September 24, 2014

After three hours of often contentious discussion, much of it between the lawyers for the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the Princeton Battlefield Society, Princeton’s Planning Board last Thursday postponed its vote on whether to approve a revised proposal by the Institute for faculty housing.

The vote is now scheduled for the Planning Board’s October 16 meeting. In March 2012, the planners unanimously approved the project, which would build eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre parcel of the campus. But after the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission later voted against the proposal because of its encroachment on the stream corridor, the development, now slightly scaled down, came back before the Board for a new vote.

The new plan presented to the Board is modified to include smaller lots, a third of an acre further away from the stream. Though the Board opted early in the meeting to limit testimony to the subject of adjusted lot lines on the previous plan, Bruce Afran, the lawyer for the Battlefield Society, argued repeatedly that it was inappropriate to bar testimony not on that subject.

Battlefield Society members have opposed the development from its inception more than a decade ago because of its proximity to the Princeton Battlefield State Park, where key battles of the American Revolution took place. Testifying Thursday night were witnesses for both sides of the issue, as well as members of the public, some of whom repeated testimony they had given at past hearings. Nearly every seat in Witherspoon Hall was filled with people sporting “I support IAS” buttons on one side; and “Save the Princeton Battlefield” on the other.

A representative of the Civil War Trust told the Board that preserved battlefields serve as outdoor classrooms. “Every acre of this hallowed ground that is lost now will be lost forever,” he said. Former Princeton Borough Councilman Roger Martindell said that while he supports the Institute, he wonders why the development can’t be moved to a different location on the IAS grounds. “Is this particular site the only site?,” he asked. “I haven’t had an answer to that to my satisfaction, and I urge you to vote no.”

Another member of the public proposed that the IAS approach homeowners on Battle Road, which is adjacent to the campus, about putting the development there. David Shure, who lives on Stockton Street, spoke in opposition to the development. “No change has happened on this site in more than 225 years,” he said. “It is of national significance. Once we allow building to happen, we’ve lost it. That’s not coming back. Do you want to be the Board responsible for destroying the integrity of a nationally significant site that has stood undeveloped for 225 years?”

Former Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand spoke in support of the development. “I think it’s appalling that it’s almost 2015 and we’re still debating this,” she said. “This is not on the historic battlefield. This is on land owned by the Institute.” Ms. Marchand encouraged the Board not to be threatened by Mr. Afran’s promise of additional lawsuits. “I urge you to end this Battle of Princeton tonight and vote for this application,” she said.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEW JERSEY: The Princeton Battlefield Society is among several local institutions celebrating New Jersey’s 350th anniversary this weekend. On the schedule at the Battlefield, 500 Mercer Street, are artillery demonstrations, musket drilling for kids, a National Marine Corps Museum Display, ice cream making, music, the return of General George Washington (played by Sam Davis), encampment demonstrations,; the performance of Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” and much more. Also celebrating with events are Princeton Public Library, Morven, the Historical Society of Princeton, Rockingham, Drumthwacket, and the Princeton University Art Museum. For a full description and schedule of events throughout the weekend, visit by A.J. Pocheck)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEW JERSEY: The Princeton Battlefield Society is among several local institutions celebrating New Jersey’s 350th anniversary this weekend. On the schedule at the Battlefield, 500 Mercer Street, are artillery demonstrations, musket drilling for kids, a National Marine Corps Museum Display, ice cream making, music, the return of General George Washington (played by Sam Davis), encampment demonstrations,; the performance of Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” and much more. Also celebrating with events are Princeton Public Library, Morven, the Historical Society of Princeton, Rockingham, Drumthwacket, and the Princeton University Art Museum. For a full description and schedule of events throughout the weekend, visit (Photo by A.J. Pocheck)

Princeton’s historic preservation groups are coordinating to provide a weekend of activities to celebrate New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary this weekend, September 26 to 28. Activities are planned at the Princeton Battlefield State Park, Morven Museum and Garden, at the Historical Society of Princeton’s sites at Updike Farm and Bainbridge House, as well as at Rockingham and Drumthwacket. The Princeton Public Library and the Princeton University Art Museum will also be offering special anniversary related activities.

Most of these locations offer free public parking save for the Princeton Public Library and Bainbridge House, and a free shuttle bus will loop between several sites on Saturday.

As if to bookend the weekend’s activities, the Princeton Public Library is presenting two lectures, one on Friday evening and another on Sunday evening. Tom Fleming speaks on “The Quest for Justice in the American Revolution,” Friday, September 26, at 7 p.m., and Arthur Lefkowitz focuses on “Black Soldiers in the American Revolution,” on Sunday, September 28, at 5 p.m. Details of both talks can be viewed on the Library website:

Courtesy of the Princeton Battlefield Society, events kick off at the Battlefield State Park on Saturday at 11 a.m. and run through the day until 7:30 p.m. There is sure to be lots of information on the early days of New Jersey as well as Princeton’s role in the American Revolution. A town crier will alert visitors to Royal Artillery demonstrations; displays from the National Marine Corps Museum; military encampment demonstrations of cooking, laundry, spinning, medicine, and others; musket drilling for kids; ice cream making and tasting; long-sword display; a display of work by members of the Princeton Photography Club; and a book signing with Michael Harris. There will also be tours of the Battlefield and the 1772 Clarke House as well as food and music.

The musical group, Ministers of Apollo, will perform a concert for families between 5 and 6 p.m., to be followed by an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Pericles, for which visitors are asked to bring a lawn chair as well as a flash light and warm clothing. The play’s director is Sam Kessler of the Princeton Shakespeare Company. In the event of rain, it will be performed on Sunday, September 28. For more information, visit: www.The

At Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street on Saturday, free events include Archaeological Discovery Day with interpretive tours and hands-on sessions from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a Colonial Chamber Music Concert by The Practitioners of Musick, such as would have been enjoyed by the patriots who founded the new Republic, at 2 p.m. The program promises a rich and diverse selection of Jefferson’s, Franklin’s, and Washington’s favorite music, as well as a chamber air set for harpsichord composed by Francis Hopkinson. Performers are Donovan Klotzbeacher on harpsichord and John Burkhalter on recorder. For more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: The museum is open for tours on the hour Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., with the final tour at 3 p.m.

In keeping with the presidential theme, the Princeton University Art Museum will offer docent-led tours featuring Charles Wilson Peale’s portrait of George Washington at the Battle of Princeton on Saturday and Sunday. Self-guided family activities about American Portraiture will also be available throughout the weekend. For more information, visit:

The Historical Society of Princeton (HSP), will be offering free admission to both of its historic sites on Saturday. The Updike Farmstead and Bainbridge House will be open from noon to 4 p.m. At both locations, the exhibition, “Princeton’s Portrait,” showcases the town’s history by means of vintage photographs drawn from HSP archives, many of which have never been exhibited before.

At Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, photos of Nassau Street stores, University students celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Princeton Borough’s first African American police officer, Philip Diggs, show life in and around town. At the Updike Farmstead, 354 Quaker Road, images celebrate the land and a way of life that is now largely gone. Farmers toil in the sun; haystacks dot rolling fields; and a young boy shows off his prized hen.

At the Farmstead at noon, there will be a special program on the events that unfolded in Princeton and Trenton from December 25, 1776 to January 3, 1777, the ten crucial days that marked the turning point in the American Revolution. For more information, visit

Rockingham, the home of former New Jersey colonial Supreme Court Justice John Berrien, where General George Washington stayed at the invitation of the Continental Congress, which was meeting in Princeton during late August to early November 1783, will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m. On Saturday at 1 p.m., Stacy Roth will host a “Revolutionary Tea” with tea lore, history, songs, and poetry. Mini-tours will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. On Sunday at 3 p.m., Practitioners of Musick will present a talk and concert of 17th century music celebrating NJ’s Dutch heritage. For more information, visit:

Special tours of Drumthwacket, the Governor’s Mansion, will be offered on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. But note that reservations are required. For more information, visit the Princeton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau website, or or e-mail

For the official NJ350 Blog and a listing of programs throughout the state, visit

September 17, 2014

Area citizen and environmental groups and local legislators have submitted comments criticizing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s assessment of the pipeline project proposed for an environmentally sensitive stretch of the Princeton Ridge. FERC’s Environmental Assessment of the plan, which is part of the Williams Transco Leidy Southeast Expansion Project, stated that it would not result in any significant environmental impacts.

FERC issued its 474-page assessment of the project last month, and members of the public had 30 days to respond. The New Jersey Sierra Club is among those groups to register a protest, saying the assessment was incomplete and in violation of federal law. The groups favor a more comprehensive examination, known as an Environmental Impact Statement, prepared by the federal agency.

“Once again, FERC ignores the public when it comes to the impacts of these pipelines,” wrote Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, in a statement. “What is worse, they are ignoring the environmental and health and safety impacts, and also now the law.”

The Sierra Club says FERC is violating federal law by reviewing the pipeline’s many loops separately and not doing a thorough enough review on its cumulative impacts. “The report ignores the additional fracking the pipeline will encourage in the areas the projects connect to by expanding capacity as well as the cumulative regional impacts resulting from other projects such as Transco’s recently completed Northeast Supply Link project,” the statement reads. “Sierra Club is calling for a full Environmental Impact Statement to be prepared for the project.”

The Princeton Ridge Coalition, which has monitored the pipeline proposal since it was first announced, is also challenging the assessment’s “Finding of No Significant Impact.” The group calls FERC’s description of the portion of the project based on the Princeton Ridge “based on incomplete and insufficient data and incorrect analysis,” making it impossible for the agency to properly measure the safety and environmental impacts.

A joint letter last week by Representative Rush Holt, Senator Robert Menendez, and Senator Cory Booker urged FERC to address the widespread concerns. “We believe a meeting among FERC, PHMSA (the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration), Transco, and the Coalition would be productive and beneficial to all,” the letter reads.

Princeton Council passed a resolution in July encouraging FERC to reject Williams/Transco’s construction plan, which calls for the installation of a new pipeline loop through Mercer, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties as well as two counties in Pennsylvania. The local portion is part of the Skillman Loop. An existing natural gas pipeline built in 1958 is not sufficient to handle current production demands, the company has said.

FERC’s assessment says that the project will not cause significant damage to the environment. The Princeton Ridge Coalition, the Sierra Club and others question that finding since the pipeline would cross streams, woods, and important habitat.

