February 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

front page snow tiger

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

January 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Construction should last about eight months, he added.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A devastating fire last week at the Avalon at Edgewater, a Bergen County apartment complex owned by the same developer that will build a rental apartment complex on the site of the nearly demolished Princeton Hospital site, is causing renewed concerns among area residents and officials.

On Monday, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert issued a press release calling for “an emergent review of the state’s Uniform Construction Code prior to the formal evaluation of AvalonBay’s plan to construct 280 housing units on the former hospital site on Witherspoon Street in Princeton.”

The state Department of Community Affairs is set to review AvalonBay’s plans for its Princeton development to determine whether they meet all present day requirements under New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code. Ms. Lempert and Mr. Hughes said they will ask DCA Commissioner Richard Constable to put a hold on the review of the Witherspoon Street project until state construction codes are re-examined.

“I’ve been contacted by concerned residents,” Ms. Lempert said on Monday (see this week’s Mailbox). “And seeing the reports about this fire, one of the most alarming things is that the Edgewater complex appears to have been built to code. It certainly bears re-examination. We want to make sure that residents and surrounding neighbors will be safe. And if there is a fire there, we want to have the capacity to put it out.”

The fire on Wednesday, January 21 displaced more than 1,000 residents and caused flames big enough to be seen across the Hudson River on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, for several hours. Ruled an accident caused by maintenance workers using a blowtorch to do plumbing work in a wall, the fire produced smoke so thick that firefighters had difficulty getting through. Despite the magnitude of the blaze, only a few minor injuries were reported. But several pets could not be rescued. The fire destroyed 240 of the 480 units in the complex.

Bergen County executive and former Paramus fire chief James Tedesco III was quoted in the New York Times as saying “It was a combination of many things. Fire load and light-weight wood construction, and all built to code, but this is what happens sometimes.” He called the fire “if not the worst, one of the top two in my 39 years of firefighting.” Edgewater fire chief Tom Jacobson said, “It if was made out of concrete and cinderblock, we wouldn’t have this sort of problem.”

The blaze was not the first for Avalon at Edgewater. In 2000 while under construction, the luxury development burned down. AvalonBay settled lawsuits by people who had been displaced by the fire, and then resumed building with lightweight, wooden construction. It was that construction that allowed the flames to spread rapidly, officials have said. Governor Chris Christie has said that fire codes may need to be re-examined.

“We’re calling for this emergent review in light of the fact that the Edgewater building burned so quickly and so horrifically, despite apparently meeting all current code requirements” Mr.Hughes said in the press release.

Contacted last week, AvalonBay did not respond to a request for comment. No information about the fire was posted on the website the company has dedicated to the Princeton project, avalonprinceton.com.

The Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) did not approve the Institute for Advanced Study’s plans to build faculty housing on its property in Princeton close to the Battlefield State Park when it met on Wednesday, January 21.

In spite of being passed by the Princeton Planning Board, the proposal for seven single-family homes and two four-unit townhouses failed to gain enough votes for approval by the DRCC, which oversees and manages the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and protects the streams that feed into the canal, which supplies drinking water to 20 percent of New Jersey’s population.

Because the Institute’s property is adjacent to one of the streams protected by the DRCC, approval by the Commission, in addition to approval by the Princeton Planning Board, was needed in order for the Institute to move forward with its plans.

The hearing, which took about four hours, included comment from former Princeton mayors Chad Goerner and Phyllis Marchand, both of whom spoke in favor of the IAS plans. Those presenting the case against were Bruce Afran, attorney for the Princeton Battlefield Society(PBS) and Kip Cherry, the non-profit organization’s vice president.

The four men and two women commissioners voted 3 for and 2 against with one abstention. Since four votes are needed for the commission’s approval, the Institute’s plan was rejected. One commissioner was absent. Commissioner Ed Trzaska explained that as there are seven members of the DRCC, four yes votes are required.

The three yes votes came from Mr. Trzaska, John Loos and Bruce Stout; the two no votes were from Mary Allessio Leck and Julia Cobb Allen; Mark Texel abstained.

Following the vote, Vice Chair John Loos said quietly: “Because the motion did not get four votes, it is denied.”

