You might say McCaffrey’s has got you coming and going these days. A sizable renovation of the front of the store, due to be completed in about two weeks, has meant that entrances and exits periodically need to be reassigned to accommodate workers and their stockpiles of wood amid the store’s displays of pumpkins and other seasonal fare. In addition to the work at McCaffrey’s, EDENS, the Shopping Center’s owner, has plans to refurbish the parking lot and other stores during the coming months. The goal, EDENS says, is to update the look of the Center. more
A year after Princeton was designated an Age-Friendly Community (AFC) by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Association for Retired People (AARP), Princeton Senior Resource Center Executive Director Susan Hoskins says it’s time for each sector– business, civic, academic, health services, non-profit – to insure that the “age friendly” description is meaningful and lasting. more
It’s back, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
“It” is the Princeton Public Library’s annual Children’s Book Festival, which will be held this year in Hinds Plaza on Saturday, September 19, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine.
This year is particularly special: it’s the festival’s 10th anniversary, and Youth Services Librarian Allison Santos, who has been its guiding hand since its inception, “can’t believe it. Over the years the event just continues to grow, and this is our biggest event yet.” Some 105 authors and illustrators will be participating, reported Ms. Santos, coming from as far away as Australia (“we’ve gone international,” Ms. Santos said happily) and as close as Brooklyn, (the “hub of children’s literature”). more
The school year may have started on September 8 for Princeton Public School students, but teachers and staff were up and running well before that.
On Wednesday, September 2, for example, teachers and staff gathered for an opening convocation led by Superintendent Steve Cochrane. It was a great day,” he reported afterward. “The teachers and staff returned with new contracts, but also with new excitement and a new sense of purpose.” more
“It’s a great program,” says Mayor Liz Lempert of “Meet the Mayor,” the once-a-month “open office hours” opportunity she created soon after assuming office.
Originally based at Witherspoon Hall, “Meet the Mayor” is now held on the last Friday of every month from 8:30 to 10 a.m. in Hinds Plaza. However, the next meeting will not be until Friday, September 25. “Walk and talk outside, weather permitting,” says an announcement for the event. If the weather is bad, “office hours” are held in the lobby of the adjacent Princeton Public Library.
“The topics are all over the place,” Ms. Lempert reported, and there’s been a decided uptick in traffic since she relocated to Hinds Plaza. Rather than setting up formal appointments for “small” issues, she says, the informality of the setting encourages passers-by to come over and chat. A repeat complaint in recent months has been about noise from leaf blowers and lawn mowers, and as a result the agenda for addressing noise issues will probably be “pushed up,” as the Environmental Commission and Sustainable Princeton offices begin to do some preliminary research. more
2015, A BANNER SEASON: With 104,000 individuals and counting as of last week, the Community Park Swimming Pool has had a record-breaking summer. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)
The Community Park Swimming Pool enjoyed a banner season and was still going strong recently when Recreation Department Executive Director Ben Stentz and Councilwoman Jo Butler, the Council’s liaison to the Recreation Commission, spoke to Town Topics.
“We already eclipsed the total number of visits for any year,” Mr. Stentz reported. At the time of the interview, a record number of 104,000 individuals had already passed through the Community Park pool gate, and the final total may be as much as 110,000. Regular pool memberships increased for the fourth consecutive season as well, with 5,000 total members. more
For one week last month, Princeton High School Assistant Principal Lori Rotz, along with 25 other school administrators from around the country, constructed a four-classroom addition to a school in Constanza, a farming community in the Dominican Republic.
While Constanza’s mountain views are very beautiful, its people live in grinding poverty, and this is what drew Ms. Rotz to volunteer for the project.
“I couldn’t not do it,” she said in a recent interview. After learning about the initiative, which is sponsored by the school photography company, Lifetouch, Ms. Rotz, who paid her own way, reported that “the part that jumped out at me was how our kids are so giving here. It was a chance for me to give back with other educators.” It was indeed a “chance,” since participants were chosen through a lottery held several months before the actual trip. The four extra classrooms means that 200 more children will be able to attend the school in morning and afternoon sessions.
Participating in the new construction (there was “a lot of lifting”) was only a piece of the experience for the assistant principal and her colleagues. Local workers helped with the project, teaching the volunteers how to work with cement and stucco obtained from area businesses. While the school administrators had been taught about cultural differences and “what not to do” in preparation for the program “after a day or two you couldn’t tell who was who,” said Ms. Rotz. Relationship-building extended to friendships that developed among the volunteers, who are now talking about a possible reunion.
The presence of children was a particular boon, Ms. Rotz reported, with little kids’ hugs for the volunteers on the very first day. Lifetouch’s practice of taking photographs of children at project sites and giving them copies to keep and exchange with their friends added to local families’ pleasure in seeing the volunteers; most of the children had never had their pictures taken before. Ms. Rotz also appreciated the organizers’ careful divying up of supplies contributed by the volunteers, to make sure the crayons, backpacks, clothing, etc. were given to those who specifically needed them. The quantity of supplies each member of the group brought with them “took your breath away,” she observed.
Ms. Rotz was saddened by the poor conditions in which the people in Constanza live, describing “shacks a quarter the size of my office” housing at least seven or eight people. Perhaps even more striking to her, though, was the fact that the shacks were decorated with Christmas lights, and people were happily celebrating the season. Ms. Rotz sounded apologetic as she described the relatively upscale rooms, showers, and food the volunteers enjoyed.
“It does change you,” she observed. “I’m grateful for what I have in my life, but saddened at what others don’t have.” She is already thinking about a return trip to Constanza, where the next stages of the project will include building vocational and playground facilities at the school.
A live video feed, now available on YouTube, enabled special education teacher Joyce Turner and her class to follow Ms. Rotz’s experiences in Constanza while she was there.
For more information about Lifetouch visit www.lifetouchmemorymission.com.
What are the implications of consolidation for Princeton Community Television (TV30), the public access cable station created by the Borough and Township of Princeton in January of 1997?
“Our core mission will remain the same,” said Executive Director George McCullough in a recent interview. “That is to provide the public with the means, know-how, and the tools to broadcast their own programs.”
While area residents are probably most familiar with TV30 through its regular programs likeКEducation Roundtable, Skyrocket Your Business, Reed and Ponder, and Back Story, and access to archived coverage of municipal meetings, Mr. McCullough noted that TV30’s “first priority is teaching.”
An upcoming “Video Basics” class on Wednesday, January 2, for example, reviews the proper care of the cameras and accessories available for loan at the station, and teaches participants how to begin shooting with automatic settings. The one-half hour class, which is mandatory for anyone wishing to borrow field equipment, is usually held the first Wednesday of each month, and is limited to six participants. While Mr. Mr. McCullough allows that “it is nice if folks watch” TV30 programs, “I get a bigger thrill out of someone who puts together their first show or edits their first film.”
“I think it would be safe to say that Princeton TV may very well be the largest producer of local content in the state,” he added, noting that Princeton TV” is looking to develop a full digital media curriculum,”
While TV30’s Valley Road building location is likely to change in the coming months, its next home has yet to be determined. “The new government is offering us space in the soon to be vacated Borough Hall, reported Mr. McCullough. “This offer is very generous,” he said, adding however, that “the board and I are assessing if it will be good fit for us in the long haul.” Of primary concern is “the station’s tremendous growth in our memberships and in the number of people using our services. And it looks like we will be continuing on this trend for a while. Finding a space that would allow us the room to continue this growth is important to us.”