“This dirty infrastructure will cause irreparable harm here at home in the Princeton Ridge, Sourland Moutains, and other protected and environmentally sensitive areas,” the Sierra Club statement quotes Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator. “FERC is not only ignoring and writing off these impacts, but also the damage this project will have on the region by allowing fracking operations to move more gas to market and increase production. As a result of this pipeline the communities the infrastructure runs through and those near drill sites will see more air and water pollution.”

The Princeton Ridge Coalition is not opposed to the pipeline and does not want to see it pushed into other communities. “We do expect regulatory agencies to comply with federal laws governing the approval and operation of pipelines,” said Barbara Blumenthal, the group’s president. “The failure of the Environmental Assessment to seriously consider alternatives is particularly troubling. “

The Coalition would like FERC and Transco to consider the use of horizontal drilling to tunnel under the ridge, “which would reduce safety risks and lessen environmental impacts,” Ms. Blumenthal said.

“There is no need for this pipeline,” said Mr. Tittel of the Sierra Club. “The purpose is to promote fracking and the burning of fossil fuels that impact clean water and promote climate change. This pipeline is going to go through environmentally sensitive areas creating an ugly scar, adding to pollution, and putting people at risk. Just ask the people of Bellingham, Washington; Burlingame, California; and Edison, New Jersey. This line not only threatens the neighborhoods it passes through but threatens our environment.”


Those who live and work in the vicinity of the former Princeton Hospital site are growing used to the sounds of crushing concrete and rumbling trucks as workers prepare the empty buildings for demolition. This week, municipal officials said that the actual razing could begin Friday, September 19, if the weather cooperates.

Princeton’s municipal engineer Bob Kiser said Monday that he and other staff members met that day with representatives of AvalonBay, the developer that will turn the site into a complex of 280 rental units. They will convene again on Friday to confirm that day as the start of demolition.

Ron Ladell, AvalonBay senior vice president, said the company expects demolition to begin “within the next week. As of today,” he said Tuesday, “I can’t be sure it will actually begin on Friday.”

Mr. Kiser said the first section to be razed will be the one closest to the parking garage. “It’s a one story section so you won’t be able to see much of what’s going on from Witherspoon Street or Franklin Avenue,” he said. “Then, they are planning to work in towards Franklin Avenue.”

The work is anticipated to take four to six months, Mr. Kiser said, echoing what John Mucha of Yannuzzi Wrecking and Recycling Corporation, the company carrying out the demolition, told members of the public at a meeting on September 3. Residents were assured that noise from the process would be monitored, and that AvalonBay had hired an acoustical consultant to be on site.

Noise during recent weeks has come from the breaking up of concrete on the upper level of the parking garage. “We had one complaint, but we found out it actually had to do with another process having to do with cutting asphalt,” said Jeffrey Grosser, Princeton’s health officer. “But that was temporary.”

Regarding noise from the breaking up of concrete, Mr. Grosser said AvalonBay’s acoustical consultant, Cerami & Associates, “is working to alleviate any noise that sounds like a nuisance. In the event that levels spike or we have complaints, we’ll go to them to make sure they take some additional measures,” he said.

Mr. Grosser added that the staff will meet weekly, or more frequently, to go over demolition-related issues. “The fact that they have a consultant on site is a good preventive measure,” he said. Mr. Grosser is working alongside the Mercer County Division of Public Health to  provide additional noise monitoring.

In an update issued Monday from the municipality, it was reported that it will take 10 to 11 months to complete repairs to the parking garage, and that Yannuzzi anticipates completing the removal of asbestos material from the hospital buildings this week.

Any complaints regarding noise should be directed to the town’s engineering department at (609) 921-7077.

Asked in Town Talk to rate their concern about climate change on a scale of 1 to 10 (Town Topics, May 14), area residents mentioned numbers from 7 to 11. One young Princeton mother was “a 10 concerned” because “we’re not prepared” and “it doesn’t seem that anyone is doing anything about it, which is the scariest part.”

On Sunday, September 21, hundreds of thousands of people committed to “doing something about it” will join the Global People’s Climate March, an unparalleled worldwide mobilization on climate change; the epicenter of the international event will be Columbus Circle in New York City, where as many as 100,000 marchers are expected to gather at 11:30 a.m. One objective is to bring the issue to the attention of world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit that convenes on September 24.

Helping to make sure Princeton is well represented Sunday are Caroline (Callie) Hancock, group leader of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), and CCL’s “one-man publicity machine” author Huck Fairman, who reports that  Sustainable Princeton’s September 9 newsletter numbered the organizations involved at 850. Area colleges and universities, notably Princeton and Rutgers, are organizing buses for students, faculty and staff; churches bringing groups to the march include Unitarian Universalist Church and Christ Church. Sustainability Coordinator at Princeton Day School Liz Cutler reports that groups from the PDS community and elsewhere will be taking a train together (for a reduced rate). Said Ms. Cutler, who teaches English at the school, “My grandchildren will ask, what were you doing when you knew there was a problem, and what will I say if I don’t do anything now?”

Among CCL members boarding the train to New York is retired Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory physicist John Schivell, who said he and his wife are going to the People’s Climate March “because we feel it’s time to get something done now!”

Editor of Princeton Nature Notes Stephen Hiltner, who alerted area residents to the New York event in the September 10 Town Topics Mailbox, calls it “a crisis of the collective. We’re allowed to collectively create a huge problem like climate and sea level destabilization, but because of the ideological bias against intentional collective action, we aren’t allowed to work together to solve the problem.”

From all accounts, Sunday’s march will be the ultimate in collective action, billed on all sides as “the largest demonstration on climate change in history.” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “This isn’t just about getting a bunch of people to New York to march for an hour then go home. This is about making sure that the tipping point in the fight to halt climate disruption tips in the favor of the average citizen and clean energy prosperity, and that the world’s leaders see that the support to do so has reached a level that can no longer be ignored.”

Detailed information about the parade route can be found at Local residents looking for information about groups attending can contact Callie Hancock at or Liz Cutler at lcutler@pds/org.


September 10, 2014

Thanks to a stalemate-breaking vote by Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Council Monday night approved a resolution to raise the governing body’s salaries. The controversial issue had Patrick Simon, Jo Butler, and Jenny Crumiller voting against the resolution, while Lance Liverman, Council president Bernie Miller, and Heather Howard cast their votes in favor.

Before voting yes, Mayor Lempert said she had hoped the matter could have been settled without her stepping in. “I appreciate the attempts at trying to find a compromise,” she said. “But I’m going to vote yes, and I think we’ve debated this for many, many hours of our valuable time.”

The raise brings her salary from $15,000 to $17,500. Council members’ compensation rises from $7,500 to $10,000, while Council president Miller goes from $7,500 to $12,500.

The issue has provoked heated discussion at previous meetings of the Council, and Monday night’s meeting was no exception. Members of the public weighed in as well. Those in favor of the raises have said that the low amount of compensation for all of the hours of work required may discourage people who are not of significant means from serving on the governing body. Those against it have argued that there were salary amounts approved by the former Borough Council and Township Committee before consolidation, and changing them would mean going back on a promise.

“It’s extremely uncomfortable to put money in our own pockets,” Ms. Crumiller said, suggesting that the issue become a public question on the next ballot. But Bob Bruschi, the town’s administrator, said that would be inappropriate because it would politicize the issue. Ms. Crumiller said there was no evidence that adding $2,500 to the compensation would make serving on the Council more appealing. “Twenty-five hundred dollars is just not going to make a difference,” she said.

Mr. Liverman said that amount “for some people, is a lot of money. I think it’s fair.” Ms. Howard commented that she didn’t see the raises as a consolidation issue. Mr. Miller said that since consolidation took effect, there are now seven members of Council doing the work of what 12 people, who served on the former Borough Council and Township Committee, did in the past. Mr. Simon suggested an amendment to the resolution that would make the raises effective when successors to the current Council are appointed. But the option was overruled.

Mr. Bruschi sent a memo last week on the issue to members of Council, including statistics from other communities around New Jersey. He urges giving “serious consideration to raise the annual salary stipend to at least the levels that were discussed. I would argue that there is significant rationale for a stipend in excess of what is being considered.”

He urged Council to focus on the topic from a policy point of view rather than the fact that it was a decision made during consolidation. “Approach the salary matter the same way we would approach it when hiring a new employee,” he wrote. “Look at the job duties, the resident expectations not just for the incumbent but also for the successors. The unintended consequence could be a reality and that is to restrict who might consider running for office by eliminating an economic portion of the community that — because of the need to work or provide for child care service — therefore just can’t afford to make the commitment because of the time and financial impact it would have on the family.”

Mr. Bruschi also suggested Council provide for increases going forward based on the salary and wage approved for non-contractual employees. “In other words, when Council approves an increase of 1.5 percent for the employees, the salaries for those positions would likewise receive the 1.5 percent,” he wrote.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Peter Marks agreed with Ms. Crumiller that there should be a referendum on the subject, but said he was in favor of higher pay for elected officials. “The mayor is as important a position as chief of police or administrator,” he said, suggesting that cuts be made in staff to finance higher pay for members of the governing body. Peter Wolanin, municipal chair of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee, called the resolution “a little narrow” but spoke in favor of the salary increase.


A resolution to establish an affordable housing task force to consider development of properties on Clearview and Franklin Avenues was passed by Princeton Council at its meeting Monday night, but only after amendments were made to broaden the resolution so that it doesn’t focus only on those two properties as possible locations for affordable units.

Several members of the public commented for and against the idea before Council members made changes to the resolution and voted it in. The Clearview Avenue properties are part of a land swap between the municipality and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS), in which the town gets the three buildings currently occupied by PFARS and the rescue squad gets the land at the former Princeton Township Public Works site, where they plan to build a new facility.

The Franklin Avenue site is a parking lot opposite the former Princeton Hospital, where demolition is about to begin and a 280-unit rental complex, 57 of which are affordable, will be built by the developer AvalonBay. Princeton University owns the lot but will donate it to the town for a public purpose.

Some members of Council said the focus is too narrow, and should be expanded to include all of the properties owned by the municipality. Mayor Liz Lempert said part of the reason for the resolution was “a pretty unique opportunity” presented by the Clearview Avenue and Franklin Avenue properties. “The municipality is driving the development and has control over it,” she said.

Councilwoman Jo Butler said, “We need to back up and take a more holistic look at all of the properties” owned by the municipality. “I think this is premature. I ask about it repeatedly, so it’s extremely disappointing that it was dealt with this way.”

