July 15, 2015
WARS OF WORDS: Eliza Doolittle (Bits Sola) has successfully discarded her lower class background and learned from Henry Higgins (Jake Robertson) how to speak and behave like a duchess, but where does that leave their relationship and her future? Princeton Summer Theater’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” (1913) runs through July 19 at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus.

WARS OF WORDS: Eliza Doolittle (Bits Sola) has successfully discarded her lower class background and learned from Henry Higgins (Jake Robertson) how to speak and behave like a duchess, but where does that leave their relationship and her future? Princeton Summer Theater’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” (1913) runs through July 19 at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus.

There are reasons why Pygmalion has been the most popular and most famous of George Bernard Shaw’s plays. More than 100 years after its 1914 London premiere those reasons ring out loudly and clearly in Princeton Summer Theater’s (PST) striking production.

Shaw’s fiery, intelligent language, his rich sense of comedy and his irreverent and searing social commentary all sparkle in this play, and the top-flight PST ensemble of eight with a polished professional production crew under the direction of R.N. Sandberg make the most of this brilliant text.  more

HIGH TECH: Aaron Shavel unloads the ball in action for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s lacrosse team. Shavel, a former Princeton Day School standout, wrapped up his RPI career this spring by tallying 12 goals and three assists to help the Engineers go 10-5.(Photo Courtesy of RPI Athletic Communications)

HIGH TECH: Aaron Shavel unloads the ball in action for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men’s lacrosse team. Shavel, a former Princeton Day School standout, wrapped up his RPI career this spring by tallying 12 goals and three assists to help the Engineers go 10-5. (Photo Courtesy of RPI Athletic Communications)

During his first two seasons with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s lacrosse team, Aaron Shavel struggled to find a rhythm at the college level.

“The game is a lot faster and the players are a lot bigger,” said Shavel, a former Princeton Day School star attacker.

“I had to be a lot quicker and more decisive, the big thing was the speed of everything. You have to refine your game. It took a while for me to grow into it; I was making a lot of turnovers.”

A coaching decision early in Shavel’s junior year changed the game for him.

“At the end of fall ball, the coach (Jim Townsend) talked to me; he said I wasn’t getting a lot of playing time but thought I could still be an asset to the team,” said Shavel.

“He said he wanted to move me to midfield. I hadn’t played that since middle school but I said anything to help the team and get on the field.”

Adjusting well to his new role, Shavel helped trigger the team’s offense in 2014, scoring 24 points on 17 goals and seven assists.

“I went from a second or third line attacker to first line midfield,” said Shavel.

“It was better for my skill set; I was able to get my hands free. I also got to play on the man-up unit. When you are on attack, you are on the field the whole time. As a midfielder, you are on for 30 seconds and then off for two minutes. Being on the man-up got me one or two more runs. I was on low left; I had a comfort level there and it helped me get a rhythm.” more

ART THAT HEALS: Images such as this painting, titled “Indian Summer Bouquet,” will be among the works by local artist Joanne Augustine on view and for sale (with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting the hospital) at University Medical Center of Princeton through November 8. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, July 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Art for Healing Gallery, in the concourse connecting UMCP to the Medical Arts Pavilion and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Community Health Center. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to www.princetonhcs.org/art by Friday, July 24. For more information, visit www.princetonhcs.org.

ART THAT HEALS: Images such as this painting, titled “Indian Summer Bouquet,” will be among the works by local artist Joanne Augustine on view and for sale (with 20 percent of the proceeds benefiting the hospital) at University Medical Center of Princeton through November 8. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, July 31, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Art for Healing Gallery, in the concourse connecting UMCP to the Medical Arts Pavilion and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Community Health Center. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to www.princetonhcs.org/art by Friday, July 24. For more information, visit www.princetonhcs.org.

The University Medical Center of Princeton (UMCP) will host a wine-and-cheese reception on Friday, July 31, to mark the opening of an exhibition featuring work by local artist Joanne Augustine.  more

The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold the annual Mid-Summer Marketing Showcase on Tuesday, July 21, from 4-7 p.m. on the green at Palmer Square. The showcase is free and open to the public, with the rain date set for the following day. more

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Members of the the Princeton Little League (PLL) squad  celebrate last Thursday after they edged Ocean Township 5-4 at Farmview Fields to win the Section 3 50/70 Intermediate tournament. It is the first-ever sectional crown won by the PLL program. The team will now go for a state title and faces West Deptford in the first round of the states on July 15 in the four-team competition being held at Winslow Township.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT: Members of the the Princeton Little League (PLL) squad celebrate last Thursday after they edged Ocean Township 5-4 at Farmview Fields to win the Section 3 50/70 Intermediate tournament. It is the first-ever sectional crown won by the PLL program. The team will now go for a state title and faces West Deptford in the first round of the states on July 15 in the four-team competition being held at Winslow Township. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Having gone undefeated in tournament play this summer, the Princeton Little League (PLL) 50/70 Intermediate squad found itself trailing Ocean Township 4-2 in the fifth inning of the final round of the Section 3 tourney last Thursday.

