August 15, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Bierman, Sandra Jordan

Grover Avenue

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Ken Fields

Secretary/treasurer,

Eleanor J. Lewis Fund for Public Interest Research

Linden Lane

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Stephenson

Governors Lane

August 8, 2012

To the editor:

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

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

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

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

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

There are other tree streets but its best to consult the interactive map at this link: www.city-data.com/city/Princeton-New-Jersey.html, or the Princeton map in the now defunct telephone Yellow Book if you kept one.

Carl Faith

Longview Drive

To the Editor:

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

Kenneth J. Cody

Lawrenceville,

Independent Candidate, 12th Congressional District

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yu Zhong

Plainsboro

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

“What you love to wear is fashion!”

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

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

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

Fashion Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Combinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Sundresses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 1, 2012

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kip Cherry

Dempsey Avenue

To the Editor:

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

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

As stated on the NJDOT website: (www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/route1pilot/),

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

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

Deirdra A. Silver

West Windsor

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Julia Sass Rubin

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Kristin S. Appelget

Director, Community and Regional Affairs

Princeton University

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Benjamin R. Warren

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

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

Holly Nelson, Dorothy Weiss

Leigh Avenue

Isabella Deshmukh

Cherry Hill Road

To the Editor:

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

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

Louis Slee

Spruce Street

To the Editor:

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

Phyllis Spiegel

Plainsboro

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

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

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

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

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

Best Pizza

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thin-Crust

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

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

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

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

Neighborhood Place

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

43,000 Impressions

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

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

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

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

700 Shirts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many Reasons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 25, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

Family Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic Necessity

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

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

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

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

New Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

(609) 584-5777. Website: www.apennacchi.com.

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

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

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

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

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

High Achievement

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

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

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

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

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

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

True To Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epitome of Community

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complex Tasks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Nancy Strong

Maple Street

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Clurman

Harris Road

To the Editor:

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

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

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

Diane Perna

Carnahan Place