July 13, 2016

PUMC

WARMER, SAFER, DRIER: That is the motto for these volunteers from Princeton United Methodist Church who recently spent a week working to improve houses and trailers in Appalachia. The church has been sending volunteers to the region for four decades as part of the national Appalachian Service Project.

Each summer, 14,000 volunteers from across the country travel to Appalachia to help improve living conditions for those less fortunate. Two local churches, Princeton United Methodist and Nassau Presbyterian, have sent groups this month. Their goal, and the slogan of the Appalachian Service Project (ASP), is to make trailers and other dwellings in the mountain region “warmer, safer, and drier.” more

Topics_Pontoon

Looking for a lazy afternoon activity? Hop aboard the Mercer County Park Commission’s pontoon boat for a fun and informative nature tour of Mercer Lake. These family-friendly tours will be held on Thursday, July 21 and 28, August 4, 11, and 25, and September 1. There are two tours each day, noon to 1:30 p.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m., weather permitting. Tour tickets are sold at the Mercer County Marina on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the day of the tour. Children must be at least 6 years old. Tour rates for in-county residents are $10 per person for adults and $8 per person for children and seniors. Out-of-county rates are $12 per person for adults and $10 per person for children and seniors. For more information, please call (609) 448-4004.

The Early Childhood (EC) Music Program at Westminster Conservatory is hosting an information meeting on Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m. This Parent-Only information session will be led by Jennifer Garr, EC department head. She will focus on Westminster’s early childhood music program and preview the new recordings and materials created by the faculty.  more

A week-long program of “community, faith, hope and history” will celebrate the Witherspoon-Jackson community, black history, and black families of Princeton from August 6-14.

In recognition of the recent designation of the Witherspoon-Jackson community as Princeton’s 20th historic district, the annual Joint Effort Safe Streets Summer Program will include recognition of Paul Robeson and Jim Floyd, a salute to educators (“We Must Not Be Forgotten”), a concert with Grace Little and a local church choir, a salute to seniors and black families (“The Shoulders We Stand On”), discussion forums, workout and conditioning sessions, a block party/music festival, walking tours, and a clean-up project.  more

Terhune Peaches

Summer at Terhune Orchards means peaches! The farm grows over 28 varieties and will celebrate “everything peachy” on the last weekend in July.

Activities include tractor-drawn wagon rides through the orchards, pony rides, face painting, and more. Also, Live country music will have the whole family dancing along every day from noon to 4 p.m.  more

Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) is stepping up its efforts to halt Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) faculty housing construction, with appeals planned to overturn recent decisions approving the project.

Claiming that the Institute has been “handing out misinformation to the public,” Kip Cherry, vice president of the PBS, stated, “PBS intends to continue its appeals and plans to file a new lawsuit over the coming weeks.” On June 22, the U.S. District Court in Trenton denied the PBS request for a preliminary injunction to halt Institute construction on a seven-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Battlefield, stating that the PBS had not established its case under the Clean Water Act.  more

Topics_Dada

That’s the acronym for Design at Dohm Alley, a multi-media “sensorium” planned for the space between Starbucks and Landau off of Nassau Street. This rendering shows how the entry is envisioned.

book rev

Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.

—Michael Herr (1940-2016)

All I need to do is type “nyt” on the iMac and Paul Krugman is hurrying past “the horror in Dallas” on his way to the subject of the day. In his column headed “A Week from Hell” Charles M. Blow is asking “soul-of-a-nation questions.” On Sunday’s virtual front page of the Times, a detective from Queens says, “This is insanity. It’s just freaking horrendous.” The African American Dallas police chief David Brown “cannot adequately express” the sadness he feels.  more

Morven Mus

The Board of Trustees of Morven Museum and Garden has announced the appointment of Jill M. Barry as executive director. Ms. Barry comes to Morven from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, where she has been deputy director since 2012. She will begin her transition over the summer as she relocates to Princeton and assumes full-time responsibilities in early September. more

princetonchronicles

Princeton Chronicles, a group of student researchers and artists from Princeton High School, propose a community project featuring murals commemorating historical Princetonians from the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Princeton Chronicles invites the public to learn about the project by viewing an exhibition on view at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts and encourages the public to provide feedback. 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. The exhibition runs through July 30. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777.

Art_Climate

“GHOST HOUSE”: This painting by Joanie Chirico is on view at the D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center through August 26. The exhibition titled “Art as Activism: Climate Change” demonstrates the role of artists in the climate change movement.