But PLL star infielder Ben Petrone wasn’t overly concerned about the deficit. more

On July 7, at 2:04 p.m., a 28-year-old male from Hillsborough was charged with one count of theft by deception after an investigation revealed that as an employee of the Princeton University Store, he stole cash from the store register at various times during a 16 month period, totaling $26,000. Bail was set at $5,000.

 

book revThe peace of the heart is positive and invincible, demanding no conditions, requiring no protection. It just is.

—Henry Miller, from The Colossus of Maroussi

If nothing else, Greece’s last-ditch stand against austerity has led me to the poetry of George Seferis, given me a reason to reread Henry Miller’s Colossus of Maroussi (1941), and reminded me of three “it just is” evenings of peace on the Acropolis, each on the same day in the first week of August, all in the space of six years.

Miller writes of arriving in Greece on the eve of World War II: “I had entered a new realm as a free man … for the first time in my life I was happy with the full consciousness of being happy,” because “to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how … and still be happy … in the being and knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss, and if you have any sense you ought to kill yourself on the spot and be done with it.”

That’s vintage Henry Miller — never go halfway, take it to the rhetorical limit, damn the torpedoes! full speed ahead! If there’s any writer anywhere who embodies the antithesis of austerity it’s Henry Miller. And in Miller’s Colossus, Greece is “the antithesis of America”: “Economically it may seem unimportant [those were the days], but spiritually Greece is still the mother of nations, the fountain-head of wisdom and inspiration.” At the moment mother Athens is under siege. While the front page of Monday’s online edition of the New York Times says the European moneylenders have reached an agreement on the Greek debt crisis, the story comes with a photo worth a thousand words showing a street person holding an empty glass, crumpled as if dead on the pavement in front of an Alpha Bank ATM where people are waiting in line. more

CREATIVITY AT REST: Landscape artist and ideas man Peter Soderman (left) and wood and metal artist Greg Napolitan take time out to enjoy Princeton’s first Parklet in front of Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street. Mr. Napolitan carved the two huge wooden benches in the parklet after being contacted by Mr. Soderman to participate in the tiny park that takes up two parking spots in front of the coffee shop. The project was a the result of a joint effort by the municipality, the Arts Council of Princeton, and several members of Princeton’s creative community.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

CREATIVITY AT REST: Landscape artist and ideas man Peter Soderman (left) and wood and metal artist Greg Napolitan take time out to enjoy Princeton’s first Parklet in front of Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street. Mr. Napolitan carved the two huge wooden benches in the parklet after being contacted by Mr. Soderman to participate in the tiny park that takes up two parking spots in front of the coffee shop. The project was a the result of a joint effort by the municipality, the Arts Council of Princeton, and several members of Princeton’s creative community. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Visitors to Princeton’s first “Parklet” located across two parking spots in front of Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street are not only delighted by the concept and design of the space. They are intrigued by the hand behind two enormous wood benches, each of which has been carved from a single block of wood.  more

New Hope

The 2015 Sixth Annual New Hope Film Festival will take place from July 24 through August 2. The Festival is proud to be honoring Susan Seidelman with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday, August 2 for her outstanding contributions to film. Seidelman is a writer, producer, director, and actor. Her best-known film is “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring Madonna, which Seidelman directed. For more information, visit www.newhopefilmfestival.com.

Waiters Race

DON’T SPILL IT! The walkways at Princeton Shopping Center transformed into a race course last Thursday for the fifth annual Waiters’ Race, sponsored by the Princeton Merchants Association. After Mayor Liz Lempert kicked off the event, 70 men and women from 15 local restaurants balanced glasses of water and BAI beverage bottles minus their caps on trays as they raced around the courtyard.  more

Art 1This year is the 174th Anniversary of the John A. Roebling’s Sons company, once the largest employer in Trenton and a world leader in the construction of suspension bridges. To mark the occasion, The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie will present an exhibition centered on the business that was owned by four generations of the Roebling family over 112 years.

The exhibition, which opens with a reception Friday, July 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., will be on view through December 6.

Clifford W. Zink, author of The Roebling Legacy, will speak and conduct a tour of the remaining buildings of the Roebling complex in Trenton at dates and times yet to be announced. For details, check the museum’s website, http://ellarslie.org.

