April 11, 2012

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

It’s spring at Merrick’s too!

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

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

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

Unique Formula

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

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

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

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

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

Offbeat and Unexpected

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

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

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

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

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

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

History and Reputation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

State-of-the-Art

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dietary Needs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unique Flavor

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

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

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

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

Open Kitchen

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Klein
Director of Community Relations 
Robin Fogel
Board President

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

John Lopez-Ona
Winfield Road

To the Editor:

I have known David Dudeck ever since he became a member of the Princeton Borough Police Department. I fully support his belief that when Princeton becomes one municipality, there should be at least 57 sworn officers when the two police departments merge. If Chief Dudeck was a proponent of having the merged police department with 60 sworn officers I would be for that idea. In any municipality in American Society public safety is always the most important aspect of local government.

Ethan C. Finley 
Princeton Community Village

To the Editor:

The Tuesday, April 17 annual school board election will be the last time Princeton Borough residents will elect a Borough official. I am seeking your vote to be one of those representatives.

Some thoughts about Princeton public education:

Princeton has a high quality public school system that taxpayers generously support. Per pupil expenditure is substantially above the state average. Half our property taxes go to the public schools and these taxes keep rising. Financial support from the state is falling and will continue to do so as it attempts to meet its own financial challenges. We need to transform traditional budgetary practices regarding how we spend taxpayer dollars and why. Prioritization of educational goals and innovation are required now more than ever.

Why I am a candidate: A strong public school system is the essential core of our democracy and prosperity. Given my background and experience in public education, I can provide a unique perspective and contribution for educational policy-making. I will work hard to maintain excellence and affordability.

What I want to accomplish: The public school system should seek to share services with the new municipality. Combining maintenance services, for example, would result in cost savings. Local institutions of higher learning, private foundations and business must become engaged in enhanced “partnering” to increase financial grant support which is now at minimal level. More emphasis on information technology is necessary to ensure that our students will be able to compete effectively in a technological world.

My background: Prior to a diplomatic career with the U.S. department of state, I was a public high school teacher and athletic coach. I received a fellowship to study economics at Stanford University to upgrade economic literacy in the public schools. I am a public school graduate, my four children attended public schools, I have been a PTO president, a school board member, and a university professor. I have also been the chairman of the Princeton sewer operating committee and enthusiastically participate in numerous civic activities.

Dudley Sipprelle
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

We urge our neighbors to support the budget for the Princeton Schools. As citizens and taxpayers and the parents of four children who have graduated from our schools, we are grateful for the tradition of excellence. The budget proposed for 2012-13 is very conservative, but it maintains this tradition of excellence. In spite of growth in non-discretionary operating costs — energy, charters payments, health benefits, to name a few — and state aid losses of over a million dollars a year for the past three years compared with what was otherwise due under state funding formulas, the School Board has kept the budget within the 2 percent cap and allowed overall budget growth of only 1 percent over the prior year. This means an annual tax increase of under $200 per household on the average assessed home in the Borough and just a bit over $200 per household on the average assessed home in the Township. Yet school programs will remain strong and class sizes stable; overcrowding in some core classes at the high school will continue to be addressed; and the critically important smaller class sizes in the early elementary grades will be maintained. This is a well-crafted and prudent budget, mindful of economic realities while protective of our community’s long-standing investment in our public schools. Please vote “Yes” on Tuesday, April 17.

Walter and Mary Bliss
Moore Street

To the Editor:

We enthusiastically support Rebecca Cox and Martha Land for election to the Princeton Regional Schools (PRS) Board of Education.

Rebecca Cox has served on the school board for six years. As the president during the last two years, Rebecca has steered the board through significant positive changes. She is a creative problem solver with fastidious attention to detail, and the highest standards for improvement and achievement for our staff and students. Her accomplishments and valuable contributions as a board member are truly too numerous to list. As well as a dedicated public servant, Rebecca is a public school parent and graduate of Princeton High. Her deep commitment to our schools and students is unquestionable.

Martha Land is also a public school parent, with two children at Princeton High and one at Community Park. Since moving to Princeton almost a decade ago, Martha has dedicated much of her life to improving access to educational opportunities for all our children. She has been an energetic fundraiser for PTOs and athletic boosters, and for five years has served on the board of Fund 101, which annually raises scholarship funds for Princeton High School graduates. Her command of governance and financial stewardship and her experience working for our students in our schools will allow Martha a smooth transition to school board duties. As a veteran fundraiser, nonprofit board member, and advocate for all our kids, Martha approaches her work with thoughtful pragmatism, great personal warmth and humor.

