July 17, 2013

In the epilogue to his 2011 book Lessons Learned, former Princeton University President William G. Bowen, who was awarded a National Humanities Medal last week, quotes Greek poet C.F. Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaka,” to make a point about the way academic institutions help students and faculty see education as a “‘long journey,’ enormously consequential in its own right.”

Had it not been interrupted by illness, his own journey, “full of adventure, full of discovery,” would have taken the 79-year-old Bowen all the way to the White House July 10. David Bowen accepted the medal from President Obama on behalf of his father, who is said to be doing well now and looking forward to new projects. Princeton’s new President Christopher L. Eisgruber called Mr. Bowen “one of the great figures in American higher education” whose “legendary leadership of this University simultaneously elevated Princeton’s stature and strengthened its core values.” Other Princetonians receiving the Medal are former faculty member and historian Natalie Zemon Davis and sportswriter Frank Deford ’61.

Mr. Bowen has a special relationship with Cavafy’s poem and its “many a summer morning when/with what -pleasure, what joy,/you come into the harbors seen for the first time.” At Opening Exercises in the University Chapel, September 14, 1981, then-President Bowen read his faculty colleague Edmund Keeley’s translation of “Ithaka” in full, emphasizing the poem’s relevance “for the beginning of the academic year — and especially for those of you who are freshmen.” First-Lady-to-be Michelle Robinson ’85 was presumably among the students beginning “an entirely new journey” that day. The poem, Mr. Bowen went on to say, “reminds us of the need to have destinations in mind so that we do not simply wander aimlessly — so that we have at least some general sense of why we are here. Each of us is left, however, to determine his or her own Ithaka, which is as it should be.”

Mr. Bowen’s Ithaka is higher education. No wonder, then, that Cavafy’s poem surfaced again when his journey took him from Princeton to the presidency of the Mellon Foundation (1988-2006), where, according to the Mellon website, “his special interest in the application of information technology to scholarship led to a range of initiatives, including the Foundation-sponsored creation of JSTOR (a searchable electronic archive of the full runs of core journals in many fields), ARTstor (a repository of high-quality digitized works of art and related materials for teaching and research), and the destination to which the others lead, ITHAKA. After stating its mission, to help “the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways,” the website presents Cavafy’s poem in full under the heading, “Our Inspiration.”

Editor to Author

“Ithaka is a metaphor that means something very special to him,” says Mr. Bowen’s longtime friend and editor, Princeton University Press Director Peter Dougherty, who credits him for “singlehandedly” helping create the Press’s outstanding list of books on higher education: “He sees it as the vanguard, the leading edge.” Referring to his author’s “laser-like attention” to the subject, Mr. Dougherty describes him as a “very clear writer, and an extraordinary organizer of people who have worked with him. He knows what questions to ask and how to ask them, and he’s good at pulling together all this energy toward answering those questions.”

The NEH makes special mention of the book coauthored with former Harvard president Derek Bok The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions (Princeton 2000), which Mr. Dougherty says “cemented” his editor-author relationship with Mr. Bowen. Described as “a landmark in the national debate over affirmative action,” the book’s “overall conclusion is that race-sensitive admissions policies are effective and deserve the support of society.”

In addition to The Shape of the River and Lessons Learned, subtitled Reflections of a University President (2011), some recent Princeton University Press titles among the 20 books Mr. Bowen has written or co-written, include Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities (2009), Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values (2005) and this year’s Higher Education in the Digital Age, which focuses on the economic challenges facing higher education and how technology might help address them. Fittingly, this most recent post from Mr. Bowen’s “long consequential journey” was co-published with “the online scholarly project incubator” (in Peter Dougherty’s words) named for Cavafy’s “Ithaka.”

Born in Cincinnati, Mr. Bowen completed his college degree at Denison University in Granville, Ohio in 1955 and earned his PhD in economics at Princeton only three years later. He joined the Princeton faculty as a labor economist, becoming a full professor in 1965. In 1967, he was appointed provost, helping President Robert Goheen oversee the University’s transition to coeducation. In 1972, the year Sonia Sotomayor arrived as a freshman, he became, at 38, the University’s president. How he dealt with the challenges of that tumultuous time is described in Lessons Learned.

On that September morning in 1981, Mr. Bowen ended his evocation of “Ithaka,” his “text for the day,” with reference to the “harbors” of Princeton and the “encountering of a new idea, wrestling with it, turning it over in your mind, testing your comprehension of it — and, finally, if you are fortunate, coming to understand it and to appreciate its beauty. But you have to be open to such experiences; no one can force them on you. Don’t miss, please, the pleasure, the joy of learning.”


July 10, 2013

Ask any farmer if they’d rather have a dry year or a wet year, and the answer is likely to be the same: Dry. “You can water, but if you have too much rain, you can’t take it away,” says Gary Mount of Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville, one of several local farms that has been affected by drenching rains in recent weeks. The wet weather, which abated over the July 4th weekend while the heat continued, has had farmers scrambling to rescue crops in their most important planting season.

“There’s just too much rain,” Mr. Mount said last week. “Extra moisture encourages diseases on plants. The ability to deal with it is related to how long it goes on. It’s only been wet for two and a half weeks. If it goes on all next month, that will be hard to deal with. But usually, we go through a wet or dry spell, and then things change.”

The driving rains were also unwelcome at Great Road Farm in Skillman, which supplies some of the produce to the Witherspoon Street restaurant Agricola as well as farmers’ markets in West Windsor and Brooklyn.

“It could be a record in June for rainfall in New Jersey,” said farm manager Steve Tomlinson. “We’re struggling to get our succession planting in. We plant every two weeks, or at least every month, so we have a constant supply. Right now our greenhouse is backing up with plants that haven’t been able to get out into the field. Our tomatoes are looking pretty stressed.”

June actually did set a record as the wettest on record in New Jersey since 1895, according to information from the New Jersey state climatologist. The heavy rains damaged crops like blueberries, squash, and tomatoes.

“The only thing that doesn’t mind the water is sweet corn,” said Judee Deficcio, whose Pineland Farms in Hammonton supplies her stand at the Trenton Farmers’ Market. “We have sandy soil, which drains well but tends to wash away nutrients when there is that much water. Blueberries just keep absorbing water, and they get soft. The other problem with blueberries is that you don’t want to pick them when they’re wet. There were days when we’d pick for an hour or two instead of the usual 12. Also, you don’t want to pick in the extreme heat, and we’ve had plenty of that, too.”

Farmers know to prepare for heavy rains by planting raised beds. “This prevents the plants from getting over-saturated. It really helps us a lot,” said Mr. Mount. Planting varieties that are resistant to diseases caused by extra moisture is another form of insurance. More applications of fungicide can also help.

“It’s nobody’s favorite job, but you have to know that a rainy year requires more,” Mr. Mount said. “Most commercial farmers now use a monitoring system to help judge when they need more and when they don’t. In a wet year, more has to be used.”

The sweet cherries at Terhune are very susceptible to rain, but covering them to keep moisture out has saved this year’s crop. “It was a problem, but fortunately we had a way of dealing with it,” Mr. Mount said.

Ms. Deficcio watched an entire field of squash “just melt” in the rain, she said. Squash is one of the most easily damaged by saturation, and not just the summer varieties. “It may affect the pumpkin crop for the fall, because this is the time when pumpkin is planted,” she said. “There’s still some time to get them in, but we’ll have to see.”

Peaches, so prized in New Jersey toward the end of summer, should be okay, Ms. Deficcio added. Mr. Tomlinson said his Swiss chard, usually an easy crop, was showing signs of damage from the rains. There are concerns about tomatoes, which can be wiped out by a disease called late blight. “There are rumors that it’s going around,” he said. “It wiped out the entire tomato crop in 2009 for the organic farmers. That’s a huge money-maker. We are not certified organic, but we practice organic procedures.”

While the weather has done its damage, farmers aren’t ready to write off the summer of 2013 as a loss. “In New Jersey, we’re fortunate because we usually get an adequate amount of rain,” Mr. Mount said. “But too much is too much. So we do have to work extra hard. But if it doesn’t continue the way it’s been, we should be okay.”


Hoping to encourage Princeton residents and visitors to shop local, the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA) has announced a new debit/credit card that can be used at establishments in town and some of the surrounding area. The “One Princeton” card, introduced at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, will be officially launched in September, according to PMA president Carly Meyer and member John Marshall, who owns Main Street Bistro in Princeton Shopping Center.

The Council meeting also included a report by Captain Nick Sutter about a town-wide police survey conducted earlier this year.

The refillable debit/credit card and parking smart card will save money for merchants by allowing them to avoid traditional bank fees, which can be as high as three percent. Instead, through an agreement with Heartland Payment Systems, merchants will pay a fixed fee of five cents for each transaction. One percent of that transaction will be donated to a local non-profit, which the cardholder can choose. Should a customer fail to designate a non-profit, the donation would be evenly split among participating organizations.

“We do a heck of a lot of credit card processing in Princeton, and it’s very expensive for merchants,” Mr. Marshall said. “We want to keep credit card processing fees from going out of town.”

Mr. Marshall said that about $600,000 in those fees currently go to banks outside of Princeton. “This would provide a new funding stream to the local economy,” he said. Ms. Meyer called the card a hybrid, adding that a smart phone version will be part of the plan.

Customers would apply on line for the card, which would be linked to their primary checking accounts. A system of loading fixed cash amounts to the card is also planned. The card will also include a parking chip to allow use at meters, and could be reloaded at local parking garages.

A version of the plan is already in place in San Francisco, Ms. Meyer said after the meeting. But the local card will be unique. “It’s kind of like a local stock market where we’re re-investing in the community,” she said. “Princeton will be kind of a test case.”

The Council was impressed with the idea. Calling it a “loyalty card,” Mayor Liz Lempert said the card would keep money in the community while helping out local non-profit organizations.

Police Survey

Reporting on the police department’s survey, Captain Sutter told the Council that there was “zero” feedback from the local Hispanic community. As a result, the department is launching an outreach program to try and engage those residents and hear their concerns. Earlier in the day, he said the lack of response “spoke volumes” about fears that members of the Hispanic community have about interacting with law enforcement officers. Current policy is that Princeton police enforce local and state laws, but not federal immigration laws.

In an effort to reach out to the Hispanic community, which represents about eight percent of the total Princeton population, the department is meeting with church groups and neighborhood leaders. “We’re looking for more involvement; more feedback,” Mr. Sutter said. “Two of our Spanish-speaking officers with strong contacts in the community have stepped up.”

The survey, which was conducted between February and May, included door-to-door sampling and questionnaires, in English and Spanish, on the internet. There were 394 responses. The most common concerns expressed by participants were maintaining a police presence on foot or on bicycles, traffic enforcement, and speeding, Captain Sutter said.

Following this summer, the department plans to hold community meetings in each of the five sectors of Princeton that were polled, starting with a big meeting that may be held at Princeton Public Library, Captain Sutter added. Another survey and a re-evaluation period will follow.


Merwick Care and Rehabilitation in Plainsboro has added an outdoor dimension to its physical therapy treatments with a 7,500 square foot garden designed with a purpose.

The therapy garden, the first such in the northeast, allows patients undergoing rehabilitation to enjoy nature while they receive physical therapy. As well as flowers and a fountain, the garden boasts paths made of sand, gravel, brick, and asphalt that afford patients the challenge of walking on various surfaces as an aid to recovery. Raised planter beds for gardening and benches of differing heights ostensibly offer recreational opportunities with recovery in mind. A gazebo features a door for those who need practice with manual dexterity. There is also a putting green and a parked car that patients can practice entering and exiting.

