May 7, 2015

The Princeton Station will be closed over the weekend for a final pavement surface and permanent striping to be installed. The parking lot will be closed to all parking from 11 p.m. on Friday, May 8, until 4 a.m. Monday, May 11. On Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10, parking will be available in the University’s West Garage immediately adjacent to the Princeton Station. Additionally, metered parking along Alexander Street will continue to be available. For more information, contact: Princeton University Office of Transportation and Parking at or 609-258-3157.

breaking news police

The Princeton Police Department is asking the public’s help in identifying a male suspect in a fraud that occurred on April 25 at 10:40 a.m. at the Bank of America, 370 Nassau Street. The suspect made a series of unauthorized ATM withdrawals totaling $900.00. The male is described as white, Hispanic, or middle-eastern, 25 – 30 years of age, medium to stocky build, scruffy beard, dark hair and eyes, gapped front teeth; wearing: a dark coat and a camouflage style baseball cap with a Harley Davidson-type insignia. Anyone with information should contact Detective Adam Basatemur at (609) 921-2100 ext. 2170, or

May 6, 2015

BreakingTTA gift of $10 million from a Princeton University parent who wishes to remain anonymous will create the Daniel Kahneman and Anne Treisman Center for Behavioral Science and Public Policy, it was announced this week. The center will allow the University to strengthen its role in the field and improve the development of effective policymaking.

The donor has long been an admirer of the work of Mr. Kahneman, who is a Nobel laureate and the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University and a professor of psychology and public affairs emeritus, and Ms. Treisman, the James S. McConnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology Emeritus.

The center will be located at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Over the past 15 years, the Wilson school has developed research and teaching initiatives in the area of behavioral applications to policy involving faculty members from the departments of psychology and economics, as well as sociology, politics, and other disciplines.

The center will build on the work that earned Mr. Kahneman a Nobel Prize in 2002.

“This generous gift will allow us to deepen and expand our efforts in an extremely promising area of teaching and research,” said President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “Princeton’s faculty members are applying behavioral science techniques to topics that include law, economics, health care, household finance and dispute resolution. We expect that the research conducted at the center will directly influence local, national and global public policy, identifying new approaches to address social problems and improve lives.” 

Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Wilson School, said the gift will support graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, and provide flexible funding for short-term visitors, new research projects, lecture series and conferences, and the dissemination of research results. It also will play an important part in connecting Princeton researchers with policymakers.

Eldar Shafir, the William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, will serve as the center’s first director. A Princeton faculty member since 1989, he studies how people make judgments in situations of conflict and uncertainty, focusing in particular on decision making in the context of poverty. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability and is the co-author of the 2013 book “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much.”

Mr. Kahneman and Ms. Treisman, who are husband and wife, said they are honored that the center has been named for them.

“I find deep satisfaction in the idea of a continuing connection with Princeton through the center,” Ms. Treisman said. Mr. Kahneman added, “I am confident that great things will be accomplished in the center, and personally gratified that Anne and I are joined in its name.”

WHY DID THE WOOD FROG CROSS THE ROAD?: To get to the temporary vernal pools where their life began. The call of spring brought the tiny creatures out of hibernation and on their journey to the vernal pools in the Sourlands. Shown here in the hands of a nature enthusiast on a Sourlands Conservancy hike, the eggs were observed by visitors after the amphibians had been helped to reach the pools last month. Each black speck surrounded by a glob of a protective jelly will likely hatch into a wood frog in about four to six weeks.(Photo by Caroline Katmann)

WHY DID THE WOOD FROG CROSS THE ROAD?: To get to the temporary vernal pools where their life began. The call of spring brought the tiny creatures out of hibernation and on their journey to the vernal pools in the Sourlands. Shown here in the hands of a nature enthusiast on a Sourlands Conservancy hike, the eggs were observed by visitors after the amphibians had been helped to reach the pools last month. Each black speck surrounded by a glob of a protective jelly will likely hatch into a wood frog in about four to six weeks. (Photo by Caroline Katmann)

After March rains, visitors to the Sourland region could not have failed to notice the appearance of temporary vernal pools.

Because there are no fish in these pools, they provide a safe spot for numerous species of amphibians newly emerged from hibernation to mate and lay their eggs.

But because the pools and the places where the amphibians emerge are in many instances divided by a road, a little human help is needed to make sure creatures such as spring peepers that are less than an inch long successfully reach their destination.

This is where Caroline Katmann, executive director of the Sourlands Conservancy, County Naturalist Jenn Rogers of the Mercer County Park Commission, and volunteers step in, each year.

“During the first heavy rains when the evening temperature reaches between 40 and 50 degrees, there is an amphibian migration,” explained Ms. Katmann. “The frogs and the salamanders know instinctively when it is time to emerge from hibernation. They then follow the paths that have followed for generations to their natal vernal pools where they breed and lay their eggs. Unfortunately, over the years, roads have been built across these paths.”

The volunteer effort is part of a statewide Amphibian Crossing project by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. The Sourland region is home to the spotted salamander, red-backed salamander, slimy salamander, northern two-lined salamander, northern red salamander, northern dusky salamander, jefferson salamander, american toad, fowler’s toad, spring peeper, bullfrog, green frog, wood frog, pickerel frog, and northern gray tree frog. State biologists estimate that one car passing every four minutes can potentially kill 75 percent of these species.

In some places a road might be closed in order to facilitate an amphibian crossing but on Mountain Road in East Amwell, volunteers came out to gently push or carry the amphibians across the road. As if to reward their efforts, the volunteers were treated to a spring chorus of wood frogs and peepers that had successfully reached the breeding pools to ensure another generation of their species.

Not every egg will produce an adult, however; many will be eaten as part of the food chain. According to Ms. Rogers, a large amphibian population is necessary to maintain the region’s ecosystem. Adult amphibians are meat-eaters; they control the numbers of slugs, worms, even small mammals, such as mice. In turn, the amphibians are eaten by snakes, foxes, dogs, fish, hawks, and other birds.

Last month, a recent hike to the same location by 15 participants in the Sourland Conservancy’s vernal pool walk discovered masses of shimmering flecks of gold that are the eggs of pickerel frogs, as well as wood frog eggs and spotted salamander eggs. During the walk, which was led by Ms. Rogers, participants got to check out the results of the previous month’s amphibian crossing efforts.

