June 6, 2012

“We have a choice among some excellent candidates. I really think it’s a very strong group. Because this is the first consolidated election, I think there’s a higher level of interest than in the past. As I drive through Princeton, I see yard signs that you almost never see for primaries. The fact that people are aware and focused is fantastic.”  —Brian McDonald, Princeton

“I am pleased with the candidates, but I need to get a little more familiar with a couple that I am not familiar with yet. I do think that it is definitely significant as we are going into consolidation. We need some good people to make this change.” —Susan Colby, Princeton

“Yes and yes, I think it’s very significant because it’s the first government of the new Princeton. There are issues that need to be thought about from the former Borough and Township. I’m a Borough person, and am comfortable with those that I know. So I will probably vote that way.”  —Bill Moran, Princeton

“It’s extremely significant and really exciting. I think all the candidates are just so qualified. I’m still hung up about who to vote for on Tuesday.” —Carol Salus, Princeton

“I’ve not been paying close attention to the candidates. I always have faith that whoever is elected will do a good job. It’s significant for those who want to make it significant. There was dispute on both sides. It’s done now.”  —Tom Mellis, Princeton

“I’m thrilled that we have consolidation. It’s a time for new people to come into office.” —Kate Newell, Princeton

FAMILY FAVORITES: “We are a true family business. My parents have helped out, and also my husband’s parents and his sister and brother-in-law. Even the children are involved.” Jennifer Smit (left), owner with her husband Rudie of Olsson’s Fine Foods, is shown with family members, from left: Lauren, Charlton, Analice, and Niamh Smit.

Tangy and creamy Triple Creme, Australian Parmesan, Irish blue, semi-soft Pont L’Eveque, semi-hard Tumbleweed (cross between Cantal Fermier and aged cheddar), the unusual “Stinking Bishop” from England … all these and many more are available at Olsson’s Fine Foods at 53 Palmer Square West.

“We have more than 200 different cheeses, as local as Cherry Grove and as far away as Australia,” says co-owner Jennifer Smit.

The shop, which opened in June, 2011, has made its presence felt among cheese lovers. It has consistently received high praise not only for its quality products but also for its knowledgeable and friendly service.

“It can be an educational experience here,” points out Ms. Smit. “We love to tell people about the different cheeses. We also keep track of their purchases on green index cards, so we can make suggestions of other cheeses they might like to try. It’s also nice if someone wants to give a gift. We know what the person likes.”

Taste Sensations

Ms. Smit and her husband and co-owner Rudie Smit have had a long-lasting love affair with cheese and good food generally. They always enjoyed cooking, and when they traveled, they liked to explore new taste sensations, scouting out good restaurants and food and cheese shops.

“My husband is Dutch, and we travel often to see his family. Then, there is always an opportunity to find new cheeses and gourmet items,” notes Ms. Smit

Olsson’s has along history, she adds. Started by Chef John Olsson 25 years ago, it was located in the Trenton Farmers Market. Changing ownership over the years, it was eventually purchased by the Smits.

“Olsson’s was where we bought the cheese for our wedding,” reports Ms. Smit. “When we heard it was for sale four years ago, we decided to buy it. It was a way to take our passion for food and have it evolve into a new adventure.”

Moving to Princeton last year was an opportunity to expand the business, she explains. “We had a lot of customers from Princeton, and they wanted us to be open more often. Having the shop offers us opportunities to bring in cheeses we only dreamed about in the other store. We also sell to a number of local restaurants now and to Princeton University for targeted events.

“When we decided to move, we looked at a lot of locations, and we kept coming back here. We get new people in every day, and we have lots of regulars from Princeton and the area, including Bucks county. We find that many people in Princeton have a sophisticated palate. They have often traveled, and there is also a large international group here. They all enjoy cheese.”

Super Selection

The charming shop offers a super selection, arranged according to category (hard, soft, cow’s milk, goat and sheep), and with helpful identifying — and often whimsical — comments, such as “smooth and pillowy”, “sweet and salty”, suggestions for suitable wine pairings, and other useful information.

The Smits also provide background and history about their cheeses on the Olsson website, offering informative and entertaining “Cheese Thoughts”. For example, “We have a goat’s milk cheese that was once produced solely in the Garrotza area of Catalonia. Garrotza has a white interior with a very creamy texture that is surrounded by a natural mold rind. It has an unusual but mild flavor with a light acidity and a hint of hazelnut”

Another entry: “Port L’Eveque, a classic cow’s milk cheese made since the 12th century, today is still one of the most popular cheeses in France. Its cross-hatched, brine-washed, soft-ripened rind smells a bit pungent and earthy. This is wonderful semi-soft cheese, ready for tasting and bringing home!”

In addition to the cheeses, Olsson’s also offers a variety of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade soups. All are favorites including seasonal specialties, reports Mrs. Smit.

Red Dragon

“The Dragon”, with red dragon cheese, fontina, and bacon; “The Dutchman”, with vlastaas gouda, fontina, salami, and limon blueberry spread; and “The Traditional” with smooth fontina paired with aged cheddar are all in demand. “The Tuscan” and “The Newton” are other popular choices.

The soups include butternut squash with Griggstown Farm sausage; potato leek; tomato; carrot and ginger; and cheesy broccoli, among others. One or two different soups are available each day.

The shop is also filled with an array of tempting gourmet products, including unusual preserves and fruit spreads, organic red rice, English honey and almond cookies, and fig and oat biscuits that pair well with tea. Special chocolate sauce and European Nutella and the traditional Dutch toast-topping chocolate sprinkles are other intriguing items.

Turkish dried figs, apricots, and dates (also chocolate-covered figs) are big favorites, as is the variety of olives, nuts, crisp artisanal Italian flatbreads with olive oil and a hint of parmesan, and the European-style butter.

Wild Hibiscus

“We have wild hibiscus flowers to put in champagne glasses,” adds Ms. Smit. “When they are put in the champagne, the flowers open. It is a great gift.

