February 15, 2012

To the Editor:

I fully support the Institute for Advanced Study’s plans for faculty housing, which are currently before the Princeton Township Planning Board.

I attended the last meeting, and was amazed at the many barriers and irrelevant arguments mounted by those associated with the Princeton Battlefield Society, especially given the Institute’s carefully thought out and accommodating proposal. The Institute has been very mindful of minimizing the impact of the housing on the Battlefield Park, and it has also diligently addressed preservation concerns by conducting archaeological surveys of the whole site. In fact, the Battlefield Society’s own historical witness, Dr. Babit, conceded at the February 2 Planning Board meeting (when properly informed of the Institute’s plans to yet again survey the archaeology of the site before and monitor it during construction) that, with that commitment, the Institute’s plan was something even he could accept. To now try to undermine the proposal with claims about wetlands and stream corridors only dishonors the mission of the Society. I have been involved with and followed this project for years during my tenure as mayor and as a member of the Planning Board. It is now time for the Planning Board to acknowledge that the IAS has not only the legal right to build on this site but also has presented an application that merits approval.

I urge the Planning Board to vote for the approval at its next meeting.

Phyllis Marchand
Former Mayor Princeton Township

This Thursday February 16 at 7:30 p.m. at 400 Witherspoon Street will likely be the last meeting of the Planning Commission on deciding the fateful go ahead for the 15-unit housing facility that the IAS wishes to build. The central argument seems to be whether or not there was a battle on this IAS land. In the past several months I have attended all of the planning meetings and have been following articles in the newspapers and one point sticks out. The ABPP Study along with testimonials of published historians clearly states that about 60 percent of the battle or what many like to call Washington’s counter attack did take place on this IAS land.

An IAS supporter came forward to say that he is tired of hearing about this so-called sacred land. What else can we call ground where over 500 American and British soldiers died or were wounded on January 3 1777?

The IAS is pushing to develop this land and to date they don’t even have all of their approvals, including wet lands, zoning, variances, engineering issues and a 1992 resolution on cluster housing that one would surmise would be put forth before going to the Planning Board. I join many others who are passionate for history and its preservation in a biodegradable society that cares more about tearing down and building up.

History is becoming an endangered species!

R. Iain Haight-Ashton
Site Director, Wyckoff- Garretson House, 
Somerset, N.J.

To the Editor:

Kudos for the excellent Princeton Environmental Film Festival held over the past three weekends in the Princeton Public Library. Special appreciation and thanks to the library, its director, Leslie Burger; to Susan Conlon, the library’s director of the Film Festival since its inception six years ago; to Sustainable Princeton; the Princeton Environmental Commission; and the library staff and volunteers who made this wonderful event possible. The films were of high quality, very interesting and educational for all on the various aspects and inter-connectedness of environmental issues facing us personally, in our communities, nation and globally. I hope this community event will continue for many years. It is a triumph of good planning, choices and implementation.

Grace Sinden
Ridgeview Circle

To the Editor:

On behalf of The Princeton Merchants Association and the business community of Princeton, we would like to thank Commissioner James Simpson and the Department of Transportation for meeting with members of our board and those members representing Princeton University last Tuesday. The discussion regarding the Trial Experiment on Route One was both informative and constructive. We appreciate your efforts in working collaboratively with us and agreeing to move the trial period to a later date this year. The mutual understanding between the PMA and the NJDOT is recognized and appreciated.

Carly Meyer
President, Princeton Merchants Association

To the Editor:

The newly appointed Consolidation Transition Task Force has the opportunity to do more than merely smooth the way to a consolidated Princeton. It has the chance to re-invent how Princeton delivers municipal services. We residents and taxpayers should ask no less and should enthusiastically support that effort.

There are three main groups of leaders who will influence the course of municipal consolidation before it occurs on January 1, 2013. But the Task Force serves as the linchpin.

First, there are the two municipal staffs. They will forge consolidation because that’s what they are employed to do. But they also have understandable incentives to protect the status quo and their own jobs and perquisites. For that reason, they cannot serve as the principal architects for re-inventing local government.

Second, there are the two existing municipal governing bodies. But governing body members have relationships with staff and personal and parochial interests that will inhibit them from taking the initiative in re-inventing local government.

The third group, the Task Force, is a 15-member panel, the core of which is comprised of volunteer residents. In that body lies the best hope for making long-term structural changes to reinvent local government.

If consolidation were only a question of mechanically joining together two governments (e.g., who will become the new Police Chief), the Task Force would not be needed.

But the Task Force has a far more important responsibility to consider: long-term structural change. In contrast to the municipal staffs and current political office holders, the Task Force expires on January 1, 2013 and therefore should not be constrained by the prospect of a job or future office in how creatively it approaches its work.

For example, each of the two Princetons has 30 police officers. Should the new Princeton retain all 60, or reduce that number, and by how many? As the police budget is the largest departmental budget, meaningful reduction in local taxes can be achieved only by substantial cuts in police personnel. The Task Force is better suited to considering those cuts than current office holders.

Should the new Princeton retain both municipal buildings? There will be tremendous pressure for the new municipality to move its operation to the present Township Hall and to retain Borough Hall for additional municipal government functions. The Task Force might ask: what is the best alternative use for Borough Hall, and did Princetonians vote for consolidation with the expectation of not reducing the size of the municipal footprint?

Indeed, the re-invention of local government will depend more on the Task Force, not the other two players in the drama. Residents and taxpayers must actively encourage the Task Force to aggressively re-invent local government and, in addition, provide the Task Force with all the support it needs to accomplish that goal. A brighter Princeton future depends on it.

Roger Martindell
Patton Avenue
Member, Princeton Borough Council

To the Editor:

I have always been a supporter of the Institute for Advanced Study. When I served on Princeton Township Committee I voted to appropriate $14 million in taxpayer money to preserve the Institute Woods by purchasing a conservation easement from the Institute. I still believe this is the largest amount ever spent to preserve land in Princeton history.

