April 3, 2013

A proposed 2013 budget that demonstrates the savings of consolidation and a timeline for construction of Princeton University’s $300 million Arts and Transit project were the main topics of Princeton Council’s meeting on Monday, April 1.

The $61 million budget introduced to Council, which comes with a tax rate decrease of just under one percent, will be up for discussion at a public hearing on May 28. Construction for the University’s expansion project is about to enter its first phase, and could possibly be completed by the summer of 2017, Council members were told.

The proposed budget for the newly consolidated Princeton is $3 million less than the former Princeton Borough and Princeton Township budgets combined for 2012, administrator Bob Bruschi told the Council. “In my 30 years in local government, I have never seen a more team-developed budget,” he said, praising the public servants and private citizens who worked on it.

Mr. Bruschi added that the town is paying less money in 2013 than it was in 2009. Both Princeton Borough and Township paid approximately 47 cents per $100 of assessed property value last year. The new rate, thanks to consolidation, is 46.3 cents. Additional savings include $1.3 million on wages and salaries, $56,012 by having one governing body instead of two, nearly $500,000 on the conjoined police force, and $255,926 in a trimmed administration. The total staff size has gone from 287 to 261.

Major increases come from the extension of trash collection, negotiations with three labor unions, and a reserve for uncollected taxes to cover increases in school and county tax levels. An emergency appropriation of $500,000 for storm expenses is “hopefully a one-time thing,” Mr. Bruschi said. “Every municipality is looking at something like that.”

Service levels will be maintained or increased, and future levels will remain stable. “We are a very, very healthy financial community,” Mr. Bruschi concluded. “Both communities came into this very, very healthy fiscally.”

The fence posts are in place and fencing is about to be installed along the portion of Alexander Street where construction of Princeton University’s Arts & Transit development is about to begin. The first phase should be completed by mid-June, University vice-president and secretary Bob Durkee said in a presentation to Council.

“The first part will be the most disruptive. The sooner we can get through it, the better,” he said. “It is likely to get modified as we go forward, but we’ve tried to anticipate as well as we can the steps necessary to minimize disruption to move it along as quickly as we can.”

The sidewalk will be closed and parking spaces will not be accessible along the east side of Alexander Street, while temporary sidewalks will be installed on the opposite side. Demolition will begin from south to north. New crosswalks will be installed at two locations.

There will be no impact on traffic during the initial phase, but the second phase will have an effect on the already busy street for about six weeks. Mr. Durkee said that the intersection of Alexander Street and University Place will be closed for underground utility work during this time. A temporary traffic light will be installed or a patrol officer will be in place during this phase, Mr. Durkee added.

The timeline calls for Alexander Street to reopen in mid-July. Until mid-September, underground utility work will continue. “By this time, demolition should be completed except for the Wawa, which will stay open till the day it opens in its new location,” Mr. Durkee said.

The Arts & Transit plan calls for construction of a new Wawa market and a new Dinky train station. The current Dinky station will become a restaurant and cafe operated by the Momo brothers, who run five area eateries. There was no mention at the meeting of the houses along Alexander Street that the University has offered to anyone willing to move them to a new location. The houses will be demolished if there are no takers by the end of this month.

From mid-September to late October, a new commuter parking lot will be completed. A temporary Dinky train station will be opened at the south end of the lot, approximately 750 feet from where the new station, which is 460 feet south of the current terminus, will be. For this reason, the University is proposing to run an express bus between Princeton and Princeton Junction, with an additional stop at the temporary station. “It’s a hike,” Mr. Durkee said. “If you’re walking, it’s a long walk.”

Tiger Transit buses, which are free, will also be available. Those taking the express buses will need to show a valid train ticket.

Work begins on a new roundabout in October, and continues until February 2014. During this time, Alexander Street from University Place to College Road will be closed, and a 24-foot temporary bypass will be created. “This is probably the time when it will be the most complicated for folks,” Mr. Durkee said. The roundabout is targeted to open in February 2014. “During this time, you’ll begin to see the final shape of the project,” Mr. Durkee said. The temporary Dinky location will still be in use.

The new station, Wawa market, transit plaza, and the road to the parking garage should be open by July 2014. “By now, the project has shrunk to the perimeter around the arts buildings,” Mr. Durkee said. He added that he is not sure when the restaurant and cafe will be ready to open. “It’s up to the operators to decide when they’re ready. We think the arts buildings will be open by the summer of 2017,” he said of the four buildings that make up the new arts campus.

Council member Jo Butler asked if the University would consider opening up the West Drive during the construction period to alleviate traffic problems. “We wouldn’t stand in the way,” Mr. Durkee said.

Signage will be posted around the project to direct people to the University’s website for the project, which is www.princeton.edu/artsandtransit.

In other business, Council approved a $50,000 cap on costs related to the developer AvalonBay’s suit of the Planning Board over the its rejection of the developer’s proposal to build an apartment complex at the site of the former hospital site on Witherspoon Street. AvalonBay is also suing the town. At the conclusion of the meeting, Council met in closed session to discuss the litigation and the status of Princeton Police chief David Dudeck. Mr. Dudeck has not been at work since being accused of misconduct last month.

Every Friday for the past decade, Rabbi James Diamond and Rabbi David Wolf Silverman studied together at Rabbi Silverman’s home. Though the men were 12 years apart, they shared a warm friendship and a love of Jewish learning. “We hit it off,” said Rabbi Silverman, the older of the two, recalling the man who was killed last Thursday in a car crash on Princeton’s Riverside Drive. “He was a dear friend.”

It was around 9:40 a.m. on March 29 that Rabbi Diamond, 74, and Rabbi Robert Freedman, 63, a former cantor at the Jewish Center of Princeton, were leaving a Talmud study group at a home on Riverside Drive. Rabbi Diamond was getting into the passenger side of a parked Toyota Prius when a BMW driven by Eric Maltz, 20, crashed into the front of an unoccupied Toyota Camry parked in front of the Prius. The impact pushed the Camry into the Prius, where Rabbi Freedman was in the driver’s seat.

Rabbi Diamond was thrown from the car and died at the scene. Rabbi Freedman was taken to the trauma center at Capital Health Medical Center and has since been released. Mr. Maltz, who was traveling at a rate of speed between 60 and 80 miles per hour, was also taken to the trauma center for his injuries. He has since been transferred to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. Mr. Maltz has been charged with death by auto and assault by auto, and his bail was set at $100,000. Since it involves a fatality, the case is being investigated with assistance from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rabbi Silverman, one of several to speak at Rabbi Diamond’s funeral at the Jewish Center of Princeton last Sunday, reflected about his friend on Tuesday afternoon. “He was convinced that the central texts of the Jewish tradition merited the same sophisticated analyses as those that founded western civilization,” he said. “He taught and embodied both. Like his name, Diamond, he was rare, one of a kind, brilliant, and multi-faceted.”

Rabbi Diamond was director of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life from 1995 to his retirement in 2003. He was executive director of Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis from 1972 to 1995 and at Indiana University from 1968 to 1972.

“We were campus ministers together at Princeton, and we would meet on a regular basis,” said Reverend John Mark Goerss, who was Lutheran chaplain at Princeton University for 24 years. “He was always a wonderful, caring person who had so much to contribute intellectually, and to share. We very much valued the relationship we had — a really good, collegial one among all the campus ministers. We’d go on a retreat together once a year. This is a real loss to the community.”

Rabbi Diamond was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada. According to information from Princeton University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Roosevelt University in Chicago, rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in comparative literature from Indiana University. The author of several books and numerous articles and essays, Rabbi Diamond edited A Handbook for Hillel and Jewish Campus Professionals, published in 1983. He held several major fellowships and was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1988.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. “At this point, there is no scheduled Superior Court date,” said Casey Diblasio, spokesperson for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, on Tuesday. “We won’t confirm any details of the investigation until it’s an open court case.”

Rabbi Diamond taught courses in modern Hebrew literature and Judaic studies not only at Princeton University, but in the Princeton community. “I really enjoyed his classes,” said Roberta Diamond (no relation) of Towaco, who studied with him. “He was a wonderful, soft spoken teacher, always very kind. It’s such a loss.”

The Right Honorable Alex Salmond, First Minister of the Scottish Government in Edinburgh, will speak on “The Wealth and Well-Being of Nations,” this Saturday April 6, at 4 p.m., in Room 101 of the Friend Center on the Princeton University Campus.

Born in Scotland in 1954, Mr. Salmond is the leader of the Scottish National Party and is a graduate of St Andrew’s University. Trained as an economist, he is a passionate champion of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.

In May 2007, Mr. Salmond made political history when he became the first Scottish Nationalist to be elected First Minister of Scotland, the equivalent of Prime Minister in Britain. He is the fourth in the position, which was created with Scottish Devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh in 1999.