“Another unusual item is an all-natural honeycomb from Savannah, Ga., which is very nice paired with cheese. We also carry Griggstown Farm and D’Artagnan sausages and meat, and fresh pasta, such as spinach, asiago, and roasted garlic ravioli and other varieties. The ravioli only takes four minutes to cook. In addition, we have small cheese platters to go, and bread from the Witherspoon Bread Company.”

Selected coffees, including espresso, cappuccino, and latte, are offered, as are hot chocolate and tea.

Cheese prices are by the pound, and customers are encouraged to taste before they buy. A small slice could be in the $1.90 range. Grilled cheese sandwiches start at $5, soups from $4.50, and special discounts are available every day. Gift certificates are also offered.

“We are so pleased with our welcome here, both by the customers and the other merchants,” says Ms. Smit. “People enjoy coming in and getting a grilled cheese sandwich and soup, and then taking it out on the Green in nice weather. We’re a small gourmet shop, specializing in cheese, and we hope to continue to build relationships. I enjoy meeting the customers and learning about them. We want to be part of the community and offer a community experience. And we hope even more people will come in and see us. We look forward to bringing in all the wonderful new products for customers to try, and we will have a new series of cheese tastings and classes soon.”

Olsson’s Fine Foods is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday until 8:30, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 924-2210. Website: www.olssonsfinefoods.com.


Every season is delightful at Blue Raccoon, but spring, with its focus on hope, new beginnings, and transformation, is especially notable at this iconic store. With its 20th anniversary coming up next year — a rarity these days when stores come and go so quickly — Blue Raccoon truly can be designated as “iconic”.

Opened in 1993, it moved to its current location at 6 Coryell Street in Lambertville three years later. “When we moved to this location, our lives changed,” says co-owner Nicholas Bewsey. “It was a bigger space, and we could add upholstery. Everything just exploded.”

Mr. Bewsey and co-owner Nelson Zayas had previously worked in retail in New York, and decided to open their own business in a new setting. “We had looked in several places, including upstate New York and New England, and we came to Lambertville at the invitation of a friend,” reports Mr. Bewsey. “We knew right away that this was the place.”

“And in all these years, I have to say I have not lost my respect, regard, and appreciation for Lambertville. This is a small American town. The people who live here shop here. They have made an investment to maintain the town’s authentic charm.”

Sensory Experience

And Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas have also made an important investment. With their remarkable taste and the ability to present it so engagingly, they have focused on a selection that is both practical and imaginative. Everything in the store is pleasing to the eye, and it is obvious that much care and attention has been given to every detail.

“The setting itself is important,” Mr. Bewsey explains. “There are windows on four sides, and the store is filled with light. It enhances the environment we created indoors. We have always spotlighted the sensory experience: light, color, sound, and scent.”

The store is indeed richly textured. Colors abound, whether from hooked rugs, featuring vintage designs, Portuguese multi-colored dish towels, the collection of “Juicy” glasses in bright and cheerful patterns, a colorful new jewelry line, or in the selection of fine upholstered furniture.

Furniture continues to be a big seller at Blue Raccoon, and the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams line is one of the highlights. “We also carry Vanguard Furniture, and we have added DwellStudio,” says Mr. Bewsey. “They are inspired by old Hollywood, with a contemporary twist. The collection includes couches, chairs, and a nifty grouping of tables, consoles, and case goods.

“All our furniture is American-made, and we are now carrying a new selection of farm tables from Lancaster, Pa. that are very popular,” he adds. “They are custom-sized with 20 different paint finishes. Made of reclaimed barn wood, mostly cypress, they are very sturdy. A 6-foot table is offered at $1470, a very good price.”

At the other end of the spectrum is a line of chrome cocktail tables with bleached stone tops. With their six irregular geometric shapes they can be puzzled together to form a surface for drinks, books, or bud vases — whatever your choice.

Bread Boards

Clocks of all types and lamps (floor and table) are welcome accessories and always popular sellers. Kitchen items range from handsome wooden cutting, serving, and bread boards and salad bowls to tried and true flour sack dish towels (three for $12.50) and bar cloths — a good gift for a guy — to Stonewall Kitchen pancake and waffle mix and Maine maple syrup to cookbooks of all sorts, including Glorious Pasta from Italy.

Candles of every size and shape are in abundance, and they always make a welcome hostess gift. Elegant pear shapes in lovely colors and beeswax 9-inch tapers (sets of six) from Ohio that burn for 15 hours are on display, as are scented candles in attractive reusable glass jars in varied colorful designs.

Soap — Blue Raccoon has some of the best soaps in the world! Triple-milled, long-lasting, wonderfully fragrant, and beautifully packaged, they are irresistible. Cucumber and olive oil, rosewater, jasmine, lavender chamomile, all with shea butter, are unforgettable. And, then there is the enormously popular signature sea algae, with its refreshing, revitalizing scent.

“Originally, we had this in just for the summer, but it was so popular, people wanted it all the time,” reports Mr. Bewsey.

Photo frames, coasters, ceramic coffee mugs, CDs (the best pop and jazz), books, and artwork are other choices.

“We have the work of fine art painter and photographer William Sloan of Bucks County,” notes Mr. Bewsey. The black and white photographs on display are particularly intriguing.

“Whisky Stones”

Blue Raccoon always has an array of eye-catching items you don’t see everywhere else. A fun remembrance for Dad on Father’s Day is the “Corksicle”. As Mr. Bewsey explains, “You put it in the freezer overnight, and then place it in the wine bottle. It keeps the wine cool at the appropriate temperature.”

Along the same line is a set of nine “Whisky Stones”. These are also placed in the freezer, then added to the beverage of choice. They don’t melt, so there is no diluting of the drink. They are also available as a set with tumblers.

Gardeners will find items to help with springtime planting. High quality garden tools from England, special sturdy extra long cotton-lined rubber gloves, and gardener’s soap are all available.

Prices at Blue Raccoon cover a very wide range, from $1 and up. Many items are priced from $25 to $35. A furniture sale, including Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, is currently in progress through May 6.

