May 14, 2014

Princeton Medicine, the primary and specialty care physician group of Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS), will open an office in June at 281 Witherspoon Street, next door to the former hospital site in Princeton. On the lower level, the office represents an expansion of PHCS facilities in that building, which already houses outpatient phlebotomy services and the Neighborhood HealthCare Information Center.

Sean Naini, DO, board certified in internal medicine, will begin seeing patients at the Princeton office as of Monday, June 9. He will maintain office hours there on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Dr. Naini will continue to see patients at Princeton Medicine’s office in the Medical Arts Pavilion, 5 Plainsboro Road, Suite 300, Plainsboro, adjacent to University Medical Center of Princeton.

Dr. Naini provides a comprehensive range of primary and preventive care, including treatment of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Before June 9, call (609) 853-7272 for an appointment. On June 9 or later, call (609) 497-2211. Same day appointments are available.

To find a Princeton Medicine physician near you, call 1-800 FIND A DR (346-3237) or visit www.princetonmedicine.org.

The Princeton area’s first ever student solar celebration, “SolarJam 2014,” will be held on May 17 (rain date May 18) from noon to 2 p.m. at Princeton High School.

Nine area schools are sending teams of students from 3rd-11th grade who have built either solar mini cars or created passive solar projects. The solar mini cars will participate in a race. Participating schools include: The Cambridge School, Hopewell Valley High School, Melvin Kreps Middle School, The Pennington School, Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, Princeton Day School, Princeton Junior School, Riverside School, Stuart School of the Sacred Heart. Some schools are sending multiple teams to the event, which is sponsored by PSEG and organized by OASIS (Organizing Action on Sustainability In Schools), a local non-profit school consortium.

The goals of “SolarJam 2014” are to interest students in alternative energy and to showcase the good work local schools are doing in the area of sustainability. There will be food for sale at the event from The Whole Earth Center and The Bent Spoon, both of whom are donating a portion of their proceeds to OASIS. This is a low waste event, so please bring your own water bottle.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held at either the Princeton High School tennis courts or track. At the corner of Guyot Ave. and Walnut Lane look for parking signs. The public is encouraged to come and support local students. For more information contact Liz Cutler at Princeton Day School, lcutler@pds.org.

Investing in higher education is crucial, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber told members of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon last Thursday. Making his first official address to the local business community, Mr. Eisgruber warned that higher education, especially at state and community schools, is in trouble.

“Right now we’re at a moment where our models of higher education are under a lot of stresses, particularly in New Jersey,” he said. “The highest increases in tuition are coming because states are supplying less and less money to every segment of our higher education system and asking those institutions to do more and more with less and less. They are being forced, because there is no other way to do it, to raise tuition to compensate for the money being pulled out from their budgets.”

An impassioned speaker, Mr. Eisgruber was critical of a New York Times story in May 2012 about soaring costs of college education, focusing on a woman who was carrying some $100,000 in debts to Ohio Northern University. “You pick up a newspaper and there are stories written about the cost of college and whether or not the value of college is worth that cost,” he said. “There is general doubt as a result, at least in the news media as you read it, about whether or not this investment that has been so important over the history of our country remains an important investment to make right now.”

But entering the economy without a college degree is not a favorable option. “The overwhelming evidence is that the value of a college degree today is higher than it has ever been,” he said.

Mr. Eisgruber championed the value of state schools and community colleges as well as Ivy League schools such as Princeton University. But allowing himself to “brag a little,” he said Princeton is ranked as one of the most affordable places to attend college because of it’s financial aid program, of which some 60 percent currently take advantage. “Seventy-five percent of our students graduate without debt, and the rest with $5,000 to $6,000 of debt,” he said.

According to the Association of American Universities, he added, 50 percent of students nationally graduate without debt. “The rest have about $26,000 to $27,000 in debt, not $100,000 as reported in the New York Times story.”

Mr. Eisgruber graduated from Princeton in 1983 before going on to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and the University of Chicago Law School. After teaching at New York University’s School of Law for 11 years, he joined the Princeton faculty in 2001 and was the University’s provost before being named president.

During a question-and-answer session following his talk, Mr. Eisgruber said the University will be expanding at some point in the future. He also expressed hope that the school will be able to accommodate more students. “Given that we are taking fewer qualified students on a percentage basis right now than we have ever taken in our past, if we would take a few more, that would be a better thing for all of the reasons I have described,” he said.

 

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UUCP) of Princeton recently awarded a grant of $2,000 to support workforce development and employment readiness activities at the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County. Carolyn Biondi, the Crisis Ministry’s executive director, said, “We are grateful to the Social Outreach Committee of UUCP for partnering with our organization to work with job trainees as they build a more stable future.”

Harvesting Hope annually prepares some 65 to 70 men and women for re-entry into the work force with on-the-job training, online certification courses in food handling and customer service, and job search guidance and mentoring. License to Succeed provides assistance in restoring driving privileges in order to improve the job qualifications and earning power of program clients.

The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, assists some 5,000 Mercer County households annually through integrated services addressing food insecurity and nutrition education; housing stability and homelessness prevention; and work training and employment readiness. Learn more at thecrisisministry.org.

The developer AvalonBay is suing the town of Princeton, Princeton Council, Mayor Liz Lempert, and two municipal staff members over the developer’s agreement for the 280-unit rental complex planned for the former Princeton hospital site. Council’s decision to require additional environmental testing is the focus of the suit, which was filed last week in Superior Court.