Molly Chrein, Tim Quinn, Andrea Spalla

To the Editor:

We are writing to urge Princeton voters to go to the polls on Tuesday, April 17 and vote YES for the proposed Princeton Regional Schools budget for 2012-2013.

As parent volunteers for our local public schools, we work to raise funds to supplement and enrich our school communities, provide opportunities for all of our children, and ensure that all children can participate fully and equally in our schools regardless of family income. We see first-hand how each dollar is stretched in our schools and how real the needs are. We’d like to remind you that your support for the school budget this year is critical.

Why should you vote “Yes”on the proposed budget?

First, the proposed budget is conservative. It allows for a mere 1 percent growth over last year’s budget. This is commendable in light of the many non-discretionary operating cost increases that are well above 2 percent (such as energy costs, charter school payments, and health benefits). The small increase is also extraordinary in light of the district’s effective loss of over a million dollars of state aid over the past three years.

Second, the proposed budget preserves educational excellence. It allows the district to maintain the depth and breadth of programs and staffing while continuing to innovate and improve. In this way the proposed budget delivers excellent value. By approving it, all taxpayers and parents in the community can be assured that the high quality of our public schools — one of the main components of our steady property values and our community’s attractiveness — will not be diminished. Maintaining strong public schools benefits all of us.

In addition, unlike many other school boards around the state, our school board recently made the difficult but principled decision to allow Princeton voters to retain direct democratic control over their school budget. Board members realize that local control and community involvement are key to our public schools’ great success. We thank the school board for keeping this control in our hands.

We hope you will join us in exercising your right to vote on Tuesday, April 17, and supporting our high-quality public schools by voting YES for the proposed budget.

Jean Yelovich Durbin
Mt. Lucas Road
Cathy Rizzi, Stephanie Chorney, Beth Behrend, Bonnie Itkoff, Sue Bowen, Nila Eisenach, Stacy Pibl, Ronica Sethi, Cindi Venizelos, MaryBeth Parker

To the Editor:

Recognizing the era that began in 2007, the school board, administration, faculty, and staff have worked together over the last few years to reexamine our operations and programs with an eye toward running them as efficiently as possible with your tax dollars, while continuing to prepare our students well for life in the 21st century. As reported at every monthly meeting, the Board has focused on savings, efficiencies, conservation, and cost containment in areas such as energy, insurances, health benefits, and work schedules in order to deliver declining tax increases to our residents even as we strive to maintain the Princeton Schools’ standards of excellence. Like every homeowner, the Board of Education copes with trends in energy and health costs, so we kindly ask your support for the Budget on Tuesday, April 17, with the smallest tax increase in many years (2 percent).

We are living in an era of great debate over the efficacy of public education, as well as uncertainty over public funding of education. Nevertheless, the Board and its employees are rising to the challenges imposed by the New Jersey department of education to align curriculum with “core content standards,” updating teacher evaluation protocols, as well as supporting valued local initiatives such as funding full-day pre-K and kindergarten classrooms; maintaining arts education; and addressing the needs of each child who learns differently for any reason, or has limited English proficiency. At the same time, we can all be very proud of the accomplishments of our PHS seniors who have enjoyed so much community support and so much national recognition for their achievements. Please vote on the April 17 to continue this record of success

Dorothy Bedford
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

On April 17, the Princeton Regional School (PRS) operating budget for 2012-13 will be voted on. Some may be inclined to refuse the one-percent increase — everyone is making due with less, right? Well, PRS is dealing with a lot less. In 2010, in addition to drastically reducing state aid to PRS, the state took from the district 1.7 million dollars — savings for capital expenditures. Governor Christie has ignored the mandates of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, leaving the district with losses in the millions, even given the increase in state aid (still not at the mandated level) proposed for next year.

Superintendent Wilson and the school board have juggled and cut over the last few years while still protecting core academics. If the school budget is not approved on April 17, what will get cut? The obvious “extras,” arts and sports. School is an environment where students learn about who they are and how to navigate life. As parents we try to provide a diverse range of opportunities for our children to explore the world and flourish. Schools do the same through the extra-curricular activities they offer. My three children are involved in the exceptional music program our district offers. My two oldest children play in our phenomenal and acclaimed Princeton High School Studio Band, where they have had the opportunity to travel and represent their school with pride. The experience has instilled in them a sense of discipline and confidence. The band room is their home away from home. For other students, home may be the stage, the art room, the newsroom or the gym.