“We feel that the D&R Canal Commission made the right decision,” said Ms. Cherry. “We presented the best case we could to the Commission, including very careful analysis in terms of the issues that are important to them, predominantly storm water and storm water run-off, which our civil engineer addressed in tremendous detail.”

Ms. Cherry spoke on the issue of the fill that the Institute would use. “It would would change the topography of the site and therefore the storm water distribution,” she said.

“I didn’t see the looks on the faces of the Institute personnel but my associates who did tell me that it was one of shock,” said Mr. Afran. “This is a major victory for the protection of the Princeton battlefield. The issue has now been decided. The Planning Boards’s decision has been overturned. The Institute can appeal this decision to the appellate division or they can re-do their plans.”

“We had thought that there was a good chance of winning our case,” said Mr. Afran Friday. “I hope that the Institute will accept this as a “reality check” and drop the proposal, which would destroy wetlands on the site by redirecting water downstream. We have explained this to the Institute and they are unable to show that this would not happen. What they are planning would essentially required truck loads of fill to create a platform out of what is now a bog. That’s one of the reasons this land has never been built on before, it’s wetlands. They shouldn’t even attempt to build on it. In any event this is the last piece left of the Princeton Battlefield. We know that most people in the community do not want this land to be built on. The Institute should step back.”

According to Ms. Cherry, the chair of the commission made it clear that the application had failed and it’s back to the drawing board or give up for the Institute. “The Princeton Battlefield Society would prefer that the site be added to the Battlefield State Park,” she said. “We [PBS] would be happy to initiate discussions with a consortium of organizations to propose purchase; we don’t expect the Institute to donate the property.”

“We would prefer that the IAS agree to sell the land to the state park and be preserved or to sell the development rights and keep it as preserved land. We would like to see the issue end here,” said Mr. Afran.

A request for comment from the IAS Friday elicited this brief statement from spokesperson Christine Ferrara: “At this week’s meeting of the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission, the Commission did not approve the Institute’s Faculty Housing project, although, in the vote taken, more commissioners voted for the project than against it. We do expect to continue to discuss the project with the Canal Commission, and we are confident of success in gaining the remaining approvals required for our project.”


Members of the Princeton Police Department stood alongside family and friends of slain Princeton Police Officer Walter B. Harris Sunday, January 25, as the municipality and community observed a solemn moment during the dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring the legendary patrolman. Mr. Harris was shot and killed in the early hours of the morning of February 2, 1946. He was off duty at the time and just 31 years old. He had served with the Princeton Borough Police Department between 1943 and 1946. “This hero protected the very streets we walk and that our officers patrol today,” said Chief Nicholas Sutter moments before the memorial was unveiled. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

January 26, 2015

Airlines across the northeast have cancelled nearly 5,200 flights.

All schools in Mercer County have announced early dismissals as of Monday, January 26. All after school activities have been canceled.

There will be a system wide cross honoring of New Jersey Transit bus, rail, and light rail from January 26 through January 28.

The last service for NJ Transit bus will depart from its point of origin at 8 p.m. tonight, Monday, January 26.

NJ Transit trains will stop running at 10 p.m. (the last trains from New York Penn Station depart at 8 p.m.)

Speeds have been reduced on the Garden State Parkway from Atlantic County to the New York State line and the Turnpike.

Governor Christie declared a state of emergency for New Jersey earlier this afternoon. Travel is expected to be brought to a stand-still from New York City to Portland, Maine, by the storm. Snow totals of more than 2 feet are expected from southern New Hampshire to central Long Island. Coastal flooding is predicted for the Jersey shore.

“It’s been upgraded to a blizzard,” Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert declared Monday morning. “With the high winds they are projecting, we’re expecting downed trees, wires, and power outages.”

Princeton schools had an early dismissal on Monday. Trash pickup for Tuesday is cancelled and will take place on Thursday.

The Princeton Board of Education meeting that was originally scheduled for January 27 has been rescheduled for February 3.

Power outages should be reported to PSE&G at their emergency number (1-800-436-7734).

“And if anyone wants to report a power outage to Access Princeton (609-924-4141), we can help track and continue to advocate for power to be put on,” Ms. Lempert said.

Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads so as not to interfere with law enforcement and emergency responders.

January 23, 2015

Princeton University and the Terra Momo Group have agreed to discontinue discussions regarding a lease to operate the restaurant and café that are being developed for the University’s arts neighborhood.

