June 15, 2015

A meeting to update the public on the swattingphone threats that have plagued schools, hospitals, malls and private residences in Princeton and other parts of New Jersey in recent weeks will be held Wednesday evening at John Witherspoon Middle School. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

Mayor Liz Lempert, School Superintendent Steve Cochrane and Police Chief Nick Sutter are scheduled to be on hand to answer questions and provide an update on recent efforts to determine who is behind the phone threats, none of which have led to the discovery of bombs or other dangerous situations.

Mr. Sutter has met with members of the FBIs cyber crime unit to help figure out who is making the threats, most of which have been called in by computer. They are called swattingbecause they draw a heightened response from a SWAT team. At the meeting, the status of the investigations will be discussed. All are welcome.

Save Princeton Public Schools, a public advocacy offshoot of Community for Princeton Public Schools, which had planned to hold a public forum tonight, June 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Church, 50 Cherry Hill Road, has cancelled the meeting “due to the sensitive state of current negotiations between PREA and the Board of Education.” The “teach-In” designed to provide clarity regarding the lengthy negotiations between the Board and the PREA may be rescheduled for a later date. The next meeting of the Board of Education will take place Tuesday, June 16.

The Rescue Mission of Trenton will host a community forum on opioid abuse on Tuesday, June 16. The forum is open to the public and will be held at the Mission at 505 Perry Street in Trenton. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the panel discussion will be held from 8 to 10 a.m. Parking is available at the Mission’s lot on 98 Carroll Street.

Last year, the number of opioid-related deaths claimed nearly 800 lives of New Jersey residents. Ongoing public education, awareness, and community support can spearhead prevention efforts and save lives.

The community forum will mark the one-year anniversary of the State of New Jersey Narcan Expansion Program. Last June, Governor Chris Christie announced the statewide expansion at the Rescue Mission of Trenton – the expansion allows first responders and law enforcement officials to administer medication in the event of an overdose.

Since the expansion, police departments across the state have implemented measures and training programs to prepare for such situations. Communities have rallied together to spread public awareness about opioid abuse and the safe disposal of prescription medication.

The community forum will feature a guest panel including: Eric Edwards, Co-Founder, Chief Medical Officer, and Vice President of Research and Development for kaléo Pharma; Paul Ressler, CEO and President, The Overdose Prevention Agency Corporation (TOPAC); Dr. William D. Stanley, Medical Director for Rescue Mission of Trenton, Medical Director for Summit Behavioral Health; Barbara Schlichting, Executive Director for Somerset Treatment Services; Meredith LoBuono, Outpatient Program Manager, Rescue Mission of Trenton. Michele Siekerka, President of the NJ Business & Industry Association, will serve as guest moderator.

“The Mission is pleased to host this community forum on such an important issue. Opioid abuse is a very real issue for so many communities and the Mission hopes that this conversation will continue ongoing, public education in an effort to save lives, “said Mary Gay Abbott-Young, Chief Executive Officer of the Mission.

The conversation is supported by the City of Trenton Department of Health and Human Services, Mercer County Office on Addiction Services, City of Angels NJ, Inc., National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – New Jersey, Trenton Health Team, New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies, and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

Last December, the Mission received a donation of EVZIO naloxone auto injectors from kaléo, a pharmaceutical company based in Richmond, Va. Mission staff have been trained to administer the medication in the event of an overdose. kaléo Pharma will continue their efforts to widen access to naloxone and increase public education about opioid abuse by participating in next week’s forum. Eric Edwards, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, is a guest panelist.

The Rescue Mission of Trenton is the agency in the City of Trenton that serves the truly needy men and women who have no place to turn for shelter, food, and clothing.  2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Mission providing a safe, clean, warm refuge for the homeless, the hungry, the transient, and the addicted.

This event is open to the public. Tickets are available by contacting samanthab@rmtrenton.org or (609) 964-0414 ext. 100.

June 12, 2015

The American Boychoir School has raised enough money to plan the coming school year, but students will board with local families instead of on campus. And the famed choral academy, which filed for bankruptcy in April, is pursuing a lease for a day school campus in the Princeton area instead of remaining at its current location in Plainsboro.

“Our traditional boarding model would be converted to a homestay model for this school year, with boys living in local homes — at least two ABS boys in each homestay home,” Rob D’Avanzo, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, wrote in an update to supporters of the school on Thursday. “We have engaged a homestay consultant and have been working with him to learn about and implement this new feature of our School. He will work with us throughout the coming school year to coordinate and supervise the entire program. We have also been in touch with various families that have offered to serve the School as homestay hosts.”

Mr. D’Avanzo said he is confident that a day school location will be secured in the coming weeks. But the change is not anticipated to be permanent.

 “The Board believes that the best operating model to achieve ABS’s mission is one in which we include boys from around the world on one fully-integrated boarding campus,” he wrote. “At this time, however, we do not have an integrated campus option readily available to us, and we simply do not have the funds to acquire or operate one. Over the next year, we intend to work to raise those funds and to find a long-term boarding home, but in the interim we plan to operate ABS on a day school campus suing a homestay model.”

The Board voted unanimously earlier this week to pursue the day school option. The past school year was finished early, but the school fulfilled the touring and performance commitments it had made. Founded in 1937 in Columbus, Ohio and relocated to Princeton in 1950, the School’s choirs have performed with major orchestras and conductors across the globe.

An emergency fundraising campaign with a $350,000 goal was launched to save the school after bankruptcy filing was announced this spring, and the figure was exceeded, providing “a bit of a cushion,” Mr. D’Avanzo wrote. “I have told you that we need to raise a very substantial amount of money in advance of the school year in order to be on a sound footing when school opens, and that remains the case.”

 More than $235,000 in pledges has been received for next year’s Annual Fund, representing more than 26 percent of the school’s budgeted Annual Fund income. “This is a great head start, and the more pledges of operating support we receive now, the better-positioned we will be to achieve our reorganization,” he wrote.

ABS is going forward with plans for its annual “American Boychoir Experience” summer camp, with 23 boys signed up as well as some current students. They are scheduled to perform in August at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires, with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.

“We think an exciting future is within reach,” Mr. D’Avanzo wrote. “I must caution you, however, that we are still operating under the supervision of the Federal Bankruptcy Court, and we will be subject to court oversight until ABS completes a reorganization under Chapter 11. We will be working throughout the summer on myriad tasks necessary to prepare for a new year in a new place with a new model, including seeking court approval for our reorganization based on a solid long-term financial plan.”

June 11, 2015

On Wednesday afternoon, a group of protesters gathered on Nassau Street to call for the resignation of Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer, whose controversial views about infants born with disabilities were aired in a radio interview this spring

The remarks were made on the radio show “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on April 16. Mr. Singer, who is known as an animal rights advocate, said it is not unreasonable for infants with disabilities to be denied treatment by private insurance companies or the government. Those babies with “zero quality of life” should not be afforded costly care, he said.

Baby dolls were placed in an open coffin in front of the campus. Protesters in wheelchairs stopped traffic on Nassau Street for about 20 minutes, but no arrests were made or summonses issued.

In a letter published on the Trenton Times website Thursday, Alan Holdsworth, a community organizer for the advocacy group ADAPT, requested that the University call for Mr. Singer’s resignation, publicly denounce his comments, hire a bioethicist from the disability community “in a comparable position to provide a platform for views that contrast with Mr. Singer’s views,” and create a disability policy program “to educate future leaders about inclusive communities.”