Teens in Princeton are faced with so many negative temptations, from drugs and alcohol to computer and TV screens. Please vote to approve the school budget so PRS can continue to provide so many extremely positive options for our students.

Lisa Marcus Levine
Linden Lane

“It’s great for the kids; they love to feed the animals. And the food here is really good.”
—Dan Cordle with daughter Ivy, Princeton

“Apple cider and the people here. Our daughter loves to feed the farm animals.”
—Julia and Charlie Yu with daughter Abriella, Freehold

Spencer: “The fresh air, sunshine and a little bit of country.”
Sydney: “It brings back memories, I have been coming here for so long.”
Peyton: “Feeding the animals corn.”
—Spencer Reynolds with daughters Sydney and Peyton, Princeton

“The atmosphere is very family oriented with fun activities for the kids. We all like it very much.”
—Kenya and Andre Parson with son Christian, Ewing

Debbie: “It’s lots of fun for the whole family. We had an awesome birthday party here for our daughter in the fall.”
Rory: “I like the pets.” —Andrew and Debbie Kraft
with Rory and Alexander, Monroe

“Our daughter’s favorite thing to do is feed the animals corn.”
—Ryan Moslin with daughter, Alexis, Montgomery

“It’s a beautiful farm where we like to come apple picking and a great place for our extended family to meet this holiday weekend.”
—Ed Volkwein, Maine, who used to live in Princeton
and daughter Katherine Singer, with son Jackson, visiting from New York City

April 4, 2012

To the Editor:

On April 17 the residents of Princeton will have the opportunity to vote in the annual Board of Education election. This opportunity to approve the annual budget of the Princeton Public Schools, as well as to elect members of the Board of Education, is a privilege that relatively few citizens in the State of New Jersey will have this year. At its February meeting, the Board resisted the transfer of the annual elections to the Fall in large part to preserve the ability of the citizens to continue to vote on the annual budget. A move to the Fall would have eliminated this crucial component of local supervision of public education.

The budget being presented is, once again, a remarkable achievement. It reflects an increase of approximately 1 percent at a time when we face some of the most severe conditions any organization could encounter: our ability to raise income is limited by the state cap on tax increases; on the other hand, many of our largest expenses are out of our control (for example, double digit increases in health care costs and a $4.7 million payment to the Princeton Charter School which we are obliged under state law to raise from taxpayers); and, meanwhile, state aid has been dramatically decreased.

It is a tribute to the hard work of the Administration and the intense oversight by the Finance Committee of the Board for once again presenting a balanced budget that preserves the core educational needs of our outstanding school system. I urge my fellow citizens to come to the polls on April 17 (noon to 9 p.m.).

Charles F. Kalmbach
Chair Finance Committee, 
Princeton Board of Education
Orchard Circle, Princeton

To the Editor:

The Princeton Service Unit of the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey wishes to thank our wonderful community for its support of our nearly 300 girls who live and go to school in Princeton.

During January and February, the community supported our work through the annual Girl Scout cookie sale. Palmer Square Management and WaWa provided outdoor space where the girls braved snow, cold, and wind, as well as sunny and warm conditions, to sell their cookies to the community.

Also during March, the girls enjoyed earning badges through the generous contributions of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, and the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Princeton University. At communiversity last year, we gathered signatures of an extraordinary number of area women who are, or were, girl scouts. Our banner will be proudly carried in the Memorial Day parade. Look for us!

As the current girls grow and continue to serve and lead, we, the over 150 volunteer leaders and coordinators, experience first hand the joy of watching this process occur.

Karen Freundlich
Volunteer Manager, Princeton Girl Scouts, 
Stanford Place

To the Editor:

I want to thank the hundreds of members of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization who attended the PCDO endorsement meeting on Sunday, March 25. The record-breaking crowd and the large field of thoughtful candidates made me proud to be a Princetonian. I am grateful for your endorsement, and the endorsement of the Municipal Committees, and look forward to running in the Democratic primary for mayor this June.