“The Mayor and Council’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and should be quickly reversed by the Court,” the suit reads, ”These environmental testing requirements are the product of the imagination of Princeton’s new environmental consultant, [Ira] Whitman, who was retained by the mayor and Council at the end of January 2014 С five months after AvalonBay obtained its site plan approval from the Princeton Planning Board.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the developer’s agreement last month, but with more testing than originally proposed and more than what is required by the State of New Jersey. Mr. Whitman, who was hired after citizens repeatedly expressed concerns over the discovery of a medical waste incinerator once in operation at the site, among other things, recommended more soil testing and sampling of concrete the company plans to crush and re-use.

“It’s disappointing,” Mayor Lempert said Monday when asked about the lawsuit. “We were certainly hoping AvalonBay would recognize we were acting in good faith to try and protect the community and the future residents of the site. I would have liked to have worked this out outside the courtroom.”

Ms. Lempert said that Mr. Whitman was hired to advise the Council on matters beyond their own expertise. “We hired a top environmental consultant and we’re following his recommendations,” she said. “If he is recommending certain things, it’s hard for us, as lay people, to say we don’t need to do them. We feel like we need to go with the recommendations of an expert. People’s safety is in question.”

Bob Bruschi, the town’s administrator, said the critical issue is going to be whether the town is allowed to ask for additional testing under the municipal land use law, adding that the vote to require extra testing falls into “the right thing to do category.”

Municipal attorney Trishka W. Cecil, who said Tuesday she believes AvalonBay attorney Robert Kasuba has requested a case management conference with the judge assigned to the case, echoed Mr. Bruschi’s comment.

“The question is whether the town had the legal authority to request this testing. Or, is that pre-empted by state law? That is AvalonBay’s primary claim, that we exceeded our authority,” she said. “I think it makes sense to address that question first, because if the judge rules in AvalonBay’s favor on that question, then we’re done. If she rules in our favor, it’s different. It makes a lot of sense to ask a judge to address that question first and then get to the rest if we need to.”

AvalonBay has been doing preliminary site work, removing underground storage tanks, doors, lighting, and additional items that are permitted before the company agrees to sign the developer’s agreement. Asbestos remediation has also been taking place (see accompanying story).

 

Princeton Council adopted the proposed 2014 budget Tuesday night, but not without heated discussion. The issue under debate was whether to include a line item in the budget for an increase in the salaries of the mayor and governing body.

Patrick Simon argued that adding the line item would not be fair since the pay raises С from $7,500 to $10,000 for council members, $7,500 to $12,5000 for council president, and $15,000 to $17,500 for mayor С are not in line with those budgeted for municipal staff. “They represent an ambiguous sign of entitlement on our own behalf and show disrespect to the administration,” Mr. Simon said, adding that he would be in favor of either a pay raise in proportion to the staff, or a raise for future council members.

Council members Lance Liverman and Bernie Miller, both former members of Township Committee, took pay cuts after consolidation when it was established that stipends for the new governing body would be at the lower level employed by Borough Council. Mr. Liverman said he was in favor of the proposed increase because it would make serving on the governing body more appealing to people who are on a more limited budget than those who currently serve. He said he spends about 80 hours a month on municipal matters, which converts into about $6.25 an hour, less than New Jersey’s $8.25 minimum wage.

“Some people I’ve talked to say if the stipend was increased they’d consider running for office,” he said. “It would allow people of lesser means to serve. Please support this adjustment and let’s move on.”

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller said that while she agreed with much of Mr. Liverman’s comments, “The problem is you didn’t say it when we were making promises. For me, it’s a matter of promises,” she said, referring to the determination to keep salaries at the Borough level.

Ms. Crumiller served on the finance committee with Mr. Miller and Mr. Liverman during the transition to consolidation. On Tuesday, she said, “We had plenty of opportunities to make the arguments he is making now, but no one said anything either privately or publicly. I feel it would be embarrassing to go back on my promise, even though I sympathize with their arguments.”

Mr. Miller commented at the meeting, “Tonight we’re not talking about salaries of elected officials or salaries of the employees or the municipality. We’re talking about a $59 million budget, an increase in one element of the budget. That’s not a tenth of the budget, or a hundredth of the budget. It’s not a thousandth of the budget.” He added that an attempt has been made to politicize the issue that is “undemocratic, ill-advised, and out of place.”

Before the meeting, Mayor Liz Lempert said the issue is “really an uncomfortable conversation to have,” adding, “The easy thing is to leave it the same, and the politically expedient thing is certainly to leave it the same. But I think that’s why there hasn’t been a change to it in 14 years.”

Tax rates stay the same in the $59.2 million budget, with no reduction in services. The total amount is $1.2 million less than last year’s budget.

 

The rat, as a symbol of union displeasure, made an appearance on Witherspoon Street Friday, May 9, in front of the old hospital building that has been purchased for redevelopment by AvalonBay.

“The rat is here to draw attention to the fact that AvalonBay has hired a subcontractor and started the abatement process,” said Saverio Samarelli of the Laborers’ Eastern Region Organizing Fund, who, together with Franklin Ortega of LiUNA (Laborers International Union of North America) Local 78 was making flyers available at the site.

“We are here to inform the public that the subcontractor hired by AvalonBay is considered substandard because of past violations,” said Mr. Samarelli, who went on to express his doubts about the subcontractor’s workforce: “We aren’t totally confident that all of his workers have the correct qualifications for this work.”