University spokesman Martin Mbugua issued this statement: “Princeton is strongly committed to ensuring the academic freedom of members of its community and to ensuring that the campus is open to a wide variety of views.”

June 10, 2015

Garden Tour Mill Hill

The urban gardens of Trentons historic Mill Hill neighborhood will be open to visitors Saturday, June 13, from noon to 5 p.m., rain or shine. This is the 24th consecutive year for the annual event, which draws visitors from all over the area to view some of the regions best examples of urban and small space gardening.

This years tour is themed The City Soirees: Behind the Garden Gates.Mill Hill is known for its unique collection of 19th century row homes, and many have distinctive gardens that are carefully tended by residents. Gardens are as varied as the houses they border, ranging from tidy and traditional to modern and naturalistic.

Proceeds from the tour help fund the Old Mill Hill Society Neighborhood Restoration Grant program, which aids homeowners in restoring and maintaining the areas landmarks and historically significant sites.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the tour, and can be purchased by cash, check, or credit card. Register and begin the tour at Artworks, 19 Everett Alley at South Stockton Street. Ample free parking is available.The maps distributed double as admission tickets. For more information, visit trentonmillhill.org.

After 16 years as executive director of the Princeton Public Library, Leslie Burger will step down in January 2016. Echoing Ms. Burger’s favorite term for the library under her tenure, particularly during crisis situations like Hurricane Sandy, former Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand credits her with making it “the living room of our community.” (Photo by Mark Czjakowski for Princeton Public Library)

After 16 years as executive director of the Princeton Public Library, Leslie Burger will step down in January 2016. Echoing Ms. Burger’s favorite term for the library under her tenure, particularly during crisis situations like Hurricane Sandy, former Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand credits her with making it “the living room of our community.” (Photo by Mark Czjakowski for Princeton Public Library)

Leslie Burger, the woman credited with turning the Princeton Public Library into “the community’s living room” while bringing it national recognition for services and innovation, is retiring after 16 years as executive director. According to the library’s Board of Trustees, Ms. Burger has decided to step down in January 2016. A national search will be launched by an executive search firm to hire her successor.

“This is a bittersweet moment for the Princeton community,” said Kiki Jamieson, president of the library’s Board of Trustees. “We’re very happy for Leslie as she starts a new chapter of her life, but we will sorely miss her leadership, vision, hard work, and dedication to the Princeton community and public libraries in general.”

Ms. Burger, who co-founded the private consulting firm Library Development Solutions with her husband Alan in 1991, will turn her full attention to that company once she retires. It was as temporary library director that she first came to Princeton in 1999 when former director Jacqueline Thresher had left for another position.

“Leslie took us by complete surprise,” recalled Marvin Reed, who was mayor at the time of what was then Princeton Borough. “We had this big plan to expand and double the capacity of the library. We weren’t sure what direction to take, or what we’d do about parking. Our director had gotten a wonderful job out on Long Island and here we were having to at least temporary fill her shoes. Leslie came on, and we told her we wouldn’t bother her too much about all our planning for our expansion, but she said, ‘That’s alright, I’m interested in that. We’ll fit it into the schedule.’ Eventually, she asked if we’d mind if she submitted her application for the directorship. Of course we said, ‘Fine.’”

Ms. Burger changed the way municipal leaders viewed the library’s future. “She introduced us to the fact that we weren’t just physically remaking a building,” Mr. Reed said. “We explored the whole concept as to what it means to be a library in this day and age. We were still on the edge with respect to technology and how far to go. She said, ‘Go for it.’ And she’s continued to press us to be as up to date as possible.”

As executive director, Ms. Burger led the library through an unprecedented period of growth highlighted by the design, construction, and opening of the Sands Library Building in 2004 and a successful campaign to build a $10 million endowment to support innovation. According to information from the library, she led development efforts resulting in more than $25 million in all in private funding for the institution.

During Ms. Burger’s tenure, all library usage statistics, including overall attendance, circulation of materials, growth of technology and digital collections, and public programming attendance either doubled or increased dramatically. She strengthened ties between the library and public, private, nonprofit, and educational institutions in the local community.

“Being executive director of a library in a town that places a premium on reading, learning, and community engagement has been the highlight of my career,” Ms. Burger said. “In 42 years as a librarian, I’ve seen the profession evolve from one marked by slow, deliberate planning to one driven by technology to rapidly meet the ever-changing and growing demands of library customers.”

Phyllis Marchand was mayor of Princeton Township when Ms. Burger arrived at the library. “I can’t imagine anyone who has accomplished so much in her job,” she said. “She literally stuck with this building and the garage and all the other issues she had to deal with, like the move from Princeton Shopping Center (the library’s temporary location during the renovation project). That library has become the living room of our community, as Leslie says.”

While working as the library’s executive director, Ms. Burger served as president of the American Library Association from July 2006 through June 2007. She is also a former president of the New Jersey Library Association.

“She had national contacts,” Mr. Reed said. “She was well known in the field. She brought national attention to what we had done here in Princeton.” Ms. Marchand added, “She really put the Princeton library on the national and international map when she was president of the AIA, which is a feather in our cap.”

Before joining the Princeton Library, Ms. Burger served as a development consultant at the New Jersey State Library where she focused on developing leadership and marketing initiatives within the state’s libraries. She served as executive director of the Central Jersey Regional Library Cooperative, which served Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. She also worked at the Connecticut State Library as the LSTA coordinator, director of Planning and Research, and director of Network Services. Her library career began at the Bridgeport (Connecticut) Public Library when she was hired to develop a community information and referral service.

The announcement of Ms. Burger’s retirement comes as the library is in the midst of a campaign to raise $3 million in private funding for the planned renovation of its second floor. She hopes to have all funds secured and for the project to be underway when she leaves.

“I cannot think of a better way for Leslie to complete her legacy as executive director of the Princeton Public Library than by her overseeing the funding and launch of this planned renovation,” said Ms. Jamieson. “Her vision and inspiration will forever be part of our community and a reimagined second floor is a wonderful and enduring gift from Leslie to all of us.”

“I’m so happy for her,” said Ms. Marchand. “I think she’s leaving at the top of her game.”

NEW CENTER UNVEILED: Princeton is smack in the middle of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, a 265-square-mile area in Central New Jersey that includes parts of four other counties and 25 other towns. Providing oversight for the safety of the region’s water is the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association which unveiled this new Platinum LEED-certified Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science and Education last month. The building, designed by Farewell Architects of Princeton, opened May 2. Located in Hopewell Township on the 930 acre Watershed Reserve, the new facility is at 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, N.J. 08534. The Watershed Reserve’s hiking trails between Hopewell and Lawrence. are open each day from dawn to dusk; Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science and Education’s hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 737-3735, or visit: www.thewatershed.org  (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

NEW CENTER UNVEILED: Princeton is smack in the middle of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, a 265-square-mile area in Central New Jersey that includes parts of four other counties and 25 other towns. Providing oversight for the safety of the region’s water is the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association which unveiled this new Platinum LEED-certified Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science and Education last month. The building, designed by Farewell Architects of Princeton, opened May 2. Located in Hopewell Township on the 930 acre Watershed Reserve, the new facility is at 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, N.J. 08534. The Watershed Reserve’s hiking trails between Hopewell and Lawrence. are open each day from dawn to dusk; Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science and Education’s hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 737-3735, or visit: www.thewatershed.org (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

With so much water falling from the skies over New Jersey, unexpected flooding in Texas, and ongoing drought in California, the topic of water is never far from public discourse.

