June 6, 2012

Confronted with a still sluggish economy, an increasing number of recent college graduates have had to postpone plans for independent living and move in with their parents. The adjustment can be as challenging for parents as it is for the adult children. Navigating this renewed togetherness is the subject of “The Not So Empty Nest: Living in Harmony With Your Young Adult,” a program being held Monday, June 11 at Volition Wellness Solutions in Skillman.

“The kids are coming back, so you hear all the complaints,” says Jane Martin, a psychotherapist who works with young adults and teenagers. Ms. Martin and fellow therapist Jean Robinson will be presiding over the free event. “I work with these kids and I talk to their parents, so I see and hear from either end,” Ms. Martin adds. “When you’re young and the kids are young, you want to be the authority. When they’re older, you have to move from being the authority to guidance, and that’s something very difficult to negotiate.”

Many of today’s parents grew up in an era when the salary of an entry level job was enough to cover a portion of the rent on a shared, reasonably-sized apartment. But jobs are scarce today, and those lucky enough to find employment have trouble filling the gap between the cost of living and contemporary, entry-level salaries.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center reports that more than three-quarters of young adults ages 25-34 have moved back home with their parents at some point since the recession began. It is a phenomenon that brings up a whole new set of emotions, issues, and guidelines. Parenting skills can be tested in a new way, requiring a certain level of patience, tact, and maintaining boundaries.

The Volition session is designed to help parents move into a respectful relationship with their adult and late-teen children. The workshop is the first in a Monday night Open House series focusing on mind and body wellness. Volition offers counseling, acupuncture and herbal medicine, breathwork and hypnotherapy, integral medicine and nutrition, and body therapy in an “integral approach” to health care “which starts with the individual and addresses the entire system: family career, and community,” according to the website www.volition
wellness.com.

The workshop will be be a step-by-step, conflict resolution process. “You’ll express your individual needs,” Ms. Martin says. “So a parent is not coming from a place of authority, but of being a human being. The child is expected to rise to the level of being an adult, taking responsibility for his or her own needs. They work together to brainstorm and come to a solution.”

Ms. Martin often holds retreats for teenagers and spends a lot of time talking to their parents. She has been struck by the difference between our culture and others in the passage to adulthood. “In our society, kids don’t learn how to grow up the way they do in other societies,” she says. “There are rites of passage from childhood to adulthood that we don’t have.”

Parents can attend the workshop on their own, or together with their teen or young adult offspring. “We’re teaching tools to use, and those tools can come in at either end,” Ms. Martin says. “We’ll do a little bit of theory, but the main thing we want them to have is the tool.”

“The Not So Empty Nest” is Monday, June 11 from 7-9 p.m. Call (609) 688-8300 or email info@volitionwellness.com to register.


THE P-RADE: Every year on the Saturday of Princeton University’s Reunions Weekend, alumni gather to make their traditional march through campus. Led by the 25th Reunion Class and followed by the “Old Guard” classes that are beyond their 65th reunion (some in golf carts), the proud alumni finish their procession when the senior class sprints onto Poe Field, past the reviewing stand. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Despite the recent sale of Princeton Shopping Center and the termination of its manager and some of its maintenance staff, patrons should not expect to see any significant changes to the North Harrison Street complex and its place in the community, according to the new owner. Jodie McLean, president and chief investment officer of Edens, the South Carolina-based real estate firm, said Monday that the shopping center’s schedule of concerts, gatherings, and cultural events will continue.

“We love Princeton. We love the Princeton community. We find it very much in sync with our own corporate values,” Ms. McLean said. “We believe that our role is to enhance community, and that is retail’s role. We have to be more than just a spot where people come for commodity-type transactions. We have to be fully integrated with the community and be a place where people come multiple times per week.”

Edens purchased the complex of retail shops, restaurants, and other businesses from George Comfort & Sons, which has owned the center since 1983, for an undisclosed sum last week. The 46-year-old firm owns open-air shopping centers up and down the east and west coasts and has regional offices in Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Miami. Edens had been eyeing Princeton Shopping Center for a long time when the sale became a possibility.

“It was not widely marketed,” Ms. McLean said. “This was a center we had identified a while ago that if the opportunity ever came up, we would love to be a part of the Princeton community. We kept in very close contact with the owner, and finally the timing was right for them.”

While longtime manager Chris Hanington and three maintenance staff members were let go when the sale went through, Ms. Mclean said assistant property manager Julie Drobits will remain in the property management office “in the same capacity as before. Julie continues to be employed on site, and she will be there on a daily basis and work closely with the Edens’ team.”

Last Friday, Marlene Marlowe of Marlowe’s Jewelry Repair, a shopping center fixture for 23 years, glanced out the shop window at trash that was beginning to pile up outside. “I’m very annoyed that they got rid of everyone,” she said. “We were running very well, there was never any complaint about maintenance. Hopefully they’ll come in and do the right thing.”

T.J. Tindall, owner of The Light Gallery, said he was surprised by the news of the sale and was dismayed to learn that maintenance staff had been let go. “It’s a little bit of a disconcerting way for them to start out,” he said. “But I’m sure they have their own people in place. We’ll just have to wait and see. We’re all curious.”

Ms. McLean said maintenance will continue as usual, but with new people. “We will have some continued on-site personnel, and we will have some continued third party vendors. But the level of service to the community and the retailers should not be affected,” she said.

Asked if a branch of the U.S. Post Office, which was previously located in the center, might re-open there again now that the branch in Palmer Square is scheduled to be closed, Ms. McLean would not say yes or no. “As of now,” she said, “the post office is undetermined. We love the retailers who are there today. But there is an opportunity to bring in some new retailers. There are a few vacancies. But the post office, right now, is not somebody we are engaged with.”

George Smith, owner of Smith’s Ace Hardware, said he worries that the shopping center’s unique sense of community might be affected by the new ownership. “Our concerns would be all of the events that were held here,” he said. “Chris [Hanington] was always there, making sure everything was okay. She was here pretty much every day, and for all the events. This shopping center is so unique. People come here for concerts and things like that, and it’s a nice thing. They advertise themselves as being community-oriented, but what does that mean?”

Ms. McLean said community events such as the Summer Courtyard Concert Series and the Halloween Parade will continue as before. “We will continue to be engaged with the Arts Council,” she said. “Whatever is planned for this summer is still planned for this summer. We’re attracted to how the community engages here, and we want to continue that. If we change anything, it will only be to enhance it. We plan to work with the same partners in the community and we want to dispel any concerns over that.”

 


Actor and comedian Steve Carell, keynote speaker at Class Day on Cannon Green, scolded students for their reliance on texting, tweeting, and technology. In his own college years, he had to actually ask a girl out in person instead of by text. “And when she said ‘No,’ which she always did, I would suffer the humiliation and self-loathing that a young man needs for his, or her, personal growth,” he said, to laughter and applause from his audience of soggy seniors. (Photo by Steve McDonald)

May 30, 2012

Princeton built a new field of dreams and on the first day 2,000 came, on Sunday 1500, and on Monday it was 2700. Shown below doing the honors at the ribbon cutting are (from left) Township Mayor Chad Goerner, Borough Mayor Yina Moore, Project Engineer Deanna Stockton, and Princeon Recreation executive Director Ben Stentz. That’s Clara Burton with her mother, Martha, in the spray of the fountain in the new baby pool. James Petrone is shown with his cousins Jaxson and Travis, representing the third generation of Princeton’s Petrone family. A popular new addition also shown below is the Gerb Family Bay. For reactions to the new complex, see this week’s Town Talk.

