August 8, 2012

DO’S AND DON’TS: Princeton University created this graphic illustration to show traffic restrictions under the NJDOT’s current Route 1 pilot project.

The trial program to ease congestion on Route 1 by restricting left turns and U-turns on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street in West Windsor was two days old on Monday when New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) spokesman Joe Dee allowed that, “We’re going to make some adjustments.”

“We need to get the word out,” said Mr. Dee, noting that some people are making what might be instinctive, but are now illegal, turns. “We have to reemphasize movements that are no longer available to motorists and ease confusion.”

He described the “adjustments” as “some more signs to help people understand where left turns are not allowed, to help guide people a little better. I was out there Friday night and we’ve been looking at how traffic was behaving over the weekend.”

NJDOT is seeking to reduce congestion along the Route 1 northbound corridor in the vicinity of Washington Road and Harrison Street where the rightmost of three lanes becomes crowded with motorists queuing to make left turns, particularly during peak travel periods. Temporary construction barrels are being used to implement the restrictions over the course of a planned 12-week trial period.

After the conclusion of the trial, NJDOT representatives will meet with “stakeholders” to present their findings as to whether the restrictions have proven to be effective in reducing Route 1 congestion and to discuss the extent of any secondary impacts on local streets and roads.

If the trial is deemed a success, the turns will not be restored and the department will replace the temporary barriers with more aesthetically pleasing permanent barriers as expeditiously as possible.

If the trial is unsuccessful, the temporary restrictions will be removed to restore all existing traffic movements.

In the meantime, local municipal offices, the Board of Education, Princeton University, the Merchants Association, and the University Medical Center of Princeton have posted alternative routes for navigating Route 1 on their websites.


SAFE ARRIVAL: Max Planck staff members with successfully delivered trim coil created by engineers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboration. Pictured (front row from left) Thomas Rummel, head of magnet and cryostat subdivision; Stefan Freundt, engineer; Hans-Stephan Bosch, associate director for coordination; Victor Bykov, engineer; (back row, from left): Konrad Risse, trim coil project leader; Frank Füllenbach, engineer; Mathias Gottschewsky, project control engineer; Matthias Köppen, engineer. (Photo by Anja Richter Ullmann, IPP)

When it comes to making a house more energy efficient, it is the simple things that often matter most. Little gaps between windows and small holes in basement walls are the surprisingly frequent culprits behind energy loss. These problems are easily remedied, according to the non-profit Sustainable Princeton, which launched its Housewarming Project last year.

The organization has already made a significant difference in three Princeton homes by detecting trouble spots where air was escaping while showing homeowners how to inexpensively correct the problems. Now, they are looking for seven additional households to join the program this fall.

“Our goal is to do 10 homes by the end of the year,” says Diane Landis, Sustainable Princeton’s executive director. “We are working through Affordable Housing with low to moderate-income single family homes, and we would like to continue on that path. But we are going to be expanding the program next year, and our goals are big.”

Ms. Landis said the organization would like to have helped 150 homeowners lower their energy costs by the end of next year. “If we can go in and make these simple energy fixes, we can be well on our way to reducing energy by 20 percent in Princeton by the year 2020,” she says.

The Housewarming Project is a collaboration of Sustainable Princeton and the Energy Service Corps of New Jersey. Funded by a $10,000 grant from the J. Seward Johnson Sr. Charitable Trust, the program asks participants to share energy bills from one year before and one year after the housewarming. That way, savings from the project can be measured. Each household gets a two-hour assessment of its energy issues. The team then returns to the home a second time to make simple energy fixes such as weather-stripping, caulking, or installing outlet gaskets.

“We follow up with some general check-ins throughout the year after the work is done,” says Ms. Landis. “And if the homeowner is interested, we make recommendations for more work with a contractor who has gone through energy training and is BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified.”

Sustainable Princeton board member Heidi Fichtenbaum, a LEED-certified architect, has been instrumental in the program. “Heidi is a real go-getter who has a vision about teams working in houses to reduce their use of energy. She trained the New Jersey Energy Corps members, who are student volunteers,” says Ms. Landis. “She has developed a training model for anyone who will be part of the team.”

Participating homeowners are often surprised to find how much energy is escaping from their homes, and how easily it can be fixed. “What we’re finding is that a lot of houses have leakage,” says Ms. Landis. “And it’s simple things. Air might be escaping through an electrical outlet, or a little hole in a wall. In testing one home, Heidi found a big hole in someone’s basement that they didn’t know about. That kind of thing undoes all the circulation in a home.”

The Housewarming Project has a larger goal, which is to make living sustainably a habit in Princeton. “We have a new Princeton, and we really want to bring the community together on this,” Ms. Landis says. “We look forward to galvanizing the community around sustainable behavior. That’s our vision.”

Eight high-end luggage bags valued at $20,270 were stolen from the Palmer Square shop Zoë last Wednesday morning. While considered luggage, the Celine bags look like handbags.

An employee at the store called police around 11 a.m. on August 1 to say that three young males had come into the store, looked around, grabbed the bags, headed out the front door, and ran west on Hulfish Street.

They were described as light-skinned black males, 18 to 23 years old, with thin builds, ranging from five-feet-ten inches to six-feet tall. The case is under investigation. Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call Detective Robert Allie at (609) 921-8108.

In another robbery last Wednesday, Hamilton Jewelers on Route 1 in Lawrence Township was hit by masked bandits who took an unknown number of watches about 12:30 p.m. They were not armed, according to police.

The men smashed several cases filled with jewelry and fled on foot up Route 1. The store was robbed in April 2011, also by three robbers who took watches. One of the alleged robbers was later caught in the spree, which also included robbing a gas station and a Chinese restaurant.

Hamilton Jewelers has shops on Princeton’s Nassau Street, in Red Bank, and in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Keeping cool in Sunday’s heat, two young bathers seem to be focusing their attention on the multiple water sculptures being created by James Fitzgerald’s fountain, which still forms the dramatic focal point of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Scudder Plaza. A formidable new distraction now fronting Robertson Hall is “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” 12 sculptures by the Chinese artist and social activist Ai Weiwei, which will be on view for a full year, as of August 1. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

August 1, 2012

BREAKING NEW GROUND: After many years of discussion, design, and redesign; digging officially began July 26 for the Copperwood community with the help of those who were instrumental in its development. From left: J. Robert Hillier, architect and developer; Michael Lee of Costanza Builders; Phyllis Marchand, former Princeton Township mayor; Chad Goerner, current Township mayor; Michele Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation; and Wendy Mager, president of Friends of Princeton Open Space. (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

Last week’s groundbreaking for Copperwood, the senior housing development on Bunn Drive, marked the end of a lengthy process that involved years of deliberation and debate. Along the way, a somewhat adversarial relationship between the architect/developer and the co-founder of a citizens’ organization committed to preserving the wooded site evolved into a kind of mutual admiration society.

J. Robert Hillier, the architect/developer (and Town Topics shareholder), had only the warmest praise for Daniel Harris, co-founder of People for Princeton Ridge, Inc., at the groundbreaking ceremony. In turn, Mr. Harris spoke effusively of Mr. Hillier a few days later. “It needs to be said that Bob was not only thoroughly cooperative with our group, but with community interests altogether,” Mr. Harris said. “He really  understood that this is what building in Princeton needs to be right now.”

Along with others involved in the developing of the rental community, Mr. Hillier and Mr. Harris met several times to try to fine-tune the design. Key to the project were energy-saving and sustainability techniques espoused by Mr. Harris and his wife, Jane Buttars, co-founder of People for the Princeton Ridge. They and other environmentalists had concerns about the many trees on the tract, some of which are over 100 years old. They also worried about storm-water runoff from the property’s steep slopes. “The public health danger to the community downstream was immense,” Mr. Harris recalled. “So this was a matter of public health as well as public policy.”

