August 28, 2013

When Mayor Liz Lempert and members of Princeton Council met on Monday evening, they heard, among other business, an announcement by representatives of the Valley Road School Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) that it had been approached by an investor/developer interested in taking on the project.

Kip Cherry, attorney Bruce Afran, and former Mayor Dick Woodbridge spoke briefly about the VRS-ARC project and announced a proposal from Sustainable Energy Financing Program (SEFP) and its representative Larry Sprague.

SEFP looks for adaptive reuse projects that cost in excess of $2 million and present sustainable energy saving opportunities. According to Mr. Woodbridge, many of their projects have involved former school buildings and they are currently working on projects in Brick Township and in Philadelphia. SEFP would provide all of the funding necessary to convert the Valley Road Building into a community center with space for local non-profit groups as conceived by VRS-ARC.

The announcement, which was made during the public comment portion of the Council session, prompted Princeton resident Joe Small to comment. Describing the building as a “century-old piece of junk” which needs “uncalculated resources in order to be put into a useful state,” Mr. Small criticized the idea of renovating the Valley Road building and said that another non-tax paying property would not be in the best interests of Princeton taxpayers. Instead, he said, what is needed is taxable property, and in particular low income housing. By email Tuesday, Mr. Small explained that “if the Valley Road School building were to be sold to the highest bidder, taxpayers would no longer have to pay for upkeep on the under-utilized property and revenue would flow into the treasury from the now taxable property.” Since Princeton lacks adequate housing for its public employees (including teachers), Mr. Small suggests that turning the property into housing would benefit the entire community. “Although tax revenues might not be as high as if the property were sold and used for commercial (office, retail) or market rate residences,” he concedes, “there would still be a net gain for the taxpayers.”

“Giving the property to a non profit or leasing it at subsidized rates, might benefit those charities that would occupy the building and their clients but would not bring in any tax dollars or benefit all of the taxpayers for whose benefit the property is currently held, be it by the School Board or the municipality,” he wrote.

After Monday’s meeting, Mr. Woodbridge commented briefly on Mr. Small’s idea of selling the building to a developer. He suggested that if the School District were to do so, it might be in violation of the original deed of purchase.

Mr. Woodbridge was also quick to point out that, as yet, negotiations with Mr. Sprague and SEFP are at the beginning stages. While he admitted to feeling optimistic after a first meeting with Mr. Sprague and confident that investors in a public/private partnership would entail no cost to Princeton taxpayers and would satisfy the demands of a School Board resolution in March, he emphasized that these were early days. “We can do this.” he said.

In order for any such plans to move forward, however, VRS-ARC envisions the cooperation of Princeton Council and the Princeton School District, which bought the building from the former Princeton Township for $1. VRS-ARC wants Princeton Council to buy from the School District that part of the building they wish to turn into a community center so as to move ahead with their plans.

Mr. Sprague has expressed an interest in meeting with Mayor Lempert and Mr. Quinn, president of Princeton’s Board of Education.

Asked for comments, Mr. Quinn who attended the meeting Monday, responded by email: “The Board’s March resolution unequivocally rejecting VRS-ARC’s proposal did not envision a scenario under which the Board president would revisit that proposal with the inclusion of a private investment firm. As such, I will not meet with Mr. Sprague. I would only do so with the knowledge and consent of the full Board after a thorough vetting of their proposal by the district administration and the Facilities Committee. I think for me to meet with a private investor interested in a public property without following protocol would be entirely inappropriate.”

Mr. Quinn said he was “baffled” that the VRS-ARC announced the interest of an investor to Council, which does not hold title to the building. “The Board’s process for 369 Witherspoon is unchanged by this announcement since we are unaware of any details of VRS-ARC’s plan,” he said.


After a lengthy debate at its meeting Monday evening, Princeton Council voted down an ordinance regarding appropriate authority of the town’s police department. A new ordinance was introduced, naming the mayor and Council, rather than the township administrator, as the appropriate authority. A public hearing on the revised ordinance will be held at the Council’s September 9 meeting before a final vote is taken.

While Council member Jo Butler argued in favor of naming the mayor and Council for the post, Mayor Liz Lempert said Tuesday that she was frustrated by the vote. “We’ve had several meetings to discuss this, and we should be adopting recognized best practices which is to make it the administrator,” she said. ”We shouldn’t be playing politics with our police force and that’s one of the main reasons why it’s recommended that the appropriate authority be the administrator, to take the politics out of the police.”

Ms. Butler said yesterday that the appropriate authority’s role is to provide civilian oversight of the police force. “When you look at who that might be, it’s important for it to be the Council, because it is the most accountable,” she said. “Providing public safety is the most critical function we do, and I think it’s so important that we’re accountable to the public.”

Monday night’s meeting also included information from Princeton’s municipal attorney Ed Schmierer that Council member Heather Howard won’t be part of discussions regarding Princeton University’s voluntary financial contribution to the town. Ms. Howard is employed by the University as a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School, which Mr. Schmierer said presents a conflict of interest.

Mayor Liz Lempert, however, who is married to a tenured faculty member, was advised by Mr. Schmierer last week that she can take part in the upcoming talks. In an opinion he provided to Council, Mr. Schmierer said that “any conflict of interest is non-existent.”

No date has been set for the negotiations with the University, Ms. Lempert said in a press conference before the Council meeting Monday. “We will be pursuing a multi-year agreement,” she said. “It helps in planning for our budget to know what the amounts are going to be.”

Asked at the press conference whether she supports the idea of the University paying taxes, Ms. Lempert said “It’s a complicated issue.” Ultimately, she added, “I believe that they want to be a good neighbor, they want to be good citizens, and they want to do their part.”

The Council was planning to discuss which members should take part in the negotiations in closed session following the meeting.


Township engineer Bob Kiser reported to Council about recent meetings between the Williams Transco company, the municipality, and members of the citizens’ group the Princeton Ridge Coalition regarding a natural gas pipeline the company wants to add to the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge.

As a result of the meetings, which included a walk along the length of the line, Transco agreed to narrow the right of way from 80 to 50 feet. “This will greatly reduce the amount of disturbance on the ridge,” Mr. Kiser said. “They also agreed to update their plan on which trees will need to be removed.”

Mayor Lempert praised the Princeton Ridge Coalition for their diplomatic handling of the situation, calling them “one of the most amazing neighborhood groups I’ve ever seen. They have approached it in a really impressively effective way.”

Transco is expected to file its plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in mid-September. Following that date, Council will decide whether it wants to officially intervene in the process.

Post Office

The Council voted to pass a resolution regarding the sale of the building on Palmer Square that houses the Princeton post office. The resolution expresses the community’s need to maintain a post office in the central business district.

Mayor Lempert thanked U.S. Representative Rush Holt’s office for interceding in what was going to be the sale of the post office this month. The postponement means the Council now has 30 days to comment on the issue before the office is put on the market.

Some sealed bids have been submitted for the building. The New Jersey Historic Trust is negotiating an easement with the Postal Service, and the Trust will hold the easement. Mayor Lempert said it is important that whatever goes into the former post office needs to comply with historic and zoning ordinances.



So begins Sunday’s Splash ‘n Dash Aquathon at Community Park, with kids ages 7 to 10 at the start of the race, which combines running and swimming. The event was sponsored by the Princeton Recreation Department. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

August 23, 2013
FROM PAGE TO STAGE: As part of the Princeton Public Library’s Page to Stage series, playwright and director Brandon Monokian and actress Kaitlin Overton with local high schoolers on the content of Homer’s “The Odyssey” this week. They team will present two performances of a 21st century version of the classic story this Friday, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Library’s community room. From left to right (front row) Elaine Milan, Ms. Overton, Mr. Monokian, Karina Lieb, Ursula Blanchard; (back row: Jocelyn Furniss, Hunter Sporn, Programming Librarian Janie Hermann, Noelle Anglade, Trinity Chapa, Olivia Harrison, and Karen Wang.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

FROM PAGE TO STAGE: As part of the Princeton Public Library’s Page to Stage series, playwright and director Brandon Monokian and actress Kaitlin Overton with local high schoolers on the content of Homer’s “The Odyssey” this week. They team will present two performances of a 21st century version of the classic story this Friday, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the Library’s community room. From left to right (front row) Elaine Milan, Ms. Overton, Mr. Monokian, Karina Lieb, Ursula Blanchard; (back row: Jocelyn Furniss, Hunter Sporn, Programming Librarian Janie Hermann, Noelle Anglade, Trinity Chapa, Olivia Harrison, and Karen Wang. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Guided by stage professionals Brandon Monokian and Kaitlin Overton, a dozen or so teens, most of them about to enter 9th grade at Princeton High School (PHS), are getting to grips with The Odyssey this week at the Princeton Public Library.

In preparation for Homer’s classic, required for 9th graders at PHS, the teens are researching and rehearsing for a staged reading this Friday of Naomi Iizuka’s 21st century version, Anon(ymous).

“We chose this modern version as a way to introduce Homer’s original to students who will encounter the book this fall,” said Programming Librarian Janie Hermann. “The Odyssey is an amazing work of literature but it’s also a challenging text, so we have partnered with PHS to help students toward a successful understanding.”

