August 8, 2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Dear Princetonians,

With deep regret and sadness, I write to update you about our plans for the fall, and, in particular, to explain why Princeton has decided that its undergraduate program must be fully remote in the coming semester.  In brief, the pandemic’s impact in New Jersey has led us to conclude that we cannot provide a genuinely meaningful on-campus experience for our undergraduate students this fall in a manner that is respectful of public health concerns and consistent with state regulations and guidance.


August 5, 2020

Despite the heat, children enjoyed some play time and the shade of the tall trees at Marquand Park. People share their favorite summertime memories in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika R. Plohn)

New Jersey was pounded on Tuesday, August 4, by Tropical Storm Isaias, bringing fierce winds, heavy downpours, and two small tornadoes to the Garden State. Here in Princeton, the police department reported that, in the three hours between 11:01 a.m. and 2:01 p.m., there were over 50 trees or limbs down, 22 reports of wires down, and multiple traffic signals out. About 36,000 PSE&G customers were without power by mid-afternoon. This included thousands of local residences and businesses, including the town’s central business district. There was debris on many roadways, and people were urged to stay home, even after the storm subsided in late afternoon.

By Donald Gilpin

“We are not going to be safe against COVID-19 until a vaccine or suitable treatment is available for our population,” warned Princeton Public Health Officer Jeff Grosser earlier this week. With case numbers increasing, Grosser criticized breaches of rules on social gatherings, along with inadequate support for public health systems and failures of many other states to apply lessons learned from the early outbreaks and epidemiological evidence.

Though Grosser noted the progress made locally, he remained less than optimistic. “Princeton has done a tremendous job of moving restaurant dining outside, preparing workplaces for safe business, masking up while outside, preparing our public employees for work amidst a pandemic, etc.,” he said. “The unfortunate certainty of this virus is that it is not just going to go away. All members of our town must act like a cohesive team to root out this virus, which includes holding everyone accountable for the negative and positive effects of our actions.”

The Princeton Health Department on Monday reported four new cases in the past seven days, nine in the past two weeks, with 16 active cases, 207 total positive cases, 160 recovered with isolation completed, 18 COVID-related deaths, and 12 additional probable COVID-related deaths.

Acknowledging that more cases of COVID-19 will appear as state restrictions are lifted, Grosser  expressed growing concern with the high percentage of new Princeton infections, which have been attributed, through contact tracing, to social gatherings. “Through spot checks on portions of town, we know that residents are abiding by public health executive directives, but it’s far too common to find out that new infections are the result of a lack of compliance,” he said.

Grosser pointed out that failure to follow social distancing guidelines and lack of facial coverings, particularly at social gatherings, have sparked a number of recent cases.  The Health Department continues to emphasize the importance of social distancing and masks.

The Princeton Health Department’s “mask ambassador” was on the job on Nassau Street on Saturday afternoon, August 1, handing out about 200 free face masks. Of the 246 people who passed in front of the Princeton Garden Theatre between 3 and 3:30 p.m., 211 (85.77 percent) were wearing a mask. Between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, 229 people passed with 149 (65.07 percent) wearing a mask. 

Princeton Press and Media Communications Officer Fred Williams noted that many of the people not wearing masks were in groups of people, family, or friends, and others had taken their masks off while consuming a recently-purchased drink.  The next mask distribution date will be August 11, possibly in Palmer Square. more

By Donald Gilpin

Joint Effort Safe Streets 2020, dedicated to the memory of Romus Broadway, continues into its second week with a virtual forum on Wednesday, August 5 at 6:15 p.m. on “The Future of Princeton and Community Development Hot Topics.”

Featured presenters will include Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter on police-community relations; Chris Foglio Palmer on affordable housing in New Jersey and Princeton; Bob Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) on the Witherspoon Street corridor; Josh Zinder on Maclean Street, Griggs Corner, and John Street projects; Leighton Newlin on Franklin Avenue and Maple Terrace; and Michelle Pirone Lambros on redevelopment in the shopping center area.

