August 1, 2012

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

Plainsboro

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.”

Thin-Crust

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: www.contespizzaandbar.com.


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: www.landauprinceton.com.

“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: www.apennacchi.com.

ADVOCATE AND ACTIVIST: “The legal profession is really a helping profession, as hard as that sometimes may be to remember. I have always had a variety of clients — brilliant scientists, business people, educators, physicians, authors, and other creative people who have given me the privilege of working with them. And that is what it is — a privilege.” Attorney Cathryn A. Mitchell looks forward to putting her legal expertise to work for those who need it.

Princeton has been home to attorney Cathy Mitchell for 21 years. For much of that time, she practiced law with her husband, until three years ago when she left that partnership — both personally and professionally. It was at that time that her life in Princeton started anew, reports Ms. Mitchell.

“In many ways, my situation was not entirely different from that of a well-educated mother who left the work force for some time. In my case, my law practice — counsel to global business — had focused on the work and aspirations of my then partner. When that connection was severed, all of that changed. I am now living and working in accordance with my own values. As Gandhi said, happiness is when your thoughts, actions, and words are in harmony, and now, for the first time in my life, they are.”

Ms. Mitchell’s transformation, new sense of fulfillment, and professional reawakening evolved while facing the challenges and opportunities that came along with ending a partnership that spanned almost two decades.

“I gave myself permission to let go of the attention paid to another person’s dreams, and, for essentially the first time, to consider how to pursue my own. For example, I have always wanted to teach in a law school, and recently, I was a guest lecturer for an entertainment law class at a university in Philadelphia. It was a mind-blowing experience.”

High Achievement

High achievement has been a hallmark of Ms. Mitchell’s life. Born in New York City, brought up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she attended the University of Florida, where she received a BS, BA in finance. She continued her education at the University of Florida Law School in Gainesville, and while there, she was named to the University of Florida Hall of Fame, and was a prosecutor on the student honor court.

In law school, she earned three “Book Awards”, which recognized the highest grades in the class, in her case: business organizations, corporations, and criminal procedure.

After law school, Ms. Mitchell worked in a boutique litigation power house firm in Miami known for antitrust and intellectual property (IP) litigation, and white collar criminal defense. She honed her IP litigation skills there on cases for famous watch companies, such as Rolex and Cartier.

Moving to Princeton in 1991, Ms. Mitchell worked in the legal department of Prince Sports, then in Lawrenceville. While there, she began filing trademark applications, handling endorsement agreements for athletes, human resource and employment issues, and anti-trust compliance.

In 1993, she moved to the Princeton office of a New York law firm, but eventually left to start her own practice, which her husband would ultimately join.

Her view of career choices has changed dramatically, reports Ms. Mitchell. “I put the professional desires and goals of my husband before my own, despite the fact that I had worked hard to earn a law degree. I cannot say I would make the same choice today, and certainly would not recommend it to my daughter, or a friend. It was not the smartest thing to do.”

True To Yourself

“It is important to retain professional independence, not only to ensure that your professional identity remains distinct and intact, but also to give you an opportunity to be true to yourself and to follow your own professional aspirations.”

Having said that, she does look back with pride on a number of her cases over the past years.

“The law suit in Miami by Pat Metheny against soon-to-be governor of Florida Bob Martinez for using sound-alike music in his political advertisement was one of them. It was a right of publicity case, and brought to the forefront a number of music-intellectual property issues that had propelled me into the field in the first place.”

Then, there is the 10 years she spent as “private prosecutor” for Princeton University — different in scope and subject from her other cases, but legally challenging and interesting.

“This work for the University had me interfacing with the Princeton University Office of Public Safety — the campus police force — almost every day for a 10-year period. I attended court on behalf of the University in Princeton Borough and Township two days every week, and handled dozens of trials and hundreds of criminal cases. It was great to be on my feet and interacting with the community in this way.”

Ms. Mitchell also spent 12 years as the law columnist for The Times of Trenton. In addition, she has published seven scholarly pieces for the New Jersey Law Journal in the past two and a half years, for a total of nearly 75 overall.

She has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2006 NJ Biz “Best 50 Women in Business” award; 2005 Princeton YWCA’s Tribute to Women award; Who’s Who 2002 New Jersey Business Leaders; “40 Under 40” (New Jersey’s most successful business leaders under 40), recognized by Business News NJ, among others. She has also served as president of the Princeton Bar Association.

Epitome of Community

Community is paramount to Ms. Mitchell, and this is one of the treasures she finds living in Princeton. “I believe that community is transformative and Princeton, to me, is the epitome of community. It’s the synagogue that is two blocks away and its two incredible rabbis, including a young woman rabbi for my daughter to see; the shopping center, the library, the Arts Council, tennis courts, free summer concerts Thursday nights at the shopping center, the farmer’s market at the library plaza, Princeton Merchants’ Association, Princeton rescue squad, where my son hopes to become a cadet.

“There is the tight-knit community in which I live in Princeton Borough, with its block parties and neighborhood picnics; Westminster Conservatory where my son has studied music for 13 years, and the Community Park pool where he is a lifeguard; the Hun School of Princeton, where my daughter is finishing middle school; also the Mercer County Bar Association in which I am very involved.

“I am teaching my children that safety and happiness and security and joy come from connection; from being part of something larger than yourself, from giving whatever you have to help others. These are my values, and this town, on its own, teaches these values to my children by allowing them to experience them for themselves.