Another important feature of Blue Raccoon is design. “Nelson does the design work, both in the store, and interior design in customers’ homes,” says Mr. Bewsey. “This has become a very big part of our business, and we have projects all over the area and beyond.”

After nearly 20 years in business in Lambertville, Mr. Bewsey and Mr. Zayas still look forward to the next collection and the next season. “You know that the next trip you take, you’ll find another good source and a great new item.

“We are so grateful to our loyal customers, many who have been with us since the beginning. We feel we always want to offer the best for them, and we want the store to look 100 percent every day. We find products that are different and priced properly. And always, we try to provide a welcoming environment that is fresh and engaging, and offers our customers a special touch of inspiration.”

Gift cards and complimentary signature gift wrapping are available, and hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5. (609) 397-5500. Website: www.blueraccoon.com. The website will soon offer a brand new look.

To the Editor:

Throughout the spring, the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative brought New Jersey chefs and farmers into two of the Princeton Young Achievers after-school programs to introduce children to flavors of local produce and to trace that produce back to the farm. The program was an extension of our Garden State on Your Plate program that provided school-wide tastings at Community Park and Littlebrook elementary schools last year.

We want to thank the chefs — Christopher Albrecht of Eno Terra, Gab Carbone of bent spoon, Craig Shelton of American Hospitality Group, Scott Anderson of elements, Linda Twining of TwinHens, and Stu Orefice and Rick Piancone of Princeton University — and farmers — Chris Turse of Double Brook Farm, Mike Rassweiler of North Slope Farm, Jess Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm, Fred Bowers of Princeton Soil Institute, David Zaback of ZFood Farm, and Pier Guidi of Bamboo Hollow Apiaries — who made the program a success. With their help the children learned why eggs from pasture-raised chickens make the best ice cream, examined seeds and soils, learned about beekeeping and tasted the differences amongst honeys from different flowers. They also prepared a kale salad, seasoned a spring Garden State vichyssoise, and shook ice-filled balls to make ice cream — all of which they ate enthusiastically.

The students glimpsed the quality of New Jersey farm products while learning about the workday life of farmers and chefs. Amidst their experimenting, exploring, and exclaiming, we were heartened to see that some children showed a deep interest in food, agriculture, and the culinary arts. We ask that the Princeton community nurture that interest, as well as a love and appreciation amongst all of our students for the delicious and diverse bounty of the Garden State.

Fran McManus, Karla Cook

Princeton School Gardens Cooperative

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the winners of the Democratic Primary who will now proceed to the November ballot as candidates for Council in the newly consolidated Princeton. This is both an historic and a critical turning point in the history of our special community. Perhaps it is also time to change the tradition of our election decisions terminating in June as opposed to November. The one-party rule that has existed in Princeton for far too long has not served our community well. The result has been bickering and political infighting as opposed to problem solving. We are now faced with many challenges ahead: The implementation of consolidation, improving the relationship between town and University, rising taxes, and difficult business conditions for local merchants. Princeton deserves a government that reflects the best of its residents. This is one of the many reasons I am seeking a seat on Princeton Council.

As the only candidate outside the Democratic Primary winners, I have a very simple message for voters: Please consider using one of your six votes this November to support diversity, independence, and transparency. Give me a chance to work for good government by helping to make the five Democrats in the super-majority more effective, more responsible, and more focused on results.

I am a Progressive Republican who is married to a Democrat. I was honored to be appointed by Mayor Chad Goerner in 2011 to serve on the Princeton Township Zoning Board. The motivation for my candidacy is simple: To continue to serve and support a community I love. Nothing more. And nothing less.

Put Princeton before politics. It is time.

Geoff Aton

Cedar Lane

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Princeton Education Foundation, I would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Be True to Your School” spring gala and silent auction. We raised approximately $60,000 net that will directly benefit our public schools’ teachers and students and will further our goal of supporting excellence in education in the Princeton Regional Schools. Since its inception, the Princeton Education Foundation has contributed over $1,100,000 to the Princeton regional schools for capital improvements, educational programs and teacher support.

We are especially grateful to our lead sponsors, the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, the W. Bryce Thompson Foundation, PNC Bank, Nassau Street Office and Georgeanne Moss, The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, and to our other major sponsors, The Bank of Princeton, Becker Nose & Sinus Center, LLC, and Parker McCay. Thanks also go to sponsors Anne Skalka & Associates, CPAs, Conner Strong & Buckelew, Dental Healthcare Associates – Dr. J. Craig Tyl, DMD, FAGD, & Dr. Michael Fogarty, DDS, Ellen T. Nita, State Farm Insurance, Issues Management, LLC, Princeton Shopping Center, Princeton University Store, Spiezle Architectural Group and The Pediatric Group. We were also supported by Charan Bawja (Broker/Owner), RE/MAX ONE, Princeton Orthodontics – Lewis J. Russo, Jr., DDS, PA, & Jonathan L. Nicozisis, DMD, MS, Fidelity Investments, Glamorous Eyebrows, Quakerbridge Mall, Gold Buyers at the Mall, Smith + Manning, McCaffrey’s Market, Mike’s Barber Shop Princeton, Palace of India Princeton, Peter LaBriola, Keller William Princeton Realty, Princeton Automobile Company, Robert J. Lopez, The Geller Real Estate Group of Gloria Nilson Realtors, Wiss & Company. Our silent auction was a big success thanks to donations from over 100 people and businesses. We are also grateful to have the support of many benefactors and patrons, who are also listed there.

We would like to recognize the hard work of our gala committee, which planned and executed this year’s event. Led by co-chairs Shazia Manekia and Aman Shergill and board of trustees event committee chair Claire Percarpio, the committee included Dorothy Bedford, Lakshmi Bhamidipati, Julie Capozzoli, Marie Elainea Carusone, Pooja Datt, Lindsey Forden, Victoria Hamilton, Lauren Kaltman, Heather Kisilywicz, Jean-Anne Madden, Carol Mills, Tracy Morgan, Jan Pierce, Shari Powell, Archie Reid, Sara Schaeffer, Jill Schwartz, Karin Siciliano, and Andrea Spalla.