Resident Alexi Assmus commented that while she strongly supports affordable housing, she opposes “Princeton’s growth into a small city.” The schools are already overcrowded and the town does not have the infrastructure to support the kind of increased density more units would bring. Leighton Newlin, chairman of the Princeton Housing Authority, said that more low-income housing is crucial and the organization would like to work with Princeton Community Housing to develop such units at the Franklin Avenue site.

Other residents urged Council to wait a few years to see what the impact of the rental community at the hospital site is going to be before making a decision. Anita Garoniak, who lives on Harris Road, expressed concerns about increased density. “Nothing should be constructed at the Franklin lot until we see what the impact of AvalonBay will be,” she said. Carol Golden of the town’s Affordable Housing Board said, “There is an urgency. There are people who need housing now, not in five years.”

Scott Sillars of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee suggested there are other properties in town including the old firehouses on Chestnut and Harrison streets, as well as other surplus sites, that should be considered.

Council accordingly amended the resolution to look at all municipal properties in Princeton rather than just the Franklin and Clearview avenue sites, and the measure was passed. Anyone interested in serving on the task force can get information from the town’s website (, said Mayor Lempert. The final list of people who will serve on the task force will be announced at the next meeting on September 22.


At its first meeting of the school year on Monday, September 15, the faculty at Princeton University is expected to vote on revised policies regarding the way it handles allegations of sexual misconduct. Changes proposed by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy are designed to bring the University into compliance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which Congress authorized in March, 2013, and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational institutions that get federal funding.

While all other Ivy League schools use the “preponderance” standard that relies on a more-likely-than-not principle when it comes to assessing guilt, Princeton has for years relied on a “clear and persuasive” standard, which insists on a higher burden of proof. This standard is usually associated with criminal proceedings.

The revised policies would bring Princeton in line with the “preponderance” standard. Separate policies, one for a complaint or violation involving a student and the other if it involves a member of the faculty or staff, have been developed. A third refers to when a person not in the University community is involved as a complainant or respondent.

According to information from the University’s Office of Communications, the committee devoted significant time over the summer to the issue. Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been investigating the University’s handling of student disciplinary cases related to sexual misconduct. Princeton is one of several colleges under investigation for alleged Title IX violations.

It was in 2010 that an adjunct professor at the New England School of Law filed a complaint against Princeton for allegedly mishandling reports of sexual assault.

“The University has fully cooperated with the investigation and has also made a number of adjustments to its sexual misconduct policies and disciplinary procedures in response to guidance released by OCR in 2011,” reads a report sent to members of the faculty last week.

The federal office informed the University this past July that changes will need to be made to bring the institution up to speed with Title IX. “It is important that the University come into compliance with both the OCR and the VAWA requirements as promptly as possible,” the report reads, “and ideally before any new cases come forward for adjudication.”

To get this done, the University has established a new faculty-student committee. The proposed changes include using trained investigators rather than members of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline. Also recommended is allowing lawyers to accompany any involved parties and giving accusers and accused individuals the right to appeal.

Should the faculty vote in favor of the recommendations at the September 15 meeting, the Council of the Princeton University Community will consider revisions to Rights, Rules and Responsibilities two weeks later, according to The Daily Princetonian.


September 3, 2014

At a meeting tonight, September 3, residents of the neighborhood surrounding the former Princeton Hospital property will have a last chance to voice their concerns about demolition of the old hospital buildings to AvalonBay, the developer planning to build a 280-unit rental complex on the site. The company is holding a meeting from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Witherspoon Hall.

Demolition of the old hospital was scheduled to begin on Thursday but has now been postponed and will likely start sometime during the week of September 15, according to the town’s engineer Bob Kiser. The delay is due to the fact that more asbestos needs to be removed from the site. In addition, the internal inspection of an incinerator drain line must be finished prior to demolition.

Mr. Kiser, Princeton’s land use engineer Jack West, health officer Jeffrey Grosser, and construction official John Pettenati will be in attendance. Mayor Liz Lempert said she will split her time between the meeting and a long-planned party to thank volunteers on the town’s boards, committees, and commissions. Council member Jo Butler said she is planning on attending the meeting.

According to AvalonBay senior vice president Ron Ladell, people will be able to ask questions. “And I am sure we will have lots of them,” he said in an email last week. “AvalonBay representatives will be there along with representatives from the demolition contractor.”

Since Princeton Council approved a revised developer’s agreement with the company August 18, AvalonBay has been anxious to begin demolition of the hospital buildings. Pre-demolition work that did not require the signed agreement has been ongoing this summer. Chief among concerns of the surrounding community are safety and the presence of possible toxins.

The revised developer’s agreement has AvalonBay doing some more environmental testing than was original required by the Council. But some residents still have unresolved issues to air.

“My concerns weren’t addressed by the promise to remove four inches of soil ONLY at unpaved areas,” wrote Harris Road resident Areta Pawlynsky in an email on Tuesday.К“A separately located incinerator appears on a 1948 drawing and a 1963 photo clearly shows the earlier smokestack and completely different unpaved areas С so how can such limited removal based on today’s conditions suffice? The toxins routinely flushed by old hospitals aren’t being dealt with.”

Ms. Pawlynsky, an architect, also has concerns that not all of the lead-based paint will be removed before the scraping of structural demolition begins. “Residents deserve real-time reporting from the five air monitors,’ she said. “The little progress made is due to a huge amount of effort by residents.”

Paul Driscoll, another resident of Harris Road, said, “It is the responsibility of our elected officials as well as all appointed boards and commissions, who have a relationship to AvalonBay’s application, to make every possible effort to protect the health, safety, and property of all citizens (most importantly children) throughout the municipality.”


When classes begin at Princeton University on Wednesday, September 10, a sizable chunk of the freshman class will have already learned about life beyond the leafy campus and surrounding idyllic town. They are the 174 participants in the school’s Community Action program, a 10-year-old initiative that takes students into Trenton, New York, Philadelphia, parts of Princeton, and other urban areas to help with projects ranging from ladling out soup to building houses.

Participation in the five-day service program, held the week before the freshmen orientation, is voluntary. The students stay in “sleep sites” near their work sites, in church basements and other makeshift facilities, using public transportation if travel is involved.

“This gives students their first experience working with others on service programs,” said Charlotte Collins, assistant director of Community Action. “They tackle issues like human services, health, hunger, and homelessness. They get the opportunity to learn about each other, their communities, and what kind of service they can do.”

Many of the students end up working on these service projects not only during the designated week, but throughout the year via the University’s Pace Center. Programs to which freshmen are assigned this week include cleaning and painting the Horse Trade Theatre Group in New York City, helping the Rescue Mission of Trenton record the stories of adult homeless shelter residents, assisting a neighborhood cleanup through the Trenton group El Centro, and collaborating with Anchor House in Trenton to help at-risk youth.

Students assigned to Camden are gardening, working at a soup kitchen, and helping out in a day shelter. At Trenton’s Isles organization run by University alumnus Marty Johnson, they are helping with urban gardening, cleaning up local parks and riverbeds, and educating families about affordable, green housing opportunities. On Labor Day, they helped the Sierra Club clean up Mercer County Park. Those in Philadelphia will work at the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen, interacting with the homeless who count on the center for food, toiletries, school supplies, and other basic services.

Not all of the sites are in gritty urban areas. Closer to campus, participants are working with the Princeton Senior Resource Center, the YWCA Princeton, the Historical Society of Princeton, the University’s Community House, Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, and Lawrence Nature Center in Lawrenceville.

“The informal motto of the University is ‘in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.’ The concept of community and helping others is woven into the culture here,” said Thomas Roberts, a junior who co-chairs the University’s Community Action coordinating board. “The program helps give incoming freshmen that first page of getting involved.”

Most Community Action programs are run out of the University’s Pace Center. “At Pace, we want to help the students ask critical questions connected to academics and their future careers,” said Ms. Collins. “We want them to think about service, social justice, and how to have a voice in issues they are passionate about. How does that feed into their overall experience at Princeton? We try to highlight the different pathways they can take to have a more well-rounded experience.”

Continuing collaborations are encouraged by the Pace Center, which also oversees student volunteer programs and weekly projects throughout the year. “With some of our community partners, it’s not just a ‘one and done’ situation,” said Ms. Collins. “One of our Princeton area student groups will be spending the day with our own Community House, and they can continue to do that throughout the year.”

The Community Action program started a decade ago as Urban Action. It has continued to attract freshmen committed to community service. “They’ll have ample time to explore and learn about the University,” said Mr. Roberts. “But we think it’s critical that they learn about what’s beyond the campus. We want to create a well-rounded and thorough experience that helps them understand the world beyond their everyday experience.”


People are talking in Ferguson. They are talking in Chicago. And they are talking in Princeton. After the August 24 rally protesting the fatal shooting by a white police officer of the unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the organization Not in Our Town (NIOT) offered concerned locals a chance to continue to speak about racism last Thursday at the Princeton Public Library.

Co-sponsored by NIOT and the Princeton Public Library, the special event, “Continuing Conversation on Race,” aimed to provide a safe and confidential place for frank and meaningful discussion in the wake of the rally that had seen well over a 100 protesters march down Nassau and Witherspoon Streets to Hinds Plaza.

NIOT’s Linda Oppenheim, an industrial relations librarian at Princeton University’s Firestone Library, welcomed about 25 participants to the library, including Wilma Solomon, Jim Floyd, Shirley Satterfield, and the library’s Kim Dorman. A poster showed an enlarged version of the recent cartoon by Ben Sargent, titled “Still Two Americas,” depicting two identical situations of young boys going outside to play, each saying: “I’m goin’ out, Mom!” One kid is white. the other is black. In the case of the white kid, Mom replies: “Put on your jacket.” In the case of the black kid, Mom says: “Put on your jacket, keep your hands in sight at all times, don’t make any sudden moves, keep your mouth shut around police, don’t run, don’t wear a hoodie, don’t give them an excuse to hurt you, don’t …”

“Raising consciousness of what black moms have to do is what we are here for,” said Ms. Oppenheim, using the cartoon as a conversation starter and introducing some discussion guidelines that included “listen actively; don’t interrupt; speak from your own experience, using “I” rather than ‘we,’ ‘you,’ or ‘they.’”

