator at $1,500 per day. Why not have direct communication with the teachers? Putting lawyers and mediators into the process costs money and prevents open discussion.

• 3. More recently, the School District plans to hire a consultant to “listen” to people and set goals for the future. Is the Board listening to the countless students, teachers, and parents who are speaking (for free) month after month about their priorities (teachers in classrooms before school, student clubs meetings, and school trips). My priority is to spend more money on teachers and smaller class sizes in the middle and high schools. Many of the core classes at these combined schools approach 30 students, too big for effective teaching and learning. In addition, English teachers’ class load has increased from 4 to 5 classes a day, and English teachers have roughly 125 students, making it impossible for detailed assistance and comments on students’ writing. Is this contributing to the relatively lower reading/writing SATs (and other standardized tests) at the high school as compared to the higher scores in the math sections of the test?

As someone who has interviewed and made hiring decisions on dozens of applicants over the last decade, the number one reason why people do not get jobs is poor writing or communicating skills. Technology changes, science advances, but fundamental writing and communication skills that should be taught in middle and high schools will stay with a student their whole lives.

Robert Dodge

Maple Street

To the Editor:

As co-recipients of the recent award [“Leadership Awards Recognize Efforts of Environmentalists,” page 1, Feb 4], we want to thank Sustainable Princeton and take the opportunity to spread the word about the ease and benefits of our community’s Municipal Curbside Composting Program. More important, we want to urge readers to join in the effort.

We owe our award to 23 property owners in Constitution Hill where we live, and several in Governor’s Lane, who in the last months have changed lifelong habits and started composting, i.e. scraping the remnants of their meals into a small container usually placed under the sink and then taking them once-a-week to the curb for collection. These friends and neighbors now understand several important environmental truths: the need to save diminishing landfill space; and the return in the form of a chemical-free, natural product that is a cost effective material for nourishing parks, playgrounds, and public and private gardens. Composting on a weekly basis can help protect the environment for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

Here’s how composting works: you extend recycling by further sorting your waste and separating out everything organic so that little is left to go to the landfill. Composting once a week, plus recycling once every two weeks, will result in so little trash that we will eventually be able to reduce its collection to every other week, reducing the item in the budget (this schedule is followed in many cities in the U.S., mostly in the west, and in parts of Canada as well.) Each household pays a yearly fee of $65 to participate in the program.

Our hope is that this message will inspire others to join the more than 1000 households already in the Curbside Municipal Composting program, and that “compost fever” will spread from neighborhood to neighborhood. If you are interested in knowing more about the program, or, better still, signing up to scrape your plates and fill your bucket, given free by Princeton, please call Janet Pellichero, who is in charge of composting, at Monument Hall: (609) 688-2566. Working together we can move our entire community forward and closer to total sustainability. One of these years, the entire community will receive the Sustainable Princeton award.

Penny Thomas, Susie Wilson

Constitution Hill West

To the Editor:

There are many excellent reasons to encourage cycling in Princeton: less traffic congestion, independent mobility for those who don’t drive (our children among them), lower carbon emissions, and better health and happiness, through increased exercise and reduced pollution.

On the road, as in the home, we need “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Currently cyclists don’t have a clear or safe place on our roads, and too often are in the way of car traffic, or unintentionally form a menace to pedestrians. Giving cyclists a proper place — a bike path or lane — makes the road safer for everyone.

Designating a safe space for non-car traffic is essential to a truly Sustainable Princeton. Indeed, a “Complete Streets” policy is already part of Princeton’s Community Master Plan (

Now let’s build them.

Tineke Thio

Dempsey Avenue

To the Editor:

I’m going to add my voice against the notion that bike lanes, specifically ones that would remove parking on Hamilton Avenue, are a benefit to the community. Princeton in particular has shown zero interest in establishing rules of the road for bicycle riders, turns a blind eye to the few rules it does have, and yet shows an interest in granting a special dispensation to a limited audience of bike riders.

I like bicycles. I ride one. When I ride I acknowledge that I am a wheeled vehicle on the road. I assume that cars cannot see me and ride accordingly. I can’t say the same for a great number of bike riders who treat the road as if it is their personal avenue requiring no signals, no stops, no lights, and certainly no requirement to keep to the right in single file. That’s just the bad road etiquette.

