February 11, 2015

A fire that started in a duplex at 36 Wilton Street on Wednesday, February 4, caused firefighters to evacuate the adjoining (occupied) home at 34 Wilton Street.

The blaze broke out just after 6:30 p.m., according to Princeton police.

Princeton Police and Princeton Fire Departments evacuated three residents of 34 Wilton Street. No one suffered any injuries related to the fire, said police, who also reported that no one was inside 36 Wilton Street at the time of the fire.

Firefighters forced entry into 36 Wilton Street and opened the second floor bedroom walls to extinguish the fire. They also opened the second floor bedroom walls of the 34 Wilton Street.

The investigation revealed that the roof of the duplex had recently been repaired, during which a blow torch was used in the area of the front porch roof. It is thought likely that the blow torch contributed to the cause of the fire, police said.

Subsequent to the investigation the duplex was determined to be uninhabitable, police said.

The Plainsboro Fire Department, Kingston Fire Department, Princeton University Plasma Lab and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad assisted at the scene.

 

Local celebrations of the Chinese New Year are planned for the Princeton Senior Resource Center and Princeton Public Library. On Wednesday, February 4, PSRC will celebrate with students from the YingHua International School in Princeton. The library marks the day on Saturday, February 14.

More than one billion people in China and millions of others around the world will mark the first day of the Chinese New Year on February 18. This is the most important of Chinese holidays, kicking off a celebration that lasts for 15 days and culminates with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac; in 2015 it is the sheep.

PSRC’s annual tradition will include a performance by the students and entertainment by adult members of the local Chinese community. Traditional refreshments will be served. The program is free and open to the general public. Call 609-924-7108 to reserve.

At the library, traditional Chinese dance, music, games and more are part of the celebration for people of all ages. The event is hosted by Princeton High School and the Princeton Chinese Language School. Shwu-Fen Lin, who teaches Mandarin at PHS, organizes the event. Students from several heritages and backgrounds will share many aspects of the Chinese culture as part of the celebration. The event will be held in the library’s Community Room.

All Princeton Public Library programs are free and open to the public. Call (609) 924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org for more information.

Each summer, nearly 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. Volunteer host families in Central and Southern New Jersey open their hearts and homes to New York City children.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for one or two weeks. Children who are re-invited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. Families find hosting so rewarding that more than 65 percent of all Fresh Air children are invited to visit the same host families year after year. Through the eyes of Fresh Air children, families often rediscover the beauty of their own communities.

“I have so many favorite memories that it’s hard to pick: helping our Fresh Air child catch a fish for the first time, or how excited she was her first summer to see cows and horses, or finally being able to gaze up at the stars, because she said the glare of city lights doesn’t allow her to see them. It’s definitely the little things that mean the most,” says Meg, a Fresh Air host.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information on hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, please contact Deborah Asirifi at (212) 897-8969 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.

On Saturday, February 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., local yoga teacher Shannon Hurley will lead a by-donation yoga practice to benefit the Do It For the Love Foundation, at Princeton Center for Yoga & Health (PCYH), located at 88 Orchard Road in Skillman. Do It For the Love Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by musician Michael Franti that aims, through the healing power of music, to inspire joy, hope, and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness and trauma.

The class will feature a flowing yoga practice appropriate for all levels, from beginner to advanced, as well as live music from Philadelphia area musicians Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, who will be playing a chaturangui (Indian slide guitar), and Hoagy Wing, who will be playing a doumbek (Middle Eastern hand drum).

“Music has always played an important role in my life and it is a tremendous part of my yoga practice,” said Ms. Hurley, who has been teaching yoga at Princeton Center for Yoga & Health since 2011. “After hearing about Michael Franti’s foundation, I knew I had to do something to give and to educate people about the work this foundation does.”

Attending participants will receive a goody bag as a thank you for participating and donating. “Yoga Journal, Yogi Tea, GoMacro Macro Bars and (seed) body care have all generously donated to our goody bags,” said Hurley. “The musicians providing the live music during the class have donated their time. And there will be a chocolate meditation featuring delicious treats donated by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.”

Participants can give what they can to attend. Donations will be sent to the Do It For the Love Foundation. For more information about this event or to reserve a spot, visit PrincetonYoga.com or call (609) 924-7294.

ywca dance

It was a gala scene at the Father-Daughter YWCA Valentine’s Day Dance. You can meet some of the dancers in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Because of icy weather conditions Monday, the meeting of the Mayor and Council that was scheduled that night was postponed until Tuesday night, after Town Topics’ press deadline.

In response to calls by Mayor Lempert and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, among others, for a review of the state’s construction code following last month’s AvalonBay Edgewater fire, Ms. Lempert said Monday that she had been assured by State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable that his agency would be undertaking a review of the construction code.

His commitment came at a meeting of mayors in Trenton last week. Ms. Lempert said that Princeton would form a working group to make recommendations to the DCA. It has been suggested that a fully suppressed sprinkler system and masonry firewalls would have improved safety at the Edgewater complex.

The January 22 blaze destroyed a 408-unit rental community. No one was seriously hurt but 1,000 people lost their homes and possessions. It has been widely reported that the lightweight wood construction was up to code.

According to Ms. Lempert, Mr. Constable said that the review would determine “for certain” whether the AvalonBay Edgewater development was up to code. The complex was comprised of two buildings, one burned to the ground while the other was saved by firefighters. Why?

Ms. Lempert has said that she would like the DCA to hold off on approving AvalonBay’s Princeton plans until the review provides some answers. It would also make sense to wait if changes to the construction code are in the works.

“What I’m hoping is that the DCA, when they evaluate AvalonBay’s plans for Princeton, will do that based on new building codes.”

Ms. Lempert expressed her concerns to AvalonBay in a 15-minute phone conversation with John Locale, following through on her intention expressed last week that she was planning to approach the developer to ask for voluntary changes to AvalonBay’s construction plan for 280 apartments on the former site of Princeton Hospital.

Neighborhood Planning Program

In addition to a presentation from Ray Wadsworth on this year’s Spirit of Princeton Events, members of Council were due to hear a report Tuesday night from Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon of the Advisory Planning District Task Force.

It was expected that the report would recommend a “Neighborhood Planning Program” to provide neighborhood residents a “voice” in the planning process through improved communications between the municipality, prospective developers, and neighborhood residents and groups. Better communication would see such items as land use applications posted on the municipal website, which could in turn “encourage neighborhood meetings,” said the mayor.

Ms. Lempert described the recommendations as being “as much a service to developers as to neighborhood groups.”

“This has been in the works for a while so its good to see it come to fruition; it will improve the planning process,” said Ms. Lempert.