The station’s current funding sources — “member support, donations, grants, some work for hire, and franchise fees which are the lion’s share of our funding” will remain the same after January 1, although Mr. McCullough said that they will also “be seeking new sources of funding to develop Princeton/New Jersey programming.” This includes “looking to have the Princeton business community sponsoring our activities.”
“Helping to provide the community with a new facility, and offering the new government any help we can if they need it,” are givens, said Mr. McCullough. Some community officials are already members of TV30’s board, and some “have been in touch.” In the meantime, though, he is philosophical. “Princeton has its hands full at this moment. I’m willing to wait until the dust has settled.”
The station believes that their archive of online municipal meetings, a resource that began several years, ago, has been good for the community and they expect to continue doing it.
In this season of wish lists, Mr. McCullough reflected on what he would like Princeton TV’s future to look like. If the new government doesn’t need it, possible scenarios include use of the Borough’s municipal channel. What would he do with it? “Although a challenge, I would like to use this opportunity to develop a New Jersey channel much like C-SPAN. Of course it would require outside funding, but I see a need that is not being filled,” he said.
“Also on my wish list,” he added, “would be to start a low power fm (lpfm) radio station. The FCC recently expanded the number of available licenses. If the opportunity comes along it would nice to give folks the chance to have a radio show.”
The Princeton Board of Education agreed last week to change the annual election date for school board members from the third Tuesday in April, to the November general election, beginning in 2013.
The Board voted 6 to 1 in favor of the change. Molly Chrein cast the sole dissenting vote; two members, Dorothy Bedford and Afsheen Shamsi, were absent.
While most New Jersey school districts opted to make the change when it first became an option earlier in the year, Princeton stayed with an April election date in 2012. Among the factors for the change of heart at this point were cost savings and greater voter turnout in the November election.
In response to previously expressed concerns about the elimination of the annual vote on the proposed general fund tax level if the election is held in November, the Board was careful to note that it “believes that the financial interest of its constituents is safeguarded by the state’s [2 percent] tax levy cap and the thorough review of the proposed school budget by the Executive County superintendent and the Executive County School Business Administrator.”
The annual organizational meeting of the Board will take place in the first week of January following the November general election. As a result, the Board’s next organization meeting will take place in the first week of January 2014. Members of the Board whose terms would have expired by May 2013 will continue to serve in office until the January 2014 organization meeting.
This year Princeton weathered a major hurricane, opened a spanking new community park and pool, elected a mayor for the new municipality, coped with Route 1 left turn prohibitions, and prepared for consolidation, which officially takes effect on January 1. The University’s proposed Arts and Transit will become a reality, while the future of an AvalonBay development at the hospital’s former site on Witherspoon Street remains uncertain. University President Shirley Tilghman announced her retirement, effective this June, and the Township said good-bye to two retiring officials, Administrator Jim Pascale, and Police Chief Bob Buchanan.
Once voters approved the consolidation of Princeton Borough and Township last year, a Transition Task Force was put in place to guide the merger of two municipalities into one. This highly detailed project involved numerous subcommittees and the participation of citizen volunteers. The committees met with nearly every department in the Borough and Township to determine the most painless way to streamline operations before the new form of government is officially unveiled on January 1.
Both governing bodies named appointees to the Task Force. Led by Chairman Mark Freda, the group of 12 made recommendations on everything from office furniture to pension plans; from shade trees to trash collection. Some of the ideas they advised the governing bodies to approve must ultimately be confirmed by the new Princeton Council to be sworn in January 1. The Task Force held a public forum early this month to help inform citizens of what to expect once the new form of government goes into effect.
With extensive property damage and long-lasting power outages, it took a while for Princeton residents to dig out from Hurricane Sandy, a “super storm” that hit the East Coast in late October.
In an initiative that boded well for consolidation, Borough and Township police and other personnel joined forces to respond as a single entity to emergencies, issue alerts, and begin the daunting task of picking up the trees and limbs that lined — and often blocked — local streets. In his attempt to take care of a tree on his property, William Sword became the area’s only storm-related fatality.
Princeton Public Library and Princeton United Methodist Church were among the havens of light, warmth, and electricity during the first days after the storm. Opening doors to the front of the library, lobby, and community room at 7 a.m. on Thursday, November 1, the library had a record 8,028 visitors between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Princeton public school children will be attending three additional days of school in 2013 — February 15, April 1, and June 20 — to make up for days lost during the storm. Princeton University had about 50 trees come down on campus as a result of the super storm and Director of Communication Martin Mbugua noted that there were “dozens” of reports of “blocked roads, damaged vehicles, fences, and other property.” In its end-of-year commendations, Princeton Township cited the University for helping with emergency response teams, and, on election day, for making Jadwin Gym available as a polling place.
In the days following the storm, schools, businesses, churches, synagogues, and other organizations held drives that collected much-needed supplies for devastated coastal communities.
The Hospital Move
Amid much fanfare, the University Medical Center of Princeton relocated in May from its longtime headquarters on Witherspoon Street in Princeton Borough to a glittering new facility on Route 1 in Plainsboro. While only a few miles from the old location, the new, $522.7 million hospital is a world away in terms of technology and design. The 636,000-square-foot hospital is the centerpiece of a 171-acre site that includes a nursing home, day care center, a park, and additional facilities. Each of the 231-single-patient rooms have large windows and high-tech capabilities.
Nine years in the making, the new facility is closer to a large percentage of the people the hospital traditionally serves, executive director Barry Rabner said during the opening week. A special open house was held for the community in the days before the official move took place.
Looking for ways to ease traffic congestion on Route 1, the New Jersey Department of Transportation announced in March a decision to implement a 12-week experiment that eliminated left turns for Route 1 northbound motorists at Washington Road and Harrison Street. Protestations from the public and local officials regarding timing — the trial would coincide with the opening of the new hospital near Harrison Street — led the DOT to postpone the program until August. While the trial eased some traffic flow on Route 1, motorists were getting stuck on ancillary roads, and parents in the area were fearful for their children’s safety as cars used their driveways to make U-turns in order to correct routes affected by the jughandle closings. When demonstrations were organized by West Windsor residents on Washington Road, NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson closed down the pilot program two weeks short of its projected finish date.
Arts and Transit
Thanks to a December 18 vote in favor of its $300 million Arts and Transit proposal by the Planning Board, Princeton University can now begin to put its ambitious plan for an arts complex into action. The approval came after many contentious meetings of the governing bodies, nearly all focused on the fact that the terminus of the Dinky, which connects Princeton Borough and Princeton Junction station, will be moved 460 feet south as part of the plan.
Few had problems with the design for the Lewis Center for the Arts, which will include new teaching, rehearsal, performance, and administrative spaces designed by architect Steven Holl in a cluster of village-like buildings. Landscaped open spaces and walking paths that are part of the plan have drawn almost unanimous approval from officials and the public. This year, the University hired architect Rick Joy to design the renovation of the two Dinky station buildings, which will be turned into a restaurant and cafe.
Borough Council passed a resolution in July opposing the plan to move the station stop. And Save the Dinky, a group of citizens opposed to the idea of moving the Dinky, has filed lawsuits related to the contract of sale from 1984, when the University bought the Dinky shuttle line, and to its historical significance. See the story in this issue for details.