I’m committed to making consolidation a success on every level — from financial savings, to enhanced services, to more responsive government. I hope you will join with me in creating a sustainable Princeton where neighborhoods retain their character and have a voice in decision making and where it is easy for residents to contribute their talents. If you believe, as I do, that consolidation brings with it a chance for a fresh start and that we need a mayor who can bring people together, then I hope you will support me.

Liz Lempert
Meadowbrook Drive

To The Editor:

One wonders how they get away with it. Even after all these years of legislation in favor of the elderly and the handicapped, the Westminster Choir College (WCC) still keeps its box office on the third floor of Williamson Hall, sans elevator.

A woman who works in this area told me that she has been trying for over 10 years to persuade the WCC to locate its box office at a more hospitable altitude, so far without any result.

How does the WCC get around the accessibility laws that seem to apply to most public access buildings in New Jersey?

Mrs. Lucille Gaignault
Bank Street

To the Editor: 

The YWCA Princeton launched Women’s History Month on March 1 with the celebration of the 29th Annual Tribute to Women Awards Dinner. This evening highlighted the personal and professional achievements of 12 area women and their commitment to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. With the help of this community, the event was an incredible success, raising nearly $80,000 to support the YWCA Princeton’s programming and services.

Countless community partners were involved in making this event a success, and the YWCA Princeton appreciates their support and generosity. We would like to thank nearly 400 community residents in attendance at the event; our event sponsors Bill and Judy Scheide, NRG Energy, WithumSmith+Brown, and the Times of Trenton; as well as event in-kind donors Jill Jachera and Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Company.

Jane Kelly and Linda Richter 
YWCA Tribute to Women 2012 Co-Chairs

To the Editor:

This was a most memorable sale in many ways. Thanks to the wonderful response of the community to our needs after  hurricane Irene, we had more books than we’ve had in years. We are grateful to everyone who so generously came to our rescue. More than 115 volunteers from the alumnae of both colleges as well as community friends turned out to unpack, price, and sort the books and then to help the thousands who came to buy them. But for all this, the sale would not have been ready in time without the help of the high school volunteers from Stuart Country Day School and from the Lawrenceville School who worked day by day beside us for the two weeks of preparation and during the sale. They were remarkable in their dedication and commitment. As always, the staff of our host, Princeton Day School, smoothed the way for us and were there to provide for every emergency. Thank you everyone, and remember — keep on donating.

Fran Reichl
Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale

To the Editor: 

We have good news and better news! Since 1996 Princeton has been supporting the annual Great Strides Walk to Cure Cystic Fibrosis. The good news is that the donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation have supported the development of kalydeco, the first medicine ever developed to treat the mechanism of a disease at the molecular level. Our son, David is taking it and he is able to breathe without effort!

The better news is that there are three more medicines being tested which could treat all the genetic forms of cystic fibrosis. We hope, with your continued help, to be able to eliminate the “fatal” part of the description from cystic fibrosis by 2017. More information is available at www.cff.org.

Please mark your calendars and join us on May 12 for the Great Strides Walk to really cure cystic fibrosis!

Mary, Paul, John, Janae, Meghan, Matthew, and David Gerard
Talbot Lane

To the Editor:

Almost half way through my son’s senior year I’m wondering what the empty nest will truly be like next fall. Among many memories of the last 17 years, the one that stands out is Dillon Basketball. Anyone in Princeton with a child in grades 4-9 may be familiar with the Saturday morning ritual that was and will always be Dillon. Regardless of height, weight, prowess, you could sign up and show up at practice once a week, and join classmates and strangers on teams sponsored by local businesses whose names you wore on your back.

Dillon is coached by Princeton University students, giving of their time freely, some seriously into it, dressing in coats, shirts and ties as NBA coaches do, others just for the experience and fun of it all. Early Saturday mornings the games are held at Dillon gym, several games at once.

Organized and run by Evan Moorhead and Ben Stentz, the always affable head of the recreation department, the teams were somehow evenly put together, tall and short, fast and slow. Parents got to know one another, the decibel level would rise as the teams played, with some serious cheerleading going on. Our kids made many new friends, it was always exciting, and it felt like a true community. There is nothing else like it around town.

Thank you Dillon for some of the best times we had here. We miss you, 9th grade came a little too soon, just as college has.

