October 3, 2012

SAFE HOUSE: Crawford House in Skillman provides shelter and treatment to women in the early stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The organization will honor several local businesses that have employed residents at its annual Harvest Dinner on Thursday, October 18.

Erin was a student and a part-time lifeguard when she became addicted to alcohol, and then heroin. Last year, the Wayne native made a decision which she says changed her life. She came to Crawford House, the 34-year-old residential treatment center in Skillman for women in the early stages of recovery.

“I felt really safe while I was there,” says Erin, 23, who declined to provide her last name. “I felt like I could open up and just work on my issues, without the influence of the drug world. I could get honest about everything that went on in my life and get it all out in the open. And I could get a job, which taught me a lot of responsibility.”

A year later, Erin still holds the position that has been key to her successful recovery. She is a cashier and floor-worker at Smith’s Ace Hardware in Princeton Shopping Center, one of several local businesses that have hired Crawford House residents who are in the process of recovering. The organization will honor the hardware store along with McCaffrey’s Market, Jordan’s Stationery and Gifts, and Chez Alice of Princeton; Chartwell’s Dining Services and the Red Oak Diner of Montgomery; and Wendy’s, Shop-Rite, and Nelson’s Corner Pizza of Hillsborough; at its annual benefit on October 18, to be held at the Marriott at Forrestal.

“We try to honor someone from the community every year who is a good partner of ours,” says Crawford House Executive Director Linda M. Leyhane. “This year we decided on small businesses in the community, which have been so helpful to us. There are a lot more businesses that choose not to be recognized, for whatever reason.”

The women who come to Crawford House are unemployed, uninsured, homeless, or indigent. They go through a 12-step recovery program based on the model of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have individual and group counseling sessions, and get training in independent living skills. They don’t pay for Crawford House’s services. Funding comes from a variety of sources including the United Way of Northern New Jersey, the Mercer, Somerset, and Middlesex boards of chosen freeholders, foundations, corporations, and individual donors.

“These are women who might have started using drugs at age eight or nine,” says Ms. Leyhane. “They come from families in which drug use is part of their background, their culture. They have usually had multiple treatment failures in the past. It’s not rehabilitation, it’s habilitation. They don’t have the skills that you and I take for granted, like doing laundry, changing sheets, boiling water. We start will all kinds of life skill training.”

With addiction often comes a social aspect. “It’s a very isolating disease,” Ms. Leyhane continues. “You don’t know how to interact socially. If you started using young, you’ve missed out.”

There are about 180 halfway house beds in New Jersey, 22 of which are at Crawford House. Women are referred to the program from rehabilitation and detox centers, physicians, the Intensive Supervisory Program, the New Jersey Substance Abuse Initiative, and the Drug Court Initiative. Crawford House is the only program in the state that also admits clients who refer themselves.

Residents sign up for six months of treatment, but many stay longer. They must be residents of New Jersey, aged 18 or older, free of substance abuse for at least two weeks, and free from communicable diseases like tuberculosis. They must also be employable, because a major part of the Crawford House program is geared to getting and keeping a job. After 30 days of orientation, the women obtain 30 hours a week part-time employment, and contribute a portion of their salary to room and board. The idea is to foster self-worth, economic independence, and self-sufficiency.

“After orientation and two educational groups a day, meetings with a counselor, and attendance at 12-step program meetings in the community, [a resident] develops a good network that will take her out to meetings on her own,” says Ms. Leyhane. “Then she gets a job in the community.”

Lewis Wildman, who owns Jordan’s in Princeton Shopping Center, has been employing Crawford House residents for several years. “Generally speaking, it’s worked out pretty well,” he says. “It’s a great source of employees to be found here, because in general, who is looking for an entry level job in a retail store in Princeton? Nobody. So it’s good for us. Mostly, these are people who are anxious to work. It’s been successful for us and them. I think it’s a terrific program.”

McCaffrey’s Market is another frequent employer of women from Crawford House. “We’re the kind of organization that likes to help out people and give them a second chance, so we do our best,” says Ken Toth, the store’s lead meat merchandiser. “We’ve had quite a few good people from Crawford House. We still have one excellent person who started with us when she was there, and she’s been with us for several years.”

Crawford House teaches residents to fill out job applications and handle themselves in an interview. “It’s how to present yourself, how to dress,” says Ms. Leyhane. “We talk a lot about what takes place in the workplace. Then they go out and get their own positions. That means when they transition out, they have a job, a place to live, and after-care.”

The goal is for clients in treatment to maintain a substance-free lifestyle, learn how to avoid communicable diseases or manage them if already infected, stay employed, have healthy relationships, and transition to independent living.

Success stories vary. “We measure success in a lot of different ways,” Ms. Leyhane says. “If a woman has never worked, has no social security number, and we can get that, then that’s success. If she is reunited with her family, or gets her medical issues attended to, that’s success, too.”

For information about the 2012 Harvest Dinner on October 18, email devdirector@crawfordhouse.org.

“Most people don’t know there’s a lieutenant governor,” said Kim Guadagno at a recent meeting of The Present Day Club. She was referring to the newly-created job she has held since 2010.

“There’s no job description; no salary; and no office,” she reported. “Every day I go to work and do something new and different. The rule is that there are no rules.”

At least two aspects of Ms. Guadagno’s job delight her. One is driving into New Jersey and seeing her name at the bottom of the “Welcome to New Jersey” sign. The other is working for Governor Chris Christie.

“I’m lucky,” she said. “This is a really conservative governor who didn’t want to create more government, add more space, or pay another staff member.” As a result, she and Mr. Christie “looked around the State House” and concluded that Ms. Guadagno should also serve as Secretary of State. In that capacity, she acquired an existing office and has responsibilities related to “culture, arts, history, travel, and tourism.”

“The governor is never wrong,” said Ms. Guadagno, “I do anything the governor tells me to do.” Her job as second-in-command is a “reactive office,” she said, except when Mr. Christie is out of state and she becomes acting governor. She made light of the instance last year when both she and Mr. Christie were out of state at the same time and heavy snow fell in New Jersey. “We’re now very careful to check each other’s schedules,” she noted.

Ms. Guadagno said that she had not followed “your traditional trajectory to public office.” After graduating from American University Law School in 1983, she began her public career as a federal prosecutor, working in Brooklyn for the Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force. When she and her husband, Mike, moved to New Jersey, she joined the United States Attorney’s office in Newark, and later went on to serve as assistant attorney general and deputy director of the Division of Criminal Justice. In 2007, Ms. Guadagno became the first female sheriff of Monmouth County. She does not rule out a second term as lieutenant governor if Mr. Christie is reelected. Either way, she plans to return to private practice when her stint in office is over.

“It’s about the next generation,” said Ms. Guadagno in her comments about economic development in New Jersey. She prides herself on having spoken with “thousands of business people” and cutting through “red tape” by freely circulating her email address and cell phone number. Responding to a question about why the governor chose not to participate in the tunnel project known as ARC (Access to the Region’s Core), Ms. Guadagno said that as it was planned, this “train to nowhere” stood to benefit only New York City. “If they stepped up to the table to pick up more of the cost we’d have done it,” she added.

The Present Day Club is a private women’s club established in 1898 as “an intellectual and social center of thought and action among the women of Princeton.” Located at 72 Stockton Street, membership in the club, which is by invitation only, includes a Wednesday luncheon and invited speaker; bridge tournaments; theater trips, guided day trips, and a book club. The facilities and food service are available for private parties and business functions.

For more information call (609) 924-1014 or write to THEPRESENTDAY@aol.com.

In keeping with Superintendent Judy Wilson’s recent advice not take the measure of students and schools with test scores alone, the public schools will present “Healthy State of Mind,” a panel discussion with behavioral health specialists from around the region on Monday, October 8, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the Black Box Theater at Princeton High School (PHS).

PHS Principal Gary Snyder will help facilitate the discussion. He will be joined by Trinity Counseling Service Clinical Psychologist Molly Palmer; Rider University Professor Karen Gischlar; Princeton House Counselor Nicole Orro; therapist Julie Neufeld; and Traumatic Loss Coalition coordinator George Scott. PHS Guidance Supervisor Angela Cecil will also be on hand for the program.

The October 8 event is the first in the public schools’ Princeton Balance Speakers Series for 2012-13. Intended primarily for parents of middle- and high school-age children, the talk will provide information and support in promoting good mental health and a sense of balance in the lives of pre-teens and teens as they negotiate life transitions, relationship challenges, and academic and social issues.