Not satisfied with the plan for a rental complex proposed by the developer AvalonBay Communities, area residents, including those in the neighborhood surrounding the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton, waged a relentless campaign to convince the governing bodies that it was not right for the town. Their hard work was rewarded on December 19 when the Regional Planning Board voted to deny the application. It remains to be seen what the developer’s next step will be. See the story in this issue for details.
Like the rest of the country, the majority of Princeton voters supported the reelection of President Obama. Democratic Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) won an easy victory over his Republican challenger, Eric A. Beck.
Locally, Princeton voters elected Democrat Liz Lempert over Republican challenger Dick Woodbridge as the new mayor of consolidated Princeton. The six Democrats running for the new Council, Bernie Miller, Patrick Simon, Heather Howard, Jo Butler. Lance Liverman, and Jenny Crumiller were all elected. The sole Republican challenger was Geoff Aton.
Princeton voters also endorsed an open space tax of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
A six-year dispute over whether to designate 51 properties in the town’s architecturally diverse western section remains undecided. Residents of the homes in an area bounded by portions of Library Place, Bayard Lane, and Hodge Road are divided over the question, and more than one meeting of Borough Council this year became confrontational as the residents aired their views. The Council was scheduled to vote on the issue on December 11, but an injunction filed by those opposed to the designation prevented them from doing so.
Those in favor say the designation will protect the neighborhood from tear-downs and the construction of new homes that don’t fit in with the existing architecture. Those opposed fear the restrictions that historic designation could impose on improvements and repairs to the exteriors of their homes. The question will be carried over to the newly consolidated Council.
Community Park Pool
After months of discussions about what should and should not be included, the new Community Park Pool opened on Memorial Day weekend and won kudos all summer long as record numbers of area residents signed on as members or came on a daily basis.
Improvements to the pool park included a 20 percent expansion of the diving well to accommodate more diving boards and a water slide, a fish-shaped kiddie pool, and a “family pool” adjacent to the lap pool.
As a result of consolidation, Princeton lost its “regional school district” identity and renamed itself “Princeton Public Schools.” Offered the chance to move the date for school elections to the general election in November, the School Board opted to keep it in April for this year; in December they opted to move the next election to April.
In this year’s April election, voters approved the 2012-13 Princeton Regional school budget that includes a tax levy of $63.4 million, elected new board members Martha Land and Patrick Sullivan, and reelected Rebecca Cox. Superintendent Judy Wilson acknowledged that “voter turnout was not as high as it usually is,” in the April election, but chalked it up to the fact that there was one uncontested race (Mr. Sullivan, in the Township), and a “non-controversial budget.”
In the November election, voters approved an additional infusion of $10.9 million for improvements to all of the schools’ infrastructures.
In the fall, St. Paul’s School learned that it had been awarded a 2012 “Blue Ribbon of Excellence” award, the highest prize the Department of Education can confer.
While the Princeton Public Library’s legal status will change with consolidation, the Board of Trustees chose not to proceed with a proposal that would have merged the Friends of the Library with the Princeton Public Library Foundation. In response to board President Katharine McGavern’s suggestion that “a single organization would make more sense from an accounting point of view,” the rest of the board voted to support what former President Claire Jacobus described as “the human capital that exists in the Friends.” This year’s annual Book Sale and Children’s Book Festival were, as usual, shining events for the library.
At Firestone Library on the Princeton University campus, renovations began on a project that is expected to be completed in 2018. The estimated cost is “in the nine figures,” and is being underwritten by the University, “just as they would a new laboratory for scientists,” said University Librarian Karin Trainer.
It took several contentious public hearings for the Regional Planning Board to come to a decision allowing the Institute for Advanced Study to go forward with a plan for a faculty housing development this past March. In July, the Princeton Battlefield Society filed an appeal in Mercer County Superior Court challenging the approval. Along with some historians, they believe the site is involved in the historic counterattack at the Battle of Princeton during the Revolutionary War, and therefore should not be disturbed.
Despite the legal action, and the June announcement that The National Trust for Historic Preservation had named the Princeton Battlefield to its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, the IAS plan for eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre section of the campus is going forward. The development of 15 homes is expected to include a 200-foot buffer zone next to Battlefield Park that will be permanently preserved as open space.
“It’s so fun to be reading with Gerry,” said poet Alicia Ostriker on Saturday afternoon at Labyrinth Books.
“Gerry” was another poet, Gerald Stern, a Pittsburgh native who has written 17 poetry collections and won the National Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award, among others. He currently lives in
Ms. Ostriker, a former English professor at Rutgers University and current resident of Princeton, was born in Brooklyn. Her writing includes 14 poetry collections as well as several books on the Bible, and her prizes include the Paterson Poetry Prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award, and the National Jewish Book Award.
The two are good friends, and on Saturday they complemented — and complimented — each other with their introductions, rapt attention to the others’ readings, and easy banter. It is not surprising to learn that they are currently sharing an “Arts of Respect” residency at Drew University.
Introducing Ms. Ostriker, Mr. Stern noted that her latest collection of poems, The Book of Life, is a reference to the Jewish belief that, on Yom Kippur, people’s fates for the coming year are sealed in a heavenly book. “Jews are so obsessed with books that their God is even a librarian,” he joked.
Ms. Ostriker described the volume as a “diaspora of poems” that “speak to each other” about what it means to be Jewish, female, and a poet, “yesterday and today.”
Her selections on Saturday afternoon included a poem about being with her relatives Becky and Benny in Far Rockaway, a place that “is past the last subway station” where aging Jews, “warty like alligators,” soak up the sun “as if it were Talmud.”
Segueing from that first generation that was “so full of yearning for the young ones,” she read poems about the joys of being with a grandchild; Allen Ginsburg’s saintliness; being in Israel; and, more than once, arguing with a God who allows tragedies like the bombing of Kosovo to take place. “Judaism is at a turning point,” she observed as she finished. Although we “don’t know how yet,” she suggested that these differences would occur because “women will help imagine it.”
Ms. Ostriker transitioned to her role as introducer, by walking around the podium three times. She described Mr. Stern as “our mad poet … a cross between Whitman and Rimbaud,” who deserves his many prizes.
Reading from a recently published book of essays, Stealing History, Mr. Stern cast an eclectic net as he considered everything from dragonflies to Turkish restaurants in Paris.
Wearing a cap and well-worn jeans, Mr. Stern explained that rather than being “essays,” the works in Stealing History were divided into “sections” that reflect the “chaos you will encounter” in life. “Essays would be more meditative,” he observed. “This gets right to it.”
One reviewer described the book as “patient and wise, but also frenzied, angry — kind of wild. It’s loose and free, but also elegantly written. The work is a trip, full of humor, wit, and wisdom.”
The essays are very personal, as is Mr. Stern’s poetry. A poem about Eleanor Roosevelt in In Beauty Bright imagines Mrs. Roosevelt meeting Vice President Henry Wallace for lunch at One Fifth Avenue so that they can plot on ways to get Franklin to do good. Briefing the audience on Saturday about the poem, Mr. Stern said that as a young man, he regularly read Mrs. Roosevelt’s column, “My Day,” and that he kept a photograph of her next to one of his grandmother. “’Did you know her?’” he reported someone asking. “’Sure,’” he replied. “’But you didn’t,’” said the other. “’Sure I did,’” responded Mr. Stern. “’I wrote a poem about her.’” Other poems were about Whitman in Camden (“Broken Glass”), a little white Fiat (he had to run with it and then jump in to get it started), and Nietzsche (“he suffered from shame and sadness in different cities”).