Mr. Samarelli described the hospital site as “the perfect storm of environmental hazards. There’s PCB, mercury, silica, lead, asbestos and medical waste, all of which can be airborne if not done correctly.” [PCB is polychlorinated biphenyl, a synthetic organic chemical compound containing chlorine.]

“And as far as we have observed there is nobody here to check that the work is being done correctly,” added Mr. Ortega.

Under the heading “Improper Asbestos Work is Dangerous,” the Union flyers cite the death of a 23-year-old women from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. It states: “AvalonBay Communities has hired substandard company Yannuzzi Environmental Services to perform deadly asbestos abatement at 253 Witherspoon Street,” and alleges that company owner John Yannuzzi “was indicted on felony charges of criminal mischief and unlawful disposal of solid waste.”

“Not true,” said Mr. Joe Giannetti, general manager for Yannuzzi Environmental Services, who described the union’s action as an attempt to replace local hires with union members. “We are an open shop and what you have here is a disgruntled union that wants us to hire their members rather than local workers,” he said in a telephone interview Monday. As for the alleged felony charges, he said: “We were charged but there was no indictment.”

Asked about 2008 and 2009 reports by the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Prosecutions stating that Mr. Yanuzzi’s company was charged in 2008 with illegal transportation of solid waste and criminal mischief with respect to a 45-foot box trailer abandoned on a Newark street in 2006, Mr. Giannetti said: “It is only partially correct. To my recollection, there was no 45 foot trailer filled with waste, it was three yards of sandblasting sand.”

“Our company was founded in 1923 and registered in New Jersey in 1957,” said Mr. Giannetti. “We stand by our track record. One violation in all that time.”

In a telephone call Tuesday, municipal engineer Bob Kiser pointed out that building department personnel had been stopping by the former hospital site periodically and that he had been there on Monday afternoon with John Pettenati, Princeton’s chief building code official, as well as land use engineer Jack West and electrical inspector Larry Logan. “The work we saw was satisfactory, the proper safety measures were being employed and materials were being correctly separated.”

Mr Kiser noted that no demolition had started, just the removal of carpeting, ceiling tiles, copper piping, electrical wiring, steel, and aluminum.

Asked about the allegations as stated on the Union flyer regarding AvalonBay subcontractor John Yannuzzi, Mr. Kiser said that he was aware of the past incident referred to and that the company’s record had been looked into via OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and found to be satisfactory. “We saw the information that was provided to us and it appeared to be an isolated incident by a company that is properly licensed and certified.”

As for the company, Mr. Giannetti observed that it was happy to be working in Princeton, where it is also “doing work on the University’s new dorms.”

 

PDS celebrates their win

Members of the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after they edged Rutgers Prep 10-8 last Monday in the state Prep B championship game. It was the program’s first Prep B crown since 1996. For more details on the game, see page 32.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

 

May 7, 2014

It has taken him four years and nine pairs of SAS walking shoes, but William Helmreich has walked every block of New York’s five boroughs. Having documented his experiences in the Princeton University Press book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, Mr. Helmreich will be at the Princeton Public Library tonight, May 7, as part of the “Evenings with Friends” series of talks and dinners.

“New York is really made up of hundreds of different communities,” said Mr. Helmreich, a sociology professor who grew up in a rough section of the city’s Upper West Side. “In each of these neighborhoods, people have a distinct identity that relates to where they live. The way they say ‘on my block’ or ‘in my building’ shows how strongly and locally they identify.”

As part of the courses he teaches at City University of New York and City College of New York, Mr. Helmreich takes students to a different neighborhood once a week. “We walk around for a couple of hours and then go have dinner,” he said. “They have a good time doing it. I happened to meet Peter Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press, and we started talking about this. He asked me for a proposal, and the next thing I knew, I had a book contract.”

Mr. Helmreich has previously published books on such subjects as black militants and Holocaust survivors. When he wrote his proposal for The New York Nobody Knows, he intended to focus on only 20 streets. “But then I discovered I really couldn’t find a justification for claiming they were truly representative of a city made up of 6,000 miles,” he said. “So reluctantly, or not so reluctantly, I decided to walk the whole city.”

On his sojourns, Mr. Helmreich dressed to blend in and talked to countless people from many walks of life. “Nobody refused to talk to me,” he said. “They didn’t realize I was interviewing them.” What he found was that neighborhoods, blocks,  or buildings are really little villages in themselves.

“One woman who owns a boutique on Ninth Street in the East Village complained that like in a small town, everybody on the block knew each other and knew each other’s business,” he said. “They know your car, they know when you have a fight, and you have to say hello to everyone. She didn’t like that. That’s one side of it.”

What makes New York’s little “villages” different from communities across the country is this: “They happen to be placed in the most advanced city in the world,” Mr. Helmreich said. “That’s what makes them special. If I live in the Bronx, I can get on an express bus and be in the financial district in 45 minutes. You can’t do that in Nebraska.”

Mr. Helmreich grew up on West 105th Street. “Our neighborhood was not good,” he said. “I had a fight a day. I had to belong to a gang to protect myself. Most of the people on my block were either dead or in jail.”

It was an illuminating trip across the country in his youth that sparked his interest in sociology. Mr. Helmreich worked as a corn husker, a hog kicker, and an assistant case worker for the welfare department in Los Angeles as part of this adventure. “In order to understand the city, you need to have perspective by seeing other cities, too,” he said. “I got a real slice of life doing this.”

Mr. Helmreich is enthusiastic about his experience with Princeton University Press, which published The New York Nobody Knows last year. “It was the best publishing experience I’ve had,” he said. “The whole staff was amazing. Peter Dougherty and the editor Eric Schwartz were so interested they actually went on a tour with me before the book came out.”