“Professionally, I have worked on Nassau Street for most of the past 20 years, and I am continuing to do so now at 44 Nassau Street, Suite 310. This is a familiar, welcoming, and safe place for me. On the surface, I know virtually every banker and shop owner by name, and they know me. That gives every day a ‘Cheers’ feeling that very few people have today. I run into clients, contacts, referral sources, mothers and fathers of my children’s friends all day long. Every week I see a Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge and an Appellate Division judge, friends who are professors at Rutgers, neighbors, etc. It’s a welcoming feeling of connection.”

Ms. Mitchell’s practice is more diverse than in the past, she adds. She finds that she is often playing the role of “consigliore” or trusted advisor in legal matters, whether it is helping a physician in the hiring of a new employee, or sorting through some issues that may ultimately involve the dissolution of a business partnership, or discussing the ramifications in the event of the end of a marriage.

“This has come as somewhat of a surprise to me,” she notes. “Clients are asking me to handle different types of matters for them, because of trust. This is a humbling experience. I also continue to mentor young women and girls, especially young female lawyers, and I donate a portion of my revenue to Womanspace in connection with which I am doing a significant amount of advocacy; in particular, regarding safeguarding the protections of the Violence Against Women Act.”

Complex Tasks

In addition, she continues to file trademark and copyright applications for companies. As she points out, “It’s a rather routine process, but the reason that clients might select me is because there are software licensing issues, and some intellectual property litigation issues potentially as well, and I am therefore available to handle the more complex tasks as they arrive.

“And, if we are talking about family matters, I have considerable criminal trial experience and an understanding of the municipal court system here in Mercer County. So to the extent that there may be criminal or domestic violence issues, which come up often in a family matter, I might be able to provide something a bit more comprehensive on those issues.

“Similarly, I have a finance degree and an interest in forensic accounting and finding hidden assets as well as white-collar criminal issues (forgery, etc.), and to the extent those issues may be present in a family matter, I could be a good resource there as well; in particular, working with experts and preparing clients for trial/settlement, as well as with complex issues of child custody about which I have significant knowledge and experience of my own.

“Princeton is a town with a long memory,” continues Ms. Mitchell. “When you do a good job for someone, they often remember it, and they want you to help them again. This does not just apply to attorneys, but to accountants, investment advisors, and other professionals. I have found that many people are saying something a lawyer can only dream of when she begins the practice of law: ‘I trust you, and I want you to stand by me in good times and bad.’

“Our justice system is the best in the world; our courts try their best, but they are overworked — we know that. They do the best they can, however. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to make our clients’ lives easier, to the extent we can. I can say definitively that I most enjoy the people with whom I work. I learn so much from them, from being around them, seeing the way they handle their own lives, and meet the challenges they face with courage and grace and resilience.

“And I do believe that in helping people, I am setting a good example for my teenage children, which is what matters most to me right now. I want them to experience for themselves what the Buddha says: ‘If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.’ And also, ‘Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.’”

Ms. Mitchell can be reached at (609) 921-8383, and cam@cathrynamitchell.com.

To the Editor:

The Princeton Medical Center and developer AvalonBay (AB) can still salvage a deal that will damage the Princeton community.

It is doubtful that hospital leadership (or its president and CEO, Barry Rabner) directed AB’s attention to the 2006 Master Plan, which lays out an exciting vision for the civic rejuvenation of the site. The lapse is disturbing because Mr. Rabner himself, in countless meetings with the Borough’s Task Force, negotiated a housing density of 280 units to boost the property’s value — in exchange for which Mr. Rabner agreed to public open spaces and walkways crossing the site, a public plaza, LEED “to the extent practical,” and retail stores for the neighborhood’s economic health.

None of this appears in the site plan submitted by AB. A draft version was sharply criticized by the Site Plan Review Advisory Board for manifold violations of Borough code. Revisions show only perfunctory changes, one of which simply agrees to comply with fire code. AB stubbornly disallows public walkways crossing the site. The AB plan still proposes two conjoined monolithic squares: a gated community that wrecks the vision of a newly diversified community. The opening of the smaller block into a dead-end space for “quiet meditation” is a mockery of the code. The economic fallout for the Princeton community is unknown; if the Lawrenceville AB development is a model, renters will be slapped with a $500 annual maintenance fee in addition to rent. Other communities — no wonder — have rejected AB: Scripps Ranch in California, Greater Huntington (Long Island), and Highland Park, N.J.

Hospital leadership and AB should collaborate to do better. AB’s architectural firm, PerkinsEastman, has recently merged with EE&K, a creative group of architects who deliberately design “green” and generate solutions to foster healthy neighborhoods (see www.eekarchitects.com). Fully one-third of their staff are LEED-accredited architects; three of their recent buildings qualified for LEED-Gold certification; and The Aventiene (Gaithersburg, Md.), certified LEED for New Development, won a National AIA Design Excellence Award.

EE&K’s website states: “Our approach starts with an acute awareness of how residential buildings can both contribute to and benefit from the public realm.” This is exactly what is missing in the AB site-plan and in Mr. Ladell’s dismissive approach to Princeton communal needs. It is what Mr. Rabner supported while he negotiated for the hospital’s economic benefit — and now seems to have forgotten.

Why should Princeton settle for anything less than excellent design that does not violate Borough code?

The botch-up of the Princeton Master Plan and Borough code embodied in AB’s site plan application can be rectified by turning to EE&K now instead of courting conflict later. The hospital has a profound obligation to press its contract-purchaser to heed the dictates of that plan and code. Princeton residents are tired of hearing Mr. Ladell say what he won’t do — for example, “zero” LEED; we do not want affordable housing at the any price. Mr. Ladell should try not to smash the potential for neighborhood revitalization. The Master Plan lays out public policy: both parties should work, now, for the public good.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

Thank you for keeping residents up to date on major site planning now underway in the Princeton area. After hearing the recent presentation of AvalonBay at Princeton Borough Council, I would say that the developer is prepared to do a competent, responsible job of constructing 280 housing units on the Princeton Hospital site. It appears, however, that future residents will be comfortable — but contained.