John A, Roebling started making wire rope in 1841 in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, and moved his factory to Trenton in 1848. His sons built the steel and wire mill and town of Roebling, in 1905. In 1953, the family sold the Trenton and Roebling plants to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). CF&I closed the Trenton plants in 1973 and the Roebling plant in 1974.

Mr. Roebling was the world’s foremost builder of suspension bridges in the 19th century and his bridges spanned major rivers when people said it couldn’t be done. His son Washington A. Roebling completed the most famous Roebling bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, in 1883, and today it is an iconic national landmark. more

July 14, 2015

Floral TT

D&R Greenway presents a spring-inspired poetry reading at the Johnson Education Center in Princeton on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for a light reception. Carolyn Foote Edelmann, Vida Chu, Sharon Olson, Betty Lies, and Linda Arntzenius will read poetry featured in the April 2015 edition of Princeton MagazineThe readings will be accompanied by a slideshow of floral arrangements styled by Diana Moore and photographed by Andrew Wilkinson.

The reading will also include a special introduction by Princeton Magazine Publisher and Architect Robert Hillier.

All of the evening’s poets are members of the U.S. 1 Poets Cooperative and appear in U.S . 1 Worksheets. This literary journal showcases writers from across the globe.

For more information, visit www.drgreenway.org.

Ballet

Attention, ballet fans: On Saturday, July 18 at 3 p.m., Intensio, a group of stellar dancers from American Ballet Theatre, will hold an invitation-only working rehearsal at McCarter Theatre. Intensio is the project of Daniil Simkin, a soloist with ABT.

He describes it as “an art project and series of performances created and curated by me and my family. Our intention is to merge the highest level of ballet and choreography with the new possibilities of media in order to create a unique and special experience for the audience.”

The troupe is using McCarter to rehearse for an upcoming appearance at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Lee, Massachusetts July 22-26. Members of the company along with Mr. Simkin include ABT’s Isabella Boylston, Alexandre Hammoudi, Blaine Hoven, Calvin Royal III, Hee Seo, Cassandra Trenary, and James Whiteside, as well as Céline Cassone, a special guest artist from Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal.

They will perform new works by choreographers Alexander Ekman, Gregory Dolbashian, Jorma Elo, and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

The rehearsal will be held in the Matthews Theatre at McCarter, which is located at 91 University Place.

July 13, 2015

The pool at Mary Moss Park, in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood, was reopened Monday after a brief shutdown due to cracks in its plaster bottom.

The town closed it for repairs last Wednesday after a municipal employee cut her foot while walking in the pool. Its very old, dating back at least to the fifties,said Ben Stentz, Princetons Recreation Director. Why it started to peel more rapidly in the last few weeks, we dont know. But it brought to our attention the fact that the deterioration was getting worse.

Temporary repairs have been made to the pool to keep it safe through the summer. The small, shallow pool is used regularly by children from Princeton Nursery School and others from the neighborhood. Its concrete, so it has been replastered and repainted many times,Mr. Stentz said. It shows its age, but still serves a nice function.

The future of the Mary Moss Park, and the pool, is being reevaluated by the town and will be the subject of feedback from the neighborhood and the community. Its up in the air. Were not sure right now what the renovation will look like,said Mr. Stentz. Well see what 2016 brings.

July 8, 2015

Breaking News TT

Shoppers at Quaker Bridge Mall are now able to recharge their electric cars, in 30 minutes or less, at new charging stations. At an opening ceremony Tuesday morning, David Crane, the CEO of NRG, charged his personal electric vehicle (EV). Also in attendance were congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin.

The sites, known as Freedom Stations, are equipped with DC Fast Chargers, which can deliver 40 miles of range in as little as 15 minutes, allowing EV drivers to quickly charge their vehicles. The station also has a Level 2 charger that can charge all EVs.

Simon (owner of the mall) is committed to providing sustainable amenities for our customers and the opening of an EV charging station in a market where there is a lot of interest in electric vehicles is a great example of that,said Mona Benisi, Senior Director of Sustainability for Simon. The locations of our shopping centers across the U.S. mean that Simon is ideally positioned to contribute to the development of a a national infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations, and also advances the companys sustainability efforts.

The charging stations will occupy two parking spots located on the Grovers Mill side of the property, near the lower level mall entrance between Sears and Lord & Taylor.

For additional information, visit www.quakerbridgemall.com.