The book is going into its fourth printing. Mr. Helmreich credits its success, in part, to the fact that New York is “an international city, a destination city,” he said. “People simply had not imagined that you could walk a big city the way you do a national forest. When I started talking at bookstores, I would see that most of the people in the audience were under 40. They’re hikers, walking enthusiasts. A lot of people are crazy about the importance of walking.”

Mr. Helmreich figures that in his life, he has walked all of New York about 16 times. “Everything brings back a memory of something that happened to me,” he said. “I have a very good memory, so everywhere I go, I remember something.”

He once wondered aloud, to a colleague, why no one had ever written a book like his before. The colleague said, “Maybe no one was as crazy,” Mr. Helmreich recalled. “So I asked him, is it crazy to run a marathon? Marathons are accepted, but people don’t generally walk like this for exercise. He confused the destination with the journey. For me, the destination is already there.”

 

Pinot to Picasso

By all accounts this year’s Pinot to Picasso spring art and wine fundraising event at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) on Friday, April 25, was a great success. The event was held at the Technology Center of Princeton, 330 Carter Road. Shown here, in front of the completed Tombola screen that was prepared and run by SureTech.com, from left, are ACP Board President Cindi Venizelos, Tombola Master of Ceremonies Greg McClatchy, and ACP Founding Director Anne Reeves.

 

Fresh Air volunteers are sought to help create another successful summer for children from New York City. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban, and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Host families share their homes and the pure joys of summertime outside of the city with children from New York City. Families find hosting so rewarding that more than 65 percent of all Fresh Air children are re-invited to visit the same host families year after year.

First-time Fresh Air visitors are six to 12 years old and Fresh Air hosts range from young families to grandparents. “The first thing our Fresh Air child did was run barefoot in the grass. It’s always the little things that seem to be so valuable,” says a Fresh Air host.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information about hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, contact Darlene Plummer at (609) 902-1806 or visit www.freshair.org.

FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY: Fifth grade students help load boxes for delivery to HomeFront in response to a food drive that challenged the entire Middle School of Princeton Day School. The school has a long-standing relationship with HomeFront.

FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY: Fifth grade students help load boxes for delivery to HomeFront in response to a food drive that challenged the entire Middle School of Princeton Day School. The school has a long-standing relationship with HomeFront.

When middle school students at Princeton Day School (PDS) heard of the need for food to feed the hungry at HomeFront, they rose to a challenge presented to them by the Head of Middle School Steve Hancock.

Knowing how competitive middle school students can be, Mr. Hancock announced the school’s involvement in Homefront’s Food Drive as a contest to see which grade could bring in the most food in one week. The challenge was thrown down at an all school assembly and, with a plan of action that included knowledge of which foods were in highest demand, each grade pursued their well-defined task.

“Through some of our parents at PDS, we learned of the desperate need for food at HomeFront,” said Sheila Goeke, middle school librarian and community service advisor to the fifth grade, which ultimately won the contest by bringing in the most food.

“The fifth grade collected corn and canned chili, the sixth grade brought in canned tomatoes and boxed macaroni and cheese, the seventh grade contributed canned mixed vegetables and pasta sauce, and eighth graders donated peanut butter and canned peas,” explained Ms. Goeke. “They collected boxes from HomeFront, filled them with foodstuffs donated from home and helped pack them to go.”

All told, eight big boxes were filled thanks to the students, their parents, and to teachers who also made donations and helped organize the event as a contribution to HomeFront’s March through April food drive.

“At Princeton Day School, we are always looking for ways to help our students connect to the community,” said Mr. Hancock. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with HomeFront and when we heard there was a need for food, our families stepped forward to help.”

“I’m especially proud that the middle schoolers won,” said Ms. Goeke. “Kudos to them. They take a great deal of satisfaction from knowing they have made a difference and they felt very proud when they were collecting the boxes for HomeFront.”

According to HomeFront’s Sybil Jones, this year’s drive received a valuable boost from the PDS student effort. “They really rallied to the cause. More than anything else, it seems kids understand hunger; they can bring a can of soup or tuna and realize that this is making a difference to someone who is not as lucky as they are; such a simple thing to do, and that is what they have done,” she said.

Each week, HomeFront distributes over a thousand meals at its Family Preservation Center and provides 250 food bags to the homeless from its pantry. In addition, it provides 300 breakfasts and lunches at its Cherry Tree Club pre-school, 160 meals at its summer camps for homeless children, as well as 450 meals and snacks in its Joys, Homes, and Dreams children’s programs.

Since its inception some two decades ago, HomeFront has been attempting to “break the cycle of poverty” and homelessness in Central New Jersey. Its programs serve thousands of families and children in Mercer County.

According to its web site, “in the past year alone, almost 14,000 heads of households walked through our front door looking for help” and “on any given night, we provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent service-enriched housing to over 450 people, two-thirds of them children.”

The organization not only harnesses the good will of the community and students like those at PDS, it comes up with some inventive ways to raise money, including Mother’s Day requests in support of a fund for homeless mothers in Mercer County.

These particular contributions are designed to give homeless mothers a chance to do something special for their children that most families might take for granted, like provide a new baseball glove or pay for a school field trip or school pictures.

“A lot of our projects have to do with HomeFront,” said Ms. Goeke. This month will see the school’s fifth grade-sponsored “Books in a Bag” project, for which the PDS students will collect children’s books and pack then in special PDS bags. “Each family at HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center will receive a bag of wonderful children’s books to take with them when they leave to go to their new homes. When the bags are delivered, some fifth graders will spend an evening reading to preschoolers at the Center,” she said.