Mr. Salmond comes to Princeton at the invitation of fellow Scot Will Storrar, director of the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) on Stockton Street. “I’ve known Alex Salmond since the 1980s and he is a wonderful speaker,” said Mr. Storrar. “Princeton has a long-standing connection with Scotland going back to John Witherspoon, the first president of The College of New Jersey.” John Witherspoon  (1723-1794) was among those who signed the Declaration of Independence. He is credited with transforming the curriculum of what would become Princeton University by broadening its scope and introducing the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment: ideas that inspired the likes of James Madison, Aaron Burr, and numerous other American Revolutionaries.

In 2006, Mr. Storrar invited Mr. Salmond’s predecessor Jack McConnell to Princeton for a successful event that focused on contemporary Scotland and developments there that are of deep interest to Princeton residents.

According to Mr. Storrar, Mr. Salmond is expected to discuss “the Scottish government’s vision for wealth and well-being, linking green growth in the global economy to climate justice for the world’s poorest nations, already experiencing the impact of climate change.”

As First Minister, from 2007 to 2011, Mr. Salmond headed a minority Scottish Government, but after the May 2011 election, the Scottish Nationalist Party became the majority. Mr. Salmond was re-elected unopposed for a second term as First Minister.

With that landslide victory, Mr. Salmond was able to set a date for a referendum on Scottish Independence, planned for sometime in the Fall of 2014. He had repeatedly called for a referendum on the issue, which remains one of enormous controversy, raising questions about economic policy, defense arrangements, and the future of relations between an independent Scotland and the European Union and the United Kingdom. The exact wording of the referendum question is still the subject of heated debate.

Last October, British Prime Minister David Cameron signed an agreement with Mr. Salmond that provides a legal framework for the referendum.

Besides an independent Scotland, Mr. Salmond has campaigned for legislation to ameliorate global warming via emission reduction and sustainable energy programs. In the past, he has served as an assistant in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland

First elected as MP for the Scottish constituency of Banff & Buchan in 1987, Mr. Salmond was elected as National Convener for the Scottish National Party in 1990 and served as leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The title of Mr. Salmond’s talk, “The Wealth and Well-Being of Nations,” alludes to An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, the influential study by the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. Originally published in 1776, the book is a considered a classic of economic theory with insights on the division of labor, productivity, free markets, and wealth.

Past, Present and Future

For those curious about political change in Scotland over the last decade or so, there are several not-to-be-misssed public events being held in conjunction with Mr. Salmond’s visit. The Center of Theological Inquiry at 50 Stockton Street presents a festival of authors on Thursday April 4, with Nicholas Phillipson discussing his book Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life at 2 p.m.; Andrew Hook on his book Francis Jeffrey’s American Journal at 3 p.m.; and Christopher Harvie on his portrait of society and identity in industrial Britain, A Floating Commonwealth, at 4:30 p.m.

On Friday April 5 and Saturday April 6, the Center will hosts a symposium on “The Wealth & Well-being of Nations,” with leading scholars from Princeton University and several Scottish universities exploring the relationship between economics and ethics, economic development, and human well-being in the thought of Adam Smith and in the world today.

Mr. Salmond’s talk at the Friend Center on Saturday is co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs and the Center of Theological Inquiry. It is free and open to the public. For more information, visit: www.lapa.princeton.edu. For more on the Center of Theological Inquiry’s author event, call (609) 683-4797, or visit: www.ctinquiry.org.


Terhune Orchards celebrated the arrival of spring over the weekend with a Bunny Chase, treasure hunt, and spring surprise. Children also enjoyed bunny cookie treats.

March 27, 2013
FAMILY REUNION: Author and playwright Ifa Bayeza, right, shares a moment with her cousin, former Princeton Borough Mayor Yina Moore, at a recent reading and book-signing at  Princeton Public Library. Ms. Bayeza co-wrote the book “Some Sing, Some Cry” with her sister, Ntozake Shange. Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Library.

FAMILY REUNION: Author and playwright Ifa Bayeza, right, shares a moment with her cousin, former Princeton Borough Mayor Yina Moore, at a recent reading and book-signing at
Princeton Public Library. Ms. Bayeza co-wrote the book “Some Sing, Some Cry” with her sister, Ntozake Shange. Photo courtesy of Princeton Public Library.

Ifa Bayeza had a homecoming of sorts at Princeton Public Library on Friday night, March 22. The author, artist, playwright and professor, who was born in Trenton and graduated from Lawrence High School, read a selection of her latest book Some Sing, Some Cry, to an audience that included

family and old friends.

Representing the family in the library’s Community Room were Ms. Bayeza’s Aunt Vera, and her cousin, former Princeton Borough Mayor Yina Moore. Several of her late mother’s old friends took up a row of seats and looked on proudly as Ms. Bayeza read from the book on which she collaborated with her older sister, Ntozake Shange, famous for her play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf.

Ms. Bayeza was Wanda Williams and Ms. Shange was Paulette Williams when they were growing up, two of the four children of physician Paul T. Williams and his wife, social worker and college professor Eloise. Asked after the reading why she changed her name, Ms. Bayeza, who graduated from Harvard University and teaches at Brown, said she and her siblings came of age during the black cultural revolution.

“Part of it was claiming our heritage, our own rite of passage,” she said. “I was embracing an Africanness that I didn’t know, but I felt. But I still keep the essence of Wanda.”

Ms. Bayeza’s appearance at the library is the culmination of its programs focused on the Emancipation Proclamation and Women’s History Month. “This ties everything together,” said programming director Janie Hermann, before asking Ms. Moore to introduce her cousin. Obviously proud to have the opportunity, Ms. Moore recalled the Williams household as “a home filled with love, joy, and absolute intellectual fervor.”

Some Sing, Some Cry is a 600-page novel that spans 200 years and seven generations of women in an African-American family. The sisters wrote sporadically over a 15-year period, and included stories they had learned as part of family lore. “It’s a story of music, family, relationships, and a lot of young love,” Ms. Bayeza said before reading. “It’s also a story of movement, of dance, of African people through space and time.”

She and Ms. Shange divided the book into eight parts, some of which they wrote together but most of which they did separately. Asked about the challenges of tying so many decades together, she said, “Each section could have been a novel. We had to edit the characters.”

Ms. Bayeza chose to read a section of the book “in honor of coming home,” about the great migration, the Harlem renaissance, “and something my parents loved to do, which was throw a party,” she said. An animated performer, she sang, imitated a little girl making “choo choo” noises, and took on a Russian accent as she portrayed various characters in the chapter.

The author of the acclaimed play The Ballad of Emmett Till, Ms. Bayeza has been enmeshed in drama since childhood. Asked by the audience what kinds of voices influenced her most, she said, “My mother was a fantastic storyteller. We went to drama all the time. My dad was an amateur magician. I did my first play in fourth grade. I read Our Town at 12, and the fact that a writer had created a universe in an empty space was a marvel to me.”

Another play that left an impression on her was Brecht’s Mother Courage, which she saw at McCarter Theatre. “I thought, ‘Wow! You can be political!’,” Ms. Bayeza recalled. While McCarter was the subject, Ms. Moore took the opportunity to ask her cousin about the possibility of The Ballad of Emmett Till being staged there. The play has been produced in several places and will be staged at a theater festival this summer, Ms. Bayeza replied. Getting to the point, she said, “I have had a number of conversations with Emily [Mann, McCarter’s artistic director]. But I’m waiting for another one.”


Starting in mid-April, smokers who visit or work at municipal properties in Princeton will have to be at least 35 feet away from all entrances and ventilation systems before lighting up. This ban also extends to parks, pools, and any recreation areas owned by the town.

The measure goes into effect on or around April 12, according to Princeton’s Health Officer David Henry. “We’re trying to look out for younger people, children and adolescents, as well as those [older] who already smoke, to try and see if we can modify behavior so they won’t start smoking,” he said this week.

While there are more than 150 municipalities in New Jersey that have passed similar smoking bans, Princeton is the first in Mercer County to do so, Mr. Henry said. The measure was voted on at a Board of Health meeting last week.

Those who police find ignoring the new ordnance would receive $250 fines for first-time offenses, $500 for the second time, and $1,000 for the third or more. The American Cancer Society has donated signs to be posted at the designated non-smoking areas.

Mr. Henry said the ban was first addressed after former New Jersey Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs spoke about the issue at a health officers’ conference last January. With the aid of Princeton Council member Heather Howard, the ordinance was written, a public meeting was held, and the ordinance was passed.

“Prior to this, there was no policy for prohibiting smoking outdoors, although there was no smoking allowed in Hinds Plaza and the Community Pool area,” Mr. Henry said. “Now, the prohibition has expanded to all public properties owned by Princeton so we’re talking about parks, playgrounds, ball fields, recreation areas, and municipal buildings, where there is a 35-foot buffer zone for every entrance.”

The ordinance also prohibits smoking in any municipal vehicle registered in Princeton.

While no one spoke at the board meeting against the measure, a few people have registered complaints since it was announced. “We’ve seen a couple of complaints in various on-line commentary, but that’s pretty much been about it,” Mr. Henry said.