As executive director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Jim Waltman is intimately connected with the water cycle and its disruption due to both global warming and a history of pollution that is the legacy of industrial New Jersey.

“In a word, we are all about water,” he said. “We teach people about water, the threats to it and what can be done to protect it.”

He has his work cut out. New Jersey has a legacy of pollution and contamination that we are still recovering from. “Two-thirds of our streams don’t meet clean water standards. Add to that, the changing climate in which we see more dry periods and periods of heavy rainfall coming in bigger bursts and you see that we need to recognize and prepare for changes in the water cycle,” he said. “Every time we build in a less environmentally thoughtful way, we make it more difficult for the natural water cycle. Changes continue apace.”

For decades, the Watershed Association has been doing its best to ameliorate this legacy.

With the unveiling of its new $5 million Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science, and Education, the Association is about to embark on its mission with renewed vigor.

“The plan is to use this new center as a demonstration area of what can be done,” said Mr. Waltman, who hopes that the center will inspire homeowners, businesses, schools, and municipalities to replicate its environmental sensitivity.

Located in Hopewell Township on the 930 acre Watershed Reserve, the new facility designed by Farewell Architects of Princeton opened May 2. With a wealth of innovative sustainable technologies, it has earned Platinum LEED certification, the highest level possible in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

As befits the Association’s role, the architecture has a unique interaction with storm water, wastewater, wetlands, solar energy, geothermal heating and cooling, among other environmentally sustainable features.

“This building is all about water, water consumption, storm water run-off, wastewater treatment,” said Mr. Waltman as he pointed out the slant of the butterfly roofline. “New construction can have a negative impact on the environment and we have done so much to mitigate that, especially in terms of water which in new construction often has nowhere to go and runs off to impervious surfaces. Here the water runs off into a depression that is forming a rain garden planted with plants that like to get their feet wet. It’s just one example of new environmental strategies that we advocate.

“When we create hard surface on the landscape, like parking lots, roads, and rooftops, we alter the water cycle. Water runs off these hard impervious surfaces faster than it does from natural areas like forest, wetlands, and meadows, which cause flooding. These hard surfaces also prevent water from percolating into the soil, robbing our aquifers of essential replenishment.”

The building boasts a green roof with plants that keep the building cool, thus saving on air conditioning costs while helping reduce storm water runoff. Rain gardens full of water-loving plants reduce and purify storm water runoff and help recharge the aquifer.

Water collected from the roof is used to flush toilets and a wetlands-based sewage system filters the wastewater from its toilets, showers, and sinks and returns it back to the land.

A heat pump system circulates water 400 feet deep underground to wells that help cool it in the summer and warm it in the winter.

Besides solar panels that generate electricity and produce heat for water, the building uses passive solar with windows that capture the natural light on sunny days and interior lights fitted with automatic dimmer switches to reduce energy use on dull days.

Solar panels were donated by Recom Solar (with assistance from NRG energy).

Inside, a topographical map shows visitors the entire Stony Brook Millstone Watershed. Visitors can locate a waterway near their home and discover names that instantly connect to the Princeton area history, such as Harry’s Brook, Great Bear Swamp, Devil’s Brook Swamp, Upper Bear Swamp, Alexander Creek, Palmer Lake, Strawberry Run.

A 500-gallon tank has species of native fish and turtles (musk, mud, painted) and there are activities for children and adults alike.

The new Center was much needed, said Mr. Waltman, who has been in the job for a decade now, after working on the Galapagos Islands. “We needed more space for all of the things we do: environmental policy advocacy, leadership, education and science … we have scientists and teachers here. But all of these elements were not well-integrated because we were divided over two buildings, the old Buttinger Nature Center and the historic 18th-century Drake Farmstead that Muriel Gardiner Buttinger and her husband Joseph lived in from 1940 to 1985.”

“The idea was to build a new center that would demonstrate technologies and systems that protect water, conserve water, and conserve energy,” said Mr. Waltman. “And the building itself will allow us to expand our educational and advocacy work.”

Rather than tear down its existing 4,500 square feet Buttinger Nature Center, the Association renovated it, adding an extra 10,000 square feet with exhibition space, a laboratory, a computer learning center, conference rooms, a gift shop, kitchen, and updated staff offices.

Some $8.5 million was raised by the Association, which has 25 people on its staff, although that number grows with a summer camp program that has served 10,000 kids over the years; 400 are enrolled this summer.

Having grown up in Princeton, Mr. Waltman attended Johnson Park Elementary School and graduated from Princeton High School in 1982. His favorite part of the job, he said, is its diverse demands. “I’m constantly involved in a mix of different things, from lobbying in Trenton, to discussions on the STEM curriculum, removing a dam on the Millstone River, and talking with kids.”

His next goal is to turn from building the center to using it to advance the Watershed’s mission and he’s eager to get the message across to high school students interested in science and engineering. A one-week Watershed Academy is designed just for them during the summer.

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is located at 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington, N.J. 08534. The Watershed Reserve’s hiking trails between Hopewell and Lawrence. are open each day from dawn to dusk; Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science and Education’s hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (609) 737-3735, or visit: www.thewatershed.org (where an audio-visual tour of the new Center can be viewed).

In what appeared to be a last ditch attempt to come to an agreement before negotiations move to the costly fact finding stage, representatives of the teachers’s union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA), sat down face to face last week, June 2, with the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE).

According to District negotiator Patrick Sullivan, both sides had agreed before the meeting to start talks at 9 a.m. and “to go on as long as it takes.”

True to that promise, the talks went on into the small hours of Wednesday morning.

“The meeting went 18 hours,” said John Baxter, PREA chief negotiator. “We did not reach a tentative agreement but scheduled a meeting for June 10, to continue talks.”

BOE President Andrea Spalla reported that the June 2 meeting “went pretty well,” with much progress being made. “I think getting a deal is definitely do-able,” she said, adding that today’s meeting was intended to “close the remaining differences between the two sides.”

The apparent shift forward comes after lengthy negotiations that have been ongoing for more than 14 months. Teachers have been working without a new contract since last July. Chapter 78 remains a stumbling block, even though, as BOE member Patrick Sullivan pointed out, 107 districts in the state have settled without any change to Chapter 78.

Last month, the District reached agreements with two other unions, the Princeton Regional Educational Support Staff Association (PRESSA) and the Princeton Administrators’ Association (PAA), replacing contracts that had previously been negotiated for 2012-15 and 2014-15, respectively.

The negotiations with PRESSA lasted eight weeks, those with PAA six weeks.

The new contract with administrators gives them annual increases for the next three years of approximately 2.39 percent, 2.38 percent, and 2.37 percent. That with PRESSA gives an annual increase of 2.5 percent for each of the next three years.

The most recent PREA offer from the District was for 2.44 percent, 2.2 percent, and 2.3 percent over the next three years.