“Easily mistaken for lifeless bodies of water containing nothing but twigs and leaves these vernal pools are teeming with life,” said Ms. Katmann, whose personal favorite is the spotted salamander. “Seeing one was the highlight of my life; they look like they should be in the tropics.”

Free, guided hikes are a part of the Conservancy’s stewardship program. Since 1986, the Sourland Conservancy has worked to protect the ecological integrity, historic resources and special character of the Sourland Mountain region. Upcoming “Sourland Stewards Hikes,” which are limited to just 15 participants, will take place Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. to noon, led by Jim Amon, Sourland Conservancy Trustee and former director of Stewardship for the D&R Greenway Land Trust; and Saturday May 30, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., led by Dave Harper, former president of the Geological Association of New Jersey.

For more information, including other Sourland Conservancy-sponsored hikes, visit www.sourlandorg/stewardship. To help with the project next year, contact or

In addition, the D&R Greenway Land Trust is offering a guided tour of the Rockhopper Trail in West Amwell Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. Led by former D&R Greenway trustee and trail crew leader Alan Hershey, the walk is free, but space is limited and early registrations is advised. For information on other hikes by the Land Trust, call (609) 924-4646, or visit:

UNCOVERING THE PAST TO DIGITIZE THE FUTURE: Nassau Presbyterian Church’s project to document and digitize records from Princeton Cemetery has turned up such gems as this letter from Edith Bolling Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, about the family’s cemetery plot.

UNCOVERING THE PAST TO DIGITIZE THE FUTURE: Nassau Presbyterian Church’s project to document and digitize records from Princeton Cemetery has turned up such gems as this letter from Edith Bolling Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson, about the family’s cemetery plot.

From the corner of Witherspoon and Wiggins streets, Princeton Cemetery doesn’t look especially imposing. But the historic burial ground, which is owned by Nassau Presbyterian Church, stretches back to encompass nearly 19 acres. Some 25,000 interment spaces lie within its borders.

A project that will help indicate just who lies where in the 258-year-old cemetery is currently being developed by a team from the church, which is a few blocks away on Nassau Street. With the aid of old records, interment cards, military records, the daily log book, monthly financial reports, and even ground-penetrating radar, the workers are trying to clarify the history of the cemetery. At the same time, the church is being business-savvy by confirming how many graves are still available for sale.

“It’s a 19-acre jigsaw puzzle,” said Allen Olsen, who is managing the project, which will digitize cemetery maps and records. Mr. Olsen began the project two years ago and is working on it full-time with two part-time assistants. He estimates completion to be at least four years away.

Linda Gilmore, the church’s business administrator, has also been closely involved. “Obviously, from a business model, if we’ve still got space we can sell it,” she said. “But it’s much more than that. The end result of this will be a resource that has meaning for the community. It’s a historical resource we want to preserve. It’s exciting that we’re making it easier for people to find information not only about famous people buried there like Grover Cleveland or Aaron Burr, but regular people, too.”

Graves of the famous at Princeton Cemetery have long been a source of curiosity and a tourist attraction. Prominent on the list, along with Cleveland and Burr, are mathematician Kurt Godel, Paris bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, diplomat George Kennan, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Eugene Paul Wigner, Declaration of Independence signer John Witherspoon, and the murdered parents of the Menendez brothers.

It is also the final resting place of lesser-known local residents, of all faiths. One of the common misconceptions about the cemetery is that it is only for those affiliated with the church. Another is that it’s sold out. “There are hundreds of graves still available,” Mr. Olsen said. “We’re discovering some now that we wouldn’t have known about before doing this research.”

Many believe mistakenly that the cemetery includes several signers of the Declaration of Independence (there is only one), that Albert Einstein is buried there (he isn’t, but his daughter is), and that it’s segregated. “There was segregation in the 1800s, but no longer,” Mr. Olsen said. “Anyone can buy anywhere. It’s totally open to the community.”

Records have always been kept by the cemetery workers. But when the church purchased a database and began doing the bookkeeping, staff members realized that a lot of work needed to be done. “It became clear that this wasn’t something we could do quickly,” said Ms. Gilmore. A mapping component was purchased, and Mr. Olsen began working geographically, section by section, starting with the newer sections.

He and his assistants begin by inspecting each plot and creating a paper map. They check the soil to see if there may be a burial from before 1957, when burial vaults were required. They photograph all of the headstones.

“We come back and we check the records we have,” he said. “We also check interment cards and ownership cards. Depending on the time periods, records were or were not kept well. We compare them with the cemetery log book. We also look at monthly financial reports. So we begin to compare things. And we cross-check everything to make sure we’re getting an accurate picture.”

Written records have been found in the archives of Princeton Seminary as well as in the church’s financial reports. An old file cabinet in the church basement has provided some clues, as has a cabinet full of letters. One discovery was a letter written by the wife of Woodrow Wilson about the family’s cemetery plot (see photo).

“You never know what you’ll find,” said Ms. Gilmore. “Sometimes we get information from people who come here to do research on their families. And there are so many stories. One card said ‘baby buried by the fence.’ Where by the fence? I want to know the story behind that. It’s just fascinating.”

After bringing in a company to do ground-penetrating radar, the team found 100 unmarked graves. They have also done rubbings and consulted the website, and the Social Security death index, among other resources. “One of our challenges is: When is enough?,” said Mr. Olsen. “You could go on and on. We’re not doing the family geneaology for 25,000 interment spaces.”

Mr. Olsen has spoken about the project to audiences at The Nassau Club and elsewhere in town. The fact that the work won’t be finished for at least another four years is accepted and understood. “When I told one of the members of our committee on this project that after a year, we only had about 15 percent finished, he said it was okay,” Mr. Olsen said. “He said we have a moral and ethical obligation to do this, and to do it right.”

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) voted to approve an $89.7 million schools budget at its regular monthly meeting last week. The budget will result in a school tax increase of $183.38 on the average Princeton home assessed at $800,560.

Two budget waivers allow the district to exceed the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap, made possible by increased healthcare costs and rising enrollment: the health benefit waiver amounts to $413,110 and the rising enrollment waiver amounts to some $1.7 million.

The district last qualified for the health waiver in 2011-12. In that year, taxes also increased beyond the two percent cap, to 2.85 percent.

