July 13, 2016

Morven Mus

The Board of Trustees of Morven Museum and Garden has announced the appointment of Jill M. Barry as executive director. Ms. Barry comes to Morven from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, where she has been deputy director since 2012. She will begin her transition over the summer as she relocates to Princeton and assumes full-time responsibilities in early September. more

princetonchronicles

Princeton Chronicles, a group of student researchers and artists from Princeton High School, propose a community project featuring murals commemorating historical Princetonians from the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. Princeton Chronicles invites the public to learn about the project by viewing an exhibition on view at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts and encourages the public to provide feedback. 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. The exhibition runs through July 30. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777.

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“GHOST HOUSE”: This painting by Joanie Chirico is on view at the D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center through August 26. The exhibition titled “Art as Activism: Climate Change” demonstrates the role of artists in the climate change movement.

“Art as Activism: Climate Change” is on view at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place, through August 26. Art works document nature’s threatened beauty and show the influence of artists on the climate change discussion in the Anthropocene era. An artists’ reception will take place Friday, July 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.  more

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BLUE CURTAIN RETURNS WITH AN EVENING OF WORLD MUSIC TO HEAT UP THE SUMMER NIGHT: Celebrating 12 years of bringing world-class musicians from around the globe to Princeton for FREE summer concerts, Blue Curtain returns to Community Park North Amphitheater in Pettoranello Gardens on Saturday, July 16 starting at 7 p.m. with Latin jazz legend Papo Vázquez, Mighty Pirates Troubadours and Sofia Rei, who has been called “one of the best Argentine singers ever.”

Featuring Caribbean and South American sounds, Blue Curtain welcomes Papo Vázquez Mighty Pirates Troubadours and Sofia Rei to Pettoranello Gardens on Saturday, July 16 at 7 p.m. The concert is free. more

July 12, 2016

See below for the July 11, 2016 Princeton Council Meeting.

 Town Topics Newspaper will be posting videos of all future municipal meetings.

July 7, 2016

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Become a tourist in your own hometown with these staycation accessories. 

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July 6, 2016

“INVOLVED WITH BEN”: Ben Franklin was there to “meet and greet” the public at Morven Museum & Garden’s July 4 Jubilee Monday. These youngsters are living proof of his words of wisdom about involvement: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Governor Chris Christie’s proposal to overhaul New Jersey’s school funding system has set off a firestorm of controversy among lawmakers, educators, and others, both locally and across the state. In a speech at Hillsborough High School two weeks ago, Mr. Christie presented his “Fairness Formula” education plan, which would give every school district the same amount of state aid per student.

That plan would see some districts, including Princeton, receiving significantly more state funding and a lowering of property taxes, while aid to many urban districts with the highest percentage of low-income residents would be significantly reduced.
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Once Kean University’s School of Public Architecture settles into the former residence and studio of the late architect Michael Graves, plans are for the intimate salons Mr. Graves often held inside the iconic building known as The Warehouse to be revived. And these programs, with key leaders of the architectural profession, won’t be limited to Kean students.

“Some of these will be by invitation, some by request,” said David Mohney, the Dean of the University’s Michael Graves College. “We have to develop a full program and gauge interest. Some will be geared toward neighbors and residents of Princeton. The important thing is that our board was strongly supportive of reaching out to the Princeton community.”
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The Supreme Court’s June 23 decision on affirmative action, re-emphasizing “the educational benefits that flow from student body diversity” at colleges and universities and allowing race as a factor in admissions criteria, has provided welcome support for Princeton University’s efforts to promote inclusion, diversity, and equity on campus.

Citing Supreme Court rulings back to the 1978 Bakke decision, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber stated, “The Court has consistently recognized that the judicious use of race as one factor among many admission criteria can play an important role in universities’ efforts to enroll talented students from all backgrounds, promote intercultural understanding, eliminate stereotypes, and cultivate leaders for our multiracial society.”
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PRINCETON ABBEY: That is the new name for the former St. Joseph’s Seminary on Mapleton Road. A new plan to create a cemetery and cremation niches for people of all faiths is well underway. The chapel on the campus dates from 1934.

When Bernard “Buzzy” Stoecklein got his first look at St. Joseph’s Seminary on Mapleton Road, he was amazed. The sprawling, 87-acre property, which was purchased by the Vincentian order in 1914 to train young men for the priesthood, was lushly landscaped. Its Gothic stone chapel had beautiful stained glass windows reminiscent of Sainte Chapelle in Paris and Chartres Cathedral. But the property was not being used to anywhere near it’s potential.

Mr. Stoecklein, who heads a company that manages cemeteries in New Jersey and New York, came to Plainsboro to help decide what to do with a small cemetery on the property that is the final resting place of hundreds of Vincentian priests and brothers.

“I was in awe,” he said last week. “It was one thing to see the grounds and the size of the buildings. But when I went into the abbey, I immediately was reminded of Westminster Abbey. I just couldn’t get over it.”
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At a meeting of Princeton Council on June 28, Susan Hoskins, executive director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center, presented a community action plan geared toward addressing the most crucial needs of the town’s older residents in coming years. A community project more than a project of the PSRC, the study was based on focus groups with residents.

Though Princeton is a college town, a large share of residents are over 65 or nearing that age. “Many are active volunteers in community nonprofit organizations and civic organizations,” she said in her report. “They love the opportunities provided by our cultural centers, Princeton University, Princeton Public Library, and PSRC. Older adults who live here want to stay here if they can, but are worried about housing costs and transportation.”

In 2014, Princeton was the first community in New Jersey to be designated by the World Health Organization as age-friendly. Here, as elsewhere, baby boomers are aging.

“Worldwide, one out of every eight individuals will be over age 65 by 2030,” Ms. Hoskins said. “That’s why the World Health Organization encourages communities all over the globe to plan to accommodate this dramatic shift. And it’s why Princeton took the lead here in New Jersey. Participating in this network enables us to share innovative and best practice models from other communities throughout the world to address our priority needs.”

Four priorities were identified in the plan: More affordable and age-friendly housing, transportation, communication, and multi-generational neighborhood associations.

After Ms. Hoskins’s presentation, Councilwoman Jo Butler suggested that senior citizens should be sufficiently represented on the town’s boards and commissions. The report recommended that the Council appoint a monitor to make sure progress is made on the four goals over the next three years, which is the final reporting period with the World Health Organization.

The full report is posted on princetonnj.gov and princetonsenior.org.

 

Among the residents of Princeton whose appearance in public is most surprising — and alarming — are the black bears.

“Black bears are native to New Jersey and have been sighted in all 21 New Jersey counties,” stated Nathan Barson, Princeton animal control officer, in a recent Black Bear Information memo. He mentioned several sightings during the past month along the Montgomery-Princeton border: near Cherry Valley Road, Drake’s Corner, Herrontown Road, and Autumn Hill Reservation.

Black bears are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of food, including fruit, nuts, trash, meat scraps, and more, according to Mr. Barson.

To reduce bear-related encounters, Animal Control advises the following:

• Secure your trash in bear-resistant garbage containers or with tight fitting lids to reduce odors.

• Clean any food scraps from grills, porches, and decks, and keep meat scraps out of compost piles.

• Pets should not be fed outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

• Immediately remove all uneaten food and bowls used by pets fed outdoors (NO food after dark).

• Never hang bird feeders in easy to reach locations (feeders should be at least 10 feet in the air).

• Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.

• Wash garbage with disinfectant to remove odors.

• Secure beehives, livestock, and fruit crops with an electric fence.

Residents should report bear damage, nuisance behavior, or aggressive bears to the DEP hotline at (877) WARN-DEP ((877) 927-6337) or their local police department.

 

dvd revOne-hundred fifty years ago this month Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit, was born in London. Peter entered the wider world in book form in 1902 and since then has reportedly sold more than 40 million copies in as many as 35 languages. Just to keep things in perspective on Britain’s place in that wider world amid the withdrawal trauma of Brexit, it’s worth noting that by 1903, six decades in advance of Beatlemania, there was a Peter Rabbit doll and a board game, the first items in a never-ending outpouring of English merchandise featuring Peter and his “Little England” community of friends.
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In musical performance, the term “trio” refers to any combination of three instruments, often two stringed instruments and a keyboard. Prima Trio, which performed last Tuesday night on the Princeton Summer Chamber Concerts series, has put their own twist on this tradition by combining piano and clarinet with either violin or viola. Gulia Gurevich has expanded the range of Prima Trio by playing both violin and viola, joining clarinetist Boris Allakhverdyan and pianist Anastasia Dedik. Each of these players comes from a unique part of the world, and brought their multicultural backgrounds and solid training to Richardson Auditorium for last Tuesday night’s performance. The members of Prima Trio honed their craft at Oberlin Conservatory and through 12 years of playing together and touring, their performance moved from traditional to contemporary, with much of the program drawn from the 20th century.
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Theater rev 7-6-16

VENEER OF CIVILITY: Two sets of parents come together for a rational, civilized discussion of a playground dispute that has taken place between their sons, in Princeton Summer Theater’s production of Yasmina Reza’s black comedy “God of Carnage.” (L to R) Maddie Meyers as Annette, Billy Cohen as Alan, Olivia Nice as Veronica, and Jake McCready as Michael. (Photo by Ogemdi Ude)

The setting is a fashionable living room in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. The leather furniture is spare and tasteful. A large vase of tulips graces the elegant coffee table, which is covered with art books. An expensive-looking painting fills the back wall.

Two sets of well-educated upper middle class parents are discussing a playground dispute that has taken place between their 11-year-old sons. “Fortunately, there is still such a thing as the art of co-existence, isn’t there?” says Veronica, whose son has lost two teeth in the incident.
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July 3, 2016

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(Photo Credit: @rayban)

Whether you’re looking for a square, round, fashionable or classic frame – we have the look for you!

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June 30, 2016

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Outfit your backyard for the perfect 4th of July celebration with these fun products!

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June 29, 2016

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Robert Frost says that though fireflies never equal stars in size, they achieve at times “a very star-like start.” These three star-like visitors to Sunday’s Firefly Festival at Terhune Orchards made their own wings. Some firefly fans discuss their plans for the Fourth of July in this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

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TRAIN TRANSFORMATION: The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, formerly the Dinky train station on Alexander Street, is scheduled to open at the end of July, with 54 seats indoors and 26 outdoors, fully renovated kitchen area where the ticket office used to be, and drinking and eating area in the old waiting room. (Photo by Henry Gilpin)

The Dinky Bar and Kitchen, the next addition to the Arts and Transit neighborhood taking shape on Alexander Street, will open at the end of July in the renovated building that formerly housed the old train station.

“Cocktails, wine, beer, spirits, snacks, small plates, neat eats” reads the sign in front of the building under construction. According to Jim Nawn, owner of Fenwick Hospitality Group, which is developing the project in partnership with building owner Princeton University, patrons can look forward to “a comfortable bar environment in an interesting old building.”

The stone station house was constructed in 1918 in the collegiate gothic style, and includes the ticket office, which will be the kitchen area of the new establishment, and the domed-ceilinged passenger hall, which will include 54 seats and a bar with some counter-height tables, and 26 additional seats outside. The original train station was closed permanently in August 2013, with the new station and ticket office opening one block southeast on Alexander Street in November 2014.

“It’s a beautiful building in a lot of ways,” said Mr. Nawn, whose Fenwick Group also owns Agricola, Main Street Restaurant Group, and the Great Road Farm. “We are aware that good food needs to be part of the service” he continued, and also mentioned that the fare would offer “ingredient-inspired” food from the Great Road Farm, “including fresh produce, pickled and preserved items, charcuterie items made by our butcher, and cheese and meats in a local, farm-inspired context — sharable food, served on smaller-sized plates.”

The bar and grill, interior designed by Celano Design Studio of New York, will be open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

Also in the works as part of the station complex designed by Rick Joy Architects of Tucson, Arizona, is a full-scale restaurant, to be housed in the larger, southern station building, formerly used for freight storage. It is scheduled to open by the middle of next year and will seat about 150, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

July might be a quiet time on Alexander Street, with both McCarter Theatre and the University on summer schedules, but Mr. Nawn is optimistic about the prospect of the Dinky Bar and Kitchen “starting slow to get the operation going,” then “coming up to speed in the fall.”

”When something new comes along,” he said, “it may attract attention and be busy even in summer.” Mr. Nawn looked forward to the completion of the Arts and Transit project next year, “The station complex will be a great amenity for the community,” he stated, “a quality bar, grill, and restaurant for commuters, students, theater-goers, and others.”

In the meantime, Mr. Nawn mentioned “a number of projects underway” at Main Street (comprised of the Main Street Bistro in Princeton Shopping Center, Main Street Eatery and Gourmet in Kingston, and Main Street Catering in Rocky Hill), which Fenwick acquired four months ago.

He noted a “need for some refreshing and renovation” and mentioned adjustments this summer in the menu and cosmetic changes to the bistro, but emphasized “this is a process. We hope people are patient.”

 

Last year, Princeton passed an ordinance to limit the size and regulate the placement of sandwich board signs outside businesses in town. This didn’t sit well with some proprietors, many of whom are members of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA).

In an effort to provide recommendations for improvements to that ordinance and others that may be developed as the municipality continues to harmonize documents from the former Borough and Township, the PMA held a workshop last week at the Arts Council of Princeton. The June 21 event was led by architect Joshua Zinder of the firm JZA + D, and attended by some representatives of local businesses and members of the town’s administrative staff as well as Mayor Liz Lempert and Councilwoman Jo Butler.

“We’ve worked on a number of shops in town, and it always seems to come up that people feel the signage [regulation] is very restrictive, without a clear understanding of why,” Mr. Zinder said a few days before the workshop. “It has come up a number of times at PMA, and several people have asked me about it.”