“Judy wanted the first program to have something that would acknowledge that we want a sense of balance in our children’s lives,” said public school spokeswoman
Assenka Oksiloff. The Princeton Balance Series was launched last year; it is intended to offer three events each year that “address issues that span all the grades,” Ms. Oksiloff noted.

In addition to working at Trinity Counseling Service, panelist Molly Palmer and her colleague, Melinda Noel, run a leadership class for eighth graders at John Witherspoon Middle School. The focus of the once-a-week meetings, she said, is on “leadership skills, self-esteem, self-awareness, and positive inter-personal skills.”

“My specific part is going to be about transitions and the risk factors that are associated with transitions,” reported Julie Neufeld describing her role in the October 8 discussion. “Some of the transitions that preteens and teens go through are obvious and clear cut, like moving from middle school to high school. Some of them are a little bit more obscure.” More nuanced problems occur, she said, when a student goes from being first in his or her middle school class to something lower than number one in high school. Being moved from a varsity athletic team to a less competitive one can be similarly problematic. “Sometimes a kid’s identity is so centered around being at the top of the class or being a great athlete,” said Ms. Neufeld. A change that they perceive as a kind of demotion can have a negative affect. She plans, she said, to highlight different types of transitions, “and help parents know what kinds of things might cause an increase in insecurity and a decrease in self-esteem.”

Rider University Professor Karen Gischlar specializes in “behavioral principles,” with a particular focus on the hard-to-manage child. Her other areas of interest are school psychology, and behavioral and academic assessment.

The Princeton Balance Speaker program is scheduled for February 13. The topic will be “Leading healthier lives Through Nutrition and Exercise.”

Princeton Borough Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, October 9 will be dominated by one issue: Concern about a bill pending in the State Assembly that would exempt private universities from municipal land use law. Mayor Yina Moore, who along with Township Mayor Chad Goerner has been active in a statewide effort to prevent the bill known as A2586 from passing, said that a special town forum on the subject is being held to help inform the public about how they can help defeat the measure.

“We’re inviting mayors from other towns who share our circumstance of having land owned by a private college or university,” she said. “During the council meeting, we’ll have [representatives from] the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the American Planning Association’s New Jersey Chapter, who wrote the petition and extensive paper on the problem; legislators, and other organizations who have opposed the bill and therefore support our position that it is not fair to municipalities or citizens.”

The mayors invited to the forum are among 17 municipalities in New Jersey that contain property owned by private universities. Invited speakers include Michael Cerra, senior legislative analyst; and Charles Latini Jr., president of the American Planning Association’s New Jersey Chapter.

The Senate version of the bill passed 26-8-6 last June. The Assembly version has been referred to the Assembly Higher Education Committee. The bill would exempt private colleges and universities from complying with local zoning codes under the Municipal Land Use Law. As of Tuesday, October 2, 956 people had signed a petition on the American Planning Association New Jersey Chapter’s website opposing the measure. A group called Coalition for Safe Neighborhoods has created a flyer that was mailed to local residents, and is currently airing a radio spot expressing opposition to the bill.

While local officials are opposed to the bill, representatives of private colleges and universities have said that it would put them on equal footing with public institutions in the state. Last month, Mayor Moore sent a letter to Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman asking that the University issue a written statement opposing the bill.

“Princeton Borough strongly believes that no developer in Princeton should be exempt from the salutary controls established by the State Legislature in the Municipal Land Use Law,” she wrote. “Those controls include land use planning procedures and law designed to protect communities from a wide variety of threats, including to public safety and health, to the local economy and quality of life, and to the environment. Exempting institutions from those controls could seriously damage the interests of Borough residents in neighborhoods adjacent to a proposed developer as well as the interests of Borough residents as a whole.”

Ms. Tilghman responded in a letter: “Given Princeton University’s 250-year history of being both a responsible developer and a very good community citizen, I was astonished by the belief of Princeton Borough that the adoption of Assembly Bill No. 2586 could subject the community to ‘a wide variety of threats, including to public safety and health, to the local economy and quality of life, and to the environment.’ Princeton is our home and will always be our home, so whether this legislation is adopted or not, we would never jeopardize the well-being of our community. If the legislation is adopted, we would continue to consult with local officials and residents before proceeding with any major project, and would continue to try to address community needs as well as university needs as fully as we can.”

The October 9 forum will be divided into four segments: Short, prepared remarks by speakers, statements by a panel of representatives from impacted communities, and questions from the audience concluding with drafting of an action plan “to more vigorously oppose the legislation,” according to a press release issued by the Borough this week.

Ms. Moore hopes members of the public will attend to ask questions and offer comments. “We have a core contingent,” she said. “We hope to get a good showing, and we want to hear from the public. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get a couple of mayors or representatives from towns that already have public colleges and universities, so we can understand what that experience is about.”

Police investigations are ongoing into two incidents that took place last month on the Princeton University campus. One involved a student allegedly taking explicit photographs of another student while he was sleeping. The other concerned an employee at the University Place Princeton University store who police say was visited by a prostitute and took part in paid sexual acts at the store after hours.

But Jim Sykes, president of the store, says it isn’t clear that the incidents involving employee Eric Everett and a prostitute actually took place after the U-Store’s 4 a.m. closing time. Mr. Everett, who worked in the U-store’s campus location, was arrested and charged with prostitution and shoplifting after the store manager discovered money was missing when he audited the safe.

Revelations about the sexual acts came to light only after Princeton Borough police were informed of the missing funds. Also arrested was Brittany Smith, 20, of Keyport, who was not an employee of the store.

“From our perspective, all we were aware of was an employee theft,” Mr. Sykes said Monday. “We had no idea of the other part of it until a release came out from the Borough Police. What we can’t confirm is that this happened after hours. I mean, we’re open until 4 a.m. We’re just not sure of when it happened.”

It was on September 20 that the U-Store manager checked the safe and found that it came up short. “He asked everyone about it, and then Mr. Everett started to tell him about having his ex-girlfriend there,” Mr. Sykes said. “That started a sequence, and we informed the police.”

Mr. Everett, who was arrested September 24, apparently met Ms. Smith on Craigs list and arranged for her to visit him at the store on at least three occasions. The pair allegedly helped themselves to several items from the shelves. Borough Police learned of the sexual acts while investigating the thefts. Ms. Smith was arrested on September 25 and found to be in possession of a marijuana pipe and Adderall tablets.

Both Ms. Smith and Mr. Everett were charged and released without bail. Ms. Smith was charged with prostitution, possession of a controlled and dangerous substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mr. Everett, who is 23 and lives in Bordentown, was sent a letter terminating his employment at the store.” We hired him when he was 20,” said Mr. Sykes. “He lives at home. He seemed like a fairly normal guy. It’s a shame.”

Richard Charles Tuckwell, a 20-year-old Princeton University student from Australia, was charged last month with one count of invasion of privacy after allegedly taking photographs of another male student after he drank alcoholic beverages and fell asleep. Borough Police said the incident occurred on September 16 after Mr. Tuckwell met the other student at a party at one of the University’s eating clubs. The two went to a campus dormitory. The student, who fell asleep, awoke to find Mr. Tuckwell photographing him.

Mr. Tuckwell surrendered voluntarily to police on September 21. He was processed and released. The investigation, which also looks into whether Mr. Tuckwell sexually assaulted the other student, is continuing, according to Borough police.

Last May, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi took his own life after his roommate broadcast video he took of him engaged in sexual activity with another man.

“It’s not that we’re really comparing this case to that,” said Borough Police Captain Nicholas Sutter of the Princeton University case. “But it is a serious incident, and we’re treating it as such.”

The municipality that will be created on January 1, 2013 as a result of the consolidation of the Borough and the Township will be known as “Princeton, N.J.”

“What’s in name?” asked Township Attorney Ed Schmierer before he described the criteria that he, Borough Attorney Maeve Cannon, the transition task force lawyer, and a representative from the state Department of Community Affairs used to come up with the suggestion, which was unanimously endorsed at a joint meeting of Borough Council, Township Committee, and the Transition Task Force on Monday evening. Noting that “the law is silent” on what a new government would call itself if it becomes consolidated, Mr. Schmierer pointed that “we’re probably first to be consolidating two major municipalities in 100 years.”