According to a statement from the University, renovation and expansion of the existing former Dinky train station buildings will continue and the University has begun a process to identify another operator for the restaurant and café. The University also has entered into a contract to purchase a liquor license that is intended to be used at the café and restaurant.

Terra Momo, which operates Mediterra, Eno Terra, Teresa Caffe and the Terra Momo Bread Company, had planned to establish a pizzeria-style cafe in the north terminal building, and a farm-to-table style eatery in the other building.

A municipal employee, three high school students, a local business and three residents of Princeton have been named winners of Sustainable Princeton’s Leadership Awards. A ceremony honoring the winners will take place Thursday, January 29 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of the Princeton Public Library.

Alexandra Bar-Cohen, a resident, is cited for her volunteer work to create zero waste events and a zero waste culture at the Jewish Center and Littlebrook Elementary School, as well as her advocacy on behalf of the county-wide plastic bag referendum. Vikki Caines, who works for the Princeton Recreation Department, is being awarded for her dedication beyond her regular job in planting and tending special gardens at the municipal complex at 400 Witherspoon Street.

Hutchinson “Huck” Fairman, a Princeton resident, wins the award for his consistent efforts to inform the community about environmental issues. His “Solutions” column in the Princeton Packet and his networking around town have inspired environmental action in Princeton.

Also honored are Princeton Day School students Tag Quijano, Zach “Woogie” Woogen and Kate Yazujian, for their collective efforts such as organizing an annual Harvest Dinner for 250 and the PDS Student Environmental Conference. They were part of the Greenhouse Gas Assessment team and are leaders at the national Student Climate and Conservation Congress run by the Green Schools Alliance.

Residents Penny Thomas and Susie Wilson are recognized for their tenacity in implementing the town’s curbside organic waste program, Princeton Composts, at Constitution Hill. The local business Princeton Printer is honored for demonstrating leadership and guidance in greening the infrastructure and operations of a local downtown business. “They are a model and a knowledge resource for everyone about how to run a green business, from installing solar panels on their rooftop to using soy ink and recycling worn out printers,” reads information from Sustainable Princeton.

The awards ceremony is free and open to the public. Visit www.sustainableprinceton.org for more information.

January 21, 2015
WALTER B. HARRIS: This period photograph shows Princeton Borough Police Officer Walter B. Harris proudly wearing his uniform. A memorial to Mr. Harris, who was shot and killed in 1946, will be dedicated in his memory on Sunday, January 25, at 1 p.m. at the Princeton Municipal Hall Plaza, 400 Witherspoon Street. It will join one other memorial, that honoring Princeton Township Police Officer Billie D. Ellis, who died in 1955.(Image Courtesy of the Princeton Police Department)

WALTER B. HARRIS: This period photograph shows Princeton Borough Police Officer Walter B. Harris proudly wearing his uniform. A memorial to Mr. Harris, who was shot and killed in 1946, will be dedicated in his memory on Sunday, January 25, at 1 p.m. at the Princeton Municipal Hall Plaza, 400 Witherspoon Street. It will join one other memorial, that honoring Princeton Township Police Officer Billie D. Ellis, who died in 1955. (Image Courtesy of the Princeton Police Department)

The Princeton Police Department will hold a dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring Walter B. Harris on Sunday, January 25, at 1 p.m. The event is scheduled to take place on the plaza in front of Witherspoon Hall, the Princeton municipal building at 400 Witherspoon Street.

The ceremony will commemorate the installation of a new memorial for the Princeton Borough police officer who was shot and killed in the early hours of the morning of February 2, 1946.

Mr. Harris was off duty at the time and just 31 years old. With his wife, Florence, he had two young daughters, Monetta, 6, and Florence, 3. He had served with the Princeton Borough Police between 1943 and 1946 and before that with the Princeton Auxiliary Police. He was the Department’s second African American patrolman.

Just after midnight, as he was leaving a social club near his John Street home to get ready for his shift, Mr. Harris heard the sound of gunfire. According to newspaper accounts at the time, he ran to the club and intervened in an altercation there. After being hit on the head with the butt of a gun and subsequently shot in the abdomen, he died at Princeton Hospital some 30 minutes later. Three men were subsequently pursued, captured, and charged in the crime.