Finally, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the community who participated in this important fundraiser by volunteering time, purchasing tickets, or bidding on items in our auction. Thank you for joining with us to say that public education matters!

Adrienne Rubin

Executive Director, Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

Memorial Day has come and gone. The Princeton Battlefield Society held the largest re-enactment in a decade on the battlefield. Our veterans were remembered. Hundreds upon hundreds came from as far as Michigan, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and all over New Jersey. They all wanted to know what was happening with the IAS (Institute for Advanced Study) and the battlefield. So, I explained the society has gone to court to protect the battlefield from the IAS development. I further relayed that the society has contacted the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) to review the application, since it appears the IAS wants to build on wetlands.

I am glad so many people came to the Memorial Day event. They learned something about history, about the American Revolution and also about modern government. They took our brochures and made donations for the legal defense of the battlefield. They will write letters to the governor, their representatives, the vice president and whoever else is necessary to protect the Princeton Battlefield. I think that may be the highest compliment to those who served, that the American people follow the process fought for on this very battlefield.

Joe Carney

Glenwood N.J.

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to the apparently heartfelt message about HiTOPS in the May 16 mailbox. Although I can empathize with the feelings of the four people who signed the letter about what is happening in our society, I must respectfully disagree with their opinions about HiTOPS “moral neutrality.”

As the father of three, stepfather to five, and grandfather of four, I am only too aware of the challenges of rearing children in a society where explicit sexual messages are in the media, in our movie theaters, in popular song lyrics, on the web and even in the news. It would be naive to believe that we can insulate and isolate our children from all of that. HiTOPS is not to blame.

HiTOPS does not “promote” or “encourage” sexual activity between teens as the letter-writers assert. The mission of HiTOPS is not to teach or preach morality, as the letter-writers would obviously like to see. That, in my opinion, is the responsibility of parents and religious institutions. What HiTOPS does do is to inform teens, who have already made the decision to become sexually active or who may become sexually active, how to avoid STD transmission and pregnancy. HiTOPS also provides contraception, pap smears, and Gardasil vaccines for young men and women against the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer. Their other valuable services include emotional and psychological support services to fragile adolescent populations, including survivors of sexual assault and gay and lesbian youth.

If HiTOPS were to begin preaching and moralizing to the teen population that they hope to serve, the organization would come across as judgmental and sanctimonious. Doing that would cause its message to be lost on much of their target group and reduce the organization’s effectiveness. Rather than hand-wringing and sermonizing over the state of our society, HiTOPS is performing a valuable service to our community’s young men and women and their parents and has earned their respect. I also believe that HiTOPS deserves our community’s support.

Lewis A. Edge, Jr.

Cleveland Road West

To the Editor:

Newly retired in Princeton after years of teaching gifted children, I was in search of a way to keep intellectually active within my local community. This, of course, is not hard to do around here. But I wanted the intellectual rigor of a University-level experience without the requisite reading load which an audited course would entail. I found just what I was looking for at the Evergreen Forum. First, I took a course entitled Exploring Princeton Architecture. The course description read: “We will focus on the social, communal, and cultural settings in which Princeton’s buildings were commissioned, designed, used, preserved, viewed, and assigned meaning.” I was hooked. Armed with this new knowledge, I was able to bring an additional depth of understanding to my walks through the town and on campus. This course was taught by both a Princeton Museum Docent/Historical-Society guide and a recently retired Princeton University architect and director of that institution’s physical planning department.

This spring I took “More Shakespeare off the Page: As You Like It.” Again, I was drawn in not only by the teacher’s love of the play and knowledge of the theater as well as the Bard, but also by the interactive part of the class. We read and dramatized as we were learning the ins-and-outs of Shakespearean language, as well as seeing in depth the meaning of the play within the context of its time. All of this, while role-playing and learning to read the lines in an effort to express all their inherent meaning and emotion. The teachers in both courses asked us to do some additional reading, which was well within my expectations. Overall, I was impressed with the wealth of talent and knowledge that is part of the fabric of our community. So for all new retirees out there looking for additional opportunities to learn while enjoying themselves, I highly recommend The Evergreen Forum.

Nancee Goldstein

Vandeventer Avenue

To the Editor:

We recently opened our front door and came face to face with a white-tailed hawk. The hawk stood immobile and appeared injured. It certainly could not fly and after some time hobbled off into our yard.

Tremendous thanks to Princeton Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson who arrived today and handled the situation with tremendous care and experience. By listening to her cries from the rear of our house, Mark quickly located the very young hawk in the woods. The hawk had fallen from a nest on our property and had not yet learned to fly.

We were so impressed by and thankful for Mark’s ability to locate and gently control the pet by its feet. The plan is to nurture the hawk at the Mercer County Wildlife Center until she can fly and be released back to the wild of our woods.

Peter and Janet Brav

Highland Terrace

To the Editor:

I was delighted to learn about New Jersey Transit’s new bus service from Princeton to our new hospital in Plainsboro. As a 13-year former member of the Princeton Regional Health Commission during the planning period for the new hospital, I recall that the Commission gave input to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services on issues the Commission considered important in this move. Two issues were paramount:

1. That Witherspoon neighborhood residents (who have walked to the old hospital) and others have easy access to the clinic and other new hospital services;

2. That there be improved access via Harrison Street to the new hospital.

Congratulations to hospital officials for their persistent efforts in both of these goals and to Princeton University for sharing the transit costs with the hospital.