My family has always been a supporter of the Institute. When they first moved to Princeton in the 1960’s, they purchased a house from the Institute after an Institute Trustee let it be known that they wanted the cash flow rather than real estate.

This house was originally owned by Oswald Veblen, the first Institute faculty appointment and the man who brought his friend, Albert Einstein, to the IAS. Veblen, the nephew of noted American sociologist Thorsten Veblen, walked to the Institute from his home on Battle Road, as did Einstein from his house on Mercer Street.

What I am proposing is a “Veblen-Einstein” plan for faculty housing that would have the Institute purchase homes in the Veblen-Einstein neighborhood for faculty housing rather than build new housing on the historic Battlefield. All of these homes are within walking distance of Fuld Hall, the center of the Institute. Many of them are closer to Fuld Hall than the proposed Battlefield housing would be.

The only question becomes: How much would purchasing neighborhood homes be compared to building a new development? Let’s assume that it would cost $750,000 per unit to build new housing compared to $1,750,000 per home to purchase in the adjacent neighborhood. For the 15 units the Institute wants to build, that is a net difference of $15,000,000. How much of a sacrifice is that for the Institution?

According to the latest public tax filing made in 2009, the Institute’s endowment is roughly $550 million. With an operating budget of roughly $50 million per year this does not seem like an insurmountable sacrifice. (In practice, I believe the difference between purchasing houses in the Veblen-Einstein neighborhood and building a new development would be roughly $7,000,000.)

When asked at a Planning Board hearing, representatives of the Institute indicated that they had no financial estimate for their proposed Battlefield housing. But one thing is certain: to build new housing the Institute would have pay cash up front. If instead the Institute implemented the Veblen-Einstein plan they could take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and the Institute would have to spend far less cash than for building new homes.

Purchasing neighborhood homes would be a plus for the community as well, because this would support the tax base.

When the IAS proposed building over 250 housing units on land near the battlefield back in the 1990s, friends of the Institute suggested a different course and a conservation compromise was reached.

The same needs to occur today because sometimes the best friends are those that offer the most direct advice.

Carl Mayer
Battle Road

To the Editor:

It might be useful to take a step back in understanding that the site of the Battle of Princeton counterattack was envisioned from the beginning to be a vital part of Princeton Battlefield State Park. In 1944, C.S. Sincerbeaux, a local well-respected civil engineer, prepared a map for the American Scenic and Historical Preservation Society showing Washington’s counterattack at the Battle of Princeton. He showed the counterattack to be on what is now the proposed faculty housing site. This map then became the basis for Governor Walter Edge’s Park boundary lines, and his parcel-by-parcel determination of what needed to be acquired to establish the Park — I have a copy of that map.

The governor had originally wanted the Federal government to create the Park, but with tight economic times at the end of World War II, and encroachment threatening the Battlefield, he rolled up his sleeves and committed to getting the job done and persuading the New Jersey legislature to pass the necessary appropriation. His representative, George Brakeley, who was also vice president and treasurer of Princeton University, then approached the Institute for Advanced Study and asked the Institute to contribute 36 acres to the project; that was in 1944. Governor Edge also sent a copy of the Sincerbeaux map to the Institute. The Institute, at that time indicated that it was favorably disposed to working with the governor in putting the Park together. Then, in 1945, the Institute purchased 129.99 acres from Robert Maxwell including the site of the counterattack — a site that Governor Edge passionately wanted to be in the Park. Later Mr. Maxwell gave his remaining property to the state, including a small parcel where General Mercer had fallen, which he sold to the state for $1. Mrs. Agnes Pyne Hudson gifted property to the Park in 1947. Other parcels were purchased, some acquired under the threat of eminent domain.

Negotiations with the Institute dragged on for 25 long years. Finally, in 1973, the IAS agreed to deed two parcels to the Park. One, a parcel of 12.264 acres was sold to the state, not gifted, for $335,000. This site bordered the Friend’s Meeting property and was the site of a previously proposed housing development. The other, in the amount of 19.38 acres, was on the east side of the Park between the Clarke House and the Institute. So far I have not been able to find a copy of the deed for this property.

Since that time there has continued to be interest by the state in adding additional pieces of the Battlefield to the Park. The public record includes a letter addressed to the Institute in 2002 from Alvin Payne, Acting Director of Parks and Forestry, who stated: “ I would like to request that the planning board and the institute re-evaluate this proposal to develop this land. I would like to recommend the Institute work with the state’s Green Acres program and allow the state to purchase these parcels.”

When an issue is as charged as the proposed Institute’s faculty housing project is, it is important to get as clear an historical understanding as possible.

Kip Cherry
Dempsey Avenue.
1st Vice President
Princeton Battlefield Society

To the Editors:

I am not an historian nor can I quote prior discussions between the Institute and the State on the Institute’s Planning Application. However, it may be more valuable now to separate the logical arguments from the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric.

Most contributors agree that:

1. The battle of Princeton was a very important part of the Revolutionary War.

2. We want to be sure future generations remember and commemorate the soldiers that found the courage to charge the British lines.

3. The Institute is a valued part of the Princeton community, enriching our lives and raising the town’s profile by attracting world-class scholars.

4. The Institute has been a major contributor to the creation of the existing battlefield park and memorial.

The disagreement focuses on the best use of the undeveloped strip of Institute property bordering the existing park:

• Some believe it would add to the commemorative impact of the existing park, preserving what may be the precise spot of Washington’s critical counter-attack.

• Others believe it is important to restoring the residential nature of the Institute, a part of its successful formula for recruitment and collaboration that has been eroding for some time.