Anon(ymous) is the story of a boy named Anon, a refugee searching for his mother in modern day America. Along the way, he meets characters representing the people and creatures Odysseus met in his journey, such as the cyclops who was blinded by him,” explained Jocelyn Furniss, who found the story to be sometimes funny but with dark aspects overall. “I love acting and so I decided to be a part of this program,” she said.

“The language is beautiful and descriptive and the play is especially well-suited to a staged reading; Anon is a sort of Everyman,” offered Ms. Hermann. Ms. Overton agreed: “When I first read this play, I felt that the character of Anon represented all children.” As for Mr. Monokian, he is particularly attracted to the way in which Ms. Iizuka’s play “takes Homer’s gods and monsters and makes them real people.”

That Anon is a refugee from a war in some unspecified country lends itself well to student discussion. “It’s is a modern and poetic version of The Odyssey that touches on lots of global issues,” said Princeton teen Ursula S. Blanchard.

“I enjoy the imagery and themes of hope, struggle, and finding a place in the world,” said Elaine Milan of Montgomery High School, one of several participants from schools other than PHS, like Trinity Chapa of Northern Burlington High School and Karen Wang of West Windsor Plainsboro High School South. All other participants will be at PHS this fall. Hunter Sporn, the sole boy in the group, came along in order to learn more about The Odyssey.

“I like the modern twist on an ancient story,” said Olivia Harrison. “My favorite character is Nasreen who I played in the read-through.” According to participant Karina Lieb, reading Anon(ymous) makes The Odyssey easier to understand “and more fun.”

On Monday, the students were still a little shy of one another. Chances are that will fall by the wayside as the week progresses and they pour their energies into Friday’s two performances. Throughout the week, for three hours a day, the students will also be examining source materials.

The workshop offers students an opportunity to bring their own interests to bear. At the end of their first session, they were invited to bring in an object from home that they felt had some association with the play. If they were up for it, perhaps they might stage a sword-fighting scene, suggested Ms. Overton, to general positive response. “O yes,” said one student, “that’s the sort of thing we do all the time in ballet school.”

Both Mr. Monokian and Ms. Overton, from Highbridge and Lumberton respectively, have been involved in theater from the age of five. They’ve been working together since both were students at Montclair State University collaborating on the Laramie Project. “We were both involved with a protest project called Revolutionary Readings that was created in response to a youth anthology, Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology edited by Amy Sonnie, which was banned from two public library’s in New Jersey. When the anthology was read at the Princeton Public Library, Mr. Monokian and Ms. Overton created the Library’s Page to Stage series with Ms. Hermann.

Mr. Monokian earned national attention with Revolutionary Readings. He’s helped to raise thousands for women’s charities and was recently listed as one of South Jersey Magazine’s “Names to Know.” His original play Grimm Women has been staged at New York’s Kraine Theater and in Adrienne Theater’s 2nd Stage in Philadelphia. He is also a professional actor with appearances at the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company, Vineyard Playhouse and Luna Stage, among numerous others.

Kaitlin Overton, a recent graduate with a BA in Theatre Studies and a minor in International Studies, is an actress with credits that include You Me Bum Bum Train, directed by Kate Bond. An intern with the critically acclaimed New York Neo-Futurists, she plays the ukulele and has written original music for several staged readings of the Library’s Page to Stage series.

Page to Stage

The Library’s Page to Stage series began three years ago with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The idea is to explore and present staged readings of books that have been made into plays.

Some eight titles including two other plays by Naomi Iizuka have been presented: Freak, which she wrote with Ryan Pavelchik, based on the Pygmalion myth in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Tattoo Girl an adaptation of “Perpetua,” a short story by Donald Barthelme.

In addition, Page to Stage participants have delved into: Eurydice, a retelling of the Orpheus myth by Sarah Ruhl; Einstein’s Dreams, an adaptation of the book by Alan Lightman by Kipp Errante Cheng; The Arabian Nights, Mary Zimmerman’s version of Scheherazade and the 1001 Nights; Jack and the Beanstalk adapted by Bill Springer from the classic fairy tale; Jookalorum!: a collection of stories from O. Henry adapted by Joellen Bland and named after the author’s own term for something special or spectacular; and Mr. Monakian’s Revolutionary Readings.

“Having high schoolers involved is a new direction for Page to Stage which more often involves students at the university level who come to share their love of theater, and so we are very excited about this production,” said Ms. Hermann. “This has been a really fantastic three year run and we are always evolving the program.” Princeton TV’s Sharyn Murray created a short documentary, Page to Stage: Bringing Literature to Life, about the program.

The teen drama and literary workshop culminates in two performances of Anon(ymous) this Friday, August 23, a public dress rehearsal at 2 p.m. before the performance at 6 p.m., both in the Library’s Community Room.


August 21, 2013
HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

HONING LEADERSHIP SKILLS: Participants in Corner House’s 2013 Student Leadership Institute last week took part in three days of team-building on the campus of Princeton University. The annual retreat included lectures, communication exercises, and evening activities.

In its mission to foster the emotional well-being of area youth, the local social service agency Corner House has long enlisted the help of young members of the community. Divided into four teams, these students from Princeton High School, The Hun School, Princeton Day School and Stuart Country Day School focus on issues like bullying, family strife, and drug and alcohol abuse, learning techniques to cope and how to pass them on to others.

Last week, 75 participants converged on the Princeton University campus for Corner House’s annual Student Leadership Institute. The students took part in three days of team-building exercises, heard talks by guest speakers, and unwound in the evenings with a hypnotist, karaoke, and a dance party.

In early years of the program, the teams had taken part in individual retreats. But Corner House Executive Director Gary Di Blasio realized a few years ago that being a part of something bigger made the program an even more powerful tool. “You put some 70 students out in the community and they can set the standard of how things can be,” he said this week. “The Leadership Institute has become really important.”

Corner House student leaders from all four schools serve on the Student Board and the Teen Advisory Group, which is concerned with preventing abuse of drugs and alcohol. Those chosen for Project GAIA [Growing Up Accepted in America] and GAIA2, which focus on bullying and acceptance, are students at Princeton High School. The growing popularity of the programs has made admission competitive.

“The leadership programs began with the Teen Advisory Group 22 years ago. When I got here 13 years ago, I realized that the number of students applying were about four times more than we had spots for,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “So we began looking at how to expand that program for teens in the community. It seemed like leadership was something that students and parents and schools were interested in.”

The Teen Advisory Group was expanded, and the first Project GAIA was begun about 12 years ago. It became so popular that GAIA2 was added to the mix. The first Student Board had four participants; currently there are 15.

Princeton High School rising senior Harry Kioko applied to be in the GAIA program as a sophomore. “I didn’t know that much about it, but I decided to give it a try,” he recalled. “I did it sort of on a whim, as a resume-stuffer. But it quickly became a lot more than that.”

As part of GAIA and GAIA2, Harry and his colleagues went into elementary and middle schools to do workshops about acceptance, overcoming differences, and seeing the good in different backgrounds. Then he graduated to the Teen Advisory Group, which talked to middle school students about prevention, moderation, and pressures to drink and take drugs that they might encounter in high school.

As part of the Student Board this coming school year, “We act as an intermediary, I like to think, between students and adults,” he said. “We have seats on the recreation and human services boards, the Corner House board, and as a Princeton Council liaison. We raise the issues we see in school or with our friends. We also plan a lot of events for the community, like the All-City Dodge Ball tournament and Friday Live at the Library, which is geared toward creating a substance-free environment where kids can go on weekends. We really make sure they are as cheap as possible, or free.”

Taking part in these programs throughout the years has allowed him to talk to students he might not otherwise know, Harry said. “It’s really become a very close-knit family and community. It’s sort of cool, because in the past couple of years I’ve really seen Corner House gain more scope and more respect in the community,” he said. “I’ve seen myself change a lot, too. A lot of the stuff we talk about, it shapes you. It really is rewarding. You learn a lot from it. This year, I’m hoping to take it to new heights. It is a phenomenal experience.”

All of the students who take part in the Corner House leadership teams take a pledge, part of which says they will make every effort to abstain from using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. That is especially meaningful to Princeton High School rising senior Brittany Van Name, who was on the Teen Advisory Group last year and is a member of this year’s Student Board.

“This program, for me, is an opportunity to meet other kids in the Princeton area who share my same beliefs about abstaining from drugs and alcohol while in high school,” she said. “At school, a lot of people don’t understand why I’m not at the weekend parties. When I’m at Corner House I feel more understood.”

Another PHS senior on the Student Board this year is Viraj Khanna, who learned about GAIA from his sister. She had started in her junior year and urged Viraj to apply in his sophomore year. He especially enjoyed taking part in a workshop designed to help eighth grade students transition to high school.

“Placing yourself in that role of being a role model really helps you view how you are viewed by the community,” he said. “Just knowing that more is expected of you by the surrounding community really changes you.”