SISTER CITY: The Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City Foundation will mark its 20th anniversary with reciprocal visits of delegations from both cities this summer.

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City Foundation, a summer exchange of delegations to the two cities has particular resonance. On June 29, about 20 delegates from Pettoranello, including the mayor, vice-mayor, and deputy, will arrive arrive in Princeton for several event-filled days. In August, a Princeton contingent will return the favor by traveling to Pettoranello.

In addition to celebrating the 20-year-long relationship between the cities, Princeton/Pettoranello Sister City Foundation’s Eleanor Pinelli sees the visits as an opportunity to strengthen ties with the “new” Princeton.

The Foundation’s plans for the Pettoranello delegation’s visit to Princeton tentatively include a wine tasting (of wines from the Molise region, of course); an evening concert of Italian and American music at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center; a day-long trip to New York City; and a tour of Pettoranello Gardens where a new cherry tree will be planted. A tour of Princeton University, visits to Drumthwacket and the Princeton Public Library; lunch at Dorothea’s House; and fireworks are also on the schedule.

The Princeton delegation will depart on August 10 and enjoy a similar itinerary that will include celebrations, luncheons, evening events, music, and fireworks.

“We have always been warmly welcomed by officials from Pettoranello, the near-by city of Isernia as well as from the province of Molise,” said Ms. Pinelli at a recent presentation to Princeton Township Committee. “We hope that all of you will be engaged in this 20th anniversary celebration here and abroad.”

“The hospitality is unrivaled,” enthused Township Committeeman Bernie Miller, who has made the trip before and encouraged “others to think about the possibility of joining in this year. It will be a great celebration.”

The Foundation may be 20 years old, but ties between the two cities date back to the late 1800’s and early twentieth century, when stonecutters, masons, and gardeners from Pettoranello immigrated to Princeton in search of jobs. “The skill of these workers is reflected in the magnificent carved stone buildings of Princeton University and the beautiful gardens in the university and at Drumthwacket,” said Ms. Pinelli.

“Marriages were made and families were started as they settled in Princeton, but ties to the small mountain town in the hills of the Molise region remained strong,” she recounted. In 1992, area descendants of the Pettoranello immigrants formed a Sister City Foundation to “celebrate these ties, and to promote cultural, medical, athletic, and musical exchanges that would enrich the communities of both Princeton and Pettoranello. In addition, the Foundation wanted to give back to Princeton, the community that had done so much to help our ancestors.”

That same year the Foundation adopted the 13 acres in Community Park North now known as Pettoranello Gardens. Maintained by Foundation donors and volunteers, the site, which Ms. Pinelli describes as a “beautiful oasis of calm and delight” hosts many outdoor performances and town events.

In addition to the Gardens, the Foundation continues to support the World Language Center and Italian collection in the Princeton Public Library, and the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra. It also awards scholarships to local students who to pursue Italian studies at the college level.

For more information, contact Ms. Pinelli at elliepinelli@hotmail.com.


Princeton resident and PHS alum Lesley Bush (’65), a gold medal winner for the U.S.A. at the 1964 Summer Olympics, puts her signature on the grand re-opening of the new Community Park pool complex. More photos on page 15. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

May 23, 2012

A CHERISHED MEMORY: Allysa Dittmar, left, and her mother Diane Dittmar, at Allysa’s graduation from Stuart Country Day School in 2010. Allysa and her father are taking part in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s “Overnight” in San Francisco next month to help raise funds and honor Diane, who took her own life last year.

When Diane Dittmar began to experience serious anxiety after her daughter left for college in 2011, the doctors she consulted couldn’t seem to figure out how to help. Though there was concern about her condition, no one mentioned the possibility that this loving mother and active community member would take her own life.

But nine months ago, Ms. Dittmar committed suicide at her Cream Ridge home. She was 51. Her husband, son, and daughter, extended family, friends, and colleagues at Stuart Country Day School, where she served as a trustee and in several other positions, were stunned.

“The doctors as well as my family members thought that she would absolutely get better and they would get to the bottom of what was causing her depression,” says her daughter Allysa, a Stuart graduate and a student at Johns Hopkins University. “In fact, on the day she took her life, my dad and I had a conversation about her before we found her and he was so certain that this would be resolved. So as you can imagine, her death shocked us.”

To help them come to grips with their loss, the Dittmars have become active in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On June 9 and 10, Allysa and her father, George, will participate in the organization’s fundraising Overnight Walk, being held in San Francisco [her brother Dan, a senior at Savannah College of Art and Design, has classes so cannot join them on the walk]. The Dittmar team is one of 14 out of 450 to have raised $10,000 toward the cause. In fact, they have far surpassed their original goal of $2,000. Early this week, Allysa reported a total of $11,784.

The fundraiser is an 18-mile trek from dusk to dawn, signifying walking “out of the darkness.” Proceeds go toward educating the public, training mental health professionals, and primary care physicians. According to Allysa, $30,000 will go toward a year of research into the genetic, biological, or behavioral factors that contribute to suicide.

Allysa attended Stuart from kindergarten through high school. Though she is deaf (she communicated with Town Topics via email), she graduated with highest honors, received the Janet Stuart scholar award and the Town Topics award for writing, and was her class salutatorian. Throughout Allysa’s years at Stuart, her mother was committed to making the school a better place. She was president of the Stuart Parents Association from 2002 to 2003, and joined the board of trustees in 2004, serving until 2010.

“The board was so impressed with her [and others — but mostly her] service that we changed our bylaws to allow trustees to serve an additional year,” wrote fellow trustee Mark Johnson, in an email. “So her service on our board ended in June, 2011. She was a passionate believer in the school, its mission and in its ability to be a transformative institution for its students. She was the very best trustee I ever served with [and that covers 14 years of Sacred Heart trusteeship] and it was my honor to have served with her.”

Diane Dittmar was her high school salutatorian. She put herself through college and worked in the property and casualty insurance industry before taking a break to raise her children. She was active in her church and headed several seasons of Vacation Bible School

Allysa thinks suicide is not discussed openly today because it is so difficult to comprehend. “Even doctors do not know … they certainly did not have a solid and concrete solution for my mom,” she said. “Additionally, I think people are afraid of it because there’s no real and simple solution such as taking a pill. Instead, there are so many factors behind it, both emotionally and physically, that cannot be all solved by a quick fix solution.”

A lack of understanding leads some people to regard resorting to suicide as a weakness, because it is the simplest answer, Allysa adds. “But suicide does not reflect some sort of character flaw. My mom was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known and she had such a passion for life, from working in her garden to playing the piano. So for her to resort to suicide, she was not in the right place; she was suffering.”