Sadly, this is the point at which the rhetoric has become inflamed. Those who find the latter use more compelling have been branded un-patriotic, complicit in the desecration of “sacred ground.”

By one definition of sacred, “entitled to veneration or religious respect,” I believe that every spot where a soldier gave his life to preserve my freedom is sacred. When I run through the Institute woods I think about what a teenage soldier must have felt treading the same ground, wondering whether the next rise would reveal a phalanx of the most powerful army in the world. However, by another definition of sacred,“”devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated” the designation is not appropriate. Were we to consecrate every spot in Princeton where a soldier fell, we would not have a town, we would have a museum.

Some have claimed this specific plot is so historically important that it should have higher preservation priority than any other. Were its historic status that compelling, it should be possible to raise funds to buy it from the Institute for an amount that would purchase private homes in similar proximity to current faculty housing (e.g., Battle Rd, Haslet Ave). That no such alternative has emerged suggests that views on the historical significance remain equivocal —– even the most informed experts disagree on the interpretation of the famous spy map and other historical references.

If the only cost of giving the benefit of the doubt to preservation were to steer a commercial developer across town, the decision would be easy. However, to deny a valued member of our community the right to continue their mission of maintaining a community of scholars, after all they have done to create a commemorative park and to revise extensively their plans to minimize any collateral impact, based on a belief that any chance that one particular war tactic occurred on one specific spot should overrule all other considerations would be a travesty.

Brad Corrodi
Mercer Street

TT Laura Connolly

“Wash my hands a lot and take extra vitamin C.”
—Laura Connolly, Princeton

TT Claudine Collins

“I am exercising and I wash my hands at every possible moment. I work at the University Medical Center of Princeton and realize how important it is to keep germs from spreading.” —Claudine Collins, Princeton

TT Samantha Mack Mark Lyle

Mark: “We have a Juiceman and we juice everyday to try to stay healthy. We juice carrots, apples, and spinach.”
Samantha: “I go to gymnastics and I try to remember to wash my hands a lot.”
—Mark Lyle with daughters Samantha (left) and Mack, Princeton

TT Dylan Carmel Warner

“Eating right, staying warm, getting plenty of sleep, and taking vitamins.”
— Carmel Warner with son Dylan, Princeton

TT Lila Adam Sasha Pechter

Lila: “My daddy makes a lot of fires in the fireplace and my mom makes a lot of food for us. We got flu shots. I don’t take vitamins because I don’t like the taste.”
Sasha: “I feel a little angry because my dad is going somewhere very warm.”
—Adam Pechter with daughters Lila (left) and Sasha, Princeton

TT Pamela Ramirez

“I am active, I play basketball or soccer even though it is cold out. I dress warmly.”
—Pamela Ramirez, Princeton

TT Alyssa Aloyo Daniel Konovoe

“Make sure you are covered up and warm, cough in your elbow so you don’t spread germs, and use hand sanitizer.”
—Alyssa Aloyo, Lawrenceville and Daniel Konovoe, Montgomery

February 8, 2012

To the Editor:

I read your story about Bob Staples, a former director of the Princeton Public Library (although he preferred to be called “Librarian”), with great pleasure. During his tenure, he laid the groundwork for the library as the community’s living room, an objective that Leslie Burger, the current director, brought to heartwarming reality.

Bob was the friendliest person I have known. He would look down on the main floor from the balcony above the checkout desk in the old library building and call, “Yoo-hoo,” to anyone he recognized below.

He knew every shopkeeper along Nassau Street to Harrison, where he walked every weekday to and from his apartment. On the weekends, he returned to his home in Toms River. There he sailed his boat and rode his bicycle to the post office to pick up his mail. When he retired, the Friends of the Library looked for a gift as unusual as he was and gave him a bicycle to replace his old one, much to his delight.

When the Friends celebrated their 25th anniversary with Author! Author!, a free event that attracted more than 500 local people along with 250 local authors, Bob insisted on adding to the festivities by climbing onto the roof above the library’s entrance to tie bunches of balloons over the doors.

We missed him when he left Princeton — we always will.

BARBARA W. FREEDMAN

Valley Road

To the Editor:

I support the plan to build houses for Institute faculty members at the site that was promised for this purpose in 1971 when the IAS donated land that now constitutes a big portion of the battlefield.

If you take the time to have a look at the site map and walk along the battlefield, you will notice that these houses will be farther from the battlefield than other houses in the area. The men honored in this battlefield died trying to build a better government, one that keeps its promises! The institute is an integral part of Princeton and has greatly contributed to its history. In fact Princeton is best known as the location of Einstein’s home, thanks to the Institute,  which is also the site of the first programmable computer, etc. Hopefully, the houses built there will help to attract the best researchers and scholars who will make it an even more historically significant place.

I have been a faculty member at the IAS for the last ten years and I live close to the Institute; this convenience helps to facilitate important interactions with my fellow scientists that I hope the Institute will be able to offer to the new faculty in the future.

Juan Maldacena

Mercer Road

To the Editor:

The time for the Princeton Regional School Board and the Township Committee to turn ownership of the Valley Road School over to the non-profit Valley Road School Community Center Inc. (VRSCCI) is today — not tomorrow, not next year — but now.

The basic structure of the old Valley Road Building is sound but there is a new leak in the roof that is getting exponentially worse. The Township was kind enough to fix the boiler so that Community TV 30 can have heat and the School Board recently passed a resolution to allow TV 30 to stay in the building until Jan. 2013. TV 30 and the VRSCCI appreciate what the School Board and Township Committee have done to date but it appears that neither body is ready to either fix the roof or let the VRSCCI take over the building and convert it into a community

center at no cost to the town. Princeton has a history of converting schools like the Nassau Street School and the Quarry Street School into useful modern buildings. Other towns, like Somerset, have converted schools into community centers. The VRSCCI has a sizable list of local non-profits who are ready, willing, and able to move into the Valley Road School and pay a reasonable rent if the building is upgraded.