Last week’s retreat was especially helpful because participants were together for three days and two nights, isolated from other distractions. “Everyone’s there. It really brings the group closer together,” Viraj said. “And you an see the transition in the group from before to after. Productivity really increases. People are communicating, suggesting ideas. Having completely candid conversations with your team members is really what brings it together.”

Chaperones for the retreat are all former student leaders. “Their commitment to passing it on, and to staying connected and wanting to stay part of it, is important,” Mr. Di Blasio said. “What I hear from students is that it gives them a sense that they’re having an impact on their community. They actually have the ability to impact their school and the town they live in. And it’s an impact that’s real.”


The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) and the NAACP Trenton Branch are providing an opportunity to travel by bus to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 24 for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, the historic march in which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Buses will depart from the Princeton Shopping Center and Hamilton AMC Theater at approximately 5 a.m. The Coalition for Peace Action and the NAACP will arrive at the Lincoln Memorial in time for the major rally with Martin Luther King III, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and others.

Attendees will then march approximately half a mile together to the Martin Luther King Memorial to close the day. Buses will arrive back in New Jersey at approximately 8 p.m.

To reserve a bus seat or obtain further information, contact the Coalition for Peace Action at (609) 924-5022,, or visit www.peaceco

Princeton Adult School is celebrating its 75th birthday with a year-long festival beginning in September and featuring an array of special activities throughout the community.

There will be conversations with renowned individuals linked to Princeton, a special lecture series within the Princeton Adult School curriculum, a gala, and a shopping spree, all commemorating the Adult School’s past 75 years of classes and lectures attended by an estimated 200,000 individuals. In addition, the celebration will toast the Adult School’s future in which the organization will grow stronger and even more committed to inspiring a lifetime of learning and personal enrichment.

Several other local non-profit organizations will be hosting events in honor of the Adult School’s 75th birthday. These include the Princeton Public Library; Princeton Arts Council; McCarter Theatre; Princeton Art Museum; Pro-Musica; Rider University/Westminster Choir College; Princeton Festival; Princeton University Concerts; Historical Society of Princeton; Morven; Institute for Advanced Study; Princeton Symphony Orchestra; Dorothea’s House; and Princeton HealthCare System.

The first Princeton Adult School Anniversary celebration event will be a conversation with former ABC Good Morning America news anchor and Princeton University Alumnus and Board member Charlie Gibson, September 27, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Princeton University’s Friend Center.

The topic is “Higher Education: Changes over the past 75 years — looking back and looking ahead.”

Mr. Gibson, an ABC Network news anchor and commentator, will lead a conversation with former Princeton University Presidents Shirley Tilghman and Harold Shapiro. Conversations, which will continue throughout 2014, are an informal exchange among people in leadership roles who will share their insights and experiences. Patron tickets for the entire Conversations Series will be $150; A single ticket is $25. All proceeds benefit the Princeton Adult School 75th Anniversary Fund.

The next event with a confirmed date is the Champagne Gala and Live
Auction, Sunday, May 4, 2014, at Jasna Polana. This birthday party is being underwritten by William and Judy Scheide, who are honorary co-chairs along with Betty Wold Johnson and Vivian and Harold Shapiro. Among the items to be auctioned are a trip to the Today Show with NBC’s Chief Medical Editor and Princeton resident Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a day with award-winning Chef Scott Anderson of Elements, and a cocktail party for 20 with two mystery servers.

Also: a day behind the scenes at McCarter Theatre with Artistic Director Emily Mann, an after-hours children’s birthday party at JaZams toy store, a day with Princeton University Art Museum Director James Steward going behind the scenes at the Frick Collection and other art galleries on the Upper East Side in New York City, and a walk-on role at the Princeton Festival production Diamonds are Forever.

Eight lectures will be held from October 8 through December 12 to celebrate the Adult School’s 75th Anniversary, also known as its Diamond Anniversary. Participating scholars are selecting someone or something from the last 75 years that has transformed their respective area of research or expertise.

Lecturers from Princeton University, include Cecilia E. Rouse, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School and Professor of Economics; Simon Morrison, Professor of Music; Michael W Cadden, Chair, Lewis Center for the Arts and Senior Lecturer in Theater; Angela Creager, Professor of History; Virgina A. Zakian, Professor of Molecular Biology; Alexander Nehamas, Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature; and Paul B. Muldoon, Professor of Creative Writing at the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Local shops and restaurants are donating a portion of all the proceeds and sales generated on November 7. More than 60 businesses already have made the commitment to participate in this Shop and Eat Event to benefit the Adult School, and it is anticipated that more will join.

Even though the Princeton Adult School held its first classes in January, 1939, the Adult School concept was born a year earlier during a discussion among Ruth Schleiffler, Laura Peskin, whose husbands owned Princeton News Delivery Service, and Mrs. W.R. Brearley, principal of the Nassau Street Elementary School. Mrs. Schleiffler visited the Trenton Adult School and returned from her adventure with one question and one statement:

“Why don’t we have such a school here? If Mrs. Brearley will do the curriculum, I’ll do the registration.”

Out of those words emerged what was then called Princeton’s Leisure Hour School, with a system of registration that involved spreading out index cards on tables in the Schleiffler living room.

The new adult school opened its doors literally to nearly 500 people during that first term, and figuratively to a new era in race relations. The adult school classes welcomed individuals of all races and religions, and its classes were being held at the Nassau Street Elementary School, a segregated school that remained segregated for public education classes for several more years.

After ceasing its operations during World War II, Princeton’s Leisure Hour School was reborn as the Princeton Adult School in 1948. When the Adult School turned 50 in 1989, student enrollment had grown six times during the course of the five decades. At the age of 75, the Princeton Adult School, during the 2012-13 fall/spring term, had enrolled more than 3,500 students in approximately 320 courses which is seven times the student enrollment and 11 times the course offerings that were available at the Leisure Hour School in 1939.

The variety of the course offerings are the result of the dedication of the Adult School staff and Board members and the resources of the Princeton community. Students can explore America and the world by learning languages, understanding the workings of governments, art and music, history and architecture. They can learn to cook exotic foods while remaining physically and mentally fit with exercise, computers, photography, and arts and crafts classes, and courses about the universe.

For information on the celebrations and course offerings, visit, or email For online courses, visit

As NJ Transit and Princeton University prepare to close the Dinky train station on August 26 and move passengers to a temporary platform and waiting room 1,210 feet away, the citizen group Save the Dinky has asked the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to temporarily halt the approval it granted NJ Transit last year to dismantle the existing station.

The emergency application was filed with DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and with Rich Boornazian, the assistant commissioner for Historic and Natural Resources, who approved NJ Transit’s request to abandon historic protection for the station in order to accommodate the University’s plans for a $330 million arts neighborhood. Plans call for the station’s two buildings, which are across University Place from McCarter Theatre, to be converted into a restaurant and cafe, while a new station designed by architect Steven Holl will be built 460 feet to the south.

Save the Dinky filed the stay application because the relocation of the station could include removal of train infrastructure and shortening of the track. An appeal of the 2012 decision is not due to be heard until later this fall.

The temporary platform is scheduled to be open for a year to 18 months. The University is planning to put an access road to its Lot 7 parking garage over the existing train line. According to a press release from Save the Dinky, the relocation project will “Й have an irreversible and catastrophic effect on the station by ending the station’s transportation function, removing its character-defining elements, and destroying a railroad right-of-way dating back to 1865, through abandonment and conversion to non-rail use.”

The Dinky carries passengers between the campus and the Princeton Junction train station, which is on the Northeast Corridor line. The station was built in 1918 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1973. According to the Save the Dinky website, late Princeton Borough Mayor Barbara Sigmund formed a committee in the early 1970s to save the line when the financial crisis of the railroads threatened to eliminate the Princeton Branch. Ms. Sigmund was mayor when NJ Transit sold the Dinky station complex to the University in 1984.

Save the Dinky wants to preserve the buildings as they are, along with a right-of-way to the station, but the University has maintained that it has the right to relocate the station and convert the buildings for another use.

Anita Garoniak, president of Save the Dinky, said in the release, “If we cannot get a stay, we will have no station left to argue about by the time the courts rule.”

Save the Dinky is involved in three other legal actions to try and save the station. The group is also part of a petition made by railroad passenger groups asking the federal Surface Transportation Board to rule that NJ Transit needs federal approval before pursuing its plans to abandon the station.

The current DEP application maintains that the requested stay is not only appropriate but in the public interest. “A stay will preserve the subject matter of the appeal and preserve confidence in the neutrality of the administrative processes that have been established under law to protect New Jersey’s historic environmental resources,” it reads.

Charles Montange, the Seattle-based attorney representing Save the Dinky in connection with the federal regulatory aspect of the case, said that it is not unusual for developers to acquire railroad property without complying with federal law.

“NJ Transit has frequently ignored federal regulations and is pretty much ignoring them here,” he said. “Their argument is that they don’t think it applies. I don’t think they’ve thought it through.”


Twenty-nine homicides have been reported this year in Trenton, and it’s only August. Shootings have become an almost daily occurrence.