“Art as Activism: Climate Change” is on view at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, through August 26. Art works document nature’s threatened beauty and show the influence of artists on the climate change discussion in the Anthropocene era. An artists’ reception will take place Friday, July 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  more

Music_Blue Curt

BLUE CURTAIN RETURNS WITH AN EVENING OF WORLD MUSIC TO HEAT UP THE SUMMER NIGHT: Celebrating 12 years of bringing world-class musicians from around the globe to Princeton for FREE summer concerts, Blue Curtain returns to Community Park North Amphitheater in Pettoranello Gardens on Saturday, July 16 starting at 7 p.m. with Latin jazz legend Papo Vázquez, Mighty Pirates Troubadours and Sofia Rei, who has been called “one of the best Argentine singers ever.”

Featuring Caribbean and South American sounds, Blue Curtain welcomes Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours and Sofia Rei to Pettoranello Gardens on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. The concert is free. more

July 6, 2016

At a meeting of Princeton Council on June 28, Susan Hoskins, executive director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center, presented a community action plan geared toward addressing the most crucial needs of the town’s older residents in coming years. A community project more than a project of the PSRC, the study was based on focus groups with residents.

Though Princeton is a college town, a large share of residents are over 65 or nearing that age. “Many are active volunteers in community nonprofit organizations and civic organizations,” she said in her report. “They love the opportunities provided by our cultural centers, Princeton University, Princeton Public Library, and PSRC. Older adults who live here want to stay here if they can, but are worried about housing costs and transportation.”

In 2014, Princeton was the first community in New Jersey to be designated by the World Health Organization as age-friendly. Here, as elsewhere, baby boomers are aging.

“Worldwide, one out of every eight individuals will be over age 65 by 2030,” Ms. Hoskins said. “That’s why the World Health Organization encourages communities all over the globe to plan to accommodate this dramatic shift. And it’s why Princeton took the lead here in New Jersey. Participating in this network enables us to share innovative and best practice models from other communities throughout the world to address our priority needs.”

Four priorities were identified in the plan: More affordable and age-friendly housing, transportation, communication, and multi-generational neighborhood associations.

After Ms. Hoskins’s presentation, Councilwoman Jo Butler suggested that senior citizens should be sufficiently represented on the town’s boards and commissions. The report recommended that the Council appoint a monitor to make sure progress is made on the four goals over the next three years, which is the final reporting period with the World Health Organization.

The full report is posted on princetonnj.gov and princetonsenior.org.

 

Among the residents of Princeton whose appearance in public is most surprising — and alarming — are the black bears.

“Black bears are native to New Jersey and have been sighted in all 21 New Jersey counties,” stated Nathan Barson, Princeton animal control officer, in a recent Black Bear Information memo. He mentioned several sightings during the past month along the Montgomery-Princeton border: near Cherry Valley Road, Drake’s Corner, Herrontown Road, and Autumn Hill Reservation.

Black bears are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of food, including fruit, nuts, trash, meat scraps, and more, according to Mr. Barson.

To reduce bear-related encounters, Animal Control advises the following:

• Secure your trash in bear-resistant garbage containers or with tight fitting lids to reduce odors.

• Clean any food scraps from grills, porches, and decks, and keep meat scraps out of compost piles.

• Pets should not be fed outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

• Immediately remove all uneaten food and bowls used by pets fed outdoors (NO food after dark).

• Never hang bird feeders in easy to reach locations (feeders should be at least 10 feet in the air).

• Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.

• Wash garbage with disinfectant to remove odors.

• Secure beehives, livestock, and fruit crops with an electric fence.

Residents should report bear damage, nuisance behavior, or aggressive bears to the DEP hotline at (877) WARN-DEP ((877) 927-6337) or their local police department.

 

June 29, 2016
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TRAIN TRANSFORMATION: The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, formerly the Dinky train station on Alexander Street, is scheduled to open at the end of July, with 54 seats indoors and 26 outdoors, fully renovated kitchen area where the ticket office used to be, and drinking and eating area in the old waiting room. (Photo by Henry Gilpin)

The Dinky Bar and Kitchen, the next addition to the Arts and Transit neighborhood taking shape on Alexander Street, will open at the end of July in the renovated building that formerly housed the old train station.

“Cocktails, wine, beer, spirits, snacks, small plates, neat eats” reads the sign in front of the building under construction. According to Jim Nawn, owner of Fenwick Hospitality Group, which is developing the project in partnership with building owner Princeton University, patrons can look forward to “a comfortable bar environment in an interesting old building.”

The stone station house was constructed in 1918 in the collegiate gothic style, and includes the ticket office, which will be the kitchen area of the new establishment, and the domed-ceilinged passenger hall, which will include 54 seats and a bar with some counter-height tables, and 26 additional seats outside. The original train station was closed permanently in August 2013, with the new station and ticket office opening one block southeast on Alexander Street in November 2014.