Laraine Lesnik
Benjamin Rush Lane

To the Editor:

It was a great day for the Irish and for Derek’s Dreams, as the Princeton community rallied to support 14-year-old Derek DiGregorio as part of the Alchemist & Barrister’s (A&B) annual St. Patrick’s Day Party and Longbeard Contest.

Thanks to the commitment of the A&B’s staff, patrons and friends, we were able to raise $7500 for Derek’s Dreams. This local charity was founded to raise awareness of Ataxia Telangiectasia, the rare and deadly neurodegenerative disease from which Derek DiGregorio suffers. It causes severe disability and the fund is also designed to meet the needs of Derek himself.

We are especially grateful to The Princeton Township and Princeton Borough Police Departments, Princeton University Athletic Coaches, Princeton Mayor Chad Goerner and Dr. Kimberley Levitt and Jesse Barron who served as guest bartenders on Tuesday nights leading up to the event.

Each year, the Alchemist & Barrister chooses a local cause to benefit from a month of fundraising activities, culminating in our St. Patrick’s Day Party. On behalf of the A&B, may I thank the Princeton Community for again helping us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a meaningful way.

Arthur Kukoda
Chef/Owner, The Alchemist & Barrister
Witherspoon Street

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to see the draft site plans that AvalonBay has submitted for its proposed development on the present hospital site. The coldly forbidding four or five story façade in the architect’s plan includes no break or setback. It is one thing for a hospital whose first buildings were erected in 1919 to have grown to its present size, but another for a contemporary builder to introduce such unrelieved massiveness by design.

The Borough’s Zoning Code specifically states in Sec.17A-193B.a.6,8 (“Design Standards”): “Buildings should be designed to avoid a monolithic appearance”; “New construction should be concentrated in the central portion of the site and building setback should increase as building height increases.” Sec.17A-193.c.1,3: “Building façades should relate well in composition and scale to development in the area.” “Careful consideration should be given to the mass and bulk of any buildings to ensure they are harmonious with their surroundings …” The code stipulates that the “visual appearance” must “not be that of a continuous row of tall buildings … architectural design techniques should be incorporated which break up and mitigate the larger scale” of the building, with the aim of “minimizing the length of a single plane of a façade.”

AvalonBay has asked for a density bonus of 44 units beyond the 280 rental units permitted under current zoning (17A-358.a.4). If these 44 units were subtracted from the developer’s plan, which now reflects their inclusion, I can imagine a frontage of three stories, slightly set back, rising to four stories at the central part of the block or zone, in a way that would mitigate, as specified in the Borough’s Zoning Code, the negative effects of mass and height.

Few people question the need for additional rental space in Princeton, at both market-rate and affordable-housing rates; but providing this space should not come at the cost of uninspired architectural design and inconsistency with existing neighborhoods. Borough Council and the Planning Board should reject the bonus density that has led to poorly designed plans for the purpose of amassing many people within a single area. The developer should be advised by Borough Council (next meeting on April 10), the Site Plan Review Advisory Board, and the Planning Board (where a hearing on the enabling ordinance is scheduled for April 19) to revise its plans in accordance with the Borough code.

Suzanne Nash
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

For the current hospital site, any building permitted by Borough Ordinance 2012-05, as introduced, will result in a megablock. Such a monolith is specifically disapproved by Borough Code Sec. 17A-193B.a.6.

The draft ordinance should be withdrawn now — either that, or the Planning Board must vote against it to prevent folly: the ruin of the hospital neighborhood, the historic character of Princeton, and the diversity of our newly consolidated community.

I have read the proposed ordinance in light of the Borough Code, and have examined plans proposed by AvalonBay. Did Borough Council members really write this ordinance, or did they take dictation from AvalonBay?

When Borough Code was rewritten some years ago, in contemplation of the hospital’s eventual (now imminent) move, virtually all phrasing aimed to get any new construction back down into scale with the neighborhood (one- and two-story houses — rarely three, as incorrectly stated in Sec. 17A-193B.c.1). The text allows for “up to” 280 housing units but also wants those units to blend with the neighborhood. Some of many samples: residential “uses” (plural) means a variety of building types, not an Avalon monolith (Sec. 17A-193B.a.2. New construction should “help soften” its own presence (17A-193B.a.4). People should be able to walk through the site (17A-193B.d.1). Site plans must show “how the public and residents will circulate in and through the site” (17A-193B.e.3) — currently impossible according to AvalonBay’s design.