Last Saturday night, police were pelted with rocks and bricks when they tried to disperse a block party that got out of hand. Violence in the capital city seems unprecedented, despite the addition of New Jersey State Police who were brought in last month to help Trenton’s police force, which was depleted by layoffs last year.

New Jersey’s capital city is clearly in crisis. But the dire conditions have not deterred those who volunteer with its various social service agencies or serve on their boards. Rather, these individuals — many of whom live in Princeton — say the situation makes their assistance more important than ever. Several interviewed by Town Topics scoffed at the idea that Trenton has become too dangerous for them to continue their work.

“I will never stay away,” said John Heilner, a volunteer and former board member with Mercer Street Friends, a soccer coach with Trenton City Youth Soccer League for 11 years, and an advisor to the popular Foundation Academy charter school. “I think Trenton needs human resources much more than the surrounding suburban towns. If people in places like Princeton can help with some very basic volunteer work, and if there is better government and economic investment, it will help revive the city.”

Mr. Heilner was particularly discouraged when Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, who was indicted on federal corruption charges last December and is still in office, folded the youth soccer league after 20 years. “The last year before it closed, it served about 250 boys and girls,” he said. “Programs like this give youth healthy alternatives to the street life.”

Focusing on children is the strategy of Princeton resident Jane Rohlf, a physician on staff at Trenton’s St. Francis Medical Center for the past 20 years and a volunteer who “adopted” the Robbins Elementary School, running its GrandPals program, which brings adults into classrooms to read to students. “If we can get these kids off the street and into these really good, life-changing programs like the NJTL [National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton], the golf program -[First Tee of Greater Trenton], the Boys and Girls Club and the Trenton Children’s Chorus, there is no question that their lives would be better,” she said.

As part of GrandPals, Dr. Rohlf reads to kindergarten students and runs a book club for fourth graders. She got free tickets for Robbins students to American Repertory Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Trenton’s War Memorial last year. She hopes to expand GrandPals in the future. But while children are Dr. Rohlf’s focus, they are not her only concern.

“What I feel badly about is that my older patients feel they can’t leave their homes at night,” she said. “They feel like hostages in their own neighborhoods. There are so many good people who are living here and trying to make things better. The blow that we suffered was $25 million gone from the budget, in one snap. We lost a third of the police force. You can’t recover from that. What’s so disheartening is that there are good people here. It will take us years to recover from the violence. I don’t understand why it’s taken government so long to be outraged. The cost to society is phenomenal.”

Dan Rodgers, a professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, has been a board member of Mercer Street Friends for more than a decade and former chair of the board. It is important to recognize, he said, that crime rates vacillate and cities go through cycles. But people in Trenton are clearly struggling to carry on.

“All historians know that in the U.S., cities are complicated social and economic societies,” he said. “When the economic base hollows out for one reason or another, it’s difficult. At the moment, what worries a lot of us are the cutbacks in federal funds, and what appears to be a real and historic retreat from helping the neediest folks in our society.”

Princeton resident Liza Peck has volunteered at the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County for three years. She also helps Dr. Rohlf at the Robbins School, transporting GrandPals volunteers and organizing the program. At the Crisis Ministry, she helps people maintain stable housing situations.

“We’re trying to avoid the disruption and dislocation of being evicted,” she said. “This kind of disruption can lead to a lot of negative avenues, particularly homelessness. It’s the heart of the whole equation. You feel like anything you can do to keep a family together and in one place, or the neighborhood they’re accustomed to, is going to help.”

Ms. Peck usually visits the Crisis Ministry’s office on East Hanover Street in the morning. “It really isn’t intimidating to go there,” she said. “There are a lot of people out and doing things. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I felt even a little bit uncomfortable.”

Attorney Albert M. Stark grew up in Trenton and knows the city well. “I’m not afraid of Trenton at all,” said Mr. Stark, who has donated considerable time and money to the tennis and education programs of the NJTL. “I know the neighborhoods not to go into. I don’t consider myself just a Princetonian. I consider myself a Trentonian who lives in Princeton.”

Mr. Stark has watched children who participate in NJTL emerge from challenging situations. “If you look at Trenton’s problems, there are only four ways out of poverty: Crime, politics, education, and entrepreneurship,” he said. “What the NJTL program does with it’s sports and educational component is really give their 2,500 kids an opportunity to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is parental involvement. They make it possible for single mothers to be involved. They go into the neighborhoods, the homes, and the schools. And it makes a difference.”

Changing the educational system to allow neighborhood high schools instead of sending all of the city’s teenagers to Trenton Central High would also make a difference, he believes. “That’s where you can foster parental involvement and deal with kids in their own environment,” he said. “It’s helping those who get lost in crime and corruption.”

Local volunteers for Trenton organizations urge others to join them. “All of these organizations need people with brains and access to money to serve on their boards,” said Dr. Rohlf. “These programs have to keep going. They are always looking for people with talent and a desire to help out. I just keep saying, if it’s not good for all of us, it’s not going to be good for any of us.”


Summer means construction work in Princeton. After recent road works on Dickinson Street, Snowden Lane, and River Road, Vandeventer Avenue was closed starting on Monday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for sanitary sewer work. Also beginning on Monday, Washington Road was closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. between Faculty Road and Ivy Lane for resurfacing work by Mercer County.

Milling and paving work on Washington is expected to continue through August 30, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., at which time it will be closed between Prospect Avenue and Faculty Road. Harrison Street is the suggested alternate route.

The work on Vandeventer follows on improvements made by the municipality on the northern portion of Moore Street between Franklin Avenue and Hamilton/Wiggins.

The municipal project to repair and replace the sanitary sewer main pipe in the Vandeventer roadway is being overseen by Princeton Assistant Engineer Robert Pagan and carried out by the contractor Integrated Construction and Utilities of New Jersey.

“As the project manager, I’ll be on site checking the progress of the work, which is moving as anticipated so far,” said Mr. Pagan, who was examining the project with Inspector Chris Knigge on Monday.

Individual sewer pipes serving private properties on the street will also be replaced to a point behind the sidewalk and will be paid for by the municipality. If, through a video inspection by the contractor, it is discovered that repairs are necessary to the portion of the sewer between the municipal right of way and private homes, property owners will be given the option to use either a plumber at their own cost for the repairs or to use the municipality’s contractor and be assessed for the cost over a 10-year period.

“We expect to complete the first stage of the project from Spring Street to Nassau Street by the end of the week,” said Mr. Pagan, a 25-year veteran with the municipality and assistant engineer for the Borough of Princeton before consolidation took place in January.

As soon as the first stage of the project ends, the second stage, from Spring Street to Wiggins will begin and is expected to take two weeks. The work is being confined to the hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the Monday to Friday work week. According to Mr. Pagan, Vandeventer will reopen to traffic and parking at the end of each work day and on weekends.

The good news, however, is that Alexander Street reopened on Monday after repaving work on University Place between College Road and Alexander Street.

Temporary Dinky Station

As for the Dinky, a temporary station located some 1,210 feet away from the current station is expected to open next Monday, August 26, on Alexander.

The temporary station will serve until the fall of 2014 when Princeton University hopes to complete the construction of a new Dinky station some 460 feet away from the current Dinky Station buildings, which will be converted into a restaurant and café as part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit project.

The temporary station will have an enclosed heated and air-conditioned waiting room.

According to Kristen Appelget, Princeton University’s director of community and regional affairs, the University will provide a new express bus, called Tiger PAW, as a supplement to the Dinky service between Princeton station and Princeton Junction. PAW would meet every incoming train to the Junction. Ms. Appleget gave an update to the municipality at the most recent council meeting on August 5. She announced that while the new Dinky Station is being constructed the Tiger Paw will serve passengers inconvenienced by the distance that the temporary station adds to their journey. Commuters who drive to the temporary Dinky site will find a parking lot with space for 150 vehicles.

For additional information about the Arts and Transit project, call (609) 258-8023 or visit: For information on road closures in the Princeton area, visit:



Close to the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer, by the Garden Theater, Patrol Officer Chris Craven looks on as repairs to existing sewer lines get underway on Monday. The road will be closed for about three weeks during weekdays from Monday through Friday, as the sanitary sewer line is replaced in two stages, first from Nassau to Spring and then from Spring to Wiggins streets. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)


August 14, 2013
AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

AT THE WELL: Counselors and teachers from the At the Well Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy, which took place from July 28 to August 9, at Princeton University’s Friend Center gather Friday before the graduation ceremony. From left: Tina Haskell, Kekelly Ketemepi, ­Veronica Farrar, Alexandria V. duBoulay, SAT teacher Naomi Leapheart; in front, Residential Dorm Director LeRhonda Greats, Nicole Glass, Seana’ Dark, and Martice Sutton. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Actress Jasmine Guy took center stage at the closing ceremony of the At the Well (ATW) Young Women’s Leadership Summer Academy in Princeton University’s Friend Center last Friday.

Ms. Guy spoke about her life experiences as a young woman who left home at 17 to dance for the Alvin Ailey company in New York City and, more recently, of her personal achievement as author of a biography of Afeni Shakur, the mother of Tupac Shakur, titled, Evolution of a Revolutionary.