According to 2013-14 figures, salaries for Princeton teachers range from $54,033 for a teacher on the first step with a bachelor’s degree to $108,050 for an upper level teacher with a doctorate. A teacher’s base salary goes up with level of education attained and number of years in the District. For example, a teacher with a doctorate will earn more than one with a master’s degree, who in turn will earn more than one with a bachelor’s degree. A teacher who has served 15 years or more, will earn a longevity payment. Many teachers supplement their basic salary through coaching or by teaching extra classes or doing home tutoring.

In comparison, figures for 2014-15 show that administrators earn (including longevity payments) between $107,000 and $185,415, with the average being $141,661. In West Windsor, for the same period, the average is $129,805.

No Coaching

In view of the ongoing contract dispute, coaches in the Princeton Public Schools signed a letter last month about summer volunteer activities. Coaches announced that they will not do any volunteer summer coaching or training until August because of the impasse.

Their contracts specify August 10 as the starting date for coaching. Earlier this year, in reaction to the contract stalemate, teachers stopped doing other work they are not compensated for. Twenty-four coaches will be affected.

Based on data for the 2014 calendar, they stand to lose stipends of between approximately $6,000 and $20,000. At Princeton High School (PHS), for example, an assistant football coach would earn $8,304; an assistant girls soccer coach, $5,260; and an assistant girls tennis coach, $5,039, within a range from preschool to high school between $20,060 and $90,700.

The average coaching stipend at Princeton High School, as detailed in the last PREA contract, is $7,229.69.

Save our Schools Meeting

Just in case today’s talks fail to produce a contract, Save Princeton Public Schools, a public advocacy offshoot of Community for Princeton Public Schools, is planning to hold a public forum Monday June 15, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 50 Cherry Hill Road “in the hopes of providing clarity and encouraging transparency about the lengthy negotiations between the Board and the PREA.

Described as a “teach-in,” the event will include members of PREA. For more information, contact saveppsnj@gmail.com. To submit a question, visit: bit.ly/1KjEyOn.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will take place Tuesday, June 16. For more on this issue, see the Mailbox on page 8.

Opera Company

For the second year in a row, The Princeton Festival was awarded “Favorite Opera Company” in the annual Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards. Princeton Festival Chairman Costa Papastephanou and Artistic Director Richard Tang Yuk hold the award.

Riverside Elementary School presents a free evening of music and dinner Friday, June 12 from 7-9 p.m., to benefit the organization Christine’s Hope for Kids. This “Adult Night” will feature the Princeton High School Studio Band led by Joe Bonjovi.

Returning for the event is Mark Stern, jazz saxophone player and Riverside School alumnus. Participants are encouraged to make a donation to Christine’s Hope for Kids, the five-year-old organization that helps local children by teaching kids to aid other kids.

The event will be held in the Riverside School gym, 58 Riverside Drive. To RSVP, contact Bill Cirullo at (609) 806-4260 or bill_cirullo@princetonk12.org. Donations can be made online at www.christineshope.org.

Art 1

This delightful watercolor by Lisa Walsh is part of the exhibition “Works by Watercolorists Unlimited” through June 26. Each month the group of artists has been meeting, for more than 25 years, to critique their paintings on a new subject. The 18 artists show their work throughout New Jersey and annually at the Gourgaud Gallery, located in Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury. The artwork is for sale with 20 percent of each sale going to support the Cranbury Arts Council and its programs. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, June 7, June 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information contact (609) 395-8567, or visit: www.cranburyartscouncil.org.

Rules for overnight parking and the purchase of a controversial property on Lytle Street dominated a lengthy meeting of Princeton Council Monday night.

The governing body was evenly divided about how to proceed with harmonizing rules from the former borough and township on overnight parking, leading Mayor Liz Lempert to cast the deciding vote against introducing an ordinance that would have slightly modified or expanded the former borough’s overnight parking rules. “This issue needs more consensus before we move forward,” Ms. Lempert said.

At its previous meeting, Council discussed three options for overnight parking. One was to keep boundaries the same, another was to make some changes, and a third was to ban overnight parking throughout the town. While no one expressed support for the third option, there was considerable discussion about the other two.

Council member Jo Butler, who did extensive work with colleagues Jenny Crumiller and Bernie Miller on the issue, was especially disappointed with the decision. Along with Mr. Miller and Patrick Simon, she voted in favor of introducing the ordinance, which would have made some changes to boundaries. Heather Howard, Lance Liverman, and Ms. Crumiller voted against it. Ms. Crumiller said that though she had done a lot of work on the issue, she recently changed her mind about introducing the ordinance because it wouldn’t be fair to tell residents who have previously been allowed to park overnight that they would no longer be permitted to do so.

Ms. Howard agreed with Ms. Crumiller’s opinion. “We ought to protect what we have,” she said. “The equity is really cut in favor of keeping existing rules. Tweaking the edges has a real impact on the residents who live in the area that’s being affected.”

Ms. Butler commented that other rules have changed as a result of consolidation, including regular leaf and brush pickup that borough residents have had to give up.

According to existing rules, anyone can park on the street in much of the former township. But in the former borough, on-street parking is not allowed from 2 to 6 a.m. unless the resident has a permit. Residents who do not have driveways can currently buy a permit for one car, for $30 a quarter. This would continue, according to the ordinance. Since the borough and township were consolidated, there are streets where residents at one end can park overnight, while those at the other end cannot.

“What’s fair is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to parking,” Ms. Lempert said earlier in the day. At the meeting, she acknowledged that while a lot of time has been spent working on the issue, “We shouldn’t go ahead with it because of that.”

Andrea Ihnat, a resident of Green Street in the former borough, said she has spent $7,000 on parking in the 10 years since she moved from Brooklyn to Princeton. “Overnight and daytime parking is actually easier in Brooklyn,” she told Council. “Near the art museum in Philadelphia, you pay $356 a year to park. Princeton needs to function like a real city.”

Former Borough Council member David Goldfarb, who lives on Charlton Street, said overnight parking restrictions are necessary as a way to address overcrowding on downtown streets. “I would be very cautious about changing the status quo,” he said. “Do not relax restrictions.”

Lytle Street

Council voted unanimously to purchase the double lot at 31-33 Lytle Street after considering a proposal from a group of citizens who want to partner with Habitat for Humanity and hope to build affordable housing units on the site. Under that proposal, which came to Council last Friday, the house located on one part of the property would be demolished by current owner, developer Roman Barsky. The Mary Moss Park would be expanded to that site. Habitat for Humanity would undertake fundraising to build one or two new units of affordable housing on the other side of the lot.

Plans call for the removal of the porch and other historic features of the house, which was built around 1870 and is considered to be the oldest on the street. Those elements would be included in the new construction. The parcel is in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, which Princeton’s Historic Preservation Commission has recommended as a historic district.

The town has gone back and forth on the Lytle Street issue for the past few months, taking into consideration an outcry from citizens who were opposed to demolishing the existing house to turn the site into an expanded spray park rather than a site for affordable housing units. Council voted last March to buy the property for $600,000, with Mercer County agreeing to pay half if the house was razed. Mark Dashield, the town’s administrator, said that Princeton would have to pay back its open space account and the county’s portion if affordable housing was built there at a later date.

Construction would likely begin in 2017, said Tom Caruso of Habitat for Humanity in Trenton. Prospective buyers would be vetted before being approved, and would have to put in 300 hours of sweat equity. “We will not start the project until the fundraising is completed,” he said. “We wouldn’t put a shovel in the ground until we have all of the monies.”