The enrollment waiver could be raised in its entirety during the 2015-16 tax year or “rolled over” the course of the next three years. It was recommended that this money be raised over three years with $425,000 used for the upcoming school year and the balance of $1.3 million banked for future needs in 2016 and 2017.

In his presentation to the Board, Superintendent Steve Cochrane noted that enrollment grew by 120 students in the current school year and that enrollment is expected to increase by some 100 additional students in the next school year; 70 of them at the high school. A further increase of some 90 students is anticipated the following school year.

The extent to which these numbers may be affected by the 280-unit AvalonBay development at the former Princeton Hospital site is not yet known.

The 2015-16 budget includes provision for more teachers, chiefly at Princeton High School, as well as technology and textbooks.

Questioning the Timeline

During the meeting’s public comment session, one member of the public raised an issue that has come up at previous Board meetings. She questioned the efficacy of having the final vote on the budget during the same meeting at which a public hearing on the budget takes place.

“Are you going to revise the budget as we sit here?” the Board was asked. In response, Board President Andrea Spalla said: “That’s entirely possible.”

The Board was urged to consider adjusting the calendar to allow more time for public comment. It was suggested that this might be advantageous to the Board, which would then have more time to contemplate public comment before it votes.


At Monday’s meeting, the Board recognized a number of retirees including 25-year veterans Betsy Gilbert and Mary McNamara. Ms. Gilbert is executive secretary-curriculum and instruction. Ms. McNamara teaches English at John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS). Both will retire as of July 1. On that date, JWMS Assistant Principal Harvey Highland will also retire after 14 years of service, and JWMS mathematics teacher Valerie Newhall, after 15 years of service. The district’s Student Services-Assistance Comptroller, Faith Rich, will retire after 30 years of service.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be at John Witherspoon Middle School, Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m.

Making municipalities bike-friendly, sustainable, and safe were among the priorities stressed by Mercer County mayors who participated in the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Mayoral Roundtable breakfast meeting Tuesday.

At Springdale Golf Club, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert joined the mayors of West Windsor, East Windsor, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, and the borough administrator of Pennington, to talk about the issues that face their individual municipalities as well as those that have a collective impact. In addition to transportation and economic growth, the mayors touched on residential and business development, open space, and several other topics.

In her opening statement, Ms. Lempert cited parking as a current focus in Princeton, specifically the recent decision to upgrade failing technology in the Spring Street Garage. She also spoke of the need to harmonize parking ordinances that existed in the former Borough and Township. Hopewell Township Mayor Harvey Lester talked about improvements being made to the notoriously clogged Pennington Circle at Route 31. “About half of the accidents in the area occur in the vicinity of the circle,” he said. “The state has begun work and is putting traffic signals north and south of the circle.”

Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano has the enviable task of maintaining a healthy status quo. “The issue for me is how do you keep a good thing going?,” he said, adding that the town has no vacant storefronts and its economy is strong.

The mayors were asked to comment on the $70 million revenue shortfall that is being faced by the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund, which has said it will run out of money for new projects on July 1 unless a new source of revenue is found.

“It’s not that the fund is going broke,” said Mr. Lester. “They are not disbanding the tolls. The problem is that every dime that is paid to the tolls by the end of the year is going to pay off debt. Bridges need to be built and there is no available money at the moment, or will not be any available money once the year rolls around, which is why the legislature and governor have to get together and solve the problem.”

Ms. Lempert said she is “extremely worried” about NJ Transit’s shortage of funds and its plan to raise fares and phase out some important bus routes. “We have to go back to basics and say, ‘What are our priorities?’ and make sure the money is there to provide a way for people to get around.”

Asked specifically about the relationship between Princeton University and the town, Ms. Lempert said it has improved since Christopher L. Eisgruber became the University’s president in 2013 and began attending public meetings once a year. “It behooves us both to have a good relationship,” she said. “This has been one of the better periods of communication.”

Mentioning the University’s new campus plan, Ms. Lempert said one challenge is to create an environment where the school can grow without sacrificing the character of the town. She is heartened by the interest in local politics among University students. “I’ve been contacted by so many student groups,” she said. “This is a new era. They really want to be engaged at the municipal level.”

East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov said improvements to the New Jersey Turnpike have improved access to the area, which does not have a designated downtown. Sidewalks that have been built along busy Route 130 have also helped “establish more linkages,” she said. “There are new restaurants. Everything is filling in in the shopping centers.”

Asked what initiatives they might have on their wish lists, more than one of the mayors cited making their towns friendlier to bikers and walkers. West Windsor Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh said he looks forward to completing the final portion of a project to connect bike trails between the town’s Community Park and Mercer County Park. He also said West Windsor will repave Alexander Road between Canal Road and the Route One bridge, a project that has been on hold while new commuter parking spaces were installed at Princeton Junction train station.

Ms. Mironov said East Windsor has built several trails and pathways through the township in recent years. “One of the projects we are in the midst of working on is continuing to expand our bicycle and pedestrian routes and friendliness,” she said.

An audience member who works for Eden Autism asked the mayors to address high unemployment among people with autism. Ms. Lempert cited McCaffrey’s market as especially supportive in their hiring practices, and mentioned a group home for developmentally disabled adults, recently approved by Council. “We will hope to make them part of the community, whether that’s through a job or volunteering,” she said of the future residents.

E MannEmily Mann, McCarter Theatre Center’s artistic director and resident playwright, has been named the recipient of the 2015 Margo Jones Award presented by The Ohio State University (OSU) Libraries and OSU Arts and Humanities. The award honors those who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding, and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, and who have encouraged the living theatre everywhere.

Mann is celebrating her 25th season as artistic director at McCarter where she has overseen over 200 productions. Under Mann’s leadership, McCarter accepted the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater and the 2013 Tony Award for best new play for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Recent productions directed at McCarter include Antony & Cleopatra, Proof, A Delicate Balance, and the world premieres of The Convert (also at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles); The How and the Why; and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (also at Playwrights Horizons).

Notable Broadway productions include A Streetcar Named Desire, Anna in the Tropics, Execution of Justice, and Having Our Say. Her most recent project is the East Coast Premiere of Rachel Bonds’ Five Mile Lake, opening at McCarter this May.