A review of the municipality’s “Goals and Priorities” was also on the agenda, although since a full contingent of Council members was not expected to be present, it would not be voted on until a subsequent meeting. Town Administrator Marc Dashield said Monday that the three main goals were: financial stability, a safe and inclusive community, and a well-run community. All other priorities fall within these main goals,” said Ms. Lempert.

Expansion of Mary Moss Park

Council was expected to vote on two new ordinances at Tuesday’s meeting. The first was to regulate parking on Cleveland Lane where there is currently conflicting signage. The second was an appropriation of $600,000 from the Princeton Open Space Trust Fund for improvements to Mary Moss Park on John Street. The municipality plans to expand the park through the purchase of a two-family dwelling at 31/33 Lytle Street. The purchase price of the property has not yet been determined as appraisals are underway, said the mayor. A 50 percent matching grant is expected from the Mercer County Open Space Trust Fund.

The plan is to demolish the building and use the land to extend the park, which will also be improved later this year, with the help of funding from Mercer County, that will be used for a “water spray” feature to replace the old wading pool. The renovated park is expected to open in 2016.

Visit to White House

As a participant in the “My Brothers Keeper Program,” Princeton is to be represented by Ms. Lempert at the White House this Thursday, February 12. “This program provides opportunities for kids to reach their full potential and the municipality is partnering with the school district, local clergy, and local non-profit organizations on this,” said the mayor. Human Services Department Director Elisa Neir will also be going to Washington, D.C.

Transco Public Hearing

The next Council meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 24 instead of Monday, February 23. A Transcontinental Pipeline hearing has been called for the evening of February 23. The public hearing will be held by the Department of the Environment’s Division of Land Use Regulation at 7 p.m. in the Senior Room at the Nassau Inn.

Although the late-January storm that never happened postponed the public hearing on the bike lane ordinance from January 26 to February 18, another sort of storm has been brewing among residents living on a three-block stretch of Hamilton Avenue who feel blindsided by the sudden introduction of an ordinance that would construct bike lanes at the expense of on-street parking.

The lone “no” vote when the ordinance was introduced at the January 12 Council meeting came from Council member Patrick Simon, who lives on a neighboring street. In a telephone interview Tuesday, he said he cast his vote after consulting with 21 Hamilton Avenue residents, 15 of whom were against the plan, four in favor, and two undecided. Since then Mr. Simon has twice spoken with homeowners on Hamilton and with residents on side streets. As he wrote in his January 21 letter to Town Topics, he remains unconvinced of “the merits of the proposed changes,” feeling that the public has not had “adequate input into this ordinance and the larger plans for a bicycling network throughout town.” He also shares the general concern about the difficulties the strict parking regulations would cause for the handicapped and the elderly.

Mr. Simon pointed out that the master plan put into effect in November 2013 contains no reference to the construction of bike lanes and related enforcement of no parking rules on Hamilton. Nor were residents notified of the bike lane issue in a June message announcing a meeting about plans for widening and improving the street. At the meeting, which was lightly attended, residents heard for the first time the full extent of changes being planned. Those who were there were not happy with the plan.

As a resident of the neighborhood, Mr. Simon knows from experience the complexity of the parking issue. “Whenever a big event is held at the Jewish Center on Nassau, there’s an overflow of parked cars and Hamilton is one of the main streets used.” If parking were banned there, the impact on the side streets would be significant.

Asked about how the Council would react to the arguments against the plan at next Wednesday’s neighborhood meeting, he thinks a reversal is unlikely (“You would have to flip three votes”), though he foresees the possibility of a compromise that would delay the vote. “Council has to take notice and recognize what’s been done and what hasn’t,” he said, mentioning the need to consult with the engineering department.

Other Views

Consulted about the issue, Princeton University Professor and Director of the Transportation Program Alain Kornhauser said in an email, “If we somehow wanted to better accommodate the small percentage of trips taken by bicycle, then we need to be looking at much more than the couple of blocks on Hamilton. We also need to better understand how our sidewalks are being used.”

Other residents interviewed Monday included a homeowner who rides a bike to work and downtown but finds the plan “ill-conceived,” having seen relatively little bicycle traffic on Hamilton.

Hornor Lane resident Peter Thompson, who has lived adjacent to Hamilton for 50 years, is also a frequent bicycle rider. Besides being concerned that the surrounding roads (Hornor, Stanley, Harriet, and Leavitt) are going to be relegated to the parking role that will be prohibited on Hamilton and will make the side streets “even less child (and bicycle) friendly,” he is afraid that this seems like a “bike path to nowhere” and thinks “the municipality should be spelling that out clearly now rather than presenting the overall plan in a piecemeal fashion.”

A message from Princeton Joint Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) addressing the fact that the number of cyclists on the streets seems to preclude the need for the bike lane ordinance suggested, “Many people in Princeton are cycling already, but other college towns have higher rates of cycling. Why is this? Research shows that safe street design is the single biggest factor in determining numbers of cyclists. When streets are designed with all users in mind, many more people choose to cycle.”

Patrick Simon ended his January 21 letter in terms that still hold true except for the date: “Please consider attending the February 18 neighborhood meeting to hear about what is being proposed, to share your own concerns, and to listen to the concerns of others within the community regarding this issue.”

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m., Wednesday, February 18, in the Main Meeting Room at Witherspoon Hall. The Council, Mayor Lempert, and members of the Traffic and Transportation Committee, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee will attend. Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday, February 24, at 7 p.m.

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) approved a Spanish/English Dual Language Immersion (DLI) Program last week.

The pilot program will be open only to students entering kindergarten and first grade at Community Park School (CP) this September. Parents will be able to choose whether to have their kindergartners and first-graders learn partly in English and partly in Spanish.

The district is adopting a 50/50 model, in which half of the core instruction will take place in Spanish, and the other half in English.

The pilot program will be offered for a trial period of two years and only at Community Park School. If successful, the pilot may serve as the springboard for expansion of the DLI program model. Evaluation of its success will be based on several factors, including “parent interest, community demand, financial/budgetary considerations, the impact on the school’s unity and culture, impact on students who are not in the program, instructional delivery, staffing capacity, and demographic context of the district.”

CP serves a large number of Latino pupils, drawn from the immigrant community living in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Students who enter as first graders this fall will continue the program in the second grade in September 2016.

Math and science instruction will be given in Spanish. Social studies, English language arts and the “specials” classes of gym, art, music and library will be in English.

“I am very excited about this innovative, evidence-based initiative at Community Park,” said BOE member Andrea Spalla, who credits Priscilla Russel, the district’s Supervisor for World Languages and English as a Second Language under former Superintendent of Schools Judy Wilson, for first bringing the idea to the Board three years ago.