What invites them to explore the Community Park School neighborhood nearby? To enjoy our wonderful new pool and excellent recreation program? To eat in the growing number of local restaurants there and share in programs at our outstanding Public Library — all within walking distance? This is a vibrant community. Why turn inward? At the same time, I have to ask myself, what would invite me into the proposed AvalonBay project? The touted wide-arch doorway on Witherspoon becomes narrow and leads to a distant cluster of benches, nothing more. I would feel that I was an intruder in a private space, which is clearly how residents under the current plan would view me. Why the expense of a private pool, with a first-class pool just a few blocks away? It doesn’t have to be this way.

We know how to design economically for livable space. I’ve seen urban buildings with a completely open network of wide sidewalks interspersed with playground equipment and benches for parents and passersby. Parents can keep an eye on the children from their apartments, yet both adults and children have a wonderful sense of freedom of movement, and of belonging. AvalonBay must of course have to pay attention to the lay of the land and project costs, as its architects have done. But planning also has to encompass a deeper feel for the surrounding community and the interactive possibilities. AvalonBay is being pushed by Princeton’s residents to put more effort — and more imagination — into its planning for the hospital site. The results could be AvalonBay’s finest — a real step-up for this builder. AvalonBay gains, and Princeton continues to be the kind of diverse and welcoming community that we know is possible.

Nancy Strong

Maple Street

To the Editor:

Even as the University is being sued over its plan to move the Dinky, the State Legislature is moving to exempt private universities from municipal zoning ordinances. Interestingly, when I asked random riders whether they thought the Dinky should be moved, most said no, but that the University can’t be stopped. Does the University already have all the power it needs? In his published discussions with NJ Transit, Mr. Durkee has generally avoided mention of the consistent and ongoing objections of townspeople.

The Borough worked long and hard to create its Master Plan and a transition to consolidation representing all of Princeton’s issues, from trees to sewers and back again. We approach saturation on land use: if we are to grow in any direction it will have to be largely by improving what we have, rather than expanding. But the University is our largest landowner. If it were to expand regardless of zoning, where would the town go? Land values (and taxes), which have recently doubled for some, would continue to rise, our working neighbors would continue to move out, and the Master Plan’s goal of inclusion — a varied community, not just for the privileged — would fall apart.

While A-2586, already approved in the Senate, purports to “equalize” private universities with public ones, it would actually put their bar below that of public universities, which are funded by taxes and thus must also be approved by voters.

We all appreciate what the University brings to the town; we hope though that its response to the changing times will come to resemble that of Brown and Yale: both have voluntarily increased municipal payments by many millions of dollars — to $30 million/year for Brown. Will Princeton, with an endowment about 15 times larger than Brown’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_the_United_States_by_endowment) make a similar contribution, e.g., for its use of land for other than direct educational purposes?

Cooperation with and from the University is critical. We hope it will seek more input, rather than less.

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

Other communities have rejected AvalonBay developments including Highland Park, New Jersey, and Huntington, Long Island. Princeton should do the same unless it can be assured that AvalonBay will be an asset to the community and not just an opportunistic developer that muscles its way in using affordable housing as its battering ram while building undesirable, huge structures that are not sustainable over the long haul. Their interests are relatively short term while Princeton will be left with the problem of poor site use for generations. Of particular interest are several recent letters to the editor of the Town Topics: “AvalonBay’s Closed Compound Impedes Connectivity between Our Neighborhoods” (6/6/12 ); “AvalonBay’s Revisions to Plans Still Do Not Comply with Borough Code (6/20/12); and “AvalonBay Should Build to LEED Standards” (6/25/12).

Why should Princeton settle for a less than desirable, sustainable development in a premier location once occupied by the hospital? Aside from its financial profits, AvalonBay will gain a lot from having the Princeton connection and will likely use the connection to attract other communities that may reason “If AvalonBay’s cookie-cutter design is good for Princeton, it must be good for us,” making assumptions that are inaccurate.

Princeton can do better and should. The Planning Board will have a heavy burden to justify approving this proposed development and it will need an astute planning staff to address the many issues raised over the past several months by the public for the benefit of the community. The Board must exhibit the mettle necessary to ensure the best design possible, one that adheres to the Princeton Master Plan and the promised compromise reached between the Hospital and the community that resulted in the MRRO zone. Our community cannot afford to be intimidated by the tenor of the June 11, 2012, letter written by AvalonBay’s local attorney Anne Studholme to Borough Attorney Chow and Planning Board Attorney Porter and included as part of AvalonBay’s Site Plan submission of June 8, 2012.

Diane Perna

Carnahan Place

To the Editor:

I am writing to thank the Princeton Borough Police Department for their hard work in responding to the rash of burglaries in the east end of Princeton. They worked tirelessly, often undercover and in extra shifts, and coordinated closely with neighboring law enforcement, which resulted in the arrest of a suspect. In addition, they were diligent and responsive to neighborhood concerns throughout the investigation.

Of course, we should remain vigilant and continue to take precautions to protect our families and property. For example, as residents travel this summer, they should be aware of the opportunity to take advantage of the vacant house check service. The Vacant House form, which is now available on the police department’s website and can be submitted electronically, allows a resident to notify the police that they will be away so that the police can monitor their home during their absence.

