May 9, 2012

To the Editor:

I would like to submit this letter of appreciation of the Princeton Borough Public Works Department.

At Communiversity I foolishly placed my sweater with my wallet in the pocket by the sidewalk near the cotton candy booth I was working at. I kept my eye on it most of the time except for the very end of the event when I had to go to the end of the booth’s customer line to stop it. At that very same moment, the street cleaners were doing their job in order to re-open the streets and without their knowledge, they picked up my sweater, along with all the garbage around it and threw it in the dump truck. It was only a matter of minutes before I realized this and I ran down Nassau Street to plead with them to let me look myself so that I could recover my wallet. Of course, they could not allow this, but they were very sympathetic to my situation and asked me for my name and number, and said that they would look for it themselves on Monday morning.

I gave them my information, but honestly thought that they were just being kind to me that day and that they really would not go through all the garbage to look for my lost belongings. That weekend, I was stressed, thinking of how I was going to have to replace all of my credit cards, drivers license, not to mention losing all the cash and gift cards my kids had just received for their birthdays. But that Monday, by 9 a.m. I received a call saying they had found my wallet!

I can’t say how thankful I am to all the guys, especially the young gentleman who dug through all the mess to find it. These men are truly appreciated. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you — you are truly a credit to this community, and you went above and beyond the call of duty to find my wallet amidst the mountain of Communiversity garbage!

Stephanie Nazario

Red Oak Row

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board and staff of the Arts Council of Princeton, I would like to thank everyone — including the close to 40,000 visitors, 200 vendors, and 40 performance groups — who helped make the 42ndannual Communiversity Festival of the Arts such a spectacular event on a beautiful day.

When the Arts Council and students of Princeton University plan Communiversity Festival of the Arts, we envision a town meets gown celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, nonprofits, and campus groups. I would like to thank all of the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event a triumphant success.

I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to: Princeton University; Princeton Borough: Mayor Yina Moore, Bob Bruschi, and Delores Williams; Princeton Township: Mayor Chad Goerner and Linda McDermott; Princeton Borough Police Department; Princeton Township Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Borough Public Works Department; Princeton Township Public Works Department; Diane Landis, Stephanie Chorney, Barbara Trelstad, and the recycling crew; Palmer Square Management; Bank of America; Grayson Bridge Meeting & Event Planning; and all of our generous event sponsors (the complete list can be found at www.artscouncilofprinceton.org).

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director

May 2, 2012

In responding to a letter from Peter Marks (Mailbox April 25), the Editor’s Note incorrectly assumed that the reference to Council member Barbara Trelstad’s comment about “incivility” referred to Princeton University vice president and secretary Robert Durkee as well as to Mr. Marks. This was not her intention. Concerning incivility, it is Town Topics policy to either edit or omit any letter that indulges in uncivil language, i.e. name-calling. Submitted letters should be primarily concerned with issues of local interest.

To the Editor:

As we look ahead to a consolidated Princeton, we are grateful for the extremely competent pool of candidates who have stepped up to campaign and run for leadership roles.

One such person is Liz Lempert, who is running for the position of the first mayor of Princeton. Because of her many strengths and her extensive experience, Liz has our strong support.

The first mayor of a consolidated Princeton will need to be a particularly gifted listener who is available and accessible. Our next mayor will need to bring people together, to sort out common concerns and solutions, to seek consensus, and then bring Princeton’s most important issues before us in a timely and reasonable way.

We will need a mayor who balances a sharp intellect with practical common sense, and who is committed to enhancing Princeton and strengthening its neighborhoods. We need a mayor who will help Princeton move forward in a positive way. We believe Liz Lempert embodies all these characteristics, and is the gifted leader Princeton needs at this time. She is committed to making consolidation a success on every level — from financial savings to a responsive government.

We urge you to join us in making Liz Lempert our first mayor in a consolidated Princeton.

Robert and Betty Fleming
Riverside Drive

 

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Liz Lempert in her quest to become the first mayor of a consolidated Princeton. I’ve gotten to know Liz through the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) and through the Friends of the Library Board, of which we are both members. In both organizations, I’ve been impressed with Liz’s skills as a leader and a listener. My experience has been that Liz listens carefully to the input of others, studies the subject at hand until she is knowledgeable, and then works hard to achieve consensus. She is smart and articulate and is able to zero in on key points that need to be debated and decided. I’ve been impressed with both the depth and breadth of her knowledge on many of the important issues in Princeton. Next year will be a momentous and no doubt challenging year for the new Princeton. I feel confident that Liz will be the leader and team player that our new municipality needs to move forward to meet those challenges. Please give Liz your vote in the Democratic primary on June 6.

Eve Niedergang
Forester Drive

To the Editor:

I encourage the Borough Council to reconsider incorporating LEED as a requirement for the 2012-08 MRRO Zoning Ordinance. Green building need not be more expensive if the design team is experienced. For example making a highly insulated and sealed exterior wall (which needs to be built anyway) can reduce the size of mechanical equipment. Making sure there is enough daylight can reduce the number of light fixtures. So one cost is traded for another but in the end it does not cost more. This is what is meant by integrated design. Integrated design along with the most basic green building principles such as the orientation of the building, and solar access are both no cost items that I would like to see adopted. Solar access is the ability to incorporate renewable solar energy technology now or in the future. I realize that something like solar panels can be expensive but this is not required to have a LEED certified building — it is only an option. I assume that the Borough Council attorney, Mr. Chou, who advised the Council that LEED is very expensive and would be seen as cost generative for inclusionary housing based in the Mount Laurel decision, has never designed a LEED building.

Furthermore, while Mr. Chou cited a buffer strip and patterned paving of examples of cost-generative items that were unconstitutional with the Mount Laurel decision, they are clear examples of aesthetic improvements. The Mount Laurel decision clearly states that only costs that can be attributed to the “public health and welfare” can be mandated. LEED has nothing to do with aesthetics and is clearly about public health and welfare. Landfills pollute our ground water and produce methane, a green house gas; fossil fuel burning heating and air conditioning equipment produce CO2; volatile organic compounds in glues, paints, carpets, and sealants pollute indoor air; excess storm water pollutes our streams. These are all issues of public health and welfare.

It is interesting to note that Mount Laurel occurred in 1983. The Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change produced its first report in 1990. The EPA finding on CO2 as a threat to public health and welfare was in 2009. Things have changed since 1983 but somehow we are stuck in a time warp, one that is risking our planet. Finally, the purpose of the Mount Laurel decision was to end discriminatory zoning practices. It is time for us to take a stand against housing discrimination and include the health and welfare benefits of the LEED rating system for affordable as well as market rate units in Princeton.

Heidi Fichtenbaum
Carnahan Place

To the Editor:

Official consolidation of the Princetons will not occur until January 1 of next year, but we are already facing our financial future as one community because we are now irrevocably bound to one another. What the Borough does will directly impact the Township taxpayer and vice versa. As such, Borough Council and Township Committee should be acting in even closer consultation when making decisions that have a long-term financial impact.

Borough Council is now independently considering an ordinance that would create a new right-of-way on that portion of the Dinky tracks that are to be removed when the University moves the station 460 feet south. If the right of way is formalized, it will probably require the immediate payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the University from the Borough, and potentially millions of dollars if the small tract of land is to be acquired. All of this will do nothing to prohibit the University from moving the terminus further south.

I count myself among the many who don’t like the University’s plan to move the Dinky further from the downtown, but I also think that the Borough and Township negotiated a very reasonable compromise with the University as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU was agreed to by the Borough Council, Township Committee, and Princeton University. It should thus be honored in good faith.

It is time for our municipal legislators to step up the level of coordination and cooperation — especially when it comes to decisions that could have a large financial impact on the entire community. It is also time for our elected officials to find ways to create a more professional dialogue with Princeton University and I aim to do that as a member of the new council in 2013.

Scott Sillars
Democratic Party Candidate for Council, Battle Road

To the Editor:

Your reviewer, Nancy Plum, is to be commended for her laudatory comments about Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as presented by Boheme Opera N.J. on April 22. There is one area, however, that is misleading in her review, and as the first president of the board of directors and now a member of the board of trustees of the company, I feel it is important to correct this misunderstanding.

Ms. Plum mentions that the company has performed in many “school auditoriums,” but now is fully ensconced in Kendall Hall Theater on the campus of The College of New Jersey. All true, but the comment about where it has performed previously makes it sound as if Boheme has not quite been on a professional level, only now performing in a fully regarded theater.

Quite the contrary. Boheme Opera N.J. performed in Trenton at the War Memorial Theater, now called Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, for over 13 years, hardly a ‘school auditorium.’ During the five years when the theater was being remodeled, the company did perform at local auditoriums, but still managed to keep up the quality of its performances and its loyal audience. Boheme only left the Patriots Theater at the end of the 2010 season when the venue became financially out of the company’s reach.

Your reviewer also refers to the “professional opportunities” Boheme offers to national and local performers. Indeed, Boheme is a company with great impact on emerging singers; world-class, and well-known artists in debut roles; and talented stage directors and designers. Throughout its history, Boheme Opera N.J. has collaborated with many New York management agencies that respect its reputation for integrity and casting. Not the least of its accomplishments is the major impact it has exhibited in public education and community outreach, building high-end careers and offering countless opportunities to teens and college singers with a passion for opera theater.

Boheme Opera N.J. looks forward to continuing to bring first class opera to the region for many years to come.

Francine Engler
Tuscany Drive, West Windsor

To the Editor:

We are concerned citizens who have been closely following the redevelopment of the hospital block since 2004, the beginning of two years of meetings between the neighborhood, hospital representatives, and the community. The result was zoning created specifically for the site.

The new zoning designated a density for the hospital site much greater than that in the surrounding neighborhoods — up to 280 units for the 5.63 acre site. The density was premised on maintaining two seven-story portions of the hospital. In return, residents were to benefit from the improvement of the “pedestrian environment” along Witherspoon Street, “new construction compatible with surrounding buildings”, an “enhanced system” of “public open spaces and pathways that provide linkages between and through the development as well as the surrounding neighborhood,” and green LEED construction. Retail was to be encouraged on the first floor fronting Witherspoon. (Master Plan, 2006/ Borough Code).

We ask that no developer be granted any changes to zoning (including signage and a leasing office) until they have met these requirements for public open space, a design compatible with the neighborhood, and LEED construction. AvalonBay, the prospective developer in a contingency contract with the hospital, has disregarded both the Master Plan and Borough Code.

We also request that no changes to zoning be made until a fiscal impact analysis is performed to see whether the redevelopment will bring a net increase or decrease to property taxes. Ratables and costs due to the redevelopment mentioned at the April 19 meeting of the Planning Board indicate that an analysis is essential. Councilwoman Trelstad mentioned $1M a year in property tax revenue, but Mayor Moore estimated over $1million per year in costs to educate schoolchildren (additional costs are police, fire, sewer, housing inspections, health department, municipal administration, and roads). AvalonBay states in their annual report that “we aggressively pursue real estate tax appeals,” and they use a national property tax assistance company (PTA) to negotiate lower taxes. PTA boasts of AvalonBay that they have reduced their property taxes by nearly 30 percent.

Finally we request that no changes to zoning be made until due diligence is performed on AvalonBay to investigate their extensive record of alleged OSHA violations, tenant complaints, safety issues, and violations of wage laws. AvalonBay uses non-union subcontractors and has been issued serious citations by OSHA for job hazards. They settled a civil rights lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office for housing discrimination. When an AvalonBay apartment building was destroyed by fire in Quincy, Massachusetts, a report by State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan attributed the cause to an attic that did not conform to building code. He was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying, “I am extremely concerned when so many units of housing are lost in a single fire, especially when the building is sprinklered” (Nov. 11,  2011).

We therefore consider AvalonBay a risky developer for Princeton, We urge all municipal officials, as well as Princeton hospital, to think twice before allowing this project to go forward without proper safeguards for our community.

Joe Bardzilowski, M. Evelyn Bardzilowski,
Henry Avenue
and 11 others

To the Editor:

Child abuse and neglect affects children of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds. Many of these children suffer physical and psychological traumas, which can lead to homelessness or behaviors that result in incarceration. More than 60 percent of persons incarcerated at any point in time have been abused as children. According to The United States Justice Department, 1 in every 5 experience child abuse or maltreatment by the age of 18.

I am writing to make readers aware of an organization that makes a difference in the lives of abused/neglected children, Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA. Our advocates are trained to legally speak for children in court. Although they are appointed by the county court, their training and supervision is funded primarily by private donations to CASA.

April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month and April 20 was declared CASA Advocate Day by Governor Christie to recognize the difference our volunteers make in the lives of the children. It is CASA’s mission to be able to provide an advocate for each child who needs one. Unfortunately, in 2011, over 900 Mercer County children were in out-of-home placement due to abuse and/or neglect. We had advocates for only 214 of them.

You can help by visiting CASAMERCER.org. We invite you to watch our two-minute video to see how you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Debbi Roldan
Foulet Drive

To the Editor:

The Center for Disease Control has published its latest statistics on the incidence of autism in the United States and the figures are quite alarming. The incidence has increased to 1 in 88 children. While some of the increase may be attributed to improved awareness, better diagnoses, or diagnostic substitution, these new figures present a good case for a true increase in the number of children with autism.

Among the most pressing concerns for parents and educators of children with autism is the lack of attention given to the needs of these children once they become adults and continue to require support and specialized services. While research on causes and cures for autism is vital and will make for a better future, services for those who live with the disability are essential today.

More than ever, families, school districts, and human service providers are searching for information on how to best support individuals with autism. Armed with these alarming figures and more than 35 years experience in education, employment, residential, and outreach programs, Eden Autism Services encourages readers to learn more about organizations like Eden and the important role they play in improving the lives of children and adults with autism.

Anne S. Holmes, M.S., C.C.C., B.C.B.A.
Chief Clinical Officer, Eden Autism Services
Carol Markowitz, M.A., M.Ed.
Chief Operating Officer, Eden Autism Services

To The Editor:

I applaud Governor Chris Christie’s “Employment First” policy and his encouraging of “a change in mindset and a change in approach” to hiring individuals with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities.

Last month’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control that autism is now diagnosed in 1 in 88 children in the United States and 1 in 49 in New Jersey provides a glimpse of what the future holds for society and adults with autism who will need assistance with daily living skills but are capable of — and empowered by — employment.

My 10-year-old daughter Brielle is one of those 49. She is lucky enough to attend Eden Autism Services, a Princeton-based nonprofit organization that has been improving the lives of children and adults with autism since 1975. One of the things that make Eden so special is its focus on employment opportunities for individuals with autism.

Even at 10, Brielle is already learning life skills such as getting dressed, making her lunch, and loading the dishwasher. With each task she masters, Eden adds another. It is my hope that by the time she is an adult, she will have learned enough skills to hold a job.

We often associate autism with children. But the reality that keeps me and many autism mothers awake at night is that these beautiful, special children will grow up as adults with autism. What will they do? Their future is in our hands.

Stacie Servetah
South Brunswick

FEELING FIT: “One of the differences between us and other fitness centers is that at CrossFit you always work with a coach (trainer) and in a group environment. This is group fitness.” Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau, is enthusiastic about the CrossFit training method.

Couch potatoes, take note. There is another way to get up and get moving. If the traditional gym and fitness centers did not do it for you, it’s time to get off the couch and into the “Box”!

What is that, you may ask?

Here’s the deal. The CrossFit workout facility is called a “box”, not a gym.

Originally, it was kind of like a warehouse, explains Dolph Geurds, owner of CrossFit Nassau and CrossFit Mercer. “It’s like a big space. We don’t have the machines you typically see in a gym. We do have exercise bikes, dumbbells, gymnastic rings, boxes, medicine balls, pull-up bars, jump ropes, and kettle bells, but the emphasis is on using your own body weight in the workout.”

Training Methods

Founded in 1995 by Greg Glassman in California, CrossFit now has more than 3,400 affiliates worldwide. Its focus is on strength and conditioning by using a combination of training methods. Sessions usually include 12 to 15 clients (or CrossFitters), guided by a coach (trainer). Police and fire departments, and the military have all included the CrossFit method in their training, as have Olympic and professional athletes. Mr. Geurds is pleased that members of the women’s Olympic rowing team will come to train at his Princeton facility in the spring.

“Initially, CrossFit was for elite athletes, and then it became more about a community of people at all levels of fitness,” explains Mr. Geurds, who opened the CrossFit Nasaau affiliate at 255 Nassau Street (former site of Wild Oats) in early February. He has also owned CrossFit Mercer in Hamilton for the past three years.

“I had always been active in sports, including tennis, skiing, and soccer, and I had gone to different gyms,” he continues. “But then I happened to read about CrossFit in as magazine, and I thought it was something I wanted to know about.”

He was intrigued by the notion that function underlies much of the training. Exercises, such as sprints, lifting, pulling, and pushing, are movements that people often use in their own lives. The idea is to develop their strength, stamina, and agility, so they can perform these functions in daily life with ease.

The CrossFit concept is founded on 10 principles: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

“These movements build on each other,” explains a CrossFit report. “We all possess strengths and weaknesses and range of motion issues. Coaches can scale the workout, manipulating weight, distance, repetitions, and intensity to your correct capability.”

Exercise Series

Mr. Geurds also liked the variety offered in the training. Each day’s workout is different (exercises for the day are posted on a wall), and this clearly helps prevent boredom from setting in. The idea is to complete a series of exercises within a specific time period. For example, a workout program could include five pull-ups, l0 push-ups, and 15 squats every minute for 20 minutes; or doing five rounds (sets) of three specific exercises as quickly as possible for 20 minutes without stopping.

That would certainly be demanding, but the workouts can vary in intensity, depending on the CrossFitter’s level of fitness. Thus, the program can be appropriate for all ages and levels of conditioning.

“Everyone in the group does the same exercise program, but some people will do it more slowly,” explains Mr. Geurds, who sees clients from five to 80 years old. “All our coaches are trained in the CrossFit method, and we are bringing the best kind of fitness to the world. We have taken the things that worked best, and combined them into a program for a range of people. It certainly can be high intensity, but it is all about scalability, moving within a scale, and modified to the ability of the each individual. The group includes people at different abilities together, so scalability is adjusted. The program is very flexible.

“We have people with special physical conditions, such as arthritis, injuries, etc. There is a CrossFit program for seniors and for unconditioned people. We help to strengthen the muscles, spine, and core, and this helps give people confidence.”

When people see that they can accomplish something difficult or that they thought they couldn’t do, it is very empowering, he points out.

CrossFit training offers a variety of benefits, from improving athletic ability to weight loss to better health, he adds. “We have had clients who have not only lost weight, but have been able to discontinue their medication. They lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol. I enjoy helping people in this way. When someone scales down 20 pounds and their cholesterol lowers, it makes a change in their life. I love seeing kids lose weight and be able to do the exercises, which helps to build their self-esteem. We have a special CrossFit kids’ program.”

Speedy Workouts

Workout sessions range from five minutes to 25 minutes, with 20 being typical. The speedy workouts mean less time in the box, he adds. “Everyone is in and out of here within an hour.” Introductory sessions are also available for those new to exercise and fitness.

Payment is $185 a month, with no initial membership fee. During the month, people can come as often as they wish. Three to four times a week offers the best results.

“I am very encouraged by the response,” says Mr. Geurds, who also underscores the social aspect of CrossFit. “Once you get to know the people in the group, it becomes relationship-based. You push each other. And it can extend out of the box. People get together elsewhere, such as Girls Night Out, etc. But they have the common thread of CrossFit tying them together. We are a community and a coach, and that relationship grows.

“This is THE way to train,” he emphasizes. “I want more people to benefit from it. We are really like a sport, the sport of fitness.”

Classes are held Monday through Friday, from 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Exact times are available on the website or by phone. (609) 498-5221. www.crossfitnassau.com.


Shelly: “I really don’t have strong feelings about how many feet the Dinky is to be moved. I would like to see a vegetarian restaurant.”
Charlie: “ I really don’t care how far it is to be moved. It would be great to have a Spanish style tapas restaurant.”
—Shelly and Charlie Yedlin, Princeton

Libby: “ I don’t really care if the Dinky is moved 460 feet. But I don’t want the Dinky to leave; it adds to the charm of Princeton. My favorite food is sushi, so I would love to see a sushi restaurant.”
Mary: “I am glad they’re not getting rid of the Dinky. I would like to see a Mexican restaurant so I can grab a margarita when I come to town to visit my family and friends.”
— Libby (left) and Mary Bolster,  formerly of Princeton

“Historically speaking I could care less if it moves 460 feet. I’d like to see a restaurant that is intimate, not too expensive, reasonable quantity of food, where you can bring your own wine. Similar to Avanti in Pennington.” —Tom Gates, Pennington

“I don’t really care how far south the Dinky moves. I’d like to see a nice diner with really fresh food that you could go to three times a week that’s not too expensive. A place like the old Annex.  We do not need another fancy restaurant.”
—Jennifer Hartshorne,  Lambertville

“If the University can add the Lewis Art Center and all that they want to do, it will really improve and add to the community; the moving of the Dinky would be a minor change.  I’d like to see a full scale restaurant for people attending McCarter Theater or people visiting campus, as opposed to a snack bar.”
—Kristin Epstein, West Windsor

Suzanne: “I’m amazed that there can be so much controversy about moving the Dinky a mere 460 feet. People can get awfully worked up about things when they really need to remember not to sweat the small stuff. If we were to have another restaurant in Princeton, I’d like to see something on a par with Teresa’s Caffe, and probably Italian. Teresa’s is casual yet classy, the food is fresh and delectable, and because of that, the line is frequently out the door.”
—Itzel Mayans (left) and Suzanne Neilson, Princeton

April 25, 2012

To the Editor:

Not in Our Town (NIOT) would like to thank the Princeton Public Library, Rep. Rush Holt, Corner House’s GAIA Project, HiTOPS, and Kidsbridge Museum for their support of the second in a series on “Bullying — Changing the Culture” on April 10. More than 150 people came to see and respond to “The Bystanders Dilemma,” which included skits prepared by NIOT (directed by Todd Reichart) and GAIA (directed by Mary Saudergas).

Founded in Princeton 12 years ago, NIOT is an interracial, interfaith social action group committed to speak truth about ‘everyday racism’ and other forms of prejudice and discrimination. Our hope is that Princeton will become a town in which the ideals of friendship, community, and pride in diversity will prevail.

We support the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism Day on April 27. We recommend that individuals and groups observe the occasion by watching the following relevant and thought provoking films, available at the Princeton Public Library and other libraries: Race: The Power of an Illusion (3 parts); Mirrors of Privilege; Traces of the Trade; Light in the Darkness; Prince Among Slaves; The Princeton Plan: 50 Years Later (video cassette only).

On April 27, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., the Princeton YWCA will show the film The Princeton Plan: 50 Years Later about the integration of the Princeton schools.

Please join us in standing against racism today and every day.

For Not In Our Town:

Barbara Fox

Cedar Lane

Fern and Larry Spruill

Bayard Lane

Wilma Solomon

Tee-Ar Place

Marietta Taylor

Hartley Avenue

Joyce Turner

Woods Way

Ann Yasuhara

Pine Street

To the Editor:

It is with sincere gratitude that I recognize the tireless efforts of Fresh Air Fund volunteers in Central New Jersey as the country celebrates National Volunteer Week. Their commitment to helping New York City children is exemplary for all community members and truly embodies the spirit of the 2012 National Volunteer Week theme, “Celebrating People in Action.”

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

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children since 1877. For more information on how you can help to continue this wonderful tradition of volunteering, please call The Fresh Air Fund at (800) 367-0003 or visit www.freshair.org.

Jenny Morgenthau

Executive Director

To the Editor:

The Princeton Education Foundation is extremely grateful to Eno Terra and the Terra Momo Restaurant Group for supporting the PowerUp! PRS campaign. Over two weekends in March, Eno Terra donated all lunchtime food proceeds to the school district’s technology campaign, raising over $6,000. We would also like to thank everyone who came and enjoyed a wonderful meal while supporting the Princeton Education Foundation and PowerUp! PRS. The success of this event would not have been possible without you.

The Terra Momo Restaurant Group has supported the Princeton Education Foundation’s efforts on numerous other occasions as well. We could not ask for a better partner in our efforts to spur private philanthropy to benefit the Princeton Public Schools. Thanks to the generosity of such donors, the Princeton Education Foundation has to date raised over $1 million for the Princeton Public Schools for capital improvements, educational programs and teacher support. In this time of stretched budgets and dwindling resources, we especially appreciate the Terra Momo Restaurant Group’s firm commitment to quality education for all Princeton public school students.

Barbara Prince, Adrienne Rubin

Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

The April 18 edition of Town Topics, with its one-sided coverage of the continuing controversy over the University’s plans to truncate the Dinky, exemplifies the tendency of our local newspapers to pander to the powerful.

Your story on the Borough’s effort to preserve the Dinky right-of-way [“Ordinance Introduced by Borough Council to Save Right-of-Way”] consists largely of a restatement of the University’s argument. In a nod to balance, you record that I described as “insolent” and “brazen” Bob Durkee’s April 16 rebuke of Borough Council — but you then amplify his rebuke when you conclude with Barbara Trelstad’s lament that the discussion has “risen to a level that has gone beyond civility.”

Your story omitted any reference to Jenny Crumiller’s quietly delivered observation that good relations are impossible if they require Borough Council meekly to approve each of Nassau Hall’s requests.

Your story also omitted the substance of my own argument, namely that Nassau Hall’s plans to truncate the Dinky have little or nothing to do with the “arts” — and everything to do with eliminating inconvenient public rights of way through the University’s rapidly expanding campus. As I noted, there are presently four primary means of traveling south to Route 1 and points beyond: Harrison Street, Washington Road, the Dinky, and Alexander Road. All four are hugely important to our town. The University plainly has the financial resources to unify its campus without impairing the town’s access to points south. Nassau Hall, however, chooses to deploy its resources despotically, seeking to close or constrict first Washington Road (largely accomplished, in no small part thanks to a doting DOT) and now the Dinky and Alexander Road — with no evident concern for the impact of those impairments upon our town.

Like consolidation and the proposed high-density redevelopment of the hospital block, constricted access is a policy choice with transformative consequences, most of them adverse. Our local papers embarrass themselves when they fail both to vet proponents’ claims and to ignore opponents’ concerns. We are fortunate in the Borough to have at least four elected officials who understand the significance of — and have the courage to oppose tenaciously — proposals that threaten the character of our community.

If Town Topics is really concerned about incivility, it might usefully turn its attention to Nassau Hall’s recent proclivity for treating our town as a land bank.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

Editor’s Note: The story in question was clearly devoted to describing the ordinance the University finds offensive. It featured a quote from Roger Martindell on behalf of the ordinance (and a long letter from him expressing that point of view in the Mailbox) in addition to quoting not only Mr. Marks but, as he neglects to mention, Chip Crider, whose long letter was also published in that issue’s Mailbox. The University’s “side” was represented by the quote in response to the ordinance from vice-president and secretary Robert Durkee. Ms. Trelstad’s comment about civility clearly referred to, among others, both Mr. Durkee and Mr. Marks. Town Topics always attempts to present both sides of any issue, as reflected in the Mailbox, which would have run letters supporting the University’s side if any had been sent ahead of the April 18 issue.

To the Editor:

At last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting reviewing AvalonBay’s request to change zoning, Marvin Reed told fellow members of the Board that two year’s of meetings among the community, neighborhood and hospital had resulted in a maximum number of 280-units for the 5.6 acre hospital building
site. The large number of units was much higher than the neighborhood and other town residents wanted and represents a major compromise. Mr. Reed called the 280-unit maximum “a big stretch.” The number would have been much lower if rezoning had been in keeping with the neighborhood character of single-family and duplex homes. As a compromise, Marvin Reed said that a plaza/park was to be provided for the use of the public on the site of one of the medical buildings which was to be torn down. When zoning was set at “up to 280 units”, this higher number set the price for the hospital building site. Before bidding on large-scale redevelopments, national real estate corporations calculate profitability based on purchase price and zoning requirements. AvalonBay put in a bid for the 280-unit site with 20 percent affordable housing requirement, as did the other bidders.

Raising the maximum number of units after a contract has been signed for no other reason than that the buyer requests it, is bad business. It is unfair to the community and to the numerous other potential buyers who are eager to redevelop the property, as well as to the seller. In December of 2010, a nationally prominent firm located in New York City began to market the property as a 280-unit property with a 20 percent affordable housing requirement. (Bluegate Partner website, news release, Dec 13.) Within less than nine months the VP of Marketing and Public Affairs at the hospital was quoted in the local press as saying “there were 125 companies that expressed an interest in the hospital property” (Packet, Aug. 5, 2011). Many potential buyers were identified quickly after a prominent national firm had been hired to market the hospital complex.

AvalonBay can build at 280-units if they wish. Or they should move aside and let one of the other 125 interested parties redevelop the property. Why didn’t Borough Council say “no” to the increased number of units immediately and move this process along? If AvalonBay does build, they need to follow the design standards in Borough code that call for open space accessible to the public (part of the compromise) and for varied architectural design. Given that AvalonBay is a national builder of standardized housing complexes, one wonders if the corporation can construct the kind of customized design that Princeton is looking for. Customized real estate development is not in AvalonBay’s area of expertise nor is it part of their business model. Other options do exist. An analysis presented to Borough Council shows that dividing the hospital building site into individual lots sized in keeping with the neighborhood would result in inexpensive land costs by Princeton standards and would reap the hospital the same or more profit.

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

“Riding my bike to the opening of the new Community Park pool. I can’t wait! It brings back great memories.”
—Martha Bolster, Princeton

William: “Looking forward to my lacrosse season and going up to the lake in Vermont this summer to do some sailing.”
Matthew: “Lacrosse and you can play outside any time.”
—William (left) and Matthew Kuenne, Princeton

Stephen:“ I am looking forward to swimming with Charlie and the Blue Curtain concert featuring Céu at Community Park North.”
Charlie: “Swimming in the new Community Park pool.”
—Stephen (left) and Charlie Allen, Princeton

Caroline: “Walking around town and summer vacation and going to camp.”
Sophie: “Being able to go outside more often and playing in the pool.”
Olivia: “Playing softball and eating ice cream.”
—Caroline Foster with cousins Olivia (middle)
and Sophie Corrodi, Princeton

“Walking around town with my wife and gardening.”
—Camille and Aaron Burt, Princeton

Steven: “Frolicking in the sun.”
Claire: “School getting over and camp starting.”
Charlotte: ”Swimming at the new CP pool and riding my bike.”
Darcy: “Looking forward to going outside a lot with my family and going to camp with my friends.”
—Steven Schultz with daughters Claire (left), Charlotte,
and Darcy Chang (right), Princeton

NTU Bai

BAI BELIEVERS: “This truly has the potential to become an iconic product. It embodies all that is healthy — it is packed with antioxidants, has nothing artificial, and people like it because it tastes good, with a bold fresh-fruit flavor.” Danna and Ben Weiss, owners of bai Brands, are enthusiastic about their popular new product, a rising star in the beverage industry.

bai believers — bai guys — bai buyers — bai triers: they are all over town!

In case you haven’t heard, bai is the hot new soft drink that is packed with all the good stuff. 100 percent natural, with no chemicals or preservatives, it is rich in those vital antioxidants (so important to good health) that chase away the bad free radicals.

And, what is more — it tastes great!

Not only that, points out co-owner, Danna Weiss, “bai was born and raised in Princeton — a real hometown product and business.”

The creation of Mrs. Weiss’ husband, founder Ben Weiss, bai was introduced in 2009. It has an intriguing history, he notes, and it all began with a special ingredient, the secret coffee super fruit: the hitherto discarded fruit of the coffee harvest.

Super Fruit

“I had been in the coffee industry for many years. Energy drinks were popular, and I thought we could do better and create a health and wellness beverage that tastes great. Over the past two decades, I have cupped coffee from the hilltops of exotic regions across the globe in search of the best-quality green coffee available. When I learned that local farmers from these regions have always used the whole fruit of the coffee bush to make high energy foods and beverages, I knew that I had stumbled on coffee’s untold secret.