An estimated 13 million Americans contemplate suicide every year, resulting in one million attempts and 36,000 reported annually, Allysa said. “Reported suicides outnumber homicides by a ratio of 2:1, and if we were to count unreported suicides, the ration would likely be closer to 3:1.”

Sharing experiences with people who have suffered similar losses has helped Allysa and her family come to grips with their loss. “Already,” she says, “I have gotten to know several people through networking and I’ve realized that there are other families and friends out there going through similar experiences. So when we embark on the walk in June, simply meeting other people and seeing that we are not alone will really help us heal. I have also met others who struggle on a daily basis, be it from anxiety, depression, and it has really helped me understand what they go through. I was not present for the majority of 2011 because I was in school and my mom tried so hard to conceal her struggles whenever I was home because she didn’t want my brother or me to worry.”

Well-meaning friends don’t always know what to say or how to help. And that makes the Overnight Walk important to Allysa and her father. “It is especially meaningful to me because my friends and family often do not know how to help and what to say,” she said. “Because they’ve not experienced losing someone to suicide, which, I believe, is much more difficult to heal from compared to their types of losses because you have so many unanswered questions and guilt. Also, my friends all have parents, and it’s hard for them to relate to not having a parent, and especially not having a mom.”


ECLIPSE VIEWING GLASSES: Those who plan to view the transit of Venus should take the same precautions as those used to view a partial eclipse of the sun.

On the evening of Tuesday, June 5, North American observers will have an opportunity to see something that won’t occur again in their lifetimes: the transit of Venus across the sun. To mark the occasion, Princeton University’s Astrophysics Department is holding an open house that will begin at 4 p.m. at Peyton Hall, on Ivy Lane. Members of The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton will also be present.

There is no charge for the program, which is open to all ages and will include a talk about transits, as well as “hands-on activities for young and old alike.” At around 5:30 p.m. participants will walk from Peyton Hall to the roof of the E-quad (Engineering faculty) parking lot on Olden Lane, where there will be telescopes set up to view the transit, which will begin just after 6 p.m.

“We will watch it for as long as we can until the sun goes down (at 8:22 p.m.), after which we will screen the transit from a more western location,” said a Department spokesperson, who encouraged everyone to “come by for an interesting afternoon of physics and astronomy.”

A transit occurs when Venus passes directly between the earth and the sun, and the distant planet can be seen as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Transits of Venus occur in pairs that are eight years apart and then don’t happen again for more than a century. Prior to the current pair (the first of which occurred in 2004), the last two Venus transits were in 1874 and 1882. After the transit in 2012, there won’t be another pair until 2117 and 2125.

A website, www.transitof
venus.org, offers more information about the phenomenon. In earlier centuries it was believed to offer unique opportunities for scientific research. In 1761, for example, scientists travelled to far corners of the earth in anticipation of the June 6 transit to collect data they believed would help to calculate the size of the solar system.

A new book about that episode, Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens, by Andrea Wulf, has been published by Knopf just in time for this year’s transit. A less-than-enthusiastic review of the book in the New York Times last weekend, however, concluded by suggesting that “dabblers might do better to sit quietly during this year’s transit and simply watch the goddess’s stately progress.” Princeton’s Astrophysics Department’s invitation sounds like a good one. Updates on their June 5 program will appear at www.princeton.edu/astro/resources/outreach/venus-transit-2012/.

And, for a more promising read, perhaps, the Princeton Public Library has a copy of Shirley Hazzard’s novel, The Transit of Venus, which elicited cosmic words like “iridescent” and “luminous” when it was published in 1990.


A FINE BALANCE: This Sunday vista on Scudder Plaza adjacent to the Woodrow Wilson School has a formal balance that the plaza’s architect Minoru Yamasaki might have admired and that makes an interesting frame for the brilliant chaos of James Fitzgerald’s “Fountain of Freedom” (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Area recipients of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) gathered at the Princeton Public Library Monday morning to talk about their respective programs with NEH Chair Jim Leach and Congressman Rush Holt (D-12).

The event was among the highlights of a tour taken by Mr. Leach and Mr. Holt that day to explore the impact of the NEH in Central New Jersey. Other stops included Lore Elementary in Ewing, where they learned about a Study Roundtable on Character and Civility Education Program; and lunch at the Eagleton Institute of Politics in New Brunswick to talk with Rutgers University faculty who have received NEH grants.

NEH is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States.

Participants at the Princeton Public Library program included library executive director Leslie Burger; Stanley Katz, chair of the library’s Advisory Council on the Humanities; Mary Rizzo and Sharon Holt of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities; Barbara Obserg, editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson; People and Stories/Gente y Cuentes executive director Patricia Andres; Princeton University librarian Karin Trainer; and Trenton-based Passage Theatre director June Ballinger.

Four years ago, the Princeton Public Library was itself the recipient of a $500,000 NEH challenge grant, and in his opening comments, Mr. Leach acknowledged it as “one of the great public libraries in the United States.”

Ms. Holt (no relation to Mr. Holt) described the New Jersey Council’s upcoming 40th anniversary celebration on October 10 at Drew University, where the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning, Princeton University faculty member Tracy K. Smith will talk about “Why Poetry is Essential to Democracy.” Ms. Andres described “the quest for internal freedom through stories” engaged in by People & Stories participants, and Ms. Oberg recalled the importance of books to Thomas Jefferson.

“NEH has been a long supporter of the preservation of fragile libraries,” noted Ms. Trainer, citing preservation and digitization projects that ensure the availability of materials to people around the world. Ms. Ballinger thanked the NEH for its support of Passage Theatre’s recent oral history project, and reported that the company’s latest project concerns “the elephant in the room,” race and identity. “It’s quite a subject in Trenton,” she observed.

Noting that research is not limited to laboratories, Mr. Leach commended NEH-supported work being done at the local level. Mr. Holt expressed concern about recent budget cuts to the humanities, despite the fact that businesses often prefer new hires to have a humanities background and the ability to write well.

NEH proposals are examined by panels of independent external reviewers. Grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.


University Medical Center of Princeton CEO Barry Rabner, shown at right, couldn’t be prouder of the hospital’s new facility. He is shown here welcoming Nicole Williams of Hamilton Township, who gave birth Monday to baby Atticus at the old hospital on Witherspoon Street and was the first patient to be transported Tuesday morning to the new hospital in Plainsboro. (Photo by Mark Czajkowski)

May 16, 2012

The organizers of Random Acts of Community, a rewards program for bicyclists during May (National Bike Month), have had a growing (but nice) problem on their hands. During the seven years since the program’s inception, more and more area sponsors are participating, making the booty too much of a good thing.

“The value just got so high that we’re now giving packets to three bicyclists a week, instead of just one,” said organizer Fran McManus of the Whole Earth Center.

“Random Acts is an example of how our local businesses enjoy working together on community projects, which is a very positive aspect of doing business in Princeton,” she added.