At a meeting of the Princeton Board of Education last Thursday, Judith A. Wilson announced her plans to retire as superintendent of Princeton Public Schools.

Ms. Wilson, who has been superintendent in Princeton since 2005, will continue through the end of this year and retire on December 31. Her retirement will bring to a close a 35-year career in various positions in public education. Before becoming superintendent, she was an English teacher, a reading specialist, a curriculum supervisor, and an assistant superintendent.

“This is a bittersweet moment for Princeton,” said Board President Timothy Quinn. “We’re very happy for Judy as she starts a new chapter of her life, but we will sorely miss her student-focused leadership, hard work, and dedication to public education. During Judy’s time here, an already well-regarded district became even better. There can be no greater testament to her tenure as our superintendent.”

Ms. Wilson’s nine years as superintendent marked a period of change for the school district. Princeton adopted a standards-based curriculum for pre-K through grade 12 that is used in all district schools. Superintendent Wilson led a district-wide effort to increase student achievement overall and particularly among economically disadvantaged students.

In addition, Princeton initiated a system to monitor individual student achievement through regular formative assessments and greatly expanded professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators.

Ms. Wilson’s letter to the Board was a late addition to the evening’s agenda. In it she stated: “The Princeton Public School district is a very special community of leaders and learners in all positions: volunteers, teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and, especially, students. My life has been influenced in many positive ways and my thinking and learning have been strengthened by the work of leading this complex, dynamic and
successful district. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have worked with so many exceptional board members, educators and staff members over the years.”

At her request, the Board’s responses to her announcement were limited to remarks by the Board president. Mr. Quinn said that Ms. Wilson will remain fully engaged in the operations of the district for the next nine months and will work toward a smooth leadership transition.

As a member of the Board and earlier as a leader of the PTO, Mr. Quinn has observed Ms. Wilson at close hand. “Judy has led our district through an unprecedented time of growth against a backdrop of turbulence for public education nationally and in New Jersey,” he said. “She will be a tough act to follow.”

According to Mr. Quinn, the administration and the Board have been wading through “a deluge of reports and mandates coming from the state” concerning teacher and principal evaluation and school ratings.

He assured the Board and the public that there would be a “thorough and deliberate” search for Ms. Wilson’s replacement. Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the firm used in the search that culminated in Ms. Wilson’s appointment in 2005, will conduct a national search for the new superintendent. It is thought likely that Princeton will attract a top candidate.

Asked earlier this week about the timing of her announcement, Ms. Wilson said that she had made her decision now so that the board would have “appropriate time for a thoughtful, thorough search and decision making process.”

Mr. Quinn said during the months to come there would be opportunity to celebrate Ms. Wilson’s accomplishments, including the Princeton Education Foundation gala on April 27. With that, he turned the meeting over to Ms. Wilson for a public discussion of the schools budget that this year falls within the demanded 2 percent cap and therefore requires no vote by the town’s citizens.

The day after her announcement, it was business as usual for Ms. Wilson as she focused on new state regulations, district goals, and the day to day running of Princeton schools. That will be her plan of action through the rest of the year, she said.

“This is an amazing district and a beautiful community where, together, people are truly devoted to our ‘Live to Learn, Learn to Live’ motto. There hasn’t been a day, even in the most challenging times, that I have not deeply appreciated the faculty, staff, students and families that make so much possible in the Princeton Public Schools,” said Ms. Wilson.

Terra Momo Group, the Princeton-based operator of five local dining establishments, will run the restaurant and cafe to be located in the buildings currently occupied by the Dinky train station. According to information from Princeton University, which plans to move the station to make room for its $300 million Arts and Transit project, a pizzeria-style cafe is planned for the north terminal building, and a farm-to-table-style restaurant will be installed in the south building, which was formerly used for baggage-handling.

“We are just at the point of signing a letter of intent with them,” said Kristin Appelget, director of Community and Regional Affairs for the University. “It’s an exciting time and a great opportunity. This will be of interest to people who work in adjacent University buildings, and it will be a great complement to McCarter Theatre.”

The Momo Group’s previous association with McCarter Theatre, which is located across University Place from the station buildings, was a factor in the decision. “They have operated the cafe that is open during performances, so they know the staff there and that’s a benefit,” Ms. Appelget said. “We think this should support McCarter.”

Terra Momo, run by brothers Raoul and Carlo Momo, operates Mediterra and Teresa Caffe on Palmer Square, Terra Momo Bread Company on Witherspoon Street, the cafe at Princeton Public Library, and Eno Terra in Kingston. In an article in Tuesday’s issue of The Daily Princetonian, Carlo Momo said, “Even though there’s some sense of comfort knowing we’re involved, we’re also going to surprise people. We hope the cafe and restaurant will add, with the arts neighborhood being scheduled for that part of town, a whole other dimension and attraction to Princeton itself. Princeton is becoming more and more of a destination and we’d like to make it a dining mecca, too.”

The cafe will have 54 seats including a bar, and will serve, breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as wine and beer. The restaurant will accommodate 116 diners inside and 60 outside. Architect Rick Joy has designed the exteriors. “The renovations will be done by the University, but the interior fit-out that makes the buildings into a cafe and a restaurant will be done by the Momos,” Ms. Appelget said.

The search began last summer with an open house, during which area restauranteurs were invited to examine the facility and learn about the project. “After some preliminary review, we had four potential operators we thought very highly of,” said Bob Durkee, University secretary and vice president. “That process eventually led to the Momos. We had always hoped we would end up with someone who was already local, so we’re very pleased.”

Adds Ms. Appelget, “Ultimately, Terra Momo and Carlo were selected because of how they had put time into thinking about the cafe and restaurant, and how it fit into their overall business plan. And their success in Princeton was something that was very much of interest to the committee.”

Serving on the selection committee were several University representatives and independent food service consultant Tracy Lawler, who is based in Princeton.

The cafe is targeted for a summer of 2015 opening, while the restaurant is planned for an opening a year later. “We hope that much of the work on the site will be done well prior to that, though we can’t be precise,” said Mr. Durkee. “The issue for them is going to be how long it will take once we’ve done the renovations, and then how complicated it will be to open when construction on the arts building is still going on next door.”

The Arts and Transit project includes three new campus arts buildings, renovation of the train station buildings, construction of a new station 460 feet south of the present location, and a new Wawa building. Construction of a new commuter parking lot, a temporary train platform, and a roundabout at Alexander Street and University Place is scheduled to begin this spring. The complex is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2017.

Mayor Liz Lempert and members of Princeton Council will meet this Monday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in open session in the Princeton Municipal Building at 400 Witherspoon Street.

Among other agenda items, action is expected on the 2013 budget of the Princeton Public Library, projected as $5,020,025.

This figure includes $4,030,619 in municipal funds, or 80 percent of the library’s total operating expenses. According to the library’s budget request, this amount is “consistent with the ratio of tax support and private support that has been in place for years.”

The balance would be made up by donations from the Friends of the Princeton Public Library, the Princeton Library Foundation, grants and library fees. The Friends, which operate the library’s book-sale and annual benefit, anticipate a donation of $150,000 to the library’s operating budget this year.

According to the library, after holding the
line on budget increases for the last four years, the increase is necessary as a result of increased costs for health benefits, unemployment and disability insurance, and pension contributions.

In addition, the shift from in-house server-based technology to cloud computing has increased operating costs for information technology.

The 2013 budget represents a 4.5 percent increase over last year and includes a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for library employees. It also includes a request for $150,000 from the municipality in support of the up to two hours of free parking in the Spring Street garage that the library provides to Princeton residents.

In addition, the library requests a combined 2012 and 2013 capital allocation of $412,077 to support building and technology improvements, and other miscellaneous projects. Since the library did not receive capital funds in 2012, the budget includes the amount requested in 2012 together with an amount for 2013. The 2012 figure is $195,000; that for 2013 is $217,077.

This money would be used to replace worn carpeting over a three year period ($91,077 for the first year), electrical upgrades to reduce the library’s utility costs ($18,000), the installation of hands free low flow bathroom fixtures to reduce water consumption and paper towel waste ($19,000), furniture and painting ($100,000), and for a replacement vehicle ($30,000).

The Princeton Public Library has become known as Princeton’s “living room.” No more so than during the onslaught of Superstorm Sandy when residents sought shelter by the  Library fireplace, charged up their cellphones and used their computers at a time when many homes were without power and heat. The library has reported serving more than 29,000 people in this way over a six day period.

”The demand for study and seating space in the library continues to grow each year, and it is never more evident than when the library opens in response to a storm,” the budget request states.

Last year the number of visitors using the library, which is open 74 hours a week, was more than 840,000.

Mayor Lempert. a member of the library board, said at the March 19 public board meeting that the issue would come before the municipality on April 1; until then she could not comment. The library’s budget will be introduced as part of the municipal budget.