“It was clear that Priscilla had already been researching and thinking about the DLI concept for a long time; she made a very compelling and well-supported case for her vision,” said Ms. Spalla, adding that Community Park School is an optimal school to pilot the new program: it serves native Spanish-speaking children and families in the neighborhood; it already has several bilingual certified classroom teachers; and it’s already, in many ways, a culturally and demographically “global” school.

Parent survey responses suggested a high level of interest in the program. Several parents urged the board to vote for the pilot at last week’s meeting. “I’ve heard from many more that there is much positive ‘buzz’ about the program among CP parents,” said Ms. Spalla.

CP principal Dineen Gruchacz embraced the chance to introduce bilingual teaching. “She never once hesitated, but immediately saw the promise of a DLI program for her school’s children, and embraced the idea and the work wholeheartedly,” said Ms. Spalla.

The CP principal included several parents and many of her teachers and staff members in the planning process. According to Ms. Spalla, this has been key in establishing the pilot.

“Because this DLI program is a very different instructional delivery model than what our classroom teachers are accustomed to, and because it requires an unusually intensive level of collaboration between the DLI classroom teachers, the teachers’ involvement in the planning process and their firm support for the implementation has been not merely helpful but absolutely essential,” said Ms. Spalla. “The Board is immensely grateful for their work and their courage in taking on this exciting new challenge for our students.

While there are more than 2,000 schools nationwide with dual language programs, only three districts in New Jersey offer such instruction. After the test period, the program will be evaluated to see whether it should be expanded.

According to the district’s website, “Research over the last 30 years shows that dual language instruction can produce important benefits for students, including enhanced cognitive skills, a heightened sense of global citizenship and higher second language proficiency.”

Interested parents of students who will be entering kindergarten at Community Park this fall are being advised to attend one of two information sessions being offered at the school, on Thursday, February 12, at 9 a.m., and Tuesday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m.

A number of information sessions for parents of rising first graders have already been offered over the past months.

A lottery will be held if parent interest at Community Park exceeds classroom capacity.

For more information about the DLI program, visitwww.princetonk12.org/Dual_Immersion.

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Members of the Hun School boys’ hockey team celebrate last Thursday after defeating Morristown-Beard 5-3 in the state Prep title game at Twin Oaks Ice Rink. The triumph marked the program’s first Prep title since 1996. See page 30 for details on Hun’s title run. (Photo Courtesy of the Hun School)

February 4, 2015
AWARD WINNER: Tag Quijano with his border collie Sadie in his home basement workshop where he has built his own 3D printer among other innovative projects. The keen scout, along with two other Princeton Day School (PDS) students, won a 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award last week. Tag designed and led the construction of a Human Powered Rain Water Delivery System for the teaching garden at PDS that he hopes will be a model for others interested in conservation.(Photo by Jill Carpe)

AWARD WINNER: Tag Quijano with his border collie Sadie in his home basement workshop where he has built his own 3D printer among other innovative projects. The keen scout, along with two other Princeton Day School (PDS) students, won a 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award last week. Tag designed and led the construction of a Human Powered Rain Water Delivery System for the teaching garden at PDS that he hopes will be a model for others interested in conservation. (Photo by Jill Carpe)

Princeton Day School (PDS) sophomore Tag Quijano was delighted to hear that he was going to receive a 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award but disappointed that he had to miss the award ceremony at the Princeton Public Library last Thursday, January 29. The 15-year-old had good reason for his absence though — he was attending a model United Nations conference in Philadelphia.

As a student well on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout, Tag is something of a role model himself. Last summer he led a team of scouts in building shelves and organizational units at the Princeton Friends School. “He is very handy,” said his mother Jill Carpe, owner of “Shop the World,” Princeton’s fair trade store, on Spring Street. “He’s built his own 3D printer and is always working on something.”

Along with fellow PDS students Zach “Woogie” Woogen and Kate Yazujian, both seniors, Tag was honored by Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission for collective efforts that resulted in an annual Harvest Dinner for 250 people as well as a Student Environmental Conference. They were also part of a Greenhouse Gas Assessment team. All three are participants in the national Student Climate and Conservation Congress run by the Green School’s Alliance.

Tag is also a member of Princeton Scout Troop 43, and his contribution to the PDS environment was an innovative Eagle Scout project that would achieve sustainable change through engineering and design. With the help of a team of scouts and other PDS students, Tag built a Human Powered Rain Water Delivery System of his own design for the school’s teaching garden.

Using a donated bike on a platform constructed from recycled wood pallets, Tag’s project collects rainwater thereby reducing the amount of tap water used to irrigate the garden’s crops and flowers. Pumps powered by the bicycle rider, take the rain water to where it’s needed.

The impact of his Human Powered Rain Water Delivery System is something that Tag hopes to spread to other schools and communities. Plans for the system are available on the Troop 43 website (www.princetontroop43.org).

“I want the project to be replicable in other schools and gardens, and that as many students as possible have the opportunity to learn from it,” said Tag, who hopes that students will learn to be stewards of the land and its resources. It’s a mission that aligns with the Scout’s “Leave No Trace” ideal. So it’s no surprise to learn that Tag is the “Leave No Trace Instructor” for Troop 43.

His commitment to environmental issues has taken him on two occasions to the Student Climate and Conservation Congress, which exists to empower outstanding student environmental leaders with the skills, knowledge, and tools to address climate change and the challenges to the Earth’s natural resources.

Concern for the environment as well as scouting seem to run in the family. Tag’s older brother Max, 26, who now lives in Belize where he owns a solar light company, was a scout. His sister Grace, 13, is a girl scout cadet and his younger brother Chase, 11, is currently a Webelo cub scout who will be jointing Troop 43 in the spring. Both of Tag’s younger siblings attend the Princeton Friends School, where, following the success of his Human Powered Rain Water Delivery System at PDS, he plans to build a second system for the school garden.

Eagle Scout Projects require demonstrated leadership as well as service to others. A successful project is one that a scout can be proud of for the rest of his life. As far as his mother is concerned, being a scout is an enriching experience. “It’s all about being in a good supportive troop and we are very happy with Troop 43, whose members come from many different private and public schools in the Princeton area. The leaders and parents are very supportive of all the boys,” said Ms. Carpe. “I am proud that at such a young age Tag wants to make a difference in the world.”

For more information on Troop 43, scout, visit www.princetontroop43.org. For photographs of Tag’s project at Princeton Day School, visit: www.princetontroop43.org/eagle-projects/tag-quijano/tag-quijano.

The man found dead by workers clearing snow-covered walkways on the morning of Monday, January 26, has been identified as George Gagliardi, 49, of Sewell. According to West Windsor police, the death is not suspicious and is being regarded as a suicide.