Don’t ask for a map or a schedule; for the next two weeks Ms. McManus will be stationing herself at various street corners (safer for stopping a bicycle than mid-block) around Princeton. From those vantage points, she will stop random cyclists who will receive a “reward packet” of discount coupons for goods and services from local businesses.

In addition to The Whole Earth Center (which originated the event), this year’s sponsors include small world coffee, bent spoon, Princeton Record Exchange, JaZam’s, Cafe 44, McCarter Theatre, Princeton Tour Company, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, and the Borough of Princeton.

Lucky riders may not say “thanks” right away. “Everyone’s in a hurry, of course,” said Ms. McManus. They don’t forget the experience though; Ms. McManus recalled meeting a bicyclist several years after she had won. “That was amazing; it made me so happy,” she told Ms. McManus.

Whole Earth encourages biking all year round by offering $1 off to customers who cycle to the store. Another option is a punch card, where ten punches entitles bicycle owners to $10 off of bike accessories at Kopp’s Cycle Shop.

Other ways for area resident to celebrate National Bike Month include trying out the bike paths on Sustainable Princeton’s new online Green Map, or signing up for Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association’s Bike to Work Week at www.gmtma.org. The first 150 registrants get a free tee-shirt. GMTMA is also presenting a free lunch and learn on “Complete Streets” this Friday, May 18, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library.

For other May bike events see http://bit.ly/JcP73S.

“A lot of people ride their bikes in this town,” observed Ms. McManus, who will be on her own bicycle when she flags down this month’s winners.


At its meeting May 8, Princeton Borough Council formally adopted a budget for 2012. The last before the two Princeton’s consolidate, the $26.5 million budget does not include an increase in taxes.

“This has put us in what I believe is a very, very sound financial position,” said Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi. “At the end of 2011, we had the largest surplus in the last 13 years, at least $4.9 million. We’re going to bring a nice dowry with us in January to the new Princetons, as will the Township.”

The budget increased $596,000, or about two percent, over last year. It includes $50,000 each for a traffic study and a transit study. The Princeton Public Library’s budget is up $75,562, with salary and benefits representing $35,000 and maintenance and building expenses at $41,000. Legal expenses for the Borough rose $66,000.

The tax levy for 2012 is $10.3 million. The Borough municipal tax is 43.1 cents per $100 of assessed property value. That means the owner of a home assessed at $748,070 will pay $3,223 in municipal taxes, according to the breakdown. Revenue includes $1.5 million in parking fees, $3.4 million in sewer charges, and $1.2 million in court fees. Princeton University’s contribution, a payment in lieu of taxes, rose $520,000.

Also at the meeting, Arts Council of Princeton Executive Director Jeff Nathanson delivered a report focusing on the work the organization does for the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood. Since 2009, the Arts Council has been running in the black, he said. “But it is a constant struggle to keep up with demand, so we rely increasingly on private funding.”

The biggest financial challenge is the retirement of the mortgage on the Center’s Paul Robeson building. There is $750,000 still to be raised on the $2 million debt, Mr. Nathanson said. “We feel the history of the neighborhood is extremely important. We serve more than 150 students per week in after-school programs. We’ve increased the value of our scholarships by $3,000. It’s been another year of growth, but also the time to strategize,” he said.


While the Princeton Public Library’s legal status will change with consolidation, the Board of Trustees chose last week not to proceed with another proposed change that would have merged the Friends of the Library with the Princeton Public Library Foundation.

In response to Board President Katharine McGavern’s suggestion that “a single organization would make more sense from an accounting point of view,” the rest of the Board voted to support what former President Claire Jacobus described as “the human capital that exists in the Friends.”

Ms. McGavern emphasized that her single vote for combining the two bodies represented what she believed was in the best interests of the library. Library Executive Director Leslie Burger also made a point of ending the special mid-morning meeting on a conciliatory note.

A 21-member council oversees the work of the Friends. The group has won several national honors for its work, including the Gale Cengage Library Development Award; the 2011 Baker & Taylor/ALTAFF Friends of Library Award; and the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates and Friends Best Friend Award.

With consolidation, the library, which was chartered in 1961 as a joint library, will no longer be serving the two entities that have, together, provided 80 percent of its budget. Ms. Burger said that she expected approximately the same amount from the single new municipality.

Although Trustees are reported to have considered making the library an association, or private library when consolidation takes place, they chose to remain a public library. Under consolidation, the Board will continue as a nine-member body that includes the new mayor and a community member nominated by the mayor.

The Friends will continue to raise money through annual and on-going book sales and special events, and to provide an annual gift to the library for collection development, free public programming, and staff development.

Library friends receive priority mailing of Connections, the library’s quarterly program guide; free admission to preview the annual book sale; and early invitations to Friends’ events.

Each fall the Friends hosts an annual evening benefit that includes a speaker followed by dinner in the library. The 2012 Benefit, to be held on Saturday, September 29th, will feature a talk by author Jeffrey Eugenides. Previous speakers have included Roz Chast, Calvin Trillin, Richard Ford, and Terry Gross.

The 2012 Annual Used Book Sale will take place October 12 through 14 in the library’s Community Room.

NEWCOMERS CLUB: Neither Tamera Matteo, Scott Sillars, nor Patrick Simon has served on Princeton’s governing bodies in the past. But the three candidates (from left, above), among those vying for seats on the combined council once consolidation takes effect, say their unique backgrounds and experience in community affairs qualifies them for the posts.

When Princeton Borough and Township residents vote in the June 5 primary, they will be deciding who will run for the newly combined council in the November general election. That election will mark the first time voters will choose candidates for one governing body instead of two.

Among those hoping to secure spots on the slate are three residents who have not served on either Princeton Township Committee or Borough Council in the past. But Scott Sillars, Tamera Matteo, and Patrick Simon, seen regularly in the audience at municipal meetings in recent months, are familiar to many local residents because of their involvement in a variety of community affairs. Each has a specialty that they feel qualifies them to serve the newly consolidated Princeton.

Mr. Simon has been endorsed, along with current Council member Heather Howard and Township Committeemen Bernie Miller and Lance Liverman, by the Princeton Community Democratic Organization and the Democratic Municipal Committees of Princeton Borough and Township. Mr. Sillars and Ms. Matteo were recommended to appear in the left column, without the Democratic Party slogan, by both groups.

Mr. Sillars, who heads the Township’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee and is vice chairman of the Transition Task Force, has a background in corporate financial management. Now retired, he started a low income weatherization business for Isles in Trenton, and managed shelters for the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.

“My experience has allowed me to become intimately involved with finances in the Township and tangentially in the Borough,” he said. “I just see the need for someone with financial management background who has the ability to look at the financial performances of organizations. That is something not in great supply on the Council, and now with consolidation coming up there is a crying need for more of it.”

Mr. Sillars also has an interest in maintaining the “unique character of our community, its diversity, and downtown,” he said. “I really want to see that promoted and advanced. There are things that can be done that are not actively being done to take us ahead. Our Council is very reactive. They have not gotten in front of the master plan. We’re going to run into these situations right and left, particularly with traffic, going forward, and we’ve got to step up and look at it more aggressively. The same thing goes for Princeton University. We tend to use them as a place to cast blame. Sometimes they deserve it, sometimes they don’t. But they do a heck of a lot for the community.”