With that in mind, the group focused on “what the voters voted for” when they endorsed consolidation, and the answer was the name that appeared on the ballot: “Princeton, N.J. to be governed under a borough form of government,” or, simply, “Princeton, N.J.”

Ms. Cannon reported on the attorneys’ suggested creation of a “small committee” to go through the list of existing ordinances in the Borough and Township in order to identify conflicts and make recommendations to the two governing bodies. Township and Borough unanimously endorsed this proposal, and the committee will consist of municipal administrators, lawyers, and two representatives from each governing body. Administrators were charged with convening the first meeting. Ms. Cannon estimated that there are “quite a few conflicts,” especially regarding fees, although construction fees will be considered separately.

Gary Patteson presented the Transition Task Force’s final recommendations on boards, committees, and commissions in the new municipality. These included consolidating the two existing Human Services Commissions into a nine-member body; adding one member to the 8-member Joint Recreation Board, and keeping the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee as a separate from the Traffic and Transportation Committee. Consolidation of the two municipalities’ Affordable Housing groups and Shade Tree Commissions was suggested, and, in all instances, cross-pollination from existing groups was encouraged.

Other recommendations included using the Township’s Citizens Advisory Committee, which has focused on financial concerns, as a model for a new group, and following the Borough model for a Public Safety Committee. It was also suggested that an ordinance may be in order the establish the presence of a member who is “expert in animal biology” on the Animal Control Committee.

A discussion of leaf and brush collection was postponed until the next joint meeting, and it was announced that the consolidation celebration originally scheduled for December 31 has been moved to January 1 at Township Hall to dovetail with the swearing-in of new officials.

At a separate meeting that preceded the joint meeting, Township Committee endorsed an ordinance to pay an amount not to exceed $129,504 to the Yedlin Company, Construction Management Services for overseeing construction in the two buildings being refitted for consolidation. Township Mayor Chad Goerner, who had earlier expressed doubt about the need for this contract, reported on Monday night that he had met with the engineering staff and reviewed building plans, and was satisfied that transition expenses are not going to be as much as he anticipated. Renovations to accommodate Corner House in the Monument Building account for the lion’s share of the work, Mr. Goerner noted.

During the meeting’s “announcements” section, Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo reported that the completion of the 2011 audit marked the second year in row “with no recommendations or comments of note.” Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert urged area residents to report long or difficult commutes resulting from the Department of Transportation’s changes on Route 1, to the Township website.

A domestic moment Saturday on the Princeton Battlefield circa 1770-something — if you air-brush out the cars and the phone lines. The occasion was “Colonial Days Revisited,” which featured tours of the Clarke House and the battlefield, a horseshoe challenge for kids, Colonial domestic and Revolutionary War demonstrations, and a children’s scavenger hunt. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

September 26, 2012

NO JUNK FOOD: Pallets of canned foods await delivery in the sprawling warehouse of Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, where director Phyllis Stoolmacher keeps a close eye on nutritional content. The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary of serving those in need with a party at the warehouse on Friday, October 5. (Photo by Andrew Wilkinson)

It’s Thursday at the Mercer Street Friends’ Food Bank facility in Ewing Township, and the 10,000-square-foot warehouse is bustling with activity. As is customary each week, local charities are loading their trucks with fresh produce, canned vegetables, and packaged foods to feed the hungry of Mercer County.

In one corner of the sprawling space, volunteers repack bulk bags of pasta into smaller, family-size packages. Another group nearby assembles boxes of Parmalat milk, plastic containers of fruit cups, and other foods for the “Send Hunger Packing” boxes that go home with children who get free breakfasts and lunches at school, but might not have access to adequate food over the weekends.

There is significant hunger in Mercer County. Most local residents are unaware of how widespread a problem exists. The statistics are sobering: More than 25,000 here are “food insecure,” meaning they lack consistent access to adequate food. A large proportion of them are children. The Food Bank, which will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary with a festive fundraiser in the warehouse on October 5, moves about 50,000 pounds of food a week, to some 60 organizations including the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Homefront, the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton, and the Princeton Deliverance Center.

Phyllis Stoolmacher, the Food Bank’s energetic director, knows the numbers by heart. She has been shepherding the program since its inception. “Our role is to garner resources and ensure that hungry people have a steady and reliable source of food,” she says, during a briskly paced tour through the warehouse. “There’s a lot of excess food out there. We secure it and redirect it to other non-profits – shelters, meal sites, day care centers. People just don’t realize the extent of hunger in Mercer County.”

The donations come from the food industry, retail stores, the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, the State Food Purchase Program, farmers, and community food drives, among other sources. And Ms. Stoolmacher is picky about what she accepts – no junk food. “We have high standards,” she says. “No soda, no candy, no Ramen noodles. About 50 percent of what we have is fruit and vegetables. It has to be nutritionally sound. We’re the second smallest food bank in the state, but we certainly have the highest standards.”

Ms. Stoolmacher likes to think of the Food Bank as not just a food distribution program, but a hunger prevention program. Through its member organizations, the Food Bank holds nutrition workshops and outreach to make healthy food more available to those in need. The federal program formerly known as food stamps is now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and the Food Bank initiated a SNAP Outreach in 2010. “People might not realize that they qualify for this, and we help them break down barriers,” Ms. Stoolmacher says. “I’m disturbed by the rhetoric of putting a negative view of food programs for the poor. This is not an entitlement program. It enables people to put food on their tables, and the money that is spent in the local community, in local supermarkets, is revenue.”

Middle class people who live in the suburbs are the fastest growing segment of those the organization serves. “Most people understand that hunger is a result of poverty,” Ms. Stoolmacher says. “But they assume that it is an inner city problem. That’s not true. Since the recession, it has spread to the suburbs. People have lost their jobs, and they are just not finding work. We’re seeing more food pantries opening in Hamilton Township than in the city of Trenton. We work with several groups in Princeton. There isn’t a community in Mercer County, or America, that doesn’t have hunger.”

A program of the Trenton-based, Quaker-affiliated Mercer Street Friends, the Food Bank was initially housed in the city’s Rescue Mission. The spacious warehouse in Ewing Township’s West Trenton section is outfitted with refrigeration and freezer areas. It is the logical spot for the gala party that will mark the organization’s twenty-fifth birthday. “We’re a Quaker-based organization, so we’re not going to do this at the Hilton,” Ms. Stoolmacher says. “We wanted to note the anniversary and use it as a way to raise funds and awareness. So what better place than our warehouse?”

Food, wine, music, and a silent auction are part of the festivities. Auction items range from a Michael Graves signed drawing to a week in France, with much in between. Tickets are $75.

“We’re celebrating and we’re thanking our volunteers, because we couldn’t function without them,” Ms. Stoolmacher says. “They do the physical work. They make things happen. And we really believe in engaging the community.”

Township Committeeman Lance Liverman has had his day in court.   In an exclusive interview with Town Topics, Mr. Liverman said that on September 20 he appeared in Hopewell Township Municipal Court and pleaded guilty to charges that included “driving under the influence” (DUI),  and refusing to take a breathalyzer test immediately after he was in an accident last month.

His license has been revoked for seven months, and he is paying several thousand dollars in fines.

The accident occurred around 2 a.m. on August 9 when Mr. Liverman was driving home from a dinner with friends in Philadelphia, and his car hit an 18-wheeler that was parked on the side of Interstate 95 near Scotch Road.  He was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence, driving recklessly, making an unsafe lane change, and refusing to take a breathalyzer test following the accident.

After a September 11 court appearance at which no conclusion was reached, Mr. Liverman had been scheduled to appear in court for a trial on October 9.  Although he planned to plead guilty on September 11, he said, the media frenzy that greeted him when he arrived at the court discouraged him from proceeding.  Sympathetic Hopewell officials, including Municipal Court Judge Charles M. Ouslander, okayed a request from Mr. Liverman and his lawyer, Stephen Krazny, to appear in court on an unannounced date in order to avoid the melee.

Lest he be accused of preferential treatment, Mr. Liverman noted that this accommodation is not an unusual one.  “It’s done all the time,” he said.  “People said, ‘this shouldn’t be’ and felt bad for me.”  As a result, his name did not appear on the docket of cases to be heard on September 20, and “nobody was there” to observe the low-key denouement.

“I admit that I had a few beers,” Mr. Liverman said of the night the accident occurred.  “But I wasn’t drunk.”