August 14 Pew Research Center statistics were made available. The survey shows that 80 percent of blacks as opposed to 37 percent of whites believe that the shooting of Mr. Brown raises important issues about race. It reports that 65 percent of blacks and 33 percent of whites think that the police response to the shooting “has gone too far,” and that 52 percent of whites as opposed to 18 percent of blacks had confidence in shooting investigations.

In addition, an excerpt from the August 14 blog, “What Matters with Janee Woods,” offered 12 suggestions for “Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder.” The list included: “Learn about the radicalized history of Ferguson [and your community] and how it reflects the radicalized history of America”; “Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts, and the prison industrial complex”; and “Don’t be afraid to be unpopular.”

To get the discussion on such sensitive issues underway, Ms. Oppenheim quoted Richard Harwood ( on the need for communities to “have opportunities and spaces to engage in constructive conversations where they can express their anger, pain and frustration in public ways.”

Emotional Topic

Among the first to speak was a young African American woman who teared up as she described her own inter-racial family and the crucial need for “identity awareness.” “America is truly a melting pot and generations to come will have friends of all different backgrounds; we need to teach respect for others and realize that there is no ‘inferior’ race,” said B. Virtue Mitchell, one of three generations of her Princeton family to graduate from Princeton High School (PHS). “I will not walk with anger or fear,” she said. “And I refuse to be a victim. Whether we want change or not, it’s here.”

At 92, Jim Floyd, former mayor of Princeton Township, has seen a great deal of change, not all of it positive. Mr. Floyd shared his knowledge of Princeton history, especially the history of the African American community, Palmer Square and the Jackson/Witherspoon neighborhood. “I’ve seen the Colored signs in the railroad cars and faced discrimination when trying to buy a home in Princeton. I don’t ask you to fight my battles, but don’t be an enemy,” he said, addressing the white participants. The questions to ask in Princeton today, said Mr. Floyd, are “how diverse is our governing body, our police department, our school system.” Mr. Floyd went on to describe coming to Princeton from Trenton and running for Township Committee in order to promote affordable housing in Princeton.

Pointing out that Paul Robeson Place was formerly Jackson Street, Mr. Floyd, recalled urban renewal efforts of the 1930s and 1950s that displaced African American residents from what is now Palmer Square, relocating or destroying black homes in the center of town and pushing residents further down the Witherspoon/Jackson corridor. “The only place segregation disintegrates is in the bank line,” said Mr. Floyd, quoting his father.

He cited the experience of black property owner Burnett Griggs, owner of Griggs’ Imperial Restaurant, which he ran for 42 years until his retirement at age 83. Mr. Griggs also owned 26 acres where Griggs Farm is today.

“I lived this history in Princeton, I know how we were treated in this town,” said Shirley Satterfield, who conducts an informative tour of Princeton’s African American history for the Historical Society of Princeton. Ms. Satterfield, a former PHS counselor, went on to describe inequality in Princeton’s schools, particularly with respect to the choir. After hearing that black children felt discouraged, she had started the “Inspirational Choir.”

One woman whose daughter had been a PHS student, reported her daughter’s contrasting experiences of shopping with black friends on Nassau Street as compared to visiting the same stores with her white friends on another occasion. Ms. Oppenheim asked whether any of the black people present had experienced suspicion on the part of shop owners. The response clearly showed that they they had.

Many people shared their own experiences of growing up in Princeton. One white woman described her friendship with a black teen from Birmingham, Alabama at PHS in the 1960s. “Oscar played the oboe and I played the French horn, we used to write poetry together, taking turns to contribute a line,” she recalled. But when Oscar was her escort to the school prom, “all hell broke loose,” she reported, adding that through this important friendship she had “learned how wonderful it was to play with someone without paying any attention to racial background and I’d love to have that experience again.”

What can be done?

It was suggested that music would be a way to transcend racial divides, which led to further discussion of Princeton’s schools and the lack of African Americans in the PHS choir. One person suggested “white privilege” could explain this saying that by the time children were selected for the choir, more white than black kids had benefitted from music lessons.

“We need to work with the schools, level the playing field for the black kids,” said one. While some suggested that the high school would be a good place to start, others thought that high school was too late.

Ms. Oppenheim spoke of the need for adults to examine their own views. “Are we ready to speak up in opposition to racism in circumstances which might be uncomfortable?” she asked.

“I don’t want to forget that I have biases and racism inside of me,” offered one white male participant. “I have to be conscious of the truth of what happened in this country. We can only be truly free if we can acknowledge the truth of what happened here. Slaves didn’t come here because they wanted to and we need to talk about that if killings like Michael Brown are ever going to end.”

One former teacher commented that it was unfortunate that “the sort of truth and reconciliation that happened in South Africa hasn’t happened here. White people need to talk more to white people about race,” she said and described her students’ resistance to such discussions and their belief that racism ended with slavery. The difficulty of engaging teens on the topic of racism was also the experience of the group’s youngest participant, a Princeton Day School student.

Socioeconomic status came into the conversation, as did the idea that in some communities the idea of academic success is regarded as not cool. Is this an issue for black kids? one person asked.

But before the conversation could continue, the library closing announcement was heard. NIOT holds a monthly “Conversation at the Princeton Public Library, usually on the first Monday of the month; the next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 6.

For more on the history of the African American community in Princeton, including a self-guided walking tour visit the Historical Society of Princeton:

For an article on the history of Princeton’s African American Community, see the Princeton Magazine article:

August 27, 2014

Princeton Council Monday night approved the hiring of two police officers, marking the first addition to the Princeton Police Department since the former Borough and Township consolidated in January 2013. In a unanimous vote, the governing body made the appointments of Dashawn J. Cribb, 25, and Donald Stephen Mathews, 36, official.

“They represent a very bright future for our department,” Chief Nicholas Sutter said at a press conference earlier in the day. ‘“Some of us older people in the department look at it as a legacy.”

The vote was among several items on the agenda. The town’s engineering director Bob Kiser told Council that AvalonBay, the developer of a 280-unit rental complex at the former site of Princeton Hospital, is planning to begin demolition of the smaller buildings near the parking garage on Thursday, September 4, the day after the developer holds a public meeting with neighborhood residents. Council and AvalonBay agreed to a revised developer’s agreement last week. Demolition is expected to take about four months.

The governing body approved numerous resolutions and held public hearings on several ordinances. Reports were given on affordable housing, education, and efforts by a citizens’ group to make the installation of a pipeline on the Princeton Ridge environmentally sensitive and safe.

Mr. Sutter said that the recruitment process for officers began last year. Candidates took written tests and physical fitness exams. After interviews and background checks, the process was narrowed down to 144 before another round of interviews. The town’s Public Safety Committee took part in the final decision.

Mr. Cribb is a graduate of Trenton High School and Montclair State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and justice studies. He coaches Pop Warner Football, is a youth mentor, and a volunteer at the Girls and Boys Club of Trenton. Mr. Mathews graduated from Bordentown High School and Richard Stockton College, and was a member of the Mansfield Township Police Department from 2002 until being hired by Princeton. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in Mansfield after completing three-and-a-half years of service.

“They are from two professionally and personally diverse backgrounds, which is really what our department is about,” said Mr. Sutter. “It’s good for the future that there is a mix of people in the department.”

Councilwoman Heather Howard praised the two new hires for “the diversity and breadth they’ll bring to the force,” adding that they were hired now because of some upcoming retirements and the need to preserve the size of the police force. The officers will be sworn in at the next Council meeting on September 8.

Ed Truscelli, executive director of Princeton Community Housing, delivered a status report to Council about the organization, which counts 466 rental units and four other locations among affordable housing residences. Mr. Truscelli urged Council to consider properties — a parking lot on Franklin Avenue across from the former Princeton Hospital site, and another on North Harrison Street, which will be vacated by Princeton Fire & Rescue Squad (PFARS), as sites for more affordable housing.

“These are opportunities we should seriously look at,” he said. “There is a distinct and significant need for affordable housing in this community, and this would seem to be the perfect opportunity. We’re ready to partner, ready to assist.”

Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Steve Cochrane delivered his first report to Council since taking over from Judy Wilson last January. He stressed the importance of providing access to computers and electronics for all students, about six percent of whom do not have email or computers. “Those students fall further and further behind,” he said. “We’re in the process of brainstorming ways to increase that electronic access.” Councilman Lance Liverman suggested contacting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has assisted similar efforts elsewhere.

Mr. Cochrane made reference to a demographic study that projects public school enrollment rising only modestly over the next five years. Grade-by-grade enrollment predictions show growth in pre-kindergarten to grade five relatively flat, while middle school enrollment could peak in year three but decrease in year five. “The real sticking point is high school,” he said. Enrollment was at 1,471 students in the last school year, an increase of about 252 from a decade ago.

The study estimates that enrollment will peak at 1,611 during 2017-18 before falling again to 1,543 the following year. “We will continue to monitor these numbers and make sure there is enough room for our students,” Mr. Cochrane said.

Barbara Blumenthal of the Princeton Ridge Coalition told Council that the group is focusing its efforts on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection rather than the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure safety and sensitivity to the environment during the Williams Transco company’s gas pipeline expansion. FERC’s recent environmental assessment showed that the proposed project would have no significant impact on the Princeton Ridge, a finding that members of the Coalition strongly disagree with. The final date for commenting to FERC is September 10, and Mayor Liz Lempert said Council would put consideration of a response to FERC on the agenda for the September 8 meeting.


A pre-trial hearing for Princeton University Professor John Mulvey, 67, who was arrested last month and charged with the theft of business signs advertising Princeton Computer Tutor services, has been scheduled to take place in Princeton Municipal Court on Monday, September 8.

The alleged thefts are said to have occurred at various times since June 2013 in the area of Rosedale Road near Elm Road.

Computer Tutor owner Ted Horodynsky had put up a camera in an attempt to find out who was responsible for removing his 2 by 2 foot signs, worth more than $20 each, from private property locations. After sharing his surveillance video of the lawn signs being removed with the Princeton Police Department, an investigation by Detective Sergeant Christopher Quaste and Detective Adam Basatemur discovered 21 lawn signs in Mr. Mulvey’s garage. Mr. Mulvey was arrested at Princeton Police Department headquarters. The signs were returned to Mr. Horodynsky.