“HomeFront is truly grateful for their efforts, which I think are inspirational,” said Ms. Jones.

Donations to HomeFront can be made online. Canned foods and shelf-stable goods can be dropped off at HomeFront’s main office, 1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville. For more information, visit: HomeFrontNJ.org.

 

Saturday, May 17 is the day of the third annual Healthy Children Healthy Planet event at the Riverside School garden. The day celebrates school gardening and is designed to include families and the community.

This garden is all about teaching in authentic settings and using the outdoors to make curricula come alive. Teachers have found creative ways of using the space now that it exists. Children are free to pick, explore, and run around as long as they keep their feet out of beds.

The event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include garden activities, yoga in the garden, arts and crafts, a plant sale, food, music, sustainability exhibits, and rescue vehicles. The suggested donation is $5 and proceeds benefit Riverside School garden programs.

Follow the event on www.facebook.com/riversideschoolgarden.

On Friday, May 30, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., EarthShare New Jersey celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Grounds for Sculpture located at 18 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, N.J.

The event features a photography exhibition showcasing New Jersey’s wildlife, landscapes, and waterways; eco-friendly auctions which include unique experiences such as wildlife releases and art work; tastings of beer, wine and specialty dishes served by chefs from across the state; and live jazz presented by Stringzville. Ed Lloyd and TerraCycle will be honored for their environmental accomplishments.

To purchase tickets, visit www.earthsharenj.org

HONORED FOR HIS SERVICE: Herman L. Brav, shown here with his wife Adele, will receive the French Legion of Honor award on Friday in a ceremony at West Point. Mr. Brav, a World War II veteran; and Mrs. Brav, a Holocaust survivor, live at Princeton’s Acorn Glen.

HONORED FOR HIS SERVICE: Herman L. Brav, shown here with his wife Adele, will receive the French Legion of Honor award on Friday in a ceremony at West Point. Mr. Brav, a World War II veteran; and Mrs. Brav, a Holocaust survivor, live at Princeton’s Acorn Glen.

A little over a year ago, Peter Brav read about an award that France bestows regularly on veterans of World War I and World War II. The French Legion of Honor, an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, thanks those who risked their lives defending freedom.

Mr. Brav, a lawyer and Princeton resident whose parents call the Acorn Glen assisted living facility home, immediately thought of his father Herman L. Brav, who is 91 and had previously been awarded The Bronze Star Medal by the United States Army for his World War II service with the 69th Infantry. Though his father never talks much about his wartime experiences, Mr. Brav knew they were significant. He decided to look into the Legion of Honor award for his father.

“I applied for it, and they wrote back to say he was under consideration,” Mr. Brav said Monday. “Then a couple of weeks ago, we found out that he was getting the award. So my parents and my sister and I will go to West Point this Friday. It happens to be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, so it is really special.”

Born in Brooklyn in 1923, Herman Brav lost his father at age four and his twin brother at 12. “He became the sole supporter of his mother,” Peter Brav said. “When World War II broke out, he volunteered and was shipped off with the 69th infantry. He saw heavy combat.”

Mr. Brav and his company crossed the English Channel to Normandy. “They basically fought their way through France and Germany,” the younger Mr. Brav said. “The big day was when they hooked up at the Elbe River with the Russians. It was pretty much the victory. It signified that the European Theater was going to wind down.”

His father was not one to brag about his experiences. “He didn’t talk a lot about the war when we were young,” Mr. Brav said. “I knew he was awarded The Bronze Star, but he didn’t make a big deal about it, so I didn’t. What he does talk about now is his buddies, including those who were killed at his side. He has dementia, but he remembers that.”

After the war, Mr. Brav returned home. He met his wife, a Holocaust survivor, at a dance at The New Yorker Hotel. “She was one of the last groups of Jewish refugees to get out of Russia,” her son said. “She worked for Macy’s in New York and learned English.”

Mr. Brav’s father worked for the U.S. government before becoming a salesman for a company that manufactures doors and elevator cabs. He retired at 85. The family moved to Long Island in 1961. After Mrs. Brav had a stroke in 2010, the couple moved to Princeton to be near their family. In addition to Mr. Brav and his sister, who lives in Chicago, the couple have five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mr. Brav said his father doesn’t always remember that the family is going to West Point this week to receive his award. But he knows he will be happy to receive the honor. “He doesn’t need this award, because he’s from a generation that did what it was supposed to do, that didn’t look for thanks. And he is no different,” his son said. “As a friend of mine said it’s a little recognition for the generation that sought no recognition. Because that’s how he is.”

 

Princeton University is listed among 55 institutions of higher education being investigated for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. The list was released last week by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The investigations support efforts by the Obama administration to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Wednesday, May 1, the administration released the first report of its White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

The task force, which was set up in January, includes Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The 20-page report, titled “Not Alone,” cites a statistic from the National Institute of Justice that one in five women experience rape or attempted rape in college.

Stressing the need for more data on the subject, the report recommends that schools conduct systematic campus surveys to assess the prevalence of sexual assault as well as student attitudes toward it, or “campus climate.” The task force will be reporting again in 2016 and “will explore legislative or administrative options to require the schools to conduct a survey.”