“It’s a beautiful building in a lot of ways,” said Mr. Nawn, whose Fenwick Group also owns Agricola, Main Street Restaurant Group, and the Great Road Farm. “We are aware that good food needs to be part of the service” he continued, and also mentioned that the fare would offer “ingredient-inspired” food from the Great Road Farm, “including fresh produce, pickled and preserved items, charcuterie items made by our butcher, and cheese and meats in a local, farm-inspired context — sharable food, served on smaller-sized plates.”

The bar and grill, interior designed by Celano Design Studio of New York, will be open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

Also in the works as part of the station complex designed by Rick Joy Architects of Tucson, Arizona, is a full-scale restaurant, to be housed in the larger, southern station building, formerly used for freight storage. It is scheduled to open by the middle of next year and will seat about 150, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

July might be a quiet time on Alexander Street, with both McCarter Theatre and the University on summer schedules, but Mr. Nawn is optimistic about the prospect of the Dinky Bar and Kitchen “starting slow to get the operation going,” then “coming up to speed in the fall.”

”When something new comes along,” he said, “it may attract attention and be busy even in summer.” Mr. Nawn looked forward to the completion of the Arts and Transit project next year, “The station complex will be a great amenity for the community,” he stated, “a quality bar, grill, and restaurant for commuters, students, theater-goers, and others.”

In the meantime, Mr. Nawn mentioned “a number of projects underway” at Main Street (comprised of the Main Street Bistro in Princeton Shopping Center, Main Street Eatery and Gourmet in Kingston, and Main Street Catering in Rocky Hill), which Fenwick acquired four months ago.

He noted a “need for some refreshing and renovation” and mentioned adjustments this summer in the menu and cosmetic changes to the bistro, but emphasized “this is a process. We hope people are patient.”

 

Last year, Princeton passed an ordinance to limit the size and regulate the placement of sandwich board signs outside businesses in town. This didn’t sit well with some proprietors, many of whom are members of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA).

In an effort to provide recommendations for improvements to that ordinance and others that may be developed as the municipality continues to harmonize documents from the former Borough and Township, the PMA held a workshop last week at the Arts Council of Princeton. The June 21 event was led by architect Joshua Zinder of the firm JZA + D, and attended by some representatives of local businesses and members of the town’s administrative staff as well as Mayor Liz Lempert and Councilwoman Jo Butler.

“We’ve worked on a number of shops in town, and it always seems to come up that people feel the signage [regulation] is very restrictive, without a clear understanding of why,” Mr. Zinder said a few days before the workshop. “It has come up a number of times at PMA, and several people have asked me about it.”

After the sandwich board ordinance went into effect, “Many of the merchants in town were very upset about how it was being approved,” Mr. Zinder continued. “They didn’t feel there was a good dialogue where they were included in the discussion. They felt it was the municipality, and a couple of isolated people in the community, without consulting the merchants in general.”

The PMA had some talks with members of Council, and the ordinance was put on hold. Last week’s workshop was focused not only on the sandwich board signs, but on all of the different types and styles utilized by local businesses. Mr. Zinder gave a presentation that was followed by a discussion. The possibility of installing wayfinding signs, with information about how far and approximately how long a walk it would be to a destination, was proposed.

One issue that concerns merchants is the amount of time it can take to get signage approved, especially if the process involves coordination with the Historic Preservation Commission. Lighting was another focus of the discussion. Newer technology makes it easier to control light bleed from signage, which presents new and different opportunities, Mr. Zinder said.

The challenge is to attract local residents to the downtown businesses while also bringing in people from the outside. “There are a lot of empty stores in town,” said Mr. Zinder. “Unique merchants who would be attracted to Princeton are going to Route 1 and the malls, where there is free parking, and you can have any kind of sign you want. Here, there are controls. We don’t make it easy for merchants to come to Princeton.”

The PMA will take information from the workshop and elsewhere, and come back to Council with ideas for improving the ordinances. “My sense is that Council wants to make this work,” Ms. Lempert said this week. “I’m sure there is a solution in there somewhere.”

 

Two months after hiring a consultant to take a hard look at residential zoning in Princeton, the town has launched a website to keep citizens abreast of efforts to stem the speed of teardowns in local neighborhoods and the buildings that replace them. The site, princetonneighborhoods.org, also invites residents to provide comments on zoning issues.

The website is part of a community planning effort created in response to citizens’ concerns about residential development and the changing character of the town. All of the four candidates in this month’s Democratic primary election stressed these issues as priorities in their campaigns. Republican mayoral candidate Peter Marks has also focused on zoning and preserving neighborhood character.

Princeton Council voted April 25 to hire the RBA Group, which recently headed a similar project in Haddonfield, for the project. It comes at a time when efforts are being made to harmonize the zoning ordinances of the previous Borough and Township. “We see on the ground, in almost every neighborhood, the motivation for why we need to take a step back and review what the laws are on the books,” Mayor Liz Lempert said last month. “We need to know whether they are in line with the vision we have for our community.”