“The new physical therapy garden is not only beautiful, it includes practical objects to ensure patients practice real life skills to regain their strength and flexibility,” said Michael Jacobs, vice president at Windsor Healthcare.

In 2011, Merwick Care and Rehabilitation moved from its longtime Princeton location to a new 200-bed facility overlooking the Millstone River near the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro hospital off Route 1.

The therapy garden adds to the existing state-of-the-art rehabilitation gym, called the Luxor Pavilion. The garden can be viewed from the gym’s two-story glass window.

Outdoor therapy benefits patients preparing to return home through activities that they will likely use once they leave Merwick.

When the garden opened last month, West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hseuh and Plainsboro Township Deputy Mayor Neil Lewis were among those who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony along with Hyman Jacobs, president and CEO of Windsor Healthcare, Merwick’s parent organization and a family-owned business.

“We are very excited about the new therapy garden. As a company dedicated to healing and providing patient-centered care, we are pleased to offer this unique outdoor therapy setting to our residents and patients,” said CEO Jacobs.

“Many of the things that happen inside can happen outside,” said Jack Carman, a landscape architect with Design for Generations, who devotes his practice to designing therapy gardens. “Nature is a positive distraction. You accomplish so much more being out in the garden. It’s a value to the patients, as well as the community.” The Merwick therapy garden will be the only one of its kind in the region, Carman said.

According to Merwick Administrator Lesley Vodofsky, the new therapy garden is designed to help patients get back into their homes and will have “almost every obstacle a person can encounter,” in everyday life. The idea is that patients will be distracted by the setting and won’t realize they are getting therapy. As patients use the garden, walk, sit on benches, or hang clothes on the clothesline, therapists will be able to assess their progress.

The garden not only benefits those outdoors but also those who are working indoors at Merwick. Mr. Carman cites studies showing that patients who can see nature from their hospital room heal faster and feel less pain than patients who don’t. Looking at nature, it seems, helps to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.

Merwick Care & Rehabilitation Center is part of Windsor Healthcare, a family-owned business. The 200-bed facility overlooks the Millstone River at 100 Plainsboro Road off Route 1, near the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. For more information, call (609) 240-6886.


July 3, 2013

Six Mercer County mayors met for breakfast last Thursday morning at the Hyatt Regency Princeton to discuss regional issues with each other, with representatives of local businesses, and with members of the public.

In addition to Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, the town’s first post-consolidation mayor, the panel comprised Mayors Janice Mirnov from East Windsor, Paul Anzano from Hopewell Borough, Vanessa Sandom from Hopewell Township, Anthony Persichilli from Pennington, and Shing-Fu Hsueh from West Windsor.

The mayors answered questions put to them by moderator Frank Lucchesi, of PSE&G, which sponsored the event hosted by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting was held to promote regional thinking and cooperation on such problems as traffic and transportation, residential development, economic growth, emergency preparedness, among others.

“The challenges faced by our municipalities are not unique and the collective impact is felt by all of us,” said Peter Crowley, president and CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We believe that solutions are reached earlier, answers more easily resolved and outcomes implemented more quickly when we work together.”

PSE&G has organized similar events in the past in other counties, said Mr. Lucchesi, and found the discussions to be successful in providing an opportunity for mayors to talk about issues affecting all of their municipalities. “The roundtable is a forum for mayors to work on a regional basis and for members of the public and the business community to learn the distinct nature of each municipality.”

Mr. Lucchesi asked the mayors to describe the greatest challenges facing their towns and the region.

The first response came from East Windsor Mayor Janice Mirnov, who unhesitatingly launched into a description of New Jersey’s “onerous property tax system.” “The tax burden is our primary challenge,” she said, noting that more people were leaving New Jersey than any other state probably because of the property taxes. She also described the “dramatic effect” of the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike on her town.

Hopewell Borough Mayor Anzano concurred with Ms. Mirnov on the tax issue, as did all other mayors on the panel, and added that affordable housing was a problem for first time homeowners and for seniors wishing to remain in their homes.

Mr. Persichilli raised what he called the elephant in the room that is Trenton. “It hurts me to see what is happening there,” he said. “Something has to be done to revive the city.” Mr. Persichilli’s remark drew a round of applause from the audience of some 40 individuals. Mr. Lucchesi commented on the untapped resources of Trenton as a waterfront city, expressing the hope that one day it might turn around much as Pittsburgh has done.

Liz Lempert commended the business community for providing an example of consolidation for Princeton when the Borough and Township Merchants merged their organizations. She acknowledged that other towns were viewing Princeton’s recent consolidation and spoke about the need for municipalities to work together to improve bicycling networks between towns. She was well aware that Princeton’s street closures during its annual Town and Gown celebration, Communiversity, had an effect on the “fragile road network” through and around Princeton where traffic in one town causes back-ups in neighboring towns. “Traffic is a regional issue that we need to work together on; it’s not a problem each town can solve independently.”

She mentioned a database of statistical information compiled by regional planner Ralph Widner, who was in the audience, that would be a tool for planning the future not only of the newly consolidated Princeton but also the town in relation to Greater Princeton and beyond. Mr. Widner is a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and a moving force in the group Princeton Future.

In March, Mr. Widner unveiled “A Statistical Portrait” of Princeton, using data from the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2007-2011 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.

Ms. Lempert went on to describe Princeton’s free Jitney service with links to the Dinky and Princeton University’s Tiger Transit. Regarding Mr. Persichilli’s remarks on Trenton, she said: “We are the capital county and we need to be there to support Trenton.”

West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh spoke on the region’s potential as an “economic engine” for the whole of New Jersey. But to achieve this, he said, local municipalities need to partner with the state and deal with the systemic problem of property taxes since the current system presents a significant obstacle to collaboration because municipalities need to fund many services at the local level through property taxes.

As municipalities come to realize that they are unable to solve their own problems without “regional thinking” and collaboration, a new collective approach will have to be adopted “of necessity,” said Mr. Anzano.

“It’s already happening in Mercer County,” said Ms. Mirnov, noting a trend prompted by common interests that she hopes will continue.

Asked about the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, the mayors agreed that communication is a crucial element of emergency preparedness, an important function of which, said Ms. Sandom, was educating homeowners on their responsibilities, since local governments cannot be expected to handle everything. Improved communication with residents prior to an emergency would allow families to plan ahead and have supplies such as water and food on hand. Princeton residents were encouraged to sign up for the town’s reverse 911 system.

During a moment of levity, Mr. Hsueh said that he hadn’t realized until Superstorm Sandy just how powerful he was. Some residents of his constituency, he told his colleagues, had called him to ask why he had allowed the storm to come to West Windsor.

Mr. Widner commented by phone, Monday, on the two principal issues discussed, namely the state’s tax structure and common traffic problems. “New Jersey is divided by many small local governments. Clearly its time for initiative at the local level,” he said. “Rather than reacting to what comes out of Trenton, municipalities should form their own ideas about these two issues and take their plans to the state. In particular a workable tax structure that is not so heavily dependent on property taxes. There needs to be leadership from the ground up. Princeton is particularly well-placed, especially after consolidation, to take a leadership role here because of its rich intellectual community and because of its history as far back as the Revolutionary War.

As made clear by Thursday’s mayoral gathering, problems faced by local municipalities are not confined to their respective municipal boundaries.

A second roundtable with the remaining mayors of Mercer County municipalities will take place in the fall to coincide with Trenton Small Business Week. It is hoped that such mayoral gatherings will become annual events.

—Linda Arntzenius


MIXING IT UP: A view of the townhouses at the corner of Franklin Avenue and the eastern access to the parking garage, which is part of AvalonBay’s revised proposal for a rental community at the former home of the University Medical Center of Princeton. The new design calls for five buildings instead of one. (Rendering by Tangram 3DS)

AvalonBay brought its revised plan for the former Princeton Hospital site back to the Planning Board last Thursday. With greater permeability, five buildings instead of one large edifice, a scaled-down swimming pool, and other adjustments, the developer is hoping to gain the approval of the Board, which rejected its initial plan last December.

The developer sued the Board and the town to reverse that decision, but a settlement was worked out to allow for a revised proposal. The Board must approve the reworked plan if AvalonBay has met their legal obligations, attorney Gerald Muller said in his opening remarks.

The hearing was the first of four to be devoted to the proposed 280-unit rental development. The next meetings will be held July 11, 18, and 25 at the Witherspoon Hall municipal building. Members of the community have been especially vocal on the issue since AvalonBay was first contracted to purchase the site on Witherspoon Street in 2011.

Just before last week’s meeting, representatives from Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN) and members of the property service workers union 32BJSEIU held a rally outside the municipal building to protest AvalonBay’s proposal. As rain began to fall, some 30 protesters gathered to complain that the newly revised proposal is too similar to the original. Among the speakers were local residents Shirley Satterfield, Kate Warren, and Alexi Assmus.

During the public comment period at the end of the meeting, union representative Ben Bennett expressed concerns about AvalonBay’s fire safety record over several objections by the developer’s attorney that the comments were inappropriate. When the Board decided to hear Mr. Bennett out, he told them that he wants a public safety monitor on the construction site. He said that a fire at an AvalonBay construction site in Edgewater 13 years ago destroyed the project along with nearby single family homes. But Mr. Muller advised the Board that they should disregard Mr. Bennett’s testimony because it was not relevant.

Earlier in the evening, the Board heard from PCSN attorney Rob Simon on some of the organization’s objections to the plan before listening to reports from the Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) and the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) about the revised proposal. Both groups recommended approving the plan, but with several conditions based on design standards and other matters. Increased bicycle storage, better distribution of the 56 affordable housing units throughout the complex, and the adoption of food waste composting were among SPRAB’s recommendations. The PEC agreed with those suggestions, adding that the potential contamination of the former hospital site be addressed, more energy-efficient windows be used, all appliances be Energy Star certified, and only native and adaptive plantings be used in the landscaping.

PEC member Wendy Kaczerski also suggested that AvalonBay treat the property as a green building site, making it an example of how a construction project can be done. “The PEC wants to commend AvalonBay for all the green improvements it intends to make,” she added. “They’ve come a long way.”

The public first heard about AvalonBay’s revised proposal at a community meeting in May. The plan calls for 24 studio apartments, 104 one-bedroom units, 120 two-bedroom apartments and 30 three-bedroom units. Building heights will be lower than in the original plan, and range from two to five stories. On the Franklin Street side of the development, three townhouse buildings with stoops and porches are in the design. A garden walk separates the largest building from the main parking garage.

Affordable housing units are in the two largest buildings as part of the plan. A public road will cut through the development, and a public park, larger than in the original plan, will be on the corner of Witherspoon Street and Franklin Avenue. “The new plan responds to comments from 2012,” said Jon Vogel, the AvalonBay vice president now in charge of the project. “Permeability was a main theme.”

—Anne Levin


The doors to the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room aren’t normally open to Hinds Plaza. But on Monday of this week, day seven of no air-conditioning in the building, the doors were flung wide despite the beginnings of a drizzle outside. The few people listening to a man at the lectern sat fanning themselves in the steamy heat.