Eventually, Mr. Hillier arrived at a plan for a smaller footprint than originally proposed for the active adult community, clustering five buildings on three acres of the 21-acre site. Two of the buildings will have three floors, and three will have four stories. Small walkways, gardens, and piazzas will separate the buildings. Amenities will include a fitness center, cafe lounge/library, and a lecture/meeting room, all surrounding a central piazza with a fountain.

The history of trying to build senior housing on the site known as the Lowe tract, goes back to 2005, when builder K. Hovnanian first obtained approval. But Hovnanian pulled out of the deal, enabling Mr. Hillier to proceed with a plan for a smaller project. Construction of Copperwood will disturb 20 percent of the site, while the original Hovnanian plan would have disturbed almost 80 percent. The remaining lands will be put into conservation in perpetuity. A total of 396 trees will be removed, to be replaced with 241 new trees.

“We knew what the concerns were, so we came up with a design that made it a more tightly-knit kind of village,” Mr. Hillier said this week. “Every time we were able to do those redesigns, more woods got saved.”

While the environmental group at first objected to any building at all on Princeton Ridge, they now welcome the Hillier plan. “This is the greenest building that has ever gone up in Princeton,” Mr. Harris said. “Bob gets an enormous amount of credit for doing this, and we get credit also for educating the community about green buildings and LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]. These buildings have green roofs. They are watered by gray water that is recycled within the building. The building’s facade materials are reflective, so they will push away heat.”

At the groundbreaking, Mr. Hillier announced that there was a waiting list of 165 people for the development’s 153 units. By early this week, that number had jumped to 177. “There has never been anything like this in Princeton. What this means is that older folks can now live in town, and yet downsize,” he said. “There is no decent, new, modern place for people to downsize to, relieving them of maintenance and things like taking care of lawns. Now, they don’t have to leave town.”

Units will range from 718 to 1,296 square feet. Twelve will be affordable housing. Tenants can choose from one, three, and five-year leases. Rents are expected to range from about $1,900 to $3,600 a month. Princeton has senior affordable housing, but Copperwood is the first market-rate senior housing development in the town.

For Mr. Harris, the development process represents a model of public/private citizen partnership. “Hillier’s cooperation is a model of what every developer in Princeton should do, and what every developer in Princeton should be urged if not required to do by Princeton elected officials,” he said, “including present applicants.”


TAPPING INTO EXPERIENCE: “The newly consolidated Princeton will face the toughest period in its history starting on January 1, 2013,” says Republican mayoral candidate Richard Woodbridge. “The town cannot afford on-the-job training at this critical junction.”

“Change is the only constant,” said Richard Woodbridge, the Republican candidate for mayor of the consolidated municipality of Princeton as he pulled out his 1957 Valley Road School yearbook. Of the many businesses represented by ads in the back of the book, he points out, only four remain.

“You don’t get maudlin,” said the 68-year-old candidate, who has the distinction of having served as Township mayor in 1991-92, as well as president of Borough Council in 1984-85. “You need to take advantage of change; know the trends, work with it, get ahead of it.”

A recent New York Times article described the Democratic stronghold in this state as a “continuum” that runs from Jersey City … to the university town of Princeton.” Local elections have only confirmed this, with a recent unbroken run of Democratic mayors and governing bodies in both the Borough and the Township.

“I think I can do it again,” he calmly responds to a question about why he’s running. The Princeton native cites his experience with both municipal governments and with a variety of departments, including the Borough police, the Transition Task Force and its Public Safety Committee, and 20-year commitment as volunteer in the fire department. He describes building his legal practice, which specializes in patent law (he also has an engineering degree), “from the ground up.” At this unique time in its history, said Mr. Woodbridge, “proven leadership” is required.

“There are cultural issues in implementing the process,” he commented. It’s a “full time job if you’re going to do it right.” If elected mayor, Mr. Woodbridge would “phase out” his professional work.

At the top of Mayor Woodbridge’s to-do list would be regular meetings with department heads and leaders of local institutions. He cited the cumulative wisdom that then-Township Mayor Michelle Tuck Ponder tapped into when she convened once-a-month meetings with former mayors, and he expressed admiration for the “professionalism” apparent in both police departments’ recent efforts to “pull together.”

The “bickering” that Mr. Woodbridge sees in recent Borough/Township interactions was “not characteristic when I served.” He recalled how, about ten years ago, voters’ rejection of a school budget provided an opportunity to test officials’ diplomatic mettle. When it became apparent that the school board’s style of budget preparation was considerably different than that of the municipalities, a financial person was brought in “to convert it into language we could understand,” and the outcome was successful. A tagline on Mr. Woodbridge’s website (www.woodbridge4mayor.com) reads “One Princeton. One Spirit.”

With only one Republican candidate, Geoffrey Aton, running for the new Council, it is a given that, if he is elected, Mr. Woodbridge will be working with a Democratic majority. “I’ve done it before,” he said matter-of-factly, noting that his training as an engineer prepared him to be task-oriented. “You like to get things done — build bridges, solve problems — and move on.”

Although public perceptions of relationships among elected officials may suggest one thing, Mr. Woodbridge refers to long-standing friendships, respect, and an interest in “improving the region” among “local players” that cross party lines. “It’s almost a re-election campaign,” he observed, expressing his pleasure in the amount of “grass roots” support he’s been receiving. “Inclusion is important in this town,” he added.


The 50-year-old Princeton institution, long known for its breakfast time waiting lines, has added bistro-style sidewalk seating. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 25, 2012

NOW SHOWING: A recent grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation will continue to help support The Arts Council of Princeton’s exhibitions and gallery-related programming. ACP installs exhibits in Taplin Gallery, throughout the Paul Robeson Center, on the building’s terrace and exterior spaces, as well as in partnership with the Princeton Public Library, on their second floor. (Photo Courtesy of the Arts Council of Princeton)

Just in time to celebrate Princeton’s Fourth ArtWalk on Thursday, August 2, the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) learned that it had received a $20,000 grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

“We love Dodge,” said Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Nathanson. “It’s been a very loyal supporter of the ACP for many years.” This ongoing support does not preclude having to go through the application process every year.

The Dodge Foundation describes itself as source of funding for New Jersey arts non-profit organizations that “pursue and demonstrate the highest standards of artistic excellence in the performing and visual arts.”

“It’s really an organization that has taken a very progressive view and has provided some very important leadership,” Mr Nathanson observed. In addition to recognizing less traditional non-profit organizations, he reported that Dodge “actually takes steps to encourage us and other grantees to minimize the use of paper. They told us to send our acknowledgment for the grant via email.”

The ArtWalk, a self-guided evening of drop-in visual art activities in downtown Princeton from 5 to 8 p.m., is the result of a collaboration between the Princeton University Art Museum and the Arts Council of Princeton, along with seven other Princeton art organizations. This year’s ArtWalk has been designed with children and families in mind, and will include special activities like a scavenger hunt sponsored by the Historical Society, hands-on art making with the Arts Council of Princeton, and a BBQ sponsored by the Princeton University Art Museum.

Supporting Exhibits

Mr. Nathanson and incoming Development Director Jean Durbin described the Arts Council’s plans for the Dodge grant as supporting “gallery related programs.” Although the most visible exhibit space is the Taplin Gallery on the main floor right off the entry lobby, exhibitions are mounted elsewhere in the building throughout the year. The Dodge gift provides support for all of them.

“Every year we to try to present up-to-date exhibitions and related educational programs,” said Mr. Nathanson. These include panel discussions for adults, and hands-on workshops with school groups who are given an “up close and personal” tour of a gallery exhibition by an artist, followed by an opportunity to create some of their own art. The Arts Council also regularly collaborates with area institutions like the Princeton Public Library, and is among the participants in the upcoming six-month long series of exhibitions and events known as “The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society.”