I noted with concern, however, that five diesel buses are scheduled to be used. Diesel is not as clean burning as natural gas with which some New Jersey Transit and other buses are already equipped. Knowing that service will run every 40 to 75 minutes daily (and with air pollution from existing heavy traffic), I urge that, as soon as possible, the switch be made to cleaner fuel technology such as currently available natural gas (or hybrid) — or electric vehicles — which are well suited for relatively short run repeat routes. This is especially important since we are transporting people to a facility for the promotion of health.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

AvalonBay (AB) wants to build a closed compound of 280 units on the old hospital site: the hugest building in Princeton, with a private swimming pool in the main courtyard. Why should this development be allowed in our community? The 2006 Master Plan explicitly prohibits gated communities. AB prides itself on creating closed “communities.” Other municipalities have thwarted AB developments: Highland Park, N.J.; Greater Huntington, N.Y.; Scripps Ranch, Calif. We ought to reject AB in Princeton.

A closed compound is out of sync with Princeton values of diversity and openness. The proposed development would physically impede connectivity between our neighborhoods (Witherspoon/Jackson and Harris/Jefferson) — a goal of relatedness that the Witherspoon Corridor Study Group spent much time promoting. The Task Force for rezoning the hospital (now the MRRO zone) was adamant that any development should, as a matter of public policy, permit public plazas and pedestrian access routes “crossing the site” (Borough Code 17A-193B.d.1). It called the hospital’s departure a “unique opportunity” for area renewal and re-connection. Hospital leadership (including Barry Rabner, CEO and President of UMCP) signed on for this smart urban design (in exchange for a zoning for “up to 280 units”), and even suggested the obvious value of limited retail stores to assist with people-flow and economic vitality. (Who wants to waste gas driving to the shopping center for toothpaste?).

As far as is now known, AB has refused public access “crossing the site.” Talks about a pedestrian passageway that would connect a public plaza on Witherspoon to Harris Road have yielded little. The pedestrian thoroughfare proposed in the 2005 concept drawings (commissioned by the hospital), running between the garage and any building on the east (now perhaps to be AB’s big cube) has not been incorporated into new plans.

This is an outrage, an affront to civic values. The Master Plan and Borough Code both call for public access across the 5.6 acres. Who can imagine an enclosed four-story high wall of enclosed bridges between the garage and the AB cube so that residents don’t have to get wet, climb or descend stairs, or use elevators, and can remain on “their same floor” in order to reach apartments. No other garage I know of has “same-floor transition” to housing units. Princeton does not need a Berlin Wall.

Not all of the fault belongs to AB; their people are simply taking advantage of weak zoning regulations that should have been strengthened as soon as AB came poking around in the fall of 2011. Planning Board staff had ample time to advise Borough Council that potential dangers of a blockbuster development lurked (AB did not submit concept renderings until March 12, 2012). Proper guidance from Planning Board municipal leadership has been missing.

Princeton needs both market-rate and “affordable” rental units, but not at any price. All municipal bodies must ponder well the price-tag AB brings.

Jill Stein

Gulick Road

To the Editor:

This is an open letter to Barry Rabner.

To achieve “evidence-based design … guided by experience [and] instinct.’ your “design team articulated a set of guiding principles … based on the understanding that a building is more than a container.” The design had to “achieve very important … goals,” and thus “used focus groups with patients,” at one point making “more than 300 changes to the existing design.”

A similar process resulted in the design standards for the structure to replace the hospital on its old site, in the Witherspoon neighborhood of Princeton. The goals here were of course not patient-based but neighborhood-based: low rooflines, open and inviting public space, walkways, a mix of commercial and residential uses. Like you, we wanted to be “up-to-date,” urging ‘green’ design because, also like you, we knew that “lowering operating costs” would help both the developer and the community.

Like your goals, ours were specific — but they bear no fruit in the design offered by the company to which you are selling this part of our neighborhood. Merely the highest bidder, this developer specializes in standardized plans for gated communities — not in neighborhoods. Plaudits for 20 percent affordable housing, we need all we can get. But must it be in a backward-looking monolith that cuts corners, as testified to by its tenants in other U.S. cities? (See tenant reviews posted at www.simplesite.com/princetonview.)

It may be too late to reject this particular bid, but it is not too late to expect the bidder to honor standards known at the time of bidding. Ron Ladell offers to negotiate. Great, but his company has already received all that Princeton needs to give: the high density needed for high profits. It is his turn to give open access, not a closed enclave. There is no reason why there cannot be a public walkway through the development: in one side and out the other.

We beg you to support community efforts to enforce the kind of design standards you yourself advocate. To quote N.Y. Times architecture critic Richard Kimmelman, writing recently, “Architecture … acts as part of a larger social and economic ecology, or else it elects to be a luxury, meaningless except to itself” — and to those who profit from it.

Let us have development that is sensitive to the needs of the community it serves.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my deep concern about the way in which the recent bear episode was handled by the Princeton authorities. I wonder what part of “b-e-a-r” our governmental officials do not understand. My fourth grade daughter’s school was on lock down due to this wandering wild animal. I received a robocall from the Princeton police department indicating that there was a bear on the loose and that it was “being monitored.” Have these people never heard of a tranquilizer dart? Why the bear was not immediately tranquilized and transported away from the area is quite beyond me. The Princeton authorities who ineptly managed this matter ought to be extremely thankful that no small child was hurt or killed by this wild animal running amok in our town. Merely monitoring the situation is the height of incompetence.

With sincere disbelief,

Rev. Dr. Gordon S. Mikoski

Mercer Street

May 30, 2012

To the Editor:

There are a dozen reasons I am supporting the six candidates for Council endorsed by the Democratic Committees of the Borough and Township. The first six reasons are the candidates themselves. Each has a record of extraordinary leadership and service, an in-depth knowledge of local government, and the seasoned judgment needed to meet the challenges ahead.

The other six reasons these candidates deserve our support:

1. they are determined to deliver the savings and the efficient and responsive government promised by consolidation;

2. they will defend our time-tested commitments to diversity, affordable housing and the preservation of our neighborhoods;

3. they will protect open space and the environment and the sustainability of our community through growth management;

4. they will work as a team by reaching across the old municipal boundaries to ensure that our new government is truly representative of the entire community;

5. they will strive to maintain an effective working relationship with Princeton University as a respected partner in shaping our community; and

6. they have the confidence of grassroots Democratic committee people who know them best.