RECOGNITION FROM THE TOP: Sixteen-year-old Princeton resident Ziad Ahmed, far right, was among a group of young social activists invited to the White House last month to dine with President Obama at the Iftar, which marks the end of the traditional Muslim fast during Ramadan. Ziad was praised in a speech by the president for his work educating teens to combat racism.(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

RECOGNITION FROM THE TOP: Sixteen-year-old Princeton resident Ziad Ahmed, far right, was among a group of young social activists invited to the White House last month to dine with President Obama at the Iftar, which marks the end of the traditional Muslim fast during Ramadan. Ziad was praised in a speech by the president for his work educating teens to combat racism. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

When Ziad Ahmed founded the organization Redefy to help teenagers recognize and remove cultural stereotypes, he never imagined that just two years later he would be dining with President Obama at the White House. But on June 22, that is exactly where the 16-year-old Princeton Day School (PDS) student found himself — and not just at any table. At the annual White House Iftar, which marks the traditional breaking of the fast observed by Muslims during Ramadan, the president chose to sit with Ziad and seven other young people and engage them in conversation. As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Obama singled Ziad out in his speech.

“They’re Muslim Americans like Ziad Ahmed,” he said. “As a Bangladeshi-American growing up in New Jersey, he saw early on that there was not enough understanding in the world. So two years ago, he founded Redefy, a website to push back against harmful stereotypes by encouraging teens like him — he’s only 16; I think our youngest guest tonight — to share their stories. Because, in Ziad’s words, ‘ignorance can be defeated through education.’ He wants to do his part to make sure that ‘Muslims can be equal members of society and still hold onto their faith and identity.’ So we’re very proud of you, Ziad.”

“The whole thing was just mind-blowing,” Ziad said this week. “It’s the most prestigious event Muslim Americans get invited to. I just thought I’d be at some table, but Obama sat with us for an hour. And I was with the most amazing people, who had incredible stories to tell.”

The invitation to the White House came after MTV News profiled Ziad’s work with Redefy, as well as later efforts to inspire teen forums on racial profiling. Last April, the organization launched #PrincetonAgainstRacism, a social media campaign in which 125 portraits of people were taken at PDS and the Communiversity street fair, asking them to finish the prompt “I stand against racism because …” The goal was to use social media platforms to inspire teens everywhere to take a stand against racism. Redefy led the initiative in partnership with Princeton CHOOSE and Not in Our Town in recognition of the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism campaign.

The son of a hedge fund manager and a stay-at-home mom who does property management, Ziad was first inspired to take action the summer before ninth grade. “That summer, when I was 14, I noticed that in the community, people needed a platform by which they could be educated about minority experience,” he said. “I found a lot of ignorance — not malicious hate, just innocent ignorance. I wanted to initiate positive change at school, so I decided to create Redefy.”

The organization was officially launched that September. Today the leadership team has six people and representatives as far as Brazil and Pakistan, whom Ziad met through summer programs he has attended. “But due to recent publicity, now we have people I don’t know,” he said. “So that’s new.”

The idea is to produce “measurable change,” Ziad said. “Our mission in 2014 was to promote integration. For this year, it is to reduce racial prejudice and hate.” A blog posted every three days includes personal stories that anyone can submit. “When you read these intimate stories of issues people deal with, you get a soft spot in your heart,” he said “You make more educated, thoughtful decisions. It’s hard to hate somebody you know.”

Key to Redefy’s mission is equality for everyone. “All any of us want is a world that’s safe and accepting for our children,” Ziad said. “The only way that’s possible is if we’re willing to advocate for everyone, not just for our own minorities. You can’t just believe in selective equality. So on our stories page, we try to encompass that.”

Ziad and his team do workshops at local schools and hold bi-monthly conversations about current events. Media coverage led to the story by MTV News, “the most exciting thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “To get that coverage on national news was mind-blowing.” The invitation to The White House came just before Ziad was leaving for a service trip to Morocco. While he was on the trip, he got an email from one of Mr. Obama’s speechwriters saying the president wanted to include his story.

“The next day I got an email saying I was at the president’s table,” Ziad recalled. “I was with all of these really impressive people. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just some kid from New Jersey sitting with these people who have done so much.”

Among Ziad’s table-mates were Samantha Elauf, who won a Supreme Court case against the Abercrombie company after she was denied employment because she wore a traditional head scarf; Munir Khalif, the child of Somali immigrants who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and created an organization to help children in East Africa get an education; and Wai Wai Nu, a former political prisoner and the co-founder of Justice for Women.

Mr. Obama spoke with all of them. “I answered some of his questions and I asked him some, to which he responded eloquently and respectfully,” Ziad said. “He had read about me, and he told me to keep doing the work I’m doing. I was thrilled. A lot of people wanted to speak with him about different things, and he was so articulate, kind, and witty.”