While agreeing that it may have been naive of him to refuse to take a breathalyzer test, Mr. Liverman said that his decision at the time had to do with “the way I was approached. I didn’t think it would serve my best interests.”  Although he “hopes that this was not the case,” the fact that Mr. Liverman is black “could have been” a factor in how things played out. “I’ve been asked that question 50 times,” he reported.   Mr. Liverman said that the arresting officer reprimanded him for slouching as he sat, handcuffed, in police headquarters the evening of the accident, and refused to honor a request to lower the charges against Mr. Liverman.  “‘No, I want to see him in court,’” Mr. Liverman quoted the officer as saying.

During the interview, Mr. Liverman expressed “amazement” at the outpouring of support he has received from the Princeton community in the wake of the incident.  “I serve Princeton,” he commented, and along with the support of his family and Princeton Township, he has, and continues to receive, encouraging emails, cards, phone calls, and offers from area residents willing to drive for him.  “I’m very blessed and very fortunate,” he observed.  He also took the opportunity to apologize to the Princeton community “for this unfortunate incident.  I am truly sorry for disappointing anyone,” he said, adding that “as a leader I know that my actions are always amplified.”

Perhaps one of the best outcomes of the experience, Mr. Liverman suggested,  is that he has “already taught someone.”  Just this past Saturday he received a phone call from a motorist who agreed to take a breathalyzer test “because he knew of my case.”

“I haven’t changed any of my views,” said Mr. Liverman, who confirmed that he will remain in the upcoming race for Princeton Council.  “I’m the same guy I’ve been for 19 years.”

Mr. Liverman speaks with pride about his wife, Latonya Kilpatrick Liverman, a patent-holding doctor in the Research and Development arm of Colgate-Palmolive, and his mother, who also resides in Princeton. The Livermans’ three daughters are all in Princeton Public Schools, and include a second grader at Community Park; a seventh grader at John Witherspoon Middle School; and an 11th grader at Princeton High School.  “I’m at every back-to-school night,” Mr. Liverman joked.

Mayoral hopefuls Liz Lempert (D) and Dick Woodbridge (R) were named as a “panel” and given the chance to ask questions in response to four transit-related presentations given on Saturday morning at a Princeton Future meeting.

After the first presentation, a talk billed as a “Planned Projects Status Report of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Central New Jersey Transportation Forum” by Sustainable Jersey Chair Pam Mount, Princeton Future Chair Sheldon Sturgis was quick to point out – not without humor – the virtual absence of questions from the candidates. Not surprisingly, perhaps, each referred to their own achievements and ideas on the topics at hand.

Focusing on local, present-day concerns, Ms. Lempert, who is Township Deputy Mayor, cited recent Township Committee street improvements, and spoke of the difficulties posed by the current Department of Transportation “trial” that limits left-hand turns onto Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street.  Referencing  his long-time history in the area, Mr. Woodbridge, who grew up in Princeton and served as Township mayor, spoke of changes he has witnessed over the years and referred to old friendships with officials like former Borough Mayor Marvin Reed, who was at the meeting.

Looking ahead, however, Mr. Woodbridge picked up what became a recurring theme of the morning: that Princeton is a regional center with broad, metropolitan concerns.  Mr. Woodbridge noted that more than two million people a year visit Princeton.

Neither candidate responded to Ms. Mount’s assertion that she “believes in government, but on a very limited basis.”

Mr. Reed, who is currently chair of the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Regional Planning Board, gave a report on “A Mobility Plan for the New Princeton.”   People who packed the Library’s Community Room for the meeting had a good laugh when Mr. Reed pointed out that consolidation means Borough residents will no longer be able to blame Township residents for whatever is wrong, and, of course, vice-versa.

In his talk, Mr. Reed emphasized the discrepancy in the number of people traveling into Princeton (approximately 25,000) and the number of motorists leaving the area (approximately 6,500) each day.  He also noted that any future development in the area will be “redevelopment,” rather than the creation of large new corporate facilities or groupings of multiple new houses.

On a related note, Consolidation Commission Chair Anton Lahnston averred that it is simply not possible to “build out of congestion.” He also spoke of the “perception in Princeton” that public transportation is “not for us.”

Ralph R. Widner of the Princeton Traffic and Transportation Committee delivered a well-received report on “Using a Traffic Database to Fully Frame Problems and Options.”  He suggested that 80 percent of Princeton’s traffic problems “come from outside,” and that focusing on “point to point” transit systems in the community was not the way to go. He reported that statistics being compiled for a local traffic database would “provide a total map of the whole problem,” and cited a need for being proactive and creating a “foreign policy” on traffic that would be in the New Jersey economy’s best interests.

Yan Bennett and Steven Kruse of the Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee gave the fourth presentation, “An Ad Hoc Bike Plan for Princeton,” emphasizing the need to reconcile car traffic volume with the number of bicycle riders in the area.  Responding to this last talk, Ms. Lempert, who is a member of the the Joint Pedestrian and Bike Committee and the Traffic Safety Committee, discussed educating the public about bike routes in order to become a “bike-friendly” city.  Mr. Woodbridge described observations he’s made during his routine 13-1/2 mile bike ride around the area.

Princeton Future, which was created in 2009, describes itself as a “diverse, nonpartisan group of volunteers of Princeton Borough, Township and region. .. dedicated to protecting and enhancing our unique community and we share concerns about the directions future growth and development may take.” This most recent meeting gave participants an opportunity to join “break-out sessions” focusing on particular kinds of neighborhoods after the presentations.


The Princeton Battlefield Society has filed an appeal in the ongoing battle to prevent the Institute for Advanced Study from building a faculty housing development on land the group maintains was key to the Revolutionary War. The appeal was filed on September 21 in Superior Court, to try and reverse an approval given to the project by the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commisson on August 15.

The Institute had sought a waiver from the Commission because part of the development is in stream corridors, according to the Battlefield Society. But because they lacked a quorum, the Commission could not act on the proposal. They gave default approval, due to a rule that a project gets automatically approved should the Commission be unable to act on it within 45 days.

“We’re questioning the constitutionality of it,” says Jerald Hurwitz, president of the Battlefield Society. “If you don’t have a quorum, it automatically gets approved? How does that work? That means that all somebody needs to do to sabotage a process is simply make sure they can’t be heard within the 45 days. There’s something wrong with that.”

The project, which was approved by the Regional Planning Board last March, would include homes on seven acres, with 14 acres left open for use by the public. The Battlefield Society filed a lawsuit in July appealing the approval. They are preparing an additional lawsuit involving the use of wetlands, maintaining that the project would violate the Clean Water Act.

Additionally, the group filed a complaint in Chancery Court in April, asking for a judicial determination on various site limitations created by a 1992 agreement between the Institute and Princeton Township.

While he doesn’t believe that the recent ruling by the Canal Commission was intended to automatically grant the Institute a waiver, Mr. Hurwitz doesn’t   think the process is fair. “We don’t get our day in court because there is no hearing. How is that? We felt we had to do or say something,” he said. “This is a gray area and I think there are some serious problems with it.”

The Canal Commission has had several vacancies recently, and there have been no recent appointments by Governor Chris Christie. But several new members have been nominated and are awaiting legislative approval.

The announcement last weekend of Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman’s impending retirement has prompted local government and University officials to express appreciation for her accomplishments during her eleven-year tenure. Ms. Tilghman will depart at the end of the academic year in June and will return, after a year off, to teach.

“President Shirley Tilghman has made many contributions to enhance student life, campus development, and the academic experience that have and will continue to elevate this great University and expand its impact on the world,” said Princeton Borough  Mayor Yina Moore, in a statement. “On behalf of the citizens of the Borough of Princeton, I wish President Tilghman well as she returns to her role as Professor Tilghman.”

Township Mayor Chad Goerner praised the “very constructive, professional dialogue” between the Township and the University under Ms. Tilghman’s watch. “As I look back at the last several years, I see a significant amount of accomplishment, and part of that is due to the relationship we have with the University,” he said. “We negotiated the first significant voluntary contribution [the University’s payment in lieu of taxes] for Princeton Township, and I have to say that a lot of that is due to the fact that we have had that level of professionalism and dialogue” with the University.

Mr. Goerner added, “I think it’s a good thing that next year we will start with a new governing body and a new University president at the same time. Having that fresh start will be important.”

