July 23, 2014

AvalonBay’s attempt to have a Mercer County Superior Court judge order the town of Princeton to sign off on a demolition plan and issue building permits for its planned 280-unit rental complex was denied Tuesday. Judge Mary Jacobson, who has presided at other lawsuits involving the project planned for the old Princeton Hospital site, issued the judgment at a hearing in Trenton. She ordered lawyers for the developer and the municipality to attend at least one mediation session to see if issues can be ironed out.

“This is an important project for Princeton,” Judge Jacobson said at the conclusion of her remarks, adding that she hopes there can be “some compromises.”

AvalonBay brought the case against Princeton Council, Mayor Liz Lempert, and members of the municipal staff in May after Council mandated that the developer perform extra environmental testing at the site before demolition can begin. Preliminary preparations for the razing of the old hospital building have been underway for the past few months, including removal of asbestos and all interior furnishings. Underground storage tanks have also been taken out.

Though the Planning Board had approved the proposed project, Council voted to require additional testing once it was found С after the Planning Board’s decision С that a medical waste incinerator had once operated at the hospital. The governing body hired an independent consultant, Ira Whitman, who recommended more soil testing and sampling of concrete the company plans to crush and re-use at the site. Council included his recommendations as conditions in their approval of the plan.

During his argument in favor of a preliminary injunction, AvalonBay attorney Robert Kasuba said that the added testing is not required by the State Department of Environmental Protection, and no ordinance exists for this type of situation. He referred to the Council’s actions as “ad hoc decision making,” adding, “This is not the law in the State of New Jersey. If we open the door, that’s a real problem for the development industry in the state.”

Mr. Kasuba said that delaying the project would negatively affect those who might move into the 56 affordable housing units that are part of the complex, and Judge Jacobson cited that among her concerns. Despite the ruling in favor of the municipality, she made it clear that she found a lot of AvalonBay’s arguments persuasive. More than once, she cited the fact that there is no precedent for Council’s action.

In addition to attending mediation, the lawyers representing AvalonBay and the town of Princeton will exchange discovery. Should the judge ultimately rule against the municipality, she would allow the housing project to go forward without further environmental testing as ordered by Council. But the conditions laid out in the Planning Board’s approval would stand.

“We’re obviously pleased that Judge Jacobson denied AvalonBay’s request for a preliminary injunction,” said Princeton municipal attorney Trishka W. Cecil following the hearing. “We’re mindful of the concerns she expressed about how we went about this. But she did appear to understand the quandary the Council is in, and the health and safety concerns that have been raised.”


Princeton resident and Princeton University Professor John Mulvey, 67, was arrested last week at Princeton Police Department headquarters after an investigation by Detective Sergeant Christopher Quaste and Detective Adam Basatemur into the theft of business signs belonging to Princeton Computer Tutor and Repairs.

Mr. Mulvey has hired a lawyer to fight the charges in New Jersey Superior Court. So far, no court date for the case has been set.

The thefts had occurred at various times since June of last year in the area of Rosedale Road near Elm Road.

Mr. Mulvey was arrested after business owner, Ted Horodynsky, had put up a camera in an attempt to discover the culprit upon noticing that his 2-by-2-foot signs, worth more than $20 each, had been disappearing from private property locations. After filing several police  reports, Mr. Horodynsky shared his surveillance video with the Princeton Police Department.

According to Mr. Horodynsky, the video shows the business signs being removed on five separate occasions with Mr. Mulvey allegedly stealing them and taking them away in his vehicle, whose license plate was recorded on camera.

According to police, 21 signs were found to be in Mr. Mulvey’s possession. Detectives recovered the signs (undamaged) in Mr. Mulvey’s garage and returned them to Mr. Horodynsky.

Mr. Mulvey was processed at police headquarters and released with a summons charging him with the theft of 21 business lawn signs, valued at a total of some $470.

The incident made Channel 7 News on July 17 with Mr. Horodynsky, shown walking along Nassau Street with a news reporter, expressing his hope that Mr. Mulvey gets help and doesn’t lose his job at Princeton University.

Mr Horodynsky subsequently captured the broadcast on video and posted it to YouTube (www.youtube.com/channel/UCohwqy8Zh6UBv85ert7onEw) where it has received 71 views so far.

Mr. Mulvey, who lives on Puritan Court, has been teaching at Princeton University since 1978 and is a professor of operations research and financial engineering and a founding member of the Bendheim Center for Finance. The Center, which conducts research into links between financial economics and fields, such as engineering, operations research, mathematics, computer science, psychology, and public policy, is described on the Princeton University website as “comprised by a group of distinguished leaders in the financial industry.”

According to the University website, Mr. Mulvey is “a leading expert in large-scale optimization models and algorithms, especially financial applications” who has “implemented integrated risk management for many large financial companies, including American Express, Towers Perrin Tillinghast, Pacific Mutual, and St. Paul Insurance.” He “has built significant planning systems for government agencies, including the Office of Tax Analysis for the Treasury Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Defense Department,” and “edited five books and published over 140 scholarly papers.”

Mr. Mulvey told the press last week he had no intention of stealing the signs and was only cleaning up what he thought was trash.

The placement of business lawn signs is governed by local ordinance and they are not allowed in the public right of way, except with the approval of the zoning officer.


Four state lawmakers have written to a federal agency requesting increased attention to safety issues regarding the Williams Transco company’s plan for a pipeline on the Princeton Ridge.

Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, and Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez signed a letter Tuesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting that the agency “thoroughly review safety risks associated with this project” before a final Environmental Assessment is issued. While the lawmakers would have preferred that FERC require an Environmental Impact Statement, which is more extensive than an Environmental Assessment, the agency has determined that an Environmental Assessment is adequate for the project.

The letter, which is part of the public comment process, comes a week after Princeton Council passed a resolution asking FERC to reject Transco’s plan for the project, citing environmental and safety concerns brought to the forefront by the citizen action group Princeton Ridge Coalition.

Last month, Mr. Holt cited the Princeton Ridge expansion proposal in an address to the House of Representatives on the need to increase funding for the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “I have heard from my constituents about their safety concerns with this project which will require excavation and construction work along an existing, more than 50-year-old pipeline, which runs past homes and schools,” he remarked during a hearing for the amendment, which was adopted.

The letter signed by Mr. Holt, Mr. Pallone, Mr. Booker, and Mr. Menendez calls the Princeton Ridge “an unusual environment of boulders, shallow bedrock, and wetlands,” and cites submissions by pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc. about safety concerns. “Failing to account for all credible safety risks would needlessly imperil not only local communities, but also the men and women working to construct and install this pipeline,” the letter reads.

Since the Williams Transco company announced its plans for the project, which would add a new gas pipeline to one that was installed in 1958, the Princeton Ridge Coalition has been investigating and airing concerns about environmental and safety conditions. The company has met with the citizens’ group and the municipality on several occasions and has made several changes to their plans to accommodate the concerns. But some issues remain.

In the letter to FERC, the lawmakers reference a recent finding that FERC had violated the National Environmental Protection Act in segmenting a project’s environmental review process involving the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Northeast Upgrade Project. That project and the one involving the Princeton Ridge, which is part of the Leidy Southeast Expansion Project, “are notable and may be of relevance in the preparation of a final environmental review document,” they said.