Mayor Liz Lempert, Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz, Princeton Mayoral Candidate Mark Freda, Princeton Council President David Cohen, Councilman Dwaine Williamson, architect and Princeton Future President Kevin Wilkes, Princeton Civil Rights Commission (CRC) member and community nonprofit leader Fern Spruill, Princeton YMCA CEO Kate Bech, Arts Council of Princeton Interim Director Jim Levine, Princeton CRC Chair Thomas Parker, and Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) candidates Jean Durbin and Hendricks Davis will participate as panelists.

“I’m excited about this event because we’re talking about the future of this town,” said Joint Effort Program Coordinator John Bailey. “What will the town look like 20, 30, 40 years from now? I thought it would be important to have a clarifying and therapeutic conversation about affordable housing with people who are considered experts in the field to try to get us all on the same page. All of these issues are about history, the hindsight, what it used to be; the insight, what is the current dynamic; and foresight, what will the town look like going forward?” more

By Anne Levin

It isn’t just that he wants to spend time with his family, which now includes four grandchildren. Barry Rabner, president and CEO of Penn Medicine Princeton Health for the past 18 years — since it was known as Princeton Hospital — is ready for a change.

The medical center announced last week that Rabner, 68, will retire as of January 1, 2021. “It was a combination of things,” he said Monday when asked what steered him toward the decision. “Having the grandchildren was reason enough, because that’s a big part of our life now. But I think it’s just the right time.”

The press release announcing Rabner’s retirement lists the changes, expansions, and accolades that the medical center received during his tenure — recognitions for nursing excellence, designation as a leader in health care equality for those who identify as LGBTQ, the doubling in outpatient capacity at Princeton House Behavioral Health, a five-fold increase in medical staff, partnerships in fitness and wellness, ambulatory surgery, gastroenterology, and a partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, among other achievements.

Perhaps most significant are the design and construction of the new hospital in Plainsboro, which the small hospital on Witherspoon Street moved to in 2012, and the decision to join the University of Pennsylvania Health System in 2018. more

DON’T STOP THE MUSIC: Jacobs Music is hoping to find a new location to continue selling Steinway pianos and hosting recitals by the local music community.

By Anne Levin

Jacobs Music Company is closing its longtime Lawrence store. But all is not lost for area musicians who have purchased pianos and performed in the store’s recital hall for the past few decades. Plans are underway to find a new location.

“The area around us is kind of decaying, and many of our neighbors are leaving,” said Senior Vice President Bob Rinaldi of the store on Brunswick Pike that has sold pianos and hosted recitals since the 1980s. “So we’re thinking to move a few miles north of 95. We don’t know where yet. We’re contacting agents now.”

In the meantime, a store-closing sale is underway, by appointment only. Jacobs Music is the exclusive dealer representative in the area for new, pre-owned, and factory-restored pianos made by Steinway & Sons at their factory in Queens, N.Y. The Lawrence store is a branch of the main Jacobs location in Philadelphia, which was established in 1900. Other branches are in Cherry Hill and Shrewsbury; and in West Chester, Doylestown, and Ephrata, Pa.

The pandemic is a major reason for the closure. “It’s not easy as a retailer to pay rent when there’s no revenue being generated,” said Rinaldi. “The thought is, why pay rent if it’s not going to be a great environment in the fall?” more

By Donald Gilpin

Community policing, public safety, police violence, defunding the police in the context of the fight for Black lives, and hopes for Princeton’s future were all topics up for discussion in a July 26 dialogue between Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter. Lempert will be stepping down as mayor at the end of the year after her second term (eight years) in office, and Sutter will retire on October 1 of this year after 25 years of serving the community, the last six as police chief.

In a 90-minute virtual conversation sponsored by the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, moderated by Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, and attended by about 80 participants, Sutter emphasized the importance of change in policing and in the Princeton Police Department (PPD).

“I embrace change,” he said. “Our department and its culture embrace change. More departments nationally should do that. A culture in a police department that embraces and accepts change will be progressive and more successful.”