In a phone interview Monday, Library Director Leslie Burger presented a no-harm-in-asking attitude when questioned about the library’s request for extra funding from the municipality. “It’s merely a request and it’s up to the town to decide at what level it intends to support the library,” she said. “Up until now the library has been a joint agency dealing with the Borough of Princeton and the Township of Princeton. Now we are a single agency and we are feeling our way through that process of change.”

Ms. Burger pointed to decreasing revenues from movie rentals now that library patrons are streaming movies instead of borrowing them. She also acknowledged receiving a number of calls about the issue. Asked if she thought it likely that the request would be approved, Ms. Burger commented that it was in the nature of budget proposals to change.


The Oppenheimer sign tells a tale continued in this week’s book review. Though the photo may suggest otherwise, the six tables filled with books from the late Princeton bibliophile’s collection were emptied several times and refilled from boxes underneath. Peter’s contribution was in all ways the success story of the 2013 sale. (Photo by Jeff Tryon)

March 20, 2013
PEDALING FOR PEACE: Marianne Farrin (right) and Caroline Spoeneman (center) of Princeton with a member of the Italian team (left) get ready for a day’s ride in one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates last month as part of a Pedal for Peace project organized by the UK-based international women’s non-profit, Follow the Women.(Photo by C. Spoeneman)

PEDALING FOR PEACE: Marianne Farrin (right) and Caroline Spoeneman (center) of Princeton with a member of the Italian team (left) get ready for a day’s ride in one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates last month as part of a Pedal for Peace project organized by the UK-based international women’s non-profit, Follow the Women. (Photo by C. Spoeneman)

Princeton residents Marianne Farrin and Caroline Spoeneman recently returned from a trip that had them bicycling through all seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Along the way, they represented the United States in meetings with sheiks and other dignitaries, were greeted by local children, and even showered with roses.

Ms. Farrin and Ms. Spoeneman were among 120 Pedal for Peace riders, all women, from 22 countries raising awareness of the plight of Palestinian women and children as well as funding for The Red Crescent, the international humanitarian movement founded to protect human life and health without discrimination of nationality, race, religion, or politics.

The eight-day trip began in Dubai on Saturday, February 16 and ended in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, February 23. It was organized with the help of the UAE Cycling Federation. “The Federation paid for the participants’ hotel accommodations, meals, and bike rentals,” said Ms. Farrin.

The riders were based in Ajman and were bussed to each emirate in turn for that day’s ride. Their bikes were ready for them and they covered between 40 and 50 kilometers each day. The weather was dry and hot, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. “We had a motorcycle escort and met local dignitaries. In Ras we were treated to a performance of singing by schoolchildren and on one occasion a helicopter circled overhead, a door opened and thousands of red roses came sailing out over us,” recalled Ms. Farrin.

The event was the sixth Pedal for Peace ride organized by the UK-based international women’s non-profit, Follow the Women, which previously organized similar fundraisers in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Because of political unrest following the “Arab Spring,” this year’s ride took place in the United Arab Emirates. Rides were cancelled in 2010 and 2011.

The group was founded by Detta Regan, whose inspiration was her mother’s love of cycling and her father’s love of the Arab world. Ms. Regan was the UK’s Woman of the Year in 2001 and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2004.

The two women undertook the ride after Ms. Farrin read an article about Ms. Regan’s peace- and fund-raising efforts.

Marianne Farrin and her Danish mother fled Nazi Germany in 1944. A decade later, she came to the United States, the country her German-born father Helmut Magers had visited and longed to return to. He died of typhoid in the spring of 1945, at age 38, after being sent to fight on the Russian front. In 1930-1931, he had spent a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Ms. Farrin recently translated the book he wrote in 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Revolutionary with Common Sense, from German into English.

After raising five children with husband Jim Farrin, a 1958 graduate of Princeton University, Ms. Farrin enrolled in the Princeton Theological Seminary. “I was the oldest in my class,” laughs the Princeton grandmother, now 74. After graduating in 2007, she thought hard about how she wanted to focus her time. Through a seminary colleague she heard about the Christian Peacemaker Team’s work in the West Bank. She went to Israel in 2008, to Hebron, and again in 2009.

At the end of her 2009 trip, Ms. Farrin was enjoying coffee in a cafe just steps from Jerusalem’s “Wailing Wall,” when she read about Pedal for Peace the International Herald Tribune. “Danes are born bicyclists, so I cut the article out and brought it home with me,” she said.

Ms. Farrin had ridden across the United States, from Seattle to Washington D.C. in 2000, to raise funds for the American Lung Association. When she told her friend Caroline Spoeneman about the ride, Ms. Spoeneman jumped at the opportunity of combining sports with a good cause. Last year, Ms. Spoeneman walked 160 miles in 12 days of the annual pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (across the Pyrenees from France to Spain) and the year before that she won a sprint triathlon in Connecticut. “I joined the ride to support Palestinian women and children and for the cultural exchange aspect,” she said. “Here was an opportunity to hear the stories and experiences of women from 22 countries who have also been working to raise money for Palestinian children, and publicize the plight of Palestinian refugees,” said Ms. Spoeneman.

Ms. Farrin and Ms. Spoeneman cycled across all seven emirates: Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. “Most of the emirates are very affluent with incredible high rises, but Ras al-Khaimah was less so,” observed Ms. Farrin. “It was a lot of fun,” said Ms. Spoeneman, who reported that on occasions when the riders were waiting for their bicycles to arrive there were spontaneous dance demonstrations by teams from China, Denmark, and Palestine; “a lot of young women took part and it was all very jolly,” she said.

Participants paid their own airfares to Dubai where they were met by a Follow the Women representative and taken to their hotel.

Funds raised anonymously through the Follow the Women website will be used for children’s projects in Palestine and other areas in the Middle East. Previous Pedal for Peace projects include building playgrounds in the West Bank and Gaza, the provision of sewing machines and equipment to Palestinian women in refugee camps and support for a youth counseling project in Ramallah.

Would they do it again? “Absolutely says Ms. Farrin. “This was an eye-opening experience,” she says, recalling one woman in particular who had fled her home country and city, Damascus in Syria, to take part in the ride. Unable to return home, she was making a new life in Qatar. “I would certainly do this trip again, or another similar one,” adds Ms. Spoeneman. For a three-minute Follow the Women video of the event, go to: http://vimeo.com/61420299.

PRINCETON’S WOODCHOPPING PROFESSOR: Oswald Veblen and his legacy is the subject of a talk by George Dyson tomorrow evening, Thursday, March 21 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. following a short light reception at the D&R Greenway. For more information, call (609)924-4646, email rsvp@drgreenway.org, or visit: www.drgreenway.org. 	(Photo from “Images of America: Institute for Advanced Study” by Linda Arntzenius, Arcadia, 2011)As a boy growing up in Princeton, George Dyson spent as much time as he could out-of-doors in the Institute Woods. Now resident on the West Coast, Mr. Dyson, son of renowned Institute for Advanced Study theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson and mathematician Verena Huber-Dyson, returns to Princeton to pay tribute to the “woodchopping professor” who brought Institute and woods together.

Tomorrow evening Mr. Dyson will present “Princeton’s Christopher Robin: Oswald Veblen and the Six-hundred-acre Woods” at the D&R Greenway. The reference is of course to A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. But in this case the woods are the Institute Woods. “As a child growing up at the Institute, I spent half my time there,” recalls Mr. Dyson. “I just assumed the woods had always been there, and always would be. Much later, when I became a historian, I started to wonder, how, and why, did the Institute acquire all that land?”

As Mr. Dyson discovered, the answer was Oswald Veblen, one time Henry B. Fine Mathematics Professor at Princeton University. In fact, says Mr. Dyson “Oswald Veblen is really the answer to why the Institute for Advanced Study ended up in Princeton in the first place.”

Oswald Veblen (1880-1960) was born in Iowa, the son of a professor of mathematics and physics. He studied math at Harvard and Chicago before joining the faculty of Princeton University in 1905. His uncle, the economist Thorstein Veblen authored the influential book, The Higher Learning in America. Mr. Veblen’s own efforts to advance high-level research in mathematics earned him title “statesman of mathematics.” It was Mr. Veblen who suggested Princeton as the place to establish the Institute for Advanced Study and he was among its first faculty members, resigning his professorship at the University in order to do so.

“He was a woodsman as well as a mathematician, and believed that people needed room to think,” said Mr. Dyson. In 1957, Mr. Veblen and his wife Elizabeth Veblen donated their Herrontown Wood property to Mercer County as a wildlife and plant sanctuary.

A historian of science and technology whose works include Darwin Among the Machines; Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship; Baidarka the Kayak; and, most recently, Turing’s Cathedral; Mr. Dyson is uniquely placed to recount the story of the Institute Woods preservation. He was a Director’s Visitor at the Institute in 2002-03 and his impressions span significant decades in the areas of science and preservation.

“The Institute Woods preservation put D&R Greenway on the map,” says Linda Mead, recalling the Land Trust’s first multi-million-dollar transaction in the 1990s. Preservation successes since then have led to national recognition for the organization.