Not surprisingly, the experience was an inspiration for Ziad to expand his work with Redefy. His mission is to include teens who might not feel as committed to the issues that are the organization’s focus, but might have skills and interests through which they can contribute.

“I was up till 4 a.m. thinking about this,” he said. “I want all kids in Princeton to get involved. Because one of my biggest obstacles has been trying to engage kids who aren’t particularly passionate about social justice. I’m super motivated now to engage people of all interests, not just the ones interested in social justice. Anyone can get involved, and use their particular skills. If we engage people in that way, we can get a wide variety and become a better organization.”

The Princeton-Blairstown Center has named two new officers to the Board of Trustees and appointed a new Advisory Council member. PBC offers a wide variety of youth development experiential educational programs to students in the Mid-Atlantic States, including Rivera Middle School and Trenton Central High in Trenton.

The current board unanimously voted Kevin C. Hudson and Romy Riddick, both from Princeton University, to three-year terms as Trustees and appointed Sari Chang to the Advisory Council.  Both Mr. Hudson and Ms. Riddick bring extensive experience in increasing diversity.

Mr. Hudson, Assistant Director for College Opportunity in the Office of the Provost at Princeton University, brings to PBC a track record of success in helping young people access an undergraduate degree.  He also continues his work as a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Education Access Granted, which assists schools, districts and families in navigating the college admissions process successfully. He is a graduate of Princeton University with an AB in Sociology and certificates in African American Studies and American Studies. He also holds a M.S.Ed in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education.

Ms. Riddick, Assistant Vice President of the Client Services Team in Human Resources at Princeton University, originally joined the University in 2012 as Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and she continues to manage that function in her current role.  She is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a BA in Political Science. Her history of successful diversity strategy development and implementation coupled with human resource expertise at TD Bank, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Merrill Lynch & Company.

Pam Gregory, PBC President & CEO commented, “Over the past year and a half we have strategically worked to build our Board to be a highly effective force for outstanding governance.  Kevin and Romy fill gaps in our expertise we’ve looked to address and I look forward to their active participation in molding the future of the organization.”

Sari Chang, new to the Advisory Council, is a Registered Architect and Principal at Mike Jacobs Architecture in New York City.  She is a graduate of Princeton University and the Yale School of Architecture. As a Princeton undergraduate, she had an inspiring Freshman Outdoor Action experience which led her to additional leadership roles in Outdoor Action activities.  Her focus on sustainability in architecture and her enthusiasm for skiing and other outdoor endeavors makes her a natural fit for the PBC team.

PBC’s program at Rivera Middle School addresses the need to improve Trenton graduation rates by identifying students at high risk of dropping out and engaging them in an innovative combination of programming emphasizing social emotional learning, academic counseling, leadership development, environmental awareness, and practical applications of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

PBC seeks to transform the lives of vulnerable young people through integrated experiential and adventure-based programming in schools and at their outdoor campus. What began in 1908 as a summer camp run by Princeton University students to give inner-city boys an opportunity to have a character-building fresh air experience has evolved into a wide variety of year-round youth development experiential educational programs serving over 5,200 students from the Mid-Atlantic States.  For more information on PBC’s services or to donate, visit www.princetonblairstowncenter.org.

Curtain

The musician Aurelio Martinez will perform at Princeton’s Pettoranello Gardens on Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m. Martinez is known for his percussive mix of Caribbean, Central American, and West African music. The event is part of the free summer music series presented by Blue Curtain and the Princeton Recreation Department.

A PUZZLE FOR HENRY HIGGINS: Princeton Summer Theater’s (PST) production of “Pygmalion” is directed by Princeton University lecturer R. N. Sandberg and stars visiting actor Jake ­Robertson as Henry Higgins. Tickets are $27.50 for general admission and $22 for students and matinees. To pre-order tickets, visit www.princetonsummertheater.org or call the PST box office at (732) 997-0205. All PST performances are staged at the Hamilton Murray Theater on Princeton  University’s Campus.

A PUZZLE FOR HENRY HIGGINS: Princeton Summer Theater’s (PST) production of “Pygmalion” is directed by Princeton University lecturer R. N. Sandberg and stars visiting actor Jake ­Robertson as Henry Higgins. Tickets are $27.50 for general admission and $22 for students and matinees. To pre-order tickets, visit www.princetonsummertheater.org or call the PST box office at (732) 997-0205. All PST performances are staged at the Hamilton Murray Theater on Princeton
University’s Campus.