Sutter commented on the biggest change he has seen during his career in policing. “When I began in policing 25 years ago the police told the public what was good for the community,” he said. “Thankfully what has changed is that we now listen to the community. In Princeton we’ve made an effort to engage the community, to listen and to see what’s needed for the community. We’ve tried to address the expectations, needs, and wants of the community from the community’s perspectives.” more

By Anne Levin

According to the Rider University website, “Westminster Student Advocacy” is the topic of a Summer Town Hall series discussion scheduled for Thursday, August 6 at 1 p.m. The event, which was planned by the Student Government Association in conjunction with University administration, is designed to give students a chance to ask President Gregory Dell’Omo, members of his board, and others, about the fall semester.

This semester is significant for Westminster Choir College, and not only because of the restrictions of COVID-19, which is particularly devastating to singers. The term marks the first since Rider has relocated Westminster, with which it merged in 1992, from its longtime Princeton location to the Rider campus in Lawrence Township. The move has been a source of controversy since it was announced a year ago, after the University tried unsuccessfully to sell the Princeton campus to a for-profit company from China.

Whether Rider will be able to eventually sell the campus depends on the outcome of two lawsuits, which are still pending. The appeal briefs are due in September, according to attorney Bruce Afran, who is representing a group of students, alumni, and others who have sued the University claiming terms of the 1992 merger prohibit the sale.  Meanwhile, the University has gone ahead with plans to relocate the Choir College.

In a July 29 mailing to Westminster alumni from Dean Marshall Onofrio, the status of Westminster’s various choral ensembles was outlined in reference to the global pandemic. In the message, Steve Pilkington of the Conducting, Organ, and Sacred Music Department called the next 10 months “a kind of institutional gap year.”  After multiple meetings and virtual discussions, and review of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, a plan for Westminster’s renowned choral program “in what is probably the most challenging year in the College’s history” was developed. more

New Leadership, New “Reconnecting” Plan at PFS

Princeton Friends School (PFS) has a new head of school, a new leadership team, and a “reconnecting” plan to bring the entire student body back to campus for a five-day-a-week program this fall.

“Drawing on its deep-rooted Quaker tradition of ‘standing still in the light,’ PFS is poised to adapt to the new realities of what it means to be back at school,” a PFS press release states.

New Head of School Melissa Carroll will be joined by two new senior administrators, Robbin Washington-Smart as director of strategic enrollment management and financial aid, and Sherika Campbell as director of advancement.

With small class sizes and a traditional emphasis on outdoor learning in their wooded surroundings, PFS teams have been working on plans to use the grounds to maximize outdoor capabilities and efficiencies. 

In addition to on-campus learning, PFS states that this year will be a hybrid virtual learning experience that will allow all students to actively engage, whether at home or on campus.

Four new members — Alison Sommer-Sayre, Brandon Jacobs, Nadir Jeevanjee, and Stephen Fox — will be joining the PFS school committee this fall, and Caroline Clarke, who has previously served on the committee, will be rejoining. more

By Stuart Mitchner

The screen test was shot over the shoulder of a bewigged man in period costume, presumably the title character in Danton, a film of the French Revolution that was never made. The young actress clearly has had experience, her voice and diction are excellent, she projects a spirited youthful appeal (“I want to see the king. I want to tell him how things really are”), but as soon she becomes emotional (“my mother is sick, we don’t have enough to eat”), you’re rolling your eyes, and when the man responds with loud laughter at the idea that the king would care, you think at first he might be mocking her performance. Danton cares enough to give her money for bread, a gesture that surprises and touches her and leaves her struggling for words, she’s choked up, virtually speechless, radiant with gratitude (“Oh you — you’re — wonderful!”) as she bolts from the room.

Put yourself in the place of whoever’s reviewing the test and you’ve gone from feeling judgmental (that bit about the sick mother) to wanting more of her, you’re sorry she left, you’re already missing her. Forget the low grade you’d give her reading of the hackneyed dialogue, forget the French Revolution, forget the test: she’s a delight, the camera loves her (as the saying goes), she matters, she’s there, and in spite of the mob cap and period dress, spirit and energy like hers don’t date, she’s “modern,” the surge of life that briefly filled that space some 80 years ago transcending decades of films, fads, and fashion, something fine and true shining through.  more

SIBLING ARTISTS: Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, above, is among the artists whose music will be streamed by Princeton University Concerts, which has canceled fall season live events. Her brother, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, will perform with her. (Photo by Robin Clewley) 

In accordance with Princeton University’s recently announced policies regarding campus operations in the fall term, Princeton University Concerts (PUC) has canceled all previously planned concerts and events through December 2020.