Please vote for HEATHER HOWARD, LANCE LIVERMAN, PATRICK SIMON, BERNIE MILLER, JENNY CRUMILLER and JO BUTLER. They are six strong individuals who also represent a mix of talent and experience best able to lead the new Princeton.

Walter Bliss

Moore Street

To the Editor:

I am a Democratic candidate for the new Princeton Council in the Primary Election on Tuesday, June 5. I am extremely proud that the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, the Joint-Municipal Committee and the Mercer County Democratic Committee have all recommended me as 1 of the 8 candidates in the Democratic column. This means that Democrats may choose 6 candidates who will run for the new Princeton Council in the General Election in November. I am asking for your consideration that you cast 1 of your 6 votes for me.

Princeton is very special to me. I moved to Snowden Lane 15 years ago with my husband, Joe, to raise our family. Since then, I have owned and operated my own business in town. I have spent countless hours in our wonderful library, pool, parks and schools with my family. I have invested my time and talents in many non-profits in our community, in particular as a member of the Corner House Foundation board and as President of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO, where I led the way towards significant improvements in the overall middle school experience. Consolidation provides us with a rare opportunity to reset the way local government serves our residents and manages our resources. To make this happen, the new Princeton needs new leadership, new vision and new ideas. On Council, I will treat our residents as I treated my customers in my store – with care and respect. I will work collaboratively with residents, businesses and local non-profits to find practical and prudent solutions to the issues that matter to our community. Please help me work towards a brighter future for Princeton by casting 1 of your 6 votes for me on Tuesday, June 5 for the new Princeton Council.

Tamera Matteo

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Jenny Crumiller’s candidacy for the new Council in the upcoming primary. Jenny has worked collaboratively behind the scenes for many years to involve more citizens in local politics. The success of consolidation, the recent years of zero tax increases in the Borough, and our highly competitive Democratic primary all bear witness to this work.

Jenny’s commitment to open government is matched by her aversion to telling her own story. Few know that she is a tech whiz and that she and Jon have a blended name. Few know that she supported herself after high school with a factory job and service work, that she funded her early college years with Pell grants, and that that she finished her degree at Rutgers (Phi Beta Kappa) while raising three children and handling a full complement of civic activities. Jenny has not forgotten what it means to live on a shoestring, and she can be counted on to bring that perspective to spending proposals that may add to the tax burden.

Jenny’s interest in preserving Princeton as an affordable community with excellent public schools and a small town atmosphere is well-known. I first met her 20 years ago at a meeting in a Moore Street living room to discuss the hospital’s plan to raze four houses on Harris Road to make way for a bigger parking garage. The Township Zoning Board had approved the plan after a brief hearing. Notice was sent only to residents living within two hundred feet. The one Harris Road homeowner who objected was not fluent in English and was no match for the hospital attorney. Everyone saw the unfairness. Everyone saw the threat to the fabric of a neighborhood at the core of our public school system. However, some argued that the cause was lost or too costly or unpopular to fight.

Not Jenny. She helped lead a grueling neighborhood struggle to change the outcome, and the outcome was eventually changed. Three houses were spared, the garage was pulled back with a modified design, and Harris Road was preserved as a residential street. The experience led Jenny to municipal politics where she has worked consistently to ensure that citizens are informed of proposals that will affect them, that the decision-making process is fair, and that development projects are vetted intelligently.

Space does not permit me to go into the particulars of all of the help Jenny has given over her years in Princeton to organizations and people who have sought advice or assistance. When Jenny serves on a Board, she is more than a name on a letterhead. She gives her all. I urge you to support her on June 5.

Virginia Kerr

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

As election season approaches, it is incumbent upon us, as citizens of this great country, to make the most informed decisions we can about our elected officials, in a community as profound as Princeton, its legacy and historical relevance are maintained by the elected officials who represent our interests locally. With that said, it is with utmost sincerity that I urge my fellow Democrats to support my friend and colleague, Bernie Miller, for the new consolidated Princeton Council on June 5, so he can carry forward the work of the Consolidation Commission and ensure that our community can realize the benefits of Consolidation.

As a 17-year-resident of Princeton and United States Space Technology Hall of Fame Inductee, I have been honored to work with Bernie Miller for over 20 years, both professionally and as a volunteer for the Princeton community. In the 1990s I worked with him when he was the Project Manager for a complex and sophisticated telecommunications satellite and I saw how he used his management skills and experience to guide the early development of this satellite concept. Even during his tenure as an engineer, Bernie excelled. He received the NASA Public Service Award in 1965 for management of the NASA Ranger Program. This satellite took the first close up, high-resolution images of the surface of the moon to aid in the selection of the landing sites for Apollo. Later we worked together on the Council of the Friends of the Princeton Public Library where as Treasurer, Bernie used his financial acumen to manage the resources of the Friends. More recently, I have seen him bring his vision for the future of our community to bear on the Consolidation Study and the Transition Task Force to facilitate the merger of our two communities.

Having served as Princeton township committeeman since 2002 to the present, and Mayor in 2009 and 2010, Bernie’s pedigree and commitment to Princeton are without a question. In 2011, Bernie led the Princeton Township team that negotiated the first voluntary payment of $500,000 by Princeton University to the Township and played a pivotal role in opening of the Princeton Community Park Pool. As Township Deputy Mayor and Mayor Bernie worked very closely with his colleagues on Borough Council on issues shared by our two municipalities and on the Joint Princeton Finance Committee on the funding of services and projects that our two municipalities share.

Based on my experience, I have no doubt of Bernie Miller’s commitment and dedication to the town of Princeton. I support the candidacy of Bernie Miller for endorsement in the Democratic primary election. Please join me in voting for Bernie Miller for Princeton Council on June 5.

Surinder Sharma

Christopher Drive

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my strong support for the candidacy of Heather Howard in the upcoming Council election. I have gotten to know Heather over the past couple of years, during which she has been my colleague at the Woodrow Wilson School of the University. She is a remarkably bright, well-informed and sensible person, with a deep commitment to public service.