The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, which recently awarded the Arts Council a citation of excellence, is another “important source” of financial support. Mr. Nathanson noted, however, that the Arts Council’s “annual budget is considerably greater than the total of the money we get from the two grant sources. We have individual contributors, corporate sponsors, other foundation grants, and membership fees that all feed into the budget to run programs.” The Arts Council basically “does not get taxpayer funding,” he added.

Other area recipients of Dodge grants this year were The McCarter Theatre ($75,000), and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra ($10,000).

“Burn the Mortgage”

Mr. Nathanson and Ms. Durbin were also happy to report that The Arts Council of Princeton had received “a very generous anonymous pledge of $750,000” towards its ‘Burn the Mortgage’ Campaign, being held in conjunction with the Council’s 45th anniversary.

“The campaign’s goal is to pay off the ACP’s $2 million mortgage so that the funds used for hefty monthly mortgage payments can instead be used to pay for creative programming costs,” said Mr. Nathanson. “Achieving the goal means the ACP will be much better positioned to maintain and grow the ACP’s innovative programming, which substantially enriches the community. With this anonymous gift, there is now only $750,000 remaining to raise in order to successfully complete the ‘Burn’ campaign. The ACP hopes to raise these funds through the collective efforts of its members and donors with an aggressive campaign push between now and December 31.”


Efforts to prevent the Institute for Advanced Study from building faculty housing on land many believe is the site of the crucial counter-attack at the Battle of Princeton escalated last Friday with the filing of an appeal in Mercer County Superior Court. The Princeton Battlefield Society is challenging the approval by the Princeton Regional Planning Board for the planned 15-unit development.

The housing site, which was approved by the Planning Board last spring after several contentious meetings, is part of the land on the Princeton Battlefield that was designated last month as one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places for 2012 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The appeal says that the approval by the Planning Board violates terms of a 1992 settlement between Princeton Township and the Institute, defining specific zoning limitations. The Battlefield Society includes 12 counts that challenge the approval. “The Planning Board failed numerous times to properly support its decision with proper findings of fact,” says Bruce Afran, attorney for the Battlefield Society, in a press release. “We vigorously disagree with the Planning Board’s decision to allow this 15-unit development to move forward.”

Specifically, the appeal says that the 1992 settlement does not permit cluster housing. “And in any event, the Planning Board’s findings violated the municipal ordinance’s requirements for cluster housing by not meeting the requirements for an ‘As of Right Plan,’” Mr. Afran says. “An As of Right Plan is a conceptual site layout that must meet zoning requirements, in this case one-acre lots that are not encumbered by buffers or setbacks or other lot use limitations.”

Additionally, the appeal disagrees with the Planning Board’s acceptance that the historic and archaeological features of the site would be protected should the project move forward.

The Planning Board was unanimous in its approval of the Institute’s plans for seven single-family homes and eight townhouses on a seven-acre portion of the campus. In addition to a 200-foot buffer zone next to the Battlefield Park that would be permanently preserved as open space, the Institute has promised to provide interpretive materials about the history of the park for visitors. Proponents of the plan say that the housing development respects its historic setting and does not adversely affect preserved farmland and the Institute Woods.

Battlefield Society members say the Institute claims the site did not play a significant role in the Battle of Princeton, but that the opposite is true. “Governor Edge, as far back as 1944, recognized that this site was critical to understanding the counterattack, and his map showing the properties that were to be acquired to become part of the park, included this parcel as an essential part of the park,” says Jerald Hurwitz, president of the Battlefield Society.

The recent appeal marks the second challenge by the Battlefield Society to the Institute project. After the Planning Board’s approval of the plans last April, Mr. Afran filed a complaint in the Chancery Court on behalf of the Battlefield Society, asking for a judicial determination on various site limitations created by the 1992 agreement.

The designation of the Battlefield last month by the National Trust as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2012 “puts a focus on the issue at a national level,” says Kip Cherry, first vice president of the Battlefield Society. “But even more importantly, it shows that the National Trust has endorsed the importance of the site.”

As of press time Tuesday, the Institute had not been served with the appeal so no comment was issued.


The Arts Council of Princeton is celebrating a new Dodge Foundation grant; preparing for another ArtWalk; and participating in the coming multi-institutional collaboration, “The Fertile Crescent.” Summer campers probably don’t know about these events, but they certainly seem engrossed in their work. (Photo Courtesy of the Arts Council of Princeton)

July 18, 2012

TOPPLING THE WALLS: Demolition of two residential buildings on Olden Street clears the way for construction of a new apartment house for visiting scholars. The buildings, boarded up for years, once served as apartments for Princeton University students, among other uses. (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

A pair of boarded-up buildings long considered an eyesore on Olden Street are being demolished to make room for a new apartment house for visiting faculty members at Princeton University. Cranes have been busy for several days knocking down two houses that have a long history in the community, including years as apartments and, at one time, a kosher dining place for University students.

In their place on the northwest corner of Olden and William streets will rise Olden House, a three-story complex of 18 studio and one-bedroom dwellings designed by local architect/developer J. Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder), who is a graduate of the University and a visiting lecturer in its school of architecture. The building has been designed with low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water consumption, building finishes using sustainable products, an energy-efficient HVAC system, and energy-efficient lighting.

“These are small but complete apartments with washers, dryers, kitchenettes, and fully handicapped access,” Mr. Hillier said. “The key to our design is that everyone has gotten used to a vacant lot on the corner, and we are preserving a piece of that. The interesting thing architecturally is that we had to do a somewhat institutional building, but also a residential building in a residential neighborhood. So we were working between two types of buildings.”

The proportion and the arrangement of the windows is “very residential,” Mr. Hillier said. “All of the University buildings are brick, but we’re whitewashing this instead, so it will have much more of a residential feel. The wood screen is sustainable wood, and it serves as a rain screen where it becomes almost like a trellis. So it will feel very airy. It’s at the corner, so we wanted to make sure that the building was inviting, not heavy.”

Visiting scholars will use the apartments for anywhere from a month to a year. Since the building is close to campus, residents will be able to walk to destinations. “This means we don’t need as much parking as a usual apartment building would need,” Mr. Hillier said. “We will have a Zip car on the site.”

Mr. Hillier’s firm is leasing the land from the University, and will operate the building for them. It will be a tax-paying entity [the University does a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT].

The Hillier firm and University officials met with neighborhood residents during the past two years on three occasions. “We wanted to make sure we were doing something they would be comfortable with,” Mr. Hillier said. “They were happy to see the buildings go.”

Watching the demolition of the houses — one numbered 13 and 15 Olden Street; the other 17, 19 and 21 — with some regret was Alfred Kahn, who owned the buildings and rented them out until the University purchased them from him 13 years ago. “I was there when they were tearing them down,” Mr. Kahn said Tuesday. “To see them come down was a little bit upsetting to me. I remember each and every room, and who the kids were that lived in them.”

Mr. Kahn, who owned the Abel Bagel shop on Witherspoon Street and still owns a residential building on Leigh Avenue, said his father Benjamin Kahn bought the Olden Street buildings in the early 1950’s. “They were probably built around the turn of the century. They were always occupied by local people,” he said. “I started managing them in the early 1970’s. I rented them to students. The reason the University wanted them is that they became fraternity houses, and they frowned upon that. They bought them and boarded them up.”

At one time, Mr. Kahn and his family lived at 21 Olden Street. In addition to Yavneh House, the University’s kosher dining facility, and apartments, the buildings also served as headquarters for the New Jersey Monthly magazine and the Princeton Review, he said. “They were founded in those houses. And a lot of local kids who went to Princeton University lived in them.”

A third house and garage on the property were taken down more than 15 years ago. Estimated completion of Olden House is summer 2013.


The death of Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) volunteer Michael Kenwood last August during tropical storm Irene was a tragedy for his young family. The 39-year-old emergency medical and rescue technician left a wife, Beth, and daughter, two-year-old Laney, as well as extended family members, friends, and colleagues.