The Council ordinance disregards all these stipulations and their specific intent. If a code is not written to be honored, then what is its use?

With the increased density bonus it would permit, it allows for a completely closed, gated community (AvalonBay’s standard format). A closed “community” should be anathema to Princetonians, and to our officials who have vaunted so highly the values of diversity. Where will the contradictions and “inconsistencies” of judgment stop?

And what of signage for this gated community? The ordinance permits AvalonBay to turn Witherspoon Street into our local Route One: a facade sign can be ten feet square (the writers of the ordinance did not think in three dimensions); a free-standing sign (also ten feet square) “shall” (not even “may”!) jut out into open space within five feet of the sidewalk.

I do not want my Princeton to look like this. I also want our hospital, which has achieved such outstanding regional excellence, to take some responsibility for its choice of buyers, even in this tricky market.

Borough Council members should have the good sense to withdraw the draft ordinance. Additions to residential housing stock can be gotten without selling out Princeton downstream.

Joe McGeady
John Street

Dan: “Matzo Ball Soup.”
Bryan: “Easter Bunny Chocolate.”
—Dan Gorman (left) and Bryan Hill, Princeton

“Ham, sweet potato casserole, pineapple swing bread, and hard boiled eggs.”
—Ellen and Scott Brown, Hamilton

Michael: “Lamb and roast potatoes.”
Kalina: “Eggs.”
—Michael Feeney and Kalina Misiolek, Princeton

Mihai: “Eggs.”
Ana: “Lamb.” —Mihai and Ana Tudor, California
(visiting relatives in Princeton)

“Lamb Soup.” —Alexandru Oancea, Princeton

Margaret: “Winterberry pie. My mother makes it every year for Easter.”
Ellen: “Lindt chocolate bunnies.”
—Ellen Whiteside (left) and Margaret Evered, Princeton

Princeton resident Frank Ryle has recently added “author” to his long list of credentials.

Civil engineer, project manager, teacher, pilot, scuba diver, surfer, single-figure golfer, top-flight tennis player — all these and more fill out his catalogue of accomplishments.

An enthusiastic traveler, Mr. Ryle has lived in and visited 50 countries, including a six-month stay in a kibbutz in Israel, four years in Russia, three in Papua, New Guinea, and one year in Australia.

A curiosity about people and places and a desire for adventure and new challenges has led him to explore a range of opportunities.

As an author, he has recently published Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros, which deftly combines his love of golf and his project management expertise. His approach includes the nine holes of golf to teach the nine key steps to accomplish a project any time, anywhere successfully. It is a suitable guide both for professionals and those new to or struggling with project planning.

Desired Outcome

Planning has come naturally to Mr. Ryle. At an early age, he was combining a variety of projects and was able to achieve the desired outcome.

The second child of Maurice and Rita Ryle, he was born in Dalkey, Ireland, near Dublin in 1960. Siblings include Cathy, Philip, Jack, and Liz. When Frank was 11, the family moved to the seaside village of Tramore, also the site of a highly respected golf course and the nearby Waterford Crystal company.

The family was close, and Frank enjoyed fishing with his father, playing golf with his mother, and going on family vacations throughout Ireland. “It was a simple upbringing and a happy childhood,” he recalls.

Frank liked math and later, drama in high school. He washed cars and worked in a hotel to earn extra money, and he reports, “At the hotel, I was interested in the people who worked there. I wanted to understand them.”

From the time he began playing tennis at six, however, sports was his passion. “Both of my parents were very good tennis players, and at 12, I was playing tennis competitively all over Ireland.”

At 10, Frank took up golf, and became equally proficient in that sport. “We had sports idols then,” he says. “I especially looked up to Eamon Coughlin, at one time the world record holder in the mile. He was the fastest in the world.”

First Excursion

Tennis gave Frank his first excursion to another country and a taste for travel and faraway places.

“When I was 14 , we went to Paris for a tournament, and I loved it,” remembers Mr. Ryle. “By this time, I had a wanderlust. I wanted to see the world and have adventures.”

Before the adventures, however, college was a must. His good academic record enabled him to attend University College Dublin, where he studied civil engineering. It was a rigorous program, requiring many hours of demanding study.

“I made a lot of good friends, though, and we’re still in touch. We have class reunions in Ireland. I also admired my professors, especially Professor Sidebottom in chemistry. He was engaging and humorous — he had to be with a name like that!”