Tamera Matteo threw her hat into the ring after being urged to run by Township Mayor Chad Goerner and Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, who is a candidate for mayor, to run. A 15-year resident of Princeton, she owned the retail store Matteo & Company in both Palmer Square and Princeton Shopping Center. She has been active in such community organizations as the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton Public Library, and Save Our Schools NJ, and was PTO president at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“With the municipalities joining, we need a new voice,” she said. “We need to build up some trust, and communicate better with each other and with the community. We need to realize there are other options out there for getting our message out, like social media, and we need to focus on the issues people are really concerned about. That’s what I’ve done well. I have an ability to tap into the community, figure out what the issues are, and the best way to solve them.”

A combination of local business experience and volunteering, particularly in the schools, are what qualifies Ms. Matteo for the post, she believes. “I think there is a great opportunity right now, as the new municipality is formed, rather than a year from now, to get my message across,” she said. “I have a reputation for being a team player and a consensus builder, and they serve me well.”

Serving on the Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission for the past two years, Patrick Simon has tapped into his experience as a consultant working with companies in transition. “I work primarily with transportation companies on software systems and business processes,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit for what’s going on with consolidation. The Consolidation Committee has made a series of recommendations and promises to the community, and I want to help keep those promises. Consolidation should bring a more responsive government.”

Mr. Simon has been a Princeton resident for 11 years. He is a member of the Transition Task Force’s Finance Committee and is Commission Liaison to its Information Technology Subcommittee. He has specific concerns about emergency management, particularly in the wake of recent storms that downed trees and caused flooding and power outages in Princeton.

“Princeton turns into an island under certain climate emergencies,” he said. “It’s a concern to begin with, but it is an increased concern now that the hospital has moved out of town. I don’t know what to promise there yet, but I do promise to work on issues related to that. The fact that we will be consolidated helps, but the government should make sure we have street access to the hospital from all points in town, and not just under emergency conditions. That can also apply when there are traffic snarls.”

Mr. Simon lives on Harriet Drive. Like many of his neighbors, he has installed a generator to deal with recent power outages. “The fact that we have installed generators is a response to a failure on the part of the electric utilities,” he said. “We should get the utilities, the Shade Tree Commission, and local government into one room to help resolve this issue.”

His respect for alternative points of view also qualifies him for a spot on the new Council, Mr. Simon believes. “I will be very conscious of communicating to people effectively,” he said. “I bring to the table a natural sense of collaboration and team approach.”


Visitors walk along the Atkinson Pavilion during Saturday’s public preview of the new University Medical Center at Princeton in Plainsboro (see this week’s Town Talk for some reactions); the hospital will open officially next Tuesday, May 22.

May 9, 2012

“I feel confident about my ability to win in November,” said Township Committeewoman Sue Nemeth referring to the race for the newly-created 16th District Assembly seat.

Before running for office in November, Ms. Nemeth must defeat another 16th District Democratic hopeful, art teacher Marie Corfield of Hunterdon (www.citizensformariecorfield.com) in the June primary. If Ms. Nemeth wins, she is likely to be running against Republican incumbent Donna Simon In November.

Ms. Nemeth believes that receiving the unanimous endorsement of the Mercer Democratic Committee was an important step toward winning the June 5 contest. She also points to the fact that Ms. Korfield “has no experience,” and, unlike Ms. Nemeth, “never served in office.”

The prospect of a race against an incumbent does not appear to daunt Ms. Nemeth, either. “I’m well-positioned to run against a Republican in the fall,” she commented. Ms. Simon, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term of a deceased assemblyman, has, according to Ms. Nemeth, “no record that anyone can point to.”

“I know it’s going to be a tough race,” she acknowledged, “but I have 30 years of experience.”

Politics has been “a lifetime endeavor,” said Ms. Nemeth. For 20 years she worked at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, where she promoted women’s participation in politics and government across the country. Earlier, she worked with New Jersey Citizen Action on the campaign for the Right to Know Act, legislation that protects people from exposure to hazardous chemicals. She organized the coalition that passed Family and Medical Leave legislation in New Jersey, and is a member of URA-AFT Local 1766 at Rutgers University and the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey.

Ms. Nemeth is currently serving her second term on the Princeton Township Committee and is vice chair of the municipal Democratic Committee.

“I have fought for consolidation and won property tax relief; negotiated payments from Princeton University; helped create the Princeton Ridge Preserve to protect our ancient woodlands; and fostered job growth in the region by supporting a proposed $300 million Arts and Transit development,” said Ms. Nemeth. “I’ve championed senior and affordable housing, helped save our community pool complex, and fought to preserve essential community services.” And, she adds, “I am a steadfast supporter of public education and a past member of the board of the Princeton Education Foundation.”

Asked about the implications of Princeton consolidation for her campaign, Ms. Nemeth described consolidation as “a piece of the puzzle. We are a full package of policy issues and proposals that will lead to tax relief in Princeton.” She describes tax relief as “a huge issue,” that the governor has only “danced around.”

Ms. Nemeth’s resume also includes a recent one-year stint as deputy mayor of the Township. It was “a great experience,” and Ms. Nemeth reports that she particularly enjoyed focusing on “the bread and butter issues.” These included working with the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, and participating in a negotiating team with Princeton University. “Representing the community” in the mayor’s place was also a positive.

“As I seek the endorsement of Democratic organizations in Mercer, Somerset, Hunterdon, and Middlesex counties and prepare for a tough general election battle, I pledge to bring energy, creativity, and commitment to our shared values to Trenton to solve our district’s most pressing problems,” said Ms. Nemeth.

For more information, or to contact Ms. Nemeth with questions and suggestions, visit suenemeth.org.


Representatives from each of the eight subcommittees that comprise the Transition Task Force (TTF) participated in an “Update and Dialogue” sponsored by Princeton Future on Saturday morning at the Princeton Public Library.

In his introduction, TTF vice chair Scott Sillars expressed the hope that the transition will turn out “to be seamless,” except, perhaps with minor changes like having to “go to a different office to a pay a parking ticket.” He emphasized, however, that the TTF’s charge is to “make recommendations” to the two governing bodies, who will ultimately decide on what gets implemented.

Mr. Sillars reported that the Finance Subcomittee is monitoring implementation plans against cost savings estimates; tracking transition costs; providing a liaison with the state; developing a combination of 2012 budgets; and monitoring other impacts of consolidation on the Open Space Tax and sewer rates. Debt consolidation does not pose a problem, but the different accounting approaches of the Borough and the Township need to be reconciled, he noted.

Looking ahead, Mr. Sillars said that the Finance Subcommittee hoped to have a draft “combination budget” by June; a recommendation on the Open Space Tax by August; and a summary of planned savings and transition costs by mid-Fall.