“If FERC is committed to proceeding with the EA (Environmental Assessment) rather than a full Environmental Impact Statement, the outstanding issues related to safety during construction should be addressed,” the letter reads. “The principal safety risks involve potential damage to the half-century old existing pipeline because of remaining rocks and anticipated use of heavy construction equipment. In consideration of remaining safety concerns and the unique Princeton Ridge environment, we encourage you to answer all community concerns regarding project construction and environmental impacts.”



Thursday’s Summer Courtyard Concert at the Princeton Shopping Center featured the Grace Little Band from Trenton. Ms. Little, who sings R&B and gospel, won the adult category of the Apollo Theater talent competition at the age of 12, and has appeared with the national touring companies of “Dreamgirls,” “Oh Calcutta,” and “The Wiz.” (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)


July 16, 2014
GAMBOLING WITH KOAL: Dawn Marie Fry and her stepchildren Rylie, 11, and Ronan, 8, frolic with their miniature horse named Koal and his companion Iggy, a young dwarf goat. Koal, who is no bigger than a greyhound, has become a favorite of horses and visitors to the Hasty Acres horse farm in Kingston, where he hangs out with Ms. Fry during the work week. Hand-reared after being rejected by his mother, Koal has become accustomed to human contact and it is hoped that he will eventually become a certified therapy animal. Ms. Fry helps run the therapeutic riding program Heads Up Special Riders at Hasty Acres. For more information on Heads Up Special Riders, at 121 Laurel Ave, Kingston, call (908) 809-9019, or visit: www.headsupspecialriders.com. For more on Hasty Acres, call (609) 921-8389, or visit: www.hastyacres.com.(Photo Courtesy of D. M. Fry)

GAMBOLING WITH KOAL: Dawn Marie Fry and her stepchildren Rylie, 11, and Ronan, 8, frolic with their miniature horse named Koal and his companion Iggy, a young dwarf goat. Koal, who is no bigger than a greyhound, has become a favorite of horses and visitors to the Hasty Acres horse farm in Kingston, where he hangs out with Ms. Fry during the work week. Hand-reared after being rejected by his mother, Koal has become accustomed to human contact and it is hoped that he will eventually become a certified therapy animal. Ms. Fry helps run the therapeutic riding program Heads Up Special Riders at Hasty Acres. For more information on Heads Up Special Riders, at 121 Laurel Ave, Kingston, call (908) 809-9019, or visit: www.headsupspecialriders.com. For more on Hasty Acres, call (609) 921-8389, or visit: www.hastyacres.com. (Photo Courtesy of D. M. Fry)

When Dawn Marie Fry brought home a miniature horse as a gift for her 11-year-old stepdaughter, she got much more than she had bargained for. Soon after acquiring the mare, Ms. Fry, who is barn manager at Hasty Acres horse farm in Kingston, came home from work on the last day of May to find that her miniature horse had given birth.

“The little black colt’s arrival was an absolute surprise; I had no idea the mare was pregnant,” said Ms. Fry. “Miniature horses are known for difficult births and so it was luck that both the mother and the foal were perfectly healthy.”

The joy and excitement of the new arrival soon turned to concern, however, when it was discovered that Koal’s mother was not so delighted. When her newborn was just a week old, she rejected Koal. Video surveillance showed her picking the youngster up by the neck, tossing him, and kicking him. Fearing that the newborn might be trampled and seriously injured, Ms. Fry was forced to separate Koal from his mother.

Fortunately the young horse was unharmed, but without his mother’s care he needed round-the-clock feedings. Ms. Fry had little option but to take him with her each day to Hasty Acres where she runs the therapeutic riding program Heads Up Special Riders and teaches equine-assisted psychotherapy for abused women.

Every morning, on the journey to Kingston from Ms. Fry’s home in Flemington, Koal would fall asleep on the car seat next to her. He was fed formula by hand from a syringe and at night, he snuggled up on blankets on the family’s kitchen floor.

In short, Koal quickly became a part of the family. Besides Ms. Fry, her fiancé Michael Kukal and her two stepchildren Rylie, 11, and Ronan, 8, Koal has the companionship of Iggy, a young dwarf goat.

At the Hasty Acres horse farm, Koal has become a great attraction, drawing the interest of children who visit and adults who volunteer for the Heads Up therapy program.

When he arrives at the farm, he jumps out of the car to be greeted by the other much larger horses. The children of Ms. Fry’s co-workers rush to see him. “Raising Koal has surprising benefits for all; he’s touching many lives at Hasty Acres where his size is awe-inspiring to visitors who are drawn to see the ‘miracle foal,’” commented Ms. Fry.

Visitors are encouraged to pet the youngster who is now thriving from the shared care that is a “huge team effort between family, friends, and new found friendships,” said Ms. Fry.

Because of the hand-feedings and frequent handling, Koal has become very comfortable with humans. He enjoys playing with children eager to frolic in the fields with the tiny horse. According to Ms. Fry, Koal willingly follows his new “parents,” Ms. Fry and others all over the farm. He’s visited a local Petsmart and has already acquired little booties to wear on such occasions (they stop him from slipping on tiled floors). Such interactions accustom the miniature horse to human touch, observed Ms. Fry, an experienced horse handler who grew up in Edison.

As a child, Ms. Fry longed to have a horse of her own but had to settle for the horseback riding lessons her parents provided. Today, she not only has her own horse, she has ten of them. “Horses are like potato chips, you can’t have just one,” she laughed. Several of her horses were acquired from Nevada through the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horses and Burros Program. “The wild horses that once had lived untouched on the range are now under saddle,” said Ms. Fry, adding that it’s a very long process to train them for riders. The effort, she said, is always worthwhile.

“Recent research shows that contact with animals can do more to heal victims of abuse than talk therapy,” said Ms. Fry. With this in mind, she is hoping that Koal will eventually be certified as a therapy animal and be taken to visit hospitals, schools, and assisted-living homes. “Few people come in contact with nature today and even fewer have access to horses so imagine the delight of seeing a tiny little horse the size of a dog coming toward you.”

The therapeutic riding program at Heads Up Special Riders has been offering riding experiences and contact with horses to challenged individuals over the age of four since 1959. Ms. Fry has been barn manager at Hasty Acres for five years and is treasurer of the nonprofit Heads Up program. Under the leadership of Clare Russell, who became the program’s director less than a year ago, Heads Up has partnered with Womanspace to bring clients from its shelter to the Hasty Acres farm.

Hasty Acres is always on the lookout for volunteers to help out with their programs and their horses. Interested individuals should call (609) 921-8389. For more information on Heads Up Special Riders, at 121 Laurel Ave, Kingston, N.J. 08528, call (908) 809-9019, or visit: www.headsupspecialriders.com. For more on Hasty Acres, call (609) 921-8389, or visit: www.hastyacres.com.



The New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA-NJ) has recognized Studio Hillier, the Princeton-based architectural firm, with a Merit Award in the Built Category for its Urban Trifecta Architectural Design Studio at 190 Witherspoon Street. Studio Hillier repurposed a decaying commercial building into an energy-efficient space that now houses its cutting-edge storefront architectural design studio flanked by two residential-turned-commercial structures. Designed to meet LEED Gold standards, the project features clerestory windows that provide over 80 percent of the studio’s lighting needs, as well as rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays yielding surplus energy that is sold back to the grid. “With a clear dedication to energy efficiency, the Urban Trifecta project is a marvelous example of how New Jersey’s architects can introduce new life to our buildings and communities in imaginative ways,” said Kurt Kalafsky, AIA, president of AIA-NJ. For more information, visit www.aia-nj.org.


Princeton Health Department is cautioning residents on the danger of rabies. Two raccoons found on Pretty Brook Road have tested positive and there is concern that other wild or stray animals may have come into contact with the raccoons.

Residents are urged not to leave food outside where it can attract wild animals and to make sure that their pets’ rabies shots are up-to-date.

Homeowners whose pets roam outside unattended should make sure their animals receive a rabies booster shot if they haven’t been immunized within the last year.

“Rabies is transmitted from infected mammals to humans or animals usually through a bite, but scratches and saliva contact with broken skin or mucous membranes are also possible routes,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser in a press release issued Monday. “Any person who has had direct contact with a raccoon may have been exposed to rabies and should contact his/her doctor as soon as possible.”

A separate release from the Princeton Police Department directs anyone who has handled a raccoon in the area of Pretty Brook Road to contact the Princeton Police Department as soon as possible.

“Residents are reminded not to handle wildlife under any circumstances,” the release states. “Should anyone see any wildlife that is injured or appears to be out of place, please contact the Princeton Police Department at (609) 921-2100.”

The official statements come after a Princeton woman found a baby raccoon lying on Pretty Brook Road on June 4. The area resident transported the animal to the Mercer County Wildlife Center in Hopewell, where it later died.

According to Princeton Police, an examination undertaken by the state laboratory showed that the animal tested positive for rabies. The woman and her two children who had been in contact with the animal were advised to seek medical treatment.

Who to Call?

Residents should call the Princeton Police non-emergency number (609) 921-2100 to report dog bites, animal cruelty or neglect, sick or injured wildlife, and human exposure to or encounters with potentially rabid wildlife.

Town Administrator Bob Bruschi explained that supervision for animal control has moved from the Princeton Health Department to the Princeton Police Department so that the many “off hours” calls from residents can be handled by an agency that works 24/7, making it “easier to supervise the calls and to be sure they were all dealt with on a more organized and coordinated method.”

The rabid raccoon incident has sparked questions regarding the role of Princeton’s Animal Control Officer (ACO) when it comes to local wildlife. Some residents, it seems, had assumed that the Animal Control Officer would respond to any calls concerning unwanted wildlife in their vicinity. A fact sheet posted on the municipal website makes it clear that Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson will not respond indiscriminately to all nuisance calls. To view the fact sheet, visit the municipal website at princetonnj.gov and click on Animal Control under the Departments heading.

In addition to describing the role of the ACO, the fact sheet provides some guidelines on what to do if a wild animal is acting in a way that might be dangerous to humans.

“We issued the fact sheet to clearly state what our policy is and has been,” said Police Chief Nicholas K. Sutter. “This does not represent a policy change. It is a clarification of policy that was never previously stated for the public,” commented Mr. Sutter in a response to an email query from Town Topics.

“The duties of our Animal Control Officer are based on state guidelines and national best practices. We constantly work with our Health Department in evaluating our practices and responses. It would be at best inefficient or even impractical for our ACO to respond to every incident of animal or pest nuisance within Princeton. This is not to say that the ACO does not have discretion as to the way he handles individual incidents. There has been no service reduction or policy change. These practices have been in place for quite a long time. The ACO will continue to respond to animal complaints along with the police department and evaluate each on a case by case basis when determining the appropriate response.”

“We rely on the ACO or in his absence responding police officers to evaluate each case,” said Mr. Sutter. “When an animal is injured or posing a threat to humans or other animals we obviously take appropriate action.” Such cases would differ from the nuisance of a deer destroying plants, for example.

“Many people think that squirrels in the yard and in trees is a nuisance, and in many respects I would agree, but we certainly are not in a position to try to capture and relocate squirrels from every property. However, if we see a reason to do so the Animal Control Officer has that ability to make that decision on a case by case basis,” said Mr. Bruschi.

When to Call?

The Animal Control Officer will respond to wildlife encounters/emergencies that pose a threat to humans or pets and that could result in exposure to rabies. Signs and symptoms of rabies in wildlife can include cerebral dysfunction, weakness, paralysis, seizures, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.

The Police Department should not be called, however, when wildlife poses no threat to humans or pets. Examples of such instances are characterized on the fact sheet as “wild animals living under decks, storage sheds, porches, in attics, basements, detached garages, and sheds,” or when wildlife poses a nuisance to gardens, flower beds, or shrubs.

But just to be on the safe side, residents unsure of whether a wild or a domestic animal is a safety or public health hazard, are advised to contact the Princeton Animal Control Officer for additional information (609) 921-2100.

Residents are advised to minimize contact between pets and wildlife and to report animal bites and animals seen acting strangely, including altercations between wild and domestic animals, to (609) 921-2100.

For more information, visit: www.state.nj.us/health/cd/rabies.


BarileMDWilliam Bogner, owner and director of the Princeton Care Center, has hired area geriatrician David Barile, MD, as medical director. Dr. Barile is board-certified in internal medicine, geriatric medicine, and hospice and palliative medicine. As medical director, he is responsible for coordinating physician services, overseeing residents’ medical care and collaborating with the healthcare team. Dr. Barile also serves as the medical director of the Acute Care of the Elderly unit at the University Medical Center of Prince-ton at Plainsboro.

Ezra Bogner, LNHA, Princeton Care Center’s administrator, said, “Dr. Barile is a true visionary in the field of geriatric care and his passionate dedication to helping people achieve their personal medical goals aligns perfectly with our mission.”

Princeton Care Center’s 65,000-square-foot, three-story building on Bunn Drive is a family-run business that offers care for 119 individuals in private and semi-private rooms.

“I’m excited to join Princeton Care Center because it offers the personal, family-oriented approach that I find so rewarding,” said Dr. Barile. “I believe that older patients deserve to have their voices heard, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to help them navigate difficult health issues. In addition to receiving exceptional care, the residents here are able to remain connected to all that the larger Princeton community offers, and this is so important.”

Dr. Barile will continue in his post as medical director of New Jersey Goals of Care, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving medical decision-making for seniors that he founded in 2009. He also holds a leadership role in bringing POLST — Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment — to New Jersey residents. A nationwide initiative, POLST is designed to improve the quality of care people receive at the end of life. This approach is based on patients being able to effectively communicate their wishes regarding treatments they want or do not want, the documentation of these wishes as medical orders, and a promise by healthcare professionals to honor these wishes. New Jersey signed POLST into law in December 2011, and it is in the process of being introduced throughout the state to help patients and families with end-of-life planning.

In response to the recent announcement by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) that it will conduct an archeological survey of the site where it plans to build single family dwellings and townhouses for members of its faculty, the Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS) issued a press release Monday, July 14, challenging the survey, the Institute’s integrity, and questioning the qualifications of the firm hired by the IAS to conduct the work.

According to the PBS release, “Having the Institute for Advanced Study perform an archeological investigation on property they want to develop is like having the tobacco industry study the health effects of smoking on lung cancer.”

Institute spokesperson Christine Ferrara said that the Institute had agreed to conduct the archeological survey of the project area prior to construction at the request of the Princeton Planning Board, which made it a condition of its approval of the IAS faculty housing plans in 2012.

The survey got under way Monday, July 14, and will continue over the summer. The Princeton Planning Board is due to review the Institute’s amended housing plan on September 18.

The Ottery Group (www.otterygroup.com) has been hired to undertake the necessary field work of collecting data and any artifacts from the site. It plans to conduct a comprehensive survey of the seven-acre site by means of magnetometry, more than 300 shovel test pits, and metal detection.

“The Ottery Group will record and process the resulting data and any artifacts recovered, after which the archeological data will be made public,” said Ms. Ferrara.

The IAS has agreed that all artifacts and findings will be permanently transferred to the New Jersey State Museum.

The Battlefield Society is challenging the Institute to complete its archaeology survey under the watchful eye of an independent body of experienced battlefield archaeologists. “We are responding particularly to repeated statements by the IAS that they don’t expect any military artifacts to be found,” said Society president Jerry Hurwitz. “To the contrary, we definitely expect many additional artifacts to be found.”

Describing any product of the IAS sponsored survey as “tainted and suspect, given their conduct on prior cultural resource studies and their continual denial that the battle was fought on that field,” the PBS questions “the integrity that will be brought to another archaeological survey after their attempt to silence those that conducted the original study, and their hire of a firm not connected with the original study to write conclusions in a way so as to minimize the importance of the artifacts and to suggest that there is nothing more to be found,” said Mr. Hurwitz.

Citing a study of the rate of artifact discovery at Monmouth Battlefield, Mr. Hurwitz said that “artifacts are continually being found for the first time, pushed toward the surface over time or metal detected at new angles, and found for the first time. It may take many years to recover artifacts that have been in the ground for almost 250 years.”

The Battlefield Society is questioning not only the scope of the Institute survey but the credentials of the Ottery Group. “We would like the IAS to make the credentials of the firm they chose available to demonstrate the firm’s experience and the experience of the individual team members with military conflict sites, particularly American Revolution battlefield sites,” said PBS attorney Bruce Afran.

“This site is not just important because of the artifacts that lie within it,” said PBS Vice President Kip Cherry. “It is a critical historic resource of national importance that should be experienced and interpreted.”

Ms. Cherry also questions the need for the Institute to build on this particular site. As an alternative, she suggests, the IAS could construct elsewhere on its campus or “create a mortgage subsidy program similar to that of Princeton University’s that would allow IAS faculty to locate wherever they want within an easy commute, while meeting their lifestyle goals and gaining equity toward their retirement.” Ms. Cherry points out that the faculty members of other institutions such as Princeton University, Rider/Westminster, and Seminary faculty find suitable housing in Princeton.

Meanwhile litigation intended to overturn the Planning Board’s original approval of the Institute’s building plans is pending in the Appellate Court of New Jersey.

The Institute’s long-standing plans for faculty housing are described on its website (www.ias.edu). For more on the Princeton Battlefield Sociey, visit: theprincetonbattlefieldsociety.com.


The consolidation of Princeton Borough and Township last year left some fearing that individual neighborhoods would lose a voice when decisions about zoning and other key issues are on the table. In response, the town created a special task force, which recommended to Princeton Council Monday night that it adopt a Neighborhood Planning Program to allow different districts to have their say.

Council member Jenny Crumiller gave a status report on the work done over the past year and a half by the Advisory Planning District Task Force, on which she serves along with Councilman Patrick Simon, Planning Board chair Wanda Gunning, and residents Ryan Lilienthal, Valerie Haines, and Bill Harla. The matter is tentatively scheduled to be further explored at Council’s September 17 meeting.

Also at the meeting, Council voted to approve an ordinance introduced last month concerning landscaping registration and workers’ compensation. The governing body also voted for a resolution requesting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) require further environmental and safety assessments from the Transco Leidy pipeline expansion project, which is proposed for a section of the Princeton Ridge.

At the time of consolidation in January, 2013, the issue of advisory planning districts was recommended but not confirmed. The task force has been working to develop a plan since then. “We support this. We want to involve residents early in the development process,” Ms. Crumiller said. “We struggled with things like boundaries, representation, and who would make decisions. The main stumbling block was, if there wasn’t a consensus, who would make a decision?”

Members of the public voiced their support for such a measure, praising the Witherspoon/Jackson Neighborhood Association as a model for other parts of town. Council President Bernie Miller pointed out that other neighborhood groups in Princeton have existed over the years. One formed around the issue of development near Smoyer Park, and another in the Riverside area was focused on the TRI Princeton development site.

Alexi Assmus, who lives on Maple Street, said she has done some informal research on the way neighborhoods are represented in Charlottesville, Virginia, a university town with a slightly larger population than Princeton. “When developers come to town, they recommend these neighborhood associations as players in the projects,” she said. “One can see from the Charlottesville municipal website what an important role these associations play.”

The issue of whether members of neighborhood groups should pay a fee was raised. “My concern is the little guy,” said Councilman Lance Liverman. “They might not be able to pay a fee. There should be transparency, and no favoritism. We have to be very careful about this.”

Harris Road resident Paul Driscoll suggested that members of the Planning Board attend meetings of neighborhood groups. “Sometimes it appears that developers are being rubber-stamped,” he said, referring to developers’ attorneys at public meetings “to intimidate the Planning Board into getting what they want.”


The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision last week quashing an attempt to keep NJ Transit from transferring the Dinky train easement to Princeton University has not deterred members of Save the Dinky, Inc. from continuing its litigation and advocacy.

Preserving the Dinky rail link to Princeton Junction is the goal of the citizens’ group, which asked the Supreme Court to determine whether the transfer should have been subject to a federal review. The court decided to not review the case, affirming a ruling last March by the appellate court that no federal review was needed.

Attorney Virginia Kerr, who filed the petition with Morristown lawyer Phil Rosenbach, said the case was a long shot, but worth pursuing.

“It really was disappointing that the Supreme Court didn’t take this, because they’ve never taken a case under the Register of Historic Places Act, which was placed in 1970,” she said. “Our case is unprecedented, because the agency [NJ Transit] is doing this to accommodate Princeton University, which is private. It sets a dangerous kind of precedence. For people who care about preservation law, it’s troublesome. The Register of Historic Places Act is supposed to impose some constraints. This one is quite over the line.”

Ever since the University announced its plans for the $330 million project, Save the Dinky has been opposed to the move and transformation of the Dinky depot, from which trains run to and from Princeton Junction station on the Northeast Corridor line. The former station buildings, which are 460 feet north of the station under construction, are to be turned into a restaurant and cafe.

The group has two other pending state court cases related to the issue. One is an appeal from the ruling that the 1984 contract with NJ Transit permitted a second move of the train station. The other challenges a decision made last month by NJ Transit’s Board of Directors authorizing its staff to transfer the easement covering the Dinky property to the University in exchange for an easement of lesser value. The group argues that state law required NJ Transit to hold a public hearing on the environmental, transportation, and financial aspects of the station move before turning it over to a private owner.

Save the Dinky also contends that Governor Chris Christie, who has veto power over all NJ Transit board decisions, should have recused himself because he is a Princeton University trustee and an advocate of its Arts & Transit project. In addition, there is a petition filed last year before the Surface Transportation Board by the National Association of Railroad Passengers and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers. The petition seeks a ruling that the shortening of the Dinky line requires federal review and approval.

Anita Garoniak, president of Save the Dinky, said in a press release that “it is sad that in this time when we are dealing with the effects of climate change a major university is persisting in a plan that will degrade pedestrian access to mass transit.”



Motorists on Alexander Road have been watching the starkly modern Dinky depot and Wawa market, designed by architect Rick Joy, emerge as part of Princeton University’s Arts & Transit project. While the buildings are scheduled to open in late fall, members of Save the Dinky, Inc. are continuing their fight to establish that the abandonment of the former, historic station building and right of way was unlawful. (Photo by Linda Arntzenius)


July 9, 2014
YOUNG FILMMAKERS AT LIBRARY: “Across Dystopia,” about two six-year-olds of different races, is one of Jean Paul Isaacs’s entries in the 11th annual Princeton Student Film & Video Festival at Princeton Public Library July 16 and 17. Isaacs and Princeton native Zach Alexander are among 20 participants in this year’s event.

YOUNG FILMMAKERS AT LIBRARY: “Across Dystopia,” about two six-year-olds of different races, is one of Jean Paul Isaacs’s entries in the 11th annual Princeton Student Film & Video Festival at Princeton Public Library July 16 and 17. Isaacs and Princeton native Zach Alexander are among 20 participants in this year’s event.

There is an Oscar presenter among this year’s crop of filmmakers taking part in the Princeton Student Film & Video Festival, at Princeton Public Library Wednesday and Thursday, June 16 and 17. Jean Paul Isaacs, a recent Rutgers University graduate with two entries in this year’s festival, was one of six budding college filmmakers selected for “Team Oscar.” The group appeared on stage at the Academy Awards last March and got to hand out Oscar statuettes to celebrity presenters.

“It was amazing to be recognized and to be part of it all,” said Mr. Isaacs, who is returning to the Princeton festival for the second time. “We had to submit a short video saying how we would contribute to the future of film, and answer an essay question. Channing Tatum introduced us during the live broadcast.”

Hollywood is only one of the exotic locales Mr. Isaacs has visited as part of his burgeoning career. He shot a documentary in Zambia about women farmers in Africa, and traveled to the Cannes Film Festival when one of his short films was screened there. Closer to his New Brunswick home, Mr. Isaacs will screen two films he directed at this year’s Princeton festival: Across Dystopia and Words. He will appear to answer questions following the screenings with cinematographer Isaiah McNeill and executive producer Saajan Doshi.

Mr. Isaacs was a pre-med major at Rutgers when he decided, after a few years, that his heart just wasn’t in it. “I come from a modest background and I had this notion that if I pursued a career in medicine, I could help my mother out,” he said. “But I just wasn’t happy in it. I switched to journalism, and I took digital filmmaking and started to make some short films.”

Soon he was winning contests and making a name for himself. After he finishes editing his Africa film, he will begin a mentorship program in Los Angeles that concludes with a short film to be shown at the L.A. Film Festival.

Mr. Isaacs shot Across Dystopia, about two children of different races, in an old barn in South Brunswick. “We had limited resources,” he said. “A lot of it is luck. I knew someone who knew someone who let us use this barn, which turned out to work really well.” Words, his other film, is about a grandfather coming to terms with his past. “It’s about having the courage to not be silent and do what’s right,” Mr. Isaacs said.

Influenced by Herzog

A discussion between Werner Herzog and Ken Burns was the inspiration for Where’s da Party At?, a film in the festival by Princeton High School alumnus Zach Alexander. He was taking an advanced film production class at the University of Vermont when his teacher took the students to hear a talk by the two legendary filmmakers.

This is the first time Mr. Alexander, a recent college graduate, has participated in the festival. Where’s Da Party At? emerged after a challenge from Mr. Herzog. “After the talk, my teacher presented a Super 8 camera to Herzog, hoping he’d shoot some film and send it back to our class,” Mr. Alexander said. “He did, with the message, ‘My demand is that you now use this footage in your own short film.’ “

Mr. Alexander blended his own footage, in which he and a young woman play filmmakers in a studio, with the reel sent by Mr. Herzog. “What I was trying to get across is the general story about film versus digital,” he said. “I don’t believe one is better than the other. Each have their pros and cons. So it’s sort of a meditation on the world where both can exist without one having to be better than the other, through a kind of romantic thing.”

Raised in Princeton, Mr. Alexander graduated from Princeton High in 2010. “I’d always watched films when I was younger,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do in college. I took a film class freshman year, and the teacher was so terrific that I just fell in love with it. He got me so interested and he’s still pretty much my best friend.”

Classes at the University of Vermont were “really heavy into film analysis and theory,” he said. “Then I went to the Cannes festival and got into production on a program during my junior year. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. A lot of young kids get introduced in that environment to the development stage, and how films are bought and sold. But for me, it was just cool to see other kids my age working at their craft. It got me motivated to be serious about film production.”

Mr. Alexander currently lives in Brooklyn and is working on film and television internships. He will start work on an independent feature next month and hopes to do his own work as well. “I might start my own production company,” he said. “There’s a lot on my mind.”


EllarlsieThis year New Jersey observes the 350th Anniversary of its political establishment in 1664. To commemorate the event, The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park is displaying items dating back to the mid-1600s, a time before Trenton or even Trent’s Town existed.

Curated by Trenton Museum Society Trustee David Bosted and son Nicholas Bosted, the exhibition, “Before There Was Trenton,” opened last month and will continue through October 12.

Both Bosteds will deliver a formal lecture on their subject at 2 p.m. on the last day of the exhibition, Sunday October 12,

Prior to 1664, New Netherland was a colony founded by the Dutch on the east coast of North America. The Dutch colony extended from Hartford, Conn. in the east to Albany, New York, in the north to Delaware in the south, encompassing parts of what are now the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware. The New Netherland colony included three major rivers: Nord (North River, now the Hudson River), Sud (South River, now the Delaware River) and the Versche (Fresh) River (now the Connecticut River). The English wrested control of the colony from the Dutch in 1664, turning its capital, New Amsterdam, into New York City.

The Dutch colonial efforts were mostly directed toward trade with Native Americans. However, their permanent settlements in some cases caused conflict with native peoples as well as with several other European powers, especially England, Sweden and France.

Beaver pelts were especially sought after for the fur trade. Marten, fox, otter and mink were also bartered. In 1624 (the year New Amsterdam was first settled), Dutch settlers shipped 1500 beaver and 500 otter skins to Europe. Thereafter, the fur trade grew enormously under the Dutch. Fort Orange (now Albany) and New Amsterdam (now New York City) were the centers of the fur trade, reaching deep into the Lenni Lenape and Mohawk tribal territory, and promoting contact between the Dutch and the Native peoples.

“Before There Was Trenton” recalls that early period of exploration, contact, and settlement.

Among the items on display are items highly valued in the fur trade: hand-forged trade axes, knives, and other metal tools; easily transportable and popular trading commodities like the red “white heart” glass trade beads made in Venice; objects reflecting Dutch nautical exploration and the fur trade; and Lenni Lenape stone tools from the Delaware Valley as well as early agricultural items.

Tobacco, another highly desirable trade commodity, is represented in the display by early tobacco pipes. Because tobacco was so expensive, the 17th century pipe bowls were small, holding only a pinch of tobacco.

For more information about the exhibit or the talks, contact curator David Bosted or Trenton Museum Society President Richard Willinger at tms@ellarslie.org or (609) 989-1191.

Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and municipal holidays. For more information, visit www.ellarslie.org.



WHERE THERE’S FIRE, THERE’S SMOKE: The boarded up windows of this Shingle Style home on Bayard Lane will soon be replaced by glass as the house is refurbished to its former splendor during the next few months. A fire in the basement of one of the home’s two condominiums last March caused major smoke damage, but all is now on track to have the family move back in my the November holidays.(Photo by Linda Arntzenius)

WHERE THERE’S FIRE, THERE’S SMOKE: The boarded up windows of this Shingle Style home on Bayard Lane will soon be replaced by glass as the house is refurbished to its former splendor during the next few months. A fire in the basement of one of the home’s two condominiums last March caused major smoke damage, but all is now on track to have the family move back in my the November holidays. (Photo by Linda Arntzenius)

Even after three months, the house still smells like smoke. It was smoke, in fact, that caused major damage from a fire that flared up late on the night of Sunday, March 23, at 56 Bayard Lane, a stately Princeton house that is divided into two three-story condominiums.

The blaze is blamed on embers from one of the fireplaces that had dropped into an ash clean-out bin in the basement. Though the flames didn’t make it past the lower level, the smoke, coupled with water damage from the efforts of the firefighters, ruined just about every piece of furniture, upholstery, and wall covering in its path.

Both residences were evacuated. The occupants of the unit facing Hodge Road were quickly able to return to their home. But the Clary family, on the Bayard Lane side, were not so lucky. After bunking at the Peacock Inn for a few nights, they moved to a temporary apartment in northern New Jersey where they have been ever since. Owner Cathryn Clary is hoping her family will be back in their fully restored home in time for Thanksgiving.

“It was so beautiful,” she said of the work that builder Lewis Barber and the interior design firm Dennison Dampier had completed after the family bought the unit in February 2012. “We had done quite a bit of work on it, and they did such a wonderful job. We had a great party there last summer.”

Barber and Dennison Dampier are back on the job, charged with the task of recreating what was there while taking the opportunity to make a few changes. “We’re going to redo and expand the kitchen, and open up the entry way to the living room and dining room to give the space a larger feel while we have the chance,” said designer Tara Dennison. “The bathrooms will be pretty much the same because the stone on the walls was intact. But all of the curtains and the upholstery have to be redone.”

Other than the boarded up windows, the exterior of the house doesn’t bear much evidence of the fire. Architect A. Page Brown designed the Shingle Style residence in 1888. Mr. Brown worked in the office of celebrated New York architects McKim, Mead, and White before starting his own practice. He is also credited with Princeton University’s Whig and Clio halls.

The first owner of the house was M. E. Scott. After the death of his wife in 1896, the property passed to William B. Smith. It was divided sometime in the 1940s, said Mrs. Clary, who has run into people who once lived in the house. Princeton native Mary Wisnovsky, then Mary Strunsky, remembers going to a dentist named Dr. Kaiser in the building when she was a child.

Mrs. Clary and her husband lived on the East Coast most of their lives, but moved to California’s Bay Area before opting to move back. “We decided that if we were going to live anywhere on the East Coast it would be Princeton,” she said. “We lived in the house about six months before deciding to do the renovations.”

Few expenses were spared in the decoration. “Everything was top of the line,” Ms. Dennison said, sighing as she walked through the down-to-the-studs interior. “She used lovely fabrics from Scalamandre, Brunschwig & Fils, and Lee Jofa. It was all so beautiful. We’re just going to do them again, depending on the insurance.”

The three-bedroom, two-bath condominium is about 3,500 square feet. The Clarys were home, along with two of their three grown children, when the fire broke out on March 23. “The Princeton fire department and police were wonderful,” Mrs. Clary recalled. “They stayed with us and helped us. You’re pretty traumatized when these things happen. It was cold, and they let us sit in their cars. There was a lot of smoke. The fire department started crashing the windows. They finally got the fire out and then we were told we would have to board up the windows. The police stayed all night because the house wasn’t secured yet.”

Mrs. Clary called her insurance company at 2:30 a.m., and was given the name of a company that came to secure the house. The town’s building department arrived quickly to apply a sticker saying that the house was condemned. “And a lot of public adjusters came around,” Mrs. Clary said.

The smoke damage was overwhelming. “It is amazing how much damage it can cause,” she said. “They had to tear up all the walls in the house, because it accumulates in the insulation. Anything that’s stuffed — mattresses, couches, things like that — gets destroyed.”

Water from the fire hoses soaked everything. “The smell was pungent and cloying and just stuck to everything you were wearing,” said Ms. Dennison, who will never forget the shock of entering the house once she and Ms. Dampier were allowed in. “All the curtains were singed. Her beautiful artwork had been destroyed in the living room from the heat of the fire. Everything was covered in this oily soot, which was toxic. The Servpro company that came in and went through everything was amazing.”

Once insulation is put back in, and plastering and the floors are replaced, the designers will start on interior furnishings. The goal is to have the family back in by November 1, so that they can spend the holidays, as they did last year, at home.


Lahiri PicThe Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri will join Princeton’s creative writing faculty in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Prince-ton University, but not until September of 2015.

Ms. Lahiri has been appointed to the Lewis Center for the Arts where she will teach workshops in fiction and translation alongside an existing stellar faculty that includes Jeffrey Eugenides, Chang-rae Lee, Paul Muldoon, Joyce Carol Oates, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, and Edmund White.

“Jhumpa Lahiri is one of our era’s most distinguished writers,” commented Susan Wheeler, director of the Creative Writing Program. “She will be a tremendous teacher to our undergraduates.”

Born in London, England and raised in Rhode Island, Ms. Lahiri received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Barnard College and multiple degrees from Boston University. She has taught creative writing at Boston University, Baruch College, Barnard College, The New School, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Described as “one of the world’s great storytellers,” Ms. Lahiri garnered world-wide literary praise for her debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000, as well as the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker Debut of the Year. She rose to popular attention with her 2003 first novel, The Namesake, which was adapted into a popular film of the same name. Her most recent novel, The Lowland, published last year, was short-listed for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. Her work has also appeared frequently in The New Yorker and has been translated into over 30 languages.

The University announced her appointment as one of four full professors and 13 assistant professors. In addition to Ms. Lahiri, the three new appointments at the professor level are Judith Hamera in dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts, Ilyana Kuziemko in economics, and Assaf Naor, in mathematics.

After serving as a professor at Texas A&M University since 2005, Ms. Hamera joined the University faculty on July 1. She is the author of three books including her 2007 Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City.

Also new to the faculty on July 1, Ms. Kuziemko comes from Columbia University. She was an assistant professor at Princeton from 2007 to 2012, and took public service leave to serve as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the academic year 2009-2010. She studies public, labor and health economics with recent research on topics such as the redistribution of wealth, risk and health care costs, and demand for health insurance.

Mr. Naor will take up his position August 1, from New York University where he has taught since 2006. Previously, he worked at Microsoft Research and his research interests span a number of mathematical fields, including analysis, probability, quantitative geometry, and structure theory of metric spaces, as well as their applications to theoretical computer science, combinatorics and mathematical physics.

New Assistant Professors

The 13 new assistant professors are: Faisal Ahmed, a scholar of political science and international relations; José Avalos, who specializes in bioengineering and biofuels production; sociologist Ruha Benjamin, who joins the faculty in African American studies; Jonathan Gribetz, a scholar in Near Eastern studies and Judaic studies; Johannes Haushofer, who will join the faculty in psychology and public affairs; Katherine Hill Reischl, in Slavic languages and literatures; Casey Lew-Williams, a specialist in language acquisition, in psychology; historian and scholar of Asian American history, Elizabeth Lew-Williams; mathematicians Fabio Pusateri and Mykhaylo Shkolnikov; composer Ju Ri Seo; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, in African American studies; and Carolyn Yerkes, in art and archaeology.


The Red Umbrella/La Sombrilla Roja will host a series of story hours for young children at Princeton’s Community Park Pool at 4:30 p.m. every Thursday from July 10 through August 21. Stories will be read in English and Spanish. A craft project related to the book and a watermelon party will follow each reading, and participants may select gently used books to take home.

Each week, a community leader will read the featured story. The first reader, on July 10, will be Ben Stentz, executive director of the Princeton Recreation Department.

Other readers are: July 17, Steve Cochrane, superintendent of Princeton Regional Schools, July 24, Dr. Robert Ginsberg, principal of the Johnson Park Elementary School, July 31, Dr. Dana Sheridan, education and outreach coordinator of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University, August 7, Veronica Olivares-Webber of the Red Umbrella Committee and member of the Princeton Recreation Board, joined by Valeria and Kyara Torres-Olivares, August 14, princeton municipal councilman Lance Liverman, August 21 Lisa Eckstrom, assistant head of school, 5-8 Division of the Princeton Charter School.

The Red Umbrella program is sponsored by the Minority Education Committee of the Princeton Regional Schools. Support for the summer series at the pool has been provided by the Princeton Recreation Department and the Fish Foundation.

On Thursday, July 10, local wait staff will put their tray-balancing skills to the test at the Waiters’ Race, an event organized by the Princeton Merchants Association. The event kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at Palmer Square, rain or shine.

Waiters and waitresses from Princeton area restaurants will race to complete a course while balancing two full glasses of water and two full BAI Beverage bottles on their trays. Participating restaurants include Agricola, Blue Point Grill, Eno Terra, Main Street Bistro, Mediterra, Mistral, Triumph Brewing Company, Witherspoon Grill, and Yankee Doodle Tap Room.

“Last year’s event held at the Princeton Shopping Center was the biggest field of competitors ever,” said John Marshall, president of the Princeton Merchants Association. “Each year this event has grown significantly in its popularity and attendance. This year we return to Palmer Square where competitors will feel the pain of Heartbreak Hill; leg three of the square course through which only the best go on to finish. We also will find out if two-time men’s champion, Yankee Doodle Tap Room’s own John Ryan, can claim victory a third year in a row.”

Sponsors this year include: Agricola, Alchemist & Barrister, BAI Beverage, Blue Point Grill, Elements, Eno Terra, Joy Cards, La Jolie Salon and Spa, Main Street Bistro and Café, McCaffrey’s, Mediterra, Mistral, Nassau Inn, PNC Bank, Princeton U Store, Road ID, Smith’s Ace Hardware, Teresa Caffe, Triumph Brewing Company and Witherspoon Grill.

Goodie bags for racers will contain gift cards to Triumph, Witherspoon Grill, A&B, Hoagie Haven, Slice Between, George’s, D’Angelo’s, Olives or other food spots in Princeton; one Bent Spoon “love card” (worth a free scoop or cupcake), one small bag of Lindt Truffles, a three-day VIP pass to New Jersey Athletic Club, a $5 gift card to Chez Alice, a Whole Earth Granola Bar, a “snack” and reusable bag from McCaffreys, a Road ID flyer, and a Waiters Race Princeton 2014 T-Shirt.

Winners’ prizes include a weekend stay at the Nassau Inn, coolers from ACE Hardware, gift cards from Hamilton Jewelers and Agricola, and many more.

Those interested in participating need to pre-register. The fee is $20. All participants will receive an official race day t-shirt and goodie bag. For further information contact PMA Board Members John Marshall at president@princetonmerchants.org or Jack Morrison at jack@jmgroupprinceton.com.

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association has received a donation of $65,000 from the RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant program. The grant will fund river-friendly initiatives for water protection and restoration.

The funding will support the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association’s mission to enhance the quality of the natural environment in the 265-square mile area drained by the Stony Brook and the Millstone River. They accomplish this by addressing key issues affecting water quality and land use, educating area residents about the ecology of the natural environment, and preserving open space by maintaining a 930-acre nature reserve and organic farm.

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is central New Jersey’s first environmental organization. Since 1949, the organization has worked to protect clean water and the environment through conservation, advocacy, science, and education. RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grants fund programs in towns and cities with populations of more than 10,000 people that focus on improving water quality, improving management of urban storm and rain water, the efficient use of water in towns or cities, or protecting and restoring urban waterways.

In keeping with the science theme of Summer Reading this year at the Princeton Public Library, three children’s programs will be held in the Community Room.

On Wednesday, July 16 at 2 p.m., Piccirillo Sciencetelling presents “Potions,” using science experiments with dry ice and imagination to tell the story of a hidden underground laboratory and the ferocious guard determined to protect its mysteries forever. Children will discover the secrets of the laboratory while they learn about the concept of matter, its three states, and how to change it from one state to another.

“Sweet Science: Experiment with Candy” is the title of the program on Monday, July 21 at 4 p.m. Children five and older can test, soak, stretch, dissolve, smash — and maybe even taste — candy to learn more about science and the world around them in this fun and educational session.

The program on Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 3 p.m. is “The Science of Giant Animals.” Bill Bosenberg of Snakes-n-Scales returns to the library here, this time with some giant animals.

The library is at 65 Witherspoon Street. Call (609) 924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org for information.




Talis Lin and daughter Emilija from New York City did some serious blueberry picking at last weekend’s Terhune Orchards Blueberry Bash. Parents may remember the little girl in Robert McCloskey’s popular book, “Blueberries for Sal.” Emilija’s parents are among the pickers at Terhune discussing their favorite ways of eating blueberries in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Princeton HealthCare System will pay $1.35 million to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought four years ago by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding employee leave policy. The company, which operates University Medical Center at Princeton, will also undertake measures to correct their policy, which the EEOC says violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

The EEOC announced the settlement on June 30. The suit alleged that Princeton HealthCare System’s fixed leave policy failed to consider leave as a reasonable accommodation. The company’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which meant employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks. So employees who were not eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act were fired after being absent for a short time, and more were fired once they were absent more than 12 weeks. Twenty-three employees were “negatively impacted,” according to the EEOC.

In a statement responding to the news of the settlement, Princeton HealthCare System said, “The case involved a human resource policy that was in place a number of years ago and was changed in 2010. As part of this settlement, the EEOC has reviewed the Hospital’s current policies and our ongoing program for training employees and supervisors, and has stated that it has no objection to the Hospital’s current policies and training program.

“Although the Hospital disagrees that the prior policy violated the ADA and challenged the claims, the Hospital has agreed to resolve those matters in order to avoid the very high cost and disruption of operations caused by the ongoing litigation. The Hospital has always been and remains fully committed to a workplace free of any discrimination.”

The suit was brought against the Princeton HealthCare System in August, 2010 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey after the EEOC first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement. As part of the settlement reached last month, the EEOC will monitor the company’s compliance with the decision over the next four years. The $1.35 million will be distributed among the employees who were terminated under the former policy.

The Princeton HealthCare System case is one of several the EEOC recently resolved involving leave and attendance policies. Others include Sears, Verizon, Supervalu, and Interstate Distributor, according to the release.

“This case should send a clear message that a leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation under the law,” said Robert D. Rose, Regional Attorney of EEOC’s New York District Office, in the EEOC’s release. “Policies that limit the amount of leave, even if they comply with other laws, violate the ADA when they call for the automatic firing of employees with a disability after they reach a rigid, inflexible leave limit.”


Princeton’s school teachers are working under an expired contract since no agreement has as yet been reached on a new one for the next three years. Talks took place between the Board of Education (BOE) and the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) June 30, as members of the teachers’ union marched in front of the district offices on Valley Road. Teachers carried hand-lettered placards expressing their case for increased pay and health benefits.

According to PREA negotiator John Baxter, Tuesday’s four-and-a-half-hour talk resulted in “very little significant progress and no progress whatsoever on the main topics of health care and salary.”