Ms. Tilghman will step down as Princeton’s nineteenth president at the close of the academic year in June. In a letter e-mailed to students, faculty, staff and alumni, she revealed her plans. There is a “natural rhythm to university presidencies,” she said in her letter, and with “major priorities accomplished or well on their way to being realized, and the [recently completed $1.88 billion Aspire fundraising] campaign successfully concluded, it is time for Princeton to turn to its 20th president to chart the path for the next decade and beyond.”

A Canadian by birth, Ms. Tilghman came to Princeton in 1986 as the Howard A. Prior Professor of the Life Sciences. She was one of five winners in 2002 of the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. The following year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Developmental Biology. In 2007, she won the Genetics Society of America Medal. She was a member of the National Research Council’s committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project. She was also a founding member of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project for the National Institutes of Health.

Ms. Tilghman’s accomplishments during her tenure as president include a large increase in the number of students on financial aid and more than double the average aid they receive; a master plan focused on architecture, landscaping and sustainability; the additions of Whitman College, Lewis Library and Sherrerd Hall; creation of the Lewis Center for the  Arts and the new Princeton Neuroscience Institute; and an expanded global perspective.

The University’s Dean of the Faculty, David Dobkin, commented, “It has been a remarkable pleasure to be able to work with Shirley for the past nine years. She has been a superior president of Princeton. Though Princeton has a tradition of excellent leadership and there is every expectation that the next president will be as good, Shirley’s leadership has raised the bar for that next person.”

Town-gown relations have been tense at times during Ms. Tilghman’s presidency, particularly in relation to the voluntary tax payments and the controversial decision to move the Dinky train station 460 feet south of its current location to accommodate the University’s $300 million arts and transit neighborhood.

But Borough Councilman Roger Martindell, among those involved in those issues, said of Ms. Tilghman, “I think she’s done a wonderful job for Princeton University. There has been a significant increase during her tenure there in financial support for the municipalities, and I wish her the best of luck.”

The search committee for Ms. Tilghman’s successor will be led by Kathryn A. Hall, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. The committee will include four members of the faculty who will be elected by the faculty, nine Board members, two undergraduates, a graduate student, and a member of the staff. Ms. Hall said she hope to be ready to bring a recommendation to the Board by next spring.

In an election where less than ten percent of Princeton’s 19,145 registered voters turned out to vote, a school referendum asking for $10.9 million for school improvements was approved on Monday.  The vote was 1,238 to 571 with 58 people voting by mail.

Approval of the referendum means an estimated $150 a year more in taxes for the average Princeton homeowner.

In a September 12 “Princeton Public Schools Report,” Superintendent Judy Wilson described work to be funded by the referendum as “maintenance and safety projects, and a couple of instructional projects.”  This will include “ necessary work” on roofs and windows; drainage systems; “safety work” to improve fields and track; and “energy efficiencies across the system.”

Ms. Wilson pointed out that it has been 11 years since the last school referendum. “It’s time to take care of some of the basics, essential projects that must and will be taken care of,” she observed.  The availability of “great interest rates”  and low construction rates make this a particularly attractive time to do the work, she added.

Proposed projects funded by the additional money at all four elementary schools will include installation of gym air handlers, upgraded playground equipment, and extensions of security and technology systems.  Plans for Johnson Witherspoon Middle School include “repurposing” the old gym into a media center; air conditioning second-floor classrooms; and interior fire-door replacement.  Track, turf and bleacher replacements, “select locker replacements,” and renovations to create additional instructional space are some of the projects slated to take place at Princeton High School.

“Monday’s referendum is relatively small and focused only on needs in those portions of buildings and grounds that have arisen since or were not addressed in prior construction,” noted a statement released by the Board of Education.  Board members noted that “each of the projects identified for this referendum has been reviewed for over 18 months in public meetings of the Board’s Facilities Committee.”  They echoed Ms. Wilson’s comment about this being “an optimal time to take advantage of low construction
bids and capture historically low interest rates,”  and pointed out that applying to state agencies, which are not awarding any new grants for facility projects, was not an option at this time.

The district estimated that all the work will be completed during the next 18 to 24 months.

After hearing presentations from members of the design team charged with creating Princeton University’s $300 million arts and transit neighborhood, the Regional Planning Board of Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) voted on Monday, September 24, to recommend approval to the planners with certain caveats. Should the Planning Board follow this advice, construction could begin on the first phase of the project this coming spring. The Lewis Center for the Arts, its centerpiece, would be projected for a 2017 opening.

The plan has been a source of controversy among local residents because it involves moving the Dinky train station 460 feet south and turning the existing station buildings into a restaurant and cafe. The project has been opposed by the organization Save the Dinky, and is the subject of two pending lawsuits.

Several university consultants and employees were on hand for the meeting in the Township municipal building. University Architect Ron McCoy led the presentations, which included input from
architects Steven Holl, Rick Joy, and landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh. Mr. Holl, designer of the Lewis Center building, said he sees the project as a “middle gateway” to Princeton, “a place where the community and the University can join.” Having worked on the design since 2007, Mr. Holl said, “We’ve improved, improved, refined and improved, and I’m really excited about where we are now.”

But SPRAB chairman Bill Wolfe expressed several concerns about the project. “Despite being very enthusiastic about the quality of the design, I am very, very unhappy with the overall plan,” he said. The concept of the transit center as a gateway to the town and university is not sufficiently grand, he felt. “This is where important scholars from all over the globe first set foot in Princeton,” he said. “In this site plan, the most important public space to the University and the town should be the transit plaza. But it doesn’t yet look it.” Mr. Wolfe was also disappointed that the proposed arts center was not designed to be closer to McCarter Theatre and that University Place does not run straight to the transit plaza.

Mr. McCoy said the University “has been at this for years,” and had many conversations. “We’re very confident that the solution we’ve arrived at is a good compromise,” he said.

Among the features of the plan described by Mr. McCoy and the design team were parking for Dinky riders, a transit plaza at the new Dinky station site for taxis, jitneys and buses, and enhanced public areas with art that has yet to be determined. A traffic circle at the intersection of Alexander Road and University Place will improve flow, Mr. McCoy said.

The arts complex will include a black box theater, a dance theater, music rehearsal hall, and two studios, to serve the University during the day and be used for public performances at night, he said. Bluestone walkways, green roofs, enhanced plantings and underground wiring and utilities were also detailed.

Trees to be planted will have high canopies in order to keep the buildings “filled with light in winter,” said Mr. Van Valkenburgh when describing the landscaping. The commuter parking lot will be divided with trees. The University Place Green, a major part of the project, will have landscaping modeled after the trees in front of Nassau Hall.

Mr. Joy’s firm will design the new station and renovate the historic Dinky buildings with the assistance of Princeton-based Mills + Schnoering Architects. “This is a great opportunity to give some of the most historic buildings on campus to the community,” he said of the old station building, which will be turned into a restaurant. “We’ve maintained and honored the presence of the original building, and sort of snuck in our addition on the back side,” he said of a planned addition.

SPRAB member Joshua Zinder, who is an architect, suggested that the canopy on the historic building be kept. “The removal of the canopy is too bad,” he said. “That structure, with some clever landscaping, could be the east/west gateway. It’s a big part of the historic character of the station.” Mr. McCoy acknowledged that the canopy was “a difficult issue,” but a new canopy will be built. Mr. Zinder also recommended that a material other than stucco, which is planned, be used.

SPRAB included these comments, as well as those from Mr. Wolfe, with the recommendation to the planning board.

While the Autumn Equinox may have shifted the seasons Saturday, a summer calm prevails in this Lake Carnegie Sunday afternoon idyll. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

September 19, 2012

FLIGHT OF A FAMILY: Pictured after their resettlement in New York State, the Bauer family is the subject of a documentary by Dan Bauer, to be screened at Princeton Public Library this weekend.

Growing up near Buffalo, New York, Dan Bauer often heard the stories of his family’s harrowing escape from the Nazis. A comfortable Jewish family in 1930’s Vienna, they were forced to leave when Hitler began rounding up Jews and sending them to concentration camps. Mr. Bauer, who is McCarter’s Theatre’s communications director, knew about his grandfather’s time at Buchenwald, and how a family connection managed to get him released. He knew about the family’s eventual relocation to New York. He was aware of who had survived and who had not.