While the towns and School Board are mired in the weeds of consolidation they aren’t showing the leadership needed to do the obvious — namely, let a local non-profit take the burden of the Valley Road School off of the hands of the School Board, which clearly doesn’t want the building, and put it into the hands of a group that clearly does.

The time to act is now.

Richard C. Woodbridge

Chairman Valley Road School

— Adaptive Reuse Committee

To the Editor:

Hasn’t the guerilla warfare — the historical obfuscation and relentless obstructionism — of the Princeton Battlefield Society against the modest housing plans of the Institute for Advanced Study gone on far too long?

In any sensible community the private property rights of an institution would be recognized and respected, and the property owner, having satisfied innumerable zoning and other requirements, would be permitted, even encouraged, to proceed with its plans.

In a sensible community an institution that over the decades has donated large tracts of woodland and meadow for permanent preservation and public use would be appreciated and applauded, not vilified and victimized.

In a sensible community the interests of people — in this case distinguished professors and other academics — would take precedence over some grass that l8th century soldiers may or may not have trod upon.

A sensible community would place greater value on the interests of a world-renowned academic institution that lends luster to us all than on the carping and sniping of a parochial pressure group. Indeed, a sensible community would look forward, not back.

We all often wonder why our government in Washington seems so dysfunctional, why issues of obvious benefit remain mired in interminable debate and discord, why pressure groups so often block progress and public interest. Perhaps we need look no further than the microcosm of our own community to find the answer.

Peter R. Kann

Cleveland Lane

To the Editor:

I join the many residents of our community who have written and spoken in strong support of allowing the Institute for Advanced Study faculty housing to proceed. The tract of Institute land designated for faculty housing was first agreed to in 1971, and the proposed residences are designed with the greatest respect to the Princeton Battlefield State Park and to the environment.

Critical for this discussion is the 1997 conservation easement to preserve permanently a predominant proportion of the Institute’s land. At that time, in response to a special Green Acres program of grants and loans and just prior to the commercial development of land at the intersection of Route 1 and Quakerbridge Road, the Institute participated in the successful public/private partnership to preserve 589 acres of IAS woods and farmlands. This partnership was led by the D&R Greenway, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Friends of Princeton Open Space and Princeton Township, and was supported by numerous other individuals and organizations including the Princeton Battlefield Society.

These lands, which the Institute maintains at its own expense, are noted for their historical, environmental, ornithological, and agricultural significance. They provide a buffer between the Princeton Battlefield State Park, the Institute and really all of Princeton. The Institute cooperated in the preservation effort knowing that the small tract now being discussed would be the only remaining land available for faculty housing.

Since its founding, the Institute has been a community of scholars – a permanent faculty with visiting scholars from throughout the world – who seek to advance knowledge, pursue innovation, and deepen understanding across a broad range of the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

The Institute is an absolutely unique institution, one that plays a very special role in the scientific and intellectual life of this country. The work done there provides the well-spring for the creation of knowledge that undergirds our country long term.

It is with the greatest respect for the crucial role the Battle of Princeton played in the development of our country that I trust education about this important role will be enhanced so that visitors to the Princeton Battlefield will have a deep learning experience and lasting understanding.

This is also our opportunity to preserve the productivity of an institution that serves scholars from throughout the world and contributes significantly to our country’s critical long-term needs.

RACHEL GRAY

Battle Road Circle

To the Editor:

At the Tuesday, January 24, meeting of the Princeton Merchants Association I learned two interesting facts from a spokesperson for Princeton University. (1) The Tiger Transit busses circulating around town are available to all members of the public. (2) Princeton University is committed to encouraging the use of mass transit, discouraging the unnecessary use of cars, reducing pollution, and making a better world for current and future inhabitants. It seems only logical then that Tiger Transit absorb the Free-B, limited free transit service, and modestly extend Tiger Transit’s routes to encourage the use of remote (from the Central Business District) parking and use of the Dinky. Regular service connecting parking at the vast and under-utilized Jadwin/Football Stadium parking lots, the Dinky, and the Princeton Shopping Center along a regular route with marked stops would seem to accomplish all of the University’s objectives under its announced practices and policies with a very modest additional cost. I hope that the University and municipal representatives on the newly organized and funded transit entities work on this suggestion as a first (and easy) project in a course of cooperative ventures, none of which will be as simple or provide results so quickly.

Since the University has spent the time and the money to make the Dinky station usable, it can hold off on its plan to move the Dinky terminus until the newly formed transit entities can evaluate the use of the Tiger Transit bus service; the consequences (especially vastly increased traffic on Alexander Road) resulting from the state’s plans to reduce incoming traffic from Route 1 on Harrison Street and Washington Road by eliminating northbound access to Princeton by those two routes; and all other local transit and traffic issues in Princeton. The increased traffic on Alexander Road resulting from the changed Route 1 traffic patterns when added to the complex new traffic patterns and increased traffic volume on that same road resulting from the planned construction of the proposed relocated Lewis Arts Center; the proposed relocated Dinky terminus; and the housing complex proposed for lower Alexander Road and Faculty Road are a nightmare in the making. I know the University’s practices can better reflect its principals and wisely announced policies concerning traffic, mass transit, and pollution.

No one wants an Arts and Traffic Neighborhood.

Joseph C. Small

Hawthorne Avenue

To the Editor:

We write to express our profound sadness at the death of Sarah Hirschman, the visionary founder of People & Stories, I Gente y Cuentos. Sarah died on January 15 at Princeton Hospital after a brief illness. Her daughter, Katia, and Katia’s husband, Alain, were at her side. We know you share our enormous sense of loss.