A 4,200-pound compressor unit is at the root of the problem. The library is replacing the existing compressor in it’s nine-year-old building, a process that is taking longer than expected. But a measure of relief has arrived: Some temporary units were installed Tuesday while work on the compressor continues. And library executive director Leslie Burger is hoping to have the issue resolved by the end of this week.

“Several times last summer, the compressor unit that runs the air conditioning system failed. After doing trouble-shooting and diagnostics, the recommendation from our contractor was to replace it,” she said Tuesday. “So it took a while to secure a commitment of funding, and then to put it out to bid according to state requirements. Once we did all that, then it was 10 weeks to manufacture the part.”

The part finally arrived, and the installers were scheduled. “We knew we’d be running close to cooling season, and then everything took longer than we expected,” Mr. Burger continued. “Last week was when we could get the compressor and the installer in the same place. Unfortunately, that happened to coincide with the worst weather.”

Hours have been curtailed at the library as the temperature and humidity have risen. The building was not open on Sunday except for one program, and closed at 2 p.m. Monday. It was scheduled to remain open until the normal closing time of 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

Attendance was noticeably down on Monday afternoon. The parking garage, normally packed by lunchtime, was filled only to the second level. Fans whirring inside the building were doing little to relieve the heat. But not everyone was bothered.

“When you’re on the computer, you don’t really notice it,” said Archer Ayres, 8, whose mother, Blair, read in a chair nearby. While somewhat more uncomfortable than her son, Ms. Ayres was philosophical about the situation.

“It’s not as bad as it could be,” she said. “It reminds me of being in Manhattan, where I used to live. You just deal with it. This is an amazing library, so how can we complain? We’re spoiled. We can tolerate a little unpleasantness.”

Ms. Burger said the goal, while the work continues, is to keep staff and customers as comfortable as possible. “This was obviously not our plan, but that’s the way it worked out. We could have waited, but then we ran the risk that it could break down. It’s a delicate balance. But people have been very understanding about it.”

—Anne Levin

June 26, 2013

At a special telephone meeting yesterday of New Jersey Transit’s board of directors, a resolution was approved to transfer property between Princeton University and the transportation agency in connection with the University’s arts and transit project.

The meeting came one day after a federal petition was filed by national and local advocacy groups to try and halt the relocation of the Dinky train station, which connects Princeton with the Princeton Junction train station on the Northeast Corridor line. The University wants to move the station 460 feet south as part of the development project.

The public could listen to the call by attending the meeting at NJ Transit’s headquarters in Newark. During a public comment period, five people from Princeton and two from the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers spoke against the move. But the deal was approved without deliberation, according to Princeton Council member Jenny Crumiller, who attended.

“I was really disappointed, especially hearing there were no comments [from the board],” she said. “I felt it was obviously already decided and the meeting was a total waste of time.”

Ms. Crumiller is among those in favor of keeping the Dinky rail station in its current location. The University’s move of the station would provide a second access road to its parking garage. Advocates for keeping the station as it is have proposed a way to enter the garage from University Place, but officials at the school have said that plan would not work.

Reached yesterday, Princeton University Vice-President and Secretary Bob Durkee said the session in Newark was held simply to come to a final agreement on price. “Today’s meeting is really about money, and agreeing to a price on the land that’s being sold, and figuring out how to determine the price on the replacement of the old easement with the new easement. That’s something that normally happens at the end of the process.”

According to an agenda released by NJ Transit, the agency will sell a 0.84-acre parcel, located in what was formerly Princeton Township, to the University. The land will be used to build parking for the new Dinky station. NJ Transit will purchase a .06-acre parcel, also in what was formerly the Township, to facilitate the realignment of the existing tracks.

The University will pay $185,000 to NJ Transit, the agenda states, along with an amount between $88,000 and $480,000 for the difference between the values of the easement interests, to be determined by a certified appraiser. The arrangement also moves NJ Transit’s easement area and reduces it in size.

Petitioning the STB

The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (ARP) and the National Association of Railroad Passengers filed their joint petition with the United States Surface Transportation Board (STB) on Monday. The object is to keep NJ Transit and Princeton University from “cutting back the Princeton Branch from its current in-town terminal,” according to a press release.

The petition asks the STB to declare its jurisdiction over the Dinky line, and requires that any reduction in its length be undertaken only with the agency’s approval. Phil Craig, a director of the New Jersey ARP, said more is involved than cutting back the track by 460 feet, “which is what the University has asked the public to believe,” the release reads. “The current station is approximately 1,300 feet from downtown Princeton; the new location would be 2,000 feet by foot from Nassau Street and a half-mile from Palmer Square, Princeton’s focal point.”

Moving the station, Mr. Craig continued, would be a detriment to passengers, especially senior citizens and the disabled. “The longer uphill walk will be especially difficult during inclement weather, when many passengers have to slog through snow, ice, or rain,” resulting in a loss of passengers.

Mr. Craig also said that the relocated station will be more isolated, creating difficulties for those who use the train at night. Mr. Durkee countered that the new station will be adjacent to the relocated Wawa market, which is open all night and staffed. “The Princeton Planning Board looked a lot at safety issues, lighting, and the design, and were fully satisfied that this was a very safe location,” he said. “There will be lots of evening pedestrian traffic because of the arts complex. There’s going to be life in this area.”

Jack May, vice president of the New Jersey ARP, said in the release that the University and the railroad “grew up together. There is no reason why the University cannot accomplish its goals while preserving the Princeton station in its current, accessible location. New Jersey Transit is the guardian of the interests of New Jersey’s traveling public. It should not be attempting to hand Princeton University this valuable public transportation asset.”

The petition is one of the legal actions which have been filed to try and halt the Dinky station relocation. “There are several lawsuits pending, so it will be interesting to see if any of them has traction,” Ms. Crumiller said.


The Princeton Battlefield Society received a setback Friday in its attempt to halt the Institute for Advanced Study’s (IAS) building plans. The Society had sued to overturn the Princeton Planning Board’s March 21, 2012, approval of the Institute’s plans to build a group of faculty townhouses and single-family residences on its property adjacent to Princeton Battlefield Park.

The Society claims that the site is an important part of the 1777 Battle of Princeton during the Revolutionary War. But Judge Mary Jacobson ruled against the suit.

“The Institute welcomes Judge Jacobson’s decision, which confirms that the Princeton Regional Planning Board acted appropriately more than a year ago in unanimously approving the Institute’s faculty housing project. We look forward to moving ahead with the project and to meeting our commitments to the Planning Board with respect to historic preservation and interpretative initiatives,” said IAS spokesperson Christine Ferrara on Monday.

The Institute has agreed to enhance signage for visitors to the Battlefield Park.

According to Kip Cherry, vice-president of the Princeton Battlefield Society, the issue may not yet be over. The Society is “prepared to appeal immediately,” Ms. Cherry said Monday.

As yet, however, no official action has been taken and the Society’s board has yet to deliberate the issue. Board members were expected to have a conference-call late last night after Town Topics press time.

On Monday, Battlefield Society President Jerald Hurwitz said: “It was a disappointment but we are resolved to continue the fight to save the Princeton Battlefield.”

Mr. Hurwitz criticized Judge Jacobson’s ruling and the lengthy review she gave of her reasoning in a case that she described as “not difficult but important.” Judge Jacobson spoke for over two hours. “Such decisions are highly dependent on the individual judge, and we were prepared for this,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Institute attorney Chris Tarr had a different response: “In all my 40 years, I have never heard a judge give such a careful, clear, and thoughtful review of her deliberation. The Princeton Planning Board decided this unanimously and since there were no variances, this was a simple case. Judge Jacobson had to decide whether the Planning Board acted reasonably or was their action ‘arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable’. After a thorough review she concluded that they acted reasonably.”

According to Mr. Hurwitz, the judge’s ruling comes with a silver lining in that the Battlefield Society will now have an opportunity to present all of the evidence for its case at the Appellate Court level where it will be reviewed by three judges. “We may get a fairer result,” he said, adding that his organization had budgeted for this contingency at the end of last year. “We have a lot of supporters who have contributed to us from all over the country, people from Virginia to California who care about American history and the future of our battlefields.”

The Institute’s long-standing plans to build faculty housing are described on its website (www.ias.edu) which notes the residential nature of its scholarly community.

The IAS plan would cluster eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre parcel of land that sits between existing faculty homes and the Institute’s main campus. The buildings are designed to have a low profile and be screened from the Battlefield Park by trees. An additional 200-foot buffer zone alongside the Battlefield Park would be permanently preserved as open space.

Mr. Hurwitz, however, likens the Institute’s plans to building on Gettysburg. “This is where an historic counterattack took place in the Battle of Princeton, a turning point in the Revolutionary War,” he said. “The Institute has already destroyed much of the battlefield by building over what was the orchard, they should not be allowed to destroy more.”

In 2003, IAS presented its plan to the (then) Princeton Township Site Plan Review Advisory Board, which made suggestions to lessen the impact on the Princeton Battlefield and surrounding area. “The Institute has taken these suggestions very seriously, as well as the comments and concerns of all those who, like the Institute, greatly value the Princeton Battlefield,” states the website, which describes the plan as preserving the natural surroundings and respecting its historic setting.

The website also notes the connection between the Institute and the Princeton Battlefield State Park, which “it helped to create and expand” by the sale of land to the State of New Jersey for the purpose of Battlefield preservation.

In 1959, the Institute donated the former Mercer Manor portico that now stands on the northern part of the Battlefield as a memorial to the unknown American and British soldiers who died there.

In 1973, IAS sold a further 32 acres to the state, increasing the size of the Battlefield Park by 60 percent. According to the IAS website, this sale was made on the basis of a specific commitment by the State in 1971 that the Institute’s field east of the new Battlefield Park boundary could be used as the site for new faculty housing.

Mr. Hurwitz also said that the Institute could not go ahead with its plans without a waiver from the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) and that is not something they have in hand. If necessary the issue could go all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court, he said. “We are not done.”

According to Mr. Tarr, attorney for the Institute, “such statements are just foolish. The DRCC recommended a waiver and it was automatically approved,” he said.

So far, the Princeton Battlefield Society and its attorney Bruce Afran have brought three suits that could stall the Institute’s plans, including an appeal of the DRCC default decision.


A meeting of Princeton Council on Monday, June 24 was focused on the future workings of the town’s police department. Discussion centered around a new agreement with the Police Benevolent Association and a contract to hire a consulting firm that would examine the department’s workings from top to bottom.

The Council plans to vote at its July 8 meeting on whether to hire The Rodgers Group, of Toms River, for the police organization study. The proposed contract, which is for $11,495, would include several focus group meetings with members of the public as well as an online survey for the department. Four focus groups are planned, but Princeton administrator Bob Bruschi said there could be as many as eight or more. For any meetings beyond the four, the town would pay an additional $1,000 for each one.

Council member Jo Butler asked Mr. Bruschi if the State’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is doing something similar. Mr. Bruschi said that DCA’s is “strictly a manpower review” and is completely separate. Other members of Council spoke in favor of the plan. “We’ve been talking about doing -something on this for about as long as we’ve been a council,” said Bernie Miller, the Council president. “I think it’s time to move ahead.”

The Rodgers Group’s findings would be provided to the Council and made public, Mr. Bruschi said, adding that he would expect to have something to report by the end of summer or early fall. “Part of this is that I want to re-instill communication and confidence,” he said of the department, which has been in some turmoil since Chief David Dudeck went on leave after allegations were made of misconduct. Mr. Dudeck is to retire on October 1.