Princeton resident Kip Cherry, who has been active in the efforts to partner with Habitat for Humanity, praised Council for approving the proposed plan. “We’re very excited,” she said. Porches such as the one being saved were key when the town “coped with being a segregated community.” John Heilner, who also worked in the plan, told Council the proposal was “a triple win for the community: additional affordable housing, expansion of Mary Moss Playground, and maintaining the scale and streetscape with replication of a key historical site in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.”

Resident Hendricks Davis told Council he thought the plan was a step in the right direction, though “not the best solution.” He favors that both lots be developed for affordable housing, rather than just the one.

Before making a final decision, Mr. Simon said he wants to hear the recommendations of the Affordable Housing Board which had not yet weighed in on the issue. Ms. Lempert praised the citizens and municipal staff members who have worked on the issue. “We all sort of went up and down on a roller coaster to see if it would work,” she said. “I’m really happy we were able to get to this point. I had my moments of doubt.”

The municipality is preparing to make improvements to Valley Road in 2016, as part of a capital improvement program, partially funded by a New Jersey Department of Transportation municipal aid grant.

Last month Valley Road residents were invited to contribute their ideas at a May 12 meeting. A second meeting, described as a “public design session” will take place Monday, June 15, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street.

This meeting, which will again be chaired by Mayor Liz Lempert, will continue the discussion between residents and representatives from various municipal Boards and Commissions. It is designed to discuss Valley Road in the context of the town’s master plan, which recommends the installation of an off-road multi-use path along Valley Road, as well as Princeton’s Complete Streets Policy, adopted in 2013.

Topics to be discussed include repairs to storm sewers, sanitary sewer main and laterals, new curbing repair of sidewalks and/or replacement with blacktop pathways. The municipality will be imposing a five-year moratorium on any street openings once the work is completed, and residents planning to upgrade or install new utility services are being advised to contact their utility company. A list of contacts is provided on the municipal website: www.princetonnj.gov.

Valley Road is currently classified as a minor collector roadway. It has a 25-mph speed limit and a five-ton weight restriction. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 vehicles per day use the road, which is part of the route of the Princeton FreeB. There are sidewalks along both sides of the road except for the northern side of Valley between Witherspoon and Jefferson. It is lined by a number of large established London plane trees.

At the initial May 12 session, three options were proposed in order to accommodate bicyclists. Option one would be to complete the existing four feet wide sidewalks and install “sharrows” on the roadway (a sharrow is a shared lane marking painted on the road surface). Option 2 would be to widen the sidewalks to six feet and install sharrows on the roadway. Option 3 would be to install an eight feet wide asphalt side path on the south side of Valley Road and complete the four feet wide sidewalk on the north side.

According to a document available on the municipal website (www.princetonnj.gov/engineering/Valley-Road-Improvement-Project.html), Valley Road residents have expressed the view that the third option is not desirable.

After the May 12 meeting, a Princeton resident proposed an alternative (fourth) option to “install a six feet wide bike lane, buffered from the vehicle traffic lanes with a planted median, and complete the four feet wide sidewalks.” This option would necessitate a reduction of on-street parking and the relocation of parking to the north side of the roadway. (See the Mailbox on page 8 for more on this issue)

Since the May 12 meeting, engineering staff and the Municipal Arborist Lorraine Konopka have completed an initial review of the existing right of way trees, their size, species, and general conditions. Ms. Konopka will be on hand to provide more information on the trees at the June 15 meeting.

Municipal tree crews are expected to be at work on Valley Road during the next few weeks, to remove some dead branches identified during the review.

In addition, engineering staff identified the location of some sump pump and/or roof drains that discharge very close to the road and/or sidewalk. Residents are being asked to fill out a Drainage Utility form to assist in this process. Public Works staff working with a subcontractor are in the process of cleaning and inspecting the storm sewer and sanitary sewer mains on Valley Road.

Later this month or in July, a surveyor is expected to conduct an engineering survey of the roadway, after which engineering staff “can begin our design drawing preparation.”

According to the engineering department, “comments will be evaluated and incorporated into the design as appropriate.” An additional design meeting may be scheduled in the summer to clarify any unresolved design issues but if no such meeting is deemed necessary, engineering staff will proceed with the design in order to secure the services of a contractor in late fall for the 2016 construction season.

Documents from the May 12 meeting are available at: www.princetonnj.gov/engineering/Valley-Road-Improvement-Project.html.

For more information, call (609) 921-7077 or email dstockton@princetonnj.gov

June 9, 2015
GRAND PRIZEWINNER: Lawrence Township resident Puttita Sae-Wang, 11, won this year’s Trash ArtStravaganza with her “Party Dress” design of a two-piece garment made from cinched, fringed, and ruffled newspaper. (Photo by Laura Fuchs Photography)

GRAND PRIZEWINNER: Lawrence Township resident Puttita Sae-Wang, 11, won this year’s Trash ArtStravaganza with her “Party Dress” design of a two-piece garment made from cinched, fringed, and ruffled newspaper. (Photo by Laura Fuchs Photography)

In collaboration with Princeton University, the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will present the annual Trash ArtStravaganza exhibition in ACP’s Taplin Gallery at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts from June 12 through June 26. There will be an opening reception on Friday, June 12 at 4 p.m.

The sustainable art-making contest, held annually during Communiversity, will feature work in three age categories, from young children to adults. Entries range from beautiful dresses and jewelry, elaborate and whimsical sculptures and multimedia pieces, to a fantastical city of figurines, vehicles, and dwellings, all fashioned from trash and recycled materials.

The grand prize was awarded to Puttita Sae-Wang, an 11-year-old Lawrence Township resident who designed a two-piece dress from cinched, fringed, and ruffled newspaper. Ms. Sae-Wang donated her $1,000 award to the Princeton Junior School, a non-profit organization. Her entry will be highlighted during the Trash Art Exhibition.

Trash ArtStravaganza, a grassroots organization, began in 2010 at Princeton University’s Sustainability Open House. Its objective is to raise awareness for non-profit organizations that work to sustain the earth’s environment and communities. This year’s contest at Communiversity ArtsFest 2015 welcomed entries from town and gown and helped raise awareness of sustainability endeavors at Princeton University and beyond. For more information on Trash ArtStravaganza, visit http://www.princetontrashart.com/home.html.

Starting on Saturday, June 13, University Place will be closed to through traffic from College Road to Alexander Street due to work to repair the crosswalk adjacent to the Berlind Theater. This closure is expected to remain in place for three to four weeks. A detour for vehicular traffic will be in place for the duration of the closure. A temporary traffic signal at the intersection of College Road and Alexander Street will be operational while the detour is being used. Local access to and from the metered diagonal parking spaces along University Place south of College Road, adjacent to the McCarter Theatre Center, will be maintained via the College Road-University Place intersection. Pedestrian and bike paths in the area will be shifted during this construction phase. Signage will be posted.

For more information, call (609) 258-8023, or visit: http://www.princeton.edu/artsandtransit, where you can download an updated map showing vehicular, pedestrian, and bike detours.