Task Force member Hendricks Davis reported that the Boards and Commissions Subcommittee had “just about completed” its inventory of “existing entities,” although it will continue to be regularly updated. The Boards and Commissions subcommittee will also make recommendations for the integration process, and Mr. Davis applauded the fact that “so much happens in this community because of citizen participation.”

Joking that their responsibilities run the gamut from dog licensing software to infrastructure support, Information Technology (IT) Subcommittee spokesperson Gary Patteson described that group’s efforts to inventory existing hardware, software, vendor support, and current costs. They believe that a new email system will pay for itself after just one year. The subcommittee hopes to submit a plan for IT deployment and hardware location by July 15.

Creating a timeline — including the “lead time” required for IT implementation — that will be delivered to the TTF and both governing bodies has allowed this subcommittee to work with IT staff and department heads, Mr. Patteson noted, although IT implementation for the new Police force is the purview of the Public Safety Subcommittee. IT collaboration with the Princeton Public Schools may be considered at a later date.

The Facilities and Assets Subcommittee, said Bernie Miller, is working on ways to accommodate the staff of the new Princeton in existing facilities “in a manner that provides for the effective operation of municipal departments, long with user-friendly access.” Efforts will be made to locate single departments near others with related concerns to maximize their operations. KSS Architects, Mr. Miller said, have been engaged to consult on the subcommittee’s work.

Jim Levine was the first of the morning’s speakers to note the use of a new graphic that depicts “putting the pieces” of two organizations together. Personnel Subcommittee areas of concern include the overall workforce sizing process; reconciliation of employee policies/procedures; and promotion of “cross pollination” among different offices. Recommendations regarding “redundant positions” and severance packages will be presented mid-May, said Mr. Levine. Providing stability “while conducting thorough reviews” is anticipated to be a challenge, he observed, adding that the Subcommittee’s belief that the new organization should reflect “a balance of Borough and Township experience.”

Jo Butler reported that an organization chart for the integration of the two municipalities’ public works departments; “recreation maintenance; “engineering; land use; planning; construction; zoning; and fire and housing safety will be forthcoming. Brush and leaf collection will be coordinated, and garbage and composting systems will be put out for bid together. Ms. Butler noted that there will definitely be just one Public Services Commission.

Bernie Miller spoke about the complex combination of personnel, facilities, and technology that the Public Safety Subcommittee is addressing in order to ensure that when someone dials 911 on January 1, someone “will pick up the phone.” Merging police departments includes merging police dispatch, and emergency services coordination. No action is needed on the Fire Department, which already serves both municipalities.

It is anticipated that there will be 55 policemen and women on the new combined police department. Questions of the location of the force, the location of dispatch (and, perhaps, whether to outsource the dispatch function), and the importance of having common technology are all being addressed. Although Princeton University’s public safety department provides “great support,” the fact that they do not carry firearms is significant.

Mr. Sillars encouraged area residents to familiarize themselves with the Task Force’s work by attending its public meetings, and by visiting the website, www.cgr.org/princeton/transition, where agendas and minutes are published. Critical recommendations are expected to be presented at the Wednesday, May 16 meeting at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall.


The new University Medical Center at Princeton in Plainsboro is only three miles from its original home on Witherspoon Street. But with its 21st century technology, sustainable green design, and light-filled, single-patient rooms complete with interactive television systems on 42-inch screens, the 636,000-square-foot complex seems a world away.

May 22 is the official opening day for the new hospital. At a preview this Saturday, May 12 from noon to 6 p.m., the public will get a chance to stroll the art-filled hallways, watch the colors of the Chapel of Light shift throughout the day as the sun crosses the sky, and see how advanced imaging makes for faster diagnosis during surgery. They can inspect the doubled-in-size emergency care center, fitted out with a six-bed unit for those with behavioral health issues. They can dine in the self-serve restaurant, which Princeton Healthcare System President and CEO Barry Rabner doesn’t like to call a cafeteria.

“We even have a pizza oven,” Mr. Rabner said last week during one of the countless tours he has led of the new facility in the past few months. “It won’t be Conte’s, but it’ll be good.”

Since signing on a decade ago, Mr. Rabner has engineered the $523 million hospital project from the design stage through construction. Workers were completing a few punch-list items last Friday as Mr. Rabner welcomed visitors to the atrium, which is lit from huge windows with horizontal shades that modify the solar heat. Sustainability was clearly a driving force in the creation of the hospital, which follows the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] standard.

“There is a huge difference between this and the old hospital, which was built 93 years ago and added onto over time,” Mr. Rabner said. “We have all new technology, which will help us deliver better care and reduce our energy use by at least 25 percent, and our carbon footprint by even more.”

All of the patient care areas have 100 percent circulated fresh air. There is a chilled water thermal energy storage system, and water saving fixtures. Photovoltaic panels will be installed in the northeast parking lot. Indigenous landscape materials were used in construction, and the building was sited to maximize natural lights.

The 231 patient rooms, developed after a study that included input from patients and the public, are canted slightly toward large windows. The rooms are divided into three zones to accommodate the nurse, the patient, and family members. A foldout couch is there for overnight guests. A hands-free sink is designed to cut down on the spread of infection. Patients can check their email, watch movies, play video games, and get information on the television screens. Glass-paneled doors shut out noise while allowing staff to keep an eye on patients. The beds can even weigh their occupants.

Different colored portals denote different departments of the hospital. All of the cancer treatment will now be in one location. Radiation will be administered via a state-of-the-art system, with views of nature visible on ceiling panels above. There is double the capacity for infusion treatments such as chemotherapy, with chairs complete with warmers and massagers oriented toward an outdoor “healing garden.”

Mr. Rabner is clearly proud of the Chapel of Light, which was designed by architect Robert Hillier [a Town Topics shareholder] and Frances Fox. “We tried to create a space everyone would be comfortable with,” he said, pointing toward the beaded curtain that represents scripture from the Hebrew bible, the New Testament, and the Koran. There is also a marker in the chapel that points to Mecca. “Spirituality plays a huge role in healing for many people, so it’s our job to give them what they need to recover,” Mr. Rabner said. “I’ve started to think about the chapel the way I think about the art. It’s so important to healing.”

Volume in the medical center’s clinic has increased by 45 percent in the past five years, and it is expected to grow even more, Mr. Rabner said. The new Bristol-Myers Squibb Community Heath Center has 21 exam rooms as opposed to 16 in the current hospital. Uninsured and under-insured patients will be treated at the new clinic by many of the same doctors who treat the other patients, he added.

Dr. Jack Heim, the chairman of the Department of Surgery, demonstrated how video conferencing makes it possible for specialists to remotely connect with a surgical team in the operating room. “This allows us to be the operating room of the future,” he said. “Surgery is still the same. But now we can take advantage of technologies that let us offer any kind of surgery in a minimally invasive way. It decreases mistakes and time in the O.R.”

The hospital’s opening marks the first stage of what is planned to be a health campus on 171 acres. When fully built the campus will include a nursing home, age-restricted housing, a research building, a day care center, and other facilities. Merwick Rehabilitation Center is already located on the property.