Heather Howard

Princeton Borough Council

To the Editor:

We are fortunate in the Princeton area to have two very good independent movie theaters; the Garden and the Montgomery Cinemas (“Montgomery Cinema Ponders Future as Digital Projection Takes Hold,” July 11, 2012). With the advent of digital technology and the large expense to the smaller independent theaters to convert to digital (which is not used by foreign filmmakers) we are in danger of losing such theaters and that would be a loss of a valuable amenity for many in our community. The Garden Theater is likely more secure because of its eligibility for funding from the large U.S. movie studios to defray digital conversion costs and because of Princeton University’s ownership of the Garden Theater building.

The Montgomery is the more threatened theater because it is not eligible for the large studios’ funding since it shows exclusively first run independent and foreign films not available elsewhere in our area and does not show studio mainstream films.

I have spoken to the owner of the Montgomery theater who is trying various strategies over the next few months to see how he can deal with these technical and financial problems. In the meantime, increased attendance is one way of showing that the community cares about the kind of films Montgomery shows on its six screens.

Grace Sinden

Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

On behalf of Eden Autism Services, and the children and adults and their families whom we serve, once again I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for the generosity of our community.

On July 15, Eden held its 9th annual Eden Autism 5K Race and one-mile Fun Run in the Princeton Forrestal Village, the location of Eden’s recently opened Education and Outreach center. I am thrilled to announce that we exceeded our previous fundraising record for this event with more than $150,000 raised to date.

Special thanks to Tony Kuczinski, president & CEO of Munich Reinsurance America, and the Munich Re staff and interns, for Munich Re’s leadership role as title sponsor of the race; Curt Emmich of Princeton Forrestal Center, who served as race director; the numerous volunteers, sponsors, and the many other individuals and businesses who provided monetary or in-kind support for our event.

We are deeply grateful to the dedicated Eden Autism 5K steering committee that helped plan this remarkable event and to the more than 800 walkers and runners who participated in the race and Fun Run. The funds raised will help Eden continue its mission of improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.

Thomas P. McCool

President and CEO, Eden Autism Services

“I think Rob Portman, the Senator from Ohio would help by representing a critical midwestern swing state.”
—Heather Howard, Princeton

“My thought is he’s going to pick a female and I believe it’s for political purposes to gain votes. He will select someone who will garner the most votes as opposed to who would be the best pick for this country. And that is what scares me.”
—Ken Soufl, Princeton

“I think Romney is going to surprise us all with someone we weren’t expecting. I don’t think that any of the candidates that are being quoted now will be selected.”
—Sue Nemeth, Princeton

“Condoleezza Rice, because I think she has a very decent resume and would be a very good complement to what Romney offers.”
—Aaron Bennett, Princeton

“Marco Rubio because Romney needs to draw in the Tea Party activists and show that he’s a real Republican. He’s having a hard time showing his bona fides with the Romney care and the social programs that he did as a governor in Massachusetts. In order to appeal to the Republican base he needs to pull in someone who is ultra Republican.”
—Yan Bennett, Princeton

“I think Governor Romney will pick Senator Rob Portman because he is a safe choice.”
—Evan Merrill, Princeton

July 18, 2012

To the Editor:

Thanks so much for your July 11 front-page article (“Montgomery Cinema Ponders Future As Digital Projection Takes Hold”) that clearly explained the grave financial dilemma confronting small, independent cinemas, which are being forced to decide whether to convert from 35 millimeter film projection to digital projection.

Profound thanks also go to Bob Piechota, owner of Montgomery Cinemas, who was interviewed for your story. Mr. Piechota has somehow managed to keep his unique but fragile enterprise alive, even though the financial realities imposed by the explosion of other entertainment options, most of them available on home screens, has significantly diminished the number of people who go out to the movies. For movie lovers who savor independent and foreign films, as well as acclaimed documentaries, Montgomery Cinema has been a godsend. We do not take for granted the luxury of having in our area a theater that consistently offers rewarding alternatives to mainstream Hollywood fare — alternatives that are challenging, ambitious, layered, and nuanced (but also beautiful, enlightening, entertaining, and well-acted), and that provoke us to think and talk about what we’ve just seen, often for days afterward.

We worry about how limited moviegoing in our area would be if we no longer had the good fortune of being able to choose to see the kinds of films presented by Montgomery Cinema. I urge everyone to recall how exhilarating it can be to see exceptional films on a large screen, in the company of others who share one’s anticipation and responses — and then to take advantage of this remarkable theater while we still have it. Perhaps if there is an upsurge in patronage, Mr. Piechota will be further encouraged to find a way to keep Montgomery Cinema in operation, and eventually see it thrive.

Janet Stern

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

Something fun for kids is happening on Thursday afternoons at 4:30 through August 23. “Under the Red Umbrella,” which is a story time for kids of all ages, will be held at the Mary Moss Park on John Street.

A recent special guest reader was Township Councilman Lance Liverman. Last week’s theme was Fireman. After the stories, we all shared some juicy, cold, watermelon slices!

On July 19 at 4:30 our stories will be in both Spanish and English and our guest reader will be Senora Blanco. On July 26 we will be celebrating Dr. Seuss and our special guest reader will be Ms. Judy Cashmore from the F.I.S.H. Foundation..

We are grateful for the generous donations from F.I.S.H., JaZams (in Princeton), and the Bryn Mawr and Wellesley Book Sale that supplied us with funds to buy books and as well as some wonderful, gently used children’s books. No child leaves without a few new books to add to their personal library.

Please consider joining us “Under the Red Umbrella” on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30. Mary Moss Park is at the corner of John and Lytle Streets. The program is run by the Red Umbrella Group of the Princeton Public School’s Board of Education’s, Minority Education Committee.