Sarah led a remarkable life and left an extraordinary legacy. For us, she is an inextinguishable light. She cared passionately about the written word and read widely and deeply. Her belief in the transformative power of literature was equaled by her conviction that no person, regardless of circumstances, should live without its capacity for opening the mind and liberating the spirit. She was determined to make literature accessible to those often thought unable to understand it, and she invented a method and a program to do just that.

The mission of People & Stories, I Gente y Cuentos was central to her life from the day the first participants met in 1972, in a low-income housing project in Cambridge, Mass. Today, the program thrives in prisons, libraries, housing projects, churches, and schools in three languages from Colombia to Paris to Trenton. Sarah has left behind an organization that is strong and committed to her example and vision — to go where circumstances are difficult and offer a program that can lead to measurable improvements in people’s lives.

Our annual spring event, on April 13, will proceed as planned with Chang-rae Lee as our speaker. Sarah’s dear friend, C.K. Williams, will both introduce Mr. Lee and say a few words of remembrance in Sarah’s honor. You will hear more about this event in the coming weeks.

Georgia Whidden

Board President

Patricia Andres

Executive Director

To the Editor:

On behalf of all of us at Princeton Public Library, I want to thank Bill and Judy Scheide for naming the library the beneficiary of the January 27 “Booked for the Evening” concert at Richardson Auditorium. It was a magical evening and the library was pleased to have been part of the celebration of one of Princeton’s leading citizens. Bill’s lifelong devotion to books, music, civic causes and his history of philanthropy are indeed cause for celebration.

In addition to Bill and Judy, I would like to thank the many library supporters who attended the concert; the management and staff of Richardson Auditorium, and University Ticketing, who along with event planner Linda Pizzico produced a flawless event in a beautiful venue. Our thanks also go to Telequest for producing a wonderful video in celebration of the library — view it at http://bit.ly/PPLvideo) — and the many behind the scenes people who made this event possible, including library staff members Lindsey Forden and Tim Quinn. And, of course, we can’t forget the fabulous Wiener KammerOrchester, soloists Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson and the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York for their dazzling performances, all under the skillful direction of Mark Laycock.

Bill and Judy Scheide are longtime library supporters. Their lead gifts to the library’s Cornerstone Campaign for our new building and to the Centennial Endowment Campaign for our endowment demonstrate their commitment to this wonderful institution. Their decision to name the library the beneficiary of Bill’s 98th birthday concert was yet another way to help the library raise much-needed funds.

In keeping with the Scheide’s devotion to books, reading, and learning in all forms, the Princeton Public Library will use the net proceeds of this event to purchase books and expand our collection. Funding for our collection comes solely from private donations and grants, not through municipal support. A gift of this magnitude will result in more books on our shelves and more items to download, check out, and be enjoyed by the entire community in 2012.

Thank you, Bill and Judy. Your gift is truly a gift we can all share.

Leslie Burger

Executive Director

NTU Pr Diamond 1-11-12

QUALITY AND VALUE: “We are a factory-type jewelry center, focusing on diamonds and custom design. We offer the finest jewelry at wholesale prices that are fair to the customer,” says Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. Shown is an 18K gold diamond pendant, which Princeton North Diamond had repaired and restored with high quality diamonds.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” says the song, and they can be a jeweler’s best friend, too, notes Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. in the Princeton North Shopping Center.

He and his brother, the late Orlando Olaya, a respected gemologist, originally opened the store in 2003. Hector took charge of the store after his brother’s death last year, and is continuing the family tradition.

“We have been in the jewelry business for 25 years,” he explains. “Diamonds are our focus, and we give everyone in the Princeton area access to the top jewelry craftsmen that New York City has to offer. They are all experts with long experience. The diamond cutters are very precise and know every millimeter of the piece. We can do all kinds of custom work.

“We offer the finest quality diamonds, and create custom pieces, including rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins. We also redesign older pieces into more modern settings. The diamond dealers work directly with us, and we have the ability to get items from all over. We eliminate the middle man, and can supply fine jewelry at wholesale prices. We have jewelry for everyone’s budget, and we offer great value.”

Full Selection

Diamond engagement rings are always popular, of course, and wedding bands to match the engagement ring are in demand now, reports Mr. Olaya.

In addition to diamonds, the store offers a full selection of precious and semi-precious stones, as well as fashion jewelry. “The trend is toward big and bold stones,” he points out. “Big semi-precious stones in necklaces and earrings are popular, often with sterling silver accents.”

Pearls are classic and never out of style. Strands, bracelets, and earrings are all available, as is restringing.

Customers will find everything from cameos to cuff links to giftware in the store, with displays conveniently and attractively arranged.

State-of-the-Art

Princeton North Diamond also offers a large selection of antique and estate jewelry and high end, slightly-used watches. “We are one of the few stores in the area to specialize in antique jewelry repair. All the antiques have a story,” notes Mr. Olaya. “We repair, recondition, and remodel. We also buy jewelry, gold, and silver from customers, and we trade watches. Cleaning and repairing watches is another service.”

The store offers full repair service, with state-of-the-art laser machinery available.

Mr. Olaya, who is also a real estate broker and formerly involved in the restaurant business in Princeton, is now fully engaged in Princeton North Diamond. “One of the things I like about this business is that jewelry, because of its inherent value, is an item that you can recycle, trade, and bring back. So, it works in a good economy or when times are harder.”

Providing quality products and attentive service to customers is very important, he adds. “We are going to take care of you here. We take time with customers. Sometimes, people think they have to go to New York for fine jewelry, but they can trust us. We invite anyone with questions about jewelry to come in and see us.

“We are a real part of the community and want to be known as the jeweler people think of in the Princeton-Montgomery area for professional service and fine quality jewelry at fair prices. We have many regular customers from the area and beyond, and we look forward to continuing to offer them the best service. We do things the right way here.”