Expressing disappointment that “the Board was unprepared to make a new proposal on either health care or salary” in spite of the fact that his team had expressed willingness to consider any cost savings proposals and again suggested that the Board not disregard the possible merits of the State Employees Health Benefits Plan, Mr. Baxter said that the Board “agreed to have some new proposals or concepts to present at the next meeting.”

One stumbling block to progress, according to Mr. Baxter is that “the Board continues to maintain that the amount of teachers’ contributions to health care premiums for the years 2015-16 and 2016-17 are non-negotiable.”

“We again expressed our disagreement, and pointed out that the Board’s position restricts the options of both sides for proposals and counter proposals, perhaps making it more difficult to reach a fair contract. We requested that the Board provide us with a copy of the legal opinion upon which they are basing their refusal to bargain contributions,” said Mr. Baxter.

“The Board agreed that the administrators’ contributions for these same two years will be a negotiable topic when the Board bargains with the union for the administrators in roughly six months,” said Mr. Baxter, adding that as of July 1, this year PREA members have given up two health care plans, saving the district over $300,000.

District negotiator Patrick Sullivan, however, begs to differ on this claim. “Not exactly,” he said. “The terms of PREA’s expired contract (collectively bargained and ratified by them two years ago) provided that the two most expensive health plans would sunset at the end of the contract. All employees on those sunsetting plans were to move to another plan that is already on offer. The sunsetting of those plans was an agreed upon term of the last contract negotiation, and is not related to any issues in the current negotiation. So this is not a matter of PREA being accommodating in any way, nor is it actually a ‘saving.’ These terms were fully negotiated in the prior contract and were anticipated by both sides.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Sullivan described the recent talks as resulting in “significant progress agreeing on work-related issues in the new contract. We still remain apart on issues related to salary and benefits; however we are optimistic that with continued discussions we can reach a contract.”

In this respect, Mr. Baxter expressed guarded agreement: “We were able to come to agreement on contract language for the pro-rated number of sick and personal days for new hires who begin employment after the start of the school year and for the use of accumulated unused personal days. This was a simple matter of clarifying and formalizing in the contract the practices currently utilized by central administration.”

Negotiations between teachers and the school district reached an impasse June 10 over health benefit contributions, among other issues, but as yet negotiations are to continue without mediation. The two sides will talk further during the third week of July.


The Princeton Police Department has arrested a Trenton woman for several thefts that occurred in the Princeton homes where she was employed as a cleaner.

The accused, Irma Natareno, 57, lives in Trenton and was employed to clean the homes of two separate Princeton families living on the Great Road and on the Princeton Kingston Road.

The thefts are believed to have occurred between June 2011 and April 2014.

Subsequent to an investigation by Princeton’s Detective Bureau, Ms. Natereno was arrested on July 3. She has been charged with the theft of jewelry, coins, cameras, and other items totaling $90,490.

The arrest highlights the degree to which the police department relies on the public to come forward with information that helps solve crimes. “In this case, the perpetrator was identified as a possible culprit by the victims,” said Police Chief Nick Sutter.

“We have experienced a rash of burglaries in recent months,” said Mr. Sutter. “We rely a great deal on information from the public and our detectives collaborate regularly with other area departments experiencing crimes that may be committed by the same culprits,” said Mr. Sutter. It is usual for the police in West Windsor, South Brunswick, Lawrence, Montgomery and Hopewell to pool their resources.

Mr. Sutter commended Detective Annette Henderson, who worked on the case leading to the arrest of Ms. Natereno, for doing a “very good job.”

“Princeton detectives are now finding links between incidents, and this is one example of good detective work that has cleared up multiple thefts,” Mr. Sutter added.

In April, Town Topics reported that the Princeton Police Department was working with other area police departments with respect to a “rash” of daytime residential burglaries that had occurred in Princeton homes unoccupied at the time of the break-ins. After the arrest of two Ewing men by West Windsor Police on March 25, Princeton Police looked for a connection to burglaries in Princeton but found none. A suspect arrested in South Brunswick was also found to be unrelated to incidents in Princeton.

But in May, Princeton Police arrested a 19-year-old suspect after a call from a neighbor. The suspect was attempting to break in to a residence on Randall Road. “This arrest was made because a resident called us,” said Detective Sergeant Christopher Quaste at the time. “Residents are our eyes and ears and we are always grateful when we get a call like this, which resulted in an arrest.”

Princeton residents are reminded to call the police department at (609) 921-2100 immediately to report any suspicious vehicle(s) and/or person(s) in their neighborhood. If it is possible to do so, they should get a description of any suspicious person or vehicle (including a license plate) and the direction of travel. For an incident in progress, they should call 9-1-1.

The police should also be notified immediately of any unknown person knocking on front doors. Potential burglars may knock on a front door to determine whether or not a house is occupied. They might say that they are looking for someone or for a particular street, even for a lost pet. They might pretend to be a door-to-door salesman. If there is no answer, they may walk to the back of the property and use unlocked doors/windows to gain entry. If none are found, windows and doors have been forced open. Jewelry and silver are generally targeted.

The Princeton Police Department also suggests that residents have digital photographs of their valuables as a way of helping the police in their attempts to recover stolen property. Practices that often prevent homes being targeted at least during daytime are always turning on any alarm systems, and presenting signs of occupation such as a car parked in the driveway, or a radio or TV left on inside the home.

The Princeton Police Department is requesting anyone with additional information to contact Det. Annette Henderson at (609) 921-2100 ext. 1818 or at ahenderson@princetonnj.gov.


July 2, 2014
Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Donna Carcaci Rhodes

Trenton Museum Society President Richard Willinger has announced that the Society selected Donna Carcaci Rhodes to serve as director.

Ms. Rhodes comes to Ellarslie from the Pearl S. Buck National Historic Landmark Home in Perkasie, Pa, where she was historic site director and curator. Her education includes degrees in art history and business. She lectures in and is published in artifact research, architectural sciences, historical studies, organizational volunteer support, and the literature and life of Pearl S. Buck. She has also worked with education program design, museum tour design, and volunteer docent training. She resides in Holland, Pa.

“The Trenton Museum Society is fortunate to have found an outstanding museum professional to lead the Society during these challenging times” said Ms. Willinger. “With her experience in curatorial management of art collections, research, archives, exhibit development, and historic site conservation, she brings many important skills to the Trenton City Museum which displays both regional fine arts exhibits and exhibits that highlight fascinating aspects of local history.”

The new director commented that she is “excited and energized about the opportunities offered by the Trenton City Museum housed in the beautiful Ellarslie Mansion.”

According to Rhodes, “With the commitment of a dedicated Board of Trustees, the museum continues to offer ever changing and engaging events and exhibits in history, art, music, and education for all ages. I am looking forward to being a part of the strong continued expansion of this great organization with increased partnerships, tours, and community involvement for the people of this great historic city and beyond.”

The Trenton Museum Society provides contemporary and historical art exhibits, Trenton history exhibits, student art classes, lectures, and musical performances for those who are interested in Trenton’s history and the arts in Mercer and Bucks Counties and central New Jersey.

The Museum Society maintains in trust for the citizens of Trenton a collection of thousands of artifacts and documents reflecting the industrial, political, educational, and commercial history of Trenton.

“There always seems to be so much going on at the museum,” she said. “I look forward to meeting members, artists, and patrons at these and other events.”

Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and municipal holidays. For more information, visit www.ellarslie.org.