Joyce Turner

Secretary for the Minority Education Committee

Woods Way

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Riverside School PTO (Parent Teachers Organization), we would like to thank everyone in the Princeton community who supported our “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet 2012” celebration of school gardening and healthy living last month. We raised approximately $12,000 net that will support garden education programs at Riverside and other Princeton public elementary schools.

We are especially grateful to our Golden Orchid sponsors, the Princeton Radiology Group and YogaStream, and to our Silver Sage sponsors, BlackRock, Church & Dwight Co., Inc., Morven Museum & Garden, Neil McKeon, Merrill Lynch, Pinneo Construction and Rhone Bryant, LLC. Thanks also go to our Bronze Dahlia sponsors Bagel Barn, Bent Spoon, Richard Holstein, DMD, FADH Pediatric Dentistry, The Ivy Inn, Mason, Griffen & Pierson, McCaffrey’s, Minuteman Press, Naturally Nora,
Princeton Shopping Center Merchant’s Association,
Rambling Pines Day Camp, Terra Momo Bread Co., The Whole Earth Center, and our Garden Friends, including Bounce U, Donald Cox, Esq., The Majeski Foundation, Princeton Ace Hardware, Princeton Windsor Pediatrics, The Suppers Program, Trader Joe’s, and Dr. Tyl and Dr. Fogarty, Dental Healthcare Associates. Our silent auction was also a great success thanks to generous donations from Riverside families and local businesses.

As co-chairs, we are grateful for the enthusiastic support from fellow PRS school gardeners Stephanie Chorney, Amy Mayer, Karen Nathan, Elizabeth White, Lee Yonish, and Alan Zetterberg, as well as dozens of Riverside parents, students and alumni volunteers and the strong-armed PHS football team. Our gardens blossom thanks to garden educator Dorothy Mullen, whose vision, tenacity, and hard work are the life force of our school gardens, and Roger Martindell, who invests countless hours in garden labor and care.

A special thanks goes out to Principal Bill Cirullo for his years of support for garden education programs and his positive energy and vision, as well as the Riverside teachers and staff who have invested enormous energy into integrating the garden residency into their teaching of our children.

Finally, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to those in the Princeton community who turned out on June 9 and enjoyed the beautiful day, while supporting vital programs that teach our children about healthy food choices and active living. Thank you for joining us in support of Princeton school gardens!

Beth Behrend, Julie Capozzoli,
Marianna Torok, Heather Aton,

Co-Chairs, Healthy Children, Healthy Planet 2012

Riverside School PTO

To the Editor,

On July 26 ground will be broken on Copperwood in Princeton. After almost a decade of discussion, debate, design, and deliberation, a modern, sophisticated community designed for those Princetonians who want to downsize and still stay in the town they love will come into being. The project is a model of land preservation and sustainability, of which Princeton should be very proud.

This project would not have come about were it not for the support, mentorship, guidance, and positive actions of both civic volunteers and Township staff. My thanks go to former Township mayors Phyllis Marchand and Bernie Millier and to the current mayor, Chad Goener. They also go to the Princeton Township Committee and their attorney, Ed Schmierer, to the Regional Planning Board under the leadership of Peter Madison and Wanda Gunning, and to the Site Plan Review Advisory Board under the thoughtful leadership of Bill Wolfe.

Of course, the “devil is in the details,” and the Township staff has been diligent, appropriately demanding, understanding, cooperative, and, when deadlines were imminent, especially responsive. The Township engineer, Bob Kiser; planner, Lee Solow; zoning officer, Peter Kneski; building official, John Pettenati; and their respective staffs all deserve a big “thank you” for not only enabling the project to proceed, but for the fine work they do in protecting the interests of the Township and preserving that special quality that is Princeton.

Through everyone’s efforts, Copperwood is a better project. It will finally bring to Princeton the much-needed active adult community that it has needed for so long.

J. Robert Hillier, FAIA, PP

Principal

To the Editor:

I left Hopewell Borough Saturday morning, aiming to be “early” for the Hazardous Waste collection day scheduled for 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Fire Service Training Center on Lawrence Station Road. My car trunk was filled with nasty items accumulated over 40 years! Arriving at the receiving station, I was greeted with a mile long (yes, clocked) line! To leave? Or not to leave? Some cars bailed and the line inched forward. Slowly. Very Slowly. But it was still only 7:59 a.m.

Suddenly, we started moving at an astonishing rate. No need to turn off the ignition. Inches turned to yards. The entrance was in sight! A very cheerful, lovely looking lady checked my driver’s license to confirm Mercer County residency. Cars snaked one way for chemicals, another for chemicals and electronics. Incredibly efficient and friendly men waved my car forward so they could unload the trunk, whipping cans into shopping carts and dashing them away! The guys worked with such speed and good cheer it entirely erased the pre-8 a.m. worry of spending an entire morning throwing out stinky smelling liquids! In a flash, I was OUT, following the well-marked “driveway” created within the parking lot, and on the way home. The time? 8:26 a.m.

How did they do that? Process a mile long (and growing) line so easily and pleasantly? The secret must be somewhere in the brain trust and teamwork of the Mercer County Improvement Authority. I’m sending up BIG thanks this morning to the folks that made doing the “right” thing with hazardous waste, such an easy, easy chore!

Jinny Baeckler

Hart Avenue, Hopewell

IMAGINATIVE CREATION: “Creating jewelry is my passion. It’s what I always wanted to do and have always done. I am very fortunate to be able to do it.” Jewelry designer and goldsmith Robin Hepburn, owner of Orion Jewelry in Pennington, is shown in her new boutique.