The report emphasizes the importance of confidential advocates and calls for further training for those who deal with sexual violence on college campuses. It states: “Insensitive or judgmental comments, or questions that focus on a victim’s behavior (e.g., what she was wearing, prior sexual history) rather than on the alleged perpetrator’s, can compound a victim’s distress.” The report can be viewed at www.NotAlone.gov, a new government website, also unveiled last week, calling attention to the problem of sexual violence at institutions of higher learning.

Vice President Joe Biden said officials at colleges and universities, even if they fear their schools’ reputations may be damaged, “can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend rape and sexual assault don’t occur on their campuses.”

“Colleges and universities need to face the fact of what exists on their campuses,” said Mr. Biden. “They need to step up to it.”

According to the report, the NotAlone.gov website would be an information source that would “give students a clear explanation of their rights,” as well as “a simple description of how to file a complaint” with federal authorities.

Besides Princeton, the list of schools being investigated includes Boston University, Harvard College and Harvard University Law School in Massachusetts; Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; CUNY Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College and SUNY at Binghamton in New York; as well as Pennsylvania State University, Swarthmore College and Temple University in Pennsylvania.

The list, dated May 1, 2014, will be updated regularly and can be viewed online: www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-list-higher-education-institutions-open-title-i.

Investigating Princeton

Princeton is the only New Jersey institution included on the OCR list. The Department of Education will not disclose any case-specific facts or details about the schools under investigation.

In Princeton’s case, the investigation began in 2010, said University spokesperson Martin Mbugua in response to a request for comment Monday.

By email, Mr. Mbugua quoted Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon at the time the list was announced, who said that “a college or university’s appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.”

“We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights,” said Ms. Lhamon. “We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue.”

Mr. Mbugua said that the University is aware of the investigation and will continue to cooperate with the Office for Civil Rights.

In 2011, the Obama administration said that under Title IX schools had to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The primary goal of a Title IX investigation is to ensure that a campus is in compliance with federal law. All colleges, universities, and K-12 schools receiving federal funds must comply with Title IX. Schools that violate the law and refuse to address the problems can lose federal funding or be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action.

Under federal law, sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.

The OCR’s list is the first comprehensive look at which campuses are under review by the DOE for possible violations of the law’s requirements regarding sexual violence.

Campus Procedures

In recent years, questions have been raised about Princeton University’s response to sexual assaults on campus.

Last May, Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety and the newly consolidated Princeton Police Department put an updated agreement in place that clarifies who does what. The agreement defines operating procedures and includes details of police response strategies and protocols. As such, it was not released to the public. Then Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter, now Chief Sutter, said: “It contains privileged information that if released could endanger the public and officers.”

Prior to consolidation, the University’s statistics were included in the former Borough and Township crime reports. Post consolidation and subsequent to the above-mentioned agreement, the University’s Department of Public Safety submits its own Uniform Crime Report statistics to the State Police responsible for collecting such data.

 

A suspect attempting to break in to a residence on Randall Road has been arrested by the Princeton Police Department. The suspect is being looked at in connection with other home break-ins in Princeton over the last two months.

Kenneth Nwachukwu, 19, of Juniper Row was charged with criminal trespass and attempted burglary after being apprehended following a call to the Police Department from a Randall Road neighbor reporting suspicious behavior.

Upon receiving notification, Patrolman Judd Petrone arrived at Randall Road and determined that Mr. Nwachukwu had attempted to enter the home. The officer placed the suspect under arrest at the scene. Mr. Nwachukwu was taken to Mercer County Corrections Center in Hopewell when he could not post $25,000 bail.

Last month, Town Topics reported that the Princeton Police Department was working with other area police departments with respect to a “rash” of daytime residential burglaries that had occurred in Princeton homes unoccupied at the time of the break-ins. After the arrest of two Ewing men by West Windsor police on March 25, Princeton police looked for a connection to burglaries in Princeton. Stolen property found in the home of one of the suspects was examined to see if any of it had come from the Princeton break-ins.

Interviewed Friday, Detective Sergeant Chris Quaste, in charge of the Princeton burglaries investigation, said that “there was no reason to believe that they [the two Ewing suspects] were tied to Princeton.”

“We looked into it and found that none of the stolen property found in the home of one of the suspects had any connection to the burglaries in Princeton,” he said.

Of the ongoing investigation into burglaries in Princeton and the arrest of Mr. Nwachukwu, Mr. Quaste commented that the suspect faces a second count of criminal trespass stemming from a burglary investigation in the 200 block of Stuart Road. “We believe this person is possibly responsible for some of the other burglaries, but as yet the investigation is ongoing,” said Mr. Quaste, who was unable to comment further.

The detective, a 26-year veteran of Princeton Police, went on to praise the vigilance of the neighbor who called the police.

“This arrest was made because a resident called us. Residents are our eyes and ears and we are always grateful when we get a call like this, resulting in an arrest,” he said.

To Foil a Burglar

Mr. Quaste reminds Princeton residents of the following anti-burglary tips:

• Call immediately to report any suspicious vehicle(s) and/or person(s) in your neighborhood. If possible, get a description of any suspicious person or vehicle (including a license plate) and the direction of travel, so as to advise responding officers.

• Notify the police immediately of any unknown person knocking on the front door. Be aware that knocking is a means to determine whether or not a house is occupied. Potential burglars might say that they are looking for someone or for a particular street, even for a lost pet. They might pretend to be a door-to-door salesman. If there is no answer to their knock, they will generally walk to the back of the house and use unlocked doors/windows to gain entry. If none are found, windows and doors have been forced open. Jewelry and silver are generally targeted.