June 8, 2015

Princeton Police Department reported two further incidents of false public alarm and terroristic threats. An unidentified caller telephoned Riverside Elementary School, 58 Riverside Drive, this morning shortly after 10 a.m.; a similar call was made an hour later to Johnson Park School, 285 Rosedale Road. So far no arrests have been made.

June 3, 2015

PRade 2

It’s 68 P-Rades and counting for this member of the Great Class of 1947, cooling his heels here with his significant other. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

 

SEATS ON THE STREET: At the new “Princeton Parklet” installed in front of Small World Coffee’s Witherspoon Street locale last week, the cafe’s owner Jessica Durrie, right, and the Arts Council of Princeton’s Maria Evans, left, helped prepare the temporary urban oasis for the crowds arriving to celebrate Princeton University’s Reunions.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

SEATS ON THE STREET: At the new “Princeton Parklet” installed in front of Small World Coffee’s Witherspoon Street locale last week, the cafe’s owner Jessica Durrie, right, and the Arts Council of Princeton’s Maria Evans, left, helped prepare the temporary urban oasis for the crowds arriving to celebrate Princeton University’s Reunions. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

With parking spaces a precious commodity in Princeton, one might expect the temporary removal of two spots from a prime location on Witherspoon Street to inspire a certain amount of grumbling. But a rustic, Adirondack-style seating platform that has materialized in front of Small World Coffee seems to be doing just the opposite.

During Princeton University’s Reunions last weekend, alumni and locals found temporary respite from the heat and the crowds at this public “parklet.” They relaxed on the benches and sipped drinks under a row of hanging plants. Invited to feed the two parking meters to show support for future examples of this kind of public art, they dug into their pockets.

A joint effort of the municipality, the Arts Council of Princeton, local architect Kirsten Thoft, landscape artist Peter Soderman, George Akers of Material Design Build, and other volunteers, the parklet will be in place from two to four months. The project follows along the lines of other “street seats” in San Francisco, Vancouver, Seattle, and Philadelphia. The Witherspoon Street parklet is the first of its kind in Princeton, though a miniature version was briefly installed last summer.

While collaborators admit to some grousing from the public over the loss of two parking spaces, those complaints are in the minority so far. “I don’t have official numbers of the meter collection, but anecdotally I’ve checked every time I’m there, and the meter has always been full,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “The response has been fantastic. The artists and architects who built it did a magical job. You can see people break into a smile when they see it.”

Maria Evans, artistic director of the Arts Council of Princeton, said she has heard “a little bit of complaining. Its people’s knee-jerk reaction, where they say ‘I can’t believe you took a parking space’ but then they say ‘But it’s really cool, I can live with that.’ From what’s been on Twitter and Facebook, the general public’s opinion is at least 95 percent positive.”

It was Ms. Lempert who suggested the idea for the parklet to Jeff Nathanson, executive director of the Arts Council. After being put on the back burner for a while, the concept was revisited when Ms. Evans invited Ms. Durrie and her husband, Mr. Akers, over for dinner one night. “I knew if I could get her support as a merchant that the Small World location would be great for the maiden voyage,” Ms. Evans recalled. “They were on board. He’s a master carpenter and terrific builder, and I knew he’d build a great structure. Then we talked to Peter Soderman, and he was completely in.”

Ms. Evans met with Princeton Planning Director Lee Solow, who helped coordinate the project. “He was terrific. He told me we needed an architect and that’s where Kirsten Thoft got involved. All of these people worked pro bono. The town paid for materials, but everything else was for free. Lots of favors were used up.”

By the time Ms. Thoft came on board, ideas for the design of the parklet were already in place. “They wanted something temporary, but that could be re-used,” she said. “My involvement was to make sure everyone was on the same page regarding safety, ADA compliance, and those kinds of concerns. So it was not about my personal vision. And these things are a large part of what an architect does, anyway.”

But Ms. Thoft likes the design, and compares the project to the pop-up beach that appears during summers along the Seine in Paris. “I think it’s part of a continuum of public park spaces,” she said. “It can be re-used and turned into something else, which was part of the intention. These things are becoming more popular.”

The parklet was built at the firehouse on Harrison Street. “After we had Kirsten’s drawings, we started parceling out the work,” said Ms. Evans. “The Public Works department made the platforms, and George built it at the firehouse a few weeks ahead. A colleague and I stained the whole thing. It was a coming together of everybody’s dedication to get the thing done in time for Reunions, which Jessica wanted.”

The project was installed last Saturday, and a formal dedication will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 5 p.m.

Along with the benches and tree-trunk tables that are under an overhang, there is additional seating outside the overhang. Ferns in tree-trunk planters and succulents planted in chunks of logs are part of the verdant setting. Ms. Evans is adding pieces of art to the parklet. “I will invite artists who can do work that is visible from all sides and weatherproof,” she said. “It could really be a fun thing.”

Also planned is a system for parking bikes and a dog hitching post. As for the idea of asking the public to fund future public art projects by feeding the meters, that came from an unexpected source. “I teach art at Stuart Country Day School, and my students came up with the idea of not closing the meters,” Ms. Evans said. “So now, the sculptor Bob Evans is making a Venus flytrap shell to go on the meters, so people will have fun feeding them. It’s been incredible the way people are putting money in.”

Ms. Evans hopes future parklets will draw other artists, architects, and designers with new ideas. “Like Jazams — wouldn’t it be fun to make it an extension of the toy store?” she asked. “I think maybe with the merchants it will change from space to space. We need to go forward and figure out how to fund this thing in the future.”

The D&R Greenway Land Trust’s annual Down To Earth Ball will take place this Saturday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the barn complex, St. Michael’s Farm Preserve in Hopewell.

The event celebrates the region’s farm heritage, while supporting the mission of D&R Greenway, with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing. Tickets cost $125 per person and sponsorships are available.

“This night is planned to celebrate our farming heritage and the bounty of the land,” says D&R Greenway Land Trust President & CEO Linda Mead.

Guests are encouraged to “dress west” and wear comfortable kick-up-your-heels shoes. Enjoy the tunes of the Tone Rangers Band, dance around the bonfire, test your luck with barnyard games, march in a farm parade, gaze at the stars, and savor the fresh air!

D&R Greenway’s mission is to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic, now and for the future. Preserving farms creates an agricultural economy that offers fresh, healthy local food. This year’s Down To Earth Ball celebrates keeping the garden in Garden State, and supporters who have preserved the farms on which farmers grow our food.

As of May 27, in-kind donations of food and other services have been offered by Blue Moon Acres Farm Market, Brothers Moon, Brick Farm Market/Double Brook Farm, Camden Bag & Paper Co., Cherry Grove Farm, D’Angelo Italian Market, Griggstown Farm, Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet, McCaffrey’s Princeton, Tasha O’ Neill Photography, Pennington Quality Market, Sowsians Landscapes, and photographers Mary Michaels, Richard Grant, and Sheila and Carl Geisler.

For more information, call (609) 924-4646 or email Deb Kilmer at dkilmer@drgreenway.org; visit: www.drgreenway.org.

Music Aeolus

Composed of Alan Richardson — cello, Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro — violin, and Gregory Luce — viola, the Aeolus Quartet, currently the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School, will perform a free concert at Richardson Auditorium on Thursday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m.