This sad situation was compounded when it was revealed that, under current law, Mr. Kenwood’s family was not eligible for federal death benefits because he was a volunteer member of a non-profit organization. This did not sit well with Representative Rush Holt [D-12], who has been working on behalf of the Kenwood family and others to change the legislation.

Mr. Holt has co-sponsored the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act of 2012, which passed the House on June 27 and is now pending in the Senate. The bill was introduced on February 14 by Representative Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA). In his remarks on June 26, Mr. Holt said the legislation would expand federal benefits programs for those who volunteer for fire departments and rescue squads and are injured or killed in the line of duty. “Quite simply, it is the right thing to do,” he said. “I am glad to see this bill being brought to the floor and I urge my colleagues to support it today.”

It was during the early morning hours of August 28, 2011, that PFARS was called to the scene of a vehicle submerged in raging floodwaters near Rosedale Road, with occupants possibly trapped inside. Mr. Kenwood, trained since college as an emergency worker, entered the water tied to his partner in an attempt to reach the stranded car. When they realized that the current was too strong and tried to turn back, Mr. Kenwood lost his footing and was pulled into the current. He was unconscious and not breathing when he was recovered downstream, and died later that day. The submerged car turned out to be empty.

“Michael’s sacrifice would be no different if he had been a member of a paid fire department or EMS agency, and federal law should treat it as such,” Mr. Holt said in his remarks. “When he was called to enter those floodwaters, Michael did not stop to think, ‘I don’t get paid for this — should I do this?’ He answered the call just like thousands upon thousands of others do each and every day, risking their lives in the service of others, regardless of whether or not they are paid.”

Mr. Kenwood’s name was added last month to the National EMS Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At an annual service there, men and women of the country’s Emergency Medical Services who have given their lives in the line of duty are honored and remembered.

“Michael took time away from work, friends, and family to make sure his community was protected and that those in need got prompt, professional emergency medical care,” said PFARS President Peter Simon, in an email this week. “Ironically, because the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad is a non-profit, independent organization, our members do not qualify for the Public Safety Officers Benefit — a flaw with the current program that will hopefully be corrected. We appreciate the efforts of everyone working diligently to see that this bill is championed and passed so that the true heroes of our community, like Michael Kenwood, get the respect they deserve. And more importantly, the families of these fallen heroes get the support they need.”

Mr. Kenwood’s widow, Beth, said she is thankful for Mr. Holt’s efforts. “I am deeply grateful for Representative Holt’s support and his dedication to getting the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act passed,” she said in an email. “I appreciate Mr. Holt and the many others who continue to remember and recognize the sacrifice Michael made and the ongoing struggles our family faces in the wake of Michael’s death.”

UNDERSTANDING MORALITY: Actors Daniel Day-Lewis and the late Pete Postlethwaite in a scene from “In the Name of the Father,” one of the movies that will be studied in Judy Walzer’s new Evergreen Forum course, “Trial by Movie.”

“Miscarriage of justice is as much a concern to the legal system as is the correct use of the rules,” writes instructor Judy Walzer in the description of her upcoming Evergreen Forum class, “Trial by Movie.” “On the screen, injustice inevitably makes the drama still more powerful.”

With that in mind, Ms. Walzer’s class will be reading book versions and viewing movie renditions of works like 12 Angry Men, A Civil Action, The Winslow Boy, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Reader, To Kill a Mockingbird, and In the Name of the Father.

The Evergreen Forum is a peer led, continuing education program offering daytime courses for interested adults in the Princeton area. The next round of classes will begin this fall, and although registration does not officially begin until July 20, the list of this term’s classes is already posted on the Forum’s website, www.theevergreenforum.org. Time is definitely of the essence here. Ms. Walzer is on the Forum’s Long-Term Planning Committee and she described its challenges as having to do with “the pressures of success” as more and more people want to become involved. With limited enrollments in many classes, oversubscription is likely, and a lottery will be held on August 28 to choose who gets in. Participants will be notified of their status by August 31.

“Trial by Movie” will meet for eight weeks on Wednesdays, beginning October 3, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library. Ms. Walzer describes herself as feeling “grateful and privileged” to be teaching it. Evergreen Forum instructors receive no remuneration, but are entitled to take one free class for each class they teach.

A former teacher and administrator at The New School, Ms. Walzer’s background is in English and American Literature. Her latest course offering evolved as “somewhere along the line I saw several movies that have trials, and it struck me that there are particular advantages to focusing on the drama between adversaries.” Some further research and more movie-viewing convinced her that it would be a good subject for a course.

Evergreen Forum recently celebrated its tenth anniversary under the auspices of the Princeton Senior Resource Center. The faculty is largely comprised of retired professors from area colleges. Coming from a similar demographic, the students aren’t too shabby, either, and the combination means leaving lots of time for discussion. “These are students who have something to say,” observed Ms. Walzer, whose previous classes have focused on subjects like literary connections to “film noir” and biographical treatments in books and movies.

“Hollywood has changed so much,” she said recently. Acknowledging that while “a picture is worth one thousand words,” Ms. Walzer believes that “the experience of reading literature gives you something that you can’t get from the film.

“What I like is studying the contrasts in how you respond to each medium; is it a better or poorer rendition? In the musical world this is called ‘crossover.’”


TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC FOR SAVE: Friends and supporters of SAVE kicking up their heels at a benefit held at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in the Princeton Shopping Center. The animal shelter is scheduled to move from its current, crowded Mt. Lucas facility to a new home in Montgomery Township in the fall of 2013. Participants at the benefit discuss the relative merits of cats and dogs in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 12, 2012

RECOGNITION AT LAST: Princeton native Wallace Holland, Jr. wears the bronze medal he and other members of the Montford Point Marines were awarded in Washington last month. The medal is a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, which the Montford Point Marine Association was awarded in recognition of their service in World War II.

It took nearly seven decades, but the valiant efforts of 20,000 African American soldiers during World War II have finally been recognized. On June 27, the Montford Point Marines were awarded the 2011 Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The next day, they were guests of honor at a parade at the Washington Marine Barracks.

Among the nearly 400 surviving members attending the events was 86-year-old Wallace C. Holland, Jr. a Princeton native and a graduate of Princeton High School. A retired corrections officer, Mr. Holland now lives in Lawrenceville. His three sons accompanied him to the ceremonies.

“It was a dream come true,” he said last week. “I have been looking forward to recognition of the Montford Point Marines’ service, so when we received word that they were going to award the medal, I thought it was very well of them.”

It was in 1942 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Marines to integrate by recruiting African American men. From all over the nation, young men like Mr. Holland traveled to North Carolina, expecting to be stationed with white recruits at Camp Lejeune. Instead, they were sent to Camp Montford Point, which was kept separate.

“I found out that the camp we were at was segregated when I got there,” Mr. Holland recalled. “I didn’t know anything about it. I thought we’d be with all the other individuals, white or black, who were in the Marines, at Camp Lejeune.”

Camp Montford Point was a far cry from Camp Lejeune. “We went through the same basic training, but we struggled with the disadvantages we had,” Mr. Holland says. “We didn’t have the same kind of equipment to train with, or type of quarters. We were in small huts. We almost froze to death in the winter. We had to take cold showers. But we made the best of it. I have no ill feelings about it. It was an experience for me.”

Mr. Holland’s time in the service took him overseas, allowing him to see parts of the world he had never expected to visit. As part of an ammunition company, he was shipped out in the fall of 1944. “We were on our way from Bayonne, New Jersey, and we spent time in the Panama Canal Zone, going through the locks,” he said. “On the other side, we stopped at Bora Bora, and then they took us to a place in the Solomon Islands, where we took care of an ammunition dump. We had to salvage the ammunition, take it on barges, and dump it.”

Next was Guadalcanal, where they had to salvage and clean up battle-scarred areas. “They had ammunition all over the ground,” said Mr. Wallace, who brought back two Japanese shells. “The stench was still there.”