The Margo Jones Award will be presented to Mann at McCarter Theatre Center on May 16 at a ceremony, which will include speakers Nadine Strossen, Jade King Carroll, and Christopher Durang who was himself a recipient of the award (along with Marsha Norman) in 2004 for his work with the Julliard School’s Playwrights Program.

Members of the Medal Committee include Deborah Robison for the family of Jerome Lawrence; Janet Waldo Lee, Lucy Lee, and Jonathan Barlow Lee for the family of Robert E. Lee; Nena Couch, Beth Kattelman, and Mary Tarantino for the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at the Ohio State University.

Zach Borichevsky

Zach Borichevsky

On Sunday, May 17, at 4 p.m. at Richardson Auditorium, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents Viva Verdi!, an opera featuring excerpts from Giuseppe Verdi’s most popular works and spotlighting gifted young opera stars Michelle Johnson, soprano; Margaret Lattimore, mezzo soprano; Zach Borichevsky, tenor; and Hugh Russell, baritone.

“Verdi was a prolific Romantic composer who sought out subject matter outside of the Grand Opera tradition and which touched on the human condition surrounding women and love in society. While honoring Verdi, we wanted to introduce Princeton to some of today’s ascending opera stars who will lend a poignant vibrancy to the excerpted scenes, independent of a staged setting,” explains conductor Rossen Milanov.

Select members of the Princeton High School (PHS) Choir will join in on the Aida finale, bringing their own season to a close, which included performing with the orchestra at the annual PSO Holiday POPS! concert in December. The PSO values its ongoing partnership with the PHS fine choir, which is under the direction of Vincent Metallo.

Michelle Johnson made her debut with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as the title role in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Recent performances include the Glimmerglass Music Festival and Opera Santa Barbara as Aida; Leonora in Il Trovatore and Alice Ford in Falstaff with Opera in the Heights; and Verdi’s Requiem with Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias (OSPA) in Oviedo, Spain under the direction of Rossen Milanov, who is also OSPA’s music director.

Grammy nominated mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore gained acclaim in recent seasons for her versatility in performing the works of Handel, Rossini, and Mozart alongside Mahler, Verdi, and Wagner. Following her 2014 debut with Des Moines Metro Opera as Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking and Ragonde in Le Comte Ory, she is performing in the Metropolitan Opera’s current season in Die Zauberflöte, The Merry Widow, Les contes d’Hoffmann, and The Rake’s Progress.

Zach Borichevsky is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. He will make his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the spring of 2016. Borichevsky recently made an acclaimed European operatic debut as Rodolfo in La Bohéme with the Finnish National Opera. This season he makes his U.K. operatic debut as Alfredo in La Traviata with Glyndebourne Touring Opera. Further highlights this season include role debuts as Lensky in Eugene Onegin with Arizona Opera, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Carolina and Toledo Opera, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile.

Canadian baritone Hugh Russell provides the deep register needed to perform as Germont in La Traviata and the Count in Il Trovatore. He is widely acclaimed for his performances in the operas of Mozart and Rossini, and is regularly invited to perform with symphony orchestras throughout North America. At the center of his orchestral repertoire is Orff’s popular Carmina Burana, which Russell has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony. In the current season, Russell performed as Falke in Die Fledermaus with the Vancouver Opera.

Ticket prices for Viva Verdi! range from $30 to $75 and can be purchased by calling (609) 497-0020 or at The ticket price includes admission to the 3 p.m. pre-concert talk.

Darkening Sky BookLauren Davis will be launching her new novel Against a Darkening Sky (ChiZine $18.99) at Labyrinth Books on Tuesday May 12 at 6 p.m.

According to Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain,

Against a Darkening Sky brilliantly achieves the ideal for a historical novel: period and milieu seem utterly inextricable from character and theme, and together they illuminate timeless and universal truths of the human condition. Seventh-century England is fascinating. Wilona is achingly real. Her quest for an identity and a place in the world are richly resonant. Davis is a remarkable writer.”

Lauren B. Davis is the author of The Stubborn Season, The Radiant City, Our Daily Bread, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named a best book of the year by both the Globe and Mail and the Boston Globe; and The Empty Room, was named a best book of the year by the National Post and the Winnipeg Free press, as well as two story collections, Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives and An Unrehearsed Desire. Born in Montreal, she currently resides in Princeton with her husband Ron. Having been writer-in-residence at Trinity Church, she now leads monthly Sharpening the Quill writing workshops. For more information, visit:

Water Tower on Brainerd Lake

“Images of Cranbury,” an exhibition of photography by David Nissen will be on display at the Gourgaud Gallery located in the Town Hall at 23-A North Main Street in Cranbury through May 31. Titled, “Lake and Tower,” this image will be one of 40 on view. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the sale of the work will support the Cranbury Arts Council and its programs. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the gallery is closed on May 25; on the first, third and last Sunday, the exhibition is on view from 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information contact: or visit:

After months of contract negotiations between the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) and the teachers’s union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA), both sides failed to reach a long-hoped for agreement Monday night. Talks broke down after almost five hours in which the two sides met face-to-face without the help of state mediator Kathleen Vogt.

Princeton’s public school teachers have been working under an expired contract since July 1, 2014. Ms. Vogt was called last fall after negotiations reached an impasse. PREA members walked out of an October 2 meeting.

If no agreement can be made in mediation, the next stage of negotiations would call for a fact finder. The expertise of Ms. Vogt, who helped the district and the union deliver the 2011-14 contract, has been provided at no cost to the district or to the union. A fact finder, however, could cost approximately $1,500 per day.

At the BOE’s monthly meeting in February, Board President Andrea Spalla pointed out that the fact-finding process could take anywhere between six and twelve months and the daily cost would be split between the district and PREA.

Negotiations have stalled repeatedly over the issues of health care costs, and after Monday’s meeting, chair of the PREA Negotiations Team John J. Baxter said in a statement to Town Topics: “The Board came into the session with a counter proposal that was essentially unchanged from April 15. They made clear that they would not negotiate Tier 4 premium contributions.

“Ultimately, they [the BOE] came back with a ‘framework’ that appeared to require further devaluation of salaries, for some, and created substantial inequities for many. They were unable to provide specifics or reasonable explanations of the numbers. Nevertheless, they insisted that we come up with a counter proposal,” said Mr. Baxter. “We explained that we would not respond to a ‘conceptual framework’ the implementation of which raised serious questions even they could not answer. In other words, it was impossible to assess what was being offered.”