The arrest and details of the incident as told from the point of view of the Computer Tutor business owner made the news on Channel 7, July 17. Mr. Horodynsky was filmed walking along Nassau Street with a news reporter. He expressed his hope that Mr. Mulvey gets help and doesn’t lose his job at Princeton University. According to Mr. Horodynsky, the video shows the business signs being removed on five separate occasions by Mr. Mulvey, allegedly stealing them and taking them away in his vehicle, whose license plate was recorded on camera.

Mr Horodynsky captured the news broadcast on video and has posted it to YouTube (

Mr. Mulvey has been teaching at Princeton University since 1978 and is a professor of operations research and financial engineering and a founding member of the Bendheim Center for Finance, which conducts research into links between financial economics and fields, such as engineering, operations research, mathematics, computer science, psychology, and public policy. According to the University website, Mr. Mulvey “has built significant planning systems for government agencies, including the Office of Tax Analysis for the Treasury Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Defense Department.”

Mr. Mulvey has claimed that he was picking up debris. He has hired experienced Princeton attorney, Kim A. Otis, who has served as Municipal Prosecutor in both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. He is one of a small number of attorneys in Mercer County certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney.

Mr. Mulvey and Mr. Otis will appear at the pre-trial hearing scheduled for 1:15 p.m. with John F. McCarthy III as the expected presiding judge.


The owner of Nomad Pizza, the Hopewell-based eatery specializing in pizza made in wood-fired ovens, has signed a lease to take over the former Amoco gas station at Princeton Shopping Center. Tom Grim, one of two owners of the company, said this week that he expects to have the pizzeria up and running in about a year.

“We are very excited,” he said. “We haven’t completely fleshed it out, but we won’t change much from what we have in Hopewell. We will have more seating, though, with an outdoor patio. And we may have two ovens instead of one.”

A representative of Eden’s, the company that owns Princeton Shopping Center, confirmed that Nomad had signed the lease, but declined to comment further.

Mr. Grim knows Princeton well. He was the co-founder of Thomas Sweet ice cream in 1980, running the business until he sold it in 2008. With business partner Stalin Bedon, Mr. Grim changed his focus to pizza, starting Nomad out of a 1949 REO Speedwagon truck complete with a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. The truck is still used for private parties and other events. The Hopewell restaurant opened in 2010. Two locations in Philadelphia, called Nomad and Nomad Roman, are also in operation.

Preparing the Princeton Shopping Center location will take a year because floors at the old Amoco station need to be ripped up and the roof will be replaced. “A lot of work has to be done before they hand it over,” Mr. Grim said. “Then there’s the whole approval process to get through. But that’s fine with me. We anticipate getting in there around June or July, and then a few months more until we open.”

Mr. Grim anticipates hiring about 40 people to work in different shifts. Nomad specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, not sold by the slice. “This is the kind of pizza you see in Italy,” he said. “Pizza we make isn’t designed to be eaten by the slice. We use farm-to-table ingredients, and great dough that takes a long time to make. It’s a four-day process. That gives the flavors time to develop. Some things are better fresh, and dough isn’t one of them.”

Emphasizing that Nomad is “not a restaurant, it’s a pizzeria,” Mr. Grim said a few more items will be available but pizza will be the entree. The restaurant will make it’s own mozzarella.

The partners started Nomad in Hopewell after people who had sampled the pizza from the truck started asking where they could get it on a regular basis. “We took over this little place in Hopewell. It was just a shack,” Mr. Grim said. “The original idea was to be open three days a week, but we’ve been so busy that we’re now open six days. But never for lunch.”

In Princeton, however, Mr. Grim anticipates being open just for dinner at first, gradually adding lunch on weekends and eventually during the week. The former gas station’s existing garage door will be replaced, but the pizzeria will still have “a garage look,” Mr. Grim said.

Having celebrated his fourth year at the Hopewell location, which gets busier each year, Mr. Grim is looking forward to similar success in Princeton. “I think we’ll do well in Princeton. The shopping center is an institution. And there’s parking, which is becoming precious in town.”


August 20, 2014

In a unanimous vote Monday night, Princeton Council approved a revised agreement with developer AvalonBay that will allow demolition of the former Princeton Hospital building to begin, possibly as early as mid-September. The demolition will make room for AvalonBay’s 280-unit rental property, which has been in the works since August 2011.

Mayor Liz Lempert and Council member Heather Howard were not present at the meeting, at which several members of the public urged the governing body to delay voting on the agreement so they could review the revisions. But Council President Bernie Miller said Ms. Lempert and Ms. Howard had participated by telephone in a closed session that preceded the meeting, and expressed their support for approval.

The developer’s agreement was amended following court-ordered mediation between representatives of Council and AvalonBay. The developer had sued the town over the agreement that Council approved in April, a month after approving an earlier agreement. The second document called for additional testing following the recommendations of an environmental consultant when the presence of two former incinerators at the hospital site was revealed.

Last month, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the town and the developer to meet with a mediator to resolve their dispute over whether Council was legally able to require the extra testing. A town can require additional testing of a developer beyond regulations set by the state, but only if there is an ordinance in place. Princeton does not have such an ordinance.

While the new, mediated agreement calls for less environmental testing than the Council had required, municipal attorney Trishka Cecil advised the governing body to approve the measure rather than risking further litigation by AvalonBay, which she said could likely result in no environmental testing at all.

Under the new agreement, AvalonBay will drop the lawsuit and follow the environmental protocols recommended in the report completed last March, before the Council voted to amend that document. The developer will test the medical incinerator floor drains and related piping, and any ash found during demolition. They will test for metals but not PCBs. Instead of sampling exterior soil and soil below the former incinerator room, the company will stockpile that soil for use in such locations as underneath asphalt. Should any discharge be detected, the soil will be taken from the site.

The company will also bring clean fill topsoil for grass, landscaping, and pervious surfaces, according to the agreement. The topsoil will be four inches deep and cover approximately 65,000 square feet of the development. Twelve inches of topsoil will be used in a community garden. AvalonBay has also agreed to provide five air monitors during the crushing of concrete, but will not do any sampling of concrete that is being re-used at the site.

Among those residents asking questions and urging Council to hold off on voting was Paul Driscoll, who said that many neighbors affected by the decision are out of town in August. “Have you done everything you can to ensure the safety or our citizens?,” he asked, continuing, “This is the biggest demolition in Princeton history. People need to be involved.” Lytle Street resident Linda Auerbach questioned whether AvalonBay knew about the presence of the incinerator or the hospital failed to inform the developer before the sale.

Resident Sam Hamod told Council that he appreciated their work. “But remember this, you represent the residents of Princeton, not AvalonBay. I know you want to be fair to them, but you also have to be fair to us and to yourselves.” Another resident expressed concerns about potential contaminants that could be released when the hospital building’s chimneys are demolished.

Council attempted to answer questions posed by the public before stating, one by one, why they were choosing to approve the revised agreement.

“We’ve gotten a pretty good deal,” said Jenny Crumiller, explaining that AvalonBay was willing to compromise now but might not be later if the decision was delayed. Patrick Simon concurred, saying, “My assessment is that it accomplishes substantively everything we asked AvalonBay to do.” Council member Jo Butler commented, “If you’re really interested in public safety, you have to see that we had to make a deal.” Mr. Miller said, “In case there is any doubt, foremost was the protection of the health and welfare of the residents and the future residents of Princeton.”

Following the vote, AvalonBay vice president Ron Ladell said he was pleased at the decision. “We’re eager to move forward,” he said.

Municipal staff members met with AvalonBay representatives Tuesday afternoon to discuss the schedule for demolition. According to the town’s engineer Bob Kiser, the developer will begin to remove asbestos from the roof area later this week, and the process will take up to four weeks. Following that sometime between the middle and end of next month, demolition will begin.


Princeton’s Health Officer Jeffrey C. Grosser is warning residents, especially those in the Linden Lane area, to keep a safe distance if they discover bats inside their homes and to call the Princeton Police Department or the Animal Control Officer.

The warning comes after two bats taken from two homes on Linden Lane were tested at the New Jersey Public Health Laboratory. Residents contacted Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson who picked up the bats and took them to the laboratory for testing.

The Princeton Health Department received notification that the bats had tested positive for the rabies virus. The Health Department customarily receives notification from the state laboratory of all findings of rabies specimens.

According to a statement from the Department, the Linden Lane area has had a recent history over the past two years of rabies in its wild and stray animals. Last year a bat tested positive in the vicinity.

Mr. Grosser said that it was important for all Princeton residents to ensure that “their homes do not have openings” that might invite wild animals to take up residence inside. “Bats and raccoons are the two species of mammals that most often are infected with rabies,” he said, noting that while rabies in humans is rare in the United States, which usually sees just one or two human cases per year, the most common source of human rabies in the country is bats. “Among the 19 cases of rabies in humans from 1997 to 2006, 17 (90 percent) were associated with bats.”

If local residents discover a bat in their home, they should try to confine it to a single room or area of the home and contact the local police who will report the situation to the Animal Control Officer for response.

“It is imperative that they do not open a window and release the bat,” said Mr. Grosser. “In all instances of potential human exposure involving bats, the bat in question should be safely collected, if possible, and submitted for rabies diagnosis.”

The rabies virus attacks the nervous system and is fatal in humans without prompt treatment. The disease is spread when a rabid animal’s saliva contacts another animal or human through wounds in the skin, typically a bite.

After suspected exposure, prophylactic treatment should be given as soon as possible and consists of a dose of immune globulin and a series of five rabies vaccinations over a 28-day period. Current vaccinations are relatively painless and given as close to the injured area as possible.

If anyone is bitten, scratched, or otherwise comes into close contact with a bat, rabies post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended unless the bat is available for testing and found negative for the virus.

Princeton’s Bats

Bats are not uncommon in Princeton where some residents enjoy seeing them at dusk, often flying high with swallows. Last week, Richard and Karen Woodbridge, whose Prospect Avenue home backs up against Lake Carnegie, were disturbed to find one flying laps around their bedroom. “I grew up in Princeton at a time when it was quite usual to see snakes and box turtles around, and bats don’t bother me,” said Mr. Woodbridge. “In fact, we felt quite sorry for him but we’d rather he wasn’t in our bedroom.”

The Woodbridges took exactly the steps that Mr. Grosser advised above. They left the room, closed the door so that the bat couldn’t escape, and called the Princeton Police Department. Their letter to Police Chief Nick Sutter about the incident reports the actions of Patrol Officer Darwin “Bill” Kieffer and can be founding this week’s Mailbox.