The study could potentially be done every few years, Mr. Bruschi said. “This has the potential to be a really positive tool,” Mayor Liz Lempert said before the meeting.

Following Mr. Bruschi’s presentation about the new PBA contract, Council members decided to wait to vote on it until the next meeting on July 8. The three-year contract would create savings by eliminating longevity pay, which is an addition to the annual salary based on how long an officer has served. In addition, the contract would increase the time it takes for a newly hired officer to reach the top of the pay scale. “Most departments have a five-to-seven-year step plan,” Mr. Bruschi said before the meeting. “We got PBA to go to a 12-year step plan, and we’re happy with that.”

Mr. Bruschi told Council that the elimination of longevity pay would save the town about $350,000 a year. “When you consider that if you have been here for 20 years, and you get a six percent longevity on top of a $100,000 paycheck, and you multiply that by 50 [officers], those numbers become staggering,” he said.

A pay raise for each year is also part of the contract. Officers would get a 1.75 percent raise each year for the first two years of the contract, and 1.9 percent in the third year. “The salary increase is fairly stable and consistent with what other towns are doing,” Mr. Bruschi said. “We are right in the middle. Our goal was to have increases under two percent, and we have achieved that.”

An officer hired before January 1, 2013 would make $61,543 during the first year of service, rising to $105,700 after 12 years.

The new contract would give officers $900 a year in medical expenses, including vision care. Any employee hired after January 1, 2013 will be reimbursed $450 a year. There is a reduction in the permitted use of family illness provisions, with increased reliance on the language of the state and federal Family Leave Act.

The contract also re-institutes the rank of corporal, which prior to consolidation was part of the former Princeton Township force but did not exist in Princeton Borough.

There was also discussion at the meeting of Assembly Bill A2586, which was tabled last week by the New Jersey State Assembly Budget Committee. The bill would allow private colleges and universities to pursue development opportunities without the scrutiny of municipal land use laws. Though the committee in Trenton declined to vote on the bill June 18, it could come up again in a lame duck session or be brought up at a future date, Ms. Lempert told the Council.

June 21, 2013

A bill that would allow private colleges and universities to pursue development opportunities without the scrutiny of municipal land use laws was tabled by the New Jersey State Assembly Budget Committee on Tuesday. A group of local officials and concerned Princeton residents who had gathered at Trenton’s State House Annex to testify against the bill were pleased to hear that the measures had been put to rest during the current legislative session.

But Bill A2586 could be brought up again at a future date. The legislation remains alive until the end of the current year.

A group that included Mayor Liz Lempert, former Borough Mayor Yina Moore, Council members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon, Princeton Future co-founder Sheldon Sturges, and local activist Kip Cherry waited for nearly two hours while the Budget Committee, behind the scenes, took a poll on which legislation on their agenda had enough votes to move bills out of committee, according to an email sent Tuesday morning by Ms. Cherry. “Due to the considerable opposition expressed on A2586 and a lack of consensus on a compromise, the bill was pulled,” she wrote. “So there was no hearing and no vote.”

The bill was in the hands of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee last year, so officials were surprised to learn last week that it had been moved to the budget committee, Ms. Lempert said while waiting for a final decision on whether a vote would be taken.

Last year, the Princeton Borough Council and Township Committee passed resolutions opposing Bill 2586. Those in favor of the measure say it would provide parity between public and private colleges. While private colleges and universities must currently obey local land use laws, public institutions only have to provide courtesy reviews.

“They call it a parity bill. We call it a disparity bill,” Michael Cerra of the New Jersey League of Municipalities said during a Borough Council forum on the bill last fall. “We don’t accept the argument that it is a parity bill. It creates an unequal playing field. It puts local governments at a disadvantage.”

Princeton University officials have expressed support for the bill, saying the University would continue to consult with the local Planning Board on development projects. The University is among four institutions in town that would fall under the legislation. The others are Princeton Theological Seminary, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and the Institute for Advanced Study.

Despite torrential rain and some local flood watches, a public scoping hearing held last week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding a proposed natural gas pipeline through the Princeton Ridge and nearby locations drew a substantial crowd of concerned residents. While many of those in attendance were critical of the proposal by the Transco company because of its effects of the environment and important natural resources, as well as safety, others who would be working on the construction urged FERC to approve the plan.

“The purpose of this meeting is to really hear from you guys,” Doug Sipe of FERC told those assembled in the auditorium of Hillsborough Middle School. No formal application has been filed yet by Transco, which is owned by the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies Inc. But FERC has begun to review the project, which would put 13 miles of pipeline through parts of Mercer, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties, Mr. Sipe said.

No further public hearings have been scheduled, a fact that disturbs those who want more detailed information about the plan. But Mr. Sipe stressed that comments can be submitted to FERC until July 1. Following that, once FERC completes its review, there is another 30-day comment period. A five-member commission will make the final decision.

Among those offering comments were Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert; Barbara Blumenthal of the Princeton Ridge Coalition; Matt Wasserman, chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission; Wendy Mager, president of Princeton Open Space; Carolyn Katmann, executive director of the Sourlands Planning Council, and Rob Goldston, former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

There were repeated calls by speakers for a full Environmental Impact Statement instead of a less comprehensive Environmental Assessment. FERC issued a “Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment” last month, stating that the scoping process would help determine whether an EIS “Й is more appropriate for this project based upon the potential significance of the anticipated levels of impact.”

The plan as proposed would turn one forest on the Princeton Ridge into two, Ms. Blumenthal said. “This kind of bifurcation will be the end of the forest, and it will not come back,” she said. “The distance may be small, but the impact could not be greater.” The route, which would likely necessitate blasting within 500 feet of the Stuart Country Day School, where there are large boulders, “is entirely optional,” she said.

Also offering comments were Montgomery Township Deputy Mayor Patricia Graham and Readington Township Mayor Julia Allen, both of whom urged FERC to do a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIC). “We’re asking that our landowners’ concerns are respected and addressed,” Ms. Allen said.

A recent flash fire in Branchburg during construction at a compression station owned by Williams was another focus of safety concerns at the meeting. The fire injured several workers.

But most of the comments were about the environment. “The Princeton Council is deeply concerned that the installation of the pipeline through the Princeton Ridge as proposed will result in extensive, permanent damage to the delicate environment, complex ecology, and threatened and endangered species of wildlife that live there,” Ms. Lempert said during her turn at the microphone.

In a letter sent this week to FERC secretary Kimberly D. Bose, Congressman Rush Holt expressed his own concerns about the project. “I am primarily interested in the preservation of the important and sensitive environmental characteristics of the Princeton Ridge, which the Skillman Loop would transect, and I would like to ensure adequate opportunities for affected and concerned members of the community to affect the project,” he wrote.

Mr. Holt is among those who favor a full Environmental Impact Statement, which “… will provide for additional meetings on the project, allow for a sufficient public comment period, and provide interested parties an opportunity to comment on the findings of a draft EIS before the project is approved or denied,” his letter reads. “The EIS should consider an analysis of project alternatives, including a ‘no action’ alternative, in order to preserve the wildlife, the air and water quality, and the fragile ecosystem of the Princeton Ridge area, and along the other loops of the proposed expansion project.”

Those who spoke in favor of the project as it stands told FERC representatives that it would bring jobs to local workers and help the economy. Among them was Roger Ellis of Local 472, a highway and general construction union based in New Jersey. Mr. Ellis praised the Williams company as “the finest in the industry.”

There’s a good chance that the young adult male black bear that has been seen roaming the Princeton area might be here to stay. “The fact that he’s been here for over seven days is significant,” says Princeton Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson.

Last year, Mr. Johnson reports, five bears were spotted around Princeton. All of them were migrating. They were here for no more that 24 hours and then moved on, thought to be young males ‘kicked out’ by their mothers and on the road looking for a place of their own.

According to Mr. Johnson and Michelle Smith of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Management, the bear that was seen around Princeton recently and pictured in last week’s Town Topics taking a nap in a tree on Terhune and Mount Lucas streets, is thought to be the same bear that was roaming around Hopewell last year. If he remains in the area in the coming weeks, says Mr. Johnson, he is most likely here to stay.

Asked whether the woods around Princeton could sustain him, Mr. -Johnson said, yes, absolutely, noting that the bear seems to be gravitating toward two wooded areas: the Woodfield Reservation and the Puritan/Stony Brook Tract.

On Monday night, Mr. Johnson answered questions from local residents who had come to hear a presentation on bears and bear safety at Witherspoon Hall. The Princeton Police Department received several reports of bear sightings during the past two weeks. Some 16 people turned up for the talk.

Ms. Smith spoke for over an hour on the history of black bears in New Jersey, their decline and recovery, their biology and habits, and the research that her organization carries out each year. Flyers and information brochures and DVDs were available for public information and more is available from the website: www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts.

Since the 1980s the State’s black bear population has been increasing and expanding southward and eastward from forested northwestern New Jersey. Ms. Smith said that the fact that they are thriving speaks to the health of the state. New Jersey’s bears are having a lot of cubs, typically three but five or six have been seen. There are now confirmed bear sightings in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties. Ms. Smith described the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s approach to managing New Jersey’s black bear population as fostering coexistence between people and bears.

She described male black bears, called boars, as growing to around 400 pounds, although 825 pounds is the state record. Females generally weigh in at 200 pounds, but can get up to as much as 400 pounds. They need to consume some 20,000 calories per day during seven months of the year. For five months during the winter they go into a state or torpor and remain in a den. Black bears, said Ms. Smith, are not true hibernators, they can wake up from their torpor at any time. They have a keen sense of smell that extends up to two miles and are not picky eaters. They love skunk cabbage, nuts and carrion, and will be drawn to garbage.

The key things to know, she said, are to keep your distance, remain calm, avoid eye contact, make a lot of noise and make yourself look as large as possible, back slowly away but never run away as this will excite the bear’s chase response. Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back. And never play dead, as is the suggested response to a grizzly attack. Black bears eat carrion.

Although there have been incidents where humans have been attacked by black bears (almost always due to inappropriate behavior on the part of humans trying to feed them, said Mr. Smith), the most common problem for New Jersey residents is bears getting into garbage; attracted by odors. In dense bear areas, people are encouraged to secure their garbage in certified bear-resistant garbage cans (they are tested on grizzlies in Montana) and put out trash only on the day of pick-up. Cleaning out your garbage can with bleach is also recommended.

The idea of a bear taking up permanent residence in the area doesn’t sit well with all residents. Charles Balestri of Shadybrook Drive, came to ask about the safety of his three-year-old granddaughter. Mr. Balestri’s son and daughter-in-law have just purchased a home on Stuart Road in the neighborhood close to where this bear was spotted recently. The backyard of the Stuart property is heavily wooded, just the sort of terrain that would provide food and shelter to a black bear. Mr. Balestri expressed concern that residents are being asked to live in harmony with a large, wild and omnivorous animal that could potentially attack a small child.

Black bears tend to be wary of people but if you get too close a bear may respond with a series of huffs or by snapping its jaws and swatting the ground. If it  stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior. Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered. The advice here is to stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.

Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a “Bear Plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.

Another resident questioned whether having a bear in the area would conflict with Princeton’s efforts to “go green” through Sustainable Princeton’s composting initiative. The recommendation is to avoid placing meat or any sweet foods in compost bins or compost piles.

Princeton Health Officer David A. Henry was on hand to comment. Mr. Henry lives in Jackson in the Pine Barrens and said that one of the best things you can do is educate your children about bears. “Be mindful, be watchful. Learn to live with wildlife and to minimize interactions.”