At this point, it will be up to Ms. Vogt to determine whether a fact finder is to be brought in to try to bring the two sides to resolution.

According to Mr. Baxter, the Board’s position together with the long history of these negotiations, leaves “no viable alternative to fact finding.”

This, at least, may be one point on which the two sides concur. “It is my understanding that the next step will be for the mediator to determine whether to send the matter to the fact-finding stage,” said Ms. Spalla. “Although the board offered the PREA a chance to meet again for a face to face working session on the issues surrounding the salary guide, the PREA ultimately did not agree to another meeting,” she said.

The district and the union have have met face-to-face four times in recent weeks.

The failure of the long drawn out negotiations has provoked anger and sadness on the part of numerous parents, teachers, and district students in recent months who have appeared at Board meetings to express their concerns and to beg both sides to compromise.

PREA members ceased to donate their time to non-paid extra-curricular activities and volunteer work. The action has affected some after-school student clubs and student trips, activities to which teachers’ contribute their own time as opposed to activities for which they get paid.

Princeton Public Library is seeking to raise some $1.7 million for a redesign of the second floor that is estimated to cost approximately $2.9 million. At last month’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, Executive Director Leslie Burger said that while some of this money is already in hand, along with a pledge of a $750,000 matching challenge grant, the Library would need to raise some $1.7 million in the coming months for the project to get started.

“We need to raise the money before the project can begin and we hope to do it through private donations,” said Ms. Burger. “We have a proven track record in raising private funds to supplement public support.”

The renovation is thought to be necessary because of the changing needs of the library’s more than 2,200 daily users.

“When the Princeton Public Library opened in the new building 11 years ago we were considered a state of the art library but the world has changed dramatically since then and we are not providing the community with everything they need to be successful,” explained Ms. Burger. “Princeton is a community that values learning and education, the library is an important civic partner supporting those values. Today our library is organized differently, offers opportunities for lifelong learning, serves as a digital portal and information guide to vast amount of information and content, and is a physical space where people come to work, study, learn, and be social.”

The proposed transformation will address needs that are not currently being met, said Ms. Burger. These include: designated quiet study space, more collaborative and co-working work space, a new technology commons area, space for technology instruction and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

In addition, there will be a more robust network to handle the ever increasing digital load and electrical outlets near every seat and at every table to keep laptops, phones, and other devices charged.

The plan calls for doubling the amount of comfortable seating and a new business center with hi-speed copiers, scanners, large scale printers, and other equipment to support those working away from home of office, as well as additional program and meeting space.

The Library’s Board of Trustees have been discussing the project for some time and plans for the renovation have evolved. “We’ve visited or gathered information from other libraries and gathered community input through several focus groups,” said Ms. Burger.

Library staff conducted focus groups with members of the community earlier in the year. In most instances, responses confirmed the staff’s own observations and recommendations.

“The focus groups confirmed that we are headed in the right direction in terms of responding to community needs,” commented Ms. Burger. “We’ve made a few adjustments based on their input and will continue to make refinements in our plans.”

The most pressing need expressed by users for the second floor is the need for quiet study and small collaborative work spaces that could accommodate between two and three people.

If all goes well, the Library may begin work on the project early next year.

As part of the municipality’s capital improvement program, Valley Road, between Witherspoon and North Harrison streets, will undergo planned improvements in 2016. The work will be partially funded by a New Jersey Department of Transportation municipal aid grant.

Mayor Liz Lempert will chair a discussion of Valley Road in the context of Princeton’s Complete Streets Policy, adopted in 2013, and the town’s master plan, in the Community Room at Witherspoon Hall Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.

The meeting is designed to elicit responses and ideas from local residents. Princeton Engineer Robert Kiser along with representatives from the Police Department and numerous municipal boards, committees, and advisory groups have been invited to share information and insights regarding the roadway and their vision for future improvements.

“We are hoping for feedback as to how the road is functioning and to find out what residents would like to see and what they think needs improving,” said Assistant Engineer Deanna Stockton Monday.

The meeting will take the form of a collaborative work-session with engineers and members of such groups as the Princeton Sewer Operating Committee, Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee, and Traffic and Transportation Committee.

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.

Currently classified as a minor collector roadway, Valley Road 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.

School crossing guards staff the Valley Road intersections with Walnut Lane and Witherspoon Street for elementary and middle school student crossings and excluding the North Harrison Street and Witherspoon Street intersections, 50 percent of Valley Road accidents occur at Jefferson Road; almost 40 percent occur at Walnut Lane.

The Princeton Master Plan recommends the installation of an off-road multi-use path along Valley Road.

Town arborist Lorraine Konopka has been invited to be on hand should questions arise about the number of large established London plane trees that line Valley Road.

According to an announcement of the meeting from the engineering department, “comments will be evaluated and incorporated into the design as appropriate” and “an additional design meeting may be scheduled in the summer to clarify unresolved design issues.” Otherwise, engineering staff will proceed with the design in order to secure the services of a contractor in late fall for the 2016 construction season.

For more information, call (609) 921-7077, email, or visit:


With Princeton blooming in the season of its glory, the riches are everywhere, and nowhere more bountifully than at the fourth annual Morven in May Celebration of Art, Craft, and Garden at Morven Museum & Garden, where festivities included an heirloom plant sale with perennials and annuals ready to plant. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

May 4, 2015

With a theme “Green is the new Orange and Black,” the Princeton Atelier is presenting an event today on the lawn north of Princeton University’s Frist Campus Center from 4 p.m. to sunset. Open to the entire community, the celebration will include free food and a “PU-Rade” at 7:30 p.m.

The event is described as “all-invited, family-friendly, alma-mater-blind, all-species and highly interactive,” made up of five projects on different subjects related to land, space, social justice, community, ecology, the environment, and Princeton. Projects are designed, organized, and performed by students in the spring 2015 Atelier course, “Performing Environmental Stories,” led by professors Jenny Price and Kelly Baum.

Visitors begin at the welcome station, where they are given a wristband for showing up. Among the highlights: “(Un)just Des(s)erts, a variation on a typical cooking competition and designed to dramatize the disparities in access to healthy, affordable food; the Fitz & Randolph Investment Company, a two-person theatrical event on the subject of corporate “green-washing” and sustainable investment practices; and the Red Solo Cup Exploratorium, which takes the form of a children’s museum staffed by enthusiastic guides. The “A Sense of Where You Are” audio tour chronicles the past and present history of five campus sites, narrated by such notables as author/professor John McPhee and University Architect Ron McCoy.