But it wasn’t until his grandmother was approaching her 100th birthday that Mr. Bauer began to feel that her story needed to be told. With the help of family members and friends, the novice filmmaker directed a documentary he called leben um zu sagen (“Live to Tell”), which will be screened Sunday, September 23 at 2 p.m. at Princeton Public Library. A panel discussion will follow the 30-minute showing.

“When my grandmother was 99, my stepmother mentioned to me that someone should get her story on video,” Mr. Bauer said over a cup of tea last week at Infini-T Tea and Spice Souk. “Once I started thinking about it, I knew I wanted to do it properly. I knew I would need a budget and some expertise to put together a project that would be a keepsake.”

Mr. Bauer’s younger brother agreed to help finance the project. Rutgers film student Mary Conlon, daughter of Princeton Public Library librarian Susan Conlon, was hired to do the filming. She was assisted by her father, a former cameraman at New Jersey Network. Mr. Conlon also loaned the equipment.

“I started to look at documentaries,” Mr. Bauer recalled. “I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing. They just weren’t what I wanted. They kind of left me cold.”

Mr. Bauer decided to reach out to Susan Wallner, a friend who used to work for New Jersey Network and now works for PMK Video. “Susan agreed to edit the film,” he said. So because I knew everyone involved, I was able to be a close part of the process. There was a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of integrating family photos into the story. It felt like a true collaboration.”

Beautifully coiffed and elegantly dressed, the subject of the film seems decades younger than her 100 years. Grete Bauer is comfortable in front of the camera, telling her family’s remarkable story of  survival with quiet dignity.

Her grandson chose not to conduct the interviews himself. “I felt it was important to have someone young, who hadn’t heard the stories, asking her the questions,” he said. “I used Emilia LaPenta, who works at McCarter, and it worked well. I think it shows in the softness of my grandmother’s manner and the way she speaks about what happened.”

Mr. Bauer also had Ms. LaPenta interview his father Ulrich and his cousin  Heinz Herling. “I knew my grandmother would tell the story, but I also knew my father and cousin could help put the story in perspective,” he said.

All of the interviews were conducted the weekend of Grete’s centennial birthday gathering, at the Highland Park assisted living facility where she moved from the house in Brocton, New York that was the family’s headquarters for decades. The “talking heads” in the film are interspersed with family photos, some of which Grete was surprised to see when she viewed the film, Mr. Bauer said.

Mr. Bauer visits his grandmother every Sunday. Though the film is finished, he still asks her questions and records her answers. “I’m trying to put something more together for the family, with photos,” he said. “There is so much more to tell.”

The two have always been close. “She lived 45 minutes away from us, and I saw her often,” Mr. Bauer said. “When I was in college, she’d drive over and drop off brownies at my dorm room door. Now that she’s here, I definitely find time to see her every weekend.”

Princeton Public Library’s Susan Conlon is pleased to screen leben, um zu sagen and not just because her daughter was involved in the creation. “I think that Dan has achieved value that will appeal to people on two levels: he has captured this important part of his own family’s story and by sharing it others can find meaning in it; and as a “document” it illustrates and inspires others to take time and steps to preserve these experiences in their families and with people in their lives,” she said.

While Mr. Bauer had written about his family’s experiences in college and graduate school, he never thought of himself as a third generation Holocaust survivor. “A friend recently said to me, ‘Isn’t it interesting that all of your creative work comes from this one subject?’ That really  made me think,” he said.

The screening on September 23 will be followed by a panel discussion between Mr. Bauer, Dr. Paul Winkler of the New Jersey Holocaust Commission on Education, and Susan Hoskins, executive director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center.

“To me, this is more than a Holocaust story,” Mr. Bauer said. “I want to encourage people to get their family stories. Don’t wait until your grandparent is 100 years old. All senior citizens have a story to tell. I see this as a snapshot, by no means my grandmother’s full life story but of course a very important part of her story.”

Students at John Witherspoon Middle School (JW) caught a break last Thursday when an eighth-period (2:30 p.m.) fire led to the evacuation of the school. Although the fire was quickly contained, students were not allowed to return to the building because of the presence of smoke. Students whose backpacks were inside the building were given a reprieve from homework that evening.

Director of Plant/Operations Gary Weisman said that the fire began as a contractor “was wrapping up a little bit of investigative work on one of the electrical panels. The panel sparked and caused a little bit of a fire.”

“It was something that happened; it’s not necessarily a referendum-related fix,” Mr. Weisman said, referring to the Monday, September 24 election when Princeton residents will go to the polls to decide on a $10.9 referendum slated for infrastructure repairs to school buildings and grounds.

If the school board referendum is passed next Monday, proposed work at JW includes updating the emergency generator circuit; “re-purposing” the old gym into media center; creating new auditorium seating and sound and lighting systems; installing energy-saving window awnings; and air-conditioning the second-floor classrooms.

The most important thing about the Thursday fire, said Mr. Weisman, is that nobody got hurt. The Princeton fire department responded immediately “as always,” and provided fans to quickly rid the building of smoke. The contractor who thought he was “wrapping up” his work for the day ended up staying on site until one a.m., replacing the panel, putting in new parts, and testing the affected circuits. The building reopened the following morning.

New Jersey adopted new fire drill regulations in 2009 and 2010 requiring public schools to hold one fire drill and one security drill during the first 10 days of the start of the school year, and one drill each for every month school is in session.

No one has said how last week’s fire will be counted.

Recent reports have cited a rise in cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the Princeton area.

A  national report  that came out in July indicated that “whooping cough is causing the worst epidemic seen in the United States in more than 50 years.”

“We had a number of cases of whooping cough in the spring that continued into the early part of the summer,” said pediatrician Louis Tesoro of the Princeton Pediatric Group. “While it seemed to subside when kids went away to camp, some new cases have popped up with the return to school.”

In Princeton, it is estimated that about 20 cases have been reported this year, as opposed to a single case the preceding year.

Once it is diagnosed, a person with whooping cough needs to remain at home until they’ve received an adequate dose (usually five days) of antibiotics.  The infection can last as long a six weeks.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes pertussis as “a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing.”  The coughing can make it hard to breathe, and a deep “whooping” sound is often heard when the patient tries to take a breath.

“There’s little you can do in the midst of the cough,”  Dr. Tesoro noted.  “The best way to prevent pertussis is to make sure that your child is completely vaccinated and to know what’s going on in your community.”  Many pertussis cases go unreported.  “If you know or suspect that your child has pertussis, said Dr. Tesoro, “get treatment as soon as you can.  If an individual is diagnosed with it, their entire family should also seek treatment.”

Very young children, in whom pertussis can cause permanent disability and even death, are of the greatest concern in treating whooping cough. “Older children and adults usually do okay with it, although it can last many weeks until the cough subsides,” Dr. Tesoro said.

“Unfortunately whooping cough begins with the same symptoms as many other respiratory infections: runny nose and other cold symptoms,” said Dr. Tesoro. After about a week, he said, the cough progresses to one that is “spasmodic in nature.” At this point it is not too late to control the spread of the infection. Contagion   occurs  when an infected person sneezes or coughs,  causing tiny droplets containing the bacteria to move easily through the air, from person to person.

The best way to prevent pertussis, say medical experts, is to get vaccinated.  There are vaccines and boosters for infants, children, preteens, teens and adults.   While most children are routinely immunized before entering school, recent reports of unpleasant side effects of vaccinations, have made some adults reluctant to vaccinate their children or give them booster shots. And, a new study recently published in The New England Journal Medicine suggests that “the protective power of the acellular vaccine declines rapidly after the final dose.”

The Library of Medicine, however, says that the DTaP, the vaccine typically given to infants, is safe. They recommend  five DTaP vaccines, usually given to children at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and 4-6 years.  There is evidence that children who are “fully inoculated against whooping cough become more susceptible to the disease as the vaccination wanes over time, contributing to outbreaks.”

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has no immediate plans to replace the Alexander Road bridge, despite recent attention to its shortcomings.

Officials note that as a result of the current DOT “pilot project”Кthat is restricting left turns and U-turns on Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street in West Windsor, more motorists are using the bridge.К

In addition to weathering heavier traffic, the bridge, which is only 20 feet wide, cannot accommodate two large vehicles moving in opposite directions at the same time.К This becomes of particular concern when emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire trucks, need to pass each other.КК The bridge’s weight-bearing capacity of 15 tons also poses significant limitations to the number and kinds of vehicles it can support at one time.