This includes concerts with the Takács Quartet with pianist Jeremy Denk (October 15); violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien (November 11); Richardson Chamber Players (November 22); and the Tetzlaff Quartet (December 3); Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard family program (October 24); and First Monday of the Month Listening Parties with host Matt Abramovitz on October 5 and December 7.

No tickets had been released for these events, and tickets for the remainder of PUC’s 2020-2021 season will continue to be withheld until a determination can be made about policies for events on campus in the spring. Every effort will be made to reschedule as many of these canceled events as possible to future seasons.  more

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced the appointment of Adam Welch as the organization’s executive director, effective September 1.

“As a seasoned professional with an extensive background in arts management and fundraising, we look forward to having Adam Welch bring his creative vision, wealth of experience, and artistic excellence to the Arts Council of Princeton,” says Sarah Collum Hatfield, board president of the ACP.

Welch joins the ACP from Greenwich House Pottery in New York City, where he has worked for 17 years, serving as its director since 2010. At Greenwich House Pottery, he set the institutional vision for the country’s leading ceramic art center; refocused its mission; turned its six-figure deficit into a surplus; developed the exhibition, education, and residency programs; documented, researched, and helped organize its historical record; implemented capital campaigns; and developed its gallery and artistic publications. Welch raised necessary scholarship and capital funds and oversaw management, fundraising, budget, and public relations in close collaboration with its faculty and staff.

PAPER CRANE PROJECT: On view in the Taplin Gallery at the Arts Council of Princeton through August 29, this installation of 10,000+ colorful paper cranes contributed by the community is a celebration of love, eternal strength, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

The Princeton Paper Crane Project, on view at the Arts Council of Princeton through August 29, is a celebration of love, eternal strength, and resiliency of the human spirit.

The project was developed in the spring of 2020, when a symbol of hope was needed most.

Led by Miya Table and Home, the Princeton Paper Crane Project is an exercise of hope and healing. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity and peace. Senbazuru (a thousand cranes) is a well-known tradition in Japan that promises to grant a wish to anyone who folds 1,000 cranes.  more

“MURALS ON FRONT STREET”: The Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has partnered with Trenton artist Leon Rainbow for the fourth consecutive year to bring live mural painting to Front and Broad streets in downtown Trenton. The live painting began on July 30 and will continue with new murals created by a dozen local artists through September 20. 

Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has announced that it received a $25K grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) to support continued community-based arts programming, including the popular “Murals on Front Street” project.

This much-needed financial boost has made it possible for TDA to partner with Trenton artist Leon “Rain” Rainbow for the fourth consecutive year in bringing live mural painting to Front and Broad Streets in downtown Trenton. Murals on Front Street gives different artists each week a chance to transform boarded-up panels of an old parking garage into striking, meaningful works of art. The live painting began on July 30 and will continue with new murals created by a dozen local artists through September 20. 

“We are overwhelmed by the support we have received over the years from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts,” said Meaghan Singletary, development and project manager for TDA. “This year we are especially grateful to have the opportunity to redirect funds originally slated for the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series concerts in a way that positively impacts our community and shines a light on Trenton when the city needs it most.”  more

FRIENDLY FACES: “All our employees love the dogs. Their love and support for the dogs is their highest priority. We have a truly dedicated and loyal staff,” says Carole Lini, founder and owner of All Good Dogs Daycare & Boarding. Shown are daycare counselors and attendants Lexi Corrington (standing), holding chihuahua B.B., and Carly Goldman on the sofa with mixed breed Snickers.

By Jean Stratton 

From the time she was a little girl, Carole Lini loved animals. Growing up with dogs and cats, she spent many hours playing with her four-footed friends.