Mr. Wallace and other Marines then began their journey home. “They brought us back to Pearl Harbor, where it all started,” he said. “That was an experience for me. From there they brought us back on an aircraft carrier to San Francisco, then back to Camp Lejeune, and then back home.”

The Montford camp closed in 1949. Until last month, the Montford Point Marines did not receive the kind of recognition given to their counterparts, the Tuskegee Airmen, who integrated the Army Air Corps the same year. The gold medal resolution passed by Congress last October was sponsored by Congresswoman Corrine Brown, D-Florida, and unanimously approved by the House and Senate. On November 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.

For Mr. Holland’s sons, the award ceremonies were especially meaningful. “I was so proud of him and of all these men,” said Larry Irving, who is Mr. Holland’s stepson. “It was so moving.”

Mr. Irving traveled from his home in Indiana to attend last month’s festivities. Mr. Holland’s sons Wallace Holland III, of Trenton, and Kevin Holland, of Washington, were also on hand.

The first ceremony, in which the gold medal was awarded to the Montford Point Marine Association, was held at the Capitol. The second ceremony was held at the Marine Barracks. Along with his fellow veterans, Mr. Holland was given a bronze medal that was a replica of the gold medal awarded to the Montford Point Marine Association. Since the first Congressional Gold Medal was given to George Washington in 1776, it has been presented 150 times to a broad range of individuals and organizations including actors, authors, explorers, athletes, and public servants.

“The Commandant put the medal around our necks,” Mr. Holland said. “They had a parade. A detachment of Marines marched across the field after they gave us the medals. It was 95 degrees, and four men passed out. But I didn’t have a problem at all. Like I said before, it was a dream come true.”


In response to data showing that 55 percent of New Jersey residents are obese or overweight, along with evidence of the consequences of this widespread obesity, the Borough and the Township recently endorsed The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s (NJHCQI) “Mayors Wellness Campaign.”

The Mayors Wellness Campaign is described as “a toolbox to help local mayors implement wellness programs in their communities.” It includes self-assessment tools, suggestions for program evaluation, “and a variety of best practice programs” mayors may want to implement.

Founded in 1997 and partially funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the NJHCQI represents what is described as an effort to bring together “all key stakeholders to make real and measurable improvements to our state’s health care system.” Its purpose is to “undertake objectives that will ensure that safety, quality, accountability, and cost containment are all closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey.”

Borough Council approved the Mayors Wellness Campaign at its April 24 meeting. Following a request from Princeton Health Officer David Henry, Township Committee made its endorsement at its June 25 meeting. “I am writing to ask the Township Committee and mayor to adopt a Mayors Wellness Campaign,” said Mr. Henry in his letter. “This campaign encourages and supports wellness and healthy living in the community. Mayor Moore and the Borough Council has passed the Mayors Wellness Campaign as well. In the spirit of unity, the Health Commission and mayor thought it would be great to combine our efforts.”

“Across New Jersey, communities are facing a rise in health care costs,” said the Township’s resolution. “Physical activity levels have been decreasing and obesity rates increasing, and … local leaders are looking for ways to promote active living, healthy eating, and overall wellness in their communities.”

“We see this effort as an ongoing process of improving and enhancing the information and programs New Jersey communities can provide their citizens to improve their health and health care,” said the Institute in announcing the Mayors Wellness Campaign. “We encourage the residents of Princeton [Township and Borough] to participate in Mayors Wellness Campaign activities to promote exercise, eating properly, and living healthier and better lives,” said the Princeton Mayors’ resolutions.

Superintendent of schools Judy Wilson reported that her office has not been approached about participating in the MWC.

For more information on The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, visit www.njhcqi.org.

 

After living in New York and working at J.P. Morgan on Wall Street for seven years, Debby D’Arcangelo moved with her family to West Windsor and took a job in the development office of The Lawrenceville School. As part of her duties there, she drove students into Trenton to work with inner city children as part of their community service requirements.

Something clicked during those two years. “I realized I wanted to work with communities in need,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo, who was recently named the new president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. “I went on to work for Isles in Trenton. And I really appreciated their mission of helping people help themselves. I stayed for six years and I learned a lot about people. We all have the same needs, no matter our backgrounds. We all have so much in common.”

Ms. D’Arcangelo, her husband and daughter moved to Trenton 12 years ago. While at Isles, she directed her first capital campaign. She decided to pursue a secondary degree, earning a Masters in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After leaving Isles, she began doing community service full-time, joining the boards of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Princeton, the New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the NAACP Trenton Branch.

Chief among them was the Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area. Seven years on the organization’s board, including a run as treasurer, followed by nine months as its interim CEO, led to her current appointment.

“We are so fortunate to have such a talented, knowledgeable, and committed former trustee who can guide the organization through this important period,” said Carol Golden, board chair, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to continued success at Planned Parenthood under Debby’s leadership.”

As the new CEO of the organization, Ms. D’Arcangelo is facing many challenges. “The state budget cuts for family planning, now in their third cycle, are the biggest,” she says. “There is so much need in Mercer County, especially in Trenton, for reproductive health. For a lot of our clientele, we are their only health care source. The legislature has repeatedly voted to restore the cuts, but Governor Christie repeatedly vetoes it.”

Planned Parenthood has three health centers in Mercer County, in Trenton, on the campus of the College of New Jersey, and in Hamilton Township. Patients are charged on a sliding fee scale that goes all the way down to zero if necessary, based on income and family size. Demand has risen in recent years, as unemployment and a sagging economy have taken health benefits away from many who had them in the past.

Despite the uptick, the level of care has continued, Ms. D’Arcangelo says. “It’s the quality of the care we provide that’s the most important thing,” she says. “Planned Parenthood has extremely high quality standards and guidelines. Whatever our patients need, they are getting the best care. And that doesn’t change.”

Planned Parenthood, which is based in Trenton with a staff of 40, offers cancer screenings as well as family planning services. “We can identify something in its early stages,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo. “It’s not just good public policy, it’s a good investment.”

Statistics say that one in five women has gone to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives. The numbers also report that 70 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the organization. That means 30 percent do not.

“The vocal minority is a constant issue, and it can get loud,” says Ms. D’Arcangelo. “But we have wonderful local support. A big part of the job is raising funds, and the Princeton community is very generous and supportive of our mission. So my job is probably not as difficult as it might be elsewhere. We’re known for the support we receive.”


The temperature was 102 degrees when these undaunted rowers set forth on the D&R canal near Turning Basin Park the morning before Saturday evening’s storm made its brief, devastating visit to Princeton. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 3, 2012

THE FATE OF A FOREST: In his film “Sourlands,” filmmaker Jared Fleisher, shown above, details the fight to sustain the deep woods near Hopewell. The documentary, an excerpt of which was previewed at the most recent Princeton Environmental Film Festival, will be shown in its entirety at Princeton Public Library on July 11.

It was John McPhee’s book The Pine Barrens that got filmmaker Jared Fleisher thinking about making a documentary on the Sourlands. Growing up outside of Flemington, he was familiar with the 90-square-mile bucolic woodland located in portions of Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties. And from what he has observed, there are threats to the region’s ecological balance.

“I often write about environmental issues,” said Mr. Fleisher, who is 29 and graduated from Hunterdon Central High School. “And I love the way John McPhee handles them. What makes him such a great writer is that you learn so many things, whether it be about something like geology or ecology, But these are stories about people. It’s fascinating.”

Mr. Fleisher will be on hand at a screening of the film at Princeton Public Library on Wednesday, July 11, in the Community Room. The event begins at 7 p.m.

By following the famous author’s approach of focusing on people while taking on the issues, Mr. Fleisher came up with the idea for “Sourlands.” The film is divided into three “chapters” that explore the challenges faced by those who hope to keep the Sourlands landscape unspoiled.

“We have a pretty incredible forest here in central Jersey. If you were to draw a straight line between Philadelphia and New York, the Sourlands is the largest forest we have left,” Mr. Fleisher says. “The Pine Barrens has its own unique challenges, and we have ours, plus an interesting cast of characters right here. The film is issue-based, but tied to a sense of place.”