Ms. Guy was just one of a stellar line-of inspirational mentors, teachers, entrepreneurs, and accomplished business leaders in the African American community invited by At the Well’s founder Jacqueline Glass to share their skills and experiences with a select group of 80 high school girls entering grades 10 through 12 from across the country, including Hawaii.

The ceremony was the culmination of two weeks in which high schoolers had followed a rigorous schedule of leadership training activities with workshops in mathematics, critical reading and writing, SAT preparation, independent study, and rehearsals for a play about deterring violence against women and girls created by the young scholars themselves. They participated in team building activities and heard from motivational speakers the likes of Brandi and Karli Harvey, entertainer Steve Harvey’s daughters; inventor Lisa Ascolese of QVC Television and The Home Shopping Network; author A’Lelia Bundles, whose biography of her great great grandmother Madame C. J. Walker, On Her Own Ground, is a New York Times bestselling biography and who is now working on a biography of her great-grandmother, A’Lelia Walker; Huffington Post blogger and money expert Tiffany Aliche; beauty journalist and editor Tai Beauchamp (Oprah Magazine, Seventeen); Delta Airlines professional and Atlanta Daily World’s 2013 Woman of Excellence Karmetria Burton; Deborah Owens, author of A Purse of Your Own; among others.

“I connected with speakers who had a passion for making a difference in the lives of girls. All of our faculty and our guest speakers like Jasmine Guy were excited to be coming here. These are individuals who can command large honoraria far beyond what we are able to give, but more than that they have heart,” said At the Well Founder and CEO Jacqueline Glass.

Now in it’s third year, ATW is the only summer leadership institute at an Ivy League campus for minority teen girls from under-served communities. From July 28 until August 9, they boarded at Princeton University and experienced a taste of college life. They were taught by Princeton University professors and coached by Goldman Sachs professionals.

It wasn’t all study, however, there was time for fun and a trip to New York City to attend a Broadway show, Motown. To their delight, comedian Chris Rock, the uncle of one student, stopped by to visit his niece.

Personal Perspective

Perhaps best known for her role as the iconic southern belle Whitley Gilbert from the Cosby Show spinoff television series A Different World, Jasmine Guy has a recurring role as Grams on the popular series Vampire Diaries. Her theater work includes Broadway productions of The Wiz, Grease and Chicago and among her awards are six consecutive NAACP Image Awards.

Commenting on her participation in a pre-event interview, Ms Guy said: “It is very important for us to reach out to these young girls, especially since all of the issues that we had growing up are compounded today with the revolution in communications. I wasted a lot of time comparing myself to others and tearing myself down. All we have is our own perspective so it needs to be balanced and healthy. It’s taken me many years to learn to do that, and I still fall prey to negative thinking from time to time. I hope to convey some of the ways that you can switch from negative to positive thinking and be a friend to yourself.” Her keynote address was peppered with wit and wisdom,

Achievement Gap

Motivated by the academic achievement gap between minority teen students and their white counterparts Jacqueline Glass, a 2003 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, founded At the Well, which has its roots in a series of one-day conferences she set up beginning in 2009 to empower women, particularly women of color, who were struggling as she had.

Besides being a licensed minister, Ms. Glass has worked as an adjunct professor, a publishing professional, freelance marketing consultant, and editor. She is currently a court reporter for the New York Supreme Civil Court proceedings.

“The women’s conferences were founded as an alternative to feeling frustrated by not being able to climb the corporate ladder in spite of being overqualified in jobs and being looked over for promotion,” said Ms. Glass.

At one such event, a program for teenage girls was added. “That’s when I found my calling. This is a form of ministry for me. These girls hunger and thirst for knowledge, guidance, and leadership,” said Ms. Glass whose own teenage daughter is now in her second year as an undergraduate at Rutgers University and was a counselor at this year’s Academy.

According to Ms. Glass, “The U.S. Department of Education statistics state African Americans account for about 13 percent of the entire college enrollment. The low performance of African-American students in math and on SAT scores is alarming. Our program addresses these issues head-on.”

The first two-week At the Well Summer Leadership Academy was held in 2011. In 2012, there were 43 girls. This year that number has doubled. Of hundreds of applicants, only one in three is accepted. “This has grown beyond my wildest expectations,” she said.

To participate, students had to meet criteria based upon recommendations, an interview, a written essay, extracurricular activities, and grade point average. A generous grant from the F.I.S.H. Foundation has supported the Academy for two years. Toby Sanders, ATW director of curriculum and critical reading teacher has plans to set up a similar program for boys as soon as funding can be found.

At the Well

The name of the program was inspired by the Biblical story in the Gospel of John in which Christ speaks at length to an unnamed Samaritan woman who has come to draw water from a well and is transformed by the experience. “It is my hope that the experience of participating in this program will be transformative with inspiration, education, and reflection leading to transformation, seeing things anew,” said Ms. Glass.

A highlight of the closing ceremony was student Brandi McLeod’s a cappella singing. “I’m not the average girl from the video/and I ain’t built like a supermodel/but I learnt to love myself unconditionally/… my worth is not determined by the price of my clothes/no matter what I’m wearing I will always be/the beautiful Brandi.” Members of the audience had goosebumps.

For more information, visit:


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has honored physicist Rich Hawryluk with a Secretary’s Appreciation Award for his service to ITER, a huge international fusion experiment under construction in France.

Mr. Hawryluk, a former deputy director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), returned to the Lab in April after completing a two-year assignment as deputy director-general for the Administration Department at ITER, whose mission is to show the feasibility of fusion energy.

The DOE award, signed by former Energy Secretary Steven Chu and presented by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, recognized Hawryluk for “applying his wealth of big-science project management experience to enable the ITER project to make the transition from design phase to construction, thus helping ensure that this important international project will successfully move toward demonstrating the feasibility of fusion as a future energy source.”

Mr Hawryluk brought years of proven know-how to the ITER assignment. He joined PPPL in 1974 with a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and went on to head the Laboratory’s Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR), which set world records for fusion power during the 1990s. He served from 1997 to 2009 as deputy director of PPPL, which Princeton University manages for DOE.

“Rich Hawryluk has an unparalleled track record in scientific and organizational leadership in the fusion energy sciences,” Edmund Synakowski, head of the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, said in commenting on the award. Such leadership included Hawryluk’s guidance of the TFTR project, which “culminated in the generation of nearly 11 megawatts of fusion power,” Mr. Synakowski said.

“The Department therefore heartily supported [Hawryluk’s] willingness to respond to the call from ITER’s Director General, Osamu Motojima, to join his leadership team in Cadarache, France,” Synakowski said. “Rich served with distinction by bringing to ITER the same industry and insight that the U.S. community has come to know and admire.”

“ITER was a very interesting experience for me,” said Mr. Hawryluk. “And I learned in much more detail about the issues associated with bridging the transition from design to construction. ITER’s unprecedented size and power mark “a huge step forward from TFTR. While experiments on TFTR produced important data, ITER will show whether such results can be extrapolated into a viable source of fusion energy.”


HomeFront’s food pantries are desperately low and so the local non-profit agency based in Lawrenceville is urging residents to help alleviate the food shortage through a Stop Summer Hunger Now food campaign.

For some local children summer is not a time they look forward to — especially when their mothers already have trouble making their food dollars cover meals during the rest of the year. These families find it especially difficult in the summer when their kids don’t have access to nutritious school breakfasts and lunches.

“Most people think that winter is the hardest time for these families,” says Connie Mercer, HomeFront’s executive director. “During the winter, the children get subsidized breakfasts and lunches at school. During the summer, they don’t. These are families that live on the edge, economically. They can’t afford additional food and the whole family suffers. And the line at our front desk, coming to us for bags of nutritious food, gets longer and longer — and our shelves get empty, one after another. August is an especially tough month.”

“There is a day I dread,” she adds. “That is the day we run out of supplies and we have to turn hungry families and hungry children away. I can only hope that our community members, our friends, and neighbors will help us help them by donating to our food drive and will make sure that this sad day never comes.”

“Hunger isn’t just about discomfort,” she says. “It makes it hard to focus. It results in lower grades and test scores for children. It makes it hard for adults to develop job skills and get employment. It endangers the future of every member of these families. Every donated box of food is an investment in a better future.”

For more information, visit

Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville celebrates autumn with a two-day Apple Festival, September 14 and 15. The 37th annual festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Terhune will continue the celebration with fall festival weekends through October.

Participants can pick fresh apples from dwarf trees, take a tractor-drawn wagon ride, hear live music Saturday and Sunday from the Daisy Jug Band (returning for the 32nd year), visit the adventure barn, walk the farm trail, and have farm fresh snacks and a homemade lunch. There are numerous activities for kids, including face painting, pumpkin painting, pony rides, make-your-own scarecrows and a cornstalk maze.

Apples can be picked at the Cold Soil Road farm and Van Kirk farm on Apple Day. Pumpkins can pick be picked at the Terhune home farm.

At owner Pam Mount’s down-home food tent, a pig will be roasted for pork sandwiches. Barbecued chicken, hot dogs, homemade salads, and soup will also be for sale. Apple dishes will include apple pies, apple muffins, apple bread, cider doughnuts and applesauce, as well as Terhune apple cider.