Mr. Johnson spoke of the possibility of having a state representative talk to children in Princeton’s schools.

Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to your local police department and/or the state Department of Environmental Protection’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337). And remember: NEVER FEED BEARS. Anyone who feeds bears could face a penalty of up to $1,000 for each offense.

June 12, 2013

A bomb threat to multiple, unspecified buildings at Princeton University Tuesday morning resulted in the evacuation of a large part of the campus and an investigation involving local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies assisting the University’s Department of Public Safety. At press time, no explosives had been found.

Helicopters swirled overhead as police worked to get some 6,500 people off the campus during the late morning hours. Those who drove to work were instructed to go home rather than stick around waiting for updates. Those without cars, including students attending early summer programs, were evacuated to the Princeton Public Library, the Arts Council of Princeton, and The Nassau Inn, all of which agreed to offer their assistance.

“This is NOT a test,” the e-mail alert warned. “There has been a bomb threat to multiple unspecified campus buildings. Please evacuate the campus and all University offices immediately and go home unless otherwise directed by your supervisor. Public Safety officers and Princeton Police will direct drivers to leave the campus and those without cars will be directed to evacuation sites. You will receive an update later today. Do not return to campus for any reason until advised otherwise.”

The University received a bomb threat in the morning from an unidentified caller saying bombs had been placed in various campus buildings. The caller warned that the school had two hours to get everyone out. By 9:30 a.m., the Princeton Police Department had been notified by the University’s Department of Public Safety. University spokesman Martin Mbugua could not say specifically which buildings were affected by the threat. “It’s part of the ongoing investigation and I cannot go into detail at this time,” he said yesterday afternoon while waiting for the FBI and bomb-sniffing dogs to check the campus.

According to Sergeant Michael R. Cifelli of the Princeton Police Department, the local police were among several law enforcement agencies including the New Jersey State Police, the FBI, and NJ Transit officers, to assist with the evacuation and investigation. The evacuation snarled traffic on some area streets. Roads from Route 1 into Princeton were closed off, and people were advised to avoid downtown. Service on the Dinky train was suspended for a short period of time.

While there were no threats to other parts of Princeton, precautions were taken. Superintendent of Schools Judy Wilson sent a message to parents saying police had advised them “to move about our days in the schools as usual. However, I have ordered there be no outside student activity. Several roads near the University are blocked off so buses and cars will be rerouted until the campus is cleared for re-occupancy.”

By late afternoon, news trucks from New York and Philadelphia television stations were lined up along Nassau Street opposite the University campus, and on Washington Road in front of the Woodrow Wilson School. Guards were stationed at most entrances to the campus to keep people out. Where guards were not on duty, yellow police tape was in place. Tiger Transit was suspended until Wednesday morning.

By 3:30 p.m., the University reported on its website that “significant progress” had been made. “The searches are expected to continue for a few hours more, and University officials hope to reopen campus this evening,” it read. “However, no decision to reopen will be made until the searches are completed.”

The threats to the University were among several around the United States on Monday and Tuesday. One triggered a three-hour evacuation of Virginia’s Richmond International Airport on Tuesday morning. Another forced the evacuation of three state office buildings near Georgia’s Capitol building in Atlanta. On Monday, a Texas-bound Southwest Airlines jetliner was diverted to Phoenix after taking off from Los Angeles following a telephoned bomb threat.

Tuesday’s campus bomb threat highlighted the challenges and advantages of two police departments working in the same jurisdiction. Officers from both the Princeton Police Department (PPD) and the Princeton University Department of Public Safety (PUDPS) were called upon during the evacuation of some 6500 University staff and employees from the campus. And, as per recently agreed upon protocol, Princeton PD was asked by the Princeton University DPS to act as a support agency in the ongoing investigation.

Just last week, Princeton Police released a redacted copy of an Agreement of Operating Procedures between PPD and PUDPS. The document was redacted to exclude details of police response strategies and protocols that if made known could endanger officers and the public, said Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter, who has been heading the department since Chief David J. Dudeck went on leave.

Designed to provide additional mutual investigative support and increase the effectiveness of communication between the two departments, the agreement clarifies existing procedures and responsibilities.

At a special meeting for members of the press on Monday, June 10, attended by Mayor Liz Lempert and Town Administrator Bob Bruschi, Mr. Sutter spoke about the document.

“The first thing to clarify,” he said, “is that this is not a contract, it is an agreement designed to clarify the relationship between two police departments. The Princeton University Department of Public Safety is not under the jurisdiction of the Princeton Police Department.”

Mr. Sutter took pains to point out that campus policing had changed over the past 15 years and that such an agreement had become necessary in order to clarify who does what and when.

“PU now has more of a fully fledged police department,” said Mr. Sutter. “This is a non-binding document. Officers need clarity and this document does that; it formalizes the relationship between two police departments.”

One difference between PPD and PUDPS is that officers of the former carry guns and those of the latter do not.

At Monday’s meeting, Mr. Sutter, who was with the former Borough Police Department for some 19 years before consolidation in January, explained that the PUDPS had evolved from a security department into a law enforcement agency. “That evolution has created a need for clarification. With consolidation, we’ve been revisiting the relationship and developing a new model, one that is not based on an either/or approach and is cooperative in nature.”

“One or the other of us will be designated as the primary investigator with the other in a secondary supporting role,” said Mr. Sutter. The relationship would be similar to the way in which the police departments of neighboring municipalities work together and share resources, he said. “If we need a police dog from West Windsor, for example, they would share that resource with us,” he said.

With respect to campus police, the agreement specifies that they will take all routine service calls for incidents that happen on their property but “if there is a public safety issue, a critical incident in progress, say a kidnapping or a threat with a deadly weapon, then the Princeton Police will respond,” said Mr. Sutter. “When the situation is under control, we will then share investigative tools with the campus police.”

Routine Service Calls are defined as “lockouts, transports, building checks, medical calls, welfare checks, door alarms, fire alarms, maintenance calls and other calls of a similar nature.”

The Agreement is in two parts, one is a list of Points of Understanding, which mandates communication between the two departments. The other is a checklist of responses. It states that PPD and PUDPS “have concurrent police jurisdiction over those geographic areas of the Princeton University campus and its vicinity which fall within the political subdivision of the Town of Princeton.”

The document also calls for joint training “in relevant areas to the extent reasonable and practicable” and covers statistical reporting such as the Uniform Crime Report statistics and statistics for Clery Act crimes (homicide, robbery, burglary, rape, aggravated assault, arson, motor vehicle theft) and arrests for violations of drug and alcohol that occur on the campus and in the campus vicinity.

The document includes a jurisdictional response map designed to “facilitate clarity for each department” and “a list of responsibilities for service calls and for investigations.” The purpose is to make it easier for the officers of both departments to determine what their responsibilities are when in the field. Neither the map nor the list of responsibilities, has been released on the grounds of public safety.

Asked to explain why recent studies have shown a discrepancy between the number of sexual assaults that have taken place on campus and the number reported as per the Clery Act, Mr. Sutter responded that he had looked into the matter and was satisfied that the explanation lies in the fact that not all sexual assaults are reported to the police and to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. Many are responded to by counselors on campus, and there is no requirement for victims of sexual assaults to report to the police. If, on the other hand an assault is reported to PUDPS, there is a requirement that the assault to be reported immediately to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. He said that he felt confident that there was nothing to suggest a cover up by the campus police regarding the number of sexual assaults on campus.

He also mentioned that 911 calls and how they are handled is a topic for continued discussion.

Ms. Lempert reiterated that the agreement provides “clarity” for police and university public safety. “This has been on the to do list for some time,” she said, “and we are excited to have an agreement in place as is the case with most college towns.”

The mayor said the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office had reviewed the agreement and were supportive of it. “Uncertainty doesn’t benefit anyone,” she added.

“Things are changing and mutual aid agreements exist between the police departments of neighboring municipalities,” said Mr. Sutter. “This is similar except that here we are co-existing in the same jurisdiction.”

To allow for future change, the document records that both PPD and PUDPS agree to meet periodically to discuss issues of mutual concern and to review the agreement annually and make adjustments as needed.

Princeton’s municipal attorney Edwin Schmierer was chosen to be its conflict of interest lawyer at a meeting of Princeton Council on Monday night. The other key item on the agenda was the 2013 municipal budget, the first since consolidation. It was passed by a vote of 5-1, with the only negative vote coming from Council president Bernie Miller, who said he had reservations about the two-cent decrease in the municipal tax rate.

“I’m not voting against the budget because it’s bad. It’s actually quite good,” he said. “But I don’t think we have sufficient experience with how our finances are going to end up after our first year of operation.”

Council member Jo Butler said that while she shared Mr. Miller’s concerns, she decided to vote in favor of the $61 million budget, which originally called for a one-cent decrease in the tax rate. After the State of New Jersey agreed to reimburse Princeton for more than $464,000 in consolidation costs, finances for the town looked better and the rate was changed.

The final budget also includes funds for potential pay raises for members of Council and Mayor Liz Lempert. Her salary could rise from $15,000 to $17,500, while Council members would move from $7,500 in annual pay to $10,000. Mr. Miller’s salary as president would go up to $12,500. Council still needs to vote on the pay raises.

Before the meeting, Ms. Lempert said the municipal tax rate would mean a reduction of approximately $135 per household. “I think this is a first for Princeton,” she said, adding that services are being increased.

Mr. Schmeirer’s appointment as conflict of interest attorney was praised by some members of the public, including former Township Committee member Sue Nemeth. “I have nothing but the highest regard for Mr. Schmeirer and his associates,” she said. Mr. Schmeirer was recommended to Council by its personnel committee, which voted 2-1 in his favor, Mayor Lempert said before the meeting. Ms. Lempert, Jo Butler and Lance Liverman were on the committee, but Ms. Lempert would not say which members voted for or against the appointment.

It was last month that the Council passed a conflict of interest policy after considerable debate on whether members with ties to Princeton University should recuse themselves from voting on University-related matters. Ms. Lempert’s husband is a professor of psychology at the University. Other members of the governing body have connections to the University as well. The issue has been raised particularly in respect to the University’s payment in lieu of taxes, and development.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Ann Yashuhara of Not In Our Town and Daniel Harris, Alexi Assmus, and Kate Warren of Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods expressed concerns about the revised development plan by the developer AvalonBay for the old Princeton Hospital site. Much of their complaints centered around the distribution of affordable housing units, saying they were unfairly distributed throughout the proposed rental complex.

June 5, 2013

Presiding over her final commencement exercises as she prepares to depart her post, Princeton University president Shirley M. Tilghman was given a special Doctor of Laws degree toward the end of the Tuesday morning ceremony in front of historic Nassau Hall. Faculty members, students, and their families at the University’s 266th graduation exercises rose to their feet as University trustee Kathryn Hall presented Ms. Tilghman with the award.

University Orator and Trustee David G. Offensend, who gave honorary awards to author Toni Morrison, architect Frank Gehry, physician Francis S. Collins, scientist Lorraine Jenifer Daston, and Afghan Institute of Learning founder Sakena Lida Yacoobi, told Ms. Tilghman that her 12 years as president have been marked with “exceptional integrity, humanity, and courage.” During her tenure, Ms. Tilghman “has been the personification of Tiger spirit,” he said, referring to the University mascot.