In my view Heather is the consensus candidate in the wide field of dedicated citizens running for seats on the new Princeton Council. Her background is remarkable. She served in the White House as senior policy advisor to Hilary Clinton, in New Jersey as commissioner of Health and Senior Services, and today is charged with directing a major national program at the Woodrow Wilson School implementing President Obama’s health care reform. In her short time on the Borough Council, she’s already demonstrated leadership, diving into consolidation and finance issues and promoting transparency and a more responsive government. And, in a time when we unfortunately see continuing polarization and government dysfunction, Heather knows how to build consensus through civil dialogue and good humor.

Heather is open-minded, responsive to constituents, and a profound listener. I hope you will join me in casting your vote for Heather Howard on June 5, so that she can continue her good work for Princeton.

Stanley N. Katz

Clover Lane

To the Editor:

We support Heather Howard as a candidate for Princeton Council and will be voting for her in the Democratic primary on June 5. We think she has an extraordinary background in government at every level, an exceptional record of community service both local and statewide, and outstanding skills professional and personal that will be invaluable for the challenges facing a consolidated Princeton Council.

But it’s Heather’s excellent and proactive work on Borough Council this year that makes us most excited to support her. Working tirelessly on consolidation issues, reforming our public meetings, and helping maintain a no-tax-increase budget on the Borough Finance Committee, Heather has fulfilled all she promised Princeton voters. And as safety-conscious Jugtown residents, we are so grateful to her for helping organize the recent public safety forum regarding a spate of burglaries in our neighborhood.

Heather has proven herself as the very best example of public servant, and we urge every Democrat and Independent to vote for her on June 5.

Connie and James Camner

Nassau Street

To the Editor:

We write in support of Scott Sillars for the new Princeton Council and urge our fellow citizens to do the same in the Democratic primary on June 5. Consolidation is now a reality and whether you supported it or not, it is critical to have the most thoughtful people on Council who can implement it successfully. Scott believes that consolidation’s success will be measured by how it benefits ALL our citizens. Issues of development and affordability are critical to Princeton’s future. He will work to defend our diverse neighborhoods in the face of development by insisting on a more engaged and proactive planning process. Scott has the financial expertise and is already very familiar with the complexities of merging two governments because of his work on municipal finance committees and on the Transition Task Force. He will be a new face on council, but will be ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work on day one. Please vote for Scott on June 5 — we need his unique skills on council.

Deborah Kaple, Miguel Centeno

Pine Street

To the Editor:

We are voting for Scott Sillars for Princeton Council because we believe he has the skills necessary to work effectively on the critical issues facing our town. We have known Scott and his wife, Margaret Griffin, for a number of years, and have witnessed first-hand his action and concern for the well-being of our community and beyond. From starting a low-income residential weatherization business for Isles, Inc. in Trenton, to his work managing Red Cross hurricane shelters, his support for the Princeton Public Library and other local organizations, to his foot-soldiering in the Mercer4Obama effort in ‘08, Scott has demonstrated that he can lead as well as follow, and that what’s most important is getting the job done. We need Scott on the new council because he will bring his considerable financial acumen, as well as a lot of heart, to the job. We urge our fellow Democrats to vote Sillars on June 5.

Shelly Yedlin, Charlie Yedlin

Beech Hill Circle

To the Editor:

On June 5, Princeton has the opportunity to vote for the candidate representing the Democratic slot on the general election ticket. There are two worthy choices and while Liz Lempert would make a good mayor, Kevin Wilkes will make a great one. I’ll tell you why.

Kevin has the skills to preside over consolidation. As an architect, he’s used to managing a design and construction team for demo, design, and reconstruction. Those skills have translated to his record as a Borough Councilman. But beyond execution, Kevin will know how to plan for it, or, to stick with the construction theme: he knows how to stage it.

This transition won’t be seamless and it could be turbulent. Princeton will need a thick-skinned taskmaster with a political gift bigger than just good communication skills and an eye toward sustainability.

Princeton needs a mayor who can bring an ecumenical cadence to the public trust who will then hook up the utilities for two separate communities now living in an under construction, split level home, as a family of one. Getting the foundation poured and the framing right is the first task at hand and most important stage of this consolidation. Kevin Wilkes will be that mayor.

He’ll be that mayor because this is what Kevin has done successfully all of his life. The new consolidation phase will also need a leader who is calm, but ready for a storm as different visions converge. Princeton will need a leader who can build these things, then after the sheetrock dust has cleared, turn around and inspect the job better than anyone else. The only person I know who can do this consolidation project the best is Kevin Wilkes, because Kevin Wilkes works for this town and he loves this town.

And he will always work for Princeton. Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz once said that Kevin Wilkes was a tireless worker; not because he never gets tired but because he keeps working when he is tired. It’s true: Kevin is indefatigable.

I can’t wait for all residents to know what so many Princetonians already know about Kevin’s public life, but also his contributions to the town as a private citizen. One of the things that will emerge out of his legacy will be more public art in our town. The Princeton Writer’s Block on then-undeveloped land along Paul Robeson Place was achieved out of his own commitment to irrigate his community’s public art desert, keeping it watered for other things to come. In the two public art projects that I have worked on with Kevin, he always said two things to me, “We’ve got to keep this thing rolling and we have to pull it to the finish line.” Princeton needs this energy and this attitude in the nascent throes of a consolidation. Kevin will assess consolidation, address any problems, and you can be sure he’ll get Princeton landing on its feet.

Peter Soderman

Hamilton Avenue

To the Editor:

Tamera Matteo is a newcomer to politics but a familiar face among the community organizations in town. The president of the John Witherspoon Middle School PTO, a CASA volunteer, a Corner House Foundation board member, and a volunteer for McCarter Theater, to name just a few of her community leadership roles, Tamera has a stellar reputation among those who have worked with her. She’s a good listener who solicits input from a diverse community; she’s a collaborative leader who builds consensus; she is results-oriented. She brings a professional approach and a customer-service perspective, borne of her decade-long ownership of a local retail business, to all that she does.