Adults 21 and over can stop in at the vineyard and winery tasting room in the 150-year-old barn and sample our award-winning red and white wines, plus apple wine. The farm store will offer fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, homemade pies, homemade cookies, and fresh-pressed apple cider.

Fall festivals continue Saturdays and Sundays beginning the weekend of September 21 and ending October 27, including Columbus Day, Monday October 14. There will be live music, pumpkins to pick and decorate, pony rides, face painting, wagon rides, the corn stalk maze to explore, the adventure barn to visit, and festival foods to eat.

Pictures taken at the farm can be entered in the Terhune Orchards photo contest. Entries are due October 1. For complete rules and entry information stop by the farm store or visit

There is no admission to the farm store, winery tasting room, and Van Kirk pick your own. Admission to the festival area is $5. Children three and under receive free admission. Parking on the farm is free. There is no admission to the farm on weekdays. Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Lawrenceville. Visit or call the farm store at (609) 924-2310 for directions.


Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan will be the candidates for the New Jersey U.S. Senate seat vacated by Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. Mr. Booker and Mr. Lonegan were the winners in the primary held yesterday, and will compete in a special election for the seat on October 16.

But according to unofficial results last night, Princeton voters showed overwhelming support for Congressman Rush Holt, who was among the other Democratic contenders in the primary. Mr. Holt garnered 2,214 votes in Princeton, as compared to Mr. Booker’s 627. State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver earned 15 Princeton votes, while U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr. got 59.

In the Republican race, Mr. Lonegan earned 146 votes from Princeton, while Dr. Alieta Eck got 63.

Newark Mayor Booker, 44, has been in office since 2006. According to his campaign website, his win over Deputy Mayor Ronald Rice was the largest margin ever recorded in a contested Newark election. The charismatic mayor cited his lowering of crime rates, expansion of affordable housing, and lowering of the budget in Newark as qualifications for the job. He has been known to walk the streets of the city at night and live on food stamps for a week in an effort to understand Newark’s problems.

Mr. Booker announced his intention to run for Mr. Lautenberg’s seat last year. His Senate platform including the improvement of public education, the reduction of unemployment, and the passage of gun safety legislation. As of last week, he was leading the race with a projected 54 percent of likely Democratic votes, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

Mr. Booker served on Newark’s City Council from 1998 until his election as mayor in 2006. He is a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School, and was a Rhodes scholar.

Mr. Lonegan, 57, was the mayor of Bogota, in Bergen County, from 1996 to 2008. Currently, he directs the New Jersey chapter of Americans For Prosperity, a conservative and libertarian organization which advocates for limited government. Mr. Lonegan has emphasized fiscal conservatism, an individual’s right to bear arms, and his pro-life position, among other issues, during his campaign.

A Teaneck native, Mr. Lonegan became legally blind as a result of a degenerative eye disease he contracted as a youth. He graduated from William Paterson College and earned a master’s degree in business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. According to his campaign website, he built and managed retail, custom home-building and manufacturing businesses before becoming mayor of Bogota.

Among his achievements while in office were cuts in municipal spending, elimination of wasteful spending, privatization of some functions and more cost-efficient government, his website says.

Mr. Lonegan ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Representatives in 1998. He has run for the Republican nomination for governor of New Jersey twice, coming in fourth in 2005.


Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) will welcome the Reverend Dr. John E. White as the new dean of students and vice president for student relations, starting September 1.

Mr. White is not new to Princeton. From 1992 to 2000 he was pastor of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church. He also previously served as dean of students and vice president for student services at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He is a graduate of Pittsburgh Seminary with both the M.Div. and D.Min. degrees, and has served the Presbyterian Church (USA) in many capacities, including as vice moderator of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

“John has a real heart for students and he will bring energy and wisdom to our entire Seminary community, said Princeton Seminary president Craig Barnes.

Princeton Seminary, the first theological seminary founded by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has a student body of more than 500 students in six degree programs. They come from 44 states in the union and from 25 countries around the world.

The Reverend Dr. Catherine Cook Davis has been promoted to associate dean of student life and director of student placement, also effective September 1.

For more information, visit:

Last week, Princeton Council declined to put a non-binding referendum question on the November 5 General Election ballot that would ask voters whether a portion of the former Valley Road School at 369 Witherspoon Street should be turned into a community center with space for local non-profit groups.

To get a public question on the ballot a petition must be signed by 10 percent of voters; community center advocates had presented a petition signed by more than 2100 Princeton voters to Council in July.

However, according to Council as advised by municipal attorney Edwin Schmierer, the question cannot be included on the ballot because the building is owned by the Princeton Public School District.

In 2002, Princeton Township sold the building to the School District for $1.

The Valley Road School-Adaptive Reuse Committee (VRS-ARC) wants the town to buy back the building from the School District for the same $1 amount and then lease it to them at a similar nominal rate.

In an interview on Monday, Kip Cherry, President of Valley Road School Community Center, Inc. (VRSCCI), the nonprofit organization formed two years ago to raise money for the building’s renovation, said that she did not see Council’s decision as a setback. “Regardless of whether the question of saving Valley Road School is on the ballot, the people have weighed in and they overwhelmingly want to see the historic Valley Road School saved and reused. Ten percent of all Princeton voters signed the petition. I feel that the people have spoken,” she said.

Ms. Cherry, who collected signatures for the petition, described Princeton voters as “knowledgeable” on the issue. “They have watched Valley Road School deteriorate over the years; they care about the historic fabric of our town and about the public assets that make Princeton unique; they also know that renovating a building well-suited for a purpose is less expensive than tearing it down and building a new one,” she said. “Many Princeton voters will be disappointed at not having a chance to vote in November.”

Advocates of the community center plan would still like to see a referendum and Ms. Cherry believes that there is -opportunity to do so at a future date. Undeterred by last week’s council meeting, VRSCCI, in conjunction with VRS-ARC, released details on Monday of construction cost estimates for renovating the building, along with a conceptual design.

Prepared by New York architect Cary Spiegel, AIA, the estimates puts the total cost of construction including fees and contingencies at $3.9 million, considerably less than a School Board estimate of “at least $10.8 million.”

Ms Cherry said that when her group had asked for justification of the School Board’s estimate, no documentation was forthcoming.

According to Ms. Cherry, the figure from Spiegel Consultants, was prepared under the direction of VRSCCI’s architect, Josh Zinder, AIA, and includes two black box theaters and approximately 20,000 square feet of rental space.

A Little History

Now almost 100 years old, the original two-story school was designed by Robert A. Schumann and built on land given to “the inhabitants of Princeton Township” by Ernest and Grace Richardson. It opened in 1918 and was Princeton’s first integrated elementary school.

In 2011, Ms. Cherry submitted detailed plans to the Board of Education for its adaptive reuse as a community center in a 208-page proposal.

Earlier this year, the municipality created a task force, led by Councilman Lance Liverman, to explore the building’s use with respect to a possible expansion of the firehouse on Witherspoon Street.

In May of this year, on the same day that the building was listed by Preservation New Jersey (PNJ) as one of the 10 most endangered historic places of 2013, advocates launched their campaign to put the question of saving the building on November’s ballot. PNJ had described it as “an ideal candidate for rehabilitation, threatened by poor stewardship and uncertainty of future plans.”

Earlier proposals for the building had been received by the Board of Education. In 2008, several scenarios were put forward by KSS Architects of Princeton with costs ranging from $5.5 million to $24 million depending on the extent of the renovation, from maintaining all or some of the structures to partial or total demolition.

The District’s website has a timeline summarizing the actions and decisions by the Board of Education regarding the building since October 2007.

Asked for comment on what might be next for Valley Road School, former Princeton Township Mayor Richard Woodbridge, Chair of VRC-ARC and, like Ms. Cherry, a former student at the school, said: “The one thing we have learned from most other school-to-community-center conversions (like Chatham, Mass.) is that there is normally initial resistance. The lesson is be prepared for it and keep pressing the obvious financial and social advantages. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never give up. Never. Never. Never … Never.”

Princeton Council will next meet on August 26. Attorney Bruce I. Afran, the lawyer for the nonprofit organization, is expected to appear before the council to discuss the referendum at that time.

Meanwhile community center advocates continue to write letters to the editor of this newspaper on the subject (see page 12).



The morning rain made voting in Tuesday’s special primary election for U.S. Senate a challenge. The downpour was a memory, however, by the time this couple arrived at the polling place located at the Suzanne Patterson Center. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

August 7, 2013
YOUNG ERIC AT THE PIANO: He may be only nine but he’s a whiz at the piano. Eric has come from his home in Brooklyn to stay with the Alena family in Lawrenceville as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. He plays for William and Emily Alena as their mother Minda looks on. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children who visit host families in rural, suburban and small town communities like Princeton and Lawrenceville. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

YOUNG ERIC AT THE PIANO: He may be only nine but he’s a whiz at the piano. Eric has come from his home in Brooklyn to stay with the Alena family in Lawrenceville as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. He plays for William and Emily Alena as their mother Minda looks on. Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children who visit host families in rural, suburban and small town communities like Princeton and Lawrenceville. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Opening one’s home to kids from the city, can have unexpected consequences. Hearts and minds are opened too. Take Minda Alena and her family.