Threats to the Sourlands come from development in the region, the overpopulation of deer, and the disruption of invasive plants that have made their way into the forest. The film’s three chapters — titled “Farmers,” “The Forest,” and “Energy,” each tell a story about the challenges. “But they are very relevant to what’s happening in the rest of the world,” Mr. Fleisher says. “Native plants are in danger everywhere. The deer population and, especially, invasive plants are problems both specific to our forest but also throughout the northeast and the world. My goal was always to tell a story first and foremost and be relevant to people right here, but also to talk about some bigger problems.”

Mr. Fleisher’s background is in journalism. “I have been writing and thinking about agriculture and energy issues for awhile,” he says. “I made my first documentary film in 2009, called The Farmer and the Horse, about young people getting into sustainable farming and using old skills. It was shown at the 2011 Princeton Environmental Film Festival.”

For the first segment of the 78-minute Sourlands, Mr. Fleisher focuses again on young farmers in New Jersey and their efforts to do organic, sustainable farming. In the final part, “Energy,” he provides some solutions to the problems faced by the Sourlands forest and many other regions of the world. “I want people to feel hopeful,” he says. “The nice thing about central Jersey is that there’s an interest in clean energy and energy technology. I also talk about practical things people can do that don’t sound totally exciting and sexy, but can really have a huge, huge impact on the amount of energy we use.”

Among the people profiled are a Sourlands man who lives in the first home in the nation to be powered by solar energy and hydrogen, with no carbon emissions. “It’s a very expensive way to achieve energy independence, but it’s a model, and he’s cutting edge, so it’s interesting to hear his thoughts,” Mr. Fleisher says. Another featured character is a Princeton man who makes home energy monitors. “So it’s not only a story about why these things are important, but also about the challenges to get started as an entrepreneur,” he adds.

The idea is to get viewers fired up about saving the Sourlands without being teachy. “In all these stories, it’s not just the issues, but the people as well,” Mr. Fleisher says. “I want it to be entertaining and interesting.”


WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE: Natalie Warren and her friend Ann Raiho are believed to be the first women to have made the 2,250 trek from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay that newsman Eric Sevareid famously chronicled in his 1935 book “Canoeing with the Cree.” Ms. Warren, a recent graduate of St. Olaf’s College, will give a talk about her trip Thursday, July 5 at 7 p.m. at Princeton Public Library.

In 1935, Eric Sevareid wrote the book Canoeing with the Cree, an account of a paddling trip he made from Minnesota to Canada with a high school classmate. Mr. Sevareid, who became a famous television news reporter, started the trip with his friend Walter Port in the Minnesota River, and finished four months later at Hudson Bay, The book’s title comes from the Cree nation in Lake Winnipeg, which they encountered along the way.

Nearly eight decades later, two college classmates decided to attempt the same trip. They were not the first to be inspired to follow Mr. Sevareid’s lead. But the fact that they are female gives them a certain distinction. “As far as we know, we are the only two women to have made this trip,” says Natalie Warren, who will speak at Princeton Public Library at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 5, about the trip. Ms. Warren, who lives in Washington, D.C., and her expedition partner, Ann Raiho, who is in Colorado, are writing a book about their experience, tentatively titled Hudson Bay Bound.

While they closely followed the route taken by Mr. Sevareid and Mr. Port, Ms. Warren acknowledges that modern technology made their trip a bit less arduous. Canoeing with the Cree details the blistering heat, freezing temperatures, clouds of insects and shortage of food that the young men encountered. The young women were more prepared.

“We definitely had the right gear, which changed things a lot,” she says, speaking in a telephone interview from her home in Washington, D.C. “When you’re freezing cold and have nowhere to go inside, it’s rough. But it was rougher for them.”

The two women, who first met at a summer camp in Minnesota, were not only prepared with modern gear, they were experienced paddlers. Mr. Sevareid and Mr. Port were not. Camp Menogyn, a YMCA camp, was the Miami-bred Ms. Warren’s introduction to the midwest. Over several summers, she and Ms. Raiho did 15-day, 30-day, and later 50-day whitewater trips. “We were trained. We definitely wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t have some whitewater background,” she says.

It was Ms. Raiho who first suggested the 2,250-mile trip. “I thought it would be awesome,” Ms. Warren recalls. “We were both at the stage when you’re applying for jobs, in your senior year at college, but nothing is happening. A lot of friends were going to graduate school or going home. So we thought, we’ll just put looking for jobs on hold. We thought it would just be a kink in our resumes, but we didn’t realize how big of a project it would become.”

Mr. Sevareid and Mr. Port were sponsored by a Minneapolis newspaper. The women took the same route, securing sponsorships from different sources and establishing a website. They raised $2,000 for Camp Menogyn, to help fund canoe and kayak trips for girls.

They embarked on June 2, 2011. “The first part of the trip was upstream on the Minnesota River, and we left during a flood,” Ms. Warren recalls. “People kept saying you can’t do this and you can’t do that, and leaving during a flood was a big thing we were warned about. But we thought we’d be fine. And we were.”

The island from which Mr. Sevareid and Mr. Port left was underwater, so the women had to have a different starting point. Once they hit the current, they paddled 1.5 miles per hour, 12 hours a day, for 18 days. “It was really slow, the slowest you can move ever,” says Ms. Warren. “You can walk faster than that. But it was good that we had it at the beginning of our trip.”

Spending 90 days together was a true test of the women’s friendship, and there were difficult moments. “There was never a point where we weren’t inside of each other. There was no going to another room,” Ms. Warren says. “We only got into one big fight, in which I was concerned that Ann was over-thinking a lot of things and freaking out about small things, and she was concerned that I was too relaxed.”

The disagreement happened to occur on one of the most spectacular nights of the trip, which Ms. Warren finds somewhat ironic. “We were doing a night paddle on Lake Winnipeg. It was a gorgeous night, with the stars reflecting onto the lake,” she says. “The northern lights came out. We saw a giant bull moose on the shore. We weren’t talking to each other, but it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.”

The friends made up, and all was well.

Some of the scenery they encountered was less inspiring. The women discovered that many of the corn and soybean farms lining the Minnesota River do not have buffer zones, which means that nitrogen and phosphorus go straight into the water. “We paddled past power plants, so it was not always the romantic canoe trip one would imagine,” Ms. Warren says.

An environmental studies major focused on sustainable agriculture, she learned a lot from the trip. “Some of the farms we went by had no filtration systems, which was partly due to the flooding,” she says. “It was interesting to paddle by water gushing out and know it was extremely toxic.”

The women ended up getting lost in the same places that Mr. Sevareid and Mr. Port got lost, at the end of a marsh lake. “You can’t tell where the river starts up again,” Ms. Warren said. “You’re just paddling through reeds, trying to find the inlet, back and forth. Finally, we found our way back. And that’s exactly what happened to them.”

Since the trip ended, the two women have spoken at conferences and in different communities. They are working on their book, which is based on a daily journal they kept. “I think it will be great, because we’re both writing it,” Ms. Warren says. “Just like we have different personalities, we have different writing styles. Once we put our parts together and have people doing some editing, I think it will actually be a good read.”


Flemington Neshanock first baseman, Dave “Illinois” Harris, hangs onto the ball to put out Diamond State’s John “Jefe” Medkeff last Saturday as the teams met at Valley Road in the Historical Society of Princeton’s third annual 19th century baseball event. The competitive match of bare-handed baseball featured vintage period uniforms and was played under rules from 1864 and 1873. Harris and Flemington went on to prevail 9-7 in the contest. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

June 27, 2012

MAKING THE GARDEN GROW: Pam Ruch, horticulturist for Morven, in the kitchen garden she designed. Visitors can compare what grows in a modern vegetable garden with what might have grown in an historic one. Onions, kale, broccoli, and tomatoes are among the vegetables planted. Guided tours are available. (Photo by Barbara Webb)

No one knows for sure just what Annis Boudinot Stockton, the wife of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton and the woman sometimes called the Duchess of Morven, planted in her kitchen garden. But staff at the historic house museum next to Borough Hall are taking a very educated guess.