After graduating with a bachelor of engineering degree in 1981 (he was later made a Fellow of the Irish Engineering Institute in 1993), Frank went to work for Arup International, a global firm of designers, engineers, planners, and consultants.

“I got a job with them in London, and Sir Ove Arup, founder of the company, had a great influence on me. He was a philosopher as well as an engineer. He’d ask, ‘Why are you building this?’ ‘Who is it for?’”

Many Locations

During his 20 years with Arup, Mr. Ryle undertook projects in Hong Kong, Australia, Papua, New Guinea, Russia, Ireland, and the U.S., among many other locations.

In 1985, he moved to Australia for a year to work on Arup’s America’s Cup preparations in Perth and Sydney, which remains one of his favorite projects.

Over time, Mr. Ryle became increasingly interested in the project management aspect of his work. The “how to” of getting things done efficiently and effectively.

“With project management, you think in terms of ‘how to’, he explains. “How to bring in the project on time, how to do it with the resources, how will you get it done?

“I made a natural and gradual transition from pure engineering design to being the project manager on our projects,” he continues. “This was probably due to a matching of desire and aptitude. It happened from when I was 28 until I was 33, and then I became a full-time project manager, but still very much associated with construction-type projects.”

In 1994, a new adventure presented itself, one which would have far-reaching consequences for his future. He traveled to Russia to serve as Cadbury’s construction manager and first production manager for the company’s new chocolate factory in St. Petersburg. He lived there and in Moscow for four years.

Chance Meeting

The challenging project was exceeded in importance by Mr. Ryle’s chance meeting in 1996 with Vivian Slee, originally from Princeton. This meeting even outranked the enormous pleasure of playing in the first Russian Open golf tournament!

“Vivian had an MFA, and had been selling art in New York,” says Mr. Ryle. “She had come to Russia for eight months to work on a movie with friends.”

Some things don’t require a lot of planning — even for a project manager. As Mr. Ryle reports, “I met her in May, and in 10 days, we were engaged. Five months later, we were married in a castle on the west coast of Ireland.”

The couple spent another year in Russia, while the new Mrs. Ryle was engaged in research for a book, and Mr. Ryle continued with his work on the chocolate factory.

In 1998, the Ryles, with baby Oona, moved to the U.S., settling in Brooklyn Heights. Mr. Ryle became project manager for Arup’s $800 million remaster plan for the Eero Saarinen-designed General Motors Tech Center near Detroit, and for the design of JFK Airport’s International Terminal Four. In 1999, he earned his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

The next year, the Ryles came to Princeton, and in 2001, after 20 years with Arup, Mr. Ryle chose a new direction and a new challenge.

Understanding Wife

“I decided to start my own business due to a combination of factors: turning 40, the imminent arrival of our second daughter (Maisie), a desire to try something different and on my own, my dislike of commuting to New York, and a very understanding wife.”

He set up his own company, PMPulse, which developed software for project management. “We were the first to to do that,” he points out. “I have also worked with the International Institute for Learning (IIL) since 2001, when they bought the rights to the software that I had developed. We have a great relationship, and I have taught more than 10,000 students in 22 countries for them.”

Through his relationship with IIL, Mr. Ryle provides consulting and training to professionals in banking, IT, accounting, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing. Companies include UBS, Ernst & Young, SAP, Murex, Deutsche Bank, Mars Inc., and Thomson Reuters, among others.

Teaching has become a distinct pleasure for Mr. Ryle, who says, “I love the interaction with people from many disciplines, cultures, and ages. My students range across all industries and from undergraduates to retiring age, from students to Ph.D.s, from the U.S. to all countries and cultures. I love helping them see that project management is complex but can be learned in a ‘simple’ way.”

He enjoys teaching so much, in fact, that he agreed to teach a course this semester at Princeton University. “Teaching at Princeton University is delightful, as the staff is amazingly friendly, and the students are above average in ability and willingness to learn new concepts.”

Mr. Ryle teaches mostly project management materials (program and portfolio management are part of project management), and as he says, “Recently, I have also focused on the soft skills required for successful projects — hence my passion for psychology and science. I also want to weave my thinking from the book into the classes, and will be developing one class on a golf course, perhaps Springdale, soon. I am also working with a professor in London to bring psychology to project management.”