Princeton North Diamond also accepts items on consignment, offers appraisals, and fills special requests.

The store is open Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 924-9400.


TT Hilary Morris

“Totally favorite love story is the movie The Notebook with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams; a perfect couple in a sweet story of how they came together. They are beautiful people.”
—Hilary Morris, Montgomery

TT Denise Chase Taylor

“Our love story — we were on a cruise and he proposed to me with a lot of thought in a quaint little church in the Cayman Islands.”
—Denise and Chase Taylor, Lawrenceville

TT Sarah Cammerzell Nancy Faherty Faherty

Sarah: “Colin Firth and the maid in the movie Love Actually.”
Nancy: “ The lyrics to ‘Only Forever.’”
—Sarah Cammerzell (left) and Nancy Faherty, Princeton

TT Annie Albright

“My favorite love story is the movie Up. It’s a romantic adventure.”
—Annie Albright, California ,
visiting grandparents in Princeton

TT Theza Friedman Craig Holcombe

Theza: “My own love story, my husband and I met at a trade show in New York. He moved here from San Francisco.”
Craig: “The movie Taken with Liam Neeson. I love it; it’s amazing.”
—Theza Friedman (left) and Craig Holcombe, West Windsor

TT Brian Denise Catian

“Our love story, for two years we were in a long-distance relationship from the Philippines to New Jersey. We kept in touch and fell in love. And now we’re married and just had our first baby, Brianna, in January.”
—Brian and Denise Catian, West Windsor

February 1, 2012

To the Editor: 

Many in the Princeton community share Borough Council’s frequently stated belief that shortening the Dinky is ill advised and a far greater loss to the community than is the gain of an unfettered pedestrian plaza to the university. A brand new station farther away would hardly lead to increased ridership. Indeed, those who walk to the Dinky would have to walk an additional 30,000 aggregate miles per year.

One fact is widely acknowledged, however: a straight-shot Dinky originating at Nassau Street with increased trips to meet virtually every train at the Junction would increase ridership and, therefore, add to the shuttle’s utility to the community.

The zigzag easement offered by the university is utterly useless. The principal factor leading to greater transit use is reduced travel time. The increased trip time via the zigzag connection would add an additional 40 hours yearly to a Dinky commuter’s time on the train.

Committing municipal resources to help fund a transportation consultant’s effort to craft arguments to support the university’s selfish intransigence seems indefensible. If logical light-rail routing is denied by fiat, the only other legitimate single-vehicle option to reach Nassau Street is the justly maligned BRT.

Concerning the pending suit challenging the interpretation of the 1984 station sales contract between the university and NJ Transit, the contract as written does not allow, nor does it contemplate, any move of the terminus beyond what has already been effected, and that the counter-interpretation contrived by the University and NJ Transit is contrary to the public interest.

So far there are at least two important proposals to save the current Dinky service at no cost to the municipality: The offer by Henry Posner III to finance the re-acquisition of the right-of-way through eminent domain, and my company’s proposal for converting the Dinky to light rail and extending it to Nassau Street under the federal “Very Small Starts” program. Both require that the ordinance to preserve the Dinky right-of-way as a transit zone be reintroduced and enacted quickly. Such a step could moot the suit challenging the contract interpretation by effectively substituting the community’s interpretation for that of the university and NJ Transit.

As for the danger of a light rail vehicle sharing a pedestrian plaza, there is much precedent. Suffice it to say, the charge to the design engineers would be to make it the world’s safest.

A unique aspect of the new Dinky would be its becoming the only rail-transit service in the country to run without an operating subsidy. Perhaps NJ Transit could be convinced to divert a part of the $1 million per year in Dinky subsidy foregone toward enhancing NJ Transit bus service or other transit options in and around town.

Allowing the university to thwart this exemplary opportunity through sheer, self-serving will would diminish Princeton forever.

Rodney Fisk
Birch Avenue

To the Editor:

Last Thursday night we attended the third Planning Board meeting on the application of The Institute for Advanced Study to build 15 much-needed faculty residences on their land adjacent to Princeton Battlefield Park. It was a tedious continuation of the efforts of the Princeton Battlefield Society to prevent approval through delaying tactics and obfuscation, raising issues not relevant to consideration by this governing body.

This project meets the requirements of our zoning regulations without the need for variations. The IAS development plan carries out the intent of our Land Use Ordinance by accepting cluster zoning options. The application of these guidelines minimize land disturbance, reduce utility runs, limit storm water run-off by reducing impervious surfaces of roads and walks, and create large areas of commonly-owned open space. This is an excellent example of a creative land-use ordinance at work.

In our opinion the current nearly 65 acres of Battle Field Park, more than a third of which was obtained from The Institute for Advanced Study, is more than adequate to commemorate, and to exhibit the scope of, this important battle. In fact the proposed plan will enlarge the park by the inclusion of 13 acres of public-access open space adjacent to the park as well as extend visual access by the relocation the bordering tree line some 200 feet back from its present location.

It is sad to contemplate the extent to which visitor appreciation of the battle could have been enhanced through better interpretative signage, pathways, interactive dioramas, and the like had the Princeton Battlefield Society spent their money for such facilities rather than for attorney and witness fees.

Tom and Peggy Fulmer
Hunt Drive

To the Editor:

Historian John Shy was quoted on the IAS website that “the battle proper was about fifteen minutes of intense fighting in the area of the present park.” So by IAS standards, for the land to be preserved it would have to be part of the “battle proper.” Indeed, the contended IAS land is in the area of the present park and in fact it borders it. The IAS-hired historians have harped on the location of the Sawmill Road to cast doubt on the Milner Report’s finding. However, what is not in doubt is that the target of the American attack was the area around the William Clark farm. Simply put, to attack that area the U.S. forces had to cross, while fighting and dying, over Institute land. The Princeton Battlefield Society is not asking for anything but the promise of no development on a very small tract of land. The limited amount of archaeology done by both parties strongly suggests that the contended IAS land was the site of the counterattack and that further archaeology will prove this. Instead of building on this tract, why can’t the IAS either subsidize the mortgages of faculty or better yet, swap out IAS-owned and conserved land that is not in dispute? Finally, the Institute’s housing proposal will not only ruin forever a part of the Princeton Battlefield, but will also ruin the historical landscape of the existing park and that is unacceptable.