Mr. Dyson’s talk promises to reveal the unlikely and dramatic events from the history of the Institute: of boundaries and bargains; lifelong relationships among scientists who altered global reality with their discoveries; of quirks and foibles and seminal and ultimately triumphal land negotiations.

Having moved as a young man to a tree house in British Columbia, “because Princeton wasn’t wild enough,” much of George Dyson’s early work involved designing and restoring traditional kayaks and re-experiencing historic voyages in them. In an article published in The Atlantic in 2010, Kenneth Brower described Mr. Dyson as “bearing an uncanny resemblance to Thoreau.”

Mr. Dyson’s talk will be the first of an annual series of presentations titled “Forum on Strategic Techniques and Innovations in Land Preservation and Stewardship,” in honor of D&R Greenway trustee John Rassweiler, through the Rassweiler Family:

The event takes place at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place, off Rosedale Road, on Thursday March 21, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Light refreshments will precede the program, which is co-sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study. The event is free but registration is required; call (609) 924-4646 or email rsvp@drgreenway.org. For more information, visit: www.drgreenway.org.

According to a national survey, eight out of ten people with disabilities have no regular social contact with those who are not disabled. Such statistics help further the mission of Enable New Jersey, which has been providing a wide range of services to the disabled for the past 24 years.

Interaction with members of the community is a recurring theme for the organization, which will honor architect Michael Graves and Justice Virginia Long at a gala celebration on April 27, to be held at the Grounds for Sculpture. Art by people with disabilities will be on view at the event.

“We take our commitment to helping people belong to a community very seriously,” says Sharon Copeland, the chief executive officer of Enable, which is based in an office on Roszel Road. “We are thrilled to help people who want to live in the community. We know that when there is more interaction between people who have disabilities and people who don’t, there is greater understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities. They get involved in everyday activities, which is so important.”

Mr. Graves, who lives and works in Princeton, has been paralyzed from the waist down since contracting an infection in 2003. He will be recognized at the April 27 event for his most recent work designing products geared to individuals with limited mobility. “The work he has been doing lately is fantastic,” Ms. Copeland said. “People with disabilities are so often invisible. It’s wonderful when people like him hold up this cause and say, ‘our lives can be richer.’”

Ms. Long, now retired and living in Lawrenceville, “has ruled on different issues that help improve the lives of people who have disabilities in New Jersey,” Ms. Copeland said. “She still works part-time for Fox Rothschild and continues her commitment.”

Ms. Copeland cites Enable’s volunteer program, built “on a shoestring,” as unique. “Last fiscal year, we had 900 people involved as volunteers,” she said. Ms. Copeland is particularly enthused about the organization’s work with the Center for Faith Justice, which pairs high school students with non-profits.

“There has been a real commitment to help young people understand broader societal needs and issues through this program,” Ms. Copeland said. “Each week, five or six kids come to our day program and do projects. We’ve had a youth group coming to one of our group homes for six years to play board games, read to them, and just kind of hang out. What is so critical about all of this is that often, people with disabilities don’t have great social skills. They tend to be invisible. And these volunteers help them feel valued. They bring respect, a sense of importance. It’s a fantastic way to help the broader community understand the needs and the humanity of the people we serve, as well as helping make connections.”

Some volunteers want to work one-on-one with a client, while others prefer a group setting. “We love it when a family says they want to do something together,” Ms. Copeland said. “But if someone wants to work one-on-one, we do our due diligence and run criminal background checks. We are cautious.”

The organization’s interfaith advisory board takes a holistic approach to people’s needs. “Faith is important to a lot of people with disabilities. We are very respectful of backgrounds and choices, and we don’t try to push any denomination,” Ms. Copeland said “We have a good group representing different faiths One of our interns this year is from Princeton Seminary. We want to get the message across to people going into the ministry that it is important to be open to people with disabilities.”

The April 27 fundraiser for Enable at Grounds for Sculpture is titled “A Taste of Art & Spirits.” Live and silent auctions will include dining opportunities, private wine tastings, artwork, tickets to television shows, and more. Visit www.enablenj.org.

After nearly six months of work, the bridge over Stony Brook is almost ready for traffic. This means that Quaker Road will reopen to motorists, freeing up another method of access into Princeton from Route 1. The bridge is scheduled to open April 1, weather permitting.

This is good news for the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP), which runs the restored Updike Farm, located about halfway between Route 1 and Princeton Pike. The HSP held monthly events in October, November, and December at the farm, which was accessible from Princeton Pike but not from Route 1. Attendance was spotty, however, because of the difficulty people had in reaching the site.

“We pretty much shut down for January, February, and March as a result,” said Eve Mandel, director of Programs and Visitor Services. “But we’re keeping our fingers crossed for April 1, which is the date we’ve heard.”

The HSP has planned a number of special events for the spring and summer, once the road is reopened. “We have some Stony Brook walking tours, and also some themed events,” Ms. Mandel said. “We’ll do some picnics on the grounds, and we’re looking to partner with a local restaurants for that. Some things are definitely in the works.”

Built in 1942, the old bridge was deemed “structurally deficient” last August, when it was closed for reconstruction. Work was originally scheduled to be completed by mid-February, but the effects of Hurricane Sandy in October, and persistent heavy rain in December, flooded the work area and caused significant delays.

The work has included demolition and removal of the existing bridge and construction of a new span on the same alignment. The deck has been poured and cured for the new bridge, which will accommodate two 12-foot-wide travel lanes, two four-foot-wide shoulders, and a six-foot-wide sidewalk on the downstream side. The overall length will be approximately 77 feet, five inches.

Some 50 Princeton residents turned out Saturday morning for the second of three discussions focused on the town’s future. Organized by the 501c3 non-profit organization Princeton Future, the meeting looked at “What Information and Input is Needed to Plan and Measure Progress?”

Katherine Kish of Einstein’s Alley introduced talks by regional planner Ralph Widner, a member of the National Academy of Public Administration; architect Gianni Longo; and design psychologist Toby Israel before a panel discussion that, in addition to Ms. Kish and the speakers, included Larry Hugick of Princeton Survey Research Associates and former Princeton mayors Marvin Reed and Chad Goerner.

“Today we take the first step in creating a vision for Princeton with the community not for the community,” said Ms. Kish, setting the tone for the meeting.

Mr. Widner immediately got down to the nitty gritty of numbers needed to understand the newly consolidated Princeton but also the town in relation to Greater Princeton and beyond. He unveiled “A Statistical Portrait” that is, in effect, a database of information from the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2007-2011 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.

“This is a tool that will help us to argue for what is needed in Princeton,” said Mr. Widner. “All too often towns bring in consultants who come for a time and then leave; this information bank will be a living thing that will help us plan for the future as a whole rather than just for specific issues.”

The database was prompted by a conversation Mr. Widner had with Anton Lahnston about Princeton’s traffic problems. Mr. Lahnston had said: “You can’t solve traffic problems unless you know where the traffic is coming from.” At first, a traffic database was decided upon, but then the project enlarged to become a comprehensive information bank, a tool that could be valuable for future decision-making and planning purposes. “Our perceptions need to be informed by facts,” said Mr. Widner, adding that the database will be available in the Princeton Public Library in a few weeks time. It will be downloadable in pdf or spreadsheet form as well as in hard copy.

What does it include? Facts, figures, charts, comparisons, maps, questions, and answers that show “where Princeton has been, where it stands today, and where it might be headed.”

“A lot of problems faced by the town are not confined to the municipal boundaries,” said Mr. Widner, as he went through his slide presentation of information that was gathered in response to questions raised by town residents. These were questions about people; such as how many seniors, how many teens, how many on food stamps and breakdowns by age, gender, race and ethnicity; about traffic; such as how many commuters in and out of Princeton daily, how many trucks going where and when; and about the economy such as the effect of traffic on downtown businesses and home prices, to mention a handful from the wealth of detailed data gathered by Mr. Widner, who was careful to also point out inaccuracies such as those that resulted from the 2000 census counting a number of Princeton University students twice.

Summing up aspects of the data, Mr. Widner described Princeton as “different,” with a higher proportion of people walking or biking to work. He noted the “sad decline in the town’s African American population over the last 20 years.”

The pressing issue of traffic loomed large. “There are 180,000 vehicle trips passing through Princeton every day,” said Mr. Widner. “Traffic and ways to transplant auto travel with mass transit will have to be the focus for the next decade,” he said.

In his presentation, architect Gianni Longo of ACP Visioning+Planning, focused on ways to involve the community in the planning process. Citing the historic relationship between “master builder” Robert Moses and activist Jane Jacobs, he described a “major shift” from autocrats to community engagement.

Ms. Jacobs’s influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of most city-dwellers. She famously organized grassroots efforts to oppose Mr. Moses’s plans to overhaul New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood.

One audience member questioned a perceived “shift” in the use of the word “stakeholder,” suggesting that the term once included the ordinary citizen/resident but now seems to mean interest groups. Mr. Longo acknowledged that “stakeholders” can become non-inclusive “gate-keepers.”