As the years passed, the pleasures of being with animals and caring for them continued. She became a veterinarian technician, and then operated her own pet sitting business. And for more than 20 years, her mission has been to provide dogs with a safe, friendly, and comfortable “home away from home.”

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, All Good Dogs Daycare & Boarding has established an outstanding reputation in the Princeton area and beyond. Founded and owned by Lini, the business has two locations:  160 Basin Road in Lawrence Township and a smaller boutique facility at 113 Schalks Crossing Road in South Brunswick. Both locations are just a 10-minute drive from Princeton, points out Lini.

These cage-free kennel alternatives offer dogs a safe, friendly, stimulating, clean, and comfortable environment in which to socialize with other dogs under the supervision of trained counselors. more

RED ALERT: James Proctor fires a pitch during his career with the Princeton University baseball team. Shortly after graduating from Princeton in June, Proctor signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Over his Tiger career, Proctor posted a 2-16 record in 28 starts with 133 strikeouts in 137 2/3 innings and a 5.88 ERA. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Jim Proctor made his major league debut with the Detroit Tigers just over 60 years ago after being named the South Atlantic League’s most outstanding pitcher in 1959.

James Proctor always dreamed of the chance to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. The 2020 Princeton University graduate took a big step toward that goal when he signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Reds on June 15.

“I was really excited about that,” said Proctor, a 6’5, 215-pound native of St. Louis, Mo.

“I went over to his house after it happened and celebrated and talked. We talk about baseball all the time. He’s definitely my biggest inspiration to keep playing. That was something really cool to follow in his footsteps moving forward.”

Proctor’s grandfather played professionally for nine years mostly in the minor leagues and Negro League. Proctor knew at a young age of his grandfather’s success and wanted to mirror it.

“It was cool,” said Proctor. “It was something that initially piqued my interest in baseball. I just had to continue because I wanted to. I’ve always carried it with me knowing I can lean on him any time for advice with anything. It’s a different game now but there’s still a lot of things that translate into today’s game. To always having him to talk to about baseball because he went through the same things at a higher level than me — where I want to get to — just having someone in the family who’s been at the top level has been great.” more

STICKING WITH IT: Julia Ryan heads to goal during her career for the Temple University women’s lacrosse team. While Princeton High alumna Ryan’s senior season with the Owls was cut short this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she enjoyed a productive career, tallying 16 goals and 14 assists over her four years. (Photo by Zamani Feelings, provided courtesy Temple Athletics Strategic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Having displayed steady progress during her first three seasons for the Temple University women’s lacrosse team, Julia Ryan was primed for a big finale to her college career this spring.

“I was part of a class of 10 at Temple, so we had been waiting for our senior season since we walked in the door as freshmen,” said Ryan, a former Princeton High standout.

“We were such a tight unit and of the starting lineup, I think we had nine seniors and two juniors on the field. So it was a veteran squad and we were really looking to build.”

Ryan and the Owls showed their prowess in a tight 16-14 loss to then-No. 6 Princeton on February 15.

“The Princeton game was this huge moment for us because we really pushed them,” recalled Ryan, a 5’10 attacker who had an assist in the setback.

“At halftime, we were ahead 8-6 and we were all sitting in the locker room, saying guys we can do this. We have never had this feeling before. Even though we ended up losing, it was such a good, well-fought game. We were all so proud of ourselves, that was really an exciting game for us.”

But after getting off to a promising 5-4 start, the excitement ended for Temple as the season was canceled in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will never forget that meeting because the coaches were in there, they told us and then they left us alone and let us sit in a circle and talk,” said Ryan, recalling when she and her teammates learned that their season was over.

“Lacrosse is a great character building experience; it is also grueling for four years. I remember sitting there and I was very upset. I said to the group that I didn’t think I was going to be upset but I really am.” more

July 29, 2020

Kayakers enjoyed a refreshing ride on the Delaware & Raritan Canal in Princeton on Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

In a marathon meeting that stretched past midnight on Monday, July 27, Princeton Council unanimously passed five ordinances, four of which make up the final pieces of the town’s Affordable Housing plan.