Matt White
Sewell, New Jersey

To the Editor:

In Pixar’s movie Cars, Lightning McQueen rescues the town of Radiator Springs from economic devastation caused by the nearby freeway bypassing the town. NJDOT is implementing a “trial” bypass of Princeton to severely limit access to Princeton from the rest of Mercer County via Route 1. This directly impacts Princeton merchants as well as Mercer’s Route 1 merchants who have customers that return home via Route 1 and Princeton. In the recent NJDOT town meeting on the Princeton Route 1 bypass trial, it was made clear that NJDOT is only interested in measuring an improvement in how many more cars could bypass Princeton, when the measurement test really should be whether the economic harm to Mercer’s Princeton and Route 1 businesses outweighs any improvement in traffic flow. If NJDOT is not interested in coming up with a way to measure the economic harm to Mercer’s local businesses, maybe businesses can use the courts to help with generating metrics to measure Mercer’s economic harm during the “trial” period. After all in the children’s story Cars, it took a judge who cared about local small businesses and a court order for Lightning McQueen to realize the economic harm caused by the bypass before he could rescue the town.

Donald Cox
South Harrison Street

TT Clem Fiori

“Andre Kertesz is my favorite photographic artist. He was doing everything with the camera, painterly things, imaginative pictures with reflections, and studio photography. He experimented with whatever the camera could do at the time.” —Clem Fiori, Blawenberg

TT Charles McVicker

“Lyonel Feininger. He was an influence of mine when I was in art in college. I just saw the retrospective of his work at The Whitney and fell in love with his work all over again.”
—Charles McVicker, Princeton

TT Debbie Endersby Gwazda

“Henri Matisse. I just love all his bright colors juxtaposed next to other colors, red, blue, green, and white.”
—Debbie Endersby Gwazda, Pennington

TT Kathy Bob Denby

Kathy: “Mary Cassatt. I love the Mother and Baby.”
Bob: “Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, for his ability to capture the decisive moment.”
—Kathy and Bob Denby, Skillman

TT Jim Barbara Webb

Jim: ”Constantin Brancusi, an abstract sculptor, speaks to me.”
Barbara: “My favorite artist is Jim Webb, who happens to be my husband. He’s a ceramic artist and started under Toshiko Takaezu at Princeton University.”
—Jim and Barbara Webb, Hopewell

TT Peter Lindenfeld

“Lonni Sue Johnson. She illustrated the book that I wrote. It is the first professional work that she did after she got ill. She is one artist I totally love.” —Peter Lindenfeld, Princeton

MUSICIAN AND MENTOR: “Having been the organist at First Baptist Church for so many years is something I am very proud of. It means a lot to me, and I have also always liked helping young people.” Princeton resident Dorothy Alexander has many memories of church and community.

It was Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941 (“a date that will live in infamy”), and Dorothy Fletcher, age 13, was playing the organ at First Baptist Church of Princeton.

She did not know of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii until she went home, and her mother told her of the event.

That historic episode propelled the United States into World War II, and Dorothy witnessed life on the Princeton homefront during those war years.

“A lot of the boys and young men I knew went into the service,” she recalls. “And there were a lot of things going on in town. I remember the Victory Gardens people had, and there was a big Community Garden on Birch Avenue, near where we lived. There was also rationing for butter and eggs, and other food. I went shopping for my mother — there were three grocery stores right on the corner near our house.”

Special Services

Dorothy, now Mrs. Alexander, also remembers blackouts, “when we had to be sure the shades were down and the curtains closed, so no light would show. We would also have special services in church, including when someone from the church had been killed in the war. When it was over, there were big celebrations. The bells rang, and everyone was very excited. The American Legion was involved, and the boys at the University really celebrated big-time!”

Those war years are important memories for Mrs. Alexander, but in fact, her recollections of life in Princeton go back well before World War II.

Born in 1928, she was the daughter of Robert and Mary Fletcher. The family lived at the corner of Leigh and John Streets, and Dorothy had one half-brother, John Fletcher.

“He was a lot older than I, and I really looked up to him,” says Mrs. Alexander. “He made sure that I never wanted for anything. I also had aunts and uncles on John Street.”

Dorothy attended the Witherspoon School for Colored Children on Quarry Street (now the Waxwood Apartments) from kindergarten through eighth grade. She enjoyed school, especially anything to do with music. “I remember some of the teachers I liked at school, including Mrs. Potter in kindergarten, Mrs. Griggs in first grade, and Mr. Lawrence in seventh grade. I looked up to them.

“We had a piano at home,” she adds, “and as a little girl, I started playing and liked it right away. Then I began taking lessons in the fifth grade. I really liked to practice.”

Homework and Music

Dorothy’s father died when she was five, and her mother, who had to work, made certain that Dorothy  paid attention to homework and church in addition to music.

“I always had to do my homework. My mother was very definite about that,” says Mrs. Alexander, with a smile. “She also started taking me to First Baptist Church when I was a little girl. Because of that, the church has meant a lot to me. I was baptized when I was 13 by Pastor William T. Parker.”

On weekends, Dorothy and her friends enjoyed going to the YMCA, and as she says, “It was very near where I lived. We also all played outside a lot, and I especially liked baseball. On Saturdays, we’d all go to the movies.”