Ms. Tilghman, who came to Princeton in 1986 as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences, became the 19th president of the University in 2001. Christopher L. Eisgruber, Provost, takes over her post.

A total of 1,261 undergraduates, five from other classes, and 892 graduate students passed through the University’s iconic FitzRandolph Gate after receiving their degrees. It was a cool, cloudless morning, and some 10,000 students, parents, siblings, and grandparents filled the front lawn of the campus for the annual rite of passage. Some in the audience wore the University’s orange and black colors, while others were dressed in the traditional costumes of their native countries. They craned their necks and stood on chairs to catch a glimpse of the graduates, using every kind of camera to record the moment.

Ms. Tilghman thanked those responsible for pulling off the mammoth undertaking, citing a few statistics: The graduation weekend necessitated the setting up of 110 tents, 22,000 chairs, and 11 miles of special wiring. A total of 36,000 cookies and 50,000 meals were served over the three days, which included the Baccalaureate, at which Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke spoke; Class Day, at which David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, was speaker; and a Hooding ceremony, cut short by Monday afternoon’s thunderstorms.

In her final commencement address, Ms. Tilghman urged the students to make community service a vital part of their lives (see page // for full speech). She also praised the value of a liberal arts education, calling it “a great privilege.” Ms. Tilghman quoted a 1760 speech by fourth University president Samuel Davies, another by U.S. and University president Woodrow Wilson, and remarks by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos as part of her call to action.

Valedictorian Aman Sinha, of Ivyland, Pennsylvania, jokingly referred to the graduation degree as “a fancy eviction notice.” On the challenges to be faced, he said, “It is now our job to dedicate ourselves to the task at hand, that from our time here we take an increased devotion to paving a better future, in this nation and in all nations. This is a daunting task, for sure, and one for which even Google and ‘ehow’ don’t provide instructions. But perhaps we can start by asking ourselves a question: What if we strive to be more than we are told we can be? What if we reach for something greater?”

At his Class Day speech on Monday, Mr. Remnick, a 1981 graduate of the University, talked about his own experiences as a freshman coming from “a very different New Jersey — Exit 166 on the Parkway, west of Manhattan, a little north of the Sopranos,” and how his education transformed him. “Princeton is a complicated, flawed, but unassailably glorious institution,” he said. “It always runs the risk of self-admiration but there is good reason to admire it: The possibilities it offers its students are limitless and you leave here, as I did, barely appreciating their variety. What was denied to you? If you wanted to learn Sanskrit, an instructor was flown in from Katmandu.”

Mr. Remnick took time to praise Ms. Tilghman. “You’ve also had the luck of attending Princeton in the era of a brilliant, and cheerfully tireless, university president,” he told the students. “Shirley Tilghman has made Princeton, in the terms of your village philosopher, the great Anthony Appiah, a more cosmopolitan place: It is fantastically more diverse than when I was here, less parochial, less male, less white, more worldly.”

—Anne Levin

Editor’s note: The following is a reprint of President Tilghman’s commencement address.

It gives me great pleasure to exercise the presidential prerogative of serving as the bookends to your Princeton education. In your first few days on this campus, at Opening Exercises, I took my inspiration from David Letterman and offered you my top 10 suggestions for making the most of your time at Princeton — everything from “study what interests you most” to “break out of the Orange Bubble and explore the world” to “remember to exercise, eat healthy, get some sleep and have fun.” Except for the sleep part, which I know you all ignored, I hope those recommendations were helpful from time to time. Now here you are — four years later — and we are going out together.

But before we do, let me celebrate all the ways in which you have left your mark on this institution, just as it has left its mark on you. You filled the campus with the glorious sound of music, the splendor and exuberance of dance, and the power of theater to both enlighten and entertain. On our playing fields you covered yourselves with glory, with the field hockey, squash and fencing teams winning national titles; the women’s basketball team winning four straight Ivy championships; the football team giving us a bonfire; and the men’s swimming and diving team bringing its unbroken run of Ivy championships to five — to name just a few of your athletic triumphs. You held conferences on science and religion, lobbied for a DREAM Act, engineered without borders, sustained dialogues on race, debated the relative virtues of latkes versus hamantaschen, designed new companies, promoted civic engagement, cooked slow food and taught in prisons. You showed us that it is possible to discuss the most pressing issues of the day with civility and an open mind. You dazzled your teachers with your commitment to learning, and your virtual theses and dissertations will reside in the archives forever. It has been a privilege — and a great deal of fun — to bear witness to your journey through Princeton.

As those of you who attended my lecture in the Class of 2013’s Last Lecture series may recall, in this, my last year as president, I have been reflecting upon what I have learned and what I will take away from this remarkable University. I suspect that many of you have been engaging in similar introspective exercises, in between thesis crises, Lawnparties, Reunions and job interviews. I feel strongly that I have a vested interest in the outcome of those reflections, for I predicted at Opening Exercises that Princeton would change your life. Was I right?

There is an obvious way in which Princeton has surely changed your lives. You are the beneficiaries of that most distinctive of American inventions — a modern liberal arts education — and you leave here knowing far more about the world in general, and your chosen discipline in particular, than when you arrived. This is true whether you leave as an accredited civil engineer inspired by green technology; a dancer who studied physics; a public servant equipped for the complexity of modern policymaking; a 19th-century English scholar devoted to the Divine Miss Jane; a chemist resolved to cure cancer; or whether you are still uncertain about what your future holds. Your education has not so much given you all the answers as it has taught you to ask the right questions. It has given you a thirst for free inquiry and the nimbleness of mind to cut through complexity to the insights hidden within. It has given you a powerful voice to make your case and the intellectual confidence to change your mind. And it has exposed you to the staggering breadth and richness of your own and other societies around the world. It is the best preparation that I can imagine for the rest of your life.

But the learning that happens in the classroom and the library and the laboratory, while certainly necessary for becoming an educated citizen of the world, is far from sufficient. Princeton is not simply about acquiring knowledge and jumping successfully through intellectual hoops, as challenging as those surely are to execute. It is also about making that last great leap from adolescence into adulthood as a member of a close-knit community living and working and playing on this beautiful and cherished campus. Your encounters with fellow students, faculty and staff have been an essential part of shaping who you are today and who you will become. Through the friendships you forged and those you turned away; the moral dilemmas you faced and those you sidestepped; the acts of kindness you performed and the ones you dodged; the times you were brave and the times you were not, you were testing your capacity and willingness to embody the qualities of character we most value in Princetonians — loyalty, courage, honesty, integrity and a commitment to serve others.

In her address at the time of Princeton’s 250th anniversary convocation, Toni Morrison echoed those twin goals of a Princeton education when she remarked that Princeton’s “. . . strength is knowing what its founders knew, that service to the individual, to the government, to the world requires unwavering commitment to intellectual freedom, [and] a fierce commitment to virtues already being debased by apathy: virtues such as integrity and honor and fair play and courage.”

The key word here is service. For with the privilege of a liberal arts education — and make no mistake, despite the slings and arrows directed at it by those who favor a purely utilitarian approach, a liberal arts education is a great privilege — comes an obligation to pursue a life with a purpose that is larger than you, to be in the service of this and all nations.

A call to service has been embedded in the very fabric of this university, founded in response to the Great Awakening of 18th-century America and influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment. Its message has reverberated through the centuries, as reflected in a Commencement address given to the Class of 1760 by our fourth president, Samuel Davies, who exhorted the graduates: “Whatever be your place, imbibe and cherish a public spirit. Serve your generation.”

This was reiterated in a commencement address that Woodrow Wilson gave at Swarthmore College in 1913, in which in plain speech he instructed the graduates: “Do not forget . . . why you are here. You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Happily, there are an infinity of ways to “enrich the world,” and we are truly agnostic about which one or ones you choose. We only ask that you affirmatively make a choice to serve, calling upon the many ways in which Princeton may have already changed your life, and is likely to influence the choices you will make in the future.

I can think of no better touchstone to guide those choices than a set of questions that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos ‘86 posed to the Class of 2010 in his Baccalaureate address:


“Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

“Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

“Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

“Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

“Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?

“Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

“Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

“When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

“Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

“Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?”


I am certain that your Princeton education has prepared you to meet those simple yet powerful questions head on. Your future, and the future, are now in your hands. As you pass proudly through the FitzRandolph Gate today, as citizens of this and many other nations, I hope you will carry forward the spirit of Princeton and make full use of the education you have acquired here. And, as I have instructed graduates for the last 12 years, I fully expect you to do as you have done at Princeton — to aim high and be bold!

My warmest wishes go with you all.

The vote on the municipal budget that was supposed to take place after a public hearing last Tuesday, May 28, was tabled until June 10. Council considered a proposed budget amendment that would increase the salaries of the mayor and six council members.

Elected officials at the meeting were: Mayor Liz Lempert and council members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller, Heather Howard, Lance Liverman, Bernie Miller, and Patrick Simon.

The proposed amendment would increase the total budget allotment for salaries for elected officials from $60,000 to $79,750. The increase would need formal approval as part of a salary ordinance later this year.

Administrator Bob Bruschi pointed out that the amendment was suggested by the administrative staff. He said that the salaries for the hard-working council members should be thought of as stipends to cover costs incurred in the course of their public duties.

Patrick Simon spoke against the amendment and introduced a motion to eliminate the pay increases. “We’ve cut 17 people from staff and we are going to have more discussions about reductions. This is the wrong time to implement raises for elected officials. If we do this now, it will reduce our credibility,” he said, adding that council members knew what the salaries would be when they ran for office.

As recommended by the consolidation commission the amount is equivalent to that paid to members of the Borough Council: $7,500, less than the $10,000 paid to former Township Committee members. “Consolidation included the promise of a reduction in the number of elected officials and a reduction in the cost of our salaries,” said Mr. Simon.

Lance Liverman, who formerly received the Township rate and who therefore took a decrease in salary after consolidation, approved the increase arguing that the current rate is a barrier to some who would serve. “When someone else steps in my shoes, they should not be financially penalized for serving this town,” he said.

Responding to Mr. Liverman, Heather Howard said that if the amount offered to elected officials was not increased then the governing body might end up open only to those of “independent means.”

Jenny Crumiller said that if Princeton wants a diverse council, work for the council should be considered part-time jobs. She spoke of the difficulties of serving while holding down a full-time job. “If this were an actual part-time job with enough of a salary to be considered a source of income, it could displace another job, but now it’s basically a volunteer job.”

Mr. Liverman also pointed out that municipal employees did not have their pay reduced as a result of consolidation, and that he and Councilman Bernie Miller were the only council members whose salaries were reduced. Mr. Miller and Mr. Liverman’s stipend was reduced by almost 30 percent. Mr. Miller said that he felt the raise to be appropriate given the 25 to 30 hours a week that officials spend doing town work.

Jo Butler commented that the position is in fact a “money loser” given the resources members of council invest in the job such as office supplies, cell phones, and home printers, time off work, for town and non-profit fundraising functions. Others mentioned the costs of child-care for officials with young children, such as Mayor Lempert.

“None of us are doing it for the money,” commented Mayor Lempert. “We want a diverse council; we don’t want it to be a financial hardship for people to run and serve.”

After much discussion, Mr. Simon’s motion to remove the pay rise amendment from the budget was voted down, 4-2. Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller was the other dissenting vote. The salary ordinance will be voted on later in the year.

Tax Cut and Surplus

At the same meeting, the proposed budget as presented by Kathy Monzo came under scrutiny, including a decrease in the property tax rate.