The three men were from the Bronx and had been visiting relatives in Princeton when, reportedly, one of them made unwelcome advances to a woman in the club. Tried in Mercer County court, Norman L. Cross, 19, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison; his brother Milton Cross, 20, was convicted of manslaughter and got eight to ten years; the third man was acquitted.

Mr. Harris is buried in the Princeton Cemetery of Nassau Presbyterian Church.

His memorial will be the second to be placed on the plaza at Witherspoon Hall, where a commemorative plaque is dedicated to Princeton Township Police Officer Billie D. Ellis. Mr. Ellis gave his life rescuing three young boys during a storm on Lake Carnegie on August 19, 1955.

More than 100 people, including many who remember Mr. Harris personally, friends and family members, are expected to attend the dedication ceremony.

At the most recent meeting of mayor and Council, Monday, January 12, Mayor Liz Lempert read a proclamation of the monument. “I want to thank the police department for doing the work to research Officer Harris to make sure we are remembering and honoring him properly,” she said. This time last year, when the municipality declared February 2 “Officer Walter Harris Day,” the slain officer’s daughters and other family members were in attendance.

Sergeant Geoff Maurer and Officer Chris King were instrumental in gaining recognition for Mr. Harris. Mr. Maurer began researching the late officer after consolidation of the Borough and Township police departments. Knowing of the monument to fallen Township policeman Billie Ellis, who died in the line of duty in 1955, Mr. Maurer, thought that the Borough officer deserved similar recognition for his actions.

A county-run program that educates young mothers about nutrition will continue to offer services at Princeton’s municipal building through 2015, thanks to the efforts of the health and human services staff.

The Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) is run by the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey. Last year, the Princeton satellite was nearly cancelled due to decreased enrollment but was saved at the last minute after officials convinced the agency that there was indeed a need for these services among Princeton’s population. A year later, there has been an increase in appointments, leading the Children’s Home Society to keep the program going for at least another year.

WIC provides checks for food, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support to those who qualify on the third Friday of every month at Witherspoon Hall. Participants, primarily pregnant women and women with young children up to age five, are advised on identifying healthy nutrition choices.

“WIC provides vital support to at-risk moms and children. I’m pleased that we will continue to be able to maintain the Princeton Clinic and help Princeton families give their children a healthy start,” said Councilwoman Heather Howard, who serves as liaison to the Princeton Board of Health and Human Services Commission. Ms. Howard was formerly Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, running the WIC programs across the state.

WIC participants must live in New Jersey and meet certain income criteria. Services are available to low income families regardless of work status or if the family receives assistance from Disability, Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicaid, or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). The clinic is open the third Friday of the month from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Community Room of Witherspoon Hall.

Before the appointment of Jeffrey Grosser as Princeton’s Health Officer last March, interim health officer Bob Hary was meeting with the Children’s Home Society because of a decrease in the number of clients from about 600 a few years ago to a more recent number of about 200. Mr. Hary was able to negotiate a reprieve for the program. Mr. Grosser and Human Services Director Elisa Neira, both new in their positions last year, were able to come up with a revised plan to keep the program alive and make residents aware of its existence.

With more mothers using WIC during the past year, the agency has seen fit to keep it going in Princeton. “This past year, there has definitely been an increase in appointments every day. The staff was busier,” Ms. Neira said this week. “So we met in the fall and said, let’s keep it open in 2015 and set some new goals. We have refined the retention and enrollment plan, and this year we’re looking into adding other services like maybe having someone do Medicaid applications, so there will be more of an incentive for others.”

The WIC program operated out of the Henry Pannell Center on Witherspoon Street before moving to the municipal building.

To increase outreach over the past year, WIC information was made available “wherever possible,” Mr. Grosser said in a press release. “By the end of 2014, WIC attendance at the Princeton clinic had improved, and we’re optimistic for 2015.”

For more information, visit www.princetonnj.gov.