Six beds of vegetables, currently thriving in the peaceful walled garden behind the house, are giving visitors an idea of what might have been growing there in the 19th century. Guided tours are available by reservation three days a week. “There have been kitchen gardens at Morven in the past,” says Pam Ruch, who is Morven’s horticulturist. “But we don’t have a lot of information about them. We do have some recipes from Annis Boudinot, in which she talks about cabbage, green tomatoes, and other vegetables, so that helps us.”

There are are six 12-by-14-foot beds in the garden that Ms. Ruch planned. On one side, heirloom varieties are planted. On the other, modern versions of the same vegetables are growing. “The way we’re treating it is not as a historic recreation,” says Ms. Ruch, “but more as an exhibition where we’re comparing new varieties with heirloom varieties.”

Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated seeds. They were traditionally passed down through generations of gardeners, but are available from many contemporary seed sellers or from the non-profit organization known as Seed Savers Exchange. Most of the seeds used in the modern beds are hybrids, which means they were obtained by crossing two varieties to come up with a third. “Hybridization confers desirable traits such as disease resistance, earliness, high nutrition, or color,” reads a brochure about the Morven garden.

Pole beans on the modern side are grown under tall, symmetrical towers. Across the grass, sticks tied together at the top form a more rustic-looking tower for the heirloom beans. Other beds compare modern and heirloom onions, kale, broccoli, carrots, beets, and tomatoes. The lettuce has already been picked, and 30 pounds of it was donated to the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton.

“We have a succession of early crops,” says Ms. Ruch. “We started with some beautiful heirloom lettuces, and the beds were absolutely luscious.”

The gardens were prepared last year by interns from Isles of Trenton. “This is really their baby,” says Barbara Webb, who is Morven’s director of development. “A tremendous amount of work has been done by them. They are here again this summer and will be back at work, tending that garden as well as other ones on the property. Funding for all of this came from the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America, and from Bloomberg, and we were really grateful for that.”

Research has shown that as early as 1768, the Morven property was big enough for farm fields and orchards. In the mid-19th century, Commodore Robert Field Stockton’s daughter-in-law Sara Stockton was writing in her diary about making jellies from the quinces and grapes on the property. Gardener Bernard Masterson is said to have won prizes for the vegetables he grew in the garden once a pump was installed in 1850.

Ms. Ruch comes to Morven from her home in Emmaus, Pennsylvania a few days a week. She also grows vegetables and tends the landscape for an inn near her home, and writes for websites about gardening. She expects that many of the visitors touring the garden this summer will be most interested in learning growing techniques.

“Vegetable growing has gotten popular over the last five years, with the local food movement, so people are generally interested in how to grow vegetables,” she says. “I think that’s what people will want to know about, and that’s my expertise. But Meg Rich, who has done most of the planting, gave a tour to our docents, and they were very interested in the history. So she knows about that.”

Produce in the garden has some fanciful names. Take the kale, for instance: The heirloom “Red Russian” is compared with the modern hybrid “Rainbow,” a cross with a purple stem derived from the Italian heirloom “Lacinato” and “Aunt Beedy’s Camden,” found growing wild in Camden, Maine in the 1980’s. The heirloom “White Belgian” carrot was once common on European farms but is now considered rare. Modern varieties of carrots include “Bolero Nantes.”

Next year, the garden will be different. “The beauty of using a kitchen garden as an exhibit space is that everything in it is either an annual or bi-annual plant,” says Ms. Ruch. “So it is not meant to be there more than one year. Next year, there will be something entirely new.”

Guided tours of the garden are given Wednesdays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are included in the admission fee for the museum. Call (609) 924-8144 ext. 113 to make a reservation.


ANOTHER BEAR VISITS PRINCETON: This black bear was spotted early on the morning of June 21 on Province Line Road. Bear sightings have caused concern in the community, prompting local police to schedule a special informational workshop that was held Tuesday night. Photo by Nessa Tallo

Ever since a bear was spotted twice last week in Montgomery Township, marking the second series of sightings this season, calls have been coming in to local police from residents anxious about possible encounters with the animals. To alleviate fears, representatives from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Management were scheduled to appear last night at the Princeton Township Municipal Building for a special workshop on bear safety.

While the event was to occur after Town Topics’ press time, officials spoke Monday about just what was planned. “There have been quite a few people calling in with concerns,” said Mark Johnson, the Township’s animal control officer. “They call if the bushes are moving or they see a helicopter flying overhead, worried that a bear is out there and wondering what to do. It’s not that we don’t want people to call, but we want them to calm down and think about the situation. Once they are better informed, they won’t be as anxious and they’ll know what to do.”

Mr. Johnson is convinced that a juvenile male black bear struck by a car and killed on Interstate 95 in the early morning of June 1, in the northbound lane near Exit 4, is the same one that was seen wandering around Princeton the previous week. That one was first seen on the 400 block of Terhune Road near Governor’s Lane. Later, the bear was spotted on North Harrison Street near Terhune Road, and then wandering in the woods between Terhune Road and Princeton Shopping Center. The bear’s next stops were Conte’s restaurant and the Princeton Hospital garage on Witherspoon Street. He was last seen in a tree at the cemetery adjacent to Princeton Public Library.

“I’m not an expert, but I can almost guarantee it was the same one,” Mr. Johnson says. “The color phase was the same — a pretty cinnamon color, and there are not too many with that in New Jersey.”

The non-aggressive black bear spotted near Cherry Valley Road and Coverdale Drive last Wednesday night, and again the next morning on Province Line and Rosedale roads, is not the same one that roamed around Princeton a few weeks ago, officials have said, further bolstering Mr. Johnson’s hypothesis.

Bear sightings are not uncommon in this area during late spring and early summer months. “The juvenile males are leaving mom and they have to find their own turf,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s the busiest time of year for them. Every year it’s getting worse and worse, because the number of bears we have up north is increasing. Where else can they go?”

Most people fear bears because they associate them with the giant grizzlies that do attack, and are found in places like Alaska and the northwest. But the animals that appear in central New Jersey are black bears, who tend to be wary of people and rarely attack. The Department of Environmental Protection has a 24-hour hotline [1-877-927-6337] for anyone experiencing damage or behavior that is a nuisance caused by black bears.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Management offers many tips on their website [www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts_homeowner.htm] about dealing with bears. Homeowners in areas frequented by black bears should take steps to avoid attracting them with food or garbage. This is the best way to prevent the animals from becoming a nuisance.

“Some residents may observe black bears using yards as part of their natural travel corridors,” the website reads. “The mere presence of a black bear is not considered a problem.” Advising against giving the animals food, the website continues, “One person feeding bears can create a problem bear that may affect the entire neighborhood.”

Black bears learn quickly, and those fed by leaving out food or garbage will associate people with food, the website continues. “Bears will eat almost anything including human food, garbage, pet food, birdseed, and small livestock. Once they find an easily accessible food source, like garbage in a housing development, they will lose their wariness of people and may return to the available food source. These bears can become a nuisance or aggressive and may have to be trapped and aversively conditioned or destroyed.”

People are advised to remain calm if encountering a bear. Never approach them. Making the bear aware of one’s presence by clapping or speaking in a loud voice is important, as is making sure the bear has an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact and never run from a bear. Instead, back away slowly.

“These bears are ten times more scared of you than you are of them,” Mr. Johnson said. “Just take precautions.”


THIS IS COOL!: Grandpal Beverly Tenenhaus enjoys reading at the Robbins Elementary School in Trenton with students (from left), Nason St. Clair and Lanee Thomas.