Toby Israel, author of Some Place Like Home: Using Design Psychology to Create Ideal Places and founder of the new field known as “design psychology,” engaged the entire audience in an exercise demonstrating participation. She invited everyone to think about a favorite street and find five words to describe it. The room lit up with activity and conversation which was then directed toward a hypothetical future vision for the Witherspoon Street/Valley Road area of Princeton. The exercise demonstrated just one step in Ms. Israel’s participatory process, which is based upon eliciting environmental autobiographies. “Its a methodology that helps people become conscious of their unconscious responses to place,” she said.

A third discussion in the Princeton Future series —“A United Princeton Looks at the Future: What Do We Want Our Town and Region to be in the Next 20 Years?”  — is scheduled to take place at the Princeton Public Library on Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. The meeting will focus on “Best Practice: What Tools and Techniques can Lead to Effective Decision-Making and Implementation?” For more information, visit: www.princetonfuture.org.

A panel discussion at Princeton University next Wednesday will focus on the environmental, safety, and legal issues of the natural gas pipeline project recently proposed for a stretch of Princeton between Cherry Valley Road and the Coventry Farms development. While the emphasis of “Pipeline Education and Empowerment: A Panel Discussion” at McCosh Hall Room 46 is on the detriments of the plan, which is proposed by the Texas-based Williams Company, the object is not to stir residents into a frenzy.

“Our intention is not to create a rally and scream ‘nimby,’ or ‘not in my backyard,’” said Terry Stimpfel, who chairs the central group of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter. “Our purpose is to inform. From that, people will be able to take action and, hopefully, influence the process.”

The Sierra Club, Princeton University’s Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (SURGE), the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network are co-sponsoring the event. Several speakers will be co-moderated by Ms. Stimpfel and Isaac Lederman, co-president of SURGE.

“It’s important for the public to understand not only the potential impacts of the project, but what their rights are,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “People have to get involved from the beginning.”

It was in early February that the Williams Company announced its intention to seek federal government approval for a natural gas pipeline through a 1.5-mile section of Princeton as part of a project adding 13 miles of pipe through sections of Mercer, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties. Several residents expressed their concerns about the project at a presentation by the company early this month. Williams’ representatives were on hand to answer questions, along with a representative from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But only preliminary queries could be addressed, because the project was still in the pre-filing stage.

Chief among the concerns raised at the meeting were the environmental impact and the safety of the project. Mr. Tittel said late last week that those worries are well founded. “First and foremost, there’s blasting. There is a lot of rock and bedrock you’ve got to get through,” he said. “There’s drilling to crack the ground open. So you have to get through all of that. But then, you get siltation and runoff, which impacts streams and wetlands. A lot of chemicals are used to make sure the pipes don’t corrode. And in the long term, you get a lot of venting. There is a lot of methane, which affects global warming and people with asthma.”

Chris Stockton, a spokesperson for Williams, said, “We have been operating safely in the Princeton area for many, many years. The pipeline infrastructure provides half the gas used in New Jersey.” He added that the environmental review process is “very substantial.”

Known as the Skillman Loop, the proposed pipeline is part of the Leidy Southeast Expansion Project that would bring Marcellus shale gas from Pennsylvania. The loop is on the Transco pipeline, which runs 10,200 miles from south Texas to New York City. The proposed line would run next to an existing line that was built in 1958.

According to Mr. Tittel, companies like Williams are building speculative pipelines because of the rush for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in Pennsylvania, the midwest, and potentially in New Jersey. “Instead of renewable energy, they’re trying to tie up a lot of capital. It really undercuts clean energy,” he said. “There’s a kind of gas boom that’s happening in parts of the northeast and midwest, where they’re going after the shale deposits. Transmission companies are rushing to put in infrastructure to capture that gas and bring it to export. It’s all about speculation — who can get to the gas first to bring it to market.”

Mr. Tittel recalled that in 1999, Williams proposed a line that was opposed by then-governor Christie Whitman, and it was stopped. “What companies are doing now to get around environmental review is segmenting the line into pieces,” he said. “What you’re seeing here is a small piece that they call a loop. But it’s really a parallel line. It’s a brand new pipeline to move massive volumes of gas to other places. They’re segmenting it to try to get around the environmental review process and public scrutiny and opposition.

Mr. Stockton countered that the loop system is a way to minimize environmental impacts. “What you’re doing, as opposed to building a brand new line, is taking in areas where you have existing easements and right-of-ways and adding infrastructure in those same areas,” he said. “It will be far less impactful than introducing it in an area where you don’t currently operate.”

Mr. Tittel said that renewable energy is a preferable alternative to natural gas. “New Jersey has been at the cutting edge of renewable energy, and we can do more with offshore wind, for example,” he said. “People don’t realize that in most of the homes built in New Jersey between the 1960s and 1980s, you can cut energy bills a lot by spending a few thousand dollars to replace windows and things like that.”

In addition to safety and environmental impacts, panelists plan to discuss construction techniques, legal issues, and options for effective involvement by individuals and groups. Participants include Kate Millsaps of the New Jersey Sierra Club, Faith Zerbe of Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Jennifer Coffey of Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, and Alice Baker, an attorney with Eastern Environmental Law Clinic.

The event is Wednesday, March 27 from 7-9 p.m. at McCosh Hall Room 46.


Barring a blizzard or monsoon, the Quaker Road bridge should be finished by April 1. Workers are hustling to complete the new span over Stony Brook, which will allow motorists who have been diverted from the road since last fall to have access again.

March 13, 2013

For the first time in its history, the Bryn-Mawr Wellesley Book Sale will begin on Monday, rather than Wednesday. As a result, the preview sale day is Monday, March 25, and the usual Saturday-Sunday half-price and bag days now fall on Thursday and Friday, March 28 and 29. The change was necessitated by limitations to access to Princeton Day School due to the coinciding of the Passover and Easter holidays.

With 85,000 books for sale, many for as low as $1-2, the Bryn-Mawr Wellesley event, with proceeds funding scholarships for students at those colleges, is among the largest, if not the largest, on the east coast. In addition to tens of thousand of books on subjects from archery and architecture to youth books and zoos, the five-day event will feature the impressive book collection of the late Peter Oppenheimer of Princeton. Mr. Oppenheimer was a book collector of wide-ranging interests, and his family has donated his collection of more than 15,000 volumes on philosophy, math, history, art, music, literary criticism, and biography. Other notable offerings include a Beatrix Potter collection; a three-volume Sotheby’s auction catalog describing the contents of Chateau de Groussay; The Solitude of Ravens, a gorgeous photography book; an 1878 manual on archery plus other titles on the sport; and Les Oeuvres d’architecture d’Antoine Le Pautre, architecte orginaire du Roy which features detailed 17th Century architectural castle drawings. The rare and unusual titles can be found in Collector’s Corner. The sale proper takes place in the PDS cafeteria and gymnasium at 650 The Great Road in Princeton.

Due to the size of Peter Oppenheimer’s library, half of the books have been set aside for the 2014 sale. His collection will be displayed in two areas, one on the main sale floor, the other in the Collectors’ Corner, which will include his copy of a 1968 first edition of Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Many of Mr. Oppenheimer’s books were published by University presses and most are in “new, or like-new” condition. “When the family asked if they could donate 400-500 boxes of books, we were stunned by the size of the donation,” says Sarah Ferguson, the sale’s warehouse manager. “When we got to his home, we saw a forest of neatly stacked books with only a few paths to navigate from one room to another. The quality of these scholarly books was far beyond our expectations.”

Admission on Preview Day is $20 per person, with hours from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. Preview sale admission tickets have been issued using a lottery system. Names will be drawn randomly for positions in line for preview sale customers. Tickets may also be bought at the door. The sale is open to the public on Tuesday, March 26, and Wednesday, March 27, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Half-Price Day, Thursday, the hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Box day, Friday, March 29, hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Box $10, standard paper grocery bag $5. Maximum box size 17” x 13” x 13”. Bring your own box or bag or buy a used box ($1) or a new, reusable Tote bag ($1.50) at the sale.

RESIDENT DIRECTOR: McCarter Theatre’s Rebecca Simon preps her actors before their first performance of “A Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare at Johnson Park Elementary School last Friday. School Principal Robert Ginsberg, seen here in the center right background, was also on hand to rally the students before the performance which included an appearance by Dr. Ginsberg dressed in a bear costume.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

RESIDENT DIRECTOR: McCarter Theatre’s Rebecca Simon preps her actors before their first performance of “A Winter’s Tale” by William Shakespeare at Johnson Park Elementary School last Friday. School Principal Robert Ginsberg, seen here in the center right background, was also on hand to rally the students before the performance which included an appearance by Dr. Ginsberg dressed in a bear costume. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Last Friday morning’s unexpected snowfall arrived just in time to add an appropriate backdrop to the performance of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale by fifth grade students at Johnson Park Elementary School.