Since the Woodbridges sent their letter, they have learned that, unlike the bats found on Linden Lane, “their bat” tested negative for rabies. “It looked like a healthy animal and was quite big with at least a six inch wing span. It took some effort to catch but we managed it and I was very impressed with the quick response of the Princeton Police Department,” said Mr. Woodbridge.

Bat-Proofing Tips

The Health Department, which cautions residents to keep a safe distance from all wild and stray animals, suggests the following bat-proofing tips.

At dusk, observe to see from where the bats are exiting your home — this is their principal entry point.

Once you know where they are entering your home, seal off all of the other openings and crevices greater than 3/8 inches.

To seal these areas, use 1/4 inch hardware cloth, fly screen, sheet metal, wood, caulking, expandable polyurethane foam, or fiberglass insulation.

To seal the principal entry point, wait until the evening when you are sure all of the bats have left. Don’t try to seal the principal entry point in June or July because bat babies are likely to be left inside.

Hang one-half inch bird netting about the opening with staples or duct tape, letting it extend, unattached at the bottom, to one foot below the opening. This will allow the bats to leave but not enter again. After several days the opening can be sealed.

Seal the openings between November 15 and March 15. Because most bats will have left for hibernation elsewhere, this is the ideal time to bat-proof a home

For anyone who is unable to carry out this work themselves, private companies such as some wildlife removal specialists, pest control and other contractors provide permanent bat exclusion services.

Residents are reminded to contact the Princeton Animal Control Officer/Princeton Police Department at (609) 921-2100 if they encounter a bat in their home, suspicious wildlife, or encounters between wild and domestic animals.

For more information on bats and rabies, please visit, or


August 13, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s opinion that the Williams/Transco company’s proposed pipeline project on the Princeton Ridge doesn’t pose major safety or environmental issues has members of a local citizens’ group planning to take action. The Princeton Ridge Coalition, which has been monitoring plans for the project, intends to challenge the agency’s official assessment, which was released this week.

“We’re going to fight this,” said Coalition member Barbara Blumenthal of FERC’s determination that the proposed project would result in “limited adverse environmental impacts.” The 474-page assessment also states that approval of the project “would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

Princeton Council passed a resolution last month encouraging FERC to reject Williams/Transco’s current construction plan. The company wants to install a new pipeline loop through Mercer, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties as well as two counties in Pennsylvania. The local portion that would run through the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge is part of the Skillman Loop. An existing natural gas pipeline built in 1958 is not sufficient to handle current production demands, the company has said.

Reacting to the assessment, Mayor Liz Lempert said Tuesday in an email, “The Princeton Ridge forest and the Mountain Lakes area are of exceptional environmental value. And the safety concerns raised by the Princeton Ridge Coalition are real and serious. I’m still making my way through the report, but the initial findings are disturbing and hard to fathom.”

The Coalition has met repeatedly with Williams/Transco representatives about safety and environmental issues, and the company has made some concessions along the way. In addition to worries about disturbance of wetlands, the Coalition has voiced concerns about possible blasting of the area’s boulders and bedrock. But the assessment calls on Williams/Transco to remove boulders and shallow bedrock by hammering and breaking of rocks rather than blasting.

Ms. Blumenthal said she was disappointed but not surprised by much of the assessment. “The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in June that FERC was violating NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) in their environmental assessments,” she said. “And this is the first assessment that has come out since that ruling. Everybody has told us that, as far as we know, FERC has never issued an EA (environmental assessment) that has a finding of significant impact. So this is just par for the course. They’ve never seen a pipeline they didn’t like.”

The public has 30 days to comment on FERC’s assessment. “We feel we have very strong ground,” Ms. Blumenthal said. Williams/Transco is expecting FERC to approve the project this fall. Construction could begin in April of 2015.

Commenting on the FERC opinion in a press release, the company said, “Williams understands the concerns expressed with regard to the safe installation of the Transco pipeline and minimizing environmental impacts during construction. We believe the FERC’s Environmental Assessment confirms our commitment to construction and operating this pipeline project in a safe, environmentally sensitive manner so that we can deliver much-needed additional natural gas supply to this region.”


The Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society, known for short as the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS), has received a grant of $47,100 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) for an archeological study on 29 acres of land at the site of the Battle of Princeton.

The battle was fought on January 3, 1777, after General Washington and his Continental Army had defeated the Hessians at Trenton. General Hugh Mercer, for whom Mercer County is named, lost his life there after being bayonetted.

According to the grant announcement, the PBS project would include an application to expand the boundaries of the American Revolution-Stonybrook Settlement Historic District.

As described on the municipal website, this historic district was settled circa 1686 to 1777. Placed on the National Register in 1966, it contains the site of the Battle of Princeton and includes Battlefield Park and the Stony Brook bridge on Route 206, both of which are National Historic Landmarks. In 1989 the district was enlarged to encompass the area of Stony Brook settlement established by the first Quakers in the community.

“The focus of the grant will be the D’Ambrisi property, which the State of New Jersey is in the process of acquiring with assistance from the Municipality of Princeton, Mercer County, and Princeton Open Space,” observed PBS First Vice President Kip Cherry in a press release supplementing the ABPP announcement.

“The D’Ambrisi property is important, not as the site of heavy fighting, but rather as a prominent ridge containing troops just before the battle began and as an area of retreat when most avenues of retreat were blocked, and, most importantly, as the likely burial site, possibly in a mass grave, for 36 British and American soldiers killed during the battle. The area is marked by the colonnade sitting at the top of this ridge and by a medallion placed behind the colonnade,” said Ms. Cherry.

The above-mentioned colonnade was once part of the portico to Mercer Manor, which stood on land owned by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). After the home was demolished in 1957, the IAS preserved the columns, originally designed for a Philadelphia residence by Thomas U. Walter, architect of the dome of the U.S. Capitol building. As is recorded on a plaque at the site, the columns were donated by the IAS to the State of New Jersey. They serve as a memorial to the soldiers who died in the battle on both sides.

As Ms. Cherry pointed out in a telephone interview yesterday, the ground was frozen and General Washington was in a hurry to get his soldiers out of the area in order to evade the British General Cornwallis before he fast-marched his army back to Princeton. “The timing and the fact that the ground had frozen overnight, made burying the dead difficult,” said Ms. Cherry, adding that the extent of the burial ground is unknown.

Asked whether there were any plans to dig up the mass grave thought to be close by the colonnade, Ms. Cherry said that whether there was a mass grave or not had yet to be determined. “We are hoping that archaeological evidence will give us clues so that we can better interpret what happened in both the early stages and the late stages of the battle, and where the mass grave might be.” She mentioned the importance of using ground penetrating radar in acquiring such information.

According to Ms. Cherry, the D’Ambrisi property will be annexed to Princeton Battlefield State Park. She stated that the Princeton Battlefield Society sees this effort as an ideal method for acquiring Battlefield property that had a major role in the Battle of Princeton. “The key is to have a willing seller who understands that by putting this land into the public domain to be interpreted as a part of the Battle, they are creating a permanent legacy.”

Model Survey

The scope of the proposed PBS study is being described by Mr. Hurwitz as a “model for any archaeological survey.” As such, it is being compared by the PBS to the archaeological survey currently being conducted by the Institute for Advanced Study, which plans to build faculty housing on its property close by the Princeton Battlefield State Park.

The IAS has been required by the Princeton Planning Board to conduct the survey and hopes to do so before a public hearing of its housing plan by the Board on September 18.

The site on which the IAS plans to build is known as Maxwell Field and is described by the PBS as the site of General Washington’s winning counterattack at the Battle of Princeton.

“Unlike Maxwell Field, where the winning counterattack occurred, this property [D’Ambrisi property] has never been explored for artifacts,” commented PBS President Jerry Hurwitz. “Therefore the work will begin with historical research, followed by ground penetrating radar (GPR) to determine whether there are any anomalies or indications of artifacts. The property will then be plowed and cross-plowed followed by a full regimen of metal detection.”

Referring to the Institute for Advanced Study’s current archeological survey, Mr. Hurwitz commented that “the plowing and cross plowing is always a necessary first step before metal detection and thus far we have not seen any sign of plowing and cross plowing by the Institute for Advanced Study on Maxwell Field.”

“This is one of a number of concerns we have regarding an archaeological survey of Maxwell Field by the Institute,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Hurwitz pointed out that the ABPP grant for the D’Ambrisi property calls for Geographic Information Systems-based mapping (GIS) and Key Terrain Observation and Fields of Fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Avenues of Approach (KOCOA) analysis similar to what was done for the site of the counterattack on Maxwell Field under a previous ABPP Grant to the Battlefield Society.

This analysis resulted in a 2010 report by John Milner Associates, titled Battle of Princeton Mapping Project: Report of Military Terrain Analysis and Battle Narrative, often referred to as the “Milner Study.”

Findings of the Milner Study are commented upon on the IAS website (


A week after its soft launch at Community Night Out, a new program aimed at streamlining how the municipality deals with non-emergency issues is catching on slowly but steadily with local residents. Access Princeton is a one-stop clearing house for dealing with everything from barking dogs to blocked storm drains. It can be accessed online or via a phone call.

In creating the program, the town has partnered with the application SeeClickFix, which serves numerous communities including Newark, Hamilton, Absecon, and Margate. Princeton residents can call 924-4141 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on business days to report a problem. The email address is Alternately, residents can visit A mobile app is being developed.

“So far, we’re doing okay,” said Christina Rothman-Iliff, who is directing the program. Ms. Rothman-Iliff was the dispatcher for the former Princeton Borough police department before consolidation. She is operating, along with customer service coordinator Debra Rogers, out of the old police dispatch office in Monument Hall, formerly Borough Hall.

“We’ve gotten some calls. Some people are using the web widgets to report problems through SeeClickFix, and we’re hoping for more,” Ms. Rothman-Iliff continued. “This will streamline things with one number to call. Specifically with consolidation, people have been confused about what number to use.”

Access Princeton is designed to make it easier for residents to determine which government agency can help them with a problem. “This has advantages for both residents and the staff,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “It will simplify residents’ ability to get in touch with the municipality. The idea is just to make it simple. You don’t need to know what department to contact. You just report your concern or question, and either they’ll put you through or handle the complaint directly.”