The deceased was located at 10:36 a.m. in a patch of woods near 502 Carnegie Center, according to police. Police and paramedics were immediately called to the scene.

Detectives from West Windsor Township Police and the Mercer County Homicide Task Force conducted the investigation.

ASPECTS OF PRINCETON: “Princeton Places,” a project Lewis Center visiting faculty member Danielle Aubert suggested to students in her fall 2014 advanced graphic design class, will be introduced February 11 at a 6 p.m. presentation and discussion at the Princeton Public Library.

ASPECTS OF PRINCETON: “Princeton Places,” a project Lewis Center visiting faculty member Danielle Aubert suggested to students in her fall 2014 advanced graphic design class, will be introduced February 11 at a 6 p.m. presentation and discussion at the Princeton Public Library.

Teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit, graphic artist Danielle Aubert often met fellow artists visiting the city to do projects about its abandoned buildings and urban blight. While she admired their efforts, she wondered what it would be like for budding artists who actually lived there to express their ideas about the city.

Currently a visiting Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Ms. Aubert suggested a similar idea to students in her fall 2014 advanced graphic design class. The result, a book called Princeton Places, will be introduced February 11 at a 6 p.m. presentation and discussion at the Princeton Public Library.

The eight students interpreted such sites as Palmer Square, Princeton Running Company, the Princeton Airport, and the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath, varying widely in their use of methods and materials. “I wanted to do something in Princeton that was useful for students to get to know the community, and graphic design is an interesting way to do it,” said Ms. Aubert. “You can pull together so many different materials. There are a lot of ways to represent a place.”

The students were asked to choose a site to examine and represent as a book using the tools of graphic design. They employed images, maps, interviews, writings, and archival materials. Simon Wu used photographs of food he ordered at Soonja’s Cafe to talk about the restaurant on Alexander Street. Neeta Patel’s photos and printed interviews were her interpretation of Princeton Running Company. Felicia Ng used historic photos, maps, and text to talk about the displacement of an African-American neighborhood to make way for the development of Palmer Square. Andrew Sonderm also chose Palmer Square, but took a different approach.

“Two of the students did projects on Palmer Square. They looked at interesting sides of it,” Ms. Aubert said. “One mapped out all of the stores from decade to decade, but you see them moving around within the square. Another one was an interview with someone who lives in Palmer Square.”

Ms. Aubert decided it was important to focus on locations that were easily accessible for the students, because she knew multiple visits and detailed exploration would be part of the project.

“When I started thinking about this, I knew that New Jersey was marking the 350th anniversary of its naming, so I considered telling the students they could go anywhere in New Jersey,” said Ms. Aubert. “But the more I thought about it, I realized I wanted them to be able to visit the sites multiple times, and have their own relationships to the sites so they were not just visiting or thinking of it as an outsider. The one rule was that it had to be off campus. I told them to pick a street, a shop, or whatever, focusing on a place that was lively and not necessarily a historical site.”

Asked for her favorites, Ms. Aubert was diplomatic. “I thought they were all interesting,” she said. “I did really enjoy reading the one by Angela Zhou about Shanghai Bun, the restaurant in Princeton Junction. I thought it was interesting because it brings in a sort of global angle. And in her book, she talks about her own relationship to the restaurant, which is a little bit surprising.”

As part of the project, each student created his or her own book. Princeton Places is made up of excerpts from those
individual publications.

Ms. Aubert is no stranger to using graphic design for a book. “I actually co-edited a book about my neighborhood in Detroit,” she said. “It’s called Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit. It guided me a lot with this project, in terms of what I was asking them to come up with. To gather all the material and edit and design it is a big project. No one is telling you ‘You can’t put that in your book.’ It’s a big undertaking.”

The book launch of Princeton Places is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11, at Princeton Public Library.

Princeton resident and corporate executive David Hill has joined the board of trustees of Volunteer Connect. Mr. Hill is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NRG Energy, Inc. He joined the company in 2012 after holding leadership positions in both private law firms and the federal government in Washington D.C.

At NRG, Mr. Hill encourages his employees to volunteer to support the needs of community nonprofits, either with skilled volunteer opportunities or board service. NRG recently hosted VolunteerConnect’s, BoardConnect nonprofit board training service for top executives from Boston and Princeton.

“VolunteerConnect’s model and mission fit well with my interest to connect people with community needs,” said Mr. Hill. “I am honored to join the board of an organization that can and does play an important role with helping nonprofits and helping people find good service opportunities.”

Robin Fogel, Board Chair of VolunteerConnect, commented, “David Hill’s commitment to service and corporate social responsibility are exemplary. We are thrilled to add his impressive expertise and insights to the talented VolunteerConnect board, and to further our relationships with Central New Jersey companies.”

VolunteerConnect partners with corporations to engage employees in nonprofit board training to learn to be effective nonprofit board members and provides skills-based volunteer opportunities with Central New Jersey nonprofits in need of strategic support.

The Historical Society of Princeton invites members and friends to the 2015 Annual Meeting and Lewis B. Cuyler Lecture, to be held at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street, on Wednesday, February 11, at 7 p.m. James W. Hughes, Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, will be the guest speaker.

Mr. Hughes will discuss the topics addressed his most recent book, New Jersey’s Postsuburban Economy, which was co-authored with Joseph J. Seneca, Rutgers University Professor of Economics, and based on the nearly three-decade-long Rutgers Regional Report series. New Jersey’s economy, from its colonial origins to the present day, has continuously and successfully confronted the challenges and uncertainties of technological and demographic change, placing the state at the forefront of each national and global economic era. On the brink of yet another transformation, this one driven by a new technology and an internet based global economy, the state will have to adapt itself again.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited; call (609) 921-6748 x105 or email eve@princetonhistory.org to make a reservation.
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Dr. Paul Corkum, professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Ottawa, will deliver this year’s Plasma Science and Technology Distinguished Speaker Lecture entitled “Plasma Physics at the Atomic Level.” The lecture, sponsored by the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the School and Engineering and Applied Science, will be held on the Princeton University campus, Tuesday, February 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering faculty room, J-223, E-Quad, Olden St., Princeton.

The talk will describe the deeper understanding of the effects of strong fields on atomic and molecular physics made possible by his invention of high-power short-pulse X-ray lasers based on optical field multiphoton ionization. These systems have achieved record levels of intensity and brevity, allowing scientists to probe, with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution, the detailed geometry, chemistry, and attosecond evolution of small systems, exploiting and “photographing” the orbitals of individual electrons.

The characteristics of the coherently emitted light during the ionization process extend optical science to extremely short pulses and short wavelengths. The emergent plasma-physics-like concepts are shown to be applicable to the multiphoton creation of excitons in solids and allow measurement of the band structure of solids with all-optical methods.