As they enter the Orion Jewelry boutique in its new location in the Pennington Square Shopping Center, on Route 31, customers are captivated by the dramatic decor, highlighted by the striking “Chambord” walls and organic lattice work motif.

In addition, the warm and welcoming environment, featuring displays of imaginative, innovative, and beautiful jewelry, adds to their pleasure.

“I want people to feel comfortable here. This is very important,” says owner Robin Hepburn, who is a jewelry designer and goldsmith.

Ms. Hepburn moved to the new location in May, and she could not be more pleased. “I needed a larger place, and I am so happy to have a beautiful showcase for my work in this new boutique.”

Goldsmith and Designer

Ms. Hepburn is an experienced goldsmith and jewelry designer, having been in the jewelry business for 35 years. And before that, she was always interested in art and design.

“My father was a silversmith,” she adds, “and I went to art school. Later, in 1986, I had a jewelry business in St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

Three hurricanes and 10 years later, she relocated to Pennington, where she had been born.

Today, in many ways, her jewelry design still evokes the tropical motif and the spirit and serenity of the islands. The sculptural forms and rare gemstones fuse to create hallmark pieces that are both elegant and exotic.

“I think the main draw has been the uniqueness of the jewelry,” she points out. “My pieces are all personal and one-of-a-kind, made from scratch.”

Many of her creations, including earrings, necklaces, pins, and bracelets, are on display, and in addition, she does a great deal of custom work.

Custom Design

“Someone can come in with a dream, and I help the dream become a reality. A customer may bring a stone to me, and I can create whatever they want. I also custom-design older pieces that a client may wish to have a newer look. This is one of my specialties. I like working with special pieces and creating something that is unique for the client. I recently made a cuff bracelet in gold with three diamonds for a man to give his wife for their 30th wedding anniversary.”

Ms. Hepburn also recalls one of her more unusual projects, but equally personal. “I made an 18k gold locket, which was to contain the ashes of the client’s beloved pet dog.”

Ms. Hepburn explains that when considering a piece, she first begins with a drawing, “and then I start to figure out how to make it three dimensional.”

Her pieces incorporate precious, semi-precious, and museum-quality gemstones with high karat gold and sterling silver. In keeping with her life-long dedication to fair trade practices and protecting the future use of rare materials, all Orion jewelry is made using 100 percent recycled and refined metals and ethically-sourced gemstones.

“I get the stones from people who mine and cut the stones, and I like to work with the more unusual stones, including tanzanite, drusy, and ametrine (combination of amethyst and citrine),” she explains. “I also include different kinds of opals and pearl, and stones, such as lapis, aquamarine, and turquoise. Opals can have many colors, and I have recently used bright Mexican fire opals. I’ll also use blackened sterling silver, which can be very dramatic.”

Three of Ms. Hepburn’s pieces, two necklaces and a brooch, were recently entered in an international contest.

Green Diamond

Among the pieces which are showcased is a beautiful green beryl pendant with gold chain, coordinated with matching earrings. Another necklace includes a green diamond with aquamarine set in yellow and white gold, with a white gold chain.

Still another superb necklace features a green garnet pendant, with matching earrings.

Ms. Hepburn is especially enthusiastic about the design and decor of her new boutique. In collaboration with Hopewell-based artistic designer Sean Mannix of Highland Design Farm, a uniquely attractive setting has been created.

“Sean designed the entire interior, the showcases, and the Orion brand. He implemented the entire look of the store brand and design. All the showcases, signs, and logos were done by Sean. His artistry and my vision came together, and made my dream come true.”

Dramatic and Intriguing

The design of the interior, including inspired lattice work-style motif, is dramatic and intriguing. Assorted lighting fixtures of different sizes are suspended from the ceiling, adding more interest. It is all together a very fitting setting to showcase Ms. Hepburn’s creations.

“It is important to note that everything — the materials, the showcases — were made locally,” she adds.

In addition to the jewelry, Ms. Hepburn offers elegant Orion “Tini”, sets of small martini glasses, which are suitable for hors d’oeuvres or “mini” drinks. They include solid silver picks, handcrafted by Ms. Hepburn. A set of four is offered in a beautiful lavender gift bag, and is an appealing hostess gift.

“I so much enjoy working with my customers, and I look forward to helping them in my new studio,” says Ms. Hepburn.

Orion Jewelry is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 to 4. (609) 737-7235. Website: www.orionjewelrystudio.com.

NEW LOOK: “Customers are so pleased with the new arrangement, combining hardware and housewares together. It is very convenient for them to have everything under one roof!” Kelly Babbitt, manager of housewares at Smith’s Ace Hardware & Housewares in the Princeton Shopping Center, is shown near a display of popular housewares items. The new configuration coincides with Smith’s Ace Hardware’s 10th anniversary in the Shopping Center.

Smith’s Ace Hardware just got bigger and better! Its companion store, Smith’s Ace Housewares, has now relocated with the hardware in expanded space at the Princeton Shopping Center.

“We wanted to have everything together, and we needed more room to expand,” explains owner George Smith. “Housewares is very popular, and we opened it originally in 2004 because of customer demand. People really wanted housewares.”

In its 10 years at the Shopping Center, Smith’s Ace Hardware has truly become the indispensable place! Carrying both a complete range of hardware and housewares, it offers customers an attractive local alternative to Home Depot and Lowe’s.

“I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else,” says a long-time customer. “They have everything you need, and the service is great. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful.”

Family Business

George Smith does know the hardware business. He and his brothers now own four Ace Hardware stores — in Yardville, Mercerville, Newtown, Pa., and the Princeton location. They are continuing the family business, started by their grandfather in 1946.