Pygmalion, the second show of Princeton Summer Theater’s (PST) 2015 season, runs through July 19 at the Hamilton Murray Theater on Princeton University’s Campus. This timeless comedy by George Bernard Shaw is a sharply funny commentary on class, gender, and what it means to be true to yourself. This production is adapted and directed by Princeton lecturer in Theater and English, R. N. Sandberg.

The show highlights the battle of wits and wills between Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. Speech professor Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can transform cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle from a low-class nobody to the toast of society at an upcoming garden party. He soon realizes, however, that this feat might not be so easily accomplished; Eliza has strong opinions of her own, and she is prepared to fight Henry every step of the way on her transformation from street urchin to sophisticated duchess.

Pygmalion features Jake Robertson as Henry Higgins and Princeton Summer Theater company member Bits Sola as Eliza Doolittle. The cast also includes Ross Barron (Pickering), Maeve Brady (Mrs. Higgins), Sarah Cuneo (Mrs. Eynsford Hill) Caroline Hertz (Mrs. Pearce/Miss Eynsford Hill), Kanoa Mulling (Freddy Eynsford Hill), and Evan Thompson (Mr. Doolittle).

Tickets are $27.50 for general admission and $22 for students and matinees. To pre-order tickets, visit www.princetonsummertheater.org or call the PST box office at (732) 997-0205.

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On Friday, July 10, the Princeton Senior Resource Center will host a “Lunch and Learn” program on E-Bikes by Russ White, a partner in Sourland Cycles in Hopewell. Mr. White will discuss the battery technology that makes possible the Tesla and other electrically- powered cars which is now available on bicycles.

Five levels of pedal assist capability on these bikes permits any cyclist to easily climb any hill or go miles further with just gentle effort on the pedals. This technologic assistance could be of particular interest to anyone who wants to ride alongside a more experienced cyclist or with a group of companions at varying levels of energy and endurance. The high quality e-bikes are built to last, easy to ride and perform under all conditions. Program attendees will have the opportunity to take a test ride on the latest and greatest bike technology.

Mr. White, a former publishing executive, founded the Trenton Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange in 2009, a program that provides working bicycles to low-income families at a low cost; offers internships to Trenton high school youth; and raises money – so far more than $500,000 – for the after school programs of the Trenton Boys and Girls Club.

The program is free and begins at noon at the Suzanne Patterson Building, 45 Stockton Street. Participants can bring a brown bag lunch; beverages and dessert will be provided.  Registration is encouraged. Call (609) 924.7108.

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After long drawn-out negotiations between their union and the school district, Princeton’s teachers now have a new four-year contract.

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) and the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) reached an agreement that was unanimously approved by the Board last week.

The long-awaited contract is the result of talks between BOE and PREA that began in the fall of 2013 and the cause of much criticism directed at both sides from teachers, parents, students, and taxpayers since that time.

The contract is retroactive to last July 1, when teachers had been working under the terms of an expired contract. It will expire June 30, 2018.

Under the terms of the new contract, teachers will receive a salary increase of 2.66 percent for 2014-15; 2.67 percent for 2015-16; 2.50 percent for 2016-17; and 2.63 percent for 2017-18.

According to district officials, longevity pay will be eliminated in year four of the new contract and will be incorporated into a new step system going forward.

The new contract includes increases in the stipends that teachers receive for extracurricular activities such as coaching or advising student clubs. In this case, however, the increase is not retroactive for the 2014-15 school year. The increase for year two is 2.5 percent. For years three and four, the increase is 2.25 percent.

Under the new agreement, teachers will continue to make health care contributions at the tier 4 level under Chapter 78 of New Jersey state law.

The interpretation of Chapter 78 had been a bone of contention between the two parties and the inclusion of such health care contributions at the tier 4 level was one which the teachers’ union had opposed, even after sessions with a state-appointed mediator brought in to bring the two sides to a resolution.

The new contract holds teachers to two evening parent-teacher conferences a year and offers an additional staff development day a year.

In addition, teachers who subscribe to the district’s health care benefits program will receive annual health care stipends for years two, three and four of the contract.

The agreement came just as the two sides were about to enter the expensive arbitration stage of the bargaining process known as “fact-finding,” which could have cost between $1,600 and $2,500 per day for a state appointed fact-finder. The two sides would have shared this cost.

In recent weeks, with the approach of the end of the school year, both sides met face-to-face to thrash out a deal. Hopes rose after two marathon negotiating sessions on June 2 and June 10, the first lasting 18 hours and the second 12 hours. After the second meeting, BOE President Andrea Spalla said that both parties were working to “close the remaining differences between the two sides.”