Dr. Corkum, a member of the Royal Societies of London and of Canada, the Order of Canada, and the U.S. Academy of Sciences, is Director of the Attosecond Science Program, National Research Council. He has been awarded the Canadian Association of Physicists’ gold medal for lifetime achievement in Physics (1996), the Einstein Award of the Society for Optical and Quantum Electronics (1999), the Royal Society of Canada’s Tory Medal (2003), her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), the Optical Society’s Charles H. Townes award (2005), the IEEE’s Quantum Electronics award (2005), the American Physical Society’s Arthur L. Schawlow prize for Quantum Electronics (2006), and NSERC’s Polanyi Award (2008).

The talk is free and open to the public.

At a press conference held in the parking lot on Franklin Avenue Tuesday, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco and Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland joined Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, and a number of local residents who turned out to express concern about the safety of the new AvalonBay construction.

Ms. Lempert and Mr. Hughes called last week for the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to review New Jersey’s building code after a fire on January 22 destroyed a rental community owned by AvalonBay, the developer that will build 280 apartments on the former site of Princeton Hospital. The officials from northern New Jersey joined Ms. Lempert and Mr. Hughes in their call for more stringent measures.

The Avalon at Edgewater 408-unit apartment complex was built to code using lightweight, wood construction. While no one was seriously injured, the development burned to the ground in a five-alarm blaze, and displaced some 1,000 people.

Mr. Hughes and Ms. Lempert took slightly different approaches to the issue when interviewed Monday. While Mr. Hughes said he is not calling for new legislation, Ms. Lempert said that she is hoping for a revision of current laws.

“I’ve spent most of my life living in Princeton,” said Mr. Hughes. “What I’m interested in is for the DCA to say that this building is going to be safe. It’s in the best interest of AvalonBay, of Princeton, and the surrounding neighborhood. So I’m not calling for new legislation or a moratorium or anything like that. I just want to know from DCA that it’s safe. If its [construction is] an exact copy of the one in Edgewater, then that’s not the building for Princeton. I just want a clean bill of health. That’s all I want to see.”

Republican Assemblyman Scott Rumana, from Wayne, has said he is working on legislation that will put a moratorium of up to two years on the approval and construction of multi-family housing developments until the state’s building code is revised.

“There are obvious places to look as a first step,” said Ms. Lempert. “One is the sprinkler requirements. Another would be cinderblock dividers within the complex. They’re not required, and that’s the problem. We can only hold a developer to what’s written in the law. One of the more disturbing reports out of Edgewater was that it was supposedly built to code.”

Ms. Lempert said that unlike Mr. Hughes, she is hoping that the legislature is going to take another look at the building code. “There seems to be bipartisan agreement that this is something that needs to happen,” she said. “What I’m hoping is that the DCA, when they evaluate AvalonBay’s plans for Princeton, will do that based on new building codes.”

Ms. Lempert said Monday that she had not heard from AvalonBay, but is planning to approach the company about voluntarily changing the construction plan. “They’ve already submitted their plans to the DCA,” she commented. “Under normal circumstances, DCA would review those plans based on what the law was when they were submitted. Given what’s happened in Edgewater, I think everybody can recognize that it’s not enough.

“I also think it’s in AvalonBay’s interest,” she continued. “If they’re going to try to successfully rent the apartments, they’ll need to be able to assure people that the building was built differently from the one in Edgewater.”

At yesterday’s press conference Ms. Lempert described the Edgewater complex conforming to code as “cold comfort to those who suffered the trauma of losing their homes. Clearly we need to update the codes. This is an important issue not only for Princeton but for the entire state of New Jersey.”

Mr. McPartland spoke of the 250 firefighters from 35 towns, as well as fireboats from New Jersey and New York fire departments drawing water from the Hudson River to put out the blaze. “We’re not here to place blame but we have an obligation to make sure that codes keep up with building trends and materials.”

Mr. Tedesco, a former fireman, agreed: “This isn’t about an individual company, it’s about construction in New Jersey, whether the codes allow for people to live in a safe environment.” He suggested two changes for multi-story residential units that would have made all the difference in Edgewater: requiring a fully suppressed sprinkler system and masonry firewalls. He reported that DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable had assured him that the codes would be looked at, and in a timely manner.

Questioned as to how long such a review might take, Mr. Tedesco estimated somewhere between 8 and 16 months. Mr. Hughes suggested that if the governor got behind it, the review could be done in a matter of weeks. Mr. Hughes also spoke positively about other AvalonBay buildings in Mercer County, but pointed out that these differed from both the Edqewater and the proposed Princeton developments in being only two-story constructions.

“We can’t change what happened in Edgewater,” added Mr. Tedesco, “but we can prevent other fires like it. Princeton doesn’t have the Hudson River and access to New York and New Jersey fireboats.”

 

SUSTAINING PRINCETON: The 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards were given out at the Princeton Public Library Thursday, January 29. Six awards recognized seven individuals and one downtown business. From left: Hutchinson "Huck" Fairman, Vikki Caines, Zach Woogan, Alexandra Bar-Cohen, and Penny Thomas. Not pictured: Tag Quijano, Kate Yazujian, Susie Wilson, and William and Cecilia Howard of Princeton Printer.

SUSTAINING PRINCETON: The 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards were given out at the Princeton Public Library Thursday, January 29. Six awards recognized seven individuals and one downtown business. From left: Hutchinson “Huck” Fairman, Vikki Caines, Zach Woogan, Alexandra Bar-Cohen, and Penny Thomas. Not pictured: Tag Quijano, Kate Yazujian, Susie Wilson, and William and Cecilia Howard of Princeton Printer.

An eclectic group of citizen-environmentalists was honored by Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) for varied contributions to the economic health and well-being of the Princeton community at a January 29 ceremony in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library.

Winners of the 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards, given out by Mayor Liz Lempert and Sustainable Princeton board member and founder Heidi Fichtenbaum, include a municipal employee, three high school students, three residents, and a local business.

Chosen from 20 nominations by a volunteer review team of five individuals deeply involved in sustainability activism, the winners were selected for activities such as protecting and improving the natural environment; reducing waste and/or increasing recycling; educating others about sustainable practices, and conserving energy or using it more efficiently.

The annual awards are intended to identify and reward Princeton’s best, brightest, and greenest in their efforts to create a sustainable environment. Each nomination was reviewed for its impact and innovation. The committee also looked for unsung heroes working to create positive change.

Nominations were made for individuals, organizations, and/or businesses that are “catalysts and models within our community and have preserved and improved the natural, social, or economic fabric of our town,” said Sustainable Princeton’s Executive Director Diane Landis. “It is heartening to see the diverse types of environmental efforts going on in our community.”

The 2014 Sustainable Princeton Leadership Awards recognized seven individuals and one downtown business, whose singular activities range from planting special municipal gardens to hosting zero waste school picnics and conducting a Greenhouse Gas Assessment at a local school.

The recipients were: environmental activist Alexandra Bar-Cohen; gardener Vikki Caines; columnist Hutchinson “Huck” Fairman; high school students Tag Quijano (see story page 5), Zach Woogen, and Kate Yazujian; curbside organic waste program champions Penny Thomas and Susie Wilson; and the local business, Princeton Printer.

Ms. Bar-Cohen was honored for her volunteer work to create zero waste events and a zero waste culture at the Jewish Center and at Littlebrook Elementary School. Her advocacy on behalf of the county-wide plastic bag referendum was also recognized. She was thanked for “changing the daily habits of countless numbers of Princeton residents and, in so doing, helping to steer us all toward a more sustainable future.”

“We feel that it is important to celebrate those who go about making positive changes quietly: individuals like Alexandra Bar-Cohen who does behind the scenes nitty-gritty work that has an impact in changing habits that can be hard to change,” commented Ms. Landis Monday.

Ms. Caines went above and beyond her 9-to-5 duties at the Princeton Recreation Department with her idea for special gardens at the municipal complex at 400 Witherspoon Street, which she went on to plant and tend. Her work was commended for “bringing smiles to visitors’ faces and for providing an example of the way in which forgotten patches of dirt can be turned into thriving gardens.”

Mr. Fairman’s regular volunteer newspaper column “Huck’s Solutions” was cited for inspiring “important environmental action,” through “consistent, persistent, and successful efforts to inform our community about environmental issues.”

Several projects at Princeton Day School garnered an award for the collective efforts of students Tag Quijano, Zach “Woogie” Woogen, and Kate Yazujian, who organized an annual Harvest Dinner for 250 as well as the school’s Student Environmental Conference. In addition, the three were part of a Greenhouse Gas Assessment team and are leaders at the national Student Climate and Conservation Congress run by the Green School’s Alliance.

Constitution Hill residents Penny Thomas and Susie Wilson shared an award for their tenacious work with neighbors, the property owner’s association, and Princeton’s recycling coordinator to successfully implement Princeton’s curbside organic waste program.

As well as individual citizens (teachers, school administrators, government employees, and religious leaders, among others) the awards recognize businesses and this year, Princeton Printer was recognized as “a model and a knowledge-resource for everyone about how to run a green business.” The company has installed solar panels on its rooftop and uses soy ink.

Sustainable Princeton’s goals are to reduce the town’s fossil fuels energy use by 20 percent between now and 2020 and to reduce waste to landfill by 50 percent by 2016. “We are a hub and a catalyst for change, providing information, vetting ideas, educating and exciting the community to action,” said Ms. Landis.

In addition to its website: www.sustainableprincton.org, members of the public can find out more about Sustainable Princeton through hour-long open office hours in Monument Hall on Wednesdays, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. These “tea and talks” are an opportunity to chat about sustainability concerns and ideas while enjoying a brew from local sources such as InfiniTea said Ms. Landis.

For more information, call (609) 454-4757 or visit: www.sustainableprinceton.org.

front page snow tiger

As Katy Perry sang “The Eye of the Tiger” at Sunday’s Superbowl half time show, one of Princeton’s own tigers was holding its own against the snow as shown here in this shot by local fine art photographer Richard Trenner. (Image courtesy of Richard Trenner)

January 28, 2015

After reviewing the case of Eric Maltz, 22, the Princeton resident who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2013 crash that killed a Princeton rabbi, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert C. Billmeier ordered Mr. Maltz’s release from the criminal locked unit at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

Mr. Maltz had been held at the facility since Judge Billmeier’s December 23 ruling that he was not guilty by reason of insanity in the Riverside Drive crash that resulted in the death of Rabbi James S. Diamond and caused serious injury to Rabbi Robert Freedman.

Mr. Maltz had been charged with one count of death by auto and one count of assault by auto following the incident. He pleaded not guilty to the charges that could have meant up to 40 years in prison, a sentence of 30 years for first degree aggravated manslaughter and 10 years for aggravated assault.

Following the judge’s December ruling, Mr. Maltz was sent to the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital pending review of his case. He was ordered to remain there “if and until the court finds that he is no longer mentally unfit, such that he poses a danger to himself or others.”

He was released, with conditions, Friday, January 16.

According to a psychiatrist Mr. Maltz posed no danger to others. It was recommended that he be released on condition he remain in psychotherapy, continue taking his medications and submit to random drug tests. At present, he will not get his driver’s license back or be allowed to drive. His father will be responsible for his supervision.

Mr. Billmeier’s December ruling was based on the findings of a psychiatrist who had interviewed Mr. Maltz and reviewed his psychiatric records. He found that at the time of the crash Mr. Maltz met the legal definition of not guilty by reason of insanity.

In March 2013, in what is thought to have been a botched suicide attempt, Mr. Maltz drove a BMW car at high speed into an unoccupied Toyota Camry on Riverside Drive. The struck car then hit a parked Toyota Prius just as Mr. Diamond, 74, was getting into the passenger side. Mr. Robert Freedman, then 63, a former cantor at the Jewish Center of Princeton, was in the driver’s seat. Both men were leaving a Talmud study group.

The Toyota Camry had been parked in front of the Prius. The impact of the BMW pushed the parked Camry into the Prius. Mr. Diamond, who had directed Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life from 1995 to his retirement in 2003, died at the scene. Mr. Freedman and Mr. Maltz were both taken to the trauma center at Capital Health Medical Center.

After the incident, Mr. Maltz was committed to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, where he remained for several months until he was released to his family on Braeburn Drive. Reportedly, the young man has a history of mental illness and had been in a psychiatric facility not long before the March 2013 crash. He had tried to harm himself with a knife in 2012 and had struggled with mood swings and depression.

ON CAMPUS SOON: Andrew Solomon will discuss his  award-winning work “Far From The Tree” on February 10 at 6 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50. A Washington Post review called the book “a hybrid series of thematically linked oral histories, the majority of which are deeply moving about the strength of parents who display heroic energy and creativity.”

ON CAMPUS SOON: Andrew Solomon will discuss his award-winning work “Far From The Tree” on February 10 at 6 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50. A Washington Post review called the book “a hybrid series of thematically linked oral histories, the majority of which are deeply moving about the strength of parents who display heroic energy and creativity.”

Writer, lecturer, and activist Andrew Solomon will discuss his award-winning book Far From The Tree (2012) on February 10 at 6 p.m. in McCosh Hall 50. The book is an exploration of the means by which families accommodate children with physical, mental and social disabilities and how these unusual situations can be invested with love.

Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Julie Myerson termed Far From the Tree “a passionate and affecting work that will shake up your preconceptions and leave you in a better place. It’s a book everyone should read and … there’s no one who wouldn’t be a more imaginative and understanding parent — or human being — for having done so.”

Far From The Tree received the 2012 National Book Critics Award, the Lambda Literary Award, Media for a Just Society Award of the National Council of Crime and Delinquency, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The founder of the Solomon Research Fellowships in LGBT Studies at Yale University, he is a professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. His 2001 book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, explored the science and culture of clinical depression through interviews and his own experience. It was awarded the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

The Stafford Little Lecture Series and the Belknap Visitors in the Council of the Humanities are cosponsoring this event, which is free and open to the public. For more information on this event, please visit lectures.princeton.edu.

HISTORIC LODGE: The Masonic Temple at 30 Maclean has a rich history. Situated on the corner with John Street, the building is in the process of being purchased by a group of developers working in tandem with local architect Josh Zinder and others who plan to restore the building’s exterior while restructuring the interior as rental apartments. Mr. Zinder and his partners brought their initial concept of the building’s future to a meeting with members of the local community held at the Arts Council of Princeton last week.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

HISTORIC LODGE: The Masonic Temple at 30 Maclean has a rich history. Situated on the corner with John Street, the building is in the process of being purchased by a group of developers working in tandem with local architect Josh Zinder and others who plan to restore the building’s exterior while restructuring the interior as rental apartments. Mr. Zinder and his partners brought their initial concept of the building’s future to a meeting with members of the local community held at the Arts Council of Princeton last week. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Is there a market in Princeton for rental apartments within walking distance of the center of town for people of modest income who want low rents and access to all that the municipality has to offer? Princeton Property Partners (PPP) seem to think so. And, in conjunction with local architect Josh Zinder and several others, they are putting their beliefs into action with an undertaking that would turn the old Masonic Lodge at the corner of John and Maclean streets in the Jackson/Witherspoon neighborhood into an apartment building.

Last Wednesday, January 21, PPP’s Aubrey Haines and Mr. Zinder invited the neighbors in to see what they had in mind. Their plans met with a cautious thumbs up.

The proposal to turn the Masonic Temple into a 10-unit apartment building was presented to those who live near the historic structure and who are concerned about the impact that any plans for its future use might have on the neighborhood.

About 50 people, including four former Princeton mayors: Jim Floyd, Marvin Reed, Mildred Trotman, and Yina Moore, came to the Arts Council to hear Mr. Zinder, who lives on Moore Street and is principal of the architectural firm JZA+D, describe plans for 10 apartments ranging from about 500 square feet to just under 1,000 square feet.

To conform with the municipality’s 20 percent affordable housing requirements, two of the units would be designated “affordable housing.”

Aubrey Haines of PPP, which invests in college-town properties, spoke first and acknowledged co-investors, Jared Witt, Roland Pott, and Josh Zinder. “Josh is a 14- year resident of Princeton, he understands a lot about this community and how they view change,” said Mr. Haines. “Others might come in and say here’s what we want to do. We recognize that this doesn’t get a good reception, so we want to start with the community and get things right.”

“This historic structure is important to the people who grew up here and a developer could come in, knock it down, and build two mansions, but that isn’t appropriate for this neighborhood,” said Mr. Haines. “We are here to listen to what you have to say.”

Stressing that the ideas being presented were still in the early stages and that the purchase of the building hasn’t yet been finalized, Mr. Zinder said: “We think we have a good project for this neighborhood. We want to restore and maintain the building.” Noting that the building had some original brick, he said, “We would like to bring back some of the character of the original structure, perhaps expose some of the brick, refinish the wood, or color the stucco.”

“We want to present the concept to the neighbors, since we will be seeking variances and would like to have their support. We want to keep the original structure rather than tear it down and put up something that would be at odds with the neighborhood,” said Mr. Zinder.

The plan would include an external staircase and an elevator tower serving three ground floor flats (two studios and a one-bedroom apartment), three second floor units, and four units on the top two floors, and a parking lot on Maclean.

Questions and comments from the audience followed the brief presentation. The first came from a neighbor who knew the building from the days when her grandfather was a mason. “It’s hard to see how you will get ten apartments into this building,” she said, to which Mr. Zinder responded that the building is bigger than one might think — when a mezzanine is taken into account, it’s over 7,000 square feet.

The developers were asked what sort of rent was anticipated. “The rentals would be less than some of the fancier units in town,” said Mr. Haines, citing other “affordable housing” offered in the municipality. “Not only is this good for the town, it’s a good business decision. We don’t want to compete with that market. We will be targeting seniors and students.”

“I share your concern that some of the properties being developed are out of the price-range of most average people,” said Mr. Haines, noting that it was hard to give any figures until all of the costs had been worked out. “This is a process. We want to work with you and listen to you, but we have to make money on this project or we are not going to do it,” he said.

Neighbors were concerned that the building’s history be acknowledged, perhaps by a brass plaque or signage, as had been done for the Waxwood Building nearby.

Questions were also raised about parking for new residents. The town requires 1.5 parking spaces per unit. As it stands, the plan would need 15 spaces. “Currently there are 13 spaces, including a handicapped space at the site,” said Mr. Zinder, acknowledging the problem. “We are hoping that not all residents will have cars. The worst case scenario would be a need for 20 spaces. We recognize this is something we have to solve.”

The developers pointed out the need to maximize profitability and their belief that renters of studio apartments would not need parking spaces. He acknowledged, however, that this was an issue that had been struggled with and that it was possible that the number of units could change. But with a reduced number of units, the rentals would be higher.

But one neighbor who had moved to Princeton from New York City agreed that there would be renters who needed no parking spots. “I’d like to see this plan succeed and would hate to see it torpedoed by parking issues,” he said.

Ingrid Reed asked whether there were data available on whether there was a market for people who do not want to have a car. Mr. Zinder said that they were intending to hire a traffic consultant to address that issue.

“I came here with an open mind,” said Birch Avenue resident Leighton Newlin, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. “I like your presentation. This building means a lot to this community. I don’t blame you for wanting to make a profit out of it. It will still look like a Masonic Temple. You will keep the integrity of the building. If another developer comes in with a better plan, I’d be surprised.”

Mr. Floyd also spoke favorably of the project, asking how members of the community could invest in it. “I’m impressed that you are trying to be honest about this and not deceitful. We are grateful for your concern for the neighborhood.”