Kathy Monzo, the town’s assistant administrator and director of finance and among those being considered to take over Administrator Robert Bruschi’s job when he retires next month, came up with the idea for the program. “It’s a way to deliver better services but also to improve accountability on the back end,” Ms. Lempert said. “One of the great things is that it makes it not only simpler for the residents, but also easier for the administration to track the volume of complaints that are being handled, how quickly turnaround is, and what outstanding issues there still are. Hopefully, when you have a list of all the potholes that need to be filled in a centralized place, it will increase efficiency as well.”

One advantage of the site is that it allows residents to check the progress of a complaint. Ms. Lempert said that in the first four days, 24 issues were reported by residents, and 21 of those issues were resolved.

Access Princeton will be officially launched in mid-September. “We’re using this time until then to work out any kinks,” Ms. Rothman-Iliff said.


August 6, 2014

Princeton Council could well become the first municipality in Mercer County to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it is commonly known.

The controversial process extracts natural gas by pumping water into underground shale, fracturing the rock and thereby releasing the natural gas. Supporters say it produces cheap, clean gas but critics question the environmental costs and potential dangers from the use of a high-pressure blend of water, sand, and other chemicals that may include carcinogens and radioactive substances.

To date, Middlesex is the only county in the state to ban “fracking.” The technique has not yet been practiced in New Jersey and has been controversial in neighboring Pennsylvania. Last month, the New Jersey Assembly voted in favor of a bill seeking to make it illegal here. The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Chris Christie, who has on two occasions vetoed legislation that would ban the practice.

Meeting in public session last week, members of Princeton council voted 5-1 to introduce an ordinance that would ban the gas-extraction technique in Princeton. A public hearing and vote on the ordinance are scheduled to take place September 22.

Councilman Patrick Simon voted against the ordinance on the grounds that it was unnecessary since Princeton already has a ban on manufacturing and drilling for oil and gas. But other members of Council felt a resolution specifically opposing “fracking” would strengthen the existing ban.

“A U.S. Geological Survey has shown that there is potentially some gas underneath Princeton,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “This ordinance is recommended by the Princeton Environmental Commission as a way to get out ahead of this potential threat.”

The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), is a group of volunteer residents offering advice on environmental issues and actions that may affect the town’s natural resources and inhabitants.

A June 2012 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) identified about 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas in the South Newark basin, which extends under much of Mercer County and through parts of Pennsylvania. According to the survey, the South Newark basin is the third-largest of five regions along the East Coast for untapped natural gas.

With respect to the natural gas beneath Princeton, Councilwoman Jennie Crumiller who serves as liaison to the PEC, said that it was conceivable that someone would want to use fracking to get to it. Even though there are no gas companies currently seeking permission to use the technique here, it was possible that without such an ordinance in place, companies could possibly obtain a variance to do so. “Fracking is wreaking havoc across the country and contaminating the groundwater; if you care about the planet you want to stop it,” said Ms. Crumiller.

Council President Bernie Miller raised the question of whether the town could take legal action if neighboring towns allowed companies to drill horizontally underneath Princeton. Municipal attorney Trishka Cecil said that research on the issue would be needed.

Recent Research

According to an August 1 press release from Princeton University, the biological impact of “fracking” is still largely unknown. “Eight conservation biologists from various organizations and institutions, including Princeton University, found that shale-gas extraction in the United States has vastly outpaced scientists’ understanding of the industry’s environmental impact,” states the release. “With shale-gas production projected to surge during the next 30 years, determining and minimizing the industry’s effects on nature and wildlife must become a top priority for scientists, industry, and policymakers.”

The press release cites a report co-authored by Morgan Tingley, a postdoctoral research associate in the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy in Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The report states that there are significant “knowledge gaps” about fracking, stemming from a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal, and the composition of fracturing fluids. It claims that only five (Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Texas) of 24 states with active shale-gas reservoirs maintain public records of spills and accidents.

“We can’t let shale development outpace our understanding of its environmental impacts,” said Mr. Tingley. “The past has taught us that environmental impacts of large-scale development and resource extraction, whether coal plants, large dams, or biofuel monocultures, are more than the sum of their parts.”

Princeton Council hopes to lead the way with this ordinance ban, which will be the subject of a public hearing on Monday, September 22.


In spite of media reports that the lawsuit brought by seven current and former members of Princeton Police Department against former Police Chief David J. Dudeck, the Princeton Police Department, and the town of Princeton had been “thrown out” by a state judge, Matthew A. Peluso, attorney for the officers, said Monday the case would be going forward.

“Contrary to what has been reported, the case has not been ‘thrown out’ and as a matter of law it will proceed,” said Mr. Peluso Monday. “To say that it has been dismissed is erroneous.”

Describing “conflicting orders” handed down by the judge, Mr. Peluso said that these would have to be addressed but that they in no way meant that the case had been dismissed. “Conflicting orders which contradict one another are unusual and we will have to file a motion to address these,” he said.

Asked about the nature of the contradiction, Mr. Peluso declined to comment on the substance of the matter. “I’m not going to get into that, it’s complicated,” he said.

The suit filed in Mercer County Superior Court last year on August 28 by officers Sharon Papp, Steven Riccitello, Daniel Chitren, Carol Raymond, Christopher P. Donnelly, Michael Bender, and Christopher M. Quaste, alleges that the officers, all of whom were members of the former Borough police department before consolidation, were “discriminated against and harassed” based upon “their gender, sexual orientation, and disability.”

The lawsuit alleges that from 2008 until he went on a leave of absence last spring, Mr. Dudeck engaged in a continuing pattern of discrimination, and created a hostile work environment. It cites some 40 incidents in which Mr. Dudeck allegedly used crude sexual language, made crude gestures, or asked the officers about their sex lives or sexuality.

The suit also alleges that the Princeton Police Department and the Town of Princeton “aided and abetted” Mr. Dudeck’s discriminatory conduct by negligently hiring him as Police Chief despite knowing of his behavior and by failing to discipline him.

Mr. Dudeck joined the Princeton Borough Police Department in 1983. In 2009, when Borough Chief Anthony Federico died suddenly, Mr. Dudeck succeeded him. He was appointed as chief of the Police Department for the consolidated Princeton on January 1, 2013 and officially retired from his post on Sept. 1, of that same year, a month earlier than expected.

Captain Nick Sutter led the new department until being officially promoted to Chief earlier this year.

The officers have asked for a jury trial and are suing for compensatory damages for emotional stress, pain and suffering, lost promotion, employment, wages and benefits, as well as attorney’s fees and punitive damages.

The municipality has sought to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to respond to “discovery.”

But according to Mr. Peluso, the lawsuit might be heard as early as this month or perhaps in September.


Citizens opposed to the move of Princeton’s Dinky train station as part of Princeton University’s Arts & Transit project were dealt two blows last week.

On July 24, a petition proposed by the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers challenging NJ Transit’s jurisdiction over the Dinky line and its surrounding buildings was denied by the Surface Transportation Board. One week later, a New Jersey judge ruled against efforts by Princeton residents Anne and Walter Neumann and Marco Gottardis to overturn the zoning that permits the project.

Responding to the first action, the organization Save the Dinky vowed it will continue to fight to preserve the Dinky rail link. Save the Dinky president Anita Garoniak was quoted in a press release saying the organization was disappointed, but would continue its other litigation to preserve the Princeton branch. No decision has been made on an appeal.

The eight-page ruling by the Surface Transportation Board was in response to a June 2013 petition by the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers and the National Association of Railroad Passengers, plus Princeton resident Chris Hedges. The two agencies and Mr. Hedges said changes to the line should be under the Board’s jurisdiction, according to the legal definition of its responsibilities, rather than NJ Transit. They wanted the federal Board to say that the rail line between Princeton and Princeton Junction needed its approval before moving the track. But the Board determined otherwise.

The University is in the process of moving the Dinky train station 460 feet south of its longtime location opposite McCarter Theatre to a new building that is under construction. In its ruling, the federal agency called the move “a minor change in the location of a commuter rail station platform, an action that would appear to have no national rail transportation significance or impact on interstate commerce.”

Jack May, spokesman for the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, said last week that the decision is disappointing and an appeal is under consideration.

“We’re very concerned that the ruling appears to state that any local rail service in any place in the United States has no federal jurisdiction,” he said, “not only for the Princeton branch but for other rail commuter services. We’re also concerned that according to numbers we’ve received from NJ Transit, ridership on the Princeton branch is down by 11 percent. That is just the opposite of the other lines, where ridership is up. We strongly believe this is because of the decapitation of the station and its movement further down the line from Nassau Street and center of the town.”

In the other lawsuit, the plaintiffs sought to overturn the zoning for the Arts & Transit neighborhood, saying it violated a municipal land use law. Mercer County Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd rejected the claims, saying the ordinances in question, which were adopted by the former Borough and Township, were in line with the law.

“Overall, the evidence shows that the ordinances are consistent with the master plan, advance the purposes of zoning, and that both governing bodies comply with all procedural requirements of the MLUL [Municipal Land Use Law],” Mr. Hurd said in his decision, which was released Friday. The court also rejected the argument that the ordinances constituted spot zoning and that the Memorandum of Understanding adopted between the University and the municipalities constituted improper contract zoning.

Jonathan Epstein, the attorney representing the University, called the judge’s decision “the most important victory out of the several cases that we’ve won against the objectors trying to stop the Arts & Transit project. It upholds the zoning that allows the project to proceed. And this was a product of a multi-year, complex process involving both municipalities before consolidation.”

Mr. Epstein continued, “The fact that the judge upheld those ordinances means that there is no basis to challenge the underlying zoning, which has been one of the primary avenues of attack. Each one of the plaintiff’s arguments was rejected in detail. In my opinion, there would be no merit to any appeal of the decision.”

According to attorney for the plaintiffs Bruce Afran, however, an appeal is being considered “because the evidence shows, very clearly in our view, that Council sold the arts zoning for a payment of almost $1 million under the Memorandum of Understanding. We showed in evidence at trial that the then Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi and Roger Martindell, the most senior member of Council, both said that the Borough wouldn’t get the money unless ordinances were passed. We think this is absolute evidence that Council understood they would not receive payment unless the ordinances were passed. Council cannot pass zoning ordinances in return for money, a practice that is barred under New Jersey law,” he said.


July 30, 2014

A packed agenda of controversial issues drew a large crowd to Princeton Council’s meeting on Monday night. Many showed up to comment on four topics explored in work sessions: The town’s response to the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) on proposed third-round regulations, efforts to harmonize parking ordinances of the former Borough and Township, limits on the hours of retail business operations, and efforts to harmonize the town’s leaf and brush pickup schedule for 2015.