“Yardville Supply started out as a concrete plant, then added lumber and a hardware store,” says Mr. Smith. “My dad worked there and became president of the company. My brother Ed and I started helping out when we were 15 or so. I stayed in the building materials business, and Ed was in the ready mix business.”

In 1997, they joined Ace Hardware, which was established 75 years ago and has 5,000 stores across the United States. It offers a broad selection of its own private label products, as well as many name brand items.

The Princeton store opened in 2002, and has lived up to the Smiths’ expectations. “We thought Princeton would be a good location, and the space was available,” recalls Mr. Smith. “There has been an absolutely great reaction. The way the community has responded has been exceptional. People still come in all the time, and say “We’re so glad you’re here!’”

The expanded space includes 18,000 square feet and is filled with all the tools, supplies, and gadgets one expects to find in a hardware store. Everything is conveniently arranged according to department, with a full section devoted to housewares.

“We have 30,000 different items,” reports Mr. Smith. “30 different hoses, 100 different kinds of nails, 300 light bulbs, and new things all the time.

“The goal was to expand and not lose sales. Everything was completely rearranged — a total remodel, and we did the work ourselves. We hired the electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc. Getting the remodel completed and in place has been a challenge. It took over a year and a half, and Princeton Township and the Shopping Center were very helpful. Everyone came together to make it happen.”

Room to Browse

Everyone loves hardware stores. There is so much to look at, and something so intriguing about all those gadgets. Now there is even more room to browse.

The paint department has grown significantly over the years, reports Mr. Smith. It now carries five lines of Benjamin Moore paint, including the environmentally-friendly Gen X, as well as the Ace brand lines, such as Clark + Kensington. All the painting supplies, stains, and varnishes are on display.

Bird seed of all kinds, feeders, and houses are year-round sellers, and as everyone heads outdoors for spring and summer, Smith’s Ace can furnish all the needs. Outdoor furniture, bistro tables with umbrellas, Tiki torches, solar lights, and hammocks are all in stock. Grills, including state-of-the-art Weber gas grills, are big sellers, and the store offers even more in the expanded space.

Lawn care supplies, from potting soil and planters to weed killers, grass seed and turf enhancers are available, as is a complete line of garden tools — pruners and rakes to wheelbarrows and hedge trimmers.

Mail boxes, outdoor thermometers, signs and numbers, and the all-important picnic needs: thermos, cooler, and basket are available.

All the hardware cabinetry, also door locks, padlocks, and hooks, nails, screws, and bolts of every kind; and plumbing items, from pipes and tubing to toilet seats, are on hand, as are shower caddies and curtains and storage containers. And don’t forget buckets, brooms, and bags!

Fix-It Place

“We also sharpen knives and scissors, and make keys, We’re the Fix-It place,” adds Mr. Smith. “We also have new wall and ceiling lighting fixtures, new faucets, and expanded cleaning supplies.”

Housewares have become very popular, he continues. “We have tried to get things others don’t have. We have the Ace brand products as well as many others, and everything is very good quality.”

Big sellers in housewares include the very popular “Soda Stream”, which allows customers to make their own soda at home. “It’s made in Israel, is ecologically important, and ultimately is less expensive,” says Mr. Smith. “There is a COT (a special container), which carbonates the water, and there are more than 30 different flavors. We’ve had it about a year, and it just keeps getting more and more popular.”

Blenders are always favorite housewares items, and Smith’s Ace has them all, including the very special $400 Vitamix model, which can do it all: make soup, juice, peanut butter, even flour.

Colorful Patterns

The Lodge enamel cast iron products, including Dutch ovens, are big sellers, as is the line of Melamine dishware in wonderfully colorful patterns, and with coordinated place mats, tablecloths, and napkins.

Tea kettles, trays, toasters, and timers are available, as are clocks, measuring cups, drying mats. and colorful aprons; Pots and pans, coffeemakers, and cutting boards in many designs and styles are always highlighted.

Canning is making a comeback, report the housewares staff. “Some people are canning with a passion now. They’re making relish, even mustard. A lot of people can tomatoes and fruit, and make jam. We have all the Ball jars and other needs.”

Prices at Smith’s Ace are geared for every pocketbook — from five cents to $1000, and everything in between.

Mr. Smith is very happy with the Shopping Center location. “I like the Princeton customers, and the diversity that is here. We have people coming from England and France and other countries, and lots of regulars. We offer a Rewards program, which accumulates. When someone spends $250, they receive a $5 coupon. And they get a $5 coupon on their birthdays. We have a lot of specials and sales as well.

“We try to fill customers’ requests, and keep their needs uppermost. We work hard to offer quality products and the best service.”

Smith’s Ace Hardware & Housewares is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 to 5, Sunday 9 to 3. (609) 430-4300.


“My preference is for dogs, I’ve grown up with dogs and may be biased because I’ve never had a cat. My entire view of dogs changed with my first pit bull, Buster, who was an angel who passed away with lymphoma. I became very committed to dogs and the breed. I now have Henry, who I rescued, and just getting to train and work with him, we’re very close and have a unique partnership. The opportunities for personal growth and commitment to a relationship are the reasons why I prefer a dog.”
—Adelle Scharloo, lives in Middlesex, works for SAVE.

“A dog, because I owned a little Maltese, who was my best friend. I’m more partial to dogs, I’ve never owned a cat.”
—Millie Dhirmalani, Montvale, owner Fred Astaire Studio, Princeton

“Dogs because they love you unquestioningly.”
—Tom Bracke, Plainsboro

Ledlie: “I thought of myself as a dog person, though we always had a cat. In the last several months, I’ve been taking care of a cat and I love her and understand her. Somebody once said that I’m more like a cat than a dog. And now I understand because I’ve bonded with this cat and love her as much as any dog I’ve ever had.”