The hospital used $50 million in savings to bolster the $147 million raised in a capital campaign, along with the money from the sale of the old hospital building. Approval is in place to add two additional floors to the building if needed. The hospital is seeking approval for a helicopter pad, to be located on an 11-acre patch of the property.

About 70 full-time employees have been hired to add to existing staff. Mr. Rabner said more may be hired in the future. “But we want to live in the building first,” he said, “and see how the efficiency of the new technology works. We want to be convinced it is as good as it’s supposed to be.”

Mr. Rabner estimates he has done 350 tours of the hospital and spoken at numerous senior centers, churches, and elsewhere introducing the new site. “We have invested nine years in designing what we think is going to be one of the most sophisticated hospitals in the country,” he said. “We’re ready to go.”


Beginning Thursday, May 10, two Princeton Township police officers will take part in the Police Unity Tour, which honors police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Departing from Somerset, Sergeant Geoff Maurer and Patrolman Chris King will ride to Philadelphia. The following day, they will ride to Baltimore. On day three, they will cycle from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., arriving by 1 p.m. at the Law Enforcement Memorial.

The motto of the Police Unity Tour is, “We ride for those who died. Each year, during Police Week, officers from all over the country participate in bicycle rides to Washington, D.C. to promote awareness, honor and remember their fallen comrades, and raise money for the Police Museum which is being built in the capital city. So far in 2012, 36 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty, down from 163 in 2011.

This year marks the last of the Princeton Township Police Department, which will be consolidated as of January 1, 2013, with Princeton Borough’s department. Officer Maurer will be riding to honor the memory of Princeton Township Police Officer Billie Ellis, who died on August, 19, 1955. Officer Ellis drowned while attempting to rescue two young boys whose canoe became swamped in Lake Carnegie following a period of heavy flooding as a result of Hurricane Diane. The high water caused both boats to become swamped. Officer Ellis and both boys drowned. Officer Ellis was off duty at the time but responded to the scene to rescue the boys.

Officer King will be riding to honor the memory of N.J. State Police Trooper Anthony Lukis, Jr. who was shot to death on May 4, 1966 when he stopped to check on a car parked along the New Jersey Turnpike. After a struggle, Trooper Lukis was shot three times in the back, which killed him.

Officers King and Maurer will be participating in the “Challenge Ride” which leaves from Franklin Township Police headquarters in Somerset County. The first day of their ride takes them on Route 518 through Franklin, Montgomery, out to Lambertville to their first day destination of Philadelphia; a bike ride of approximately 70 miles. Day two is from Philadelphia to Baltimore, a ride of over 100 miles. Day three is approximately 48 miles from Baltimore to Washington, where they will meet up with officers from other groups who will all ride into the Law Enforcement Memorial site together.

Each officer needed to raise a minimum of $1,800 to participate. Anyone wishing to make a donation in honor of fallen law enforcement officers or to support the Police Unity Tour can write a check to PBA 387 and on the memo portion write Police Unity Tour; the checks can be mailed to PBA 387, 1 Valley Road, Princeton, New Jersey, 08540.

 

Last week’s article about a tort claim filed by former Township policemen included observations from an anonymous source suggesting a link between the tort claim and the retirements of Chief Robert Buchanan and Township Administrator James Pascale. These are another person’s views and clearly do not represent the views of Town Topics.

Mr. Pascale has brought to our attention that his retirement was simply based on his desire to retire and nothing else.

When reporting on this story, it was never our intent to diminish in any way the years of dedicated service by either Mr. Pascale or Mr. Buchanan.

We apologize for the misunderstanding and are retracting the story. Rather than perpetuate the misunderstanding, Town Topics will not be printing letters related to the subject.

May 2, 2012

Various Views of Saturday’s Town-Gown Fun Fest

  

 

In the three years that have passed since Melissa Harris-Perry last spoke at a Planned Parenthood event, women’s reproductive rights have been repeatedly challenged. From the “personhood” amendments to the fight between Susan B. Komen For The Cure and Planned Parenthood, it has been a time of “distressing change,” she said at a luncheon held last week by Planned Parenthood Association of the Mercer Area.

The organization honored Tania Lawson-Johnston McCleery with the 2012 Sanger Circle Award for her commitment to Planned Parenthood. The award is given each year in recognition of founder Margaret Sanger’s contributions to the family planning movement.

“I don’t need to tell you all where we are at this moment,” said Ms. Harris-Perry, the keynote speaker at the sold-out spring benefit. Some 600 people came to the Hyatt-Princeton to hear the talk by Ms. Harris-Perry, who from 2006 to 2010 was an associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton University. Now on the faculty at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race, and Politics in the South, she also hosts her own weekend television show on MSNBC.

“People were feeling really good about what was going to happen with women’s reproductive rights,” said Ms. Harris-Perry, recalling her 2009 address to Planned Parenthood in San Diego. “It was very bi-partisan. I don’t think any of us in that room thought that three or four years later we’d be under attack.”

Chief among the challenges of the past three years was the news that the Komen organization had pulled breast exam funds from Planned Parenthood for political reasons. “That, to me, was the most heartbreaking,” Ms. Harris-Perry said. “We’ve all supported Komen. We’ve all worn the pink ribbons. It’s how I indicate my interest and concern for reproductive rights and breast health.”

Ms. Harris-Perry compared the division between the two organizations to her own differences in a debate she had with activist Gloria Steinem. The two women had clear differences, but their ultimate goals were similar. It is the same with Planned Parenthood and the Komen organization. “There was no winner of that fight,” Ms. Harris-Perry said. “Nobody wants to defeat Komen.”

Another particularly distressing development was President Barack Obama’s backing of the decision to prevent the Plan B emergency contraceptive from being sold over the counter to girls under 17. His instinctive reaction as a father of two daughters was that parents should be involved before girls resort to emergency contraception. “But that’s the point,” Ms. Harris-Perry said. “It’s not those daughters who we’re talking about.”

She credited her mother, a social worker who “was part of the abortion underground railroad” with helping to shape her own views. “From my early childhood, I learned that at the core of who we are and what we do is the protection of women’s rights and family rights,” she said.

Ms. Harris-Perry concluded her talk by announcing she was waiving her fee for the lecture. She urged the audience to continue their support for Planned Parenthood and other organizations devoted to women’s rights. “The current battle is not about saving babies. It is about shaming women. It’s particularly about poor women,” she said, are being shamed for going to Planned Parenthood for contraception. “We need matter-of-fact health education for girls and women. We need to have an awareness of the political conversation about women’s health.”


SURVIVING AND THRIVING: Debbie Persaud is marking her first year of survival, after being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, by running the New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch this Sunday. Determined to cross the finish line after 26.2 miles, she is hoping to connect with fellow cancer patients who are taking part in the race.

Running a 26.2-mile marathon is a challenge usually reserved for those in peak physical condition. But among those participating in the New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch this Sunday is a cancer survivor who has endured a year that would test even the fittest of athletes.

Debbie Persaud, a resident of Griggs Farm, finished a round of radiation treatments only three weeks ago. The 39-year-old has a catheter implanted in her chest to help battle the stage three breast cancer she learned she had just one year ago. All along, she has been running.