Happy Choice

Living in Princeton has been a happy choice for Mr. Ryle, who became an American citizen in 2008. It offers opportunities in many areas, and after 12 years, it feels like home.

“I like a lot about Princeton,” he says. “I like the fact that it’s a real town, and you can walk to places. I like being in a university town. I also love the library — it’s very good architecture, by the way. And, I love the plaza outside and downtown Princeton. There’s a lot of energy here and a sense of identity.”

Another positive aspect of living in Princeton is the opportunity to be with his children. As he points out, “I left Arup because I wanted to spend more time with my daughters — my proudest achievement! It’s very important to me to see them growing up and being able to spend a lot of time with them.” He also enjoys the chance to see his in=laws, Louis and Biby Slee. “They are well known in Princeton and are wonderful grandparents to the girls.”

In addition to teaching at the University, Mr. Ryle enjoys auditing courses there, including anthropology and psychology. He is also looking forward to a course in philosophy.

Indeed a man of wide-ranging interests, he started the “Topic Club” eight years ago, which meets once a month to discuss a myriad of subjects, from Iran to humor to the Pyramids to the psychology of happiness to affordable housing.

“We have seven to 20 men who get together to discuss a topic,” he explains. “We meet at 8 and can go on until midnight. They are all professionals from different fields and backgrounds. It makes for fascinating conversation”

Constructive Facilitator

Mr. Ryle’s friend, Princeton resident Ted Nadeau is one of the participants in the club. “It’s pretty much like a book club,” he explains, “except there isn’t a book! Usually there is a presenter who has done some specific preparation.

“Frank is a very constructive facilitator, and easily gathered a group of diverse and interesting people together. I very much enjoy meeting and speaking with Frank. He has interesting world travel experiences and engineering/building experience that I’m interested in, and also of course, his professional management expertise.”

When not traveling, teaching, or writing a book, Mr. Ryle especially enjoys reading about science, including psychology. “I particularly like Matt Ridley, the best science writer, I believe. I like bringing science and the arts together, and I’m also getting into well-written fiction, such as Somerset Maugham, Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Herman Wouk.

“I like classical music, and I am learning to play the piano,” he continues. “And, when we can, we enjoy getting down to Long Beach Island. I grew up by the sea, and we like the ocean.”

The Ryles also have a house in Tramore, and often visit his family in Ireland.

Tennis and golf remain a part of his life, and he plays whenever possible in Princeton and also on his travels. In 1983, he qualified as a tennis coach, and taught part-time in Israel, Kenya, and Australia. His friend and fellow tennis player, Bobby Hackett of Princeton can vouch for Mr. Ryle’s tennis prowess.

“We play regularly, and Frank is a great tennis player. I have gotten better playing with him. But more than that, just being with Frank is fun. He’s very clever and very interested in what you are doing. One of the things I get from being with him is the international perspective. He has opportunities to blend people from different backgrounds, different countries, and different perspectives and get them to work together in this global society and economy.

“He sometimes helps me puzzle through some of my work just by asking interesting questions. He’s very smart, but very down-to-earth.”

Right Questions

The ability to ask the right questions to develop a plan and ultimately complete a project successfully is evidenced in Mr. Ryle’s book. He uses a narrative format with three fictional primary characters, who must come up with a plan to save a company facing a crisis. The story takes place in New Jersey and Cork, Ireland, and a golf course is prominently featured. As the scenario evolves, Mr. Ryle points out the methods they can employ to reach a positive outcome.

Use of the golf theme, with nine specific questions and a score card, is an intriguing strategy. Including characters within the story format adds a personal touch, and creates immediacy. The project management tips he reveals are helpful to anyone working on a project and trying to formulate a plan.

As he notes in the preface of the book, “My personal goal is that after reading this book, your own approach to projects becomes less of a maze and more of a labyrinth. A maze, like some project processes, is something in which you can easily waste time and get lost. A labyrinth, by contrast, is something in which you can lose yourself and therefore free your mind from the burden of project navigation to maintain the agility and creativity required in this exciting new world.”

On Wednesday, April 11, Mr. Ryle will discuss his book at the Princeton Public Library at 7 p.m. A book signing will follow, with proceeds from sales of the books going to help a Princeton family whose young daughter is suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“I look forward to interaction with those who come to the book discussion,” says Mr. Ryle. “I hope it will lead to a lively conversation.”