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Gallery 14 member Charles Miller is showing a series of photographic works, such as his “Chapel Yard,” shown here, in the Goodkind Gallery at Gallery 14 in Hopewell through June 28. “The Emerald Island has a strong attraction to all travelers,” said the photographer. “It is known for it’s beautiful scenery and quirky style.” The photographs were taken on a recent visit and capture the spirit of the land and its people with a mix of the contemporary and the historic. Work by Lambertville photographer Jim Amon will also be on display in the main gallery exhibition, “Beauty is the Hook.” Gallery 14 is located at 14 Mercer Street in Hopewell. Hours are weekends, noon to 5 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, call (609) 333-8511, or visit: http://photogallery14.com.

EisgruberPersistent rain on Monday moved Princeton University’s annual Class Day ceremony from outside to inside the University Chapel. But despite Tuesday morning’s raw weather, the University held its 268th Commencement ceremony on the green in front of historic Nassau Hall.

A total of 1,268 seniors received undergraduate degrees, while 885 graduate students were awarded advanced degrees on the lawn, the site of the University’s Commencement exercises since 1922. University President Christopher L. Eisgruber presided over the event. Due to the inclement weather, he delivered an abridged version of his address. The full text of his talk is as follows:

In a few minutes, all of you will march through FitzRandolph Gate as newly minted graduates of this University. Before you do so, however, it is my pleasure, and my privilege, to say a few words to you about the path that lies ahead.

For many Princetonians, the FitzRandolph Gate has an almost metaphysical significance. The gate marks not simply the edge of the campus, but the border between two worlds: on the one side, what students fondly С or sometimes not so fondly С call the “orange bubble,” a beautiful campus blessed with extraordinary resources, dazzling talent, and heartfelt friendships; and, on the other side, a turbulent world of practical difficulties, ranging from awesome global challenges to mundane personal problems С such as finding an apartment and paying the rent.

But of course the barrier between the campus and the world is not, and has never been, so sharp as the metaphor of the orange bubble would suggest. The world finds its way through the bubble, affecting life on our campus in myriad ways. Princeton, in turn, seeks to project its learning and leadership into the worldСto be, as Woodrow Wilson of the Great Class of 1879 said, “Princeton in the nation’s service,” and, as Sonia Sotomayor of the Great Class of 1976 said just last year, “Princeton in the service of humanity.”

We saw visible and poignant expression of those connections this year,  including emotional campus protests demanding justice for black men and women in America. These student-led actions carried forward a tradition of political engagement on this campus that is more than two centuries old — a tradition that expressed Princeton’s connections to the world beyond FitzRandolph Gate long before the gate itself ever existed. Indeed, on the day when the Class of 1765 graduated almost exactly 250 years ago from what was then called the College of New Jersey, its members protested British tax policy by resolving to purchase only American-made clothing.

In the years that followed, the connections between Princeton and the outside world manifested themselves in a variety of ways, sometimes loud and noisy, sometimes almost invisible. In 1938, for example, the New York Times reported that although students and faculty earlier in the week protested the University’s decision to award an honorary degree to New Jersey Governor Arthur Harry Moore, the commencement ceremonies on June 21 were placid and beautiful.

According to the Times, more than 2,000 people gathered that day in front of Nassau Hall while “sunshine splashed through tall trees” and “orange canvas across the front of the platform hid all but the ears of the great bronze tigers that have kept guard there for 29 of the building’s 181 years.” The orange bubble indeed! While gentle sunlight washed over orange canvas at Nassau Hall, storm clouds gathered in Asia and Europe, where events would soon plunge the world into a horrific war and unleash one of history’s most awful genocides.

The Times that year listed Princeton’s undergraduate prizewinners in astonishing detail — naming not only the Pyne Honor Prize winner but also more obscure honorees, such as the recipient of the Leroy Gifford Kellogg Cup for Sportsmanship, Play and Influence in Freshman Baseball. The article, however, said not a word about Princeton’s graduate degree recipients. Readers would therefore have no clue that among the 52 students receiving doctoral degrees that afternoon was a young English mathematician named Alan Mathison Turing.

And had they known, they probably would not have cared. Dr. Turing’s thesis was titled “Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals.” It is amusing to speculate about how Governor Moore might have reacted if, after accepting his honorary degree, he had been introduced to the English doctoral student. Perhaps the governor would have complained, as politicians often do today, that Princeton was wasting its money by sponsoring dissertations on abstract topics such as “Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals,” rather than on more practical subjects with immediate application.

Governor Moore might have been surprised to discover that, even while completing some of the most celebrated doctoral research in the history of this University, the brilliant young mathematician could not ignore the world beyond the FitzRandolph Gate. Disturbed by the prospect of war in Europe, Turing began experimenting at Princeton with the construction of novel machines that might be used to encrypt information. A fellow graduate student gave him access to the physics department’s machine shop and taught him to use a lathe.

In lighter moments, Turing and his friends in the Graduate College constructed treasure hunts based on elaborate puzzles. One of Turing’s fellow graduate students, Shaun Wylie, was so clever at these games that Turing recruited him to help with the project that occupied him after his return to England. As has happened so many times before Turing and after him, a friendship formed in moments of leisure during tranquil times at Princeton endured and mattered in more urgent circumstances beyond its gates.

Those of you who made it far enough from the orange bubble to get to a movie theater will know something about Turing’s post-Princeton project. Turing’s story is told in The Imitation Game, which, I have to say, must be the first Hollywood blockbuster ever based on a book written by a University of Oxford mathematician about a Princeton University graduate school alumnus and published by the Princeton University Press.

Turing’s genius made him indispensable to the war effort as a code-breaker — an assignment he shared, as it happens, with one of today’s honorary degree recipients, John Paul Stevens, who was awarded a Bronze Star for breaking Japanese codes. Turing led the team that decrypted the Enigma cypher. It is perhaps an exaggeration, but if so only a mild one, to say that this brilliant doctoral student’s work both saved civilization from the Nazis and laid the conceptual foundation for the digital revolution. Not bad for a graduate student working on esoteric topics in theoretical mathematics.

If you have seen The Imitation Game, you also know that the exterior world impinged on Alan Turing’s life within the orange bubble in another, exceedingly cruel way by forcing him to repress his sexual identity. These injustices led eventually to a criminal conviction and suicide at the age of 41. Turing’s biographer, Andrew Hodges, writes that the young mathematician’s social life at Princeton was “a charade. Like any homosexual man [of the time], he was living an imitation game.” Forced to seek acceptance “as a person that he was not …. [H]is autonomous selfhood [was] compromised and infringed.”

Sixty-one years after Turing’s death, we live in a more tolerant society. Indeed, thanks partly to legal precedents established by today’s honorary degree recipients John Paul Stevens and Deborah Poritz, we may hope that we can soon see a day when all Americans can express their sexual identities freely and without fear of discrimination or violence.

Yet, though the world you enter today is far different from the one that greeted Alan Turing in 1938, your world, too, is fraught with disturbing challenges. Human activity strains the environment. Violence plagues many parts of the planet. Inequality is near an all-time high in many countries, including this one.

Over the past year, multiple police killings of black men have seared our nation in what the president of the United States has called a “slow-rolling crisis.” The crisis that we face today is only the latest iteration of a challenge embedded deeply within the history and the soul of the American nation. From its inception, the diversity of this nation challenged its leaders and tested the limits of republican governance.