This was the scene at 74 Leigh Avenue Monday, at 11:20 a.m. shortly after resident Laura Light discovered smoke and called 911. “Kudos to the Princeton Police Department,” said Ms. Light. “They were here in 30 seconds and the Princeton Fire Department arrived shortly afterward.” Ms. Light, who has lived at the address for three and a half years, initially thought that the smoke indicated a fire in the attic. “But it seems to have started in the crawl space,” she said. No one was hurt in the incident. After responding to Ms. Light’s call, firefighters found heavy smoke and flames coming from a basement wall and crawl space at the rear of the house. The flames were quickly extinguished. Officials on the scene said that the cause of the fire was not clear; it remains under investigation by police and fire personnel. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Minh Dang

Minh Dang

Each year, Womanspace honors a person of distinction who exemplifies the qualities of founder and former Mayor of Princeton Borough, Barbara Boggs Sigmund. This year, Womanspace will honor Human Rights Activist-Scholar, Minh Dang, for her efforts to stop Human Trafficking. The award will be given at the 21st annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award (BBS Award) on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Princeton. Ms. Minh, is currently an independent consultant, trainer, and speaker on issues of human trafficking, leadership development, and social justice. She is a staunch advocate for survivors of child abuse and human trafficking and is developing strategies to support education, training, and leadership development for survivors. Most recently, she was the executive director for Don’t Sell Bodies (DSB), an anti human trafficking initiative founded by Jada Pinkett Smith. In May 2013, Ms. Minh was recognized at the White House as a Champion of Change for her efforts to end human trafficking. She is a ten year veteran of the service-learning field and two time alumna of UC Berkeley. She received her BA in sociology in 2006 and her Masters in social welfare in 2013. Prior to graduate school, Ms Minh coordinated the Bonner Leaders AmeriCorps Program at UC Berkeley Public Service Center. She has served on the Board of Directors for Youth Engagement Advocacy Housing (YEAH) and The Norma J. Morris Center for Healing. She has also co-led weekly Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) support groups for six years. The California Alumni Association honored Minh in March 2014 with the Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in achievement by a Young Alumna. Passionate about promoting the integration of individual and community healing, Ms. Minh is a true “love warrior,” as her friend calls her. She has traveled extensively telling her harrowing story of survival from child abuse and sexual slavery in the United States. Her story first reached the public domain in 2010 when MSNBC aired the documentary “Sex Slaves in America: Minh’s Story.” The report aired just three years after Minh’s daring escape and since that time she has courageously addressed tens of thousands of concerned citizens to help prevent modern-day slavery in the United States. For more information on the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award including sponsorships, advertising, in-kind donations or general questions please contact Lauren Nazarian at (609) 394-0136 or lan@womanspace.org.


Upper school students at Stuart Country Day School organized a Unity March to pay respects to Martin Luther King during their lunch time on January 9. Nearly 100 students took part in the March, which was led by the upper school club DAYS, Diversity Awareness Youth Services Club, and was organized by club co-heads senior Nneka Onukwagha and junior Makeda White. In addition to honoring Dr. King, the club sought to bring attention to the continued need for dialogue and action on issues of social justice. The upper and middle school girls marched from the front of the school on Stuart Road, up to the Great Road, to the Stuart athletic fields and back down to the front of the school, where they were joined by Barbara Anne Cagney’s second grade class, who had recently completed an academic unit on Dr. King.


“Hail Specimen of Female Art! New Jersey Schoolgirl Needlework, 1726-1860,” continues at Morven Museum and Garden through March 29. Shown here is a silk thread on linen, sampler, dating to 1833, by Rebecca Mount (1820-1888). Ms. Mount was taught by Eleanor T. Stephens of the Cream Ridge Seminary, Monmouth County. (Image From the Leslie B. Durst Collection)

NOT QUITE GONE YET: With Robert Burns’s birthday this Sunday, January 25, it seems appropriate to quote his line about “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men” in reference to the demolition of the last hospital building on Witherspoon Street which was scheduled for this weekend. However, work to remove a 30 foot width of the building closest to Witherspoon Street will continue from Wednesday, January 21 through Saturday, January 24.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

NOT QUITE GONE YET: With Robert Burns’s birthday this Sunday, January 25, it seems appropriate to quote his line about “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men” in reference to the demolition of the last hospital building on Witherspoon Street which was scheduled for this weekend. However, work to remove a 30 foot width of the building closest to Witherspoon Street will continue from Wednesday, January 21 through Saturday, January 24. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

So far seven of the eight buildings at the old hospital site on Witherspoon Street have been removed. The last was scheduled to “disappear” at the weekend, but due to the fact that the work had to proceed “small piece by small piece,” said municipal engineer Bob Kiser, the removal has been “more tedious than anticipated.”