Asked Monday what had clinched the deal, BOE member Patrick Sullivan responded that “Nothing in particular ‘clinched the deal’ except many hours of listening to each other and lots of hard work. The Board’s only goal has always been to come to an agreement that is fair to our teachers and financially sustainable for our district and our children. We are grateful that the PREA worked with us to come to such a conclusion.”

Compared to earlier BOE meetings, last week’s presentation failed to draw a large audience of teachers and parents.

Princeton Council held a closed session Monday to discuss the lawsuit challenging Princeton University’s tax exempt status.

The municipality is named as a defendant in the suit, brought by public interest lawyer Bruce I. Afran in 2011 on behalf of local residents Kenneth Fields, Mary Ellen Marino, and Joseph and Kathryn King.

The suit takes issue with the tax-exempt status of University properties, arguing that they are being used for commercial functions; it challenges the University’s status as a tax exempt non-profit organization. The impetus for the suit came after a 2010 property tax reevaluation in Princeton, which resulted in increases in assessed values and therefore in property tax payments.

Princeton University is the town’s largest taxpayer and the lawsuit, which has been likened to David taking on Goliath, could have major implications for home-owners. It could potentially reduce their property taxes, which would be a boon to residents of modest or fixed incomes.

According to the University’s website, its 2014 tax payments comprise less than one percent of its 2013-14 operating budget, which was $1.582 billion.

In lieu of paying taxes to the municipality on all of its properties, the University contributes a yearly payment or PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and makes certain properties eligible for taxation. In 2014, it paid $8.5 million in property taxes and $2.75 million in PILOT payments. For 2015 the University will make $2,860,000 in PILOT payments to Princeton as part of a seven-year agreement with the municipality that calls for four percent annual increases.

According to the Princeton Tax Assessor’s office, the University owns 1,035 acres of land in Princeton with a total estimated valuation of $1.79 billion. Some 27.6 percent of this valuation is taxable, the remainder is exempt from property taxes.

Before moving into closed session Monday, the Council looked for comments from members of the public.

But only one person from the community, Dale Meade, had turned up to speak to the Council represented by President Bernie Miller and members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller, and Patrick Simon. Lance Liverman had said he would be along later.

Town Administrator Marc Dashield was also a participant in the discussion as was attorney Harry Haushalter. According to his website, Mr. Haushalter’s special areas of expertise include New Jersey State taxes, local property taxation, tax litigation, and property tax abatement.

On Monday, Ms. Butler arrived clutching a June 1 cover story in a local news publication with a photograph of attorney Mr. Afran on the cover and posing the question “Bruce Afran: constitutional crusader, or skunk at the garden party?”

The article by Vincent Xu points out that Mr. Afran has represented plaintiffs in lawsuits against Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the town of Princeton.

The article goes on to describe Mr. Afran as a “public interest lawyer devoted to civil liberties” for his work on behalf of Save the Dinky citizen group and the Princeton Battlefield Society.

Mr. Meade, a 43-year resident of Princeton, addressed the members of the Council, to whom he is no stranger, having previously spoken out on the issue of property taxes, in particular, the ways in which they are assessed and the degree of oversight the municipality has or should have with respect to this process.

“I am an advocate of strict compliance with New Jersey statutes and IRS regulations,” began Mr. Meade, pointing out that he was once a member of the Princeton Fair Tax Revaluation Group. “The municipality should be neutral with respect to this topic,” he said. “It should not take an advocacy position but rather comply with existing statutes and regulations. What I think is missing in the area of property taxes is independent oversight. The tax assessor is paid by the municipality but the Council is not supposed to tell him how to do his job. I feel that they should maintain that position and look at both sides of the issue and not take a position.”

Mr. Meade went on to advise the Council to be “squeaky clean” on conflicts of interest. “Anyone with a connection to Princeton University should not participate in this discussion; not only should they not vote, they should not participate at all.”

In response, Ms. Butler pointed out that Mayor Liz Lempert and Council Member Heather Howard had been recused. Ms. Howard is employed by the University, as is Ms. Lempert’s husband.

After his brief comments to the Council, Mr. Meade said that he had been prompted to speak in the hopes of forcing a clarification of what the municipality’s responsibility is regarding property tax assessments.

In February, tax court Judge Vito L. Bianco denied the University’s request to have the lawsuit challenging its tax exempt status thrown out.

In April, a state appeals court declined to hear the University’s appeal of Judge Bianco’s ruling.

At that time, Mr. Afran commented: “The issue is not whether the taxpayer will win but how much of the University’s tax exempt status will remain if this goes to trial.” He estimated that if the entire University campus were valued for tax purposes, the average Princeton taxpayer could potentially see a reduction of their tax bill of between 30 and 50 percent. He described contemporary universities as “hedge funds masquerading as educational non-profits.”