Ms. Alena and her husband Bill had been thinking about ways to give back to the community when they saw a pull-out insert in The New York Times about the Fresh Air Fund and its Volunteer Host Family Program. After finding out more, the couple felt that it would fit well with their family. They have a son, William, now 8, and a daughter Emily, now 6. “We were entranced by the concept and have found it to be a wonderful experience for everyone,” says Minda. “We would like to get the word out about the Fresh Air Fund. I don’t know why more families aren’t doing this.

This is the second year that the family has been visited by Eric, who comes from Brooklyn. Now nine, and with memories of last year’s visit, especially a day trip with the family to Hershey Park, Eric is perfectly at home. He knows exactly where to hang up his tennis racket on his way into the house after returning from day camp with William and Emily. The three children rush indoors with chatter about their day’s activities to share. The hot craft at summer camp this year seems to be “Rainbow Looming” and Eric, Emily and William have lots of examples to display.

Eric and William have favorite configurations for the small colorful elastic bands that are twisted into bands and rings. There’s the “fishtale,” the “zigzag trail,” and the “box.”

While here, Eric goes with Emily and William to a summer camp at the Trenton Country Club where some favorite activities are swimming (he just passed the deep end test and is all set to tackle the diving board next) and golf. “I like learning new things and meeting new people,” he says.

Eric’s 11-year old sister Diamond and 13-year old brother Paul are also on vacation in the country as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. Last year, Eric learned to swim here in the family’s pool and he loves tennis.

“It’s amazing to see how Eric has grown in maturity since last year,” says Minda. “He is very musical and we enjoy listening to him play the piano, especially at breakfast time, when he plays for us all. He has a band with his brother and sister,” she says. “Having him here definitely enriches all our lives.”

Neither William nor Emily, who both attend Lawrenceville Elementary School, plays an instrument (as yet) and are clearly captivated by Eric’s skill. Currently William’s favorite activities are sports-related: football, wrestling and Lacrosse; Emily loves cheerleading, gymnastics and ballet.

The family is also planning a few day trips this year to Six Flags to the New Jersey Shore and locally to Terhune Orchards (always a big favorite).

Eric arrived at Princeton Junction along with a bus load of some two dozen inner New York City kids on July 30, to spend one or two weeks with volunteer host families in the area. Hosts are located in Cranbury, Chesterfield, Trenton, Furlong, Princeton, Princeton Junction, Clarksburg, Manalapan, Villanova, Fair Haven, Lawrenceville, Manahawkin, Middletown, West Windsor, and Allentown.

The children, aged from six to 18, were greeted by balloons and brightly colored posters with their names writ large. Some were meeting host families for the first time. About two thirds of the group were, like Eric, returning to families they had visited before.

The Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Each year, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

For many volunteer families, participation becomes a regular part of summer and the visiting children become cherished family members. Not only do city kids experience suburban or country living, an experience that can have a profound impact, host families have a chance to interact across cultural and socioeconomic divides.

For Princeton residents Elizabeth and Jonathan Erickson, this will be their fifth year hosting Cieanna, now 12, who comes from the Bronx. They also have three children: Alexandra, 11, and twins Edward and William, 9. Their favorite activities are swimming, playing outside, and biking.

Ms. Erickson urges others to take part in the program which she describes as extremely rewarding for all.

Minda Alena couldn’t agree more. “The time will pass all to quickly,” she says. Eric will go home, August 9. But before that there is much to be enjoyed. Right now, he’s having so much fun that he says he doesn’t have time to count the days. Instead, he has to get ready for a pool party. Ah summer! That’s how it should be.


After more than a decade of debate, deliberation, design and redesign, Copperwood in Princeton, the luxury rental active adult community on Bunn Drive, is rising in its forest setting.

The 300,000 square feet of construction which designer and developer J. Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) refers to as a “modern European hilltop village” is made up of five buildings sitting atop a platform that provides underground parking for the residences with direct elevator service to the floor of their unit.

The platform is nearing completion and four of the five buildings have been framed out. The areas for amenities, which include a café-lounge, a community room and a fitness center surrounding a central piazza with trees and fountains, have all been roughly framed. Other amenities will include a full service concierge and a dog park.

The complex is surrounded by a preserved forest of trees over 100 feet tall that is part of the 200-acre Princeton Ridge Preservation. Sustainability features include sod roofs, low energy appliances, and recycled rainwater for irrigation.

“Copperwood will satisfy an unmet need for senior rental housing in Princeton and will provide luxury living and convenience to the active adults here,” said architect J. Robert Hillier. The Hillier organization has now begun processing lease applications for the 153 units which will open in early 2014. According to the organization, the 55+ community, in their planning to downsize, has shown a very strong interest in the apartments.

For more information, call (609) 688-9999, or visit:



The Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF) has announced that the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) has been awarded a $25,000 grant for operating support. This funding will go to support TASK’s mission: Providing meals to all those who are hungry; providing services to encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life; informing the wider community of the needs of the hungry; and advocating for resources to meet these needs.

TASK serves a hot, nutritious lunch Monday through Friday and an evening meal Monday through Thursday at its Escher Street location in Trenton as well as dinner Monday through Thursday at satellite locations in South Trenton, West Trenton, Hightstown and Princeton. TASK now serves over 4,000 meals per week. This past year, TASK has served over 209,000 meals to the Mercer County area.

In addition to meal service, TASK has programming to improve patron self sufficiency and quality of life. TASK’s Adult Education Program continues to have success with students who have not prospered in other programs. More than 80 students and 70 volunteer tutors are involved in the program. This year, 24 Students have earned their GED through its program, eight of whom are now taking college level courses.

TASK also offers an on-site social worker who provides referrals such as financial aid, housing assistance, veteran’s benefits, mental health treatment, addiction treatment, and health care.  It issues food and clothing vouchers that can be used at emergency facilities. Other services such as legal aid, blood pressure and cancer screenings, HIV and TB testings, voter registration, job counseling, and screening for Food Stamp eligibility are provided by agencies using its facility.

Those who come to TASK include the elderly, the addicted, the mentally ill, the physically challenged, veterans, recent immigrants, families with children, the working poor, and the newly unemployed.

For Volunteer opportunities and more information about TASK, visit:

The Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society, known as The Princeton Battlefield Society (PBS), has filed an appeal of the Princeton Planning Board decision approving the Institute for Advanced Study’s faculty housing project.

The appeal was expected following a ruling, in June, by the Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson against the Society’s suit to overturn the Princeton Planning Board’s decision.

On March 21 of last year, the Planning Board unanimously approved the Institute’s plans to build a group of faculty townhomes and single-family residences on its property adjacent to Princeton Battlefield Park.

“We were unlucky with Judge Jacobson,” said Princeton Battlefield Society President, Jerry Hurwitz. “With a different judge it may have gone our way. This time we will be able to critique her opinion and show its weaknesses as well as represent our case all over again. That’s a good thing.”

The appeal, which was filed with the NJ Appellate Division, will be more than a review of Judge Jacobson’s recent decision, however. It will be a de novo appeal, which means that the Society will have an opportunity to present their arguments to a panel of judges, instead of one judge as was the case with the Superior Court.

Mr. Hurwitz is hopeful of a successful outcome this time around. “I have a deep respect for what our forebears did here, men fought and died on that field in one of the principal battles of the Revolutionary War, a turning point and a brilliant move by Washington, I would say his most brilliant strategic move,” said Mr. Hurwitz yesterday. “The Battlefield Society remains steadfast in its conviction that preserving the site of the climactic counterattack is of enormous importance to the understanding of this turning point victory.”

“Without preserving the site and its natural topography and setting, still undeveloped after more than 235 years, the American people will lose a vital link to the past every bit as important to the creation of this nation as Gettysburg is to preserving it,” he said.

According to Mr. Hurwitz, the site where the Institute wants to build lies at the very heart of Washington’s counterattack, which broke the British lines. “To allow housing there would be like building over the site of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. It’s simply inconceivable,” he said. “The Battle of Princeton was General Washington’s first win against professional British regulars, unlike the Battle of Trenton where he faced only German mercenaries, and it was where the fledgling American Marine Corps suffered its very first battlefield casualty.”

Kip Cherry, vice president of PBS, concurs. “There is a great deal of evidence that if Washington had not prevailed with his winning counterattack, the American Revolution would have been lost and that’s how important we believe our legal challenge is.”

The Institute’s long-standing plans to build faculty housing are described on its website ( which notes the residential nature of its scholarly community. The plan would cluster eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre parcel of land that sits between existing faculty homes and the Institute’s main campus. The buildings are designed to have a low profile and be screened from the Battlefield Park by trees. An additional 200-foot buffer zone alongside the Battlefield Park would be permanently preserved as open space.