Jennie: “I live in Philadelphia now, where there are a lot of strays. There are a lot of people committed to adopting. I have adopted a number of dogs.

You may call me a cat hoarder, I had 15 cats at one time but you would not have known. I was diligent about having these cats. I think it is important to know that you do not have to pick dog or cat. You can love both.” —Jennie (left) and Ledlie Borgerhoff, Princeton

“I like both, I think they are both wonderful. I’m trying to get a dog right now. I already have two cats. I think I prefer cats because they’re easier to take care of, are low maintenance, make perfect pets, and they’re lovable and cuddle with you.” —Irina Smile, Bayonne

“Dogs because they’re man’s best friend.”
—Annie Nayce, Pennington

July 12, 2012

To the Editor,

Tonight was the last straw. I can no longer be silent about this nominally beautiful and cultured town. My husband and I moved to Princeton in 1980 and we were enchanted, but things have changed, and not for the better. A year or so ago a woman wrote a letter expressing her dismay about the dirt and garbage on Nassau Street. She was contradicted in the next issue by a person who thought Princeton was just fine thank you, clean and beautiful. I stayed quiet at that time, but the first lady was so right! Why can’t the merchants in our famed business district pick up a broom and sweep away the butts and debris as would any self-respecting store keeper in Europe. Let’s learn from our clean and beautiful sister cities Colmar and Pettoranello.

But back to Saturday evening, July 7. When the storm let up my husband and I went to look at two huge branches from a neighbor’s maple tree that had fallen across and blocked the whole street (Valley Road). As we stood there pondering the mess, we were amazed by the sight of a driver taking a detour across the sidewalk and over another neighbor’s lawn! That was shocking, but then several more people on their busy missions decided that must be OK, and followed. But it is not OK. Rather, such behavior is unconscionable and I should think illegal. It hardly speaks for Princeton’s supposedly high IQ. On the positive side, most drivers sensibly pulled into various driveways and turned around to find alternative routes to their destinations.

Princeton has much to offer but also much to be desired. An increase in civil behavior would be good. And clean downtown streets would be great, so I don’t have to be embarrassed to show my international friends around.

Reinhilde Nelson

Valley Road

To the Editor:

A topic that I think would be of interest to readers are the regulations in the Princeton Township and Borough concerning who is responsible for clearing sidewalks of plants (and snow).

The stretch of sidewalk in Princeton Township, on Bayard Lane along Route 206 across from the Bank of Princeton and the Shell station, is nearly impassable, and it has been neglected and difficult to maneuver in since I moved to this neighborhood almost three years ago. I use this path to commute to work on foot or on my bike from my home near Mountain Avenue to my job downtown. Not only do the branches of trees and bushes stretch onto the sidewalk, but so does poison ivy and plants with thorns (some of them large thorns), which extend at heights dangerous for adults, kids, and pets. A few weeks ago, for example, I arrived home from my bike commute bleeding on my arm and leg after getting entangled in one of the thorn bushes on this path.

Here is a well done post by Steve Hiltner about this particularly bad stretch of sidewalk: www.princetonnaturenotes.blogspot.com/2012/06/weedful-needful-sidewalk.html.

We can’t make Princeton more sustainable if residents and visitors cannot use the sidewalks we already have.

Jennifer Bryson

Bayard Lane

To the Editor:

At the presentation last month on black bears, given by state officials in Township Hall, I was astonished to learn that, in the very rare case that a black bear attacks, the best tactic is to fight back. Princetonians have not been called upon to display such courage since 1777, when we all could conveniently claim we had yet to be born.

To bridge this gap between experience and expectation, I herein provide a translation of the wildlife officials’ instructions, customized to fit the Princetonian lifestyle:

Black bears are near-sighted, so make noise to avoid surprising it. If the bear stands up on its hind legs, don’t worry. It’s just trying to see you better. Make sure the bear has an escape route. For instance, if it is following you out of the public library, hold the door open and give it plenty of room. If you encounter the bear in the woods, or on Nassau Street, you can back away slowly, but don’t turn your back to the bear. In a calm, assertive voice, put the bear on notice that you are a Princetonian fully armed with opinions, and will not hesitate to express them.

Avoid eye contact. If it doesn’t run away right off, bang the pot you happen to be carrying with you, or download a “kitchenware noise” app on your iPhone. Bears hate to cook, which explains their interest in garbage. Otherwise, clap your hands, raise your arms over your head, wave a jacket, all of which should make you look large and impressive.

On rare occasions, the bear will do a bluff charge, at speeds up to 35 m.p.h. If a cafe is close by, this is a good time to duck in for a double latte. If that option is not available, then you’ll need to dig deep. Fleeing will only make you appear weak. Perhaps the stirring words of a high school football coach will come to mind. In any case, stand your ground, wave your arms and shout. Pretend you’re in front of town council, venting your outrage over moving the Dinky. The bear should veer away from you at the last moment, providing a bigger thrill than any 3D movie at the mall.

If the bear actually attacks, which is extremely rare, it’s time to drop all remaining pretense of civility. Fight back. Don’t worry about the bear’s lack of access to dental care. Without asking permission, bop it on the nose. Bears’ noses are 100 times more sensitive than ours. Use this sensitivity to your advantage, all the while reveling in what a great story this will make to tell the grandkids.

In case you surf the internet for more info, don’t be confused by accounts of how to behave when encountering a grizzly bear out west, where the protocol is completely different and not nearly so gallant.

Stephen Hiltner

North Harrison Street