Late into the meeting, Council voted to introduce two ordinances. One would ban fracking in the municipality. A public hearing on the measure is set for September 22. The other  ordinance, which will have a public hearing on August 25, addresses compensation and salaries of town employees not represented by labor unions, giving them a 1.6 percent raise for 2014 retroactive to January 1.

But first, the governing body took a few minutes to honor the Princeton Police Department for its recent Accreditation Award. Harry DelGado, Accreditation Program Manager for the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association, presented the award to Chief Nick Sutter. At a press conference earlier in the day, Mayor Liz Lempert called the accreditation “a huge accomplishment for the department, reinforcing the fact that they’re running the most professional police organization possible.”

Mr. DelGado said the process is rigorous, with fewer than 130 departments across New Jersey being accredited. “For two departments to merge into one [following consolidation] and achieve accreditation in a year is simply remarkable,” he said before presenting the award to Mr. Sutter, who stood with Lieutenants Chris Morgan and Sharon Papp and Sergeant Steve Riccitello.

“I am very proud of our entire department as each and every member was involved in this process in some way,” said Mr. Sutter, who was named chief earlier this year after former chief David Dudeck stepped down following accusations by police personnel of harassment and making inappropriate sexual remarks.

COAH Regulations

The new regulations proposed by COAH and presented to Council last month by the town’s COAH adviser Shirley Bishop, would lower Princeton’s set aside for affordable units from 20 percent to 10 percent and give the town “zero obligation” to build more affordable units, among other changes. These do not sit well with members of the governing body or many area residents. The Council has until Friday,
August 1, to send its comments back to COAH.

Several members of the public encouraged Council to oppose the proposals. Marietta Taylor of the organization Not In Our Town suggested the governing body insist that two lots on Franklin Avenue, adjacent to the former Princeton Hospital, be set aside for affordable housing. Resident Kip Cherry urged Council to fight to retain the 20 percent set-aside. “People are squeezed in Princeton,” she said. “We constantly are losing people who can’t afford to be here anymore.”

Overnight Parking

Princeton’s Land Use Engineer Jack West opened the discussion on overnight parking by saying he originally thought it would be easy to harmonize the ordinances that existed in the former Borough and Township. “It isn’t,” he said, eliciting some laughter. Parking is restrictive in the former Borough, but not in the former Township. Mr. West asked Council to advise him on whether to pursue a hybrid situation, where in high-density areas overnight parking could possibly be allowed with restrictions.

Steve Weiss of Madison Street said his property is one of at least seven others on his street with “impossible parking situations.” Some residents of Maple Street said Princeton University employees often take up all of the parking spots, making it difficult for residents, some of whom pay for parking permits. Maple Street resident Alexi Assmus suggested the town have different parking regulations for different neighborhoods.

Limiting Business Hours

The question of whether to introduce an ordinance imposing limits on hours of retail business operations near residential zones drew the most comments, many of which came from business owners opposed to such a measure. The Ivy Inn and Hoagie Haven stay open the latest, until about 2 a.m., which was the time being discussed as a possible mandated closing. Some who live near those establishments spoke in favor of a restrictive measure, citing loud noise and sometimes unruly behavior late at night.

That neighborhood is also where a 7-11 store is planning to locate, in the former West Coast Video property at 259 Nassau Street. The store would be open 24 hours, which worries some of the area’s residents. But Robert Bratman, who owns the long-empty property and is anxious to move the 7-11 in, said he thinks being open 24 hours will actually make the neighborhood safer. Lighting and surveillance cameras would be installed, “so instead of creating crime, it would reduce crime, if there is crime,” he said.

John Marshall, president of the Princeton Merchants Association, argued that imposing restrictions in designated business zones would harm the community. “The ordinance is overly restrictive,” he said. “It discriminates against small businesses and adversely affects downtown businesses.” Restauranteur Jack Morrison called the idea of restricting hours “economically dangerous.” Barry Sussman of The Peacock Inn said he sometimes has customers on late flights checking in as late as 2 a.m. “Restricting really hurts,” he said.

Area resident Andrea Stein spoke in favor of the proposed measure. “People do tend to dally around their cars, slam their doors, and that kind of thing. As much as I support the businesses in town, we deserve to have some sort of a break from commerce.” Councilwoman Heather Howard said, “Common sense codification of existing policies is the way to go,” while Councilman Patrick Simon suggested, “Maybe we should just beef up our noise ordinance. I’m still weighing the options of this overall.” The topic will be revisited at the next Council meeting August 25.

Leaf and Branch Collection

Robert Hough, the town’s Director of Infrastructure and Operations, presented to Council the proposed leaf, branch and log collection schedule for 2015. After discussion and comments from the public, the governing body decided to send it back to Public Works Committee for further consideration.


When Princeton Council approved a resolution July 14 in support of tough, new anti-corruption laws transforming how elections in this country are financed and how lobbyists influence the political process, the municipality became the first in the nation to sanction the pending legislation.

The move is intended not only in regard to national politics, but on a local level as well. “Princeton hereby includes in its legislative agenda support for efforts to pass its own anti-corruption legislation, and respectfully urges the 12th Congressional district representatives and the 16th district New Jersey state legislature to support and introduce anti-corruption legislation to the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and state legislature addressing the issues herein described,” the resolution reads.

This is encouraging news to local residents David Goodman, Susan Colby, and Debra Lambo, who have been working toward the enactment of The American Anti-Corruption Act. “This resolution places Princeton in the vanguard of a movement,” said Mr. Goodman, a retired fundraiser who is a team leader for the New Jersey District 12 Committee of Represent.Us. “The national group is seeking similar resolutions from towns and municipalities across the country. It’s a grass roots effort to impress upon legislators and Congress the need for fundamental reforms to the effects of big money on government, so they can begin to be reined in.”

Statistics on the subject “are terrifying,” Mr. Goodman said. “Politicians spend 70 percent of their time fundraising. In most cases, they are decent, hardworking people who want to do the right thing. But it’s become a necessity, if you want to get re-elected. You have to raise a lot of money. This has been distorted in a major way in terms of legislation and public policy.”

According to information in the resolution, nearly $6 billion was spent in the 2012 elections, the vast majority of which came from special interest donors. “Politicans are dependent on a tiny percentage of the population to fundraise their campaigns while ordinary voters have less and less influence,” it reads.

Mayor Liz Lempert said last week, “Princeton was the first municipality in the country to pass a resolution in support of the anti-corruption legislation because we have an active group of residents that brought the issue to our attention. The legislation is essential to fair elections and honest, representative government.”

Getting Council to consider the resolution wasn’t difficult. “We didn’t feel we were working uphill,” said Mr. Goodman. “We felt some sympathy with our interests. But it would be arrogant to say it was a slam-dunk.”

He views the passage as a kind of clarion call. “It’s to say to people, let’s overcome the cynicism and sense of despair, that it is hopeless,” Mr. Goodman said. “Of course, there are problems to be overcome. But this is a way, on a very local level, for people to say, ‘We want to stand up and be counted and make a difference, and move in a different direction.’”

On October 30, Mr. Goodman and colleagues will hold a two-hour session at Princeton Public Library educating people about anti-corruption law efforts. The documentary film Priceless will be screened, followed by a forum to which many politicians are being invited including Bonnie Watson Coleman and Alieta Eck, who are running for Congressman Rush Holt’s seat. “We’ll ask them each to make a short statement on their views of campaign financing. It’s a voter education forum, taking place right before the elections. Audience members can ask questions. It should be a lively event.”


Since consolidation of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, members of Princeton Council have been working to consolidate the ordinances of both.

The painstaking task is yielding sets of new standards and regulations. One such example was approved  by Mayor Lempert and members of Council when they voted to repeal two old ordinances and replace them with a new ordinance that “establishes the duties and responsibilities” of the Princeton Shade Tree Commission and “sets forth the standards and regulations affecting trees and shrubs on public and private property and requires persons engaging in tree pruning, removal, and/or repairer for hire to register with the municipality.”

The former Township and Borough had different requirements for homeowners wishing to remove trees. The new ordinance brings such differences in the tree removal permitting processes into line.

“The Township process was geared toward avoiding clear-cutting and protecting trees near the right-of-way and the  Borough’s was geared toward protecting larger trees,” explained Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller Monday. “The Borough required that property owners notify their contiguous neighbors when they are planning to remove a tree, and the Township did not. The Shade Tree Commission struggled with how to reconcile the differences and worked with our arborist, Greg O’Neill, to come up with a simplified requirement where any tree larger than 8 inches in diameter requires a permit, and residents are required to notify their neighbors by supplying them with a copy of their tree-removal application; they do not have to supply certified mail receipts or signatures but they must sign a form attesting to their delivery.”

Council’s unanimous vote followed a thorough review by the Princeton Shade Tree Commission and a public hearing on the matter. Members of Council found little that was controversial in their deliberation of the subject, except for the question of whether tree experts who register with the municipality should be required to show proof of insurance.

Registration of tree experts was required by the former Township but not by the former Princeton Borough. The new ordinance maintains the requirement for tree experts to register.

Local tree expert Bob Wells attended the pubic meeting and urged Council to also require proof of liability and workers compensation insurance. According to Ms. Crumiller, the Council struggled with the question before deciding that such proof of insurance would not be required. “But,” said Ms. Crumiller by email Monday, “we may include a question about it on our registration form, and we added a provision that the registration forms will be made public and posted on our website.”

The new ordinance defines Princeton’s stewardship of trees and shrubs that are “a natural resource that provide aesthetic, economic, ecological, environmental and health benefits” to the town.

Municipal trees not only beautify, they provide shade and shelter from the weather, and “stabilize soil, reduce stormwater runoff and sedimentation, increase groundwater recharge, and reduce the potential for flooding and for water and wind erosion.”

The Commission’s job, among other duties, is to preserve the maximum number of trees and shrubs; safeguard specimen and significant trees; and replace removed or destroyed trees.

“I haven’t heard from any residents who object to the restrictions on cutting down trees – in fact I’ve heard the opposite,” reported Ms. Crumiller, who serves as the liaison between the Commission and the Council.  “ I think people appreciate that we’re a ‘tree city’ and that Princeton would not be Princeton without its substantial tree canopy, which besides adding great beauty, provides cooling shade, wildlife habitat and cleans the air.”