The gathering is co-sponsored by PEI; Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, & the Humanities; the Office of Sustainability; and the Princeton University Art Museum. For more information, visit

In an effort to access injured/ill patients in an emergency, the Princeton Police Department, is planning “Operation Blue Angel,” an emergency access program that will consist of a lockbox secured to a participant’s door by the department. The lockbox will contain a key which the police can use to gain entry into the home during an emergency situation where the resident is unable to open the door for emergency responders. Having access to a key in an emergency will alleviate the need to force entry to a resident’s home and allow the police and emergency responders to provide rapidly assistance. The program will be open to Princeton residents 55 or older who live alone or are alone for extended periods of time on a regular basis; or persons with medical conditions that could lead to incapacitation and who live alone or are alone for extended periods of time. It is for emergency uses only, and the key will not be accessed in the event the resident locks themselves out of the house. The department hopes to implement the program in the near future. Princeton residents who wish to participate are encouraged to contact Sgt. Geoff Maurer at (609) 921-2100 x1887 or via e-mail at

Erin Slifer and Olivia Hompe triggered the offense as the No. 11 Princeton University women’s lacrosse team defeated No. 13 Penn 14-11 in the Ivy League tournament championship game last Sunday at Class of 1952 Stadium,

Senior Slifer and sophomore Hompe each scored three goals as the Tigers improved to 14-3. Hompe, who scored six goals in Princeton’s 15-8 win over Harvard in the semis on Friday, was named the tourney MVP.

On Sunday evening, the bracket for the upcoming NCAA tournament was announced and Princeton will play Fairfield in the first round on May 8 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook. The winner will play the host Stony Brook, the No. 6 seed on May 10 in the Round of 16.

As for the Princeton men’s lacrosse team, Kip Orban scored four goals but it wasn’t enough as the No. 15 Tigers fell 11-10 to No. 11 Yale in the Ivy League championship game last Sunday in Providence R.I.

Princeton led 8-7 with 13:33 left in regulation and the game was tied at 9-9 before Yale scored two goals within 1:41 to go up 11-9 with 4:27 left. Princeton got a goal from Mike MacDonald with 27 seconds left and got possession on the ensuing face-off but didn’t score again.

On Sunday evening, the Tigers did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and thus end the season with a 9-6 record.

Mike MacDonald triggered the offense as the 15th-ranked Princeton University men’s lacrosse team beat No. 10 Cornell 11-7 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals on Friday evening in Providence. R.I.

Senior star MacDonald tallied four goals and two assists to help Princeton improve to 9-5 overall. MacDonald broke Jon Hess’s school record for points in a season as he now has 47 goals and 30 assists for 77 points in 2015, better than the 74 Hess had in 1997.

Princeton will face No. 11 Yale (10-4) in the Ivy title game on Sunday in Providence with the winner securing the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. Yale topped No. 9 and host Brown 10-6 in the other semi.

Olivia Hompe enjoyed a career game to help 11th-ranked and host Princeton University women’s lacrosse team defeat Harvard 15-8 in the Ivy League tournament semifinals on Friday evening in at Class of 1952 Stadium.

Sophomore standout Hompe fired in a personal-best six goals as the Tigers improved to 13-3. The Tigers scored nine straight goals in the second half to break open a 5-5 game and cruise to victory.

Princeton hosts No. 13 Penn (13-3) in the Ivy final on Sunday with the victor earning the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament. Penn edged Cornell 7-6 in the other semi.

May 1, 2015

BN 2

It truly is Earth Day every day for Landis Hackett, a senior at Princeton High School. So far, he’s met his personal goal of riding his bike to school every day this year, come rain or shine, snow or sleet. “My main inspiration is my dad, who used to bike 12 miles both ways to and from work in D.C. every day,” said Hackett, who is president of the Bike Club as well as a member of three singing clubs and boys’ lacrosse at PHS.  “I have the satisfaction of knowing that my daily communte to and from school has no negative environmental impact, and that I’m spreading the word about Princeton being a bike-able town.” The hardest days were, predictably, during those long winter months. “The single most difficult day was when it was -7 degrees without the windchill, -13 with it, and probably -20 degrees while on the bike,” he noted. Still, it never occured to him not to ride. “Now it’s a habit, and if I broke that habit, it wouldn’t feel right.”

April 29, 2015
HOME SWEET HOME: Yvonne Jackson beams at her new circumstances as a resident of Princeton Community Village (PCV) and a beneficiary of the New Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association (JAHMA) “In Time of Need” program through which she received a furniture donation from American Furniture Rental. From left: Princeton Community Housing Director Edward Truscelli, Ms. Jackson, JAHMA’s Bruce W. Johnson, and PCV administrative staff Susan O’Malley, and Mary Maybury.

HOME SWEET HOME: Yvonne Jackson beams at her new circumstances as a resident of Princeton Community Village (PCV) and a beneficiary of the New Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association (JAHMA) “In Time of Need” program through which she received a furniture donation from American Furniture Rental. From left: Princeton Community Housing Director Edward Truscelli, Ms. Jackson, JAHMA’s Bruce W. Johnson, and PCV administrative staff Susan O’Malley, and Mary Maybury.

Thanks to a program run by the New Jersey Affordable Housing Management Association (JAHMA) in conjunction with American Furniture Rental (AFR), Princeton resident Yvonne Jackson is finally able to enjoy her own new sofa, not to mention sleep in her own full size bed and sit down to dinner at her own table. Items that most of us take for granted were lost to Ms. Jackson when she became homeless.

But now, after waiting several months, her apartment in Holly House in Princeton Community Village (PCV) has new furniture courtesy of “In Time of Need,” a furniture distribution program for individuals like Ms. Jackson with compelling situations caused by fire, poverty, or similar circumstances.

A breast cancer survivor who continues to struggle with ill health — she’s had 28 operations, most recently for throat problems — Ms. Jackson moved into her PCV apartment about five months ago and just recently received her new dining room, living room and bedroom furniture.

Bruce W. Johnson, who runs the “In Time of Need” program, was on site to see the furniture’s arrival and installation by AFR, the New Jersey-based company founded in 1975 and the nation’s third largest rental provider of residential, office, home staging, and special events furniture. “Yvonne is a delightful person and was happy to have the new furniture that she had waited for so patiently while living in an empty apartment,” he said.

Interviewed at home, Ms. Jackson was thankful for her new circumstances. “I am grateful to Edward Truscelli, Susan O’Malley, Mary Maybury, and Edith Juarez for all their help and their kindness; I thank God there are still people like them. I feel very blessed.”

After months of sleeping on an air mattress on the floor, she especially appreciates her new bed. “I can roll around in comfort,” she laughed.

So how was it that the former cashier found herself in such need? “I was in the process of moving when my ID was stolen and that put a hold on everything,” she explained. “They ran up a bill and by the time the whole thing cleared I’d lost the affordable housing place that I was due to move into.” Because the apartment she was planning to move to was small, she’d already given away most of her possessions. Now in addition to no furniture, she had nowhere to go. “I was stuck,” she said.

In spite of the recent brutally cold winter weather, Ms. Jackson contemplated living in her car. Her daughter, Yolanda Shahied, lives in Maryland; her son Robert Jackson lives at Princeton Community Village, so she ended up sharing his small apartment there.

“Yvonne stayed with her son for a short time and when an apartment became free she was on top of the affordable housing waiting list,” said Susan O’Malley, who, along with PCV office staff members Ms. Juarez and Ms. Maybury, recommended Ms. Jackson to the “In Time of Need” program.

Site personnel at any JAHMA-affiliated property may submit an application on behalf of a needy resident to the program, which receives donations from AFR and Thomasville.

According to Mr. Johnson, the program has completed 49 such installations with a grand total of some $800,000 to low-income families since May 2006. “That’s retail value,” said Mr. Johnson, adding that for an organization the size of JAHMA, the amount is a significant one. “Although small in size JAHMA is a very active and effective organization, which does a tremendous amount with its resources through two programs that benefit affordable housing residents: “In Time of Need” and the JAHMA scholarships for high school students going to college.

Ms. Jackson, who enjoyed her former work as a cashier for several Shoprite stores before her ill health, grew up in the Princeton area and attended the Valley Road School. Her father Ivory Jackson and her mother Dolly Mae Jackson worked for Mount Farm apple orchards.

Born in 1955, she now looks forward to celebrating her 60th birthday in her new apartment. “My own apartment,” she laughed. “It’s so roomy!”

Before the donation, Ms. Jackson had just a few bits and pieces of furniture that friends and neighbors had given her. Above her new sofa, there’s a painted scene, a woodland path under trees in full summer foliage, a housewarming gift from her son. On the end table nearby are pictures of Ms. Jackson’s parents.

Her apartment is on the fifth floor of a six-story building at Princeton Community Village. There are elevators and a laundry room and social gathering room in the basement. The Free B shuttle and NJ Transit bus stop right outside the building and the large window of her apartment looks out onto trees and the rest of the village.

JAHMA is a nonprofit professional organization of property managers and owners who specialize in the development and operation of government assisted/affordable housing.

For more about In Time of Need and the donations that it depends upon, visit:

ballet whelanWendy Whelan’s retirement from the New York City Ballet last fall was marked with great fanfare and emotional tributes. In her 28 years with the company, she performed a broad range of repertory and won loyal fans for her individualistic style and distinctive approach to her roles.

Teaching a ballet class Monday at Princeton University, a day before she was to appear at McCarter Theatre in a program of contemporary choreography called “Restless Creature,” Ms. Whelan made it clear that though she still loves ballet, she isn’t exactly bereft about no longer being a principal dancer with one of the largest ballet companies in the nation.

When she was introduced to the students as “formerly a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet,” Ms. Whelan grinned and said, “Yes, formerly!” Retirement from the ballet company clearly agrees with this 47-year-old, who looks decades younger. But she has hardly been idle. In the current phase of her career, Ms. Whelan has been developing new collaborations with choreographers who take ballet to a new level.

Small and delicate but with long, sinewy limbs, she wore a gray leotard, black warmup pants and black socks — no ballet slippers. She demonstrated each step, and within a few minutes was sweating along with the students.

The 29 students in the class — 26 women, three men — had no trouble keeping up with Ms. Whelan’s movement combinations at the barre, then in the center of the room, and finally “across the floor.” Some were tall and willowy, and appeared to have years of ballet training behind them. But it was those who looked less like the standard ideal of ballet dancers that she singled out more frequently for praise.

“That’s beautiful — crystal cut and clean,” she said to a young woman after asking her to demonstrate a combination of jumps. When one of the male students leaped so high that he nearly crashed into the wall, she whooped with delight.

Growing up in Kentucky, Ms. Whelan started ballet classes at age three and performed in her first Nutcracker at age eight. She was awarded a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet, in 1981. Five years later, she was invited to join the company. By 1991, she had reached the rank of principal dancer.

Her years at New York City Ballet included performances of works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, and numerous other choreographers who worked with the company. Ms. Whelan came to be identified with the more contemporary, rather than classical pieces, and formed a particularly productive working relationship with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, who has frequently credited her as an inspiration.

Ms. Whelan had already begun collaborating with several choreographers when she danced with New York City Ballet for the final time last October. Since then, she has focused on “Restless Creature,” which premiered at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in August 2013. The program at McCarter Theatre on Tuesday night featured her in works by Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks, and Alejandro Cerrudo.

Teaching is also one of Ms. Whelan’s strengths. Challenging the Princeton students with some tricky timings, she said, “This is the most complicated it will be today, I promise you. I know you’re dealing with finals.” Quoting the late ballerina and teacher Melissa Hayden when urging the students to tighten their posteriors, she made them laugh when she said, “You’ve got to use your cheeks — all four of them.”

There is no dance major program at Princeton, but students who pursue a certificate in dance are offered a wide variety of courses in a range of genres. “You guys are awesome,” Ms. Whelan told the students at the conclusion of the class on Monday before posing with them for a group picture. “Great job.”