I have had my dog’s leash snagged by a rider bicycling on the sidewalk on Nassau Street. I have had a number of near misses stepping out of my driveway onto the narrow sidewalk in front of my house. These aren’t five-year-olds with training wheels. These are teens and adults well in excess of one hundred pounds moving at ten miles per hour or more. You don’t need a physics degree to understand if they hit you, your pets, or your children, someone will be seriously hurt. How did Bono’s doctors frame it? A “high energy bicycle accident.” In my 50 years of residency I have seen one bike rider stopped for riding on the sidewalk, just one.

Bicycles for anyone over the age of ten belong in the streets, period. And they don’t need a special accommodation any more than a moped does. If riding on Hamilton Avenue makes you uncomfortable, then pick quieter streets that run parallel and pay attention.

Ralph Thayer

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

As any psychologist knows, the prevalent presentation of bad news, as from bad behavior and crime in the media, can result in copy-cat crime. As is equally known, but less considered, is the fact that the presentation of good behavior and good role models can result in more good deeds. We could use stronger presentation of positive role models in our own community to stimulate behavior of excellence.

It is absolutely amazing how many dedicated and excellent people live in our midst, providing unselfish service with little recognition. Let me just bring a few to light, in our own town (in alphabetic order):

Leslie Burger built our library into a center of cultural and intellectual life – with her support team, as for film-showing, including Susan Conlon and Janie Hermann.

Jim Floyd, first a leader of our police force, then mayor of the Township, now, in more advanced age, still leading a team to provide low-income housing to our too often disadvantaged African-American community, supported excellently by Minnie Craig and others.

Claire Jacobus was and still is most beneficially involved in a number of community activities.

Wendy Mager has unselfishly managed and built the “Friends of Princeton Open Space” over decades — with a wonderful trails team including Ted Thomas, Clark Lennon, Eric Tazelaar, Andrew Thornton, and more.

Bob Kiser, Lee Solow, and other members of our community administration have provided excellent service beyond the call of duty.

Dave McAlpin is a great initiator and leader of beneficial activities in our town, also including Habitat for Humanity, help to our black community, and more.

Bernie Miller has provided dedicated and capable service to the administration of our community for many years.

Ingrid and Marvin Reed are active in a wide variety of causes in our town, always with great unselfish dedication — presenting the best of American democracy.

Sheldon Sturgis started and promoted “Princeton Future” community planning.

Ralph Widner did the first systematic analysis of community planning data.

Robert von Zumbusch was active for decades in environmental matters and the protection of nature and open space — always unselfishly serving our community.

… and many more who I did not have the pleasure to know and work with, but who could and should be honored as well by those who know about them! How about the guiding individuals of the D&R Greenway and the Watershed Association? Isn’t there also a lady who has provided bus tours for about three decades (!) to great mansions, wonderful parks, museums, and interesting sites, requiring more work than most people realize, as a volunteer, actually losing money on that?

We can no longer “knight” them or add subtitles to their names as the “de” in France or the “von” in Germany – but we can recognize these individuals once in a while – as role models to follow!!

A sincere “thank you” to all of them!!!

Submitted by a citizen of Princeton,

Helmut Schwab

Westcott Road

February 4, 2015

To the Editor:

On Thursday night, January 8, McCarter Theatre Center partnered with three area libraries to offer the “Unrelenting Voices Read-In: A Celebration of Freedom, Justice, Mandela and More.” Community members, civic leaders, students, artists, and friends — of multiple generations — gathered in three separate locations to simultaneously commemorate and reflect upon the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Trenton Free Public Library Director Kimberly Matthews, New Brunswick Free Public Library Director Robert Belvin, and Princeton Public Library Director Leslie Burger, and their wonderful staffs, for their help in facilitating and supporting this event. I would also like to thank our more than 95 guest readers who lent their voices to this important effort, as well as the many community members who attended to listen and discuss at the three venues. And lastly, I would like to thank the talented and devoted education and engagement team at McCarter who work tirelessly to bring high-quality education activities to the young, and the-not-so-young, in our region.

This amazing project was presented in conjunction with our production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead, directed by its Tony-Award winning co-creator, John Kani and co-produced with South Africa’s acclaimed Market Theatre. Groups of readers met at each library and, along with a few guest actors, to read excerpts from speeches, writings, and poetry, including texts by Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Maya Angelou, Sojourner Truth, Langston Hughes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as excerpts from Sizwe Banzi is Dead, among others. The event closed with a period of discussion and reflection, during which participants shared personal responses to the emotional, historical, and contemporary resonances of the words we’d shared together. I am extremely proud to have participated and look forward to continuing the discussion in the future.

Emily Mann

Artistic Director and Resident Playwright,

McCarter Theatre Center