A subcommittee from the town’s Planning Board including Mayor Lempert, Jenny Crumiller, Wanda Gunning, Tim Quinn, and Gail Ullman is leading the initiative with a goal of creating strategies, policies, guidelines, and regulations to shape future development so that it better complements the character of Princeton’s neighborhoods and streets. The fact that each of the town’s neighborhoods has its own character adds to the challenge for those involved. Residents are encouraged to participate by adding their comments on the website.

The site includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that links to research on studies carried out in other communities. Questions range from how long the study will take to whether a moratorium on residential development will be considered in New Jersey.

The website indicates that one of the first and most important steps in the project is to collect data in order to understand the geography and scale of residential expansions, demolitions, and development in Princeton. Short-term changes expected to be adopted within the next four months could include “quick fix” revisions to site plan review and zoning standards “that will lead to improved outcomes from the demolition of older houses and the siting, design, and construction of new houses and yards,” the website reads.

Mid-term changes are identified as possible master plan amendments or additional zoning adjustments that set the stage for more significant changes that could be adopted in the long-term, and could be implemented in six to eight months. Long-term, substantive changes, which could go into practice within a year, might include substantive changes to the structure of residential zoning.

The RBA Group, formerly Brown & Keener Urban Design, was previously involved in developing the concept for Princeton’s Hinds Plaza and Spring Street Garage. Architects, planners, and landscape architects from the firm will participate in the project, partnering with Urban Partners. Both firms are based in Philadelphia.

To provide comments, write to the email address contact@princetonneighborhoods.org or mail comments in a sealed envelope to Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative, care of Princeton Planning Department, 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

 

June 22, 2016

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Participants confer on-site during Saturday’s interactive open house on re-thinking the aesthetics of Nassau Street. Hosted by The Garden Theatre, the event was sponsored by the Municipality of Princeton in partnership with the Princeton Merchants Association and Princeton University. Some of the ideas generated are discussed in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Come July, you might find Princeton’s municipal engineer Bob Kiser driving a tractor across the fields of a farm he owns in Hunterdon County. Mr. Kiser is retiring next week after 33 years on the job, and he is looking forward to spending time with his family С especially his six-and-a-half-month-old granddaughter С and cutting the grass with that tractor. more

Gillett Griffin

The legacy of Gillett Griffin, who died on June 6 at the age of 87, was vast and eclectic. And that’s just the tangible legacy. (A full obituary appears on page 31.)

Only two weeks ago, shortly before his death, he gave to the Historical Society of Princeton from his personal collection more than 50 photographs, manuscript items, sculptures, books, newspaper clippings, personal possessions and ephemera related to Albert Einstein С who was a personal friend of Mr. Griffin from 1953 until Einstein’s death in 1955. more

As U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson prepared to consider The Princeton Battlefield Society’s (PBS) motion for an injunction to halt construction activity on the site of proposed Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) housing, two British military heritage organizations entered the longstanding controversy. more

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TACKLING THE TANGO: Princeton’s many tango enthusiasts gather regularly at the Suzanne Patterson Center to learn from the pros and hear music by prominent groups from around the world.

When fans of tango travel to foreign countries, it doesn’t take them long to locate kindred spirits. There are tango communities all over the world. Princeton boasts its own active group, Viva Tango Inc., which meets regularly at the Suzanne Patterson Center to learn new dance steps, hear music, and socialize. more

Why is Old York Road located where it is? Why are the streets of Clinton laid out as they are? Why did North Hunterdon County see so little activity during the American Revolution? These questions and more will be answered by geologist John Allen at Hunterdon Land Trust’s Farmers’ Market on Sunday, June 26 at 10:30 a.m. more

ISLES_Grads

The 2016 Isles Youth Institute Commencement Ceremony took place on Tuesday, June 21 at the Mercer County Park Marina and Boathouse in West Windsor. The ceremony is the culmination of a year’s worth of academic and job training for students at Isles Youth Institute (IYI), an alternative school that emphasizes leadership development and civic engagement for students who have dropped out of traditional high school. Students participate in afterschool activities and volunteer extensively in the community. The staff works with students to help them apply to college and pursue employment. Trenton resident, author, entrepreneur, and Isles Trustee Tracey Syphax was the keynote speaker. 

The girl from L.A. had just arrived in Venice and was sitting at a cafe on Piazza San Marco being hassled by a Yugoslavian when she noticed a bedraggled individual shuffling across the great space, probably on his way to the American Express office to check for mail. His hair was long and scraggly and his jeans were baggy and halfway falling down, as if he had recently lost a great deal of weight. For the better part of a year she’d been exchanging letters with a guy she’d met in Berkeley; they had arranged to meet at the foot of the campanile on the evening of June 21.  more