Mr. Miller questioned the timing of the tax cut, only five months after consolidation, and suggested that the newly consolidated town should wait until it has seen a full year of operation before looking at tax cuts. Ms. Monzo responded that the one penny reduction is a conservative one which would not significantly impact the town’s surplus.

Mr. Simon and Ms. Crumiller supported the tax cut. “We signed up for fiscal responsibility under consolidation and returning money to the taxpayer keeps up the pressure on us to keep the promises we made,” said Mr. Simon.

But Ms. Butler said that she shared Mr. Miller’s concerns and questioned the process by which the Finance Committee decided upon a tax cut when the decision should have been Council’s.

The town’s surplus also came in for scrutiny. Scott Sillars, chair of the Citizens’ Finance Advisory Committee, commented that even with the proposed tax reduction the surplus will grow. He spoke in favor of reducing taxes, especially in view of Gov. Chris Christie’s action in appropriating surpluses from school boards when the state budget was in difficulty.

Dog Park

In the public comment section of the meeting, John Witherspoon Middle School 7th grader Will Ratner presented a proposal for a dog park. The Cedar Lane resident spoke of his family’s adoption of a three-and-a-half-year-old cocker spaniel named Gus last November and of his decision to advocate for a dog park as his Bar Mitzvah community service project.

After meeting Liz Lempert at a “Meet the Mayor” session in January, Mr. Ratner had returned with a petition and 80 adult signatures, which he submitted to the council along with his findings from a survey of neighboring towns about the daily operations of dog parks, how they got started, how much they cost, and any health issues.

He reported on minimal health issues associated with dog parks, which are generally self-regulating. He had also “brainstormed potential dog park locations” with Ben Stentz of the recreation department.

“Overall, Princeton has no safe, or legal, off-leash area. A dog park would be good for the community. It would promote responsible pet ownership. It would also foster a positive community building environment. I hope you will consider my idea,” he said.

Upcoming Meetings

A public hearing and council vote on the budget will take place June 10. The original budget as proposed on April 1 is on the princetonnj.gov website. The Transition Task Force and Consolidation Commission will report at a special public meeting on June 12.

Residents of the Princeton Ridge and others concerned about the Williams company’s proposal to expand a natural gas pipeline through parts of Princeton and Montgomery are hoping for a significant turnout at The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) scoping hearing on the plan June 13. The meeting’s location at the Hillsborough Township Middle School, rather than closer to home, has caused some consternation among some local environmentalists. But members of a recently formed citizens’ group expressed confidence that it will not be a detriment.

“We’ve been hearing from people all over Princeton, not just those who live near the pipeline,” said Barbara Blumenthal, a Ridgeview Road resident and a member of the Princeton Ridge Coalition. “This is a big issue for Princeton.”

Citizens have voiced concerns about the proposed project since last February, when the Oklahoma-based Williams company announced plans to add a new pipe to its existing line. The project would affect some 30 properties along the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge. The company is expected to file its plans with FERC in the fall.

Scoping hearings such as the one on June 13 allow the public to register input. The scoping period also allows for written comments and closes on July 1.

Meanwhile, The Princeton Ridge Coalition has met with officials from the Williams company to express concerns. The results have been encouraging, Ms. Blumenthal said. “They understand the environmental sensitivity of the Ridge and really want to work with us,” she said. “We’re very happy to work with them to come up with a better design.”

The group explained to the Williams representatives that their initial proposal to remove six acres of trees, in a corridor 60 feet wide and 1.3 miles long, was “a huge destruction,” Ms. Blumenthal said. “Almost all of that space they proposed clearing is to accommodate large-scale equipment. It’s not for the pipeline. When we explained to them how devastating the impact would be, they agreed that by using smaller scale equipment that they could install the pipeline with significantly less damage.”

The Coalition is hoping for another meeting with Williams this month, when the company would have a new proposal. “They’ll bring their contractor, their geo-tech experts, and we’ll bring people who have additional knowledge that can help us so we can try and work out a solution that expresses the concerns of everybody,” Ms. Blumenthal said.

Williams is also being asked to consider replacing the existing pipeline, which is 55 years old, during the addition project. “The last thing we want to see is another construction project in the next five to ten years,” she added. “We think this is a critical part of the whole thing.”

An explosion last Thursday at a compressor facility in Branchburg, part of another loop of the Transco Pipeline, has caused renewed concerns about safety. Williams spokesperson Chris Stockton said the incident was construction-related and not related to pipeline operations. “It was a flash fire that occurred when some construction personnel were doing some welding on a non-active piece of pipe,” he said of the incident, in which 13 workers were injured. Two were treated at a local hospital and released.

“It’s important to make the distinction,” he said. “But we’re working with the contractor and local regulators to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Ms. Blumenthal said the citizens’ group has received additional calls since the incident. “It certainly has created a lot of interest. I think people are now more motivated to go to the scoping meeting,” she said. “They realize this is not just about environmental issues, but safety issues as well.”

The Princeton Ridge Coalition will circulate a petition in the next few weeks regarding its position about using smaller equipment. “We now have about 200 names on our email list and we’ve heard from a lot more people in the last week, because our emails have gone out to other networks,” Ms. Blumenthal said. “Rush Holt’s office and the mayor and Council have been really helpful.”

The June 13 scoping meeting is at 7 p.m., but Williams personnel will be on hand at 6 p.m. to answer questions.

May 29, 2013

A revised plan for the former location of Princeton Hospital on Witherspoon Street was presented to a sometimes testy public last Wednesday evening by AvalonBay, the development company that wants to build a 280-unit rental community at the site. With five buildings instead of one, at lower heights, the plan contains some key differences from the original, which Princeton’s Planning Board voted to turn down at the end of last year.

The meeting was held in the auditorium of Community Park School. Strategically placed signs urged the public to “Share Your Feedback,” but some people appeared disgruntled when they realized that questions following the presentation would be taken in small interest groups rather than in front of the entire gathering. “I really wish they would have acted more like community members at this meeting and let it be an open forum,” said Princeton architect Joshua Zinder, who was among those in attendance. “There is something in that action that implies they’re trying to hide something.”

AvalonBay vice president Jay Vogel, who is now in charge of the project instead of Ron Ladell, led the meeting. Mr. Vogel specializes in green building principles. “It has always been our intention to do Energy Star here,” he said, referring to the company’s sustainability initiatives. The project also has design standards consistent with LEED certification, he said. Further green options are being explored, including LED site lighting, recycled content brick, and rainwater harvesting for irrigation.

The new plan takes on charges that the development was designed as a gated community by adding a new street that runs through the middle and connects with Henry Avenue, and space left between the building adjacent to the parking garage and the garage itself, creating permeability. The swimming pool that many complained about is still planned, but it is smaller. A public park designed for the corner of Witherspoon Street and Franklin Avenue is larger than in the previous plan.

“This is a very serious effort to address the comments we received,” Mr. Vogel said. “We’re taking a very hard and serious look to do the right thing.”

Architect Jonathan Metz of Perkins Eastman provided details of architectural changes. The five buildings include townhouses as well as larger structures. Roof lines use a mix of pitched roofs, dormers, and lowered corner elements.

“The new scheme, formally, is substantially better,” Mr. Zinder commented last Friday. “But aesthetically I wish they were doing more to tie it to the community.” Referring to the largest building, he added, “I don’t really understand why they need to run pitched roofs over the whole thing. A building of that size should have some texture to it. It seems, materially, to be too finicky. There aren’t any big bold moves. It looks like they were designing the exterior with only budget in mind instead of the community in mind.”

There was some discussion over whether the 56 affordable housing units in the proposed community are spread throughout the complex. When Kate Warren of Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods asked Mr. Vogel if any of the units face the courtyard, and he replied that they did not, fellow PCSN trustee Daniel Harris accused Mr. Vogel of segregating the affordable units. “They’re not segregrated, Daniel, and I’m not going to let you take me hostage,” Mr. Vogel said. “I’m sorry.” (See letter from Jane Buttars in this week’s Mailbox)

One neighborhood resident asked Mr. Vogel why there was no retail element in the revised design. “It is not a viable site for retail,” he responded.

AvalonBay filed the plans with the town on May 17. The first Planning Board hearing is scheduled for June 27, with further hearings to follow on three consecutive Thursdays beginning July 11.

Responses are in from the Community Expectations Survey conducted recently by the newly consolidated Princeton Police Department. Much as expected, traffic issues are uppermost on the minds of many residents.

Lieutenant Chris Morgan, formerly of the Township Police Department, said that now all the surveys have been gathered, the responses are being read carefully and common issues reported by Princeton residents are being looked at. “A report will be worked on over the next week or so and then submitted up the chain of command,” he said. The next step will be to assess response strategies and then implementation.

Over 450 businesses and residences were visited in person by police officers. “It was a tremendous opportunity and, I think, a successful effort,” according to Captain Nick Sutter, who said that the most common requests were for more police presence and more traffic enforcement. Traffic concerns were about volume and safety.

“We will now be better able to address the needs of the town. Not all of Princeton is the same, the needs of businesses in the center of town are different to those of residential streets in outlying sections,” he said.

The survey was conducted by police officers from the department’s Safe Neighborhood Unit in March and April. Officers went door to door, surveying homes and businesses in five sectors of the town, asking residents to complete a two-page questionnaire, available in Spanish and English. The survey was also available online.

The initiative, which was unveiled in February by Police Chief David Dudeck, now on leave pending his retirement in October, was an effort to find out what Princeton residents expect of the newly consolidated Princeton Police Department.

“The Community Survey has been an important opportunity to gather information about the community’s needs and expectations for the newly-combined police force,” commented Police Commissioner Heather Howard. “Through the on-line survey and the officers being out on the street and attending community meetings, it has alsoКbeen an excellent way to introduce the Safe Neighborhoods Unit, which will be strengthening relationships in the community and helping to increase safety and prevent crime.”

Survey questions focused on residents’ concerns in their neighborhoods and in the town as a whole, including specifics about the value of bicycle patrols, police station tours, school programs, community events; and about traffic safety, radar enforcement, school crossings, accident investigations, and overweight commercial vehicle enforcement. Space was provided for additional comments and recommendations.

“The Safe Neighborhood Unit brings police officers on bicycles to our streets for the sort of community policing that we had to cut back on in the past,” said Ms Howard. “Consolidation has created efficiencies in law enforcement that have allowed us to reintroduce community policing and thereby strengthen public safety services for the residents of Princeton,” she said.

Captain Sutter said that a formal report will be made public at community meetings held in the near future.

To the delight of many local residents, Preservation New Jersey (PNJ) includes Valley Road School on its annual list of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey, as was announced last Wednesday, May 22.

PNJ describes the building at 369 Witherspoon Street, as “Princeton’s first integrated elementary school and an ideal candidate for rehabilitation, threatened by poor stewardship and uncertainty of future plans.”

On the same day as the announcement, the Valley Road School-Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) and the Valley Road School Community Center, Inc.(VRSCCI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, launched a campaign to put the question of saving Valley Road School on November’s General Election Ballot.

“May 22 has been a big day for saving Valley Road School,” said Kip Cherry, president of VRSCCI in an press release. “Not only does Valley Road School represent an important part of Princeton’s very significant history over the last 100 years, but as an adaptive reuse, we see the building fulfilling a major need in the future as a center for nonprofit organizations serving the Princeton Community.”