At the time of the country’s founding, most political theorists and many Americans believed that democracies could flourish only if they were small and homogenous. James Madison of the Class of 1771, who lived and studied in Nassau Hall, famously argued that a large and diverse republic could protect liberty more effectively than a small one. His tenth Federalist Paper became a classic of political science and a foundational document in American history. But Madison’s solution was at best a partial one, for he never squarely confronted the great injustice of slavery or the challenge of racial inequality.

Two hundred and twelve years after James Madison earned his undergraduate degree, the Association of Black Princeton Alumni gave to this University a bust of Frederick Douglass. The bust now sits adjacent to this courtyard in Stanhope Hall, the University’s third oldest building, which has in recent years been the home of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and which yesterday became, by unanimous vote of Princeton’s Board of Trustees, the home of this University’s Department of African American Studies.

Douglass expressed America’s aspirations as passionately and emphatically as anyone. He insisted, in the face of slavery and inequality and all of the manifest flaws in American politics, that the Constitution was rightly interpreted to guarantee the rights and liberties of all people. In a speech given in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1860, he said,

“The Constitution says: ‘We the people’ … not we the white people, not we the citizens, not we the privileged class, not we the high, not we the low, not we of English extraction, not we of French or of Scotch extraction, but ‘we the people.’”

Douglass dared to express an utterly audacious dream — the dream that all of us, despite our differences and our conflicts and our sins against one another, could come together as one people, united by a commitment to liberty. His vision was beautiful and profound and undaunted by the ugly circumstances of his time.

America has since its birth been a land of diversity and a land of audacious dreamers. It has benefited again and again from men and women who shared, against all odds, the dream that we might transcend our differences and yet be one people. It has benefited, too, from individuals who dared to believe that scholarship and education could generate the progress, the discoveries and the leaders who will help to solve our most difficult problems in our darkest hours.

When you march out FitzRandolph Gate a few moments from now, you will march into a world that urgently requires your commitment to dream audaciously. We hear a great deal these days about the need for what is practical, functional and utilitarian. I understand that. You really do have to find apartments and you do — you most certainly do — have to pay the rent. But I hope you will also find time to pursue ideals that are beautiful and profound, not just for their own sake, but because, as Alan Turing and Frederick Douglass remind us in their different ways, the beautiful and the profound are sometimes far more powerful and beneficial than all the things that the conventional world praises in the name of pragmatic utility.

And so it is with an eye toward the beautiful and the profound that we gather here today, bursting with joy amidst the turmoil of the outside world, to congratulate you on your achievements and wish you well as you begin your journeys beyond this campus. My colleagues and I on the faculty and in the administration, and my fellow alumni and trustees, hope you will carry the spirit of Princeton into the world, and we look forward to welcoming you back to Princeton whenever you return. We feel great confidence in your ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead, for on this special and auspicious day, you — our graduate students and our undergraduate seniors — are now, and shall be forever into the future, Princeton University’s Great Class of 2015.

Congratulations and best wishes!

Lance Liverman

Lance Liverman

In unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary election, Princeton citizens cast 530 votes in favor of current Council member Lance Liverman and 537 for current Council member Heather Howard. Both Democrats, Mr. Liverman and Ms. Howard ran unopposed.

On the Republican side, Kelly DiTosto and Lynn Lu Irving also ran unopposed for Council seats. Ms. DiTosto earned 128 votes, while Ms. Irving got 134.

Mr. Liverman was a member of the Princeton Township Committee prior to the consolidation of Princeton Borough and Township in 2013. He has been active on the Affordable Housing Board, the Corner House Board, the Housing Authority, the Personnel Committee, the Princeton Alcohol & Drug Alliance, the town’s Public Safety Committee where he serves as Fire Commissioner, and the Affordable Housing Task Force.

Ms. Howard, on Borough Council before consolidation, serves as Police Commissioner on the Public Safety Committee, and is also on the town’s Board of Health, Human Services Commission, the Legal Expense Committee, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and the Pedestrian & Bike Advisory Committee.

Ms. DiTosto and Ms. Irving filed in March to run as Republicans in the election for Princeton Council. Ms. DiTosto is a longtime Princeton resident whose children have attended Princeton public schools. She works in the accounting field.

Ms. Irving is a licensed real estate agent who was previously a pre-school teacher. A native of China and a local resident for more than 25 years, she has two children who are Princeton High School graduates and another who still attends.

Other numbers reported in the primary included 562 votes for Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. In the 16th District for General Assembly, there were 564 votes for Democrats Andrew Zwicker and 521 for Maureen Vella. On the Republican side, there were 131 votes for Jack Ciattarelli and 127 for Donna Simon.

The winners will face off in the November elections.

Threats made in recent weeks to local schools, the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, Quaker Bridge Mall, a private business and residence have local law enforcement scrambling to determine who is behind these pre-recorded messages. While each case so far has been deemed a hoax, police are taking no chances.

“This is an absolutely despicable crime that is targeting the most precious of our society С our children,” said Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter, on Monday. “It is certainly causing fear among schools and families. We are working with federal and state agencies, and have top experts partnering with us, and we will not stop until the threats stop and these people are brought to justice.”

The threats have increased across New Jersey in recent weeks. “I don’t use this word often, but from my perspective it certainly is an act of terrorism,” Mr. Sutter said. “It causes fear, has economic repercussions, and makes people afraid to go to public places. It’s quite serious in all of its ramifications.”

Last month, John Witherspoon Middle School, Riverside Elementary School, Johnson Park Elementary, and Princeton High School were each the target of threats, known as “swatting” because they draw a heightened response from a SWAT team. After thorough investigations by law enforcement, no suspicious activity was found at any of the schools.

On May 27, the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro was put in lockdown after an automated phone call to New Jersey State Police said there were gunmen in the hospital and parking lot. A “code silver” was issued and there were rumors that someone had been taken hostage because of the alert, but no suspicious activity was found by state and Plainsboro police.

A day later, shoppers at Quaker Bridge Mall were evacuated for two hours after a call came in from what appeared to be a computer-generated voice. K-9 units from the New Jersey State Police, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and the Princeton Police Department searched but did not find any explosive devices.

Similar hoaxes have taken place in recent years, but the current threats are different. “I’ve been doing a lot of research on this, and it’s been going on for some time,” said Mr. Sutter. “This takes the old-fashioned type of bomb threat that we’ve dealt with forever to a new level. It’s a huge public safety concern. I’ve seen it before, but this is something new.”

The police are working with other agencies to try and teach the public how to best deal with the phoned-in threats. “What we’ve been suggesting to the community, merchants, and the schools is that when a call comes in or is suspected, it’s important to remember specifics,” Mr. Sutter said. “Record the information that is given, the phone number, the information that comes up on the caller ID, and the sound of the voice, and give that information to the police department.”

Some two dozen threats in all have been documented in New Jersey over the past year. Among the targeted locations were schools in Holmdel, Ridgewood, and Farmingdale, as well as the Garden State Mall. The Office of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been aiding the New Jersey State Police and municipal police departments such as Princeton in investigating the incidents.

“We know that there are towns nationwide that are getting these, so that’s certainly an avenue we’re examining,” Mr. Sutter. “We’re working with different agencies, comparing all the data, and that’s definitely helpful in several ways. I’m confident that we’ll get to the bottom of it. It’s just really hurtful and has tremendous repercussions for the community.”