“I’m a spy on myself,” said Mr. Stern. In their awareness of what’s human, unjust, inexplicable, and very funny, Mr. Stern and Ms. Ostriker are members of the same ring.
“I spent the weekend, as did many fellow heads of schools, listening to the news for any details of the story that could shed a light on how we might better protect our students from such violence,” said Stuart Country Day School Head Patricia Fagin in the aftermath of the December 14 tragedy at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“Our hearts are broken for our neighbors in Newtown,” wrote Community Park Elementary School Principal Dineen Gruchacz on that school’s website. “We will be prepared on Monday morning to handle our children with love and care.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the students, teachers, and families of Newtown, Connecticut,” said Principal Gary R. Snyder on the Princeton High School website.
In remarks to be delivered at Tuesday evening’s School Board meeting (after Town Topics went to press), President Tim Quinn plans to say that “while this heinous act will continue to spur many substantive discussions about violence in our society and about school safety, speaking personally, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the principal and school psychologist who ran toward gunfire, and the teachers who shielded their students from bullets. Their actions were brave, selfless, and student-focused.”
In a letter to the Princeton Community, Superintendent Judy Wilson advised parents and teachers to “model calm and control; reassure children that they are safe; remind them that trustworthy people are in charge,” and “let children know that it is okay to feel upset.” In similar letters to parents and teachers, school officials like Ms. Fagin expressed their condolences to the Newtown community, described the availability of school psychologists and counselors ready to work with children distressed by the images, descriptions, and conversations going on around them, and listed additional resources that provide coping strategies.
They also reassured parents about the safety precautions in place — and now, not surprisingly, being reviewed — at each school.
“Inevitably, events like this stimulate review of our own safety procedures,” said Headmaster Jonathan G. Brougham in a letter to the Hun School community. “As the details of the Sandy Hook events unfold further, I assure you we will consider them carefully, and, if necessary, apply what we learn.”
“As you know, we have made security a priority at Stuart and have brought on board highly trained and experienced security professionals with extensive law enforcement backgrounds,” wrote Ms. Fagin in her letter to parents. “As part of our protocol, we regularly conduct various safety drills. Today we had a prescheduled lockdown drill during which faculty and staff secured the students in classrooms.
“Under normal circumstances, lockdown drills may create uneasiness, and in light of today’s tragedy, children may feel particularly ill at ease,” she added.
A message on the Johnson Park Elementary School website reported on the availability of Ms. Wilson’s district website message, adding that “we will be marshalling resources to help parents and staff members deal with inevitable questions that our children may ask (or may be too frightened to ask).”
Community-wide responses include an “Interfaith Gathering of Remembrance, Unity, and Hope” sponsored by the Princeton Clergy Association on Thursday, December 20, from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. on the Palmer Square Green in front of the Nassau Inn. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as they try to cope with their unimaginable losses,” said Clergy Association Treasurer Robert Moore, who is also head of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action. “But let us do more than think and pray for them,” he added. “Let us remind our neighbors, friends, and families that gun violence in this nation is an epidemic and we must fight.”
Mercer County administration has also posted an online message about the shooting, noting that those who are “feeling particularly affected by this tragedy and would like to speak to someone about it ”may call Mercer County Human Services professionals Michele Madiou or Ann Dorocki, at (609) 989-6897.
At its final official meeting, Township Committee honored employees and volunteers for their help during this last year, and for their years of cumulated service.
Recognizing employees first, Mayor Chad Goerner observed that it had been a “challenging” year for them. “They underwent a certain amount of stress, and they stepped up to the challenge,” he said, referring to the unusual demands posed by the consolidation process.
Princeton University was also among the awardees on Monday evening, as Mayor Goerner presented Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristen Appleget with a “special proclamation” that recognized the University’s role in helping to supply emergency services during Hurricane Sandy. The proclamation also noted the University’s willingness to open Jadwin Gym to voters from seven districts on Election Day, when other polling places became unavailable due to the storm. The University was cited for providing “critically needed assistance that helped return normalcy to the Princeton community.”
Members of the Consolidation Commission and the Transition Task Force were also honored for their contributions. Reviewing the history of consolidation efforts in Princeton, Mr. Goerner said that a report prepared by the League of Women Voters in 1952 anticipated much of the language used in the most recent С and ultimately successful С effort. The 1952 report described how the Borough and the Township were no longer distinctly urban versus suburban communities, and how consolidation would achieve “first rate municipal services.”
Both Consolidation Commission Chair Anton Lahnston and Mayor-elect Liz Lempert thanked Mr. Goerner for his early and sustained support for consolidation.
Making a point of saying that they were not paid for with taxpayer dollars, Mr. Goerner presented gifts to each member of Township Committee.
Township Committee will gather once more on Thursday, December 27, at 10 a.m. to do some “housekeeping.”
The reinstallation of a windmill at the Updike Farmstead was cause for celebration at a recent party hosted by The Historical Society of Princeton. Guests admired the handiwork of E&R Pumps and Windmills, a Bethel, Pennsylvania-based restorer, and viewed three new exhibitions in the farmhouse galleries, including early photographs of the windmill.
The Historical Society of Princeton purchased the six-acre Updike Farmstead from the estate of Stanley Updike in 2004. The original windmill was taken down in 2006 for safety reasons. Its recent restoration was underwritten by contributions from Steve and Treby Williams and Ann Lee Saunders Brown, and managed by architect Ronnie Bregenzer, who donated her time and services. Other contributors included Baxter Construction, and project engineer Harrison Hamnett. The pump house was refurbished by Sam Pirone.
“The windmill, which retains the original tank structure, is an iconic feature of the farmstead that will be the centerpiece for new environmental programs on site,” said Curator of Education Eve Mandel. These include the newly-dedicated Sipprelle Unity Garden.
The Unity Garden, which was made possible by a grant from Scott and Tracy Sipprelle, is now “at the core of education programs on health and wellness,” said Ms. Mandel. Some of the produce grown there is donated to area organizations; in October, for example, student volunteers from the Princeton Friends School harvested spring mix lettuce that was used in a Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) dinner at the Princeton Methodist Church. More recently, guests at the windmill party pitched in with juice boxes and paper products that were donated to the CCK, which works in partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
“The Windmill Turns Slowly,” a 2005-2006 exhibition at the Society’s Bainbridge House location, featured photographs of the Homestead’s last working years, taken during the 1990s by Updike descendent Michael Johnson,
The history of the Updike farmstead dates back to 1890, when George Furman Updike and Mary Hartwick Updike settled on the site, which is located off Quaker Road.
Descending in the family line with George Furman Updike, Jr. and his wife Dora Drake Updike and their eight children, the farm was actively tilled until 1969, when grandsons Stanley and Sewell, sold the cropland to the Institute for Advanced Study with the understanding that the acreage would remain farmland. The Updike family retained six acres which included the farmhouse, barn, chicken coop, woodshed, corn crib, and orchard.
Through the 1990s, Stanley Updike and his sister, Sarah, maintained their farm routines. Stanley gathered eggs from the chicken coop, sprayed the peach trees, and split firewood. Sarah canned fruit, tended to the garden, and prepared their daily meals. The Historical Society of Princeton purchased the farm’s six acres from the family upon the deaths of Stanley and Sarah.
Updike Farmstead, which is currently open to the public one Saturday each month, will be open on December 15, from 12 to 4 p.m., when children will be invited to create a holiday card while parents browse the farmhouse galleries.
Quaker Road is open to Farmstead visitors from the Mercer Street side during open hours.
Other upcoming events at Bainbridge House include a December 28 commemoration of Woodrow Wilson’s birthday, 100 years after his election as president of the United States; a December 29 celebration of the USS Constitution (“Old Ironsides) and her captain, William Bainbridge; and a “Battle of Princeton Walk” on January 5.
Bainbridge House is located at 158 Nassau Street. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m. To register for a program, call (609) 921-6748 ext. 102, or email email@example.com. Visitors to Bainbridge House through December 14 are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy that will help a child celebrate the season.
For more information, visit www.princetonhistory.org, or call (609) 921-6748 x102.
Mayor-elect Liz Lempert and members of the new Princeton Council met on Friday morning in a closed session to discuss, Ms. Lempert said, “personnel matters.” Selecting a president for the governing body was presumably among the items on the agenda, though no final decision has been announced.
Ms. Lempert also reported that a “training meeting” was scheduled to take place this week. Transition Task Force attorney Bill Kearns would be present, she said, to “make sure everybody knows what all the details are in a borough form of government.”
Council members include current Township Committee members Bernie Miller and Lance Liverman; current Borough Council members Heather Howard, Jo Butler and Jenny Crumiller; and newcomer Patrick Simon, who has not held office before, but served on the Princeton Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission; and the Information and Technology, and Finance Subcommittees of the Transition Task Force. Ms. Lempert is a Township resident. All seven are Democrats.
Speculation about who the Council president will be has included Mr. Miller, perhaps the most seasoned member of the newly created Council, and Ms. Howard. There has also been some suggestion that the president should be someone from Borough Council who has had experience with that form of government.
The new Princeton municipality will consist of a council governing body of six representatives and a mayor, all of whom are elected at-large. The mayor will serve a term of four years while the council members will be elected for three year terms. The mayor will not vote, but will preside over the body and break tie votes.
Because the mayor and Council have not officially assumed their respective offices, no voting can occur at any of these meetings.
In the new year, the new mayor, with the consent of Council, will be selecting members to serve on the municipality’s successor Boards, Committees, and Commissions (BCCs), with the highest priority placed on those BCCs governed by state law. In the meantime, the Transition Task Force’s Committees and Commissions Subcommittee has asked those interested in being on a committee to use the volunteer form available online at the Borough and Township websites, or to mail print copies that can be obtained at the Princeton Public Library or municipal clerks’ offices.
The next meeting of the mayor-elect and Council open to the public will be on Wednesday, December 12, at 5 p.m. in the main meeting room of Township Hall. Another open meeting will follow, in the same place, on Thursday, December 20, at 7 p.m.
The Center for Governmental Research (CGR), the Rochester-based, independent, nonprofit management consulting organization that helped guide Princeton’s consolidation and transition processes, has been retained by Hopewell Township in Mercer County to “conduct a strategic review of efficiency opportunities in its administrative functions and service delivery,” according to CGR spokesperson Vicki Brown. The project is expected to be completed mid-2013, and will cost approximately $70,400.
“I think their work is terrific, and they’re terrific to work with,” said Princeton Consolidation Commission Chair Anton Lahnston of his experiences working with CGR.
CGR President Joseph Stefko is project director and a senior consultant to the new project team, and CGR Senior Associate Scott Sittig is serving as project manager for the Hopewell initiative. Both Mr. Stefko and Mr. Sittig participated in the Princeton engagement.
Although no specific requests for recommendations were made, Mr. Lahnston recalled speaking with at least one elected official from Hopewell when he attended a Princeton Public Library open meeting on consolidation. He also remembered talking with Mr. Stefko about Hopewell.
“As I understand it, their work is focused on how to create some better opportunities for shared services,” Mr. Lahnston said. “It makes perfectly good sense to me. There are some obvious similarities with Princeton, and CGR has become familiar with this geographic area and some of the ‘inuenendos’ of the State’s Department of Community Affairs.”
“The Hopewell project is a different type of study from Princeton, in that it seeks to identify internal efficiency opportunities,” confirmed Ms. Brown. “It does not concern consolidation, but, in a general sense, the objectives are similar: reviewing operations, service and governance options in an effort to enhance quality, generate cost savings and/or improve the overall effectiveness of the Township’s operations and services to the community.”
The CGR/Hopewell project will involve a “comprehensive” review of existing municipal services and processes as a baseline for developing “a range of options for enhancing efficiency, both town-wide and within individual departments,” said Ms. Brown. Particular attention will paid to finding opportunities to reduce costs to the Township and taxpayers; free up resources that can be reallocated to other municipal and community priorities; and “enable service-level enhancements within the existing cost structure.”
Hopewell Township serves a growing population of 17,300 in a 58-square-mile area 40 miles northeast of Philadelphia. It is a full-service municipality, providing a range of services including police, public works, tax collection, court, and tax assessment. It was incorporated by the New Jersey Legislature in 1798.
Princeton public school children will be attending three additional days of school in 2013 — February 15, April 1, and June 20 — to make up for days lost during Hurricane Sandy.
In the event of more cancelled school days, the Board of Education has identified May 24, June 21, and June 24 as potential make up days.
In addition to approval of these dates, last week’s meeting of the Board of Education included a discussion of annual election dates. Offered the choice once before, the school board opted, by a five to four vote, to keep elections for new and returning school board members and budget approval in April. The Board’s discussion last week anticipated voting once again on the April-or-November question at its next meeting, on December 18. As they did before, members of the Board spoke to both sides of the issue.
Superintendent Judy Wilson offered some background on the question, noting that, for many decades, every public school district in New Jersey was required to hold April elections. Princeton was joined by about 70 other districts that kept April elections in 2012; she suggested that this year, “we may be the only district staying in April.”
By opting to move to the November general election Princeton would save about $40,000. The downside of that, according to some, is loss of the municipality’s ability to vote on the year’s proposed budget, and an overshadowing of educational concerns by other elections occurring at the same time. Ms. Wilson noted that only between nine and eleven percent of Princeton’s potential voters usually participate in the April election, and that the coming election will be the first time that Princeton voters will be voting as one entity, rather than electing Borough and Township representatives.
“I still believe that the public has a right to vote on any part of their tax bill, since we are up to 50 percent of the local property tax,” said Board President Tim Quinn, defending April elections. “It’s an exercise in democracy.”
Mr. Quinn pointed out that a particularly well-qualified candidate for the Montgomery school board was defeated in November because the excitement of the presidential election overshadowed an opportunity for the community to get to know her. Giving Perth Amboy as an example, Mr. Quinn also expressed concern about “the presence of outside groups” and “outside money” that have “tried to undo the action of duly elected board members.”
Noting that she is the last school board member to have been elected by the Borough, nine-year board veteran Rebecca Cox said that she would like to see the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) “look at each and every ballot and determine whether quality vs. quantity informs who is elected.” She suggested that being in a minority of districts still holding elections in April may make it difficult for Princeton to get the NJEA’s attention. Typically, she reported, the NJEA responds to arguments that November elections become “too political” by saying that most school boards are already “heavily political,” and being run by local machines. She said that NJEA regards the practice of staying in April as “quaint.”
Citing the cost savings and the fact that more voters turn out for the general election, Board member Dan Haughton spoke in favor of moving the election to November, “if we really want to encourage democracy,” while Afsheen Shamsi, spoke in favor of April elections, and focusing “solely on education issues.”
Mr. Haughton said that since recent budgets have been limited by a two-percent cap, the loss of the community’s ability to vote on the budget “won’t make a lot of difference; it’s pretty much a given what the budget is going to be.” Ms. Wilson and Ms. Cox countered by saying that maintaining the public budget vote (i.e., keeping the April election) is “risky,” because when a budget is voted down, it goes to the governing body. Dorothy Bedford seemed to support keeping an April election by suggesting that the Board wouldn’t “want the public to have the impression” that the Board is “cavalier” and budgets all the way up to the two percent cap. “We’re usually somewhat below,” she observed.
Ms. Cox worried, however,
that time spent promoting each year’s budget takes school officials away from time spent educating students.
Community input on the election question is encouraged, and comments can be made on school district’s website, www.princetonk12.org.
In other business at the Board meeting, Student Achievement Committee Chair Andrea Spall reported on Princeton High School Principal Gary Snyder’s request that asterisks indicating levels of achievement be removed from students’ names on graduation programs.
With “day one” of consolidation fast approaching, the Princeton Transition Task Force hosted an informational “town hall” meeting on Monday evening at the Princeton Public Library.
Center for Governmental Research (CGR) President Joe Stefko presented an overview of the 100-plus page document described by Chairman Mark Freda as the Task Force’s “almost final” report. The current version, in its entirety, is available online at cgr.org/princeton; a final report is due to be completed by the end of this year.
Mr. Stefko has been a project manager and consultant on consolidation and transition since 2010 (“I still love to come to Princeton,” he joked on Monday). The report, he noted, includes “a process overview” detailing the identification of priority tasks and subsequent recommendations by Task Force subcommittees.
The report will serve as “an informational resource” for residents, other stakeholders, and the new governing body as they go forward with consolidation, observed Mr. Stefko. “So much of Task Force’s work was focused on the immediate, but January 1 is just day one of a new era.” By detailing each subcommittee’s responsibilities, recommendations, and the processes through which they reached their recommendations, the report provides a basis for “what should be on participants’ radar screens” after January 1. Transition Task Force subcommittees included Boards, Commissions and Committees; Communications; Facilities and other Assets; Infrastructure and Operations; Informational Technology; Personnel; and Public Safety.
Future consolidation efforts by other communities also stand to profit from the report, suggested Mr. Tefko. “When they go through this process, there’s a lot that they can learn.”
A “Guide to Municipal Offices” distributed at the Monday meeting listed the offices that are, or will be, situated in both municipal buildings. Township Hall, which is identified in the brochure as “400 Witherspoon Street,” will house the mayor and Council; Clerk’s Office; Administrator’s Office; Finance Department; Police Department; Court and Violations Bureau; and Department of Engineering. Borough Hall, or “One Monument Drive,” will be home to the Health Department; Human Services; Affordable Housing; Department of Public Works and Infrastructure; Parking Operations; and an additional office for the mayor and Administration.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Administrator Bob Bruschi describing the move. “Most of the offices have been relocated and we’re a little ahead of where we anticipated we’d be. I have to say it’s gone amazingly well.” Updates on office locations are also available at the consolidation website.
The Township and Borough voted in favor on consolidation on November 8, 2011. The Transition Task Force was established by the two municipalities’ governing bodies in January, 2012. Consolidation will officially begin on January 1, 2013. A party marking this historic occasion, will follow an organizational meeting. Details of the day’s events have not yet been announced.
There will be a joint meeting of the Consolidation Commission and the Transition Task Force on Monday, December 17, at 7 p.m. in Township Hall.
Saint Paul Catholic School (SPS) of Princeton boasts several distinctions. It is the oldest Catholic school in Mercer County, and the oldest private elementary school in Princeton. Founded in 1880 by the Sisters of Mercy of Watchung, it is Princeton’s first and only coed Catholic school.
The 350-student, K-9 grade school recently distinguished itself in another way, by winning a 2012 “Blue Ribbon of Excellence” award from the Department of Education.
The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Program was created in 1982 to “identify and recognize outstanding public and private schools across the United States of America.” The award is the highest prize the Department of Education can confer. To qualify, private schools like St. Paul’s, must rank in the top ten percent of the nation; public schools must rank in the top ten percent in the state. In Princeton, the only other school to have won the award was the Princeton Charter School, in 2004. Nationwide, this year’s winners include 216 public schools, and 50 private schools. All of the schools were recognized by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a recent ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” said Mr. Duncan at the ceremony. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”
At a joyful ceremony of its own last week, the Saint Paul’s community, which welcomes students of all faiths, gathered to celebrate its success. A bagpiper played as everyone filed into Saint Paul’s Church.
In his opening remarks, Reverend Monsignor Joseph N. Rosie noted that all the learning that goes on at SPS — not just the religious training — are means of “learning about God’s wonder.” A video presentation showed SPS students at work, at play, and at prayer. Most recently, students participated in a collection that sent five vans filled with supplies to aid Hurricane Sandy victims.
In addition to the Blue Ribbon award, SPS has had first- and second-place wins for the last 12 years in an area-wide “scholarly olympics.”
“From whom much is given, much is expected,” observed Superintendent of Catholic Schools JoAnn Tier, invoking Matthew 20: 1-16. Mr. Duncan’s observation that “exemplary schools don’t just happen; they happen by design,” was also cited that morning.
The Transition Task Force’s Committees and Commissions Subcommittee met on Monday morning to discuss “filling out the complement” of committee members who will serve when consolidation becomes official on January 1, 2013.
All Boards, Commissions, and Committees for both Princeton Borough and Township will cease to exist as of December 31. In practical terms, this means all terms of office will end on that day. In the new year, the new mayor, with the consent of Council, will be selecting new members to serve on the successor Boards, Committees, and Commissions (BCCs), with the highest priority placed on those BCCs governed by state law.
“I’m encouraged,” said subcommittee member Hendricks Davis of the number of responses to the initial call for volunteers. He added, however, that “not every single seat in every single committee will be filled on January 1. The door to the stable has not been closed, and there is a continued need to reach out to people and encourage participation.”
Approximately 180 people have come forward so far; over 200 positions need to be filled. Mr. Hendricks and the other subcommittee members in attendance at Monday’s meeting, Wanda Gunning, Bernie Miller, and Gary Patteson, agreed that it is considered good practice to have a larger cadre of potential volunteers than will be needed. It was also agreed that municipal lawyers will offer guidance to committees that have not yet reached their full complement.
Mayor-elect Liz Lempert has reportedly suggested that there be “a table” offering BCC applications and information at the January 1 organizational meeting. The subcommittee is hoping that the historic nature of the meeting that day will draw a large audience, and that those who haven’t already volunteered will be moved to do so.
Until then, the volunteer form for serving is on both the Borough and Township websites and can be completed online. Hard copies of the application form are available in the Clerk’s Office at either the Borough or Township, and the Public Library. These should be submitted to Township Municipal Clerk Linda McDermott, 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540. Questions may also be directed to Ms. McDermott at (609) 924-5704.
Volunteering for a committee does not in any way ensure that a person will become a member. Qualifications are important, and, in some instances, committee members are required to specialize or have certification in areas like engineering, medicine, or architecture. This is particularly true of some of the state-mandated BCCs, which include the Planning Board, the Construction Board of Appeals, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation, the Board of Health, Human Services, and the Library Board. It was noted that Princeton-based architects are sometimes reluctant to serve on the Planning Board because of the need to recuse themselves from certain cases.
In their applications, prospective volunteers may indicate their first, second, and third choice of committees, boards, or commissions, and may serve on more than one.
Mr. Patteson suggested that there was “no conclusion to be drawn” from the response so far, except that “we have to go back and ask people.” Ms. Gunning and Mr. Miller agreed that it would be good to remind current committee members about this opportunity to continue serving the community.
The focus was on buildings and grounds at last week’s Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Judy Wilson and other members of the Board reiterated their thanks to the community for passing a September referendum that will support $10.9 million in infrastructure repairs and upgrades to district schools. At the same meeting, which had originally been scheduled for October 30, Ms. Wilson reported that school buildings and playing fields came out of Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed. The meeting concluded with the presentation by Kip Cherry of a proposed resolution focusing on the disposition of the old section of Valley Road School building.
In her comments about the recent storm, Ms. Wilson described Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi as “tireless, steady, and accurate” in fulfilling his role as “key communicator” between the schools and the public.
The Princeton Public Library was also acknowledged for providing a haven in the days during and after the storm. “Hundreds of our children were sitting on the library floor reading and chatting,” Ms. Wilson reported. “What a sight it was.”
Custodians and maintenance staff, under the leadership of Director of Plant/Operations Gary Weisman, were recognized for putting in as many as 50 hours at a stretch at school buildings over the course of ten to twelve days. “They made a huge difference in our ability to open again,” Ms. Wilson noted.
The only damage sustained by any of the schools was to the roof of the gym at Princeton High School, where repairs are already underway.
Repairing the Valley Road School Building was the subject of Ms. Cherry’s presentation. “I’m not expecting you to vote on it tonight,” she said as she distributed copies of the proposal prepared by by Valley Road Community Center, Inc. “Consider it a draft for your future support.”
Ms. Cherry noted that portions of the building are “in dire need of repair” and “will become an eyesore or safety hazard if not addressed.” The proposal to create a “Valley Road Community Center” is not a new one, but Ms. Cherry reiterated some of its specifics, including the creation of affordable spaces for non-profit theater and arts organizations which will work together in a synergistic environment. Ms. Cherry was careful to note that the purposes of the Center would be consistent with the Princeton Public School’s mission, and that environmental issues would be met in creating it.
The suggestion, this time, that the Board “partner” with the Valley Road Community Center, Inc., may have been a new one. “You haven’t been with us,” Ms. Cherry commented, noting that a partnership would enhance fund-raising opportunities and garner support for the project from the Planning Board and new municipal Council.
Thanking Ms. Cherry for a “thoughtful proposal,” Ms. Wilson reminded everyone about the Board’s “time frame” for considering what to do with the Valley Road building. Since they were committed “to go to work on this issue after the first of this year,” she said, she did not expect “any public discussion on this in next six weeks.”
Ms. Cherry expressed the hope that things would move a little faster, since water is currently leaking into the building. “The building can’t be reused if the water situation is not stabilized,” she noted.
Ms. Wilson responded by saying that Township officials are aware of the water situation.
In non-building related discussions, the Board approved a revised policy that addresses all tobacco use by students. Curriculum changes were made to “align with state requirements,” reported Student Achievement Committee Chair Andrea Spalla, and, at the teachers’ request, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be taught to sixth graders this year.
“Our commitment is to make sure no one is hungry, and no one is homeless in Mercer County,” observed HomeFront Founder and Executive Director Connie Mercer. “The storm just made it harder.”
While many families had to to throw away the contents of a single freezer after days-long power outages, HomeFront lost the content of several industrial-sized freezers in their headquarters at 1880 Princeton Avenue in Lawrenceville.
And, although many people missed one or more days of work because of the storm, most paychecks will remain the same. At HomeFront, where many of the women are hourly employees, the loss of time means the loss of income. “These are the working poor,” said Ms. Mercer. “They live from paycheck to paycheck.” Ms. Mercer reported that she has a list of “a lot of big employers” like the State government, that are not paying hourly employees for time missed because of the storm.
HomeFront has experienced a 20 percent increase in homeless families needing help, and a 40 percent increase in requests for food as a result of the storm. In the meantime, the 20-year old organization’s programs to intervene and prevent homelessness; to offer children’s programing — including academic help; and its job readiness training, keep going. The organization’s commitment to literacy — the waiting room is stocked with books for clients to take home — is also going strong.
At the Mercer Street facility, HomeFront accepts donations of food, personal hygiene items, appliances, furniture, household goods, books, and more, to support its clients as they transition from need to self-sufficiency. On Monday afternoon, workers were unloading a truck full of Thanksgiving baskets donated by Bloomberg. At holiday time and throughout the year, HomeFront food packages focus on proteins, fresh produce, cereal, and other healthy foods. Donated goods are sorted by volunteers, a mainstay of the organization’s existence. More than one person, however, mentioned the facility’s overriding need for diapers.
Seasoned staff members like Brenda Whitaker, who runs Huchet House, HomeFront’s residence for homeless women pregnant with their first child, are always one step ahead of her clients. The contract that young women sign upon entering Huchet House is an exacting one that ensures they will keep doctor appointments, make good nutritional choices, and refrain from using drugs and alcohol during their pregnancies. Once their babies are born, baby sitters are in place so the young women can go back to work or to a new job obtained because of HomeFront preparation. “You must be self-sufficient before you get pregnant again,” Ms. Whitaker tells these young women in any number of “heart-to-heart” discussions.
One initiative that brought HomeFront up a little short is their “Kinship” program, which assists grandparents to assume responsibility for their grandchildren when the need arises. These returning caretakers lose senior housing apartments in the process, and require more medical care than participants in other HomeFront programs.
HomeFront’s Women’s Initiative will be hosting its third annual “Share, Shop, Give” event on Thursday, November 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. The event “will be an opportunity for women to network, holiday shop, and enjoy an evening out,” said Initiative member Denise Taylor. “Approximately 15 to 20 vendors representing great ideas for holiday gifts will be set up and open for business.”
“Our goal is to support HomeFront and the wonderful work they do in our community,” said event organizer Faith DeJean. “We also want to encourage anyone who may not know about HomeFront to come and learn more. It is a great organization which has a proven track record of providing a comprehensive network of services for the poor and homeless in Mercer County.”
To learn more about “Share, Shop, Give,” contact Denise Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ms. Dejean at email@example.com.
For more information about HomeFront, visit homefrontnj.org, or call (609) 989-9417.
At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee unanimously supported a proposal to hire an outside environmental consultant to review documents associated with AvalonBay’s plans to develop the former site of the Medical Center at Princeton. In a split vote last week, Borough Council did not approve the plan (see related article).
Township Committee’s vote authorizes the payment of not more than $2,999 to Sovereign Consulting, a New Jersey-based environmental consulting and remediation firm. Although not finalized, it was agreed to proceed under the assumption that Sovereign’s fee would come out of AvalonBay’s escrow account. AvalonBay attorney Anne Studholme had suggested that the fee be borne by the municipality.
Township Committee member Bernie Miller, who is also a member of the Planning Board, noted that there was “considerable concern” about environmental issues at the site, and suggested that it was important to proceed. Township Engineer Bob Kiser thought that the review could be done “fairly quickly” and would be “consistent with the current schedule.”
Mr. Kiser spoke about the importance of removing or “properly decommissioning” abandoned tanks at the site, noting that there are at least four that “will probably need to be removed,” although current AvalonBay plans do not provide for their removal. The site straddles both the Township and Borough, and there are abandoned tanks in each; Mr. Kiser suggested that they are so “intertwined,” it would be difficult to separate a response to them.
“I feel pretty strongly that this is something that we should do,” added Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Chad Goerner’s absence. “We want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence.”
In other business Monday evening the Township approved a proposal to expand First Aid and Rescue Squad headquarters at 237 Harrison Street. Expansion costs will be paid by the Squad, which already serves both the Township and the Borough.
Other agenda items included the reading of a proclamation declaring Saturday, November 24 as “Small Business Saturday.” Small businesses, the proclamation said, “create jobs, boost economy,” and “preserve neighborhoods.”
Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo explained a resolution extending the due date of real estate taxes to November 21 because of Hurricane Sandy. She said that the Borough would be passing a similar resolution with the same date.
Artist Jean Lareuse was born in 1926 to Catalan parents in French Guiana, Africa, and while his career has been international in scope, he has left his particular stamp on one of Princeton’s favorite historic sites: the Princeton Battle Monument adjacent to Morven and Borough Hall.
A ceramic frieze created by Mr. Lareuse in 1998 and located at the foot of the Monument, commemorates the August 31, 1781 meeting in Princeton of the army of King Louis XVI, commanded by General Rochambeau, and the army of General Washington, during their march to victory in Yorktown. The work was commissioned by the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, and French officials were present at its dedication. Mr. Lareuse’s wife, Caroline, was included in the day’s celebration, having been invited to join the Honorary Committee of the French Consulate in New York City.
Longtime residents of Princeton, the Lareuses live in an art-filled house on Shadybrook Lane. Chagall, Mr. Lareuse’s favorite painter, is well-represented along with Miró and Picasso, who was friends with Mr. Lareuse’s father. Other shelves are lined with sets of books handed down by Ms. Lareuse’s family, which included several Princeton alumni.
Mr. Lareuse continues to paint — at an admittedly slower pace — in a well-lit, back room of the house. An area of the garage has been designated for packing and mailing paintings, as well as copies of Mr. Lareuse’s books. These include a heavily illustrated catalog, Jean Lareuse: Le Plus Catalan des Peintres Américains (The Most Catalan of all American Painters); a tribute to his adopted country called L’Amérique, la magnifique (in French); and a children’s book, Devils in the Castle (in English). The artist is looking forward to a new show of his paintings in Toulouse, France, this spring.
Mr. Lareuse’s subjects cast a wide net. His early youth was spent near the Longchamp Racecourse in France, and scenes of jockeys tensely poised above their competing horses is a favorite theme, along with depictions of well-dressed men and women watching in the stands. A later childhood experience, growing up among priests to whom he was sent after his mother’s death, is reflected in a variety of religious images, and include work in stained glass. Still later, the colors used by Impressionists appealed to Mr. Lareuse’s Catalan sensibility. A recent cataract procedure has restored his passion for bright color after an interval of painting darker pictures.
Mr. Lareuse reported that he actually began painting at the age of 13, and studied in the south of France. He eventually attended the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. His first one-man show, in 1948, was in Paris at the Galerie Ariel, and his second, also in Paris, at the Galerie Drouant-David in 1952. Since then, he has taken part in many group shows, including the Biennale de Menton and the salon d’Automne. His paintings hang in galleries in London, Caracas, New York, Montreal, and Washington, D.C., among others.
There’s sadness when Mr. Lareuse talks about his mother’s early death (he was six), and when he talks about publishing his children’s book — which is actually related to his mother’s death. While he was sent to a school run by priests, Mr. Lareuse’s sister was sent to a convent school, and Devils in the Castle was inspired by her experiences there. Unfortunately, he said, when it was published in 1979, critics suggested that his images of uniformed girls were based on Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeleine stories. Since the stories that inspired it took place long before Madeleine, perhaps, Mr. Lareuse suggests, Bemelemans copied him.
Mr. Lareuse will be appearing at Labyrinth Books next spring at a time to be announced. In the meantime, signed copies of Jean Lareuse: Le Plus Catalan des Peintres Américains are available by calling Labyrinth at (609) 497-1600.
Did you hear the one about the American Boychoir School? Among the local stories about Sandy and the nor’easter that have emerged in recent days, it’s one of the nicest.
Although scheduled to move to the Princeton Center for Arts and Education (formerly St. Joseph’s Seminary) on Mapleton Road where it will join the Princeton French Academy and Wilberforce School, American Boychoir School (ABS) has remained at its old location on Lambert Drive while updates are being made to its future home. Unfortunately, Lambert Drive was among those Princeton neighborhoods that lost power for an extended period as a result of Sandy; no small hardship for a school where boarders outnumber day students, and a holiday season’s worth of concerts is quickly approaching.
“There were 12 students here when the storm hit,” recalled Assistant Head of School K.P. Weseloh. The subsequent return of a group of choristers who had been out touring almost tripled that number.
Thanks to Princeton’s Trinity Church, which offered classrooms, and to the good will of nearby students’ parents, grandparents, and other friends of the ABS community, all 32 boys were almost seamlessly housed, fed, and schooled — and well-rehearsed. With beautiful spaces at Trinity and Princeton Theological Seminary in which to practice, you could say that the boys didn’t miss a beat.
“If you like chaos, it’s fun,” observed Ms. Weseloh, who was among those providing care and shelter for boys last week. “They’re having a ball meeting new people, living in new spaces, and having new experiences.” The electricity on Lambert Drive returned this weekend, but until then, the boys were welcome to remain in their temporary homes as long as needed.
“If you ask someone to help, they’re more than willing to do it,” Ms. Weseloh reported. For host families, there was the “fun of hearing about the lives of boys who have perfect pitch and travel around the world to perform.”
The boys follow an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule, so breakfast and dinner were with their host families, while lunch was at the Church. Princeton Windrows, a retirement community located near the school’s future home in Plainsboro, also stepped up to the plate by offering to house the boys. With all the other volunteers coming forward, though, it wasn’t necessary.
Last Thursday, then, was what had become a routine day for ABS students in their new quarters. After a day of academics, members of the choir trooped into the chapel to learn new songs under the tutelage of Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, ABS’s Litton-Liddal music director. Addressing them as “gentlemen,” Mr. Malvar-Ruiz encouraged the boys to sit forward, corrected their pronunciation of Latin words, beckoned them to sing out, and to repeat certain passages. Already beautiful sounds (the boys know how to sight read) became even more beautiful.
The American Boychoir’s upcoming schedule includes a performance of music from Wozzeck, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra of London at Avery Fisher Hall, in Lincoln Center on Monday, November 19, at 8 p.m. On Thursday, November 29, at 6:30 p.m. they will perform The Christmas Rose with Jane Seymour and the Tim Janis ensemble in Carnegie Hall.
Closer to home, on December 7 at 7:30 p.m. the choir will appear in a concert of “Winter Wonders” at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton; in a program called “Voices of Angels” at the Princeton University Chapel on December 15 at 7:30 p.m.; and in the December 16 “Winter Wonderland Concert” at 4 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus.
In the coming year, area residents will be welcome to hear free, open choir rehearsals once a month on Friday afternoons; check www.americanboychoir.org for updates.
The only non-sectarian boys’ choir school in the nation, American Boychoir School was founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937, and has been located in Princeton since 1950. Regarded by many as the United States’s premier concert boys’ choir, it includes boys in grades four through eight, with students from across the country and around the world.