But according to Mr. Hurwitz, the Institute has already done enough damage to the historic site by building over what was an orchard at the time of the battle. “They should not be allowed to destroy more,” he believes. “There is more than enough land elsewhere on the Institute’s property for faculty housing to be built,” he said.

The suit against the Planning Board’s decision, the subject of the current appeal, is one of two that the Society has brought on the issue of IAS housing. The second suit concerns a disputed default decision concerning a waiver from the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission.

PBS attorney Bruce Afran feels confident that the case against the Planning Board’s decision will have a better chance of being heard fairly when it goes before a two- or three-judge panel of the Appellate Division. Interviewed by phone yesterday, he said: “Judge Jacobson’s opinions will be scutinized. With all due respect, she made some mistakes of law and did not address some important issues. For example, the Princeton Planning Board was required to find that the Institute’s plans would not have an unreasonably adverse impact on either the site itself or on the neighboring site. The Planning Board never made that finding, in spite of the fact that there was a report on file from the State Historic Preservation Officer, Dorothy Guzzo, that said that there would be an adverse impact on the neighboring historic site.”

Mr. Afran, believes that the Planning Boards silence on Ms. Guzzo’s report is one of the reasons that its decision to approve the IAS housing should be vacated, or nullified. “That’s just one of many issues we have with Judge Jacobson’s ruling,” said Mr. Afran. Others concern zoning for a cluster development and impact on wetlands.

“It’s going to be many years before the Institute can build, if it can build at all on this site,” said Mr. Afran. “But this isn’t so much about defeating the Institute’s plans as it is about saving ground where people fought and died.”

It is clear that the Princeton Battlefield Society is prepared to take the issue all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court, if necessary.


Hoping to attract more households to sign up for the town’s curbside organic waste program, Princeton Council approved a new fee schedule at its meeting on Monday night, allowing the initiative to be continued into 2014.

New sign-ups for the municipal collection of food waste, scraps, and other organic materials will pay the $65 annual fee, but it will be pro-rated through the end of next year. So far, 701 households have joined the program, according to Bob Hough, the town’s director of infrastructure and operations. Last month, 49 signed up for the service. Officials said earlier this year that they hoped to have 1,000 people enrolled by the end of 2013.

“One of the comments we’ve repeatedly gotten is that people don’t want to pay the $65 fee for six months or five months,” Mr. Hough said of those residents his office has spoken with about the program. “We have had a number of people say they will sign up if their $65 goes for 12 months or more.”

Under the voluntary program, participants place organic materials in a green container for once-weekly pickup by Central Jersey Waste and Recycling. Princeton pays the hauler $180 per household, a portion of which is offset by the $65 fee. The program is “somewhat of a loss leader right now,” municipal administrator Bob Bruschi said Monday afternoon, before the meeting. The town subsidizes the initiative about $2,500 a month.

The organics are currently hauled to a recycling center in Delaware. “If we find a closer location, it will be less costly for the municipality,” Mr. Bruschi said. “Part of the idea of getting the numbers up is to get someone to come into Mercer County to handle it so we don’t have to take it to Delaware.”

Council member Heather Howard commented that she wished participants didn’t have to pay a fee to participate in the program. “I hope next year we can consider lowering it,” she said. Fellow Council member Patrick Simon concurred with Mr. Bruschi about the future of the program. “The intent is to get a facility closer to here,” he said. “That’s the goal. Having a facility nearby will drive the cost of it down.”

Also at the meeting, the Council voted 3-2 to introduce an ordinance that would designate the town’s administrator as the appropriate authority over the police department. Council member Jo Butler, who voted against the introduction along with Bernie Miller, argued that the Council should be the authority because it is transparent, and therefore less political. A public hearing on the ordinance will take place at the August 26 meeting of the Council.


Princeton’s new boarding school, the Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science (PRISMS), is getting ready for the start of its first semester at the site once occupied by the American Boychoir School on Lambert Drive, off Rosedale Road.

The school has appointed Dr. Glenn W. McGee as Head of School. Mr. McGee retired from as President of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), which he had led since 2007.

A veteran educator, with 40 years of service from teaching to school superintendent and Superintendent of Education for the state of Illinois, Mr. McGee is a 1972 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he earned a BA in political science. He gaineed his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Chicago in 1985.

The opportunity to start a new venture from the ground up proved irresistible to Mr. McGee, who is known as “Max” to friends and former students. Eight of his IMSA graduates currently attend Princeton University, including Shawon Jackson, president of Princeton’s undergraduate student government. “When Shawon heard about my coming here, he said he’d be a frequent visitor to the new school.”
IMSA alumnae applauding Mr. McGee’s new appointment include IMSA alumnus Steve Chen, co-founder and chief technology officer of YouTube. “This school is a start up and you’re always talking about entrepreneurship and innovation, so here is your chance to practice what you preach,” Mr. Chen told his IMSA mentor.

IMSA has a record of producing high achievers with a global perspective. Alumnae like Russel Simmons, co-founder and chief technology officer of Yelp Inc. and one of the founding members of PayPal, and Sam Yagan founder of SparkNotes and now CEO of, are supportive of Mr. McGee’s vision.

“The Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science is a opportunity to build a world class school that will be an exemplary model,” says Mr. McGee. “That’s not an opportunity that comes along every day and I have a chance to bring all that I’ve learned about public education to bear on the sort of education that is necessary for the future of our country and indeed for the world as a whole.”

When Mr. McGee talks about the new school, he lights up with enthusiasm. He has big goals for its student body. “Working in partnership with some of the top schools in the world, our sister schools in St. Petersburg, Paris, and Seoul, we can bring the best of American and Chinese education together. That’s something that hasn’t been done before. Uniting the intellectual rigor and academic discipline of China and the innovation, exploration, and groundbreaking research of America will provide incredible opportunities for our students.”

International Collaboration

International collaboration is a philosophy that Mr. McGee brings with him from IMSA and is a perfect fit for PRISMS which hopes to collaborate with scientists at neighboring institutions of higher learning such as Princeton University. “We want to give our students an opportunity for authentic applied research. This isn’t going to be an AP factory, we will emphasize research and global studies,” says the new school head.

“Global problems require global collaboration. We won’t be able to do this alone. The best minds from all over the globe will be needed and this school is where I hope they will start.”

At 62, the athletic educator competes regularly in triathlons “It impresses the grandchilden when I come home with a medal but the truth is that in my age group it’s not so unusual,” he laughs.

Mr. McGee’s wife, Jan, is also a prominent leader in secondary education. The couple loves to water and snow ski and are avid dancers. They have been married for 25 years and have three adopted children Joey, Jess and Mike, and four grandchildren.

Jan is currently Executive Director, Urban Education Laboratory at Naperville, Illinois and will join her husband as soon as she wraps up her work there. She has worked for 26 years with school children in high poverty areas, preparing the next generation of teachers and leaders. “Jan is my conscience, my consultant, and my chief policy adviser,” says Mr. McGee.


There’s a lot to sort out before the first month of any school year. Even more so with a brand new school. PRISM has been hiring teachers for the start of term in September when it opens with a pilot program serving 30 students. The faculty is a mix of international and home-grown talent, at least one IMSA alumnus with a PhD in mathematics and the former coach of the Chinese Olympic mathematics team. Besides math and science, there will be faculty in biology and engineering.

The school site was purchased in January by the Bairong Education Foundation (BEF) and will serve 9th through 12th grades and may extend at some future date to include 7th grade.

According to Mr. McGee, the private international coeducational boarding school will have 80 percent residential and 20 percent day students with an even split between international and American students. It will open in the fall of 2014.

The Princeton architectural firm of J. Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) is working on a master plan, renovating two existing buildings, and designing a new classroom and laboratory building that will contain a multi-use community space.

The renovations and additions on the approximately 17.5 acre tract that was once the private estate of pharmaceutical businessman Gerard Lambert, are necessary to support a greater number of students than attended the American Boychoir School, which had a maximum of around 80 boarders.

As far as future numbers are concerned, Mr. McGee says that the ultimate goal will more likely be for 240 to 250 students rather than the 300 originally reported in the media.

Listening to the Neighbors

Neighbors have questioned the increased numbers of students at the school, some three times as many as attended the American Boychoir School, and some 40 faculty members. Some staff and the majority of students would live on campus. But so far, Mr. McGee is confident that the concerns will be addressed. As soon as he arrived, he sent a note to the neighbors including a photograph of his family, invitating them for coffee. Conversations have led, in some cases, to screens of trees being installed between the adjoining properties. “The neighbors have given us lots of ideas and filled us in on the history of the Lambert Estate,” said Mr. McGee. “Sally Sword, in particular, has been most informative. I’ve learned a lot. My sense is that they appreciate our plan to restore the beauty and create a garden campus.”

To this end Juliana Ka of The Bairong Foundation, which is supporting the school, has been leading the restoration effort. She has already installed a beautiful pond, complete with bridge and colorful koi and begun work on the once-neglected Olmsted Garden and its fountain. So far, says Ms. Ka, the restoration has cost some $2 million. The property originally cost just under $6 million and the Foundation plans on spending a total of $30 million in all.

A grand opening of the school is planned to take place on September 18.