In 1942, she became a freshman at Princeton High School, where she sang alto in the choir. She liked English class because she enjoyed reading so much, but didn’t care for math. “Not at all! But my music teacher was very important to me.”

Dorothy was very busy during those high school years, and continued to be active at First Baptist Church. Not only did she sing in the Youth and Senior Choirs, she also played the piano for Sunday School and for choir rehearsals. She was extremely proud to be chosen as assistant organist during that time.

“Also, when I was in high school, I went to Westminster Choir College on Saturdays and had organ and piano lessons. This was a great opportunity for me.”

High School Graduation

After graduation in 1946, Dorothy worked in the laundry department at Princeton Hospital, and also attended Westminster, studying voice for two years.

“I had to leave Westminster, though, when my mother died, and I had to work to keep the house,” she explains. “But then, I met William Alexander, who had come to Princeton from Virginia, and who joined First Baptist Church. We were married in the late 1940s, and I continued to work at the hospital and play the organ at church.”

Three sons, William, Jr., Roland, and Dennis, were born, and then, Mrs. Alexander was left to be their sole support when her husband died of a sudden heart attack. “The boys were still very little, and I was determined that they would get an education, and be brought up the right way. I wanted them to have values and grow up to be productive citizens.

“I made sure they went to Sunday School and did their homework. It was hard work for a single woman, and I raised them alone, although I did have help from the church.”

Throughout these years, Mrs. Alexander continued to work at the hospital and as organist at First Baptist. Keeping a very busy schedule, she nevertheless always had time to help young people.

“I’ve known Dorothy, whom I call ‘Mrs. A,’ for 42 years,” says Princeton Township Committee member Lance Liverman, who is also chairman of the trustees of First Baptist Church. “I grew up in the church, and went to school with her son, Dennis. She has been like a mother to me and a friend. She’s been more like a teacher to so many youth at First Baptist. She gives her time, energy, and her love to young people.

Surrogate Mom

“I think she is a treasure, not just to the church but to the community. She is extremely important to me — a dear, dear soul. One of the reasons I’ve done well in my life is because she was a surrogate mom to me. You don’t always know the impact you have had on someone — it can just be a kind act. That was Dorothy Alexander. She’d say to me, ‘Do well. Keep yourself together.’ It means more than we know.”

Mrs. Alexander, who has worked tirelessly — and enthusiastically — for the church, has received many awards and honors, including the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Deacons’ Union of Trenton and Vicinity; the Service Appreciation Award “For Your Faithfulness in Using Your Musical Gifts to Serve the Lord as State Organist of the New Jersey Convention of Progressive Baptist”; and the Progressive Women’s Fellowship of First Baptist Church, among many others.

She has traveled all over the country to play the organ at church conventions, very often with her friend of many years, Princeton resident Ida Belle Dixon, long-time member of First Baptist and former president of Progressive National Baptist Women’s Department of New Jersey (a post previously held by Mrs. Alexnder).

“I met Dorothy in 1937, when I first came to Princeton. She was just a young girl, playing the organ at the church,” recalls Mrs. Dixon. “She was so dedicated, never missing a Sunday — I think her mother made sure of that! She just loved music; played for the Senior Choir, the Gospel Chorus, and Male Chorus, as well as for the Sunday School.

“Her contribution to First Baptist is so essential, I hardly have words for it. Music is just her life. I’ve been closely connected with her because of the choir in which I sang, too. Also, Dorothy and her son Dennis would sometimes sing duets for church events. She had a beautiful alto voice. She was and is one of my favorites at the church. My friendship with Dorothy is everlasting.”

Having been born and reared in Princeton, Mrs. Alexander looks upon her home town with great affection. It is not only the location of her church, but also the home of long-time friends and the source of so many memories.

Helping Hand

“I wouldn’t want to live in any other place. Princeton is still a town where we know each other, and there are a lot of good people. I have many friends here. Of course, the town has grown. There are many more people and much more traffic.

“One of the things I really think about is that people are good here. You can count on them. If you need someone, they’ll be there for you, and give you a helping hand.”

This is true of her sons, she emphasizes. “It was hard work for a single woman. But now, if I need them, they’re right there for me. My proudest achievement is my three boys!”

She is also very proud of her grandson, Jared Fletcher Alexander, and looks forward to seeing him as often as possible.

Mrs. Alexander continues to enjoy playing the piano at home, reading biographies, and listening to music. In addition to hymns and other church music, she likes Ella Fitzgerald. “I always liked to hear Ella sing — such a wonderful sound!”

The church is still a major focus, and she never misses Sunday services. She serves as “Honorary” organist, “standing at the ready, in case she is needed,” reports the Reverend Carlton E. Brascomb, Pastor of First Baptist.

Music Ministry

“We can say that Sister Dorothy has been a source of stability and inspiration for the music ministry of First Baptist Church for many years. Sister Dorothy is also a mentor to many, including myself. As pastor early on, I was trying to prepare what to do for my first wedding, and she made sure I knew what to do and when to do it!

“And, of course, we all love that beautiful smile, when she walks in.”

Another sign of the esteem in which she is held by those at First Baptist is cited by Lance Liverman. “Because we understand how much of her time and energy she gave to the church for many, many years, we have chosen to continue to pay her organist’s salary for the rest of her life. It is something we very much want to do.”

Indeed, the importance of the church — along with the music — cannot be underestimated in Mrs. Alexander’s life. As she says, “The church has meant so much to me throughout my life. It’s the way I was raised. I always look forward to being in church, and I admire the people there.

“I was taught to honor my mother and father,” she continues. “It is one of the Ten Commandments, and I recommend that everyone do that, especially while you have your parents. You will never have another mother or father. It’s very important for me to go to church and believe in God. It will always help you through hard times.

“I have to say that I am so thankful to still be here! To be able to do what I love to do, to play the organ, and to be with the church. This is a blessing.”