• Report any suspicious activity immediately to your local police department, or in the event of an emergency for an incident in progress, call 9-1-1.

The Princeton Police Department also suggests that residents have digital photographs of their valuables as a way of helping the police in their attempts to recover stolen property. Practices that often prevent homes being targeted at least during daytime are the turning on of any alarm systems, and showing signs of occupation such as a car parked in the driveway, or a radio or TV left on inside the home.

 

Despite a few debates over semantics at a work session on code review Monday night, Princeton Council was able to introduce several ordinances and begin discussion of some others that need to be “harmonized” to reflect the consolidation of the former Borough and Township. A public hearing on several of these ordinances will be held as part of the Council’s meeting on Tuesday, May 27.

During a discussion of the ordinance for the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), chairman Matt Wasserman noted that the commission’s work might be compromised by restrictive wording of the document. The governing body opted to go back to the town’s handbook on boards and commissions before taking a vote.

An ordinance concerning landscaping registration was also discussed, with PEC member Heidi Fichtenbaum telling Council the commission would like to add wording that would provide some sort of “lunch and learn” educational sessions for landscapers who registered with the town. The sessions would encourage environmentally friendly practices. Both Mayor Liz Lempert and Council member Jo Butler said they liked the idea but weren’t sure it needed to be ordinanced.

Ms. Fichtenbaum favored making registration of landscapers mandatory in order to encourage preservation of the environment. “I can’t speak strongly enough about this. We are not making progress on these issues fast enough,” she said. “Every little piece is important. Every single citizen of this planet needs to draw a line in the sand and be committed to this because we will not survive if we don’t.”

The Council voted to introduce the ordinance. Assistant Princeton Attorney Lisa M. Maddox said she will look into whether it is legal to make registration mandatory.

Among the ordinances that were introduced were those concerning issuance of a certificate of compliance for rental units; general provisions; administration; parades; pay-to-play regulations and campaign contributions; municipal court; peddling and soliciting; and Corner House. Each of these was discussed at length at the Council’s previous meeting.

 

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A closer look at Nassau Hall with Princeton in bloom on all sides. When the building first opened its doors on November 28, 1756, Princeton University was the College of New Jersey, Aaron Burr was its president, and the student body numbered 70. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

April 30, 2014
ABSTRACTION OF THE MIND: A talk by artist Andrew Werth is one of two fundraising events coming up in May at the West Windsor Arts Council. Mr. Werth will discuss his combined love for art and science on May 18, at 6 p.m. A donation of $20 is suggested; a donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artist’s work such as his piece, “Realization,” shown here (while supplies last). The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

ABSTRACTION OF THE MIND: A talk by artist Andrew Werth is one of two fundraising events coming up in May at the West Windsor Arts Council. Mr. Werth will discuss his combined love for art and science on May 18, at 6 p.m. A donation of $20 is suggested; a donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artist’s work such as his piece, “Realization,” shown here (while supplies last). The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

An anonymous West Windsor resident and West Windsor Arts Council supporter has agreed to match tax-deductible contributions to the Council’s annual fund up to $10,000.

All contributions must be received by June 30, 2014 and the money will be used to help pay teaching artists who live within our communities, create an internship program, and support staffing and operations.

The Arts Council has planned two events to help reach its goal: an annual Mother’s Day Plant and Herb Sale on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an adventure in philosophy and the science of the mind, led by West Windsor artist, Andrew Werth on Sunday May 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The May 10 plant sale will feature fragrant herbs, colorful hanging baskets, and flowering bushes. All sales will support the West Windsor Arts Council Annual Fund and will be matched by the anonymous donor. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted.

Mr. Werth’s talk on May 18, is titled “An Abstraction of the Mind: Artist Talk with Andrew Werth.” He will discuss color theory and perception, meaning in abstract art, pattern formation in nature and on the computer, and how all of these things combine with his love of cognitive science, philosophy, math, and physics in the creation of his paintings. Refreshments will be provided.

Admission to Mr. Werth’s talk is free with a suggested donation of $20 accepted at the door. A donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artists work (while supplies last).

Mr. Werth received degrees in computer engineering and information networking from Carnegie Mellon University and has studied art at various schools in New York City including The Arts Students League, The School of Visual Arts, and The New School. His paintings have been exhibited at many tristate venues from Philadelphia through Hudson, N.Y. For more information about the artist, visit: www.andrewwerth.com.

The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

 

Princeton will see several event related road closures this weekend.

On Saturday, May 3, The Stuart School will host a 5k race on roadways around the school. As a result, the following streets will be closed beginning at 8 a.m. until the race ends, approximately 45 to 60 minutes later: Stuart Road between Great Road East and Bouvant Drive; Bouvant Drive between Cherry Hill Road and Stuart Road; and the entire length of White Oak Road.

Local residents will be allowed access to and egress from homes in the race area at the discretion of officers and race officials, with the safety of the race participants being paramount.

Also on Saturday, May 3 at 7 p.m., the Princeton Fire Department will begin its 129th annual inspection parade at the corner of Chestnut and Nassau streets. The parade will proceed down Nassau to the plaza in front of Monument Hall, where the department will issue its annual service awards.

The following road closures are necessitated for the parade: Chestnut Street between Nassau and Spruce Streets, from 6:30 p.m.; Nassau Street between Chestnut Street and Monument Hall, from 7 p.m. During the parade, all intersections on Nassau along the route will be closed and will be re-opened as is practical as the parade passes by, with primary consideration to the safety of participants and onlookers.

In addition, no parking will be permitted on the south side of Stockton Street between Bayard Lane and Library Place during the event. Emergency ‘No Parking’ signs will be posted in the area. The designated detour is Hamilton Avenue/Wiggins Street/Paul Robeson Place with the aid of signs, barricades and officers posted to assist with the flow of traffic.

Cyclovia

On Sunday, May 4, beginning at 12:30 p.m., Quaker Road will be closed between Mercer Street and Nassau Park Boulevard to facilitate the Cyclovia cycling event. Traditional methods of road closure will apply in the form of gates and signage that are permanently posted in the area. The designated detour will be Province Line Road to Mercer Street until the event ends at 4:30 p.m., at which time the roads will reopen to all traffic. For more information on the event designed for bicyclists, walkers, runners, skaters and other wheelers, visit: www.princetonnj.gov/bicycle.htmlbicycle.html.

Road Works

On or about May 5, the repair and resurfacing of Mercer Road between Province Line Road and Quaker Road will begin. The first part of the project, which will involve the milling, repair and repaving of the road surface, is scheduled to commence between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and is expected to take approximately 10 to 14 days.

The second phase of the project will begin upon completion of the first phase and will involve the milling, repair and resurfacing of Quaker Road between Mercer Road and the Port Mercer area, also between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The second phase of the project is expected to take approximately 3 to 4 weeks, during which time roads will be open to traffic during non-scheduled work hours. Route 206 will be the designated detour for the duration of the project, and signage will be posted to that end. Variable message boards have been posted in the area to alert motorists of the upcoming project.

 

MORVEN IN MAY: As part of its annual celebration of art, craft, and garden, Morven Museum will hold its Heirloom Plant Sale this weekend alongside its arts and crafts show. Morven in May is the place to find those plants uncommon in modern nurseries: traditional flowers, peonies, and scented annuals and vines. Besides plants, of course, there will be all sorts of artful delights for visits under the big tents on the lawn where 25 professional artists and artisans will offer their original pieces for sale. For tickets to the preview on Friday evening and more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

MORVEN IN MAY: As part of its annual celebration of art, craft, and garden, Morven Museum will hold its Heirloom Plant Sale this weekend alongside its arts and crafts show. Morven in May is the place to find those plants uncommon in modern nurseries: traditional flowers, peonies, and scented annuals and vines. Besides plants, of course, there will be all sorts of artful delights for visits under the big tents on the lawn where 25 professional artists and artisans will offer their original pieces for sale. For tickets to the preview on Friday evening and more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

Artists and crafters often feel impelled to create. Barry Newstat is a case in point. From early childhood he has been losing himself in the art of making things. “I can’t not make things,” said the now accomplished furniture maker and woodworker who will be bringing six of his pieces from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs to Princeton this weekend for the annual celebration of art, craft, and garden that is Morven in May.

After hearing about “Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden” from Morven Director of Development Barbara Webb last year when she visited his booth at the Philadelphia Art Museum Craft Show, Mr. Newstat jumped at the chance to participate in what he described as a small, high quality, boutique show. Mr. Newstat won the Wharton Eshrick Prize for Best of Show in woodworking in Philadelphia and is one of 25 professional fine craft artists from around the country selected to take part in Morven’s juried show; and one of several participating for the first time.

In past years the show was by invitation only but this year the organizers used Juried Art Services (www.juriedartservices.com), the online service employed by the Smithsonian Craft Show and the American Craft Council to help whittle down potential participants from the 115 who applied.

James C. Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum; art auctioneer David Rago, and Veronica C. Roberts, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Art Museum at the University of Texas were the jurors.

“We’re very excited about this year’s show,” commented Ms. Webb, on what has become an anticipated spring ritual in Princeton. “Morven in May is an art and garden lover’s delight and some of our the artists taking part this year come from as far as Chicago and Portland, Maine.”

Budding Furniture Maker

The first time Barry Newstat worked with wood, making a bowl from Honduras mahogany on a lathe in junior high, “it was a joyful experience.” Seeing his son’s excitement, the boy’s father bought him a lathe and together they began buying small pieces of wood from around the world. “In a way, Barry Newstat Furniture began back then when I was 12,” said the artist who began his furniture business in 1987.

Using unique lumber and traditional joinery, he crafts chairs, table that have become more abstract over the years. Recently he’s introduced “live” edges to his work. But always, he is guided by three principles. Each piece must be sculptural, decorative, and functional. The six items he will have at Morven are two cabinets, two side tables, and two small round tables. One of the cabinets is his newest piece. Also displayed at the recent Smithsonian Craft Show, it can be viewed on his website: www.barrynewstatfurniture.com.

Besides Mr. Newstat, those participating for the first time are basket maker Kari Lonning from Ridgefield, Connecticut; the Cylinders from Oley, Pennsylvania; and Ms. Falls from Hartland, Vermont.

Ms. Lonning’s work is in several museum collections and can be viewed on her website: www.karilonning.com.

The Cylinders found their way to Princeton through word of mouth recommendations from fellow artists in New England. “One person told us about ‘this little gem of a show in Princeton, New Jersey,’ and then then someone else told us how wonderfully well it was organized and how much care goes into putting it together.”

The Cylinders, who have been working together for 26 years, will be bringing their biggest piece to the event. Titled Unfolding Moment, it’s a huge Cubist-style necklace that took them four months to make and uses all sorts of materials including resurfaced saxophone keys. The couple fashion unique pieces from simple brooches and rings to show-stopping creations that take months to complete. They incorporate found objects reclaimed from musical instruments with inspiration from Lