August 22, 2012

To the Editor:

Recent lightning strikes and fires in Princeton (“Lightning Strikes More Than Twice in Princeton,” Town Topics, August 15) remind us that AvalonBay (AB), applicant to develop the old hospital site, may pose unacceptable dangers to our community. Princeton should be alarmed.

AB’s fire prevention plans (available in the Planning Board office) are woefully inadequate:

1) AB has not yet tested water flow from hydrants for use by fire hoses (tests to be performed by NJ American Water have not been requested by AB). If water pressure is insufficient, then fire trucks cannot function. AB claims it lacks permission to order tests since hydrants are on Princeton Medical Center property; but the hospital has granted permission.

2) AB measures distance between hydrants “as the crow flies” (AB plans, Sheet 7). But hoses do not go through houses; they go on “traveled roadway.” AB plans do not comply with National Fire Protection Association recommendations. Fire trucks use hoses between hydrants: firemen must know a site’s hydrant-distances to function efficiently, rapidly. AB distances must be recalculated, now, not later.

3) Access to this AB residential complex by fire trucks with ladders: the proposed main entries to the AB site (from Witherspoon and Henry Streets) may not have a turning-radius broad enough to accommodate fire engines. The entry area must be redesigned, if necessary, before the Borough engineer deems the AB application “complete,” i.e., ready for review by SPRAB and the Planning Board. AB thus far refuses to supply illustrations showing how fire trucks would navigate roads on-site, saying that such illustrations are not required by the completeness checklist. This arrogant response puts the Princeton community at risk.

4) What dangers result from a site plan that includes many apartments that face interior courtyards? Will apartments be accessible to firemen? These legitimate questions indicate that AB’s site plan, already denounced as a monolithic gated community, may pose a genuine safety hazard for the 500-plus people who rent the units.

Some issues above are slated for “technical review” after any application is deemed “complete.” But risks to human life currently posed by the inadequacies of AB design are so grave that municipal staff must evaluate them at the earliest possible time.

We also worry about AB’s building materials: all wood. AB’s wood-frame development in Quincy, Mass., caught fire in 2008 and burned to the ground; AB was faulted for a dysfunctional sprinkler system. You can see another AB fire (Uniondale, NY, 4/11/12) on YouTube (type in “AvalonBay fires”). We worry about the safety of Princeton’s all-volunteer emergency services first responders (as well as renters). AB deficiencies imperil Princeton and endanger emergency resources. Shortcomings must be rectified. Municipal staff and Boards must ensure public safety, with or without AvalonBay.

Kate Warren,


Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods

Maria Delaney,


Princeton Engine Company #1 Ladies Auxiliary

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

When is the University Medical Center at Plainsboro going to supply Google maps with a detailed ground plan (with labels) of the new facility? It is horrifying enough to have to cross US Route 1 to get to the site. It is worse to find your way around to the entrance to the campus. Once in, and when in need, locating the emergency room for the first time is frightening. Please create a detailed map/ground plan, get it on Google, and make sure all the information about the old building on Witherspoon Street is removed from Google.

Marilyn Aronberg Lavin

Maxwell Lane

To the Editor,

I recently returned home from a group trip to Fonds Parisien in rural Haiti. The focus of our group, Princeton based Konekte, was to aid with the construction of a vocational school and to establish a connection with local Haitians through a love of soccer. We were a group of 22 motivated and energetic people of ages 15 to 52, but I would like to draw attention specifically to the role played by four coaches from the Princeton Football Club. Stoyan Pumpalov, Vesco Marinov, Hristopher Tsochev, and Brian Ruddy were truly inspirational in their level of enthusiasm, capacity for hard work, and their ability to bring a smile to the face of every Haitian with whom they interacted. They worked a 12-hour day pouring concrete, they held babies, made children laugh, conducted soccer drills on dirt fields, distributed shirts and cleats to boys who would otherwise play barefoot and organized a tournament between four local teams the likes of which had not been seen before. They were an inspiration to me and to all the people on our trip and I feel that any young Princeton soccer player should feel honored to know and be coached by these men.

Judith Sarvary

Province Line Road

Editor’s Note: See the related sports story on page 37.

“I don’t like Paul Ryan. I think he has some unrealistic and absurd ideas about the economy. I think it may hurt Romney’s chances. He looks good and speaks well, but what he’s saying doesn’t work for me.”
—Julia Poulos, Princeton

“Very excited that he’s chosen Paul Ryan only because I think he will galvanize the left and the Democrats. Because I always thought the Obama campaign didn’t really have any spark. I think it will work out nicely and excite the Democratic party. Especially with Ryan’s beliefs on Medicare.”
—Nick Virgilio, North Brunswick

“I would say he’s putting this country on the wrong track. I can’t imagine anything worse for women. I think it’s a campaign against women’s rights.”
—Sharron Bolen, Princeton

“I think in terms of image and marketing Ryan is a good choice. He compensates with some good youth and appeal that Obama might have. He offsets some of Romney’s own money and elitism. Ryan comes from a humble background.”
—David Hock, Princeton

“I’m okay with Paul Ryan, it’s the choice I expected Romney to make, a conservative choice.”
—Terry Murphy, Flemington

“Paul Ryan is an extremely intelligent man. He speaks eloquently. He understands the economy and economics in great detail. Something has to be done about Social Security and Medicare. Ryan has put forth a budget, a starting point. The current administration hasn’t put anything forth to negotiate.”
—Tom Mensel, Princeton

August 15, 2012

To the Editor:

What a fabulous and fun day! On August 7 my family and I went to the Community Pool Night. I just wanted to take my time and thank everybody who was involved to make this day so wonderful! All my children (8 months, 2, and 8 years) had a blast, great DJ, great vendors and food and the pool renovation turned out to be absolutely beautiful and great! Whoever thought of the soft pool floor is an absolute genius: no more scratched toes while carrying your children through the lane pool, and the descending ramp is so much fun for parents and children alike. We don’t have to worry so much anymore when our young children decide to suddenly slide down on the pool floor. I also would like to mention the life guards: they are always so polite, friendly and helpful. They all do an excellent job and should be praised more often for all their hard and responsible work! The pool staff is extremely professional and nice and they, as well as the nice young people at the food kiosk, should be praised no less. Thank you for such a great event and thank you for making every day at the pool so much fun!

Daniela Plessl

N.Tulane Street

Johanna: “Given the fact that I hadn’t heard about the robberies, I think they were probably somewhat of a fluke. Going forward, I will continue to take the same safety precautions. I consider Princeton a safe place to live.”
Audrey: “I always make sure my parents lock the doors at night. I consider Princeton a safe place.”
—Johanna Hunsbedt with daughter Audrey, Princeton

“Princeton is a very safe community. Number one precaution would be light in the evening, keep lights on or on a timer. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your doors locked.”
—Lance Liverman, Princeton

“I do consider Princeton a safe place to live. I know that occasionally some things happen. I keep my doors locked at home and my car doors locked. The community is well protected by the people who are watching out for us.”
—Ross Wishnick, Princeton

“I consider it safe. The precautions I take are, I lock my car, it’s common sense. I keep my purse on me. I don’t walk in fear, I don’t live in fear.” —Barbara Reeder, Lawrenceville

“I think Princeton is safe and I live in the best neighborhood in Princeton —  the Jackson Witherspoon neighborhood.”
—Steve Pitts, Princeton

To the Editor:

In our opinion the name does not reflect what the Valley Road School Building can be in the future.

Just picture a community center with an auditorium, a gym, rooms for meetings and parties, with very affordable rents, plenty of parking for non-profits and visitors, and a convenient location just a mile away from downtown Princeton.

But this possibility is being blocked by the calculated indifference of the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) board members. They are sitting on their hands rather than let this be accomplished; they do not fix the building, either; they are just waiting for it to rot.

Unfortunately you, the taxpayer, will have to foot the bill to tear the building down. Given PPS’s expensive mismanagement of the renovations of Princeton High School and John Witherspoon Middle School, we don’t have a lot of confidence in them taking on this project. More of the taxpayers money will just bleed out again.

Bleeding is already happening. The school budget has already passed, but now your money is needed for more building improvements. According to the August 8 Town Topics (“School Board Seeks $10.9 Million for Improvements”), “If passed, the Board of Education has estimated the tax impact of the bond at less than $155 annually for the average assessed home in Princeton.”

What if this $155 is too much for a lot of the average Princeton households in anemic economic times? Could this all be deferred maintenance problems, problems that are going to continue to dig into the pockets of the average taxpayer???

At least the Valley Road School Building does not have to pick the pocket of Princetonians if you let Kip Cherry and the VRS-ARC do their job and request that Judy Wilson and the PPS let “Save Valley Road School” take over the building. We are ready to raise the money, get non profit organizations to fill up the space and turn the building into a community center we have never had and can be proud of.

We look forward to Princetonians taking charge and we ask the mayoral candidates Liz Lempert and Dick Woodbridge to let the town know what their views are and what actions they will take regarding this important issue. Write or call 25 Valley Road, Princeton N.J. 08540, (609) 806-4200.

Adam Bierman, Sandra Jordan

Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

Under current law, public colleges and universities are exempt from local zoning and planning rules. If Rutgers University or The College of New Jersey wants to build a football stadium (or office building, dormitory, restaurant, or dining hall) they need not seek approval from any planning or zoning board. As public institutions, they are, however, required to give public notice of their plans and to hold public hearings. A town attorney, or any group of citizens, could then sue to stop the project in the appellate division of the Superior Court. A judge would then hear evidence regarding the appropriateness of the project and would rule on whether it could to go forward. Grounds for denial might be, for instance, that a stadium or dormitory in the middle of a residential neighborhood would violate State laws against creating a public nuisance. In effect, the New Jersey Superior Court would act as a local Planning Board.

While Superior Court might not be the ideal venue for community planning, the law which recently passed the State senate allowing private colleges and universities to ignore local zoning ordinances and planning boards would create circumstances that are far more pernicious. This law would allow a Princeton or Seton Hall University to build whatever they want anywhere in the state. As private schools, no public notice would be required and they would not have to hold public hearings, as is now the case with public colleges and universities. And because no appeals would be possible, no private university property would ever be off-limits for any use whatsoever.

There is little doubt that a law exempting a small group of private property owners from the laws of the communities in which they reside violates the New Jersey State constitution. The State Assembly should reject it.

Ken Fields


Eleanor J. Lewis Fund for Public Interest Research

Linden Lane

To the Editor:

Recent issues of Town Topics contain the usual newsworthy items that emphasize the seemingly endless friction involving our relationship with Princeton University.

Viewed by a Township resident with no ties to the University, this never ending antagonism is discouraging.

Virtually any move that the University makes, seems to bring forth a great deal of push back from us. Some may be justified, some not. Many times the criticism seems to contain a degree of vitriol.

The basis for the problem seems to be the never ending desire for greater financial contributions from the University to the surrounding municipalities. Reasonable people can disagree on the appropriate amount of the voluntary contribution.

Zero is too little, but often the argument is voiced that the contribution should be based on what the tax rate for the University would be if it were a taxable entity.

By law, the University is tax exempt, as are the Seminary, the Institute for Advanced Study, and countless other properties in our municipalities, that make this a unique cultural community.

If we devoted the same amount of time and energy to our municipal challenges, we probably could have accomplished any number of worthwhile objectives — such as bringing about consolidation, 25 years ago.

William Stephenson

Governors Lane

August 8, 2012

To the editor:

Re: Town Talk’s Question of the Week “If you could live on any street in Princeton, which would you choose and why?” (Town Topics, August 1).

Two of the six answers named Linden Lane and Chestnut, and another mentioned “Jefferson Road, a beautiful street with huge trees ….” The huge trees there are mostly sycamores, which line many, many streets in Princeton, including Hodge and Battle Roads.

When Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva defected from U.S.S..R., she came to the U.S.A. in April 1967 with the help of former Ambassador to U.S.S.R. George F. Kennan. Upon arriving in Princeton, where she made her home for a time, she remarked about the abundance of trees, saying that Princeton looked like a park.

Understandable, then, there are lots of Princeton streets named after trees, affectionately called “the tree streets,” most prominently the four parallel streets: Chestnut, Linden Lane, Maple, and Pine St., that run into Nassau Street, while Hawthorne Avenue, Spruce Street and Hickory Court are all perpendicular to Chestnut.

Other streets: Walnut Lane extends Chestnut, Sycamore Lane is perpendicular to Old Hickory Court, Birch Avenue is perpendicular to Witherspoon as Sycamore Road is to Harrison, Cedar Lane, and Hemlock Circle off Philip Drive.

There are other tree streets but its best to consult the interactive map at this link:, or the Princeton map in the now defunct telephone Yellow Book if you kept one.

Carl Faith

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

Now is the time to end politics as usual and stop the reckless spending that goes with it. My name is Kenneth J. Cody and I am an independent candidate in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional district. The outrageous amount of money used in campaigning needs to come to an end. In 2010 House candidates raised over one billion dollars to be spent from contributions. I believe we need to change the process for elections to be run more fairly. Strict campaign finance reform should be enforced from local elections to the presidency. All candidates need to focus on the issues instead of fund raising. Think what could have been done with a fraction of the one billion dollars raised in 2010. That funding could have gone to educational programs, medical research, environmental causes, or to help the less fortunate. Strict finance reform will allow other political parties to have more say on a level playing field instead of the monopoly of Democrats and Republicans. My campaign has vowed not to accept any monetary contributions and is self-funded. My goal is to run a candidacy of integrity based on principal. Also as a commitment to the citizens of the 12th district and the nation, I will demand a $30,000 dollar pay cut in my yearly salary if elected. With Congressional approval ratings at an all-time low, I believe it is the least I could do. It is time to end the wasteful spending in Washington and turn politics in a positive direction.

Kenneth J. Cody


Independent Candidate, 12th Congressional District

To the Editor:

Recently, Rep. Rush Holt joined Rutgers officials and other educators to talk with local students and parents about college aid opportunities.

In today’s economy it’s challenging for young people to find a job. College has never been more crucial to our economy and to job creation, but college is also more expensive nowadays. As a longtime teacher, Rep. Holt has seen firsthand the power of higher education to transform lives. He has taken some actions in the Congress to make college more affordable:

1. Keeping college loan rates low. A few years ago, Rep. Holt helped write a law that cut student loan interest rates from 6.8 to 3.4 percent, saving each student $2,000 on average. Recently, some members in Congress sought to undo this rate cut. Rep. Holt helped reach a compromise to ensure that rates will remain low for one more year, helping 144,000 New Jersey students. He is now supporting legislation to make the rate cut permanent.

2. Helping math and science teachers afford college. The TEACH Grant program provides up to $16,000 over four years for students who commit to teaching math, science, or foreign language for at least five years.

3. Supporting graduates who enter public service. Rep. Holt helped write a law that forgives student loan debt after 10 years for graduates who enter public service.

Education is key to the American Dream for individuals and our nation’s economic future. In November, let’s re-elect education advocate Rep. Rush Holt to the Congress.

Yu Zhong


FRIENDLY FASHION: “I wanted dresses that would appeal to all ages. Most are my own designs, but there is also a selection from other vendors, both from the U.S. and abroad.” Aruna Arya, owner of Miss Simoni, the women’s boutique, is enthusiastic about her new venture.

“What you love to wear is fashion!”

Aruna Arya should know. As a fashion designer and owner of Miss Simoni, the new women’s boutique at 14 Nassau Street, Ms. Arya is an expert on the latest styles and trends in today’s fashion.

It is about comfort, individuality, informality, and versatility. Unlike times past, when the great fashion houses of Paris, London, and New York set strict guidelines about styles, skirt lengths, and the like, today it is up to the individual.

“Some women are looking for something totally different, unusual,” points out Ms. Arya. “Skirt lengths are everywhere — long, short, mid-length. Our long dresses have been so popular, they are currently sold out. I have always been attracted to comfortable clothing myself, and I incorporate that in my designs, free-flowing with an informal theme and lots of color.”

Fashion Design

Originally from India, Ms. Arya earned masters degrees in fashion design and fashion business administration in the United States and India. She worked for several years as a designer in San Francisco, where she developed a network of colleagues in the fashion industry.

“I worked with designer Joseph Domingo, and I learned a lot from him,” she notes.

India is known for its stunningly vivid colors and color combinations, and Ms. Arya’s styles often reflect this stimulating background. “My knowledge of Indian fashion helps me in in selecting a fine fabric, experimenting with colors, and achieving the highest quality of hand embroidery.

“Red is very popular at the shop, and also lots of combination prints,” she reports. “I carry tops, dresses, and skirts, no pants. Most items are 100 percent cotton in solids, prints, and plaids. Sizes are small to extra large.”

Accessories include a wonderful selection of scarves of varying sizes in colorful prints and patterns. Some are 100 percent silk and silk chiffon, featuring embroidery, tassels, and fringe. Others are accented with beading.

Handbags, jewelry, and hair accessories are also available, and many are one-of-a-kind. “I have colleagues who make handbags for me,” says Ms. Arya. “They are all customized, and I choose the fabric and color combinations.”

All Combinations

A variety of choices is available, including a beautiful linen fabric clutch, others in silk and with sequins. There are many lovely bags in all sizes.

The selection of jewelry includes earrings and colorful bangle bracelets. “The bangles are popular because they are so light and colorful, and in all combinations,” notes Ms. Arya. “They can match any dress. We also have sets with a necklace, bangles and earrings, all wrapped with silk thread. They are from India and very beautiful.”

Hair accessories from India have been very popular at Miss Simoni, and again, they feature vibrant color combinations, and are in many designs, including in silk.

Ms. Arya is very pleased that so many customers have found her shop, are returning, and that many have become regulars. “The dresses and scarves have been most popular so far,” she reports. “One day a lady came in and bought four scarves! Another time, a woman bought a dress in the morning; she came back later that day, was wearing it, and brought a friend with her.

“In another case, three ladies from a nearby company came in, and they were all wearing my dresses! I enjoy seeing the people who come in, and I like to notice their taste in the clothes. It enhances my design style. I like to see the customers’ personality, what they look at when they’re here. It all helps in my design work.

“Also, seeing regular customers come back makes me very happy. Seeing a familiar face is wonderful. I really have had great experiences with customers. A lady has come in several times, and admired the clothes, especially the detail work and the styles. She talked about clothes that her aunt had made for her, and the styles here reminded her of them. We really made a connection.”

Summer Sundresses

Indeed, there are many wonderful dresses at the shop — from summer sundresses to more elegant, sophisticated black vicose styles with gold accents.

There are also intriguing tunic tops and “Kurtas”, an Indian term for a fitted or unfitted top, explains Ms. Arya. They are in unique floral and natural designs, and in every color in the rainbow.

In addition, for the summer, the shop will have a selection of beach wear and cover ups. Ms. Arya is also very proud of the decor of the shop, which features a black and white motif, offering a dramatic showcase for the vibrant colors of the clothing.

“Giedre Miller was the interior designer, and she did a wonderful job in the store,” says Ms. Arya.

Prices at Miss Simoni are reasonable, with scarves from $20, hair clips at $8, and sales of selected items always available.

“We also offer a special discount for students, who have an I.D., and we’ve had a lot of students coming in, and also mothers and daughters. Our styles appeal to everyone — from teens to all ages. I also want to compliment my staff. They are great, and they really help me.”

Ms. Arya looks forward to becoming a mainstay on the Princeton scene, and eventually, she hopes to introduce a children’s line.

“The shop is named for my daughter, Simoni, which in Hindu means ‘obedience,’” she explains. “I am definitely here to stay. We are attracting a lot of customers, who are Princeton residents as well as tourists. We have a warm, friendly atmosphere here, and we look forward to welcoming even more customers.”

Miss Simoni, at 14 Nassau Street, is open seven days 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (609) 252-0888. Website:

August 1, 2012

To the Editor:

It is clear that NJDOT intends to close the Harrison and Washington Road jughandles permanently. It’s advisory on the NJDOT website states: “If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will NOT be restored.“ (emphasis added).

What are the measurements of success? Are they that backups at the jughandles will no longer occur? It seems self-evident that this will be true since they will be closed.

What measurements are being taken of traffic congestion coming into Princeton via alternative routes? Where have counters been installed? Do we have adequate historical data in place for comparison?

How will the economic impacts be measured from loss of sales by our merchants? Have our merchants been asked to keep records that can be given to NJDOT? What about the extra time and gasoline required for using alternative routes? How is that being measured?

Has NJDOT run this through a computer model? Why haven’t they presented the results to the public? Where do our legislators stand on this?

No one is denying that Route 1 traffic should be better managed. We are still waiting for an overpass at Harrison Street, which we are being told must be financed by Federal funds that are not yet forthcoming.

In the meantime, the addition of a turning lane into each of the jughandles would improve traffic backups at the jughandles. This could be accomplished more easily at Harrison Street than Washington Road, but this improvement at Harrison would help and could easily be implemented.

Kip Cherry

Dempsey Avenue

To the Editor:

I read with great dismay and outrage that NJDOT continues with their plans to close the jug handles at Washington Road and Harrison Street going north, with the added burden of closing the left hand turn at Washington Road going south.

NJDOT has inconceivably and inconsiderately decided to close a major east west route into Princeton from West Windsor without consideration of the residents in West Windsor. This decision will turn Princeton into an island. It will increase traffic at Scudder’s Mill Road and Alexander to unbelievable proportions. All of this with no plans for building an overpass in the vicinity. What can they possibly be thinking, certainly not about the combined 50,000 citizens who actually live here and use these road daily?

As stated on the NJDOT website: (,

“after the conclusion of the trial, NJDOT will meet with stakeholders to present its findings as to whether the restrictions have proven to be effective in reducing Route 1 congestion and to discuss the extent of any secondary impacts on local streets and roads. If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will not be restored and the department will replace the temporary barriers with permanent and more aesthetically pleasing barriers as expeditiously as possible.”

I’m planning on starting a petition to “Stop the Closings and Build an Overpass” on Please contact me at if you can help with the wording of the petition, social media, and pro bono legal action.

Deirdra A. Silver

West Windsor

To the Editor:

When my husband first suggested we sign up for the Princeton organic curbside pickup program, I was concerned about the resulting mess and hassle. But I was totally wrong.

The program is clean, easy, and requires no more effort than it took to throw organic waste in the garbage or in using the disposal. But it is much better for the environment than either of those options.

Since we signed up, our non-compostable waste has been reduced to less than a small plastic bag each week, meaning much less landfill.

This program is also much cheaper than what we were previously paying for garbage pickup alone. For just $30 a month, the program provides a weekly pickup of organic waste that is then composted, plus a separate weekly garbage pickup. Alternatively, you can sign up for just the organic pick up for $20 a month.

And the savings don’t stop there. As more people sign up, the cost of garbage pickup and disposal goes down for Princeton as a whole, lowering our taxes. For example, during the three-month pilot for the program, having just 165 homes participate resulted in a $7,000 savings in disposal fees. Imagine the savings for all of us if just a quarter of the 8,000 homes in Princeton signed up?

Even more important, just three months of participation by 165 homes diverted over 25 tons of organics from landfill. That is equal to 31 tons of carbon offsets, 91 trees being planted and 5 cars off the road.

If you care about the environment and want to save money, I encourage you to take part in this wonderful program now. It is still about 100 homes shy of the number it needs to continue. Losing this program because not enough residents signed up would be a real shame, especially as Princeton is demonstrating the benefits of curbside composting to other communities across New Jersey.

If you have any questions or are interested in signing up, please call or email Janet Pellichero, the Recycling Coordinator, at (609) 688-2566 ext. 1478 or

Julia Sass Rubin

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

A letter in the July 25 Town Topics mailbox (“If University Were to Expand Without Zoning, Where Would the Town go?”) mistakenly claims that Brown University has increased its payments to its municipality (Providence) to $30 million a year. Here are the facts:

Brown recently reached an agreement under which it will increase its combination of tax payments plus voluntary contributions by a total of $32 million over 11 years. Specifically, it will make payments of $8 million per year for five years, followed by $6 million per year for six years. This compares to a current annual payment (taxes plus contribution) of $4 million.

Princeton University’s current tax and voluntary payment to Borough and Township is over $10 million per year. So Princeton Borough and Township together are already receiving more from Princeton University than Providence will receive from Brown even in the early years of the agreement, and much more than Providence will receive in the later years.

As a percentage of the municipal budget, Princeton’s contribution is much greater. The combined municipal budgets of the two Princetons are just over $60 million while the Providence municipal budget is just over $300 million.

As part of its contribution agreement, Brown acquired title to several public streets near its campus and a long-term lease for 250 parking spaces on public streets for Brown employees. Princeton’s tax payments and voluntary contributions do not involve any real estate acquisitions or leasing arrangements.

Kristin S. Appelget

Director, Community and Regional Affairs

Princeton University

To the Editor:

Why does AvalonBay oppose LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Princeton? LEED is a far more thorough certification program than Energy Star. It differentiates between better and poorer degrees of sustainability achieved by any project; Energy Star does not distinguish degrees. Further, the Energy Star program has been found deficient by the inspector general of the EPA and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Environment.

Ron Ladell, AvalonBay’s chief promoter at Borough Council and the Planning Board stated, “We don’t do LEED on stick-buildings.” Why such a blunt push-back on “stick-buildings” when AvalonBay’s corporate headquarters is certified LEED-Silver and its webpage devotes 13 pages to sustainability? One of the AvalonBay attorneys, Jeremy Lang, took a tough stand at the Planning Board (4/19/12) and stated, “We have successfully litigated against efforts to impose LEED certification standards.” At the same meeting, former Princeton Township mayor Bernie Miller asked Mr. Ladell “Is there anything to stop a developer from volunteering to seek LEED-certification?” The non response speaks volumes. Why such opposition to the environmental health of our community? Why such belligerence on a matter concerning the public good?

Princeton should not be stonewalled—especially on what will surely be the most massive building in town if constructed. New Jersey municipal land use law is 30 years out of date on environmental matters such as LEED and frowns on anything that is “cost-generative” for the developer with no consideration for the future health costs to be incurred by an entire population in consequence of unsustainable building practices. AvalonBay may hide behind outdated state law, but when they refuse to do better, they don’t look good. It is evident that their intentions are out of sync with Princeton, a state-certified Sustainable Municipality. Our public policy may be beyond Avalon Bay’s desire to comply.

AvalonBay’s intentions are outdated, counterproductive, and dangerous to Princeton’s municipal and environmental health. Any development must have an energy performance that is a minimum of 30 percent better than ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) or be equivalent to IECC 2009 (International Energy Conservation Code) improved performance. We don’t need another development that is not LEED certified, another hotspot in our downtown, another massive development with flat roofs and no solar panels.

The Planning Board must do what it can to impose conditions and/or entice this reluctantly green, presently grey developer to do a better job. If Avalon Bay wants to build here, they must learn something about Princeton community values. The market-rate and affordable rental units Princeton needs should not be built by a developer who has little to no respect for Princeton values.

Benjamin R. Warren

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

Some things should stay the same. We’re happy that the pool complex is new and shiny, but we’re happier that the same great community spirit overrides the changes. Today we realized, almost too late, that we needed a lifeguard to sign off on a swim test for crew camp. Vikki, Taariq and Al quickly found Pat Prendergast to witness the swim test. Pat had just gone to the same camp earlier this summer, so he was happy to help. It all couldn’t have gone more smoothly or graciously. Thanks, everyone!

Holly Nelson, Dorothy Weiss

Leigh Avenue

Isabella Deshmukh

Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

The recent Consumer Report safety ranking of Princeton Medical Center of 39th out of 62 New Jersey hospitals reflects the need for the hospital’s president and board to restore the confidence and win back the recognition of all health care consumers in the Princeton area. Not an easy task when you consider the lack of community support by the hospital officials to hold Avalon Bay responsible for adhering to master plan and building code requirements to build on the hospital’s former site. Consider also the competition from two other nearby hospitals among the five in the county.

CEO Rabner rightly observed how important it is for consumers to have the information they need to make intelligent choices about health care. There is, of course, a hierarchy of health care quality which is directly proportional to the expertise and experience of healthcare providers. While facilities and equipment “with welcoming décor and amenities” are important, it is the nursing staff which is the backbone of hospital care, something learned from 20 years of hospital volunteer service. Consumers also need to know medical care is both art and science, not science alone, and that doctors and nurses need recognition for a job well done in the community they serve. The Princeton Medical Center has yet to win this recognition.

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

I’m one of the fans of the Montgomery Theater and would not like to see its demise. How about doing what film groups in other cities have done by charging an annual membership fee for the privilege of buying individual tickets. A higher price could be charged for non-members (many of whom might then join) unaware of the organization and the policy. This might even allow for sprucing up the auditoriums and lavatories.

Phyllis Spiegel


POPULAR PIZZERIA: “Pizza is so popular because it tastes good, and it’s healthy. It’s bread, cheese for protein, tomato, and healthy toppings. It can be a healthy meal.” Ciro Baldino, president and an owner of Conte’s, the popular Princeton pizzeria, is shown behind the restaurant’s bar.

The current site of Conte’s Pizzeria at 339 Witherspoon Street, was once a bocci court, says Conte’s president and owner Ciro Baldino.

“The Conte family lived in the house next door, and this was a bocci court,” he explains. “They had a bar, The Golden Eagle, on Leigh Avenue. They enjoyed the bocci court with their family and friends, and they often made pizza for them. It became so popular that they began to think about making it a business.

“So, in the late ‘50s, they put this building over the bocci court, moved the bar here, and established Conte’s. The Contes were a long-time Princeton family, and Sam Conte was the owner.”

“The best pizza on the planet!” says the Conte advertisement, and a lot of people agree. The popular pizzeria has been going strong all these years and continues to draw crowds of hungry customers every day.

Best Pizza

In 1967, Ciro started working at the pizzeria when he was a boy. His uncle Louie Lucullo had become owner at that time, and Conte’s had also added sausage sandwiches to the menu.

“However, in the 1970s, the New Jersey Monthly magazine survey named Conte’s as having the best pizza in New Jersey,” recalls Mr. Baldino. “From then on, the pizza soared in popularity.”

He came on full-time in 1982, after a varied career, including teaching and working for the State of New Jersey. “I was always curious, and I wanted to learn about things,” he explains.

Of course, he had been learning about running a restaurant over the years, and when Conte’s became his full-time career, he and partners Tony Baldino (vice president) and Angela Baldino (secretary) formed a corporation Cirton, Inc. to oversee the operation.

Mr. Baldino is a firm believer in “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, or as he says, “You don’t add ice to cognac!” Conte’s had established such a strong reputation in Princeton — and beyond — for its quality pizza, friendly service, and warm atmosphere that the plan was to ensure its continued success.

“The menu has changed very little,” Mr. Baldino notes. “You don’t want to change a good thing. What we got from the Conte family, we never changed. We have the best recipes, and the key is how you cook it and the ingredients. Our ingredients are the best in the world! We also make our own sausage. The sausage sandwich is popular, and our most popular pizzas are plain, or sausage, or pepperoni.”


In addition to sausage, other sandwiches include meatball, steak, ham, and salami. Selected choices of pasta are available, including penne and spaghetti, plain or with sausage or meatballs.

Conte’s is, of course,   known for its delicious thin-crust pizza; toppings include everything from anchovies to mushrooms, peppers, olives — and much more.

Many people enjoy ordering a salad with the pizza, adds a long-time customer,  who also points out the friendly atmosphere. “We like it that there is always a celebratory, happy atmosphere at Conte’s. It’s always a fun place to go. I like the friendly waitresses, and I like the family atmosphere, especially in the early evening when people bring everyone but the dog! You’ll see little kids, big kids, moms and dads, and grandmas. Of course, we love the thin-crust pizza.”

Many other customers agree with this assessment, and Mr. Baldino reports that there are many regulars in attendance at any given time — lunch or dinner. “70 to 80 percent of the customers are regulars, and I know them all! We have lots of weekly customers, and some come even more often.”

Neighborhood Place

Princeton residents Terri and Michael David are counted among them. They go to Conte’s every Thursday evening without fail. “We have been doing this for decades!” says Mrs. David. “Conte’s has the best pizza, possibly in the world, and we’ve had pizza in many places. Coming on Thursday gives us a start on the weekend. We also like the feeling of a cozy neighborhood place. We know a lot of other people who come, and we are friends with the wait staff. Conte’s is just dear to my heart.”

A variety of beverages is available, and Mr. Baldino points out that many customers enjoy a glass of chianti or beer to accompany their pizza.

“We have also had lots of famous people over the years,” he adds, “including the current governor, who stops in and picks up a pizza to go.”

Conte’s is also popular with groups. Various sports and school teams come in after a game, and Princeton Democrats recently celebrated the nomination of their candidates for mayor and the new Council with pizza at Conte’s.

“I enjoy all the people who come in, and they’re from all walks of life, all backgrounds — University, business, students, families. It’s fun to interact with them all,” says Mr. Baldino.

Adds secretary and owner Angela Baldino: “We have people of all nationalities coming in — from India, China, France, all over. We want them all to have a wonderful experience — great pizza, a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, and we also want to thank our loyal customers who have supported us all these years.”

Conte’s is also available for private parties on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 3:30 p.m.

Regular hours are Monday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 11:30 to 11, Saturday and Sunday 4 to 9. (609) 921-8041. Website:

MADE -TO-ORDER: “Customers love this! It’s so easy to personalize things, and so quick. It’s right here, right now!” Hannah Teiser of Landau’s is enthusiastic about the store’s “Wonder Machine”: the AnaJet Direct-to- Garment Digital Printer.

Imagine this scenario. A store opens in Jersey City in 1914, moves to Brooklyn, then relocates to Princeton in 1955, is still going strong, and is still all in the family!

This is, in fact, the story of Landau’s, the popular clothing store at 102 Nassau Street. Now owned by Robert and Henry Landau, grandsons of founder Henry Landau, it has long been the place to go for wool, and it continues to offer an extensive selection of sweaters, throws, scarves, and other wool items for men, women, and children. In addition, it always adapts to the season, and there are many items for spring and summer. Currently, a large assortment of hats of all types — versatile, reversible, collapsible, crushable, crocheted, big brims, small brims, visors, straw, raffia, cotton, mixed fibers, simple to elegant — are big sellers for all ages.

What is especially intriguing about Landau’s is that you will always find something new, and often something unexpected. As Robert Landau has pointed out. “We are always finding the next best thing.”

So, in 2010, they introduced the AnaJet Direct to Garment Digital Printer. It will instantly print any design on a fabric item that has a flat surface and is at least 50 percent cotton. Tee and sweatshirts, aprons, wine and tote bags are all possibilities for this technology.

43,000 Impressions

This “Wonder Machine” has been a big hit, reports Henry Landau. “We have made 43,000 impressions since we began in mid-May two years ago. We went from doing 10,000 impressions in the first nine months to 33,000 in the last 15 months. We can do anything with a flat surface, both color and black and white, and any size.

“I had been to a trade show and saw this laser jet digital printer with water-based ink and a closed system,” he continues. “It works on a variety of items, has no set-up charges, is made in the U.S., and the technical support is second to none. Customers bring in their photo or design on a zip drive as a jpeg — we can also get the image off their website — and then we’ll print it out for them in minutes. We can instantly create exactly what you’re looking for. It’s so quick!”

They have expanded the initial series of T-shirts, polos, and sweatshirts to items such as hoodies, sweat pants, aprons, towels, wine and tote bags, even chair backs.

Customers are all ages, and include companies, organizations, and institutions as well as individuals. Popular images are animals, rock groups, sports, school teams, and business logos, but the machine has also replicated a book cover, the Titanic, The Pink Panther, and Red Hots candies! One image was a beer coaster.

700 Shirts

Numbers of items printed range from one to 700, and everything in between. We recently printed 700 shirts for Princeton Hospital’s employee giving campaign prior to their move, also 500 for the Math Olympiad at Princeton University Nassoons’ 70th Anniversary, and hundreds for numerous Princeton University events. And, we also did 60 shirts for a company a while back, and now they want 300 more because they have changed their logo.”

Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, family reunions, bar/bat mitzvahs, and other events are all perfect opportunities for custom printed shirts, he adds.

“We did a shirt for a family party, and it was the dad’s 70th birthday. They wanted a shirt with his picture on the front, and then on the back, we did one shirt with ‘Happy’, one with ‘Birth’, one with ‘Day’, another with ‘To’, and then ‘You’. The family all wore them to surprise the dad.”

Mr. Landau is pleased with the wide selection of shirts — all sizes, colors, and styles — that he is able to offer customers. “What I love about this from a supply standpoint is that there is a national T-shirt and apparel supply company, with warehouses. One is in Robbinsville. So we can order from the Robbinsville warehouse and pick up what we need in two hours. Or they can send it the next day. If they have to get it from another warehouse, they ship it in two days. We’re never out of stock. This cuts the inventory I need to have on the shelves because we can get what we need so quickly from the warehouse.”

Landau’s not only offers all the shirts customers want, but in one case, they have provided a unique design as well. As Mr. Landau notes, “My brother Robert came up with a T-shirt design, and people have gone haywire over it. It says: ‘What part of E=MC2 don’t you understand?’ The T-shirts with this design have been flying out of here.”

It is certainly in keeping with the unique Albert Einstein mini-museum located in the store.

Many Reasons

Customers have been intrigued with the new machine for many reasons, but particularly because it is so quick and does such a great job, adds Mr. Landau. “The customer service aspect about it is wonderful. Landau’s has always been about customer service — service, service, service! We have always offered quality at a good price. The concept is: ‘what is a good value?’ And also, Robert and I are here. We listen to what the customers say. We are not absentee owners.

“We have also always had a quality staff. Many have been with us for a long time, and our staff is intelligent and knowledgeable. We all enjoy the customers and spending time with them. I think they know that we have a good time here.”

Landau’s has a wide price range, with many discounted prices. Custom design printed T-shirts are $20 for one, with lower costs for more volume: seven to 12 shirts each, $14.50; 50 shirts $9.50 each.

“I have really been thrilled with the machine and with the customer response,” says Mr. Landau. “It’s beyond what I expected. I am having fun, and so are the customers.”

Landau’s is open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday 11:30 to 4:30. (609) 924-3494. Website:

“Palmer Square. It’s the heart of town and close to some of my favorite restaurants.”
—Jack Miller, Princeton

“Linden Lane. I know a lot of people who live there. It’s close to town. The houses are nice and not too huge.”
—Louise Athens, Princeton

“Hodge Road. I love driving down or biking down this street, it’s very pretty. There are a lot of big, beautiful homes.”
—Nolan Critney, Princeton

Jessica: “Jefferson Road. It’s close to town and has friendly people and a neighborhood cat.”
Dave: “Jefferson Road. A beautiful street with huge trees and it’s really quiet.”
—Jessica Schaffer and Dave Tropp, Princeton

“Chestnut Street. As close to Nassau Street as possible, in one of the older homes on the street.”
—Patty Manhart, Princeton

“Palmer Square. There are apartments above the Bent Spoon with porches. I would love to live there.”
—Mackenzie Kimmel, Princeton

July 25, 2012

WORK IN PROGRESS: “Our firm is restoring, waterproofing, and cleaning the facade of St. Paul’s Church in Princeton. It is a large project, and we are skilled craftworkers who specialize in church restoration, among many other types of projects.” Shown left to right, working high above ground, are Paul ­Pennacchi, president of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration Company, and stone masons Gene Davis, Edwin Arroyo, and Samuel Bowens.

High up on the scaffolding surrounding St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on Nassau Street, men are busy cleaning, waterproofing, and restoring the stone and mortar of the 56-year-old church.

“It’s a pleasure to work with the great community of St. Paul’s, including Pastor Monsignor Joseph Rosie, business administrator Lee Brennan, and so many others,” says Paul Pennacchi, President of A. Pennacchi & Sons Masonry Restoration Company, which is handling the project.

The bricks, stone, and mortar are crucial to a building, but never underestimate the people who see that the structure remains secure, stable, and strong.

Headquartered in Trenton, A. Pennacchi & Sons is a long-time family business. Established in 1947 by Anthony and John Pennacchi, it has a storied history. Anthony and John’s father, Gaetano, came to Trenton from Italy in the early 1930s, and started a masonry business in the Chambersburg section of the city.

Family Business

The company grew when his sons came into the business, and by the 1980s, business had branched out into the surrounding area, especially Princeton. “We have even worked as far north as Newport, R.I., and as far south as Washington, D.C.,” notes Mr. Pennacchi. “We are the oldest masonry contracting company in Mercer County.”

Mr. Pennacchi, who grew up in the business and worked there after school and on weekends, became a full-time employee in 1985, and president in 1995. It’s a family business in every way, he adds.

“My brother, Anthony, Jr., who runs the suburban Philadelphia division, is a master stone mason, who can design, build, and erect any form and pattern of stone work. My father, the ‘Patriarch’ of all operations, who is now 81, is still a very active consultant. He helps me every day overseeing the crews, and with estimates and scheduling. My nephew, Sam Risoldi III is foreman and oversees the work getting done on time.

“My wife Rose and daughter Adriana help in the office with payrolls and accounting work, and my son, Paul, Jr., at 16, already works here part-time, and after college, he will join us, and work from the ground up, as we all did.”

As a full-service masonry, restoration, and waterproofing company, A. Pennacchi & Sons works on both light commercial and residential projects. It has a full-time staff of 10 craftsmen and multiple sub-contractors, who are employed year-round. It handles industrial brick, stone, and stucco work, brick and stone pointing, masonry and concrete repairs, chimney restoration, and waterproofing both above and below grade. It also installs French drain systems, sump pumps, and does foundation restoration.

In addition to St. Paul’s, current and recent projects include work at Jasna Polana Country Club, St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Hamilton Township Municipal Building, The Trent House, Drumthwacket, the Clark House, and countless private residences.

Basic Necessity

“Business is doing very well,” reports Mr. Pennacchi. “Sales are up, and last year was one of our best years. We are not a luxury. The work we do is a basic necessity for people. We are diversified, and we do all kinds of jobs, and we treat everyone the same regardless of the size of the project. The diversity of the work is such that one day we are at St. Paul’s, then at a golf course at Jasna Polana, then work at the Institute for Advanced Study, and at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

“We’ll fix steps at a house, sidewalks, chimneys, patios, etc. A job could take one day, a week, three weeks, or months — it varies. For St. Paul’s, it is three months, and we are on schedule. I estimate how many hours, how many days, how many workers, and how much material will be needed for the job. There are no hidden costs or surprises. The challenge is managing all the jobs, but I really enjoy the diversity.”

Mr. Pennacchi, who is a member of Brick Layers Local Union #5, knows how important it is to be hands-on in the business, and he appreciates the skill, workmanship, and experience of his employees.

“As a bricklayer and stone mason, you serve a four or five year apprenticeship to a skilled mason. It is such a valuable experience. Our employees are our greatest asset. They are very skilled at what they do, and have their own specialties, and they are very dedicated. When we look at a building, we already have it conquered! We have people who are stone masons, others who specialize in basement waterproofing, and others who are plasterers. Here at Pennacchi & Sons, we all work as a team.”

New Techniques

“And, we are constantly learning and researching new techniques in restoration,” he continues. “My brother and nephew have completed the Jahn Restoration program, a select form of stone sculpturing, and they are pro’s at replicating ornate stone work.

“Another thing. I don’t call my competitors ‘competitors’. They are my colleagues and friends. If we all get too busy, we will work together.

“We also have great suppliers, including Yardville Supply, Heath Lumber, Kucker-Haney Paint Company, and Tattersalls. All are family-owned businesses that have supported us from the beginning.”

Mr. Pennacchi is very proud of his company’s longevity and fine reputation, and looks forward to an outstanding future. “I believe that success is based on quality, honesty, and personal relations with our customers. I look forward to continuing what we’re doing. My father, brother, and I are very content with how far we have come. It will be up to the fourth generation to take it to a new level. We are very proud of the business and what my grandfather began, my father and uncles continued, and how much the business has grown in 65 years. We still have customers whose fathers and grandfathers hired my dad back in the day! We are here to stay!”

A. Pennacchi & Sons are members of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, the Newport Historical Preservation Society, registered by the State of New Jersey as Historical Preservation Contractors, and are certified Jahn Applicators.

(609) 584-5777. Website: