August 7, 2013

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With apologies to the invisible poets of Lake Carnegie and Theodore Roethke, whose heron actually walks “the shallows” in “The Heron,” which can be read in full on the Poetry Society of America website. (Photo by Charles L. Plohn)

July 31, 2013
VILLAGE PRIDE: Proud parents and residents of Princeton Community Village celebrate the outstanding scholars in their midst. Shown here are seven of 15 recipients of awards from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Associations. The seven award winners with their family members are: from left (front row): Henrietta Sackey and her daughter Courtney D. Sackey; Mary C. Ebong with her youngest sister Mercy and her father Emmanuel; Jurab Kazim; Cynthia C. Fuentes; Stephanie Nazario; and Vanessa Guzman; (back row): Anne Daniecki and her son Jonas I. Daniecki; Princeton Police Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim; Kumail S. Kazim; and Christian James Nazario.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

VILLAGE PRIDE: Proud parents and residents of Princeton Community Village celebrate the outstanding scholars in their midst. Shown here are seven of 15 recipients of awards from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Associations. The seven award winners with their family members are: from left (front row): Henrietta Sackey and her daughter Courtney D. Sackey; Mary C. Ebong with her youngest sister Mercy and her father Emmanuel; Jurab Kazim; Cynthia C. Fuentes; Stephanie Nazario; and Vanessa Guzman; (back row): Anne Daniecki and her son Jonas I. Daniecki; Princeton Police Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim; Kumail S. Kazim; and Christian James Nazario. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Fifteen high school students from Princeton Community Village (PCV) have won grants from the New Jersey and National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) and its New Jersey affiliate (JAHMA). The students are high achievers in both academic performance and community service. All but one are graduates of Princeton High School (PHS).

“It really does take a village to ensure success,“ said Susan O’Malley of Princeton Community Village. “We work closely with PHS guidance and with organizations such as Corner House, and parents are heavily involved. Many of these young students are the first of their families to attend college and many of their parents are immigrants.”

In order to be selected, the students had to demonstrate significant community involvement. They worked with organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister, End Child Hunger Organization, Latinos Unidos and Minority Achievement Network. This year’s recipients also worked on projects to reduce child hunger, promote racial justice, provide assistance to the elderly, and mentor youth. Their efforts were recognized at an awards ceremony, Monday at Princeton Community Village.

“This is a remarkable year with seven of our 15 award recipients receiving both state and national awards,” said Edith Juarez, PCV activities coordinator and one of several people encouraging their success. “Of the past 11 years, this is the highest number of award winners so far.”

Guest speakers at the ceremony were Charlene St. Clair, a three-time-award recipient and now a doctor in optometry, and Officer Shahid Abdul-Karim, of the Princeton Police Dept. who grew up at Princeton Community Village where he lived on Butternut Row.

In his speech, Mr. Abdul-Karim shared memories of growing up in the “ville,” as PCV is affectionately known, and described his own path to success as a police officer in his home town. “I applied three times before I got the job,” he said. Even though he likes to work out, he told the students, his first attempt failed when he completed only seven of the eight pull ups required by the admission test. Instead of giving up, he took the test again and then again. “Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you,” he told the students.

Dr. Bruce Johnson, Scholarship Program Administrator for the awards and a former school principal, introduced each of the recipients, eight of whom were present Monday. “The culture of PCV supports education and you should feel proud of that, these are terrific students with above 3.0 grade point averages making a commitment to education and to their community,” he said. “Education leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to success.”

Asked about PCV in relation to other affordable housing, Mr. Johnson described it as outstanding. “Susan [O’Malley], Mary [Maybury] and Edith [Juarez] do an excellent job of promoting JAHMA and NAHMA and the highest number of applicants each year comes from PCV,” he said. “Students here attend one of the best high schools in the country [PHS], which gives them a very good preparation; they go on to some of the best colleges and universities; and the retention rate is impressive.”

This year’s students will attend Fairleigh Dickinson University, Franklin Marshall College, Haverford College, Ithaca College, Mercer County Community College, Norwich University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, and Strayer University.

In contrast to JAHMA, which gives awards to 80 percent of those who apply, NAHMA awards only about 40 percent of applicants. Eight of the fifteen PCV scholars received the former, making this an outstanding selection of students. All in all the 15 were awarded some $40,000 from the two award programs; $22,000 from the state organization and $18,000 from the national organization. In general, NAHMA awards range from $1,500 to $2,500 and JAHMA from $500 to $3,500. Since 2002, students residing at PCV have been awarded scholarships from these sources totaling close to $200,000.

JAHMA is a nonprofit organization of property managers and owners who specialize in the development and operation of government assisted/affordable housing. NAHMA is dedicated to improving the skills and knowledge of affordable housing professionals, to industry representation, and to providing a better living environment for all residents of assisted/affordable housing.

Set for Success

The 2013 award winners are: Jackelynn L. Chmiel, Jonas I. Daniecki, Mary C. Ebong, Cynthia C. Fuentes, Cindy M. Guzman, Vanessa Guzman, Phoebe Hanna, Kumail S. Kazim, Tori N. Julious, Julio R. Lopez, Christian James Nazario, Juan Polanco, Syed H. Raza, Courtney D. Sackey, and Andres Felipe Velez.

At 21, Kumail Kazim has finished three years of a seven year combined biology and doctor of osteopathy degree at Rutgers University and will attend medical school at Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine in the fall. “The foundation has been everything to me, without it I’d be up to my ears in loans. I am so thankful to Mary [Maybury], Edith [Juarez] and Dr. Johnson for making sure that I keep on top of things. Because you are allowed to apply for support year after year, as long as you meet the academic and extracurricular requirements, there is a constant incentive to keep up your grades, and the end-of year celebration is something to look forward to. I really appreciate the supportive environment of PCV. I have two younger brothers one of whom, Murtaza Kazim, will be applying next year.”

Mary Ebong, 18, who moved from Nigeria to the United States with her father Emmanuel when she was just six, will be a freshman at Rutgers this fall, studying human resources management. Already planning ahead, she hopes to go on to a master’s program. She has been active as a tutor at the PCV after school learning center in reading and geography. “We don’t have a lot of money since we support our family back in Nigeria. I have taken out some loans, so these awards are very important to me,” she said. Mr. Ebong described his daughter as “hardworking” and doing all she can to take advantage of opportunities. “I am very proud of her,” he beamed. The oldest of three girls, Ms. Ebong is a model for her younger siblings.

Christian James Nazario will be attending Mercer County Community College and studying fashion management. Cynthia Fuentes will be there too, studying nursing. Jonas Daniecki will be going to Norwich University where he will study mechanical engineering and Vanessa Guzman will be at Fairleigh Dickinson. Courtney Sackey, who attended Princeton Day School, will be attending Haverford College in the fall to study political science with a view to going on to law school. Her mother Henrietta, originally from Liberia, spoke highly of the program and of her daughter’s accomplishments.

Ed Truscelli, executive director of Princeton Community Housing, commented on the atmosphere in the PCV club house. “We are like a family here, we all have the same sense of pride and you can feel that in this room,” he said.

Princeton Community Village (PCV) is an affiliate of Princeton Community Housing (PCH). Located on Karl Light Boulevard, across from Hilltop Park, it opened in 1975 to provide low and moderate income townhouses and apartments and provides homes to 238 households or about 630 residents. Of the approximately 1,400 students enrolled at Princeton High School, 31 are PCV residents.

The nonprofit PCH provides, manages, and advocates for affordable housing. Founded in 1967, it works to ensure a balance of housing opportunities that it deems essential to Princeton’s continued success and economic diversity. For more information on affordable housing available in Princeton, including locations, eligibility criteria and application forms visit, www.princetoncommunityhousing.org.

 

When the Princeton Family YMCA opens its renovated athletic facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, September 14 at 10:30 a.m. in the Dodge Gymnasium, it will not only have new equipment it will have a new name.

The expanded open space with new cardio equipment, strength training, and free weights will officially be known as the Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick Wellness Center.

The renovation, called “Project Jumpstart,” is designed to encourage healthy living and physical activity among people of all ages. “Our YMCA is dedicated to strengthening the foundations of community — and healthy living is one of our three areas of focus,” said Princeton Family YMCA CEO Kate Bech. “Offering an updated, modern Wellness Center with appropriate equipment is key to our ability to support Princeton residents and to promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle, particularly among families.”

The naming of the new center came as a delightful surprise to Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick. For more than a year, YMCA volunteers secretly raised money for the new facility which they had decided to name in honor of the longtime Princeton residents who have deep ties to the YMCA Movement.

Mr. Fitzpatrick has often said that the YMCA was one of his greatest influences. His father was a chaplain with the Y. The couple’s children participated in a variety of Y activities and programs and their son Hugh currently serves on the Board of Directors of the national YMCA of the U.S.A. Several of the Fitzpatrick’s grandchildren have attended and worked at YMCA resident camps.

Now almost 90 years old, Mr. Fitzpatrick was a bomber pilot in World War II. After his plane was shot down over Germany, he became a prisoner-of-war and recalls the supplies that he and his fellow soldiers received courtesy of the YMCA.

As part of the war effort, the YMCA provided books, athletic equipment, musical instruments, and art supplies to prisoners in the hopes of keeping up their spirits in the face of uncertainty. Mr. Fitzpatrick credits the books he received about economics for capturing his interest and sparking a passion that ultimately put him on his career path in finance.

Following the war, Mr. Fitzpatrick went on to get an education and eventually became the chief investment officer for the national YMCA Retirement Fund. During his tenure, the fund experienced unprecedented growth, which helped thousands of YMCA employees maximize their savings for a secure retirement.

The Fitzpatricks share a deep commitment to youth development and education.

Nancye Fitzpatrick, a former teacher at John Witherspoon Middle School where she taught English to generations of seventh- and eighth-graders from 1966 to 1982, has served the community through her work as a volunteer. She was a director and president of New Grange School. In the late 1980s, she was a mentor with the Trenton Afterschool Program. Even today, she meets monthly with one of her young charges from that period, now a 33-year-old woman.

So far, more than 40 donors have contributed $300,000 for Project Jump Start and they aim to raise a further $200,000. “The enhanced space will help us advance our mission of healthy living, and encourage more people of all backgrounds and abilities to become members and a part of the YMCA family,” said Ms. Bech.

It is hoped that the updated facility, the first major construction project at the YMCA in 40 years, will draw new members to the Princeton Family YMCA. Increased membership would benefit existing programs such as Princeton Young Achievers, an afterschool program for economically-disadvantaged children, and Y Scholars, a group mentoring program for young people that fosters education, aspirations, and goal-setting.

The construction, which is expected to take 12 weeks, is being led by the Yedlin Company, a Princeton-based commercial contractor. The YMCA will remain operational on a modified basis while the renovation is carried out.

For more on the YMCA’s membership opportunities or to make a contribution in honor of Jim and Nancye Fitzpatrick, call Denise Soto at (609) 497-9622 x209 or send an email to dsoto@princtonymca.org.

 

In an 8-1 vote, Princeton’s Planning Board approved the revised plan that AvalonBay has proposed for the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton. While none of the Board members professed to favor every aspect of the proposal last Thursday evening, each praised the developer for its efforts to accommodate residents’ concerns about size, permeability, sustainability, and design.

“I think this final design is a much improved design,” said former Princeton Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman, a member of the Board and a resident of the neighborhood where the 280-unit rental complex will be built. “The applicant has agreed to change some things, particularly the distribution of affordable housing, and has added very low income housing. And the fact that they will give consideration for adding a generator is important.”

“You listened to us,” said Board member Gail Ullman. “I don’t love everything about it, but you really did meet us halfway and I’m pleased to be a part of the approval of this application.”

It was in December 2012 that the Planning Board voted to reject AvalonBay’s proposal after numerous complaints and objections from neighborhood residents, particularly those who were members of the organization Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN). The developer sued the Board and the municipality, and then approached the town about reaching an agreement. By May, Plan B was ready for a presentation to the community at Community Park School. Four special hearings in front of the Board began in late June. The final one, at which the vote was cast, was held last Thursday.

In a statement on Friday, AvalonBay’s Vice President for Development Jon Vogel said he is pleased that the company can now move forward “with a project that will transform the former Princeton University Medical Center into a much-needed multifamily apartment homes that will be well integrated into the Princeton community.”

Several modifications were included among AvalonBay’s concessions to local residents’ requests and the -recommendations of Princeton’s zoning and environmental commissions. The 56 affordable units in the complex will be dispersed throughout, with 13 percent devoted to those of very low income. The 56 affordable apartments at the complex will range in price from $310 for a studio, for very low income; to $1,088 for a three-bedroom unit, for moderate income.

In response to complaints that the original design was for one “monolithic” building, the development now promises two large buildings and three smaller townhouse clusters. A public park at the site has been enlarged. The developer has made a $70,000 contribution to the Arts Council of Princeton for the acquisition of artworks that will be placed throughout the complex.

“We have made numerous modifications,” said AvalonBay’s lawyer Robert Kasuba. “I think that is obvious to anyone who has looked.”

During the 17-month process, members of PCSN were particularly vocal in their objections to some aspects of AvalonBay’s proposal. But the group formally withdrew its opposition to the plan because of the expenses incurred for the services of an environmental attorney. In a statement on Friday, the group’s trustees acknowledged the efforts of its supporters.

“We want to thank the hundreds of citizens who were catalyzed to research, consult, speak at public hearings, write to the press, and donate funds,” the trustees said. “PCSN, together with community pressure, gained us Plan B: five buildings (not one), which include two large buildings and three townhouse buildings on Franklin Avenue. A new private drive connecting Henry Avenue to Franklin with a semi-public piazza, adds permeability to Plan B, and the pocket park that was moved to the corner of Witherspoon and Franklin.”

Mr. Vogel also thanked residents and government officials, “for keeping an open mind during this entire process and allowing AvalonBay to listen and respond to local sentiments,” he said.

Board member Cecelia Birge cast the lone vote against the proposal. “It’s a tough vote for me. Generally I’m a person who likes to say yes. But I can’t vote for it,” she said, citing concerns about preserving the character of the town and respecting the environment.

 

Details of a plan for a monument to those who died in the September 11 World Trade Center attack were presented to Princeton Council at its July 22 meeting. While no action was taken, the Council expressed enthusiasm for the proposal, which would place the sculpture on Monument Drive outside the former Borough Hall.

Mayor Liz Lempert encouraged Deputy Chief of the Princeton Fire Department Roy James to present the plan to the town’s Historic Preservation Commission as the next step. Mr. James has been advocating for establishment of a monument since securing a 10-foot long, two-ton steel beam from the ruins of the World Trade Center in March 2010. The beam was brought to Princeton from Brooklyn last year on a flatbed truck by first response vehicles and motorcyclists.

Architect Pam Rew of KSS Architects and sculptor Pietro del Fabro, who have been working on the project, said they want to place the monument in a spot that would afford privacy for visitors, but could also be seen from the road. “We wanted people to be able to memorialize loved ones, but we don’t want the site to be a museum piece,” Ms. Rew said. She looked at designs of memorials by architect Philip Johnson, among other artists and architects, in coming up with a plan for the memorial.

The column of steel would be encased in limestone forms that are broken at the top, Mr. del Fabro said. Information about the memorial, including poetry, would be placed on a stone walkway. The material for the memorial would be the same as that of the existing Battle Monument near the site. The sculptor also said that the public would be encouraged to participate in the memorial by etching their own messages onto another beam at the site.

“History will always repeat itself if we forget,” Mr. James said. “We’re trying to make this memorial different from what you’d normally see.”

A point of concern about the steel beam salvaged from the Twin Towers is that it has a hole in the shape of a cross carved into one side. Some members of Council said that the cross could be seen as a religious symbol, which would violate the separation of church and state. “We know our community was affected by these tragic events,” said Council member Heather Howard. “But we have to do our due diligence on the legal end with issues if government is promoting one religion over another. There may be legal risks.”

Mr. James said he feels the cross, which was likely carved by a worker at the disaster site, is part of history and should not be hidden. But if obscuring the cross is a condition of getting the project in place, he is willing to accept it. Mr. James would like to have the steel beam in the ground by September 11 for a small ceremony, to be followed a year later by a more extensive unveiling of the memorial.

The memorial would cost between $76,000 and $100,000. Mr. James said he wants to start fundraising once the proposal is approved by Council. Asking if the town could help with excavating, he said Princeton University has offered to donate bluestone and possibly limestone. He added that he could borrow the money from Council and pay it back once donations are secured.

 

Citizens concerned about the effects of the proposed Transco pipeline addition on the Princeton Ridge met earlier this month with officials from The Williams Company, which wants to implement the project. The gathering included a two-hour walk through the area in question and left residents breathing easier about environmental and safety issues associated with the plan.

Officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Mayor Liz Lempert, and a representative from Representative Rush Holt’s office were among others who attended the meeting, according to Barbara Blumenthal. of the Princeton Ridge Coalition, a citizens’ group. The Oklahoma-based company wants to expand the existing natural gas pipeline that runs through a 1.3 mile section of the ridge between Coventry Farms and Cherry Valley Road.

Since the announcement last February of the company’s proposal, residents of the area that would be affected and other local citizens have been vocal in their concerns about blasting, the effects on the natural environment, and other related issues. Public meetings have been held by Williams and FERC, inviting citizen input. About 25 members of the Coalition were on hand for the most recent gathering, Ms. Blumenthal said.

“Williams presented their plan, which has been revised to try and do what we’ve asked them to do, which is to minimize the need to cut out trees,” she said on Monday. “Rather than assuming they would take a 50-foot corridor of new clearing, they’re going to try and work within the existing footprint. In some places, they may have to take out some trees. But the worst possible option is no longer on the table.”

The walk through the ridge was followed by a two-hour meeting at the Williams regional office on Farber Road. Williams spokesman Chris Stockton said the level of cooperation between the citizens’ group and the company is an example of what the pre-filing phase, which FERC instituted a decade ago, is supposed to do.

“There was a time when we’d just file an application and say, ‘This is what we want to do.’ And then people would say we didn’t consider their perspective,” Mr. Stockton said. “But that has changed. FERC created the pre-filing stage to facilitate early interaction between pipeline companies and interested stakeholders to make sure issues would be addressed early rather than sneaking up on us later. This is where a company needs to get on the ground and walk the route and identify potential solutions to lessen impact.”

Ms. Blumenthal said there are still issues to be considered. “They addressed an important one, which is the footprint,” she said. “But we still have very serious safety concerns about boulders and wetlands. We are waiting to get more information from them to run past our outside advisors so we can be reassured that the specific plans they haven’t figured out yet will be safe.”

One safety concern Williams has considered has to do with ground penetrating radar. “We’re happy we’ve been able to work with them and actually improve some of their plans on this,” Ms. Blumenthal said. “The big issue is that it’s unfortunate that the pipeline is in this location in the first place. Because if they were planning a new one today, they would not be putting it in the Princeton Ridge. There was discussion about this, and FERC officials made it clear they’d be looking at alternatives as part of the process.”

Mr. Stockton said Williams is currently in the design phase for the project, and plans to file its proposal with FERC this fall. The agency will then conduct a thorough review that will take approximately eight to 10 months before making its final decision.

“We’re happy that we engaged with them early,” said Ms. Blumenthal. “We sent a very powerful message about how important this is to Princeton.” 

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A two-alarm fire in the first block of George Drive in Fieldwood Manors, off Cherry Valley Road, was answered by firefighters from Princeton and Montgomery and as far away as Plainsboro, West Windsor, Lawrence, and South Brunswick early Saturday afternoon, July 27. According to the Princeton Police Department, Princeton building inspectors deemed the home uninhabitable. The fire caused non-structural damage to the house next door. There were no injuries. The cause is under investigation. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

 

July 24, 2013
ARCHITECTURAL ANNIVERSARY: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall is among the historic buildings to be discussed during “Mercer by Architecture,” a symposium August 9 at The Lawrenceville School. The event, which will be followed by a weekend of open houses at local architectural landmarks, is part of Mercer County’s 175th birthday celebration.(Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

ARCHITECTURAL ANNIVERSARY: Princeton University’s Nassau Hall is among the historic buildings to be discussed during “Mercer by Architecture,” a symposium August 9 at The Lawrenceville School. The event, which will be followed by a weekend of open houses at local architectural landmarks, is part of Mercer County’s 175th birthday celebration. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

When Mercer County officials began thinking about the best way to celebrate its 175th birthday, the idea of architecture emerged at the top of the list. The county has a rich store of buildings and sites from the 17th century to the present, making it what some regard as an architectural microcosm of the nation.

“A group from many divisions and departments got together to talk about how we wanted to commemorate the anniversary,” said Tricia Fagan, the county’s Historic Outreach Specialist. “A number of departments had their wish lists. In the meantime, I’ve been collecting files on the history of various things in the county. I pulled them out, and the history of architecture just seemed like a winner to everybody.”

So planning began for “Mercer by Architecture,” a day-long symposium that will bring prominent historians and architects including Michael Graves. Michael Mills, Philip Hayden, and Robert Hillier [a Town Topics shareholder] to the campus of The Lawrenceville School — an architectural landmark itself — for programs on varied topics. The August 9 event will be followed by a “Mercer County Open House Weekend” August 10 and 11.

“We have such an astonishing infrastructure in Mercer County,” said Ms. Fagan. “And yet, we’re sort of casual about it. We say, ‘Oh yes, Morven’ or ‘Oh, the Trent House.’ I love that casualness, but it’s also time to celebrate what we have here and not take it for granted.”

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes will introduce the symposium, which begins with breakfast at 8:30 a.m. The keynote speaker is W. Barksdale Maynard, whose topic is “Princeton: America’s Campus — Architecture in History and Context.” Mr. Maynard is the author of five books on American history, architecture, and landscape and has taught art, architecture, and landscape courses at Princeton and Johns Hopkins universities.

“He’s probably if not the best, then one of the top three speakers they’ve ever had at the New Jersey Historical Commission,” Ms. Fagan said. “He wrote the book Princeton: America’s Campus, which looks at the long and invaluable history of the University. He makes the argument that the architecture of Princeton University tells the story of architecture in the United States.”

Two panel discussions will be held, both moderated by Meredith Arms Bzdak, an architectural historian and partner with the Princeton firm Mills + Schnoering Architects. Taking part in the morning session, “Architecture of Place: History of Housing in Mercer” are Mr. Hayden, senior historian and architectural historian at Richard Grubb & Associates; Mr. Hillier, founder of the Princeton firm RMJM and a visiting lecturer in History and Theory of the Architecture Profession at Princeton University; and Janet W. Foster, an architectural historian, teacher, and advocate for the historic built environment.

The afternoon session, “Architecture of Space: Public Architecture and Mercer,” will feature Kate Nearpass Ogden; a professor of Art History at Stockton College; Mr. Mills, partner at Mills + Schnoering specializing in the preservation, restoration, and adaptive use of historic structures; and Princeton architect Michael Graves, whose two firms provide architecture, interior design, master planning, product and graphic design, and branding. Mr. Graves was appointed last March to the U.S. Access Board by President Barack Obama.

“We’ve reached out to these terrifically gifted people, some of whom are internationally known, and they’ve been immediately saying yes,” Ms. Fagan said. “That’s heartwarming. They love the idea of being part of this, and we’re very lucky to have them.”

Among the buildings that will be open to the public over the weekend are the faculty dining room at Nassau Hall on the Princeton campus, and a portion of The Lawrenceville School. Jacqueline Haun, the school’s archives librarian, will lead a tour of its older, historic buildings. A portion of the campus is a National Historic Landmark and was designed in collaboration with the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted and architects Peabody & Stearns.

Admission to the symposium is $20.50, including breakfast, lunch, and parking. Visit http://nj.gov/counties/mercer/ for more information.

“From quaint farmhouses to stately public buildings, Mercer County’s architecture is rich in history, covering every period of our Nation’s past,” said Mr. Hughes. “This symposium will be an excellent way to share the stories behind some of Mercer’s many architectural treasures.”

—Anne Levin

 

The 2013 Trenton African American Pride Festival will boast a full schedule of cultural entertainment, including music by gospel house giant Kenny Bobien who will perform hits like “You Are My Friend” and “Grateful.” The festival will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at Cadwalader Park, and will be hosted by legendary radio DJ Patty Jackson of 105.3 WDAS FM.

Bobien, a singer, songwriter, and producer who has sang background vocals for the likes of Celine Dion and Teddy Pendergrass, has a distinct falsetto voice that has been synonymous with house and club music anthems for the past 20 years, and an electrifying stage presence that promises to bring the house down.

Also gracing the stage at the festival: funk, dance, and R&B band Valerie Adams and the Dimensions performing Motown, soul, and jazz hits; Cimarrones, an Afro-Cuban percussion and dance ensemble performing authentic bomba and plena, and R&B group The Main Event Band. Presenting the Caribbean aspect of the African heritage will be reggae artists Larry White, Richie Lane, and Jah Pops.

“We are very excited to feature the talent of Trentonians, as well as entertainers from across the region, this year. It was very important for us that the entertainment reflect the diversity of the African Diaspora, since that is the whole purpose of this festival, to celebrate our African ancestry,” said Nina Dawkins, chair of the
festival’s entertainment committee. “We have some great performances lined up, plenty of fun for the kids, great food and vendors. It will be a fun day at the park for the whole family. Who doesn’t love that?”

The festival will also feature performances by Egun Omode (Children of the Ancestors), Trenton’s own West African dance/drum troupe. The Yoruba Folklore Performing Arts Company will kick things off with a traditional African dance presentation. There will also be African drumming; Capoeira demonstrations, Brooklyn Jumbies stilt walkers, and more. The festival will also have a Children’s Village that will feature story telling, African drum lessons, arts and crafts, inflatable jumps, face painting, and more. There will be a variety of vendors spread throughout the park selling their wares and food of all varieties.

The festival will also feature a Healthy Living Pavilion to raise awareness of the health issues affecting the African American community. Internationally renowned best-selling author, holistic wellness entrepreneur, and highly sought after natural health practitioner, Queen Afua will be the keynote speaker. Queen Afua guides men and women on a holistic transformation journey to the Global City of Wellness. There will also be free health screenings, health care and holistic wellness speakers, natural product vendors, as well as fitness and wellness activities.

The African American Pride Festival is an annual celebration of the history, culture, heritage, and arts that represent the rich traditions and zestful spirit of the African American community in the City of Trenton.

Following the legacy of the African American culture’s Juneteenth celebration, the goal of the festival is to inspire an appreciation for the diversity, influence, and contributions of the African Diaspora.

The festival is produced by a group of local organizations with the full support of the City of Trenton, as well as support from Mercer County. For more information about the festival, visit www.taapf.com.

 

Princeton Senior Resource Center in Princeton and Young Audiences New Jersey are among 25 non-profits throughout New Jersey that have received grants from The Horizon Foundation, it was announced this month. The Foundation supports charitable organizations that promote health and arts in New Jersey.

PSRC received a grant of $15,000 to support the Living Healthy for Older Adults Program. The program offers seniors, both at the center and in local senior housing, services that include workshops on diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke; referrals and linkages to services; discussions with health care providers; health screenings; flu and pneumonia immunization clinics and fitness classes.

Young Audiences New Jersey received a grant of $15,000 to support the Trenton Adopt-A-School Initiative: Family Arts & Creativity Program. The program will serve up to five Trenton schools, bringing together students, parents, and professional teaching artists in hands-on art workshops that engage families to explore and learn together.

“The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey is proud to support non-profit organizations that are making a positive difference in the lives of New Jersey residents every day,” said Robert A. Marino, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Chairman and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. “These grants fund a broad range of initiatives that improve personal health and enhance the cultural and arts experience in New Jersey’s communities.”

The $512,250 in grants is the second round of awards made by the Foundation this year.

Mercer County is celebrating its 175th Anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, events showcasing Mercer County’s rich cultural history will be presented throughout 2013. As part of the celebration, the County of Mercer and Preservation NJ will present a day-long symposium, Mercer by Architecture, to explore a portion of its long history through its architecture, at The Lawrenceville School on August 9.

Speakers will be covering subjects ranging from historical overviews of the architecture of the historic NJ State House Complex and Princeton University campus; to vernacular 18th and 19th century farmhouses in the county and the impact of pattern book housing on the region; to modern and post-modern highlights including the Louis I. Kahn Trenton Bathhouse.

Architects, historians, appreciators of history, and lovers of great buildings are all invited to attend. A Mercer County Historic Sites Open House Weekend will be held that Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, as a complement to the symposium event.

Future events will take place at additional locations around the County. Watch the Mercer County 175th Anniversary website for future dates: www.mercer
175.org. Anyone interested in scanning historical photographs for the Mercer County collection can find information on the website. Scanning may also be done at Mercer County’s McDade Administration Building, 640 South Broad St., Trenton, by appointment, (609) 989-6597.

At a meeting of the Planning Board last Thursday, Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN) announced it was no longer opposing developer AvalonBay’s proposal for 280 rental units at the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton. In a statement this week, PCSN supporters said the abrupt about-face was due to mounting legal and professional fees incurred over the past year and a half.

“The Trustees continue to carry a significant legal financial responsibility for full payment of debts,” the statement reads. “Presenting a case at the Planning Board meeting on July 18 would have involved yet further, sizable attorney and expert fees.”

The initial announcement, which was in the form of a letter from PCSN’s attorney Robert Simon, was read by Planning Board chair Wanda Gunning at the meeting, the third devoted almost solely to the AvalonBay proposal. At the final meeting this Thursday, the Board is expected to vote on whether to approve the company’s plan, which has been revised since the Board voted to reject it last December.

After that rejection, the developer filed suit against the town and the Planning Board. Meetings were then held between the town and AvalonBay in an effort to come to an agreement, and avoid litigation. Since then, the developer has been presenting its revised case to the Board. The major objections to the proposal, voiced by citizens in numerous meetings of Princeton Borough Council last year, had to do with environmental issues, the height of the buildings, issues of permeability, and public space, among other concerns.

Despite PCSN’s formal withdrawal of opposition to the plan, there were plenty of people on hand at the most recent meeting to express their doubts. Resident and retired plumber John Armonia said the current site plan does not adequately address the issue of basements on Henry Avenue that have been flooded with raw sewage — a problem that has disappeared since the hospital vacated the site last May but will return if the complex is built. “This problem is definitely going to come back if nothing is done,” he said. “The entire AvalonBay complex is going to tie into our Henry Avenue line, which is crazy.”

Harris Road resident and architect Dan Shea said AvalonBay’s plan would deliver a “destructive, pervasive impact” to the neighborhood. “I have never before witnessed such blatant disregard for design regulations,” he said. Others showed power point presentations focused on the size of the buildings. Evan Yassky of Hawthorne Avenue said the Planning Board should not be pressured into approving “an unsympathetic and overscaled proposal.”

Shirley Satterfield, who lives on Quarry Street and is a longtime resident of the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood adjacent to the hospital site, read a statement saying the complex would change the economics of the area and force residents to move out of town. “Developers come to Princeton with no interest or respect for residents and descendants of those families who have lived in Princeton for generations and who cannot afford to remain or return,” she said …. “The working class and laborers who, for generations, have serviced the well-to-do Princeton residents, have been forced out of Princeton because of the the lack of affordable housing.”

Speaking in favor of the complex, resident Christine Keddie said it would make Princeton a more walkable community. “Either we allow more apartment housing to be allowed in town or we might as well draw a big red line around Princeton and say, only upper and upper-middle-class residents are welcome,” she said.

Kim Pimley of Library Place, who is chair of the Princeton HealthCare System Foundation Board of Directors, urged the Board to approve the proposal, as did resident Maria Juega, who said it brings much-needed affordable housing units to the town (the proposed complex includes 56 affordable housing units).

PCSN’s statement thanked those who have supported their efforts over the past 17 months. “In addition to PCSN’s overall accomplishments, we should all be proud of PCSN’s work in securing AvalonBay’s commitment to provide 13 percent very low income units that will house families in seven units of the 56 affordable units if AvalonBay’s Plan B is approved by the Planning Board,” it reads. “The inclusion of very low income units in a private development is unprecedented in Princeton.”

The statement also says supporters “should be equally proud that PCSN has secured AvalonBay’s commitment to donate $70,000 to the Princeton Arts Council — funds that will be dedicated to the acquisition and placement of public art throughout the AvalonBay development if AvalonBay’s Plan B is approved by the Planning Board.”

The final meeting of the Planning Board on AvalonBay is this Thursday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m.

 

Princeton’s cooling stations saw their share of use during last week’s heat wave. but the Princeton Public Library, the “community’s living room” and a cherished refuge during Hurricane Sandy, was forced to close early Friday and Saturday and all day Sunday.

The library had already suffered through a week without air-conditioning, June 26-July 2, while a new compressor was being installed.

With the heat index over 100 through the weekend, the timing of Friday’s blow could not have been worse. A temporary fix allowed the library to open on Monday, but the final repairs could not be made until later that night, with work completed around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday morning the library was back to normal.

“It had nothing do to with the new compressor, which has been doing fine,” said Ms. Burger, who thinks the failure most likely resulted from stress on the system due to last week’s extreme heat. “It got so hot on Friday that the chiller tower went into the alarm mode, which tripped a switch that shut down the cooling. The chiller is on the roof, exposed to the sun. It turned out that we needed a new switch, which had to be ordered, and then repair people were busy with other heat-related emergencies.”

Having always been dedicated to making sure the library lived up to its role as the community’s living room, Ms. Burger expressed something not unlike any homeowner’s frustration (if on the grand scale) with parts that needed ordering and workers busy with other heat-related tasks.

“People were upset to find that we were closed,” Ms. Burger said Monday, speaking from her office on the third floor where the lights were low and fans were whirring. As she spoke, the rain began. Though Monday’s cloudburst may have signaled the end of the heat wave, she was still brooding over the weekend’s closings. “We do anything we can to stay open,” she said. “But it was just too hot in here for the staff to work.”

As for other cooling stations, Sgt. Michael Cifelli reports a constant flow of people finding relief in the Princeton Police Department. “We went through four cases of water,” he said.

Mauri Tyler, program director at another cooling station, the Suzanne -Patterson -Senior Resource Center behind Monument Hall says people came looking for both relief and recreation, since computers are available. “We had a larger than expected turnout for our Wednesday afternoon showing of Hyde Park on the Hudson.”

Craig Gronczewski, MD, the chairman of Emergency Medicine at UMCPP, reports no unusual spike in heat-related illnesses. “A few a day, that’s all,” he said. “Most people are pretty well educated by now.”

A Record July

Rutgers meteorologist Dave Robinson summed up by suggesting that July 2013 will likely rank as one of the five warmest New Jersey Julys on record. He also pointed out that with July 2013 on the top 10 list, five of the hottest Julys on record will have occurred since 2006. He also noted that while no daytime records were set, the air at night has been so humid that most nighttime temperatures failed to drop below 70 degrees.

With a petition signed by some 2,100 Princeton voters, citizens who want to turn the oldest part of the Valley Road School building into a non-profit community center appeared before Princeton Council Tuesday night to request that a referendum be put on the ballot in the November election.

But the town’s attorney told the Valley Road Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) and The Valley Road School Community Center Inc. that since the building is owned by the Princeton Public Schools, the municipality does not have jurisdiction over the property, and therefore does not have the authority to place a question on the ballot asking voters whether they support the idea of a community center.

“The initial problem we have is that this government does not own the Valley Road School building,” said lawyer Ed Schmierer. “The old 1924 deed conveyed it to the inhabitants of Princeton. It was amicably resolved 10 years ago when the deed was given to the School Board.”

There may be discussions by the governing body and the Board, he continued. “But there is no closure on any of these discussions. This is the legal hurdle that has been here from the very beginning. It’s still up in the air.”

The groups are proposing leasing the now-vacant section of the building at 369 Witherspoon Street for $1 a year over a period of 100 years. Two black box theaters, a cafe, and a box office are part of the plan, which was presented with renderings by architect Joshua Zinder. Non-profits would be able to use the spaces, and interest has already been expressed by McCarter Theatre, the after-school program Princeton School Plus, and Bryn Mawr Wellesley Books, said Kip Cherry in her remarks to the Council.

Ms. Cherry said that a preliminary cost estimate for the renovation and adaptive reuse is a total of $3.9 million, compared to the $10.8 million estimated by Princeton schools officials. The money would be raised from private donors, Ms. Cherry added.

Jim Firestone, also in favor of the proposal, said, “I think there is a misunderstanding. The Board says their estimate is $10.8 million, to renovate the building to prime space. But it doesn’t have to be [prime space].” Renovating for use as a school does require prime space, he said, while for the purposes of a community center, a different, less costly standard would apply.

Resident Dick Woodbridge, the first of the supporters to speak, asked Council to negotiate with the school district. Resident Claire Jacobus said each of the organizations that would use the proposed community center have their own boards, and know how to raise money. “Pretty soon you would have an army at the school. A lot of people are willing to give money for a community center that would be in the middle of town …. Please think hard and use your influence with the Board. Don’t let this building rot or be demolished. It would be a scar on this community far bigger than a pile of rubble on Witherspoon Street.”

Tim Quinn, president of the Board, stressed that finding a use for the portion of the building at 369 Witherspoon Street is a high priority and that the Board has not abandoned the property. “Specifically, the Board seeks a solution that will not put it in the legal or practical position of acting as landlord, but does allow it to retain a legal interest in the land should its facilities’ needs change at some point in the future — some point far sooner than 100 years,” he said.

The solution should also have no or minimal financial impact on the Board, should serve the best interests of the school district and the community and be “demonstrably viable from architectural, engineering, legal, logistical, and most importantly, funding perspectives,” he added. The Board rejected the community center proposal in March because the group had not raised funds for the project. “Given the total absence of any evidence of the group’s ability to fund its proposal, the Board arguably would have been in breach of its fiduciary responsibility to this community had it given the property to VRS-ARC on the terms proposed,” he said.

The municipality has been considering other uses for the property. The Council formed a task force early this year to explore the idea of using some of the land the building now occupies to expand the firehouse that sits next door. The town’s three volunteer fire companies merged into the firehouse’s main location after consolidation, and space is tight.

Council did not act on the issue at the meeting, but said they would like to be able to have a plan in place to present to the Board this fall.

 

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A bandstand view showing Francis Mbappe and the FM Tribe in concert on a hot Saturday night at Pettoranello Gardens in Community Park North. A native of Cameroon, Mr. Mbappe was opening for Afropop legend Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

July 17, 2013
FIRST TAKES: A still from “Ben & Elaine” by Travis Maiuro, one of the 26 filmmakers whose works are being screened tonight and tomorrow at the Princeton Public Library as part of the tenth annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival. Nearly 200 works, from all over the world, were submitted.

FIRST TAKES: A still from “Ben & Elaine” by Travis Maiuro, one of the 26 filmmakers whose works are being screened tonight and tomorrow at the Princeton Public Library as part of the tenth annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival. Nearly 200 works, from all over the world, were submitted.

When she first organized a small festival for student filmmakers at Princeton Public Library, Youth Services librarian Susan Conlon wasn’t thinking about the future. Her idea, back in 2003, was to showcase some local talent in one night of screenings.

“I really didn’t have any preconceived notions,” Ms. Conlon recalled last week while preparing for the 10th annual Princeton Student Film and Video Festival, which opens tonight and continues through tomorrow. “I remember distinctly the first year, people came up to me and said they had really enjoyed it, and ‘when you do it next year, maybe try this.’ So I thought, ‘Oh. I guess we’ll do this again.’”

The festival has blossomed into a much-anticipated summer event that draws participants from as close as Princeton High School, The Hun School, and Pennington School, and as far as Australia, Germany, and Italy. The Library’s Community Room is packed with film enthusiasts eager to see the latest crop of short works by high school and college students. There are 13 films each night, created by new and returning filmmakers. Nearly 200 works were submitted.

“We could easily have added another 20 to the programming,” Ms. Conlon said. “But I don’t want to burn people out and get too big.”

A lot has changed in the past decade. While the first festival was relatively spontaneous, the current event is highly organized. -Technology has made a major difference in the way films are planned and produced. “Kids now have access to incredible technology, and they can make films more easily and inexpensively,” Ms. Conlon said. “And every few years, the world of communications becomes so much more visual and technological. So it’s part of their everyday existence.”

Filmmakers from Princeton University and Rutgers University are taking part this year. Rutgers, which has a new program in digital filmmaking, is represented with three entries. “The kids who come, get a chance to learn about programs like that, and think about what their own next steps might be,” Ms. Conlon said. “It’s a great resource for a budding filmmaker. It’s good for high school kids getting started, who want some inspiration. They can maybe figure out if they want to go to film school. The college-age kids who have been at this for a while can show them what the possibilities are a few years down the road.”

The festival is intended for teen and adult audiences. Among this year’s offerings are Drugs by Darcy Thompson, Flaws by Gabrielle Giacomo, Ben & Elaine by returning local filmmaker Travis Maiuro, and The Coming Wave by Will Henry, a Princeton High School alumnus who attends the School of Visual Arts in New York. This is Mr. Henry’s first directed film in the festival. He appeared as a lead actor in previous years.

“We have a number of very good comedies this year,” said Ms. Conlon. “I think that’s the hardest genre. They have an element of drama to them, which makes them very intriguing. Our closing film, Parklife by Adam Volerich at Rutgers, has such a great balance between comedy and really human drama. One of the animation films that really blew us away is Reverie, by Valentin Gagarin from Italy. There are some really nice high school films, too, with great energy.”

Both evenings of screenings begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free. As always, filmmakers in attendance will receive a custom festival T-shirt featuring their names, title of their films, and festival logo. The other tradition is the after-party each night, with ice cream and sorbet courtesy of The Bent Spoon.

“When I communicate with the kids to let them know their film is being included, I get a sense of how much this matters to them,” Ms. Conlon said. “To be able to come and have well over 100 people watching your film and asking great questions, it’s just a great experience.”

 

Terhune Orchards will host the second annual Sustainable Fare for Sustainable Jersey fundraiser on Thursday, July 25 at Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville.

Cocktails will be served starting at 5 p.m. and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person and can be purchased at sustainable
jersey.com.

Renowned local chefs will come together to celebrate the farm to table movement and promote awareness about sustainability efforts while raising money for Sustainable Jersey’s programs.

“Sustainable Jersey has played a critical role in the progress many towns across the Garden State have made in advancing environmental stewardship and healthy communities,” said Terhune Orchards owner Pam Mount. “The night will be a great celebration of local food and wonderful chefs who are known for their dedication to focusing on fresh local ingredients. Last year the event was a big hit and we are looking forward to an even bigger event this year.”

Guests will enjoy a five-course meal with wine pairings, cocktails, and music by the Riverside Band in Terhune’s Amish-built barn. Chefs who have generously volunteered their time for the event include: Christopher Albrecht of Eno Terra, Scott Anderson of Elements and Mistral, Aaron Philipson of the Blue Bottle Cafe, Jonathan Benno of the Lincoln Restaurant, Josh Thomsen of Agricola, Christine Merker of Meals For Reals, and Gabby Carbone from the Bent Spoon.

Sustainable Jersey, a non-profit, runs a certification program that empowers towns to build a better world for present and future generations. The program provides a roadmap towns can follow to initiate and promote sustainable actions that improve the quality of life. More than 400 towns have registered to become a part of the program that was founded by the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the College of New Jersey, the State of New Jersey and hundreds of volunteers around the state.

The heat is on, and Princeton residents are cooling off in record numbers at the Community Pool. While there is room in the water for the 1,600 or so who are patronizing the Witherspoon Street complex each day, parking is another story. Anyone who has cruised through the lot, which serves the municipal building as well as the pool, knows that a spot can be a precious commodity during peak hours.

“Parking is far from perfect,” said Ben Stentz, Princeton’s recreation director. “The consolidation of the town’s operations and the fact that court has been expanded to two days a week has a lot to do with it. And those factors combined with a popular pool can make it a little bit crazy.”

Mr. Stenz said the town has emailed regular pool customers to alert them of overflow options, which include the lots at Community Park School and the park’s tennis courts. “I think for the most part, the pool patrons have done a good job of finding them,” he said. “But on days when court is in session, the full municipal staff is working and people want to swim, it creates a bit of a log jam.”

There are alternatives to driving to the pool. “We’ve tried to spread the word about use of the FreeB, which does stop at the complex, though I know that doesn’t work for everybody,” Mr. Stentz said. “But we try to encourage it. We also love it when people walk or ride their bikes, and we have plenty of bike racks.”

Attendance at the pool all summer has been “remarkable,” Mr. Stentz said, averaging about 1,600 visitors a day. The number can be deceiving, though. “All of those people aren’t here at the same time. We have programming, with specific hours for the master swimmers, the swim team, and swim and dive lessons,” he said. “We don’t open to the public until noon, so there is a kind of ebb and flow to the attendance.” The pool stays open until 8 p.m.

The American Red Cross has warned that excessive heat can be deadly, and urges those without air-conditioning to patronize area cooling stations during the warmest part of the day. The Princeton Police Department at 1 Valley Road, the Suzanne Patterson Center behind 1 Monument Drive, and the Princeton Public Library at 65 Witherspoon Street are designated local cooling stations. The Patterson Center is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library’s hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, till 6 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Never leave children or pets in the car, stay hydrated, avoid extreme temperature changes, avoid wearing dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays, avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day, and check the contents of an emergency preparedness kit in the event of a power outage, the Red Cross recommends. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion — cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, and dizziness. Call 911 if the person becomes ill or begins to lose consciousness.

At Community Park Pool, attendance is expected to spike this week as the heat wave continues. “We know that the numbers will jump,” Mr. Stentz said. “But listen, that’s why we’re here.”

 

At the second of four Planning Board meetings last Thursday devoted to AvalonBay’s plan for a rental complex at the site of the former University Medical Center of Princeton, the developer presented the latest refinements to their proposal. The changes are in response to complaints from local residents and suggestions by environmental and zoning officials about the look and size of the buildings and openness to the public.

Following the presentations, several members of the public voiced their continued concerns about the project. A few others expressed support for the plan, urging the Planning Board, which voted to reject AvalonBay’s original plan last December, to vote in favor of it this time.

Bill Wolfe of the Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) showed drawings detailing the roof lines of the two large buildings, using roof forms closer in size to the surrounding residences in the neighborhood. “I came to the conclusion that there was a real opportunity in these buildings to break up the masses,” he said. “I’m glad the applicant is still working on this, but would like them to think more about scale by changing the roof lines.”

AvalonBay’s architect Jonathan Metz, who is with the firm Perkins Eastman, said he tried to respond to Mr. Wolfe’s recommendations, showing fewer gables and dropped rooflines. “We feel we have addressed all of the [design] standards,” Mr. Metz said. The three most important requests from the public, he added, were for a range of styles and heights, avoiding a monolithic appearance, and permeability.

“We don’t believe it’s a gated community,” he said, adding that the only restricted area in the complex is a courtyard for residents only. “I think the rest of the site is completely open, more open than a private home would be.”

Tweaks to the plan also included more bicycle racks, and some alterations to the landscaping to reflect changes in the design. In addition, the 56 affordable housing units in the 280-unit development were redistributed among the two largest buildings of the complex.

Using a power point presentation, architect and local resident Areta Pawlinski expressed her disappointment with the plan during the public comment portion of the meeting. “Reading words in our local press, I was anticipating great changes from last fall’s AvalonBay Princeton Plan A to today’s Plan B,” she said. “Weeks after so many glowing words were released, looking carefully at the materials presented, I don’t see a submission that complies with the 2006 ordinance. Remember, it is all parts of this ordinance that govern the old hospital site …. It’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room. The surrounding neighborhoods are being ignored.”

Resident and environmental attorney Vincent Giordano suggested keeping the number of affordable units while lowering the number of total units, in order to adhere to the design standards in the ordinance. Resident Marco Gottardis was another member of the public to say that the buildings are too big and do not comply with the site plan ordinance. “Our residents have been sold out,” he said. “This was a bait and switch and you’ve allowed the hospital to do the planning for you. It’s still a private gated community.”

Research physicist and climate scientist Steven Griffies, another local resident, urged more comprehensive testing for mercury at the site. AvalonBay proposes testing for contamination by scent. That won’t work, he said, because mercury is odorless. “We cannot risk the lives of Princeton residents by hiding our heads in the sand,” he concluded.

Local resident David Keddie spoke in favor of AvalonBay’s plan. “Princeton needs housing,” he said. “It needs apartment housing most of all. Density is not our enemy. I would also say that this development is good for the environment. If it’s not built here, it will be built somewhere else, maybe on a farm field.”

Also voicing support was former Princeton Borough Council member Barbara Trelstad. “Approve the plan,” she urged the Board. “This is much smaller than the current hospital building. This is not a private gated community. This is a residential place with a back yard. Let’s move forward and welcome this development into our community.”

The two remaining Planning Board hearings are Thursday, July 18 and July 25 at Witherspoon Hall. Both begin at 7:30 p.m.

 

In the epilogue to his 2011 book Lessons Learned, former Princeton University President William G. Bowen, who was awarded a National Humanities Medal last week, quotes Greek poet C.F. Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaka,” to make a point about the way academic institutions help students and faculty see education as a “‘long journey,’ enormously consequential in its own right.”

Had it not been interrupted by illness, his own journey, “full of adventure, full of discovery,” would have taken the 79-year-old Bowen all the way to the White House July 10. David Bowen accepted the medal from President Obama on behalf of his father, who is said to be doing well now and looking forward to new projects. Princeton’s new President Christopher L. Eisgruber called Mr. Bowen “one of the great figures in American higher education” whose “legendary leadership of this University simultaneously elevated Princeton’s stature and strengthened its core values.” Other Princetonians receiving the Medal are former faculty member and historian Natalie Zemon Davis and sportswriter Frank Deford ’61.

Mr. Bowen has a special relationship with Cavafy’s poem and its “many a summer morning when/with what -pleasure, what joy,/you come into the harbors seen for the first time.” At Opening Exercises in the University Chapel, September 14, 1981, then-President Bowen read his faculty colleague Edmund Keeley’s translation of “Ithaka” in full, emphasizing the poem’s relevance “for the beginning of the academic year — and especially for those of you who are freshmen.” First-Lady-to-be Michelle Robinson ’85 was presumably among the students beginning “an entirely new journey” that day. The poem, Mr. Bowen went on to say, “reminds us of the need to have destinations in mind so that we do not simply wander aimlessly — so that we have at least some general sense of why we are here. Each of us is left, however, to determine his or her own Ithaka, which is as it should be.”

Mr. Bowen’s Ithaka is higher education. No wonder, then, that Cavafy’s poem surfaced again when his journey took him from Princeton to the presidency of the Mellon Foundation (1988-2006), where, according to the Mellon website, “his special interest in the application of information technology to scholarship led to a range of initiatives, including the Foundation-sponsored creation of JSTOR (a searchable electronic archive of the full runs of core journals in many fields), ARTstor (a repository of high-quality digitized works of art and related materials for teaching and research), and the destination to which the others lead, ITHAKA. After stating its mission, to help “the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways,” the website presents Cavafy’s poem in full under the heading, “Our Inspiration.”

Editor to Author

“Ithaka is a metaphor that means something very special to him,” says Mr. Bowen’s longtime friend and editor, Princeton University Press Director Peter Dougherty, who credits him for “singlehandedly” helping create the Press’s outstanding list of books on higher education: “He sees it as the vanguard, the leading edge.” Referring to his author’s “laser-like attention” to the subject, Mr. Dougherty describes him as a “very clear writer, and an extraordinary organizer of people who have worked with him. He knows what questions to ask and how to ask them, and he’s good at pulling together all this energy toward answering those questions.”

The NEH makes special mention of the book coauthored with former Harvard president Derek Bok The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions (Princeton 2000), which Mr. Dougherty says “cemented” his editor-author relationship with Mr. Bowen. Described as “a landmark in the national debate over affirmative action,” the book’s “overall conclusion is that race-sensitive admissions policies are effective and deserve the support of society.”

In addition to The Shape of the River and Lessons Learned, subtitled Reflections of a University President (2011), some recent Princeton University Press titles among the 20 books Mr. Bowen has written or co-written, include Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities (2009), Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values (2005) and this year’s Higher Education in the Digital Age, which focuses on the economic challenges facing higher education and how technology might help address them. Fittingly, this most recent post from Mr. Bowen’s “long consequential journey” was co-published with “the online scholarly project incubator” (in Peter Dougherty’s words) named for Cavafy’s “Ithaka.”

Born in Cincinnati, Mr. Bowen completed his college degree at Denison University in Granville, Ohio in 1955 and earned his PhD in economics at Princeton only three years later. He joined the Princeton faculty as a labor economist, becoming a full professor in 1965. In 1967, he was appointed provost, helping President Robert Goheen oversee the University’s transition to coeducation. In 1972, the year Sonia Sotomayor arrived as a freshman, he became, at 38, the University’s president. How he dealt with the challenges of that tumultuous time is described in Lessons Learned.

On that September morning in 1981, Mr. Bowen ended his evocation of “Ithaka,” his “text for the day,” with reference to the “harbors” of Princeton and the “encountering of a new idea, wrestling with it, turning it over in your mind, testing your comprehension of it — and, finally, if you are fortunate, coming to understand it and to appreciate its beauty. But you have to be open to such experiences; no one can force them on you. Don’t miss, please, the pleasure, the joy of learning.”

 

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James Fitzgerald’s Fountain of Freedom on Scudder Plaza in front of the Woodrow Wilson School is a sight to savor as the heat wave continues. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

July 10, 2013
SPIRIT IN THE SKY: The Spirit of Princeton’s annual Independence Day fireworks display lit up the sky above the Princeton University sports fields last week.(Photo by Emily Reeves)

SPIRIT IN THE SKY: The Spirit of Princeton’s annual Independence Day fireworks display lit up the sky above the Princeton University sports fields last week. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Back about 20 years ago when she was president of the Junior League of Princeton, Kathy Russo happened to come across an article in a League newsletter about Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known as CASA. A longtime volunteer for various causes, she was touched by what she read about this organization dedicated to helping children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. She filed it away in her head.

Fast forward a decade or so to when Ms. Russo was working at a gift shop in Princeton Shopping Center. The shop closed, and she found herself with time on her hands. “I said to myself, ‘Okay. It’s time,’” she recalled this week. After some 30 hours of training at CASA, she began working as a volunteer advocate. She has never looked back.

For Ms. Russo’s work on behalf of her young clients over the past seven years, she was recognized last April by the Cherish the Children Foundation with its Program Award. The honor goes to a Mercer County volunteer “who has consistently shown tremendous character by taking an active interest in the well-being of the children in our community,” the proclamation reads. It goes on to describe Ms. Russo as “an exemplary role model for how dedicated advocates can change the lives of children in their care.”

All of these accolades are a bit embarrassing to Ms. Russo, who prefers to focus on getting the word out to others who may want to volunteer for the organization. She has spent many hours assisting children in Newark, Trenton, Camden, areas she knows some might be reluctant to visit. “You just have to be smart about it,” she said. “You can do this very safely. You can visit children in schools. They are put into safe homes. You don’t have to go into unsafe neighborhoods to be an advocate. And you can advocate while traveling, or working, because of technology.”

A longtime Princeton resident who is the mother of two boys and stepmother of two more, Ms. Russo is married to local orthodontist. Dr. Louis Russo. “He has been very supportive,” she said of her husband. “He encourages me to keep doing this. He knows how important it is.”

It was the hands-on approach of being a CASA advocate that appealed to Ms. Russo when she began her training. “I was tired of fundraising,” she said. “This was something different.” After a security check, she was assigned her first case. It was a challenge from the start that continued to grow.

“Usually, you get one or two kids and the case takes about 18 months,” she said. “I ended up with seven, and it took five years. But that’s really unusual.”

The children in Ms. Russo’s charge came from the same family, and ranged from ages four to 13. She started out with three of them, but kept adding to her caseload as she learned there were more members of the family who had been placed in different foster homes. Her efforts on their behalf included working with the biological parents, foster parents, teachers, a case worker, and the judge in charge of deciding their fates.

“You’re talking to everyone,” she said. “In a perfect world, you connect the dots and try to make a safety net. That’s the goal. But you are also considered the eyes and ears of the judge, and that’s very important.”

Ms. Russo tears up a bit when asked about the children themselves. “Visiting them was wonderful,” she said. “They feel like they have someone. They feel protected. We’re the only constant for them. I promise them that I’ll always find them in 48 hours [when they are moved around]. One little boy was worried about what was going to happen to him, and his brother said to him, “‘Don’t worry. Miss Kathy’ll find you. She always does.’”

Children are removed from their homes for reasons that include neglect, abuse, or problems their parents might be having. Some are reunited with their families after spending time in a foster home. If their families are unable to care for them, parental rights are terminated and sometimes they’re adopted. “However, all the kids love their biological parents and just want to go home,” Ms. Russo said.

CASA of Mercer and Burlington Counties is part of a national network established in 1977 by a Seattle Superior Court Judge concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of neglected children without enough information. He came up with the idea of appointing community volunteers to investigate the cases, make recommendations, and speak up for the children in court. What began with 50 volunteers has grown to include programs all over the country that have helped more than two million children find safe homes, according to the CASA website.

As the children are repeatedly uprooted, it is their advocates who can keep them grounded. “I’m one of the few people they can talk to about where they’ve been,” Ms. Russo said. “I know their history. They enjoy sharing that history with me. There can be constant changes for the child, but you’re the historian for them.”

It is the small things that those in intact families take for granted that often make a child feel happy and safe, Ms. Russo said. “I asked one little boy what he wanted for his birthday. He said he wanted a cake with his name on it. It was such a little thing, but it was so important to him.”

Advocates are not permitted to give anything to the children. “You can get other agencies to do that. As an advocate, you’re just giving of yourself and your time,” Ms. Russo said. “You get a tremendous amount of support from the CASA staff and you get a tremendous amount of respect from the judge. There are people willing to help you. You just have to be a detective and find out who they are.”

Mr. Russo’s work currently focuses on a group of teenagers, helping them learn how to deal with life once they age out of foster care. “When kids turn 18, they have the option of staying with the Division [now called the Department of Children and Families ] or leaving,” she said. “Many leave because they’re so fed up.”

Her work as an advocate is as “a gatherer, not a sharer,” Ms. Russo said. “I’d like to adopt all of the kids I work with, but of course I know I can’t. I’d just love them to be in good adoptive homes. There are so few homes out there for them.”

 

An evening trail-and-stream-walk and family picnic at the D&R Greenway, co-sponsored by Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association (SBMA), will be held Thursday, July 11, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the King Terrace in D&R Greenway’s Greenway Meadows at One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road in Princeton.

The trail-&-stream-walk will be led by SBMA’s Education Director Jeff Hoagland. The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association has protected central New Jersey’s water and environment since 1949. The organization teaches conservation, advocacy, science, and education and continually speaks out for water and the environment. It focuses on water in its quest to protect and restore sensitive habitats. It tests for water pollution. Its mission is to inspire the care of and protection for the natural world through its waterways.

Participants are invited to bring along a picnic supper. Beverages and dessert will be provided. Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian and it is advisable to wear shoes that can be worn in water. The cost is $5 per person. To register, call (609) 924-4646 or send an email to: rsvp@drgreen
way.org. If weather is “iffy,” call D&R Greenway, (609) 924-4646, on the afternoon of the event.

Hinds Plaza is the new location for the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 7th Annual Mid-Summer Marketing Showcase on July 16, sponsored by the Bank of Princeton.

“This year’s showcase is in partnership with the Princeton Public Library, which gives us the great space on Hinds Plaza that will allow us to grow the showcase,” said Peter Crowley, president and CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We are very excited to be working with them on this event. To me, it proves how important this event is to the local business community and I’m very proud that the community sees the value in it.”

As of July 1, more than 60 businesses had signed up to participate and show what they have to offer to customers in the Princeton region. The event runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is free for the public to attend; last year more than 1,000 people walked through the showcase. The rain date is Wednesday, July 24.

In addition to businesses presenting their services and goods, more than 10 area restaurants will be offering samples. “We are excited about the new traffic from the Library’s patrons in addition to the traffic that is generated on a summer Thursday evening in Princeton,” added Mr. Crowley. “The committee evaluated several locations but we felt that it was important to maintain the location in Princeton.”

The Bank of Princeton has been the title sponsor of this event, since its inception in 2007.

For more information about the showcase, contact Cheri Durst, director of events, at (609) 924-1776 or cheri@princetonchamber.org.

Ask any farmer if they’d rather have a dry year or a wet year, and the answer is likely to be the same: Dry. “You can water, but if you have too much rain, you can’t take it away,” says Gary Mount of Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville, one of several local farms that has been affected by drenching rains in recent weeks. The wet weather, which abated over the July 4th weekend while the heat continued, has had farmers scrambling to rescue crops in their most important planting season.

“There’s just too much rain,” Mr. Mount said last week. “Extra moisture encourages diseases on plants. The ability to deal with it is related to how long it goes on. It’s only been wet for two and a half weeks. If it goes on all next month, that will be hard to deal with. But usually, we go through a wet or dry spell, and then things change.”

The driving rains were also unwelcome at Great Road Farm in Skillman, which supplies some of the produce to the Witherspoon Street restaurant Agricola as well as farmers’ markets in West Windsor and Brooklyn.

“It could be a record in June for rainfall in New Jersey,” said farm manager Steve Tomlinson. “We’re struggling to get our succession planting in. We plant every two weeks, or at least every month, so we have a constant supply. Right now our greenhouse is backing up with plants that haven’t been able to get out into the field. Our tomatoes are looking pretty stressed.”

June actually did set a record as the wettest on record in New Jersey since 1895, according to information from the New Jersey state climatologist. The heavy rains damaged crops like blueberries, squash, and tomatoes.

“The only thing that doesn’t mind the water is sweet corn,” said Judee Deficcio, whose Pineland Farms in Hammonton supplies her stand at the Trenton Farmers’ Market. “We have sandy soil, which drains well but tends to wash away nutrients when there is that much water. Blueberries just keep absorbing water, and they get soft. The other problem with blueberries is that you don’t want to pick them when they’re wet. There were days when we’d pick for an hour or two instead of the usual 12. Also, you don’t want to pick in the extreme heat, and we’ve had plenty of that, too.”

Farmers know to prepare for heavy rains by planting raised beds. “This prevents the plants from getting over-saturated. It really helps us a lot,” said Mr. Mount. Planting varieties that are resistant to diseases caused by extra moisture is another form of insurance. More applications of fungicide can also help.

“It’s nobody’s favorite job, but you have to know that a rainy year requires more,” Mr. Mount said. “Most commercial farmers now use a monitoring system to help judge when they need more and when they don’t. In a wet year, more has to be used.”

The sweet cherries at Terhune are very susceptible to rain, but covering them to keep moisture out has saved this year’s crop. “It was a problem, but fortunately we had a way of dealing with it,” Mr. Mount said.

Ms. Deficcio watched an entire field of squash “just melt” in the rain, she said. Squash is one of the most easily damaged by saturation, and not just the summer varieties. “It may affect the pumpkin crop for the fall, because this is the time when pumpkin is planted,” she said. “There’s still some time to get them in, but we’ll have to see.”

Peaches, so prized in New Jersey toward the end of summer, should be okay, Ms. Deficcio added. Mr. Tomlinson said his Swiss chard, usually an easy crop, was showing signs of damage from the rains. There are concerns about tomatoes, which can be wiped out by a disease called late blight. “There are rumors that it’s going around,” he said. “It wiped out the entire tomato crop in 2009 for the organic farmers. That’s a huge money-maker. We are not certified organic, but we practice organic procedures.”

While the weather has done its damage, farmers aren’t ready to write off the summer of 2013 as a loss. “In New Jersey, we’re fortunate because we usually get an adequate amount of rain,” Mr. Mount said. “But too much is too much. So we do have to work extra hard. But if it doesn’t continue the way it’s been, we should be okay.”