“While the bean has always been harvested, the fruit was left to perish because it was simply too delicate to process. Yet, filled with phenolic components that are found widespread throughout the plant and concentrated in the coffee fruit, it is truly an extraordinary antioxidant-packed super fruit.”

Voila! Mr. Weiss realized that he had the makings of something special, and he embarked on an intense research and development program to harness the coffee fruit into a marketable product. Mixing coffee fruit with exotic fruit juices, he developed a healthy, antioxidant-rich, low calorie beverage that — importantly — tastes good.

The Weisses named the product bai — for botanical antioxidant infusion, and “bi-product” of the coffee fruit. “Also, in Mandarin Chinese, bai means pure,” points out Mr. Weiss. “Pure ingredients, pure taste, and pure goodness. Just one bottle of bai contains the same antioxidant levels as a bowl of blueberries and provides 100 percent of the FDA’s Daily Recommended Intake for antioxidants.”

“Ipanema baitini”

Suitable for children and adults, it does contain a very small amount of caffeine from the white tea extract included in the ingredients, which is also an antioxidant source. For adults, who may wish to add a little octane, the “Ipanema baitini” is easy to create with the addition of a splash of vodka to the Ipanema Pomegranate bai5 or any other of your favorite bai choices.

Initially, the company produced three flavors, containing 70 calories: Tanzania Strawberry, Mango Kauai, and Jamaican Blueberry, all lightly sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice.

There are now 11 flavors, including bai5, the new 5-calorie drinks, infused with erithritol a natural sweetener. Red and black bottle caps differentiate the two choices. In addition to the original flavors, new tastes include Kenya Peach, Congo Pear, Ipanema Pomegranate, Sumatra Dragonfruit, and Costa Rica Clementine (and brand new bai’s continue to come along!).

“Every bottle touches the soil of a faraway place, from South America to Asia,” says Mr. Weiss, “and every ingredient is pure.”

The company, now headquartered in Hamilton, has experienced remarkable growth in a very short time. The product is manufactured and bottled in South Brunswick, and distributed along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Virginia, also in south Florida, and southern California.

New York is an excellent market, and so is Princeton, point out the Weisses. bai is offered in many establishments here, including Olives, D’Angelo’s Market, Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Co., Bon Appetit, Chez Alice, McCaffrey’s, Main Street, Whole Earth, Whole Foods, and Hoagie Haven, among others. It will also soon be available in Wegman’s.

Major Distribution

“From 2010 to 2011, we tripled sales, and from 2011 to 2012, we are increasing 5-fold. We have formed partnerships with major distribution companies, such as Canada Dry and Snapple Dr. Pepper, and we now have 32 employees,” says Mr. Weiss.

“Our customers are incredibly loyal,” adds Mrs. Weiss. “All of the stores that started with us originally are still with us today. We love what we do. The whole family has been involved — our parents, and kids. The kids are so proud of it. They love bai! It’s become a life-style. We also plan to have a stand on Communiversity Day, Saturday, April 28.”

Both the traditional bai and bai5 are flourishing in the market place, and the Weisses are very optimistic about bai’s future. “This is basically an affordable luxury. It’s supernaturally good for you! It’s healthy, it’s relevant, and it’s interesting. For you, it means pure ingredients, pure taste, pure goodness. For us, it means sharing the goodness of coffee’s super fruit with the world. Pure and simple!”

For further information, email: info@drinkbao.com. Website: www.drinkbai.com. Facebook.com/drinkbai.

NTU red barn

MAGICAL MISCELLANY: “People like antiques because they’re getting a little slice of history. They just like older things, and that’s one reason my furniture restoration business here is also important.” John Balestrieri, owner of the Red Barn Antique Shop in Blawenburg is shown by a five-gallon early 1900s stoneware jug and a Tiffany-style lamp, two of the many items available in the shop’s eclectic selection.

A 1903 Underwood typewriter, a 1920 clarinet (with case), an 1890 school house wall clock, vintage fountain pens, late 1800-1900 oil lamps, vintage toys, collectible spoons … the list goes on … and on!

All these — and so much more — are available at the Red Barn Antiques Shop in Blawenburg.

Owner John Balestrieri opened the shop 10 years ago, when he and his wife received an inheritance of furniture.

“We asked the Elks if we could use their barn to sell the furniture” explains Mr. Balestrieri, a Princeton native, who is also a cabinet-maker and former contractor.

That was the beginning of a new venture, which has grown into a full-fledged antiques and collectible business, and is still located in the Princeton Elks barn on Route 518.

Functional, Decorative

Lamps, framed artwork, glassware, china, pottery (including Buffalo blue and white, often used on trains in past times), antique jewelry, vintage toys, clocks, fireplace equipment, Stangl pottery, Hubley dog doorstops, old butter churn, vintage wash basins and pitchers, collectible Life Magazines, Baldwin Brass, old tools, candle sticks, humidors, soup tureens — all these are part of the eclectic selection.

“Our accessories are both functional and decorative,” points out Mr. Balestrieri. “For example, we have a silver plate coffee pot, along with a collectible Horsham doll, duck decoys, an old rotating Shaefer beer sign, hand-blown cobalt blue vase, pitcher, and bowl, milk glass items, and a “House” cannister set.

“A real conversation piece is the ‘Beermatic’, a container that holds six cans of beer or soda. Just press a button and the can is released. It’s a great idea for a party.

“We also have 33 LP record albums as well as old 78 records, and fountain pens are very popular. People also like to collect keys, old coins, spoons, license plates, and post cards — it’s really everything. In addition, we have cabinet photographs from the 1880s and early 1900s and an important 19th century lithograph collection.”

Baseball Legends

Vintage toys, especially little metal cars and trucks, are always in demand, and there is a fun casino game in a large wooden box, featuring “gambling” games, including roulette, black jack, and others. The collectible “Baseball Legends” poster offers a collage of baseball card photos of many of the greatest players through the years.

Furniture remains an important part of the Red Barn inventory, with children’s desks and smaller bookcases currently very popular. Customers will find a complete variety, including chairs, tables of all sizes, dining room sets, and a unique and very useful 1910 oak “hall set” or stand, combining mirror, pegs to hang hats, and “chair” storage area for gloves, etc.

Mr. Balestrieri continues his full-scale furniture restoration business, including caning. His projects range from walking stick restoration to repairing and refinishing chests, chairs, and cabinets. He recently restored a trunk from the 1920s, and relined it with cedar.