After the sandwich board ordinance went into effect, “Many of the merchants in town were very upset about how it was being approved,” Mr. Zinder continued. “They didn’t feel there was a good dialogue where they were included in the discussion. They felt it was the municipality, and a couple of isolated people in the community, without consulting the merchants in general.”

The PMA had some talks with members of Council, and the ordinance was put on hold. Last week’s workshop was focused not only on the sandwich board signs, but on all of the different types and styles utilized by local businesses. Mr. Zinder gave a presentation that was followed by a discussion. The possibility of installing wayfinding signs, with information about how far and approximately how long a walk it would be to a destination, was proposed.

One issue that concerns merchants is the amount of time it can take to get signage approved, especially if the process involves coordination with the Historic Preservation Commission. Lighting was another focus of the discussion. Newer technology makes it easier to control light bleed from signage, which presents new and different opportunities, Mr. Zinder said.

The challenge is to attract local residents to the downtown businesses while also bringing in people from the outside. “There are a lot of empty stores in town,” said Mr. Zinder. “Unique merchants who would be attracted to Princeton are going to Route 1 and the malls, where there is free parking, and you can have any kind of sign you want. Here, there are controls. We don’t make it easy for merchants to come to Princeton.”

The PMA will take information from the workshop and elsewhere, and come back to Council with ideas for improving the ordinances. “My sense is that Council wants to make this work,” Ms. Lempert said this week. “I’m sure there is a solution in there somewhere.”

 

Two months after hiring a consultant to take a hard look at residential zoning in Princeton, the town has launched a website to keep citizens abreast of efforts to stem the speed of teardowns in local neighborhoods and the buildings that replace them. The site, princetonneighborhoods.org, also invites residents to provide comments on zoning issues.

The website is part of a community planning effort created in response to citizens’ concerns about residential development and the changing character of the town. All of the four candidates in this month’s Democratic primary election stressed these issues as priorities in their campaigns. Republican mayoral candidate Peter Marks has also focused on zoning and preserving neighborhood character.

Princeton Council voted April 25 to hire the RBA Group, which recently headed a similar project in Haddonfield, for the project. It comes at a time when efforts are being made to harmonize the zoning ordinances of the previous Borough and Township. “We see on the ground, in almost every neighborhood, the motivation for why we need to take a step back and review what the laws are on the books,” Mayor Liz Lempert said last month. “We need to know whether they are in line with the vision we have for our community.”

A subcommittee from the town’s Planning Board including Mayor Lempert, Jenny Crumiller, Wanda Gunning, Tim Quinn, and Gail Ullman is leading the initiative with a goal of creating strategies, policies, guidelines, and regulations to shape future development so that it better complements the character of Princeton’s neighborhoods and streets. The fact that each of the town’s neighborhoods has its own character adds to the challenge for those involved. Residents are encouraged to participate by adding their comments on the website.

The site includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that links to research on studies carried out in other communities. Questions range from how long the study will take to whether a moratorium on residential development will be considered in New Jersey.

The website indicates that one of the first and most important steps in the project is to collect data in order to understand the geography and scale of residential expansions, demolitions, and development in Princeton. Short-term changes expected to be adopted within the next four months could include “quick fix” revisions to site plan review and zoning standards “that will lead to improved outcomes from the demolition of older houses and the siting, design, and construction of new houses and yards,” the website reads.

Mid-term changes are identified as possible master plan amendments or additional zoning adjustments that set the stage for more significant changes that could be adopted in the long-term, and could be implemented in six to eight months. Long-term, substantive changes, which could go into practice within a year, might include substantive changes to the structure of residential zoning.

The RBA Group, formerly Brown & Keener Urban Design, was previously involved in developing the concept for Princeton’s Hinds Plaza and Spring Street Garage. Architects, planners, and landscape architects from the firm will participate in the project, partnering with Urban Partners. Both firms are based in Philadelphia.

To provide comments, write to the email address contact@princetonneighborhoods.org or mail comments in a sealed envelope to Neighborhood Character and Zoning Initiative, care of Princeton Planning Department, 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson has denied the Princeton Battlefield Society’s (PBS) motion for a preliminary injunction to halt faculty housing construction by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) on a seven-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Battlefield.

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Last Thursday’s 4-4 Supreme Court ruling concerning President Obama’s executive actions on immigration has blocked the president’s programs from going into effect and disappointed hundreds of hopeful Princeton residents.
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In his will, architect Michael Graves left three of his Princeton properties, including his Patton Avenue residence and studio, to Princeton University. But the University, where Mr. Graves taught for 39 years and was the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, has rejected the gift due to the expenses involved in its preservation and maintenance.
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