“That narrow bridge has been there a very long time,” said DOT spokesman Joe Dee on Tuesday. He suggested that area officials are “raising the issue in the context of this trial.  Traffic is flowing very nicely on Route 1 as a result of these changes.

“Let’s continue to gather data,” he suggested. “This is still fairly new for a lot of people who were on vacation in August when this trial started.” More time, he said, will also allow motorists to become aware of alternatives to Alexander Road.   “Motorists act out of self-interest, and if Alexander becomes inconvenient because of traffic volume, they will seek alternatives.”

The current Route 1 trial was created by the DOT in response to aКstudy along Route 1 indicating, they say, that the existing space for left/U-turns at Washington Road and the left/U-turns at the Harrison Street jug handle is inadequate to accommodate this traffic, resulting in traffic backing up onto Route 1 and impacting traffic operations along mainline Route 1.К The trial began on August 4 and was scheduled to continue for 12 weeks.

At a recent Township Committee meeting, engineer Bob Kiser reported that the need to replace the Alexander Road Bridge was recognized and reported to the county “two or three years and ago.”  In a preliminary survey done in response to the request, Mercer County engineer Gregory Sandusky reported that the right of way at the bridge is only 36 feet wide; 50 to 60 feet would be needed to replace the bridge.  Acquiring the additional land on either side of the current bridge will be difficult from a procedural point of view because the properties involved are designated “green” and “historic”  districts.  Obtaining State House approval, Mr. Kiser said, is “quite a process.” In the meantime, he reported, Mr Sandusky suggested going with plans for replacing bridge with the possibility that the municipality might acquire the right of way.

If NJDOT opts to finalize the trial arrangement, said Mr. Kiser, there will be more traffic going over bridge.  The combination of eventually closing it in order to replace it, and maintaining the current limitations would be”setting ourselves up for a real situation,” he said.

Township Mayor Chad Goerner pointed out that the Alexander Road bridge was “meant to be temporary” when it was originally installed.  In the past, the county defended the safety of the bridge by pointing to the fact that buses and other large vehicles have to stop to make sure there are no vehicles coming in the opposite direction.

At its meeting last week, Township Committee indicated that, if the trial is felt to be successful,  they would ask the state to delay making the left turn bans on Route 1 permanent, until the Alexander Road bridge is replaced.  They are hoping that the Borough, Princeton University, and other parties will support this recommendation in a cosigned letter.

“The University would be very inclined to join you,” said  Princeton University spokesperson Kristen Appleget, who was present at the meeting. “We continue to join you in expressing concerns about the trials,” noting that the University is “taking in a lot of our own data.”

The municipalities will collect additional data, as well, said Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, and she  encouraged area motorists to use municipal websites to report trip times and bad commutes.   “I don’t think the counters will be out there every day,” she said, referring to NJ DOT monitors.

“An  inconvenience by having  traffic back up is one factor,” observed Committeeman Bernie Miller.  “Creating a situation that could put lives or property at risk is another.  We need to make it clear to the DOT that we have a situation where an emergency vehicle could conceivably not get across the bridge, an unacceptable situation to both University and Princeton community.”

Details of a proposed plan to update the two information kiosks on Nassau Street were the focus of the September 11 meeting of Princeton Borough Council.  While Council members expressed interest in the presentation delivered by Peter Crowley, president and CEO of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce, they had several questions about the plan to make the kiosks more user-friendly and  decided to delay voting until more information is provided.

The kiosks have been fixtures at the Nassau Street corners at Vandeventer Avenue and Witherspoon Street for several decades.They are currently used as information boards to advertise cultural and political events, rooms for rent, and the like. Under the plan developed by the Chamber’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, the care and decisions about what is displayed would be overseen by the Chamber.

“I’m sure what you’re planning will be an improvement over what’s there now, visually,” commented Councilman Roger Martindell. “But I’m a little concerned about content.” Social and political messages are currently posted on the kiosks, Mr. Martindell continued. “It’s a public space for public dialogue. It’s sometimes good to be uncomfortable, especially in a community such as ours.” Mr. Martindell continued that by turning them over to the Chamber, the kiosks become mostly commercial. “Who’s going to sit there and say we’ll accept this one and not that one? Do we care about losing that quality?”, he asked.

Resident and former Township mayor Jim Floyd agreed. “I urge you to really give serious consideration as to whether you want to give up that public right and public expression,” he said.

Councilwoman Jo Butler questioned whether the kiosks have become outdated and unnecessary. “They are the vestige of a past way of communicating,” she said, adding, “I’m not sure in the long run whether this is what we want in our streetscape. I’d like some time to take this back to the traffic and transit committee.” Ms. Butler also expressed concern that the updated kiosks could pose a distraction for drivers. “I just worry that this could contribute to these corners becoming less safe,” she said.

Mr. Crowley said that because the kiosks front onto Nassau Street, which is a state highway, there are restrictions about what can be put on the street side. The interactive portion of the kiosks would therefore not be visible from cars traveling on the street.

Mr. Crowley described the renovated kiosks as having eight weather-resistant panels. One would be devoted to the municipality, another would be dedicated to not-for-profits, and a third would be used by the Princeton Merchants’ Association. Instead of a fourth panel, there would be an interactive community screen with information on restaurants, cultural activities, and events on one side; and services such as dog-walking and classes on the other. “They would be organized,” he said. “Someone could push a button and find what they want.” The other four panels would be dedicated to advertising.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller asked whether ads could be posed only by members of the Chamber, and Mayor Yina Moore asked what percentage would be dedicated to Princeton businesses. Renovating the kiosks is part of a plan by the Chamber to enhance tourism by making information more available to visitors. The front window of Princeton University Store on Nassau Street would be devoted to information for tourists.

“If we didn’t have these at all, would anyone think it was a good idea to install them?” asked Ms. Butler. “I don’t think this is what communities are doing today.”

Mr. Crowley said that the revamped kiosks would be a positive step for both tourists and residents. “I hope when this is done that what you have instead of clutter is a more organized approach to the information,” he said. “It’s a more sustainable use a cleaner look, and it provides individuals with access to more information.”

In other action at the meeting, Council President Barbara Trelstad reported that about half of the $106,000 needed to complete and install sculptural gates at Hinds Plaza, funded by private citizens, has been raised. Mr. Martindell suggested that the Borough make an initial contribution to the effort, though the bulk should continue to come from private funds.

The Princeton citizens who have expressed repeated concerns about the rental community planned for the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton have been less vocal in recent months. But that doesn’t mean they have slowed down their efforts.

A core group of between 10 and 15 has been gathering information in an effort to show what they see as major problems with the concept that AvalonBay Communities, the company under contract to build a 280-unit apartment complex, has for the site. Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods, shepherded by Daniel Harris, Kate Warren and Alexi Assmus, has hired two attorneys and an urban planner to represent them when AvalonBay’s proposal comes before the Regional Planning Board.

The group will hold an informational meeting, open to the public, at Ms. Warren’s home at 17 Jefferson Road on Sunday, September 30 at 3 p.m. Then on Sunday, October 7 at 3 p.m., environmental lawyer Alan Kleinbaum, one of the attorneys they have retained, will address
the proposed redevelopment at another open meeting. “Sustainable Redevelopment in Princeton: The Legal Perspective” will be held at the Princeton Fire Engine Company #1 facility on Chestnut Street.

“There is significant concern about the development and a desire to have a better development,” says Ms. Assmus. “There seems to be a misconception out there that this is a done deal, that nothing can be done to change it. But that’s not the case.”

The group maintains that AvalonBay’s site plan, which was revised last June, is incomplete. Missing are details about hydrant water flows, fire prevention, traffic study data, and contamination of the site, they say. State documents regarding the decommissioning of the old hospital are also incomplete, they maintain.

In addition to Mr. Kleinbaum, the group has hired a municipal land use attorney. The group is raising funds to pay the lawyers and the urban planner they have also retained. “The big push now is to raise money to have these experts,” Ms. Assmus said. A teleconference was held by the group on September 12. A post on the group’s Facebook page September 6 said that $10,000 had been raised so far, but “at least $20,000 more” is needed.

Since AvalonBay was announced as the buyer for the former hospital site in November 2011 and first presented its plans, some neighborhood and outer area residents have expressed repeated concerns about scale, design, access, sustainability, and safety. An ad hoc committee addressed the design, making such changes as archways opening up the courtyard, a lower building height, and a reduced mass for the building. But many residents have said they were not enough.