“I love to see something old that I can bring back to life,” he says. “This is an important part of my work.”

Quick Turnaround

Customers, including many regulars, are from the area and beyond, he adds. “Because of our website, we are now getting people from all over, including New York City. We also get a lot of word-of-mouth in the Princeton area. Summer is the busiest time, but it’s steady all year, and we have a quick turnaround, with new items all the time.”

Mr. Balestrieri obtains items from estate sales and auctions in the area, and individuals also contact him offering pieces to sell. He also receives requests for all kinds of items, from chairs to collectible toys, and he tries to fill them when he can. The shop has an ongoing “Wish List”.

Prices range from $10 up to $1500 for the hall set, and everything in between. There is something for everyone’s pocketbook.

“We try to keep prices reasonable,” he notes. “I really enjoy meeting the people who come in, and I look forward to continuing to do this and offering our products. Sometimes, what we have reminds customers of things their mother or grandmother had. And one time, a man came in, and bought a lot of little metal toy cars, which were replicas of Ford models. He had been employed by Ford, and had actually worked on the real cars. Something like this makes it special.”

The shop is open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 638-0494. Website: www.RedBarnAntique
Shop.com.


April 11, 2012

FASHION FORMAT: “We want to enhance our customers’ existing wardrobe. We have so many regular customers, even multi-generational now. They are all ages, and we want to help them all look their best.” Barbara Racich (left) and Anne Merrick Mavis, owners of Merrick’s too, are delighted with their location at the Princeton Shopping Center.

It’s spring at Merrick’s too!

“Actually, this is our second spring,” notes Merrick’s Anne Merrick Mavis, co-owner, with her mother Barbara Racich.

After 25 successful years on Moore Street, Merrick’s re-opened as Merrick’s too at the Princeton Shopping Center in September 2010. It arrived with a distinctly new format: open six months of the year, three months in the spring, three months in the fall. Although the shop itself is closed during the remaining summer and winter months, Merrick’s too is always available to help customers, notes Ms. Mavis.

“We’re here even when we’re not here! We have access to clothing all the time, and can get items for customers year-round if they have special requests. It’s really personal shopping in a boutique. The timing of our being open coincides with the patterns of shopping and women’s shopping needs. They tend to shop less in the summer and winter.”

Unique Formula

Merrick’s too’s unique operating formula resulted when they needed to leave their former Moore Street location, explains Ms. Racich. “We thought perhaps the cosmos was trying to tell us something. It was! Reinvent yourself!”

So, they have. During the time the shop is open, they offer a full selection of high quality clothing and accessories from New York, European, and area designers. Because they don’t have a permanent inventory, there is a constant flow of new items available.

“We get all new merchandise from the designers since we hold no inventory,” explains Ms. Mavis.

“And since they are only here six months, I come in all the time to see what’s new,” reports an enthusiastic regular Merrick’s too customer.

What’s new is a striking spring selection that is filled with color! “It’s all about color this spring,” says Ms. Mavis. “Beautiful vivid colors — orange, yellow, hot pink, sky blue, emerald green, magenta. A rainbow of color is with us this spring.”

Offbeat and Unexpected

Colorful dresses and sun dresses, versatile tunic tops, skirts, pants — in every design: floral prints, stripes, geometrics, pleats.

Style is very individual today — the offbeat and unexpected can flatter and forecast at the same time.

“People wear what they want now — pencil-slim to palazzo-wide pants, short skirts, long skirts. It’s everything,” points out Ms. Mavis “Things can be casual or more formal, whatever someone is comfortable wearing. We have beautiful clothing that is informal as well as dressy. Cotton fabric, lightweight linen/cotton, and wearable silk are all favorites, with washable silk extremely popular.”

You will see women in metallics, lamés, organza, and lace this spring. But they may also step out in a feminized version of the bomber jacket, or wasp-waisted, full-skirted dresses and sheaths from the ’60s. It is truly a buyer’s choice, and Merrick’s too has many options. Beautiful handpainted silk dresses from Carter Smith are stand-outs, truly eye-catching designs, and there are long gowns for formal occasions.

Lines include the designs of Shirley Fang, owner/designer of Redwood Court, whose headquarters are in West Windsor. She will have a trunk show at the shop April 19th. Also available is the selection of jewelry from Bea, an area designer, whose red coral necklace is a stunning complement to a summer sun dress.

In addition to the jewelry is a collection of fabulous scarves, any one of which offers a wonderful embellishment for a spring outfit. Crinkled silk in all colors from Redwood Court, and gorgeous two-toned ombré in a multitude of colors from muted yellow and apricot to pink and magenta are just a sample of what is available.

History and Reputation

“The designers know our history and reputation,” reports Ms. Racich. “We also have new designers contacting us, and some are exclusive to us.”

Customers are a wide age range, she adds. There are many of long-standing, and many new ones since the shop moved. “Service has always been a big part of Merrick’s. We have a warm, friendly atmosphere, and we are always truthful with our customers about how they look in an outfit. I know they respect us for that. I enjoy the customers so much. We also have many of the same employees everyone got to know, as well as new ones. And, we have a dressmaker here seven days.”

“We are very encouraged,” adds Ms. Mavis. “Even with the economy, we have a constant flow of customers. It’s exciting. Each season is totally new and different. It’s an all new selection, which customers love, and each season is just like Christmas morning!

“We are also so pleased to be in the shopping center. This is a great space, a perfect spot for us. Parking is easy, and we have two entrances to the shop, from the courtyard and from the parking lot.”

“And while things may be a little different, the fundamentals won’t change,” says Ms. Racich “We will continue to focus on family service, impeccable quality, and clothes that adhere to the qualities of ‘timeless elegance’, ‘real clothes for real women’, and ‘fun’.”

Sizes are zero to 22, with a price range from $24 to $2000, and everything in between.

Merrick’s too will be open through May 20, reopening again in September. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 8:30, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 921-0338. Website: www.merricksprinceton.com.


FRESH FLAVOR: “It’s the freshness and flavor. Americans are drawn to Thai food because of the combination of flavors and the fresh ingredients.” Clark Reed (left) and Da DeToro, owners of Da’s Kitchen & Catering, are shown in the restaurant and are delighted by the enthusiastic customer response.

Sweet and salty, mild and spicy, pungent and piquant — the combination of these flavors comes together in a savory-nuanced blend of delicious dishes at Da’s Kitchen & Catering.

“Flavor is very important in Thai cooking, explains Da DeToro, co-owner and chef at the restaurant. “Combining fresh flavors in a unique way is a Thai specialty.”