We have worked alongside Tamera on the John Witherspoon (JW) Middle School PTO, and strongly support her for the new Council. She brings the experience, temperament, perspective and commitment that the new Princeton needs and deserves.

As JW’s PTO president, she was a wonderful bridge between the leadership of a principal who had headed the school for over 30 years, and a new principal who had to quickly learn the lay of the land. She was able to make even better the many positive aspects of JW. The highlights of her tenure as PTO president include:

Turning a negative PTO cash balance into a $20,000 surplus;

Assisting parents in developing the first JW swim club;

Being appointed by the District to participate in the Principal search committee for JW;

Redesigning the JW spiritwear to make it more appealing to the kids, thereby improving school spirit, and helping to raise more funds; and,

Finding an equivalent in quality/less expensive Washington, DC tour for the 8th graders.

Tamera’s ability to improve both the tangibles, such as cash balance and sports offerings, as well as the intangibles, such as school spirit, bodes well for her future success as a member of the Princeton Council. For this reason, we enthusiastically endorse her candidacy for Princeton Council.

Elizabeth Collier

Snowden Lane

Susan Kanter

Christopher Drive

Roxanne List

Jefferson Road

Leah McDonald

Journeys End Lane

Joan Morelli

Walker Drive

Lucy Quach Saengtawesin

Gallup Road

Elizabeth Samios

Bertrand Drive

AnaMaria Silva

Stonewall Circle

Jeanette Timmons

Marion Road East

Diana Traquina

Van Dyke Road

To the Editor:

On June 5, voters in the Democratic Primary election will nominate six candidates for the position of council person in the new consolidated Princeton government. Nine candidates are seeking the endorsement. All supported consolidation and all promise to work to fulfill its promises of efficiency and savings. All bring impressive talents and varied experience. How to choose? As members of the Joint Consolidation/Shared Services Study Commission, we urge you to give one of your votes to a newcomer, Patrick Simon. Pat served on the JCSSC as a citizen member from the Borough. Over the months that we worked together to develop the recommendation that led to the consolidation referendum, Pat demonstrated the qualities needed to serve our new united community. He brings formidable analytic talents, most notably his ability to unravel the arcane complexities of municipal finance and explain, in plain language, the financial impacts of policy decisions. He is fair and open minded. He worked with us on the Community Engagement Subcommittee and continually sought and carefully considered views from everyone in the Princeton community. He has demonstrated the ability to work with all sectors of the community – including Princeton University — and to find the common ground that will enable Princeton to continue to thrive as the stimulating, diverse community we all value. Pat will be a newcomer to elected office and we applaud that, but he has proven that he has the acumen and temperament to serve our community well. Please join us in giving one of your votes to Pat Simon.

Valerie Haynes

Mount Lucas Road

Anton Lahnston

Elm Road

Carol Golden

Snowden Lane

Ryan Lilienthal

Maple Street

Alice K. Small

Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

Four years ago in the lead-up to the 2008 election, I met and worked for the young woman who was organizing the regional New Jersey-Pennsylvania effort to elect Obama. She was a model of capability, efficiency, calm, and intelligence. I was amazed at how much she constantly accomplished, what a fine leader she was, and how unflagging her drive was, from the beginning of the Obama campaign right through the day of the election.

You will not be surprised to know that this young woman was Liz Lempert. Since then I have watched with ever-growing admiration as Liz assumed significant responsibilities when she was elected to Township Committee and later took on leadership positions in the Consolidation and Transition Task Force processes. Liz has been unflappable and sensible at every turn and in every public meeting in her various roles. She radiates a sense of fairness, confidence, and quietly positive energy, encouraging those who work with her to give their best and find the most effective solutions to problems.

The next few years will inevitably bring their own strains as we work our way toward creating a merged municipal entity. The person we elect as mayor must be able to handle the huge array of consolidation processes and issues — to say nothing of unforeseen situations — with wisdom, aplomb, and good humour.

Liz has amply demonstrated all the necessary executive and managerial skills that will be required to be mayor of a combined Princeton. We are the poster child for consolidation, and other towns and municipal nonprofit groups are watching us closely. We have a crucial responsibility to consolidate with success. For this, we need a seasoned and effective leader as mayor. Liz Lempert is that person. Please vote for her on June 5.

Casey Lambert

North Road

To the Editor:

The Princeton community — Borough and Township — has long been defined and distinguished by three physical elements: (i) the woods and fields that separate Princeton from its neighbors; (ii) Nassau Street, Palmer Square, and our core downtown neighborhoods; and (iii) the historic portions of the Princeton University campus.

Jo Butler and Jenny Crumiller have demonstrated that they understand the fundamental relationship between Princeton’s three defining elements and the still unique character of our now rapidly growing community. They understand that Princeton will be diminished – substantively, immediately, and recognizably — if we permit any of our town’s three defining elements to be impaired.

Change is inevitable. But there are degrees of change, and change is not always beneficial. People instinctively resist transformative change. Governments are created and empowered to limit transformative change. Princeton’s many defenses include elected bodies, ordinances, master plans, a regional planning board, historic preservation review committees, and shade tree commissions. Sometimes those defenses are effective; more often they collapse limply whenever there is a promise of new tax revenues or a threat of litigation.

Notwithstanding the lamentable porosity of its defenses, Princeton Borough’s survival as an independent entity served until this year to prevent upheaval in our core downtown neighborhoods. Consolidation, however, changes everything. I suggest that the primary duty of our newly elected Council will be to combat the drive to transform our downtown into an urban hub. Doing so successfully will require wit and tenacity. Jo and Jenny have demonstrated those attributes in spades. They are courageous. They are resourceful. Their instincts are sound. They do not run for cover when attacked. I am comfortable entrusting our future to them. They have my strong support and I fervently hope they will have yours on June 5 and November 6.

Peter Marks

Moore Street