“I feel strong,” she says. “I’m so honored just to be alive to run this race. It has special significance because it’s the anniversary of one year of survival for me. I’ve trained for this race for the past year, and I believe it’s why I’m in such good health. Running has really helped my breathing capacity. After radiation, my chest wall had collapsed. Training to run really enabled me to build up my immune system and increase my breath.”

Ms. Persaud will be running to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She is eager to meet other cancer patients taking part in the race. She plans to run with a team of brain tumor patients from the Central New Jersey Brain Tumor Support Group. “We will be at our tent located near the start line at 6:30 a.m. on race day in case cancer patients who are entered in the race would like to get together in celebration,” she says.

While her own diagnosis came as a terrible shock, Ms. Persaud was no stranger to the disease. In 2008, she ran the New York City Marathon in honor of her husband. Jimmy Fang was only 33 when he died in 2007, after his own two-year battle with brain cancer.

“Jimmy was supposed to run the New York marathon in 2007, but he had passed away,” she says. “He was a sergeant and civil affairs specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve and I took his sergeant medal across the finish line. I actually finished his bucket list.”

Mr. Fang was in his senior year at Rutgers University when he began getting the severe headaches that led to his diagnosis. Helping him cope, Ms. Persaud never imagined that she would have her own bout with the disease. “I was raising money for cancer research since 2008. I was a cancer charity marathon runner that year, never knowing I would be a cancer patient myself,” she says. “I was diagnosed two days prior to last year’s marathon, but I did it. I ran the half-marathon.”

Raised in Oakland, Ms. Persaud graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark with a degree in biomedical sciences. She works for Ethicon in Somerville as the regulatory affairs manager, helping to get new drugs and medical features approved.

“I ended up using some of the products my company makes,” she says. “Sometimes work does come full circle. When it comes to breast cancer, it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you graduated from UMDNJ with a degree in biomedical sciences.”

Yet this patient has no time for self-pity. “I want people to understand I am not dying of breast cancer, I’m living with it,” she says. “There’s a difference. It starts with gratitude and attitude. I may not have control over whether my breast cancer grows or shrinks, but I do have control over how I view my situation. Breast cancer was this uninvited guest I needed to accept at this stage of my life. The lesson for me is that I accept the diagnosis but fight the prognosis. Because the mission is remission.”

Ms. Persaud’s future depends on what MRIs reveal later on. “If more chemo is necessary, I will do it,” she says. “But I know I will be crossing that finish line on Sunday, no matter what. I don’t believe what I’m doing is any astonishing feat, because there are a lot of people out there doing their best after fighting cancer for a lot longer than I have.”

 

STANDING AGAINST RACISM: Members of Not In Our Town: Princeton were among the participants at a Palmer Square rally against racism last week. (Photo by Ellen Gilbert)

“Each year we say that this year, more than ever, we need to do this,” said Cranbury Station Gallery founder Kathleen Maguire Morolda at a Friday-morning rally to mark “Stand Against Racism” day.

“‘Oh, there’s no racism in Princeton,’” she said in an ironic reference to those who perceive the community as being prejudice-free, drawing quiet laughter from the crowd gathered in front of the Nassau Inn.

While Ms. Morolda and other speakers that morning noted the continued existence of racism in Princeton and elsewhere, she was happy to report that Palmer Square stores were “ready and excited” to participate in the day thanks to Palmer Square Management’s help in getting the word out.

For the most part, though, speakers like Princeton Human Services Commission Chair Anastasia Mann, Borough Mayor Yina Moore, and Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert spoke of the need to encourage civil discourse on a day-to-day basis. As Ms. Moralda reminded listeners, racism isn’t always “black and white.”

“There is still racism all around us,” observed Ms. Mann, citing current Supreme Court consideration of Arizona’s SB1070 (“show me your papers”) law and the “stand your ground law” invoked by George Zimmerman when he shot Trayvon Martin. Describing the dangerous implications of the word “your,” she observed that “these laws lay the groundwork not just for incivility, but for indecency.”

She found inspiration, though, in the 40,000 Norwegians who recently took to the streets across their country to sing an adaptation of Pete Seeger’s “My Rainbow Race,” a tune that confessed killer Anders Behring Breivik has argued was a Marxist song used to brainwash children to embrace multiculturalism.

Township Committeeman Lance Liverman said that racism is not always clearly apparent; sometimes “it’s just within us.” He described how women in grocery store aisles sometimes shift their purses to the opposite shoulder when they see him coming. “They don’t imagine how that makes me feel,” he said.

Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes led the crowd in reciting the Pledge Against Racism, with YWCA CEO Judith Hutton noting that 2,100 organizations in 39 states were taking the same pledge that day.

“As an individual committed to social justice,” the pledge begins, “I stand with the YWCA against racism and discrimination of any kind. I will commit to a lifetime of promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all people in my community and in the world.”

Participants then walked to the next “Stand Against Racism” event, a screening of The Princeton Plan: 50 Years Later in the Bramwell House Living Room at the YWCA. Featured guest speakers included Shirley Satterfield and Henry Pannell, members of the first class to integrate in the Princeton School system.

The Princeton Plan: 50 Years Later is an historical account of what it was like to be a part of the Princeton school system in 1948, six years before Brown v. Board of Education, when Princeton integrated two schools in the Borough, the Witherspoon School for Colored Children and Nassau Elementary School.


Princeton University last week submitted documents to the Regional Planning Board detailing plans for its arts and transit neighborhood. Included are modified plans for the Lewis Center for the Arts, to be designed by architect Steven Holl, the new Dinky station and Wawa market to be designed by architect Rick Joy, and Mr. Joy’s plans for the existing Dinky station buildings, which the University intends to turn into a restaurant and cafe.

This is the University’s first official submission to the Planning Board for site plan approval. Concept discussions have been held in the past, but submissions could not be made until zoning was in place. “This set of plans is one generation beyond the ones that we described in February,” said Robert Durkee, University vice president and secretary.

One new aspect of the plan involves the University’s purchase of the house at 152 Alexander Street. The building will be demolished during the construction process, Mr. Durkee said. “This gives us a lot more flexibility. It works better,” he said.

The other changes have to do with the existing Dinky station buildings and the one to be designed 460 feet to the south. “What we’ve heard from people is that they like having the idea of having the Wawa in the station building, but don’t like the idea of the waiting area in the Wawa,” Mr Durkee said of the plans for the new building. “So the architect has said that we’ll connect the waiting area and the Wawa with a nice outdoor waiting area. You can get back and forth but they’re separate.”

The southernmost of the two existing station buildings will have an addition on its eastern side. An outdoor seating area will be framed by the original portion of the building and the addition. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking with restaurant operators and looking at the design of those two buildings to make them work,” Mr. Durkee said.

While he declined to name the restaurants being considered for the station buildings, Mr. Durkee did say they all are local. “Our goal was to end up with someone already in the Princeton area, who knows the area. And we’re very confident that will happen.”