Sheldon Sturges of Princeton Future commented on neighborhood gentrification. “Even these properties will not be affordable for this community,” he said, suggesting that the developers do something really innovative, something historic, and ask the municipality to allocate 50 percent of the units to people who would pay 30 percent of their income.

Mr. Sturges suggested that “as a community, would do well to think of a new way to encourage developers to build ’50-50’ residential, mixed-income units. Fifty percent of the units might be ‘market’ and 50 percent might be ‘non-market.’ The non-market units could be made available to those who qualify at 30 percent of their income. Incentives for the developer might involve: a granting of wished-for zoning variances and/or a grant of public property on which to develop another, similar project. This is a moral issue for the community. It is a social justice issue. Josh and his team are good, local partners to try to work out a new way for us all to work together.”

Rounding up the meeting, Mr. Zinder said: “We are open to having another neighborhood meeting when we are ready to present to the Princeton planning board. Principal of the architectural firm J ZA+D, Mr. Zinder was recently honored with the Architectural Firm of the Year service award. He is scheduled to speak at the Princeton Adult School March 19 as part of a series of conversations with Ingrid Reed.

Area residents concerned about the environmental and safety ramifications of the natural gas pipeline planned for the Princeton Ridge will get another chance to air their views at a public hearing being held by the Department of Environmental Protection on February 23. The hearing, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Nassau Inn, is on the permit application that the Williams/Transco company needs in order to begin work on the project.

Williams wants to build a high-pressure pipeline for natural gas next to one that was installed in 1958, increasing its capacity. The portion running through Princeton Ridge is part of the Skillman Loop and would carry natural gas from western Pennsylvania shale fields to customers from other states.

The plan has provoked controversy over the past two years, with significant input from environmental groups and members of the Princeton Ridge Coalition, a non-profit citizens’ group formed soon after the project was announced. In December, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the Williams company’s request. Last week, the Coalition filed an appeal with FERC to have the agency reconsider its decision.

“We are filing an appeal about environmental things and some of the language they use, which is a little ambiguous,” said Robert J. Goldston, a Princeton University astrophysics professor who is a member of the Coalition. “We’ve put in for a rehearing.”

FERC put out an Environmental Assessment (EA) last August with a finding that the project would pose “no significant impact” to the surrounding area. The Coalition responded with a long document outlining several problems they perceived, including not enough safety measures for the required trenching. “We objected to many things in the EA,” Mr. Goldston said. “On October 1, Transco filed a modification which they said would add another crew to the project and request some extra time to do the work.”

In addition, Mr. Goldston said, the company has given a firm commitment to never operate heavy equipment over the top of the existing pipeline while it is filled with natural gas, replacing the gas with water instead. “That was a huge step forward, from our point of view, in terms of trenching,” he said. “We still think that building under the ridge would be safe and more environmentally acceptable, though.”

The Coalition is considering installing video cameras along the private rights of way to monitor the work being done. “We’re scoping it out,” Mr. Goldston said. “It’s a possibility.”

According to Williams spokesman Christopher Stockton, surveying work on the project would begin sometime in February. Because the line will initially have to be taken out of service, Princeton Ridge residents won’t see any activity until around May. “It takes a lot of coordination with customers, to ensure safety,” Mr. Stockton said.

Construction should last about eight months, he added.

grandinPrinceton Day School welcomed Temple Grandin to campus on Wednesday, January 21. Ms. Grandin is Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, an animal researcher, a bestselling author and an autism activist.

Her lecture to Upper School students and faculty included topics such as her work with animals, the evolution of the autism spectrum, the importance of studying outcomes when it comes to our education system, untapped future job opportunities (hint: learn how to code and study mechanics), and different ways of thinking.

“I think in pictures and, when I was younger, I thought everyone else did, too,” she said, illustrating a rubric for typifying the different ways that different people think, be it spatially or verbally, associatively or linearly. Ms. Grandin added that difference does not denote deficiency, noting that it is exactly these differences which lead to innovation. She gave several examples of successful ventures founded by people diagnosed with austism and ADHD, including IKEA and, arguably, much of Silicon Valley.

Ms. Grandin also stressed how exposure to different things is critical to success, especially for young people. “I learned about animals because I spent time on my aunt’s ranch growing up,” she said. “People often become good at what they are exposed to, so device-free, unstructured play time can open up a world of possibility.”

civilrights

An exhibition of iconic Civil Rights-era images by photographer Danny Lyon opens today at the Art Gallery on The College of New Jersey campus at 2000 Pennington Road in Ewing. Gallery hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m, and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.“Danny Lyon: Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement” will continue through March 1 as part of a campus wide exploration of justice and in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Shown here is Mr. Lyon’s 1963 photograph “Sit in Toddle House Atlanta.” For more information, call (609) 771-2633, or visit: tcnj.edu/artgallery. (Photo courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York)

Princeton was on high alert Monday as the municipality prepared for a storm that was projected to dump over a foot of snow in the Central New Jersey area and cause high winds and dangerous travel.

“It’s been upgraded to a blizzard,” Mayor Liz Lempert said Monday morning in between meetings about how to handle the storm. “With the high winds that are being projected, we’re expecting downed trees, wires, and power outages.”

An emergency operations center at Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, was planned to open Monday evening and remain available to the public as long as necessary, Ms. Lempert said. The mayor declared a state of emergency in Princeton, mandating that cars be moved off the streets to keep roads free for emergency vehicles. Residents were to be informed via a reverse-911 notification.

Princeton schools were dismissed early on Monday. Trash pickup for Tuesday was cancelled and will take place on Thursday. Also rescheduled was Monday night’s meeting of Princeton Council, which was supposed to include a hearing on an ordinance regulating parking on Hamilton Avenue to allow bike lanes.

That hearing has been moved to the Tuesday, February 24 meeting, which was rescheduled from Monday, February 23 because of a hearing by the Department of Environmental Protection that night regarding the Transco pipeline (see accompanying story). Other ordinances scheduled for hearings this week have also been rescheduled.

Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey on Monday. All non-essential state employees were dismissed at 1 p.m., and state offices were closed for Tuesday. Travel was expected to be brought to a standstill from New York City to Portland, Maine, by the storm. Snow totals of more than two feet were expected from southern New Hampshire to central Long Island. At the New Jersey shore, coastal flooding was expected.

While this is the first significant snowstorm of the season, there is already a shortage of salt supplies. “Everybody is running short. The priority is going to the state and the county,” Ms. Lempert said. “But we’re focusing on the main roads. We’re at about 40 percent capacity right now.”

Power outages should be reported to PSE&G at their emergency number: (800-436-7734). “And if anyone wants to report a power outage to Access Princeton (924-4141), we can help keep track and continue to advocate for power to be put on,” Ms. Lempert said.