The performance was the culmination of a six-week long intensive acting program led by former Broadway actress and McCarter Theatre teaching artist, Rebecca Simon. It was produced in collaboration with a McCarter residency program.

Fifth graders from classes taught by Sharon Cox, Diane Lefenfeld, Jennifer Park, Dan Van Hise, and Emily Vasille worked together on the project, which brings together all of the fifth grade students.

Over the last seven year’s, Johnson Park fifth graders have taken on Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The script was adapted especially for children to perform.

“The earlier our students are introduced to this material the better,” said teacher Ms. Lefenfeld, who’s been involved since the program began. “We start in the summer, choosing the play in conjunction with McCarter theatre and the production provides lots of educational opportunities for our students.”

In preparation, students read Charles Lamb’s abridged version of Shakespeare’s play. They attended a Broadway show and will be treated to a backstage tour when McCarter Theatre stages A Winter’s Tale from April 2 to April 21.

In addition, the students formed backstage guilds to support the production. The Gallery Guild produced a playbill and all the art projects associated with the play. The Publication Guild put out a newspaper, posters, and invitations. The Costume Guild made sure that every member of the cast had a costume, many of which came courtesy of McCarter Theatre. Students designed coats of arms expressing hobbies and interests and wrote diaries from the points of view of the play’s characters.

The students were surprised when School Principal Robert Ginsberg took to the stage in the guise of a bear during the performance.

“The McCarter acting program at Johnson Park inspired this young group of actors,” said Dr. Ginsberg. “They have studied the craft of acting, learned about making ‘tableaux’, learned how to move across a stage and use an actor’s vocabulary of downstage-left, downstage-right, upstage-left, and upstage-right. They learned how to project their voices, and how to focus.”

The fifth graders gave two performances, one in the morning with the rest of the school as audience, and one in the evening for parents and the public.

A Winter’s Tale has been described as one of The Bard’s most elegant and haunting plays, a “magical classic celebrating redemption, reconciliation, and the mending of broken hearts.”

This is Shakespeare integrated into the elementary school curriculum, said Ms. Lefenfeld. “Students learn social skills of cooperation, delegation, helping one another, teamwork and, of course, acting skills too.”

Princeton’s Traffic and Transportation Committee (TTC) sees no safety threat from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s proposed refitting and revamping of the information kiosks on Nassau Street. The group voted unanimously Monday to recommend that the plan, which would mix community news and local advertising on the kiosks, be endorsed.

Because the two kiosks on Nassau Street, one at Vandeventer Avenue and the other at Witherspoon Street, lie within the right of way, they must also be considered by the Historic Preservation Committee, TTC chairman Anton Lahnston said at the meeting. Princeton Council may discuss the proposal at its next meeting on April 1.

The kiosks are currently used for the posting of community news, events, and opportunities, in a haphazard fashion. “I think they’re a mess,” said Mr. Lahnston. “It does not speak well of Princeton.” TTC member Ralph Widner agreed, recalling that when the committee once tried to post a meeting notice, it was quickly stapled over with other flyers. “They are not a good way to disseminate information,” he said.

The Chamber’s plan is to display information, with corkboard and new paneling, about local transportation, maps, and arts and cultural events in one section of the kiosks. In another, local businesses will be able to advertise. Space for the community to post flyers and announcements will also be provided.

Chamber president Peter Crowley was given a lukewarm reception when he presented the proposal to Council last month. Members were most concerned about the advertising portion of the kiosks, saying that type of display was more appropriate for a mall. Questions about whether the advertising would cause safety issues by distracting motorists on Nassau Street were referred to the TTC.

Committee member Marvin Reed recalled that the kiosks were built during the 1980’s, when the late Barbara Sigmund was mayor of Princeton Borough. The idea at the time was to deter people from plastering posters and notices on trees and poles, and in windows. The Arts Council of Princeton was supposed to oversee and maintain the kiosks, but the arrangement didn’t last.

Mr. Crowley said the Chamber has reached out to the Princeton Merchants’ Association, cultural and arts groups for feedback, and that the original plan has been slightly readjusted to reflect cost concerns. The Chamber plans to provide information about advertising to its members and the local business community.

The Chamber would oversee maintenance of the kiosks, which would be designed with low-energy LED lighting and backlit panels. As much of the original structures as possible would be maintained and the new sign panels would fit into the existing buildings. The kiosks would also encourage visitors to stop by the Princeton Regional Visitor Information Center, located in the Princeton University Store on Nassau Street.

Meeting in open session last week in the cafeteria at the John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS), The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education adopted a tentative schools budget for the 2013-14 school year and rejected a plan for the Valley Road School building.

The $84,248,261 budget reflects an increase in overall spending of just over 2 percent compared to last year, requiring $70,320,054 to be raised from taxes. It is expected to result in a tax hike of $148.59 for an average Princeton home assessed at $799,600.

The budget takes into account increased costs to the school district of utilities and employee health benefits. According to Finance Committee Chair Dan Haughton there will be no job cuts or cuts to school programs.

In creating the budget, the district used 2013-14 state aid figures. Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson noted the loss of some $87,000 in federal funding because of sequestration. She called the amount “significant in a very tight budget.”

The budget now goes to the Executive County Superintendent of Schools for approval. A public hearing is set to place at 8 p.m. on March 21 in the JWMS cafeteria.

In spite of the 9 to 1 vote by the Board against their proposal to turn the Valley Road School building into a Community Center that would serve as a hub for area non-profits, advocates for the plan say they will not give up on their goal.

The Board adopted a seven-page resolution rejecting the 208-page proposal from the Valley Road School Adaptive Reuse Committee.

The meeting was attended by Kip Cherry, president of the Valley Road School Community Center, Inc, the 501c3 non-profit formed by the Valley Road Adaptive Re-Use Committee, and by supporter John Clearwater, a former member of the Board of Education in the 1990s and one time Board president.

Ms. Cherry urged the Board to table or delay the vote on their resolution in response to the proposal. Dan Haughton, the only Board member to vote against the resolution rejecting the proposal, supported Ms. Cherry’s request.

But in spite of Ms. Cherry’s plea, the board voted to reject the proposal, citing the Committee’s failure to provide “credible, documented assurances that it has or can secure funding adequate for the extremely extensive” building renovations. According to a consultant hired by the district, some $10.8 million would be required to renovate the building.

Another thorny issue was zoning. The committee had asked that the district be responsible for seeking the necessary zoning changes for the building’s re-use as a community center.

According to Mr. Clearwater, the group will submit an amended or a new plan.

“It’s not over,” said Mr. Clearwater, whose background is in planning, engineering, construction, and public works.

Interviewed by telephone some days after the Board’s rejection of the plan, Mr. Clearwater said that there would be more discussions and further submissions to the Board of Education. “If the Board gets responsive answers about parking and zoning then we should be able to move forward,” he said.

“Parking is a problem in this area that I call the ‘Valley Road complex,’ a resource that has been underused for generations,” said Mr. Clearwater, who stated that he would be happy to serve on the consolidated Princeton committee that has been formed to address parking issues in Princeton where there is an increasing demand for space.

“We see this building as a community facility not simply as Board of Education-owned and this is a test-case for a whole new normal of how we deal with the stewardship of public property in Princeton,” said Mr. Clearwater. “We have many underutilized buildings including the ‘Taj Mahal’ of the new Township Building. Public real-estate is a publicly owned asset. It’s use has an impact on the public purse.”

Former mayor of Princeton Township Richard Woodbridge, a staunch advocate for the Community Center plan, could not attend last week’s meeting. He commented by telephone: “I am not at all discouraged. In fact, I think we’ve made some progress in that the Board has more specifically outlined its concerns. I don’t think it has thrown out the idea of working with us. From what I’ve learned from other towns like Chatham, school boards have great separation anxieties with their old buildings. It’s a question of patience and trying to get people to work together in the same direction. Everybody should agree that the building left vacant is not doing any good, and it could be. Corner House and the Rescue Squad have dropped by the wayside and I believe that we are the only viable alternative.”

Currently, the Board of Education has no other proposals for the building, although a task force led by Fire Commissioner Lance Liverman is looking into the needs of the firehouse nearby on Witherspoon Street. The building houses Princeton Public Schools offices, and tenants Corner House and Princeton Community Television. Corner House, plans to move to the old Borough Hall at the end of April. Princeton Community Television has been offered space there too.

The school board has not ruled out using the building for educational purposes.

“This is not an exercise in instant gratification; we expect to work and work until this is done,” said Mr. Woodbridge.

When Princeton Council next convenes on April 1, an ordinance designed to make the town more environmentally sustainable is likely to be adopted. The Green Development Information Checklist was enthusiastically received by members of the governing body when it was introduced earlier this month. The initiative earned an equally warm reception from the Planning Board at its meeting last week.

More than a year in the making, the measure represents a joint effort of the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), the town’s planning department, and the non-profit Sustainable Princeton. The checklist asks potential developers specific questions on the eco-friendly aspects of their proposals, touching on everything from wetlands to bike storage.