AT THE BARRE: Wendy Whelan, center facing right, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet who has embarked on a new phase of her dance career, taught a master class Monday at Princeton University’s Hagan Dance Studio a day before a performance at McCarter Theatre.(Photo by Anne Levin)

AT THE BARRE: Wendy Whelan, center facing right, a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet who has embarked on a new phase of her dance career, taught a master class Monday at Princeton University’s Hagan Dance Studio a day before a performance at McCarter Theatre. (Photo by Anne Levin)


Witherspoon Media Group (WMG) had a wonderful time at Communiversity 2015 with a booth stationed in front of Landau Princeton. Staff members handed out copies of the Town Topics Newspaper, Princeton Magazine, and Urban Agenda New York City, while talking to local residents and visitors alike about WMG’s various publications. Princeton Magazine also added numerous photos to their instagram account, as seen below.

(Photo by Emily Reeves)

Communiversity 2015 took place on a beautiful day with picture perfect weather. (Photo by Emily Reeves)


(Photo by Emily Reeves)

The Princeton University Marching Band entertained the crowds. (Photo by Emily Reeves)


Witherspoon Media Group sales team members Robin Broomer and Kendra Russell hand out copies of the magazines. (Photo by Sarah Emily Gilbert)

Witherspoon Media Group sales team members Robin Broomer and Kendra Russell handed out copies of the magazines. (Photo by Sarah Emily Gilbert)


Even a little poodle named Sophie stopped by! (Photo by Sarah Emily Gilbert)

Even a little poodle named Sophie stopped by! (Photo by Sarah Emily Gilbert)


Communiv 5Since Communiversity was held during National Poetry Month, members of the Town Topics team collected poetry submissions from school children attending the town wide celebration last month. Olivia Tague, 8, a second grader at Littlebrook Elementary School, submitted such a colorful piece that we include it here as received. In addition, here are five poems from Landon Pesnell, 5, who attends Nassau Nursery School; Thomsen Lord, 7, a second grader at Riverside Elementary School; Ellie van der Schaar, a third grader at Princeton Charter School, and John Witherspoon Middle School eighth grader John Evered, 14. The theme of each poem is “What Princeton Means to Me.”

The Poems

The True Meaning of Princeton

by John Evered

Through the hardship of winter

The warmth of spring

And joyful summer memories

The glorious overcast of leafs

Every color

The sap of the tree

From bikers to joggers

Explorers to teachers

Expressions to a gesture

The mystical horizon

The bright futures

The promising opportunities

The comforting hospitality

Diligent neighbors

Outdoor celebrations

From ethnicity to accent

Country to country

Foreign land to American soil


Helpful tutors to helpful friends

Hard workers




by Thomsen Lord

Sports, sky and shops. Bordering

Bigs like New York City and Philadelphia

Not too busy. Not too quiet. Tons

of popular restaurants. All the importants

like banks and two gas stations.

I love Princeton!


The Best Town Around

by Ellie van der Schaar

Princeton is best of all

I would please to be,

Friendly faces

As far as the eye can see.

Grocery stores,

Fashion galores!

Family parks,

Relationship sparks!

Delicious food,

Brightens your mood!

Nature surrounds, all over town

Princeton is the


Town around!


What Princeton Means to Me

by Landon Pesnell

Inspired by his walks home from Grover Park near the Princeton Shopping Center, where he prefers to use his puddle boots in the mud instead of staying on the path, Landon Pesnell, 5, composed this shorter-than-haiku work:

Princeton means to me

Off Roading!



For residents of the Princeton Ridge, a major focus of the past few years has been the natural gas pipeline that the Williams Transco company is adding to an existing line running through the area. Concerns about how this project will affect the surrounding environment have been paramount, particularly for members of the Princeton Ridge Coalition, which was organized soon after the plans were announced.

Construction is scheduled to begin during the middle of next month.

Recently, neighbors got some welcome news when Barbara and Michael Blumenthal, who own a 15.38-acre property on the northern side of Ridgeview Road, decided to dedicate an 11-acre portion to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Ms. Blumenthal, who has been a key member of the coalition, said she and her husband will continue to own the front 4.39-acre portion of the property, which includes their house. Another building, which they have used as a guest house, sits on the property they are donating and will be offered for sale.

“We started working on this a few months before I ever heard about the pipeline,” she said. “We own a beautiful piece of property, not where our house is. We purchased the second piece of property some years ago. It has a house but also includes 10 acres of forest that run behind four different properties, so it’s a big swatch of the forest. We were planning to sell the second lot we own and wanted to make sure the back portion would never be developed. So we asked for a subdivision.”

The subdivision was approved providing for the dedication of the rear portion to the Conservation Foundation. Linda MacCollum, assistant director of land acquisition for the foundation, was pleased to discover the variety of flora and fauna when she examined the property.

“I’m a birder,” she said. “I walked through the property last spring, and the number of migratory birds was just tremendous. We hit it on a perfect morning last May. The bird life was just amazing. There is an incredibly intact forest as well. There are very few invasive species, which is not easy to see nowadays. It’s just a beautiful piece of forest.”

The property will fall under the New Jersey Greenacres program, in which non-profit organizations that keep their land for open space and recreational purposes are tax exempt. The Conservation Foundation is obligated to keep the site open to the public. “We don’t have to have trails open right away, but it is open and available and we’ll post it as such and put a sign up,” Ms. MacCollum said.

Among the 15 migratory birds Ms. MacCollum saw on her tour of the property were black-throated blue warbler, black-throated green warbler, black and white warbler, northern parula, ovenbird, woodthrush, scarlet tanager, turkey, and red-eyed vireo. She also listed a red fox, and plants including showy orchis, spicebush, jack-in-the pulpit, trout lily, wood geranium, Christmas fern, and sensitive fern.

“Many of the birds we saw are neotropical migrants that have come from South America to nest here in our temperate forests,” she wrote in a letter to the Blumenthals. “While some of these birds may nest here, many will use it as a stopover and will continue farther north to breed. They depend upon forested areas such as yours to feed on insects to fuel their journeys. In the fall, they will likely pass through again, this time depending on the fruit of the Spicebush shrubs that are so abundant on your property. This important shrub produces lipid filled berries that fuel their journey back down south.”

Ninety percent of the property is wetland or flood plain. “So it’s a piece that needs to be protected,” said Ms. Blumenthal. “There is a buildable lot on it, so if we had just sold it, somebody could have asked for a subdivision and built on the upland part of it. It’s a remarkable piece of forest and the Conservation Foundation was happy to get it. So it’s a little bit of good news in the midst of the pipeline construction.”