The challenge to the University’s property tax exempt status will be tried in New Jersey tax court, possibly in the early part of 2016.

Thanks to an acquisition announced last week by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Princeton Battlefield State Park is 4.6 acres larger. The added land fronts Stockton Street and directly abuts the main battlefield site. Its addition raises the size of the park to 80 acres.

Purchased from the D’Ambrisi family last April, the property is said to have been key to tactical maneuvers during the Battle of Princeton, fought on January 3, 1777 a week after George Washington’s victory over Hessian troops in Trenton. It consists of slightly rolling land and a series of connected ponds and streams that drain to the Stony Brook.

According to Kip Cherry, first vice president of the non-profit Princeton Battlefield Society, the property was critical to the famous battle. Just prior to the first phase, two British units stood on the ridge of the property, behind the colonnade that now stands at the site. “Understanding these stories creates important insight into the battle and into the spirit and principles on which the nation was founded,” Ms. Cherry said in a statement from the DEP.

Partners involved in preserving the parcel include the DEP’s Green Acres Program, the New Jersey State Park Service, Mercer County, the municipality of Princeton, the Princeton Battlefield Society, and the Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS). The total purchase was $850,000. The Green Acres Program contributed $450,000 and the county gave $200,000, also providing FOPOS a $100,000 matching grant available to non-profit groups.

The municipality of Princeton agreed to take on the cost of repairing the dam on the property and demolishing the house as its contribution to the preservation effort.

“Figuring out the details about demolition responsibilities and other issues such as an existing driveway easement was not easy,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “Thanks to the cooperation of all the partners, and the great work done by our engineering department, we were able to work these things out. In fact, the dam repairs and house demolition were already complete as of the transfer of the property to the State to add to the park.”

The Battlefield Society plans to use National Park Service grants to do an archaeological survey in cooperation with the State Park Service. It has been suggested that American and British soldiers are buried at the site.

“We feel a deep sense of honor in being able to add this land to one of the most important historic sites in the United States, especially as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day weekend,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said when announcing the purchase on July 1. “This acquisition shows the true power of innovative partnerships and the spirit of teamwork protecting places that are special to the people of New Jersey.”

Future plans for recreational use of the park include extending the bike path that starts at Mercer Street to Stockton Street, and possibly connecting the larger system of trails along the Stony Brook and elsewhere in Princeton.

“We always like to help add to existing parks, and this purchase will increase the public’s abilities to access and use one of the most important and beloved parks in Mercer County,” said County Executive Brian Hughes.

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Children played a variety of games during Saturday’s July 4 festivities at Princeton Battlefield State Park. Revolutionary War period soldiers from Mott’s 6th Company, 2nd Continental Artillery were on hand to demonstrate drill, artillery, and flintlock muskets while volunteers from Clarke House (shown here) demonstrated domestic skills of the day, and Battlefield Park Curator John Mills read the Declaration of Independence. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 7, 2015
Cory Booker served as the Keynote speaker at the Alumni Corps' 20th Anniversary Gala. (Image: Princeton Alumni Corps)

Cory Booker served as the Keynote speaker at the Princeton AlumniCorps’ 20th Anniversary Gala. This year’s keynote speaker was Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80. An award was also presented to Ralph Nader ’55. (Image: Princeton Alumni Corps)

Princeton AlumniCorps, an independent nonprofit organization that engages Princeton alumni in public service, selected 46 recent Princeton University graduates to serve as Project 55 Fellows.

Started in 1990 by the Princeton University class of 1955, Project 55 connects talented and committed Princeton graduates to public interest organizations in six cities across the country. Fellows spend a year working with their organization and join more than 1,500 Princeton alumni who are part of the AlumniCorps community. Two integral parts of the year-long fellowship are ongoing seminars and connecting with a mentor via the AlumniCorps’ network.

Fellows are located in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, New Jersey, Boston and San Francisco.

Ryan Whalen, Director of Initiatives and Strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation, says of Project 55, “The Foundation has had a number of Project 55 Fellows, and we are excited to have another join the team this summer. It has been a positive and productive experience and we are looking forward to continuing it.“

Andrew Nurkin, AlumniCorps Executive Director states, “The new group of Project 55 fellows are outstanding individuals who will spend the next year contributing to and learning from the work of effective public interest organizations around the US. We expect them to live purposeful lives working to create healthier communities and a more just society.”

For a complete list of Project 55 Fellows and partner organizations, visit www.alumnicorps.org.