“Grandpals,” a Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) program directed by Olivian Boon that sends volunteers to read with kindergarteners at Littlebrook and Riverside Elementary Schools in Princeton, is a proven success. The next question was: how would the same program go over in a Trenton elementary school?

The answer appears to be exceedingly well.

“It was actually kind of emotional,” reported Princeton resident Liza Peck, who coordinated the Trenton program. “As gung-ho as everybody was, there was a little bit of apprehension, since Trenton schools are very different than Princeton schools.”

They need not have been concerned. “The kids were warm and welcoming and really affectionate,” said Ms. Peck. By the second week, the 12 senior adult volunteers were greeted with cries of “they’re here, they’re here!”

The once-a-week half-hour to 40-minute sessions took place this last spring in a second grade classroom at the Robbins Elementary School in Trenton. The connection to the school was facilitated by Jane Rohlf-Boyers, a physician at St. Francis Clinic.

“We have been thrilled by this project because both the children and the Grandpals have loved it,” said Ms. Boon.

“I thought it went exceedingly well,” said Grandpal Sallie Meade, who participated in the Princeton program before signing on for Trenton. “The children and the teacher were extremely receptive to the idea. The students were really fantastic. They would choose books that they were interested in. We had lots of nice discussions about books and other interests.” All of the Grandpals participated in an orientation session before the program began.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Ms. Peck, who has four children in the Princeton public schools. “A lot of the kids in Trenton wanted to read to the Grandpals instead of having the Grandpals read to them, and we let that happen. We said, ‘Hey — that’s fine, too;’ so there was a little bit of both.”

Another boost to the program was a PSRC-based book drive coordinated by Ms. Boon earlier this spring. “The response was tremendous,” said Ms. Peck. “We brought about 300 books down right before the end of the school, and the kids were so unbelievably excited, you would have thought they were boxes of toys.” Hardcover books went to the Robbins School library; paperbacks and early readers were sent to classrooms.

The Trenton program, which relied, for the most part, on car pools from Princeton, will begin again next fall. Consideration is being given to having Grandpals participate in two, back-to-back sessions, and a third grade class may be included this time. The target date is some time in October, to give students and teachers a chance to settle into new classroom routines.

“I don’t know who it was better for in the Trenton program: the kids or the Grandpals,” mused Ms. Peck. “They were unbelievably, instantly receptive and there was an attachment on both parts.”

New volunteers for the Grandpals program are welcome to contact lizapeck@verizon.com or oboon@princetonsenior.org.

In Princeton, Grandpals also looks forward to adding Community Park Elementary School to its regular local destinations.


It’s 7:30 on Friday night. 9-year-old Jimmy just broke a glass, severely cutting his hand. Blood is flowing.

The University Medical Center at Princeton has moved to its new quarters across Route One to Plainsboro. Fortunately, Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is open and available to patients without appointments. Located in the Village Shopper III, 1378 Route 206 in Skillman, it is accessible to adults and children of all ages, and treats a wide spectrum of conditions.

You bundle Jimmy, now panicking, into the car, and hurry over to Saint Peter’s — just a 15-minute drive, where a staff, including doctors, LPNs, lab and X-ray technicians, are all on-site.

A clinical assistant is waiting at the front desk, and directs you to an examination
room. A nurse or doctor comes in within minutes to examine the wound and determine the best treatment. In this case, a tetanus shot and stitches, after the wound is cleaned, are required.

Filling A Need

Other situations may require X-rays, strep and flu cultures, or blood sugar evaluations, all of which can be performed on-site.

Opened in January, Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is filling a need. With the departure of the University Medical Center at Princeton, many Princeton and area residents will be relieved to know that an urgent care facility is nearby.

“We’re unique in that we are staffed with emergency care doctors, nurses, certified lab and radiology technicians, and lab services are on-site,” explains Heather A. Veltre, director of emergency services at Saint Peter’s. “This is Saint Peter’s first urgent care center. We are the mother ship!’

“This is a different service. We don’t have the pressure of the ER in a hospital. This is very community-based and it’s nice to be able to service the community in this way.”

The center has already seen numerous patients in the short time it has been open. From poison ivy to pains and palpitations, rashes to wrist injuries, asthma attacks to ankle sprains, bruises and bleeding, fevers and flu, and coughs, colds, and cuts, a variety of conditions have been treated.

“We have seen patients with sports injuries, including knee, ankle, and wrist sprains, lacerations, upper respiratory problems, strep throat, abdominal pain, diabetes, asthma attacks (breathing treatments are immediately available), and more, such as injuries from car accidents,” reports facility manager Maria Bello.

Crisis Situation

“If people have severe symptoms, including stroke or heart attack, that require hospitalization, we call 911, and they are transported to the hospital of their choice. If it’s a crisis situation, the EMTs are required to take the patient to the nearest hospital.”

“The local first aid squad has been very supportive. They have a very quick response, and are a great collaborator,” adds Ms. Veltre. “In addition, we always support the primary care physician. When a patient comes here, after they are treated, we refer them back to their physician.

“Saint Peter’s was one of several places approached by the mayor of Skillman to consider opening an urgent care center,” she continues. “When we were contacted, the Saint Peter’s Healthcare System was dedicated to making it happen. We wanted to do community outreach, and we wanted to be the best resource for the people in the community for their urgent care needs.

“We are also very committed to educating the community about health care. We have set up free monthly education sessions on-site. We have had one on skin safety, and on June 21, we will offer another on pediatric asthma. We look forward to being able to provide even more education to the community and support them in whatever healthcare needs they have. That can include specialty health services, such as good nutrition, a heart-healthy life, warning signs for stroke, and summer emergencies.”

Professional Yet Friendly

The facility offers a spacious setting with a professional yet friendly atmosphere. Three examining rooms, nurses’ station, radiology area, community education room, and waiting room area, featuring refreshments, including bottled water, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, are in a convenient setting.

“One examination room is directed toward geriatric patients,” points out Ms. Veltre. “It has a special geriatric chair, which can be raised, lowered, and heated. The geriatric-friendly room also has an automated table that can be raised or lowered to a comfortable height. The whole idea is to make the experience easier for older people.”

Ms. Veltre is very pleased with the response to the center. “People are definitely finding us, and our best experience is patient satisfaction and referral. We are growing all the time and have seen patients from the area, including Princeton, Skillman, East Brunswick, and even New York, when someone was visiting here. We are happy that everything has gone very smoothly and according to plan. Also, the nearby businesses have been very supportive.”

“I went to Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center on a Saturday recently when a piece of metal was stuck in my finger,” says a Princeton resident. “The staff couldn’t have been nicer and more professional. They saw me right away. The nurse examined my finger, a technician took an X-ray, and then the doctor determined the severity of the problem. I had a tetanus shot, and he then directed me to see a hand specialist, because of the location of the metal near tendons and ligaments. The entire experience was very positive. Everything was very thorough, and I was able to be in and out within a half-hour.”

Mild To Serious

“We are very proud of our staff,” emphasizes Ms. Veltre. “Maria does a wonderful job, and we have a full staff. They are cross-trained and very hard-working. The center has seen up to 26 patients in one day, and of course, this varies. The situation can be mild to serious. On a recent Friday, a patient with severe chest pains was transported to the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.”

Ms. Veltre also notes that “It’s only a 26-minute drive from Princeton to Saint Peter’s hospital, right in New Brunswick. This is another option. We are looking forward to a newly constructed pediatric and adult ER at Saint Peter’s Hospital to be started in July.”

Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is an important new addition to the area. It takes most insurance plans, and is open 365 days a year. It is certainly reassuring to know that if one is faced with a sudden medical emergency, a nearby facility is available.

“This is what we are trained to do, and we are ready at all times to help the community,” says Ms. Veltre.

Current hours, which are still being evaluated, are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Sunday, and holidays 10 to 6. Patients may also make an appointment.

(609) 497-4597. Website: saintpetershcs.com\urgentcare.