Supporters of the community center plan envisage the almost 100 year-old building providing office, classroom, and meeting spaces for community organizations as well as two black box theaters. “Nonprofits serving Princeton residents have ongoing problems in finding affordable rental space,” said Ms. Cherry.

They would like to rent the building from its owner, the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, for a nominal annual fee. Their hope is that the PNJ designation will speed their cause.

To get a public question on the ballot a petition must be signed by 10 percent of voters participating in the last general election. The group will therefore require 2,033 signatures from Princeton residents registered to vote.

According to former Mayor Richard Woodbridge, VRSCCI’s secretary, and president of VRS-ARC, the inclusion of Valley Road School on PNJ’s 2013 most endangered list is “huge for several reasons,” not least of which is the “total denial of the the historic importance of this building” by its owners, the Princeton Public Schools Board.

John Clearwater, VRSCCI board member and a former School Board president, points out that PNJ gives weight to buildings that have a good chance of being saved — where there is not only a highly motivated group eager and capable of raising funds to save the building, but also an important historical purpose and a major need within the community that further justifies investing in its renovation.”

PNJ’s list spotlights irreplaceable historic, architectural, cultural, and archeological resources in the state that are in imminent danger of being lost. Selections are based on three criteria — historic significance and architectural integrity, the critical nature of the threat identified, and the likelihood that inclusion on the list will have a positive impact on efforts to protect the resource.

The VRS team will be passing around the petition and staffing a table at key points around the community sporting a banner in the Valley Road School colors, red and white.

A statement from PNJ includes the following: “Valley Road School, now nearing 100 years old, is one of the Princeton area’s last remaining historic public school buildings. The original two-story school was designed by Robert A. Schumann and built on land given to ‘the inhabitants of Princeton Township’ by Ernest and Grace Richardson …. The Collegiate Gothic architectural style of the original Valley Road School building — particularly its three arched entrances — was inspired by buildings on the nearby Princeton University campus, and in turn inspired the design of the adjacent Mercer No. 3 Firehouse.”

The statement goes on to describe the former school, which opened in 1918, as “well-constructed” and representing “Princeton’s immigrant heritage, as many of the skilled masons who built it were Italian-Americans from the village of Pettoranello in the Molise region of Italy.”

Currently, the older portion of the building houses municipality-related organizations that were allowed to remain in the building when the municipality relocated across the street.

Earlier this year, the municipality created a task force to explore the building in the context of a possible expansion of the firehouse on Witherspoon Street.

To see PNJ’s 19th annual list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places, visit: www.pnj10most.org or www.preservationnj.org.

May 22, 2013

When the non-profit organization Courage to Connect NJ holds its third annual seminar at Princeton University on June 5, Princeton’s successful consolidation will be the focus of the day. And now that the town is assured of the 20 percent reimbursement for consolidation costs that Governor Chris Christie pledged during a visit to Princeton nearly two years ago, the lineup of Princeton officials taking part in the day’s sessions is especially relevant.

Mayor Liz Lempert learned last Thursday that the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) would provide $464,000 to help offset costs of the merger between Princeton Borough and Township, which went into effect the first day of this year. By October, the town should expect $350,000, which is to be used for the 2013 municipal budget. The balance will be forwarded by the end of 2013, after proof is provided that transition expenses were reasonable, necessary, and one-time in nature.

“The State is pleased to have provided Princeton with support to make the merger possible,” the letter from DCA to municipal officials stated. It also noted that hundreds of hours of DCA staff were allotted to Princeton to smooth the consolidation process, as well as develop a plan to reassess property in the merged towns.

According to Ms. Lempert, budget savings this year that are related to consolidation exceeded the projections of the Consolidation Commission by 40 percent. At its meeting Tuesday, May 28, Princeton Council will be considering an amendment to the budget that will lower the tax rate an additional cent. A public hearing on the budget will also be held that night. But should the amendment pass, the Council won’t vote on the budget until the June 10 meeting, because they are not allowed to amend and vote on the same night.

In the meantime, several local officials will take part in the Courage to Connect event on June 5. Ms. Lempert is a panelist at a session titled “Princeton: A Road Map to Follow,” along with Councilwoman Heather Howard, administrator Bob Bruschi, and Joseph Stefko, the president and CEO of CGR, the company that helped guide Princeton through the consolidation process.

Former Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner will speak during “A Path to Success,” while Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter and Lieutenant Chris Morgan will take part in a session on the benefits of police and fire consolidation.

Courage to Connect NJ is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “educates the public and elected officials in New Jersey about municipal consolidation by merging towns into town clusters for improved efficiency and savings,” according to its website. During an appearance on the television show “NJ Today” earlier this year, the organization’s executive director Gina Genovese said of Princeton, “Now we have a model that works” and called 2013 “the year of the merger.”

Ms. Lempert said it is important to keep in mind that Princeton’s process of consolidation dates back to the 1950’s. “It took a long time,” she said this week. “The effort that was successful was based on a very long period of discussions. But in a lot of ways, the economy, the condition of the state budget, and other factors are putting increased pressures on local municipalities. To the degree that we can show that consolidation has allowed us to lower taxes and enhance services at the same time, it becomes something really attractive to other towns to seriously consider for themselves. We’re excited at the level of interest in Princeton’s consolidation and know that others around the state are looking to our example.”

After years of refining the relationship between Town and Gown when it comes to campus policing, the new consolidated Princeton Police Department and Princeton University’s department of public safety have put an updated agreement in place that clarifies who does what.

The agreement on operating procedures outlines best practices and processes for enhancing collaboration between the departments to best serve the entire Princeton community.

But because the document includes details of police response strategies and protocols, it will not be released to the public, said Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter when asked for details. “It contains privileged information that if released could endanger the public and officers,” he said.

Mr. Sutter, who was with the former Borough Police Department for some 19 years before consolidation in January, explained the background to the current agreement: “When I first started in the Borough, the campus force was more of a security department. Over the last 15 years it has developed into more of a law enforcement agency and that evolution has created a need for clarification of who handles what. Since 2005, the Borough had been working toward such an agreement. Township Police put an agreement in place toward the end of 2011. With consolidation, we’ve been revisiting the relationship and developing a new model, one that is not based on an either/or approach and is cooperative in nature. We’ve adopted some of the pieces from the Township agreement.”

He spoke of his excitement about the new cooperative emphasis as a way of working with the campus police. “One or the other of us will be designated as the primary investigator with the other in a secondary supporting role,” he said.

The relationship would be similar to the way in which area police departments work together and share resources, said Mr. Sutter. “If we need a police dog from West Windsor, they would share that resource with us,” he said.

“With respect to the campus police, the agreement specifies that they will take all routine service calls for incidents that happen on their property but if there is a public safety issue, a critical incident in progress, say a kidnapping or a threat with a deadly weapon, then the Princeton Police will respond,” said Mr. Sutter. “When the situation is under control, we will then share investigative tools with the campus police.”

According to the police captain: “this type of cooperation is more efficient. It promotes the flow of information between the two departments and it more effectively addresses public safety on campus and in the town.”

Before consolidation, the campus police had to deal with two separate police departments. In many ways the agreement that is being developed is formalizing practices that are already in place and have been for some time.

“This agreement builds upon a long history of cooperation between the University’s Department of Public Safety and the Princeton police,” said Treby Williams, assistant vice president for safety and administrative planning. “Both departments are dedicated to the safety and security of the community and to a partnership characterized by mutual respect and effective teamwork.”

Designed to provide additional mutual investigative support and increase the effectiveness of communication between the departments, the agreement clarifies existing procedures, outlines responsibilities, and establishes a standardized process for collecting and sharing statistics. All responsibilities outlined in the agreement are consistent with the respective department’s current operations. The departments will work together to leverage training program opportunities and coordinate joint efforts, taking advantage of shared resources between the departments.

“I feel we have developed a creative and effective model that maximizes the resources available to both departments,” said Mr. Sutter. “It’s a model that might well serve as an example to other town and gown communities.”

“Working closely together is in the best interest of the community, and we look forward to maintaining our shared spirit of cooperation,” said Paul Ominsky, executive director of the University’s Department of Public Safety, adding that the agreement will be reviewed regularly by both departments to determine if any changes are necessary.

“The collaborative document dictates response protocols to crimes involving the university community; it’s clear, concise, and gives our officers an understanding about how they should respond,” said Mr. Sutter.

You may be surprised to learn that there are hungry school children right here in Princeton. But it comes as no surprise to Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Judith A. Wilson.

According to the school district, “food insecurity,” which means that there is no guarantee that the next meal will be provided for or that there is a nutritious snack available, can be an issue for as many as 12 percent of all children enrolled in Princeton schools.

In an effort to address this, the school district is joining efforts with the volunteer groups, Princeton Human Services Commission and Mercer Street Friends, and Princeton University.

Their “Send Hunger Packing” initiative not only aims to raise awareness of the situation but to do something to alleviate the problem by raising some $62,000 to cover the cost of providing Friday afternoon food packs for elementary school children who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches to take home with them so that nutritious food will be available to children who might not be eating adequately over the weekends.

“This is an important project that addresses a very basic need in the lives of many of our students,” said Ms. Wilson. “How can we seriously expect the best for children and student achievement if they are hungry?”

Kristin S. Appelget, director of Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, announced last Wednesday that the University will donate $10,000 toward the cost of the new program in Princeton’s four public elementary schools.

In addition to providing financial resources, Princeton University hopes to support the program in other ways, according to Ms. Appelget. “There are great opportunities for our students to take a volunteer role. It’s not just the initial financial resource, which of course is important, but there are other ways we will partner with this program, through the student volunteer corps, and faculty and staff. We already do campus food drives as an institution and have students who work with Mercer Street Friends.”

“I am delighted to celebrate the lead gift from the University,” said Mrs. Wilson “It is such a generous gift, twice what we hoped for and so meaningful for the whole community and it makes us realize once again the impact the University has in recognizing the social issues and setting very clear and high priorities for what it funds and recognizes.”

The program will begin by providing as many as 215 children at Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook. and Riverside schools in kindergarten to fifth grade with a weekend supply of nutritious snacks and drinks.

A press release on the district’s web site reports that “On any given day, there are families in Princeton who do not have enough food. This hits younger children the hardest because they are dependent on what food might or might not be on hand for each meal. Weekends are particularly tough because children are not in school to receive free or reduced-priced breakfast or lunch.”

Film Fund Raiser

Ms. Wilson also had words of praise for Ross Wishnick and Leticia Fraga Nadler from the Princeton Human Services Commission and Phyllis C. Stoolmacher from Mercer Street Friends for their spearheading of a fundraising drive that will screen the film A Place at the Table, starring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio at the Garden Theatre on Sunday, June 9, at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $50. The goal of $62,000 would fund the cost of the Friday food packs for two school years.

“So far we have raised $19,000 from institutions, individuals, and through our website, which is selling tickets to the event,” said Ross Wishnick of the Princeton Human Services Commission. “It has been amazing and a testament to the fact that people realize this is such a basic need.”

The Send Hunger Packing initiative could have multiple benefits, said Ms. Stoolmacher. “First and foremost it addresses an immediate need to provide food for children who might not be eating adequately over the weekends. It also makes people aware of hunger and the consequences of hunger and ideally aware that we need better public policies to address this issue.”

For more information or to purchase tickets,call (609) 751-7463 or visit: sendhungerpacking.ticketleap.com or www.sendhungerpackingprinceton@mercerstreetfriends.org.