In addition, delays occurred when hydraulic lines broke and had to be replaced.

As a result, the demolition was not completed as scheduled, and that part of Witherspoon Street by the site will close for another four days beginning today, Wednesday, January 21.

The work had been scheduled and roads closed Friday through Monday to coincide with schools closures for the Martin Luther King holiday when children would not be walking past the site on their way to and from Community Park School. It had been said that if the demolition was not completed this past weekend, the work would continue when schools were closed for the President’s Day holiday next month.

That plan has changed, however, and the work will proceed January 21 through January 24, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and all day Saturday. “By the end of the day, Saturday, we anticipate having a 30 foot width of building closest to Witherspoon Street removed,” said Mr. Kiser, “weather permitting.”

“We think it’s in everyone’s interests to get it done as quickly as possible,” said Mr. Kiser yesterday. Witherspoon Street will again be closed between Franklin Avenue and Birch Avenue between those times.

According to the municipal engineer, the remainder of the seven-story building will then be removed without the necessity of road closures.

Residents have continued to complain about the ongoing work. Because of the road closures, traffic was rerouted from Witherspoon Street, including NJ Transit buses, autos as well as large trucks. Local resident Anita Garoniak described “a terrible weekend on Harris Road.” Ms. Garoniak captured on video a tractor trailer attempting to turn onto Harris Road, a maneuver that she described as “dangerous and disruptive.”

“My weekend was filled with disturbances of this kind and traffic circling my house,” said Ms. Garoniak. “I was hoping that this rainy Sunday would offer some respite only to find with much dismay that the usual Sunday reprieve from the demolition noise did not occur.”

Developer AvalonBay is planning a 280-unit apartment complex but it may be some time before the demolition site turns into a construction site.

“After the last of the building comes down, there will still be work to be done removing the foundation, which is expected to take another six weeks,” said Mr. Kiser, adding that “AvalonBay is poised to start construction sometime in late March.”

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller was to meet informally last night with residents who live near the demolition site to hear their concerns relating to road closures, debris, noise and dust.

A solar energy project that was stalled due to a shaky economy and a decline in solar renewable energy values may be back on the books. At the Princeton Council meeting on January 12, Joseph Santaiti of Gabel Associates, a Highland Park energy, environmental, and public utility consulting firm, told Council members that a healthier economy has made the project to put a solar array at a former landfill on River Road financially feasible.

It was in 2011 that the former Borough and Township created proposals for a purchasing agreement that would allow the town to lease an eight-to-ten-acre section of the landfill to a solar developer. But the idea was put on hold when the economy tanked and solar energy value “plummeted dramatically,” Mr. Gabel said.

As a result of legislation in July 2012, the market has stabilized and installation costs are now lower, he said, adding that federal subsidies which the town could take advantage of are still on the market.

Mr. Santaiti said landfill sites such as Princeton’s cannot be used for any other purposes. Solar energy projects are ideal, “giving them a function above and beyond,” he said. “It’s something we feel comfortable with. And we have to feel pretty comfortable in the market in order for us to re-engage.”

The Gabel firm would use the Cornerstone Environmental Group, which was part of the original project team, as subcontractor. The solar developer would finance, build, own, and operate the facility. Gabel would issue requests for proposals from potential developers, and the Stony Brook Regional Sewage Authority would enter into a separate agreement to buy the power. Princeton would benefit from land lease payments for hosting the facility.

The system would be sited on a portion of the landfill that is closed. The project could involve cutting down some trees to allow in more sunlight and increase returns for Princeton, Mr. Santaiti said.

Mayor Liz Lempert told Mr. Santaiti that Council is interested in the proposed project. Council president Bernie Miller thanked the company “for sticking with us,” he said. “It’s been a long road to get to this point.”

Resolutions will be prepared, along with documents required for the agreement to proceed. The law firm of Decotiis, Fitzpatrick, and Cole, which has expertise in environmental law and renewable energy matters, would be retained as part of the agreement.

“We look forward to the next discussion,” Ms. Lempert told Mr. Santaiti.