“We would like AvalonBay to get their architects [Perkins Eastman] to do a truly custom design, working with the neighborhood and Borough code and the master plan,” said Ms. Assmus. “This really could work.”

Ron Ladell, senior vice president, development, of AvalonBay, declined to comment for this article.

Terhune Orchard’s fall festival, which began 36 years ago, featured farm wagon rides, pony rides, pumpkin painting, and scarecrow making for the kids, and sent people home “done with apple-picking now” and maybe with Robert Frost dreams in store: “Magnified apples appear and disappear, / Stem end and blossom end, /And every fleck of russet showing clear.” (Photo by Emily Reeves)

September 12, 2012

“L” IS FOR LITERACY: Congressman Rush Holt (center) was recently named a Literacy Champion in ceremonies at the Princeton Public Library to mark September as Adult Literacy Month in Mercer County. The award was made by (from left): Cheryl Kirton, executive director, and Lew Thurston president of the board of the Literacy Volunteers in Mercer County. Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes was also named a Literacy Champion at the ceremony.

Tutors, students and their families, librarians, and honored guests were among those present when Literacy Volunteers in Mercer County (LVMC) held a kick-off event marking September as Adult Literacy Month earlier this week at the Princeton Public Library.

There are over 60,000 Mercer County residents who cannot read above a fifth grade level, reported County Executive Brian Hughes. The inability to fill out a job application, read a newspaper, understand a prescription, or read a bed-time story to children are just a few of the consequences of this “problem for all of us.” Mr. Hughes read the official proclamation naming the month-long initiative and, along with Congressman Rush Holt (D-12), was honored as a “champion of literacy” at the event.

“Our goal is to heighten public awareness and increase the number of people who understand the vital role adult literacy training plays in our county’s well-being,” said an LVMC spokesperson.

LVMC offers free, confidential literacy programs. Former students, some of whom are now tutors themselves, were present at the library program to talk about the remarkable difference that literacy instruction made in their lives. Mr. Hughes also cited the record number of General Education Development (GED) diplomas that were awarded to residents at area correctional facilities this year.

LVMC students come from between 30 and 40 different countries, and range from the newly-arrived to those who have been here for 10 or 15 years or more. With the number of students now exceeding the number of available tutors these days, more tutors are needed. Mr. Holt, who was a tutor himself, described it as “some of the most fulfilling work you can do,” and jokingly took exception to the description of volunteering as “‘something you can do in your down time.’” “You have to be ON to tutor,” he emphasized as the audience laughed appreciatively.

Tutor and former student Eric Little also drew laughs with his description of getting new students to relax. “They’re so scared, you can see it in their eyes,” he said. Mr. Little owned up to being scared himself, since his students have included dentists and other professionals who received more education in their countries of origin than he can claim for himself.

The public is invited to LVMC’s open house at its headquarters on 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Suite 104, in Hamilton Township, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Monday, September 24. The program will include refreshments, tours, door prizes, promotions and, from 1 to 2 p.m. a model tutoring class.

Those interested in tutoring are also encouraged to take advantage of two upcoming tutor training sessions. An evening session begins Monday, October 15, and meets for five weeks from 6 to 9 p.m. A daytime session also begins October 15 and meets for five weeks from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. All classes are held at the offices of Pelletieri and Rabstein, 100 Nassau Park Boulevard, West Windsor. To sign up, call (609) 587-6027.

For more information visit www.MercerLiteracy.org.

Grassroots activists and volunteers representing the consumer advocacy organization Food and Water Watch visited the Princeton Farmers Market last week to talk about the Fracking Waste Ban Bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature. Fracking is a process of natural gas extraction that is employed in deep natural gas well drilling.

The bill passed both houses of the state legislature with strong bipartisan support. If it is enacted, it would would make New Jersey the first state in the nation to prohibit the discharge, disposal, treatment, or storage of fracking waste products.

After vetoing the bill last year, Governor Chris Christie proposed a one-year moratorium on fracking. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand, and proprietary chemicals are injected under high pressure. The pressure fractures the shale and forces open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. Pennsylvania inspectors have found that fluid spills have contaminated some waterways.

The New Jersey bill would specifically ban the treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage of any wastewater, wastewater solids, sludge, drill cuttings or other byproducts of fracking in New Jersey.

Food and Water Watch representatives encouraged those they talked to at the Farmers Market to call Governor Christie and express their support for the pending legislation.

“The response was very positive,” reported organizer Karin Wilkinson afterward. “We got around 60 signatures with promises to make the call.” With more numbers coming in from other public events in the state, Food and Water Watch hopes that at least 1,000 calls will be made to the governor’s office.

Last year, both Township Committee and Borough Council adopted an anti-fracking resolution proposed by the Princeton Environmental Commission (EC).

“Fracking companies aren’t required by law to disclose what’s in their solutions,” said EC Chair Matt Wasserman at the time. “Energy policies don’t have governance … [and] no one is giving us firm answers. I’m going to err on the side of caution … if an opportunity came up where we needed to let our lawmakers know about it, it is something folks here should be concerned about.”

For more information on Food and Water Watch visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.

RECOVERING RANGE OF MOTION: Instructor Patti Haggerty, left, and Neurac Institute co-owner Jamie Kornbluth, right, demonstrate the gentle exercises offered by the Pink Ribbon Program, which helps breast cancer patients regain their strength and flexibility. The Bunn Drive rehabilitation studio is currently offering the program, just in time for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is October.

Breast cancer patients recovering from surgery and follow-up treatments have traditionally been told by their doctors to rest during the healing process. But taking it easy, it turns out, isn’t always the best idea.

More current thinking shows that exercising as soon as possible is the key to reclaiming the range of motion commonly lost after mastectomy or the removal of lymph nodes. The simple act of washing one’s hair, or raising an arm to put dishes away in an overhead cupboard, can be severely compromised by these procedures, leading to feelings of depression and defeat.

It is early intervention — as soon as a doctor gives the green light — that can make the difference, experts say. The Neurac Institute, a local rehabilitation and sports performance center located on Bunn Drive, is now offering workout sessions specially tailored to breast cancer survivors. Known as the Pink Ribbon Program, this rehabilitation system uses Pilates exercises, principally, to help patients regain full range of motion in areas affected by their surgery. Clients can begin as early as six weeks after their procedure, or as late as several years after surgery.

“Once you get through all the drama of surgery and possibly radiation or chemotherapy, you are often told to take it easy,” says Patti Haggerty, a certified Pilates instructor who has been specifically trained in the six-year-old Pink Ribbon Program. “But there is tremendous value in exercise. It can restore range of motion. It can help prevent lymphedema (swelling of the arm caused by a compromised lymphatic system) and infections, which is everybody’s biggest fear.”

Breast cancer survivor Doreen Puglisi, a New-Jersey-based exercise physiologist, founded the Pink Ribbon Program after working with breast cancer survivors and then becoming a patient herself. She has trained more than 400 instructors in the United States, Europe, and Australia in the technique she developed. Many, like Ms. Haggerty, are Pilates instructors; others are physical therapists. The program focuses on stretching and strengthening the shoulder, chest, back, and abdominal muscles.

Once a client reaches a certain level, she (or he) can progress to regular Pilates exercise sessions, or Redcord, another system of rehabilitation offered at the Neurac Institute. “Pilates is the next step, and it’s an easy transition,” says Jamie Kornbluth, who is co-owner of the Institute. “And Patti knows just how to help the person make that transition, because she knows what they have been through. Clients don’t feel like they’re being thrown to the wind when they finish, because they can continue their fitness training right here, at the next level.”

Ms. Haggerty’s personal connection to breast cancer is her closest friend, who is a 14-year survivor of the disease. “The good news is that she is a survivor,” Ms. Haggerty says. “But what isn’t as good is that after her surgery, no one told her that she’d lose her range of motion if she didn’t exercise. If she had known, she would be better off today.”

The Pink Ribbon Program is for patients at all levels of fitness. Ideally, training should begin within a year of surgery. “The best time to start is six to twelve weeks after, because you’re really nipping it in the bud and getting that range back,” says Ms. Haggerty. “And one of the most important things for breast cancer patients is regaining control, strength, and self-esteem. This is the way to do it.”