“What we were seeing more and more at the Environmental Commission was that projects would come in, and they weren’t addressing environmental issues at all, or were very sporadic in their approach С in sort of a piecemeal fashion,” says Heidi Fichtenbaum, a member of the PEC and an architect with Farewell Architects. “We wanted to provide guidance to developers, so when they were getting ready to start a project, they would have a place to find all of the information they needed about sustainability. It is a resource for them. In addition to outlining issues and strategies, there would be information on very specific resources they could use to assist them in answering questions about sustainability.”

The checklist is voluntary, because New Jersey is governed by the state building code which does not require developers to include green measures in their projects. “We are looking, in the PEC, at strategies to make some elements of this enforceable,” Ms. Fichtenbaum says. “But that’s the next step.”

In the meantime, the focus is on three main topics: Energy, waste, and water.

“Energy is at the top of the list because it encompasses a lot,” says Ms. Fichtenbaum. “We’re very much focused on how much energy buildings use. Right now in the U.S., buildings use roughly 40 percent of energy, and that is huge С almost half the pie. We feel like we’re at a really, really critical juncture in our climate.

“Next is waste, which contributes to greenhouse gases and pollutes our groundwater. And we’re running out of landfill space. The final piece is water — how much potable water we use, how much sanitary waste we produce. The truth is if we had no fossil fuels left on our planet, then life could still continue. But if we didn’t have access to clean water, life would not continue. You have to have sunlight and water for life on the planet.”

Several other communities, such as West Windsor, have environmental checklists for builders. Some are “yes and no” surveys, but Princeton’s is designed to be more extensive. “The usefulness of this list is to provide information to create a feedback loop,” Ms. Fichtenbaum says. “It helps the developers, and also provides an opportunity for the Planning Board to ask intelligent questions and make informed decisions.”

The list is also a way to let developers know that sustainability is important to Princeton residents. Adoption of the list could also push the town to the next level of certification with the organization Sustainable Jersey, Ms. Fichtenbaum says.

While recent difficulties surrounding developer AvalonBay’s proposal for the former Princeton Hospital site and the Planning Board’s rejection of their plan now being challenged in court are relevant, the checklist was in the planning stages long before the company came on the scene.

“The checklist addresses issues that kept coming up, time and time again,” Ms. Fichtenbaum says. “Obviously it applies to AvalonBay, but it was definitely not the impetus. This is a much bigger issue of our town that goes back a long way, and I hope it will be around for a long time.”

Developer AvalonBay’s request to fast-track its appeal of the Princeton Planning Board’s decision to reject its proposal for the former hospital site was granted last week by a Mercer County Superior Court judge. The matter is scheduled to be heard in court on April 29.

Lawyers for the Planning Board, the town, and the group Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods will appear before Judge Mary C. Jacobson to argue their case against the developer, who wants to construct a 280-unit apartment building on the Witherspoon Street site. AvalonBay sued last month to overturn the Planning Board’s rejection of their plan.

The complaint filed by AvalonBay says the developer will walk away from the project, backing out of its contract to buy the property from Princeton HealthCare System, if the Planning Board’s decision is not reversed by May 1. The developer wants to demolish the old hospital and build an apartment building in its place. The Board rejected the plan based on concerns about design standards, open space, and sustainability, among other issues.

One of AvalonBay’s contentions in its appeal of the decision is that the Planning Board violates the Mount Laurel Doctrine, which says municipalities are mandated to provide housing for low-income and moderate-income citizens. The developer’s plan would include 56 affordable units.

The lawyers for the Planning Board, the town, and Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN) asked the judge to consider issues of jurisdiction first. “Claims that have been made deal with whether the jurisdiction of the Planning Board was correct for this type of application,” says Robert Simon, the attorney for PCSN. “If accepted, that would knock the application out of the Planning Board box and put it into the Zoning Board box.”

While Judge Jacobson’s agreement to expedite the process does not sit well with lawyers representing the town, she has said that she could be persuaded to allow more time for discovery and review if convinced it was important.

Extensive hearings on the issue up to this point have cost PCSN more than originally estimated for attorney’s fees. The group is currently raising funds to pay outstanding bills and to support the process going forward.

“By hiring highly experienced attorneys and experts we are helping to level the playing field for town residents when faced with large, legally aggressive corporate developers, like AvalonBay Communities, Inc., the number two Real Estate Investment Trust on the New York Stock Exchange,” says Alexi Assmus, of the group, in a statement. “As interveners in the case, PCSN is supporting the town’s legal defense against AvalonBay’s appeal with a complementary and independent approach that asserts that the AvalonBay plans require variances.”


Whatever Albert Einstein might think of Princeton’s carnival-style birthday embrace of him, how could he resist this scene? Mayor Liz Lempert (on left) is obviously enjoying the moment, too, as Co-Founder of Pi Day Mimi Omiecinski of the Princeton Tour Company hands a $314.15 check to the winner of the Einstein Look-a-Like contest, 19 month old Lusia Bonner, who also won a bike from Kopp’s Cycle Shop that she may have to save for later. Other contestants are in the background. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

March 6, 2013
RENOVATIONS UNDERWAY: Almost six years after the staff of Town Topics moved from 4 Mercer Street to new quarters on Witherspoon Street, renovations are underway at the “old Town Topics Building,” that once housed Priest’s Drug Store (see front page) and was home to the staff of Town Topics newspaper for 57 years before the move to the current location at 305 Witherspoon Street.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

RENOVATIONS UNDERWAY: Almost six years after the staff of Town Topics moved from 4 Mercer Street to new quarters on Witherspoon Street, renovations are underway at the “old Town Topics Building,” that once housed Priest’s Drug Store (see front page) and was home to the staff of Town Topics newspaper for 57 years before the move to the current location at 305 Witherspoon Street. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Readers of this newspaper often express curiosity about the building at 4 Mercer Street that has become known as the “old Town Topics building.”

Recent passersby will have noticed activity in preparation for the building’s renovation by its owner Princeton University. After being vacated by the newspaper’s staff almost six years ago, building work is now underway.

Speaking for the University, Kristin S. Appelget, director of community and regional affairs, said that the University is in the process of extensive interior and exterior renovations that will “provide a first floor office space for a yet to be determined University use and that the second and third floors will be three separate housing units comprising part of the University housing stock for faculty and staff.”

The front section will have apartments on its second and third floors and there will be a duplex in a three-story brick addition to the rear of the building that replaces a timber section that has been removed. This section was a later addition to the original 19th-century building. “It was removed last week and will be replaced by a new brick addition that will blend with the exterior brick and historic architectural elements,” said Ms. Appelget.

Blue Rock Construction is the general contractor for the project and the architects are HMR Architects of Princeton, on Alexander Road.

Ms. Appelget, who declined to divulge the cost of the renovation project, said that the work is expected to be completed by fall of this year.

The University’s plans for the building were approved by the Borough Zoning Board in 2010 at which time attorney Richard Goldman of Drinker Biddle & Reath explained that the University’s goal in renovating the structure was to “restore the building to its historical look.”

The building has been empty since 2007 when Town Topics newspaper, which had occupied the space since 1950, moved to a new location at 305 Witherspoon Street.

Although the building could be cold in the winter and steamy in the summer, its linoleum cracked and its paint peeling, it is fondly recalled by Town Topics staff members (including this reporter) who once worked there. While there is no one who can recall, as former owner, the late Jeb Stuart once did, the days of ticker-tape news releases and the “advances” of cold type, many at the paper today remember the newspaper’s infamous “wing mailer,” a mid-1940s labeling machine that was still in operation in the late 1990s.

The building’s location was perfect for covering town and gown and while the interior left much to be desired, the facade had charm.

The move coincided with the switch to digital production that replaced the -techniques of the -composing room where items were pasted by hand to create camera-ready-copy for delivery to the printer.


Over the years, the building, which dates to 1878, was used for businesses and apartments, until it was moved in 1914 some 60 feet back from its original Nassau Street location to make way for the war memorial. That’s when One Nassau became 4 Mercer. Priest’s Drug Store occupied the ground floor at that time and according to a contemporary account recorded in New Jersey Architecture by Susanne C. Hand, it was said that when the building was moved a glass of water on the counter didn’t spill a drop.

Priest’s remained in the building until 1944.

The newspaper was founded in 1946 by Princeton University graduates Donald Stuart and his brother-in-law Dan Coyle together with Don’s wife Emily, known as “Cissy,” and Dan’s wife Mary. In 1950, Town Topics moved into 4 Mercer Street.

The newspaper passed to Donald and Emily’s son Jeb in 1981. Town Topics continued as a family business until it was sold in 2001 to the current publisher Lynn Adams Smith, architects J. Robert Hillier and Barbara Hillier, and a small group of investors.

Ms. Smith had worked for Town Topics, and Jeb Stuart was convinced that she was the right person to take over the newspaper, with its loyal readership.

“It will be good to see this beautiful old building restored,” said Ms. Smith.