The governing body voted on the measures after hearing dozens of residents comment, through  emails read aloud by Mayor Liz Lempert and live via Zoom, on the two main ordinances — one on a site at the southern edge of Princeton Shopping Center; the other the Franklin/Maple site. Both projects will go before the Planning Board and Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB), and there will be additional opportunities for public involvement.

“This is the culmination of a multi-year process involving a lot of work of current and former Council members,” Lempert said earlier in the day, singling out former members Lance Liverman and Jenny Crumiller for special thanks. She reiterated the goals of the plan, including providing housing for low and moderate income households, using a mix of different approaches, spreading the sites throughout the town, and being situated close to jobs, services, and transportation.

The Princeton Shopping Center site is for 200 new homes including 44 affordable units. The development would “have a tremendous impact on the shopping center, which has a lot of vacancies,” said Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who outlined the plan. “It will attract more tenants and customers. When you add 200 new residents along with the 200 that will be built at Thanet [a development planned for the northern end of the center], you’re adding significant economic impact.”


By Donald Gilpin

Joint Effort Princeton Safe Streets will kick off its 2020 program of a community reception and three community-wide Zoom discussions on Wednesday, July 29 at 5 p.m. with a forum on “Racism in Princeton, PHS Student Video, John Witherspoon Middle School Name Change, and More.”

The annual week-long series of events celebrating Black culture in Princeton will continue next week with a virtual discussion on “The Future of Princeton and Community Development Hot Topics” on Wednesday evening, August 5 at 6:15 p.m.; a “Princeton Elected Officials Update and Candidates Forum” on Saturday morning, August 8 at 10 a.m.; and a Cynthia “Chip” Fisher and Romus Broadway Memorial Virtual Art Exhibit-Collage Slideshow and Community Reception featuring a community salute to Romus Broadway and the Jim Floyd Memorial Lecture and Gospel Music Hour, followed by an awards presentation ceremony, starting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 9.

As Black Lives Matter protests continue throughout the country and, locally, a Princeton High School (PHS) student video with racist content and a middle school named after a slaveholder cause ongoing consternation, the July 29 discussion could not be more timely. The panelists include former Princeton School Board member Fern Spruill, former Princeton Councilman Lance Liverman, Black Parent Affinity Group member Jason Carter, attorney Eric Broadway, Princeton Public Schools (PPS) teacher Joy Barnes Johnson, PPS School Board candidate Paul Johnson, Not In Our Town Coordinator Linda Oppenheim, PPS Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso, PPS Board of Education (BOE) President Beth Behrend, and Princeton Civil Rights Commissioner Thomas Parker.

The controversial student video, circulated on social media earlier this month, included former and current white PHS students at a party singing along with racist and homophobic lyrics, and not observing social distancing. The video was shared widely and, in addition to questions of racism and acceptable teen behavior, raises the question of the school district’s responsibility for behavior of students outside of school.

The PPS Black Parents Affinity Group has written a letter, signed by 19 members of the group and more than 100 supporters, calling on the BOE to “acknowledge the harm caused by this incident and the school district’s response, investigate and address the behavior of the high school principal Jessica Baxter, require the development of a mandatory racial literacy course in the high school, and immediately review the efficacy of the Peer Group program as it relates to students of color.”  more

By Donald Gilpin

Two incumbents, one former Board of Education (BOE) member, and five new candidates will be running to fill three available seats on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) BOE in the November election.  In the context of a pandemic, with the challenges of managing a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, a search to hire a permanent superintendent and assistant superintendent, and overseeing completion of referendum building projects, the stakes are high.   

BOE President Beth Behrend and Vice President Michele Tuck-Ponder will each be looking to win a second three-year term. Jessica Deutsch, did not file to run for another term, and will step down from the Board at the end of this year.  Bill Hare, who served on the BOE from 2017-2019 and declined to run in last year’s race, will join new candidates Paul Johnson and Karen Lemon in running as a team in the non-partisan November election. Adam Bierman, Hendricks Davis, and Jean Durbin have also filed to run in the BOE race, according to the Mercer County Clerk’s Office.

Behrend, a corporate attorney advising large corporations on financings, joint ventures, governance, and regulatory matters, who has served as BOE president since 2018, is the mother of three children who have gone through the PPS. “I am running for a second term on the Board of Education because I care deeply about preparing our children for their future, which is likely to look very different from our past,” she wrote in an email.

Behrend listed numerous accomplishments of the district administration and staff, supported by the Board, during her first term, and noted, “With experienced, professional board leadership, we can be strategic and fiscally smart, grow our strengths, improve where we can do better, listen to all voices, and ensure that our children are ready for whatever their future may bring.” more

RESTORED AND READY: The facade of the former Aaron Lodge No. 9 at 30 Maclean Street has been preserved and updated, with new architectural elements designed to complement the old. (Photo by Michael Slack, courtesy of JZA+D)

By Anne Levin

“For Rent” signs are up on Maclean and John streets, alongside a four-story building that once housed a local chapter of the Masonic Order in Princeton’s Witherspoon-Jackson historic district. Ten rental apartments, two earmarked for affordable housing, now occupy the site, which has been renovated and reimagined by local architecture firm JZA+D.

Managing partner Joshua Zinder consulted with former Freemason chapter members as part of the two-year process, transforming the 7,600-square-foot building, which was built in 1924, into apartments. The Masons purchased the site in 1945, and it was in use until it was bought in 2016 by a group of developers working in tandem with Zinder.

“Like any project, this one took longer and cost more than we expected,” Zinder said. “The challenge here was to maintain our commitment to LEED [green building rating system] and to the building’s historic elements. We pulled out all the joists and timbers, reinstalling them in pieces, and they are in the ceilings of the kitchens and dining rooms. There are little accents here and there where we tried to use the old materials as much as we could.” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton’s Slow Streets pilot program has been blocked, at least for now, with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) claiming that the initiative violates a 1955 statute which prohibits municipalities from restricting traffic on their streets. 

“We’re in a holding pattern,” said Princeton Council President David Cohen. “The DOT has put up some pretty high barriers for us being able to implement the Slow Streets at all. They want us to do traffic studies to lower speed limits, and if we want to do 48-hour closures they would want us to ban all cars from the neighborhood which would mean that residents couldn’t drive their cars in.”

The Council and the mayor are working with the New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition (NJBWC) and other advocacy groups to try to convince the governor’s office that the pandemic justifies changing the rules temporarily, Cohen said.   

He continued, “As an executive branch agency, the DOT doesn’t have the leeway to override statutory regulations that are in place, but the governor, as he’s done with other executive orders around the pandemic, could say, ‘We’re going to suspend this rule or that rule for the duration of the pandemic.’  We’re encouraging people to do advocacy through the governor’s office.”

Cohen said that the Princeton mayor and the municipal engineer had met with the DOT to try to work something out, but to no avail.

Starting in the last week in June, about a dozen residential streets were designated as Slow Streets, with drive-through traffic discouraged and vehicles asked to slow down to keep the streets safe for pedestrians and children.  more

By Anne Levin

The footage of Hurricane Hanna pounding parts of South Texas with 15 inches of rain last week was a grim reminder that hurricane season is officially here. And New Jersey could likely be in the eye of future storms to come.

With that in mind, the American Red Cross New Jersey Region is putting out a call for volunteers who can be trained and ready to help in the event of a disaster. At the same time, the municipality has recently launched a “Princeton Prepares” link on its website, advising residents to be ready for extreme weather events, especially with the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Should a large disaster occur, the coronavirus pandemic will make it challenging to deploy trained disaster volunteers from other parts of the country to help in our area,” said Rosie Taravella, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Readiness includes having boots on the ground in New Jersey and we have different ways to respond.”

There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. “People can go to and get a bunch of information on how to shelter and feed people, plus a lot of the basics,” Taravella said. “We’re also encouraging people with a health service background — especially if they have a current license — to help. We have some agreements with universities and colleges and hotels, but in the event of a large shelter, we would need [licensed] people to check on folks.” more