Located at 21 East Broad Street in Hopewell, the restaurant is co-owned by real estate executive Clark Reed. A native of Hopewell, Mr. Reed has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, and is a fan of the cuisine. He sampled Da’s Thai food in the small restaurant she had at the YWCA in Princeton, and knew he had discovered something special and authentic.

He wanted to establish a restaurant on the 21 East Broad Street site, and asked her what it would take for her to move to Hopewell.

State-of-the-Art

Without hesitation, she replied, “ A state-of-the-art kitchen!”

That was do-able, and Da’s Kitchen, opened in November 2011.

An immediate hit, the restaurant welcomed diners eager to sample the cuisine for lunch, dinner, and take-out. “I thought we’d start a bit slower, but the customers came right away,” says Da. “It has been very busy.”

“Everything is made fresh every day, and every dish is made to order,” explains Mr. Reed. “Da is a Royal Thai Certified Chef, having studied at Le Cordon Bleu and at the Royal Thai Culinary School in Bangkok.”

She learned to cook from her great-grandmother, who taught the traditional Thai cooking techniques to the young girl. Da opened her first restaurant when she was 18, and later studied Italian and French cuisines as well as Thai. She worked in many top-of-the-line restaurants in the area, including Rats.

Now, she is delighted to have her own restaurant and first class kitchen.

“I love creating these special dishes, and I am very sure of our flavors. Our Thai curry powder is different from that used in Indian food, for example. It’s a different flavor. We have many duck dishes, as well as chicken, and seafood, and they are all unique.”

Dietary Needs

“Da has great duck dishes, crispy and delicious,” reports Mr. Reed.

The restaurant is authentic in every way, he points out. “All the staff, the assistant chefs and waiters, are Thai, and Da has very high standards. She trains all the chefs in the proper preparation of the Thai food.”

There are many vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, he adds. “We can accommodate any dietary needs or restrictions.”

Customers, including many regulars who come more than once a week, are very willing to explore new tastes, reports Da. “They really like to try new things, and sometimes, they let me decide for them.”

Those wanting to try something different may opt for Squid Phad Nam Prik Pow, which features fresh squid in Da’s sweet special aromatic sauce.

Popular dishes at the restaurant include Meang Kana, an appetizer with self-rolled Chinese broccoli leaves, filled with fresh ginger, lime, shallots, chilies, peanuts, and Da’s homemade coconut paste. It is especially known for its refreshing combination of flavors.

Som Tom, the green papaya salad, is considered the national dish of Thailand, and is slightly different in every region. With shredded green papaya, chilies, garlic, peanuts, and tomatoes, it can be served sweet, mild, or spicy.

Unique Flavor

Another favorite dish is duck in red curry, Da’s boneless crispy duck, is cooked in red curry sauce with coconut milk, pineapple, and bamboo. Also popular is Kao Soi, a northern Thailand specialty, with medium egg noodles in a light yellow curry coconut milk sauce, very lightly spiced, and topped with lime, shallots, and pickled radish. Chicken, pork, and tofu can be added.

In the near future, sushi choices will also be available at the restaurant.

Popular desserts include sticky rice with mango and fried ice cream, among others. Special Thai iced tea is known for its unique flavor, and both Thai iced tea and coffee are roasted with anise and cinnamon, and served over ice with milk and sugar.

Customers come from all over the area and beyond, including New York City. An international ambiance is often apparent at the restaurant, with people from Thailand, England, and other countries enjoying a leisurely dinner. Da’s is also popular with families, and children love the food, notes Mr. Reed.

Open Kitchen

The restaurant, which can seat 48, has also been host to many private parties. The decor is Thai-oriented, with photos of Thai children decorating the walls, and a series of tapestries with elephant motif (Thailand’s signature animal), and authentic wooden sculptures.

The configuration enables customers to see the open kitchen, which was important to Da. “I wanted people to be able to see the kitchen. I want our chefs to be proud of themselves. Also, I am not only creating the food the way it was when I was growing up, but I am presenting the Thai culture.”

“Da has a real following,” adds Mr. Reed. “People love her personality. She interacts with everyone.”

Customers enjoy bringing wine or beer, and in the spring, outside dining will be added. Catering for all size events has also become a growing part of the business.

Da and Mr. Reed could not be happier with the restaurant’s success. “When customers try my food they really enjoy it,” says Da. “I guarantee that if they come once, they will come back again!”

Da’s Kitchen is open Monday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Tuesday. (609) 466-THAI (8424). Website: daskitchenhopewell.com.

To the Editor:

National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, is about inspiring, recognizing and motivating individuals who have given countless hours to their community.

New Jersey has almost nine million potential volunteers and over 40,000 nonprofits in need of their services. If you are not yet supporting an organization, we encourage you to take a moment during National Volunteer Week to look around and see how you can be a part of changing your community and helping others in need. Does your local senior center need help answering the phone? Does your school need a garden? All non-profits can also benefit from your professional work skills.

Equally as important, we encourage non-profits and community organizations to celebrate your volunteers. Volunteers are the foundation of your group and can have a profound impact on your mission and success. Please take the time to thank these special people. Use this week to recognize the volunteers who dedicate their time to your cause — send a special thank-you note, have a recognition breakfast or give an award.

Together, volunteers and the organizations they support can set an example in the community and show others that by working together social change can happen and needs can be met.

We would like to hear from you. Please share your inspirational volunteer story or the story of how volunteers have made an impact on your organization at www.VolunteerConnectNJ.org. We would be honored to highlight your experiences on our website and celebrate how volunteers have the power to make a difference.

Amy Klein
Director of Community Relations 
Robin Fogel
Board President

To the Editor:

After growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs and working in New York, I moved to the Princeton area to maintain proximity to these parts of my life and in appreciation of the area’s many fine attributes.   But of all the great communities in the area, my family chose Princeton for the outstanding schools.

As a community, like others everywhere else in the country, we face the challenge of how to do more with less.  Resources are constrained and the need to produce excellence is paramount.  This extends to the schools which served as a magnet for our family.

And so I wish to commend and lend my support to the 2012-2013 school budget.  With just a 1 percent increase, it has stayed well within the 2 percent cap.  And it has done so without layoffs or the cutting of programs, thus preserving a key asset of the community that continues to draw new residents.

While visiting family for Spring Break, my high school sophomore daughter asked me about the schools in the town in which we were staying.  I told her they were good but the education she was getting in Princeton was as good as any in the country.  This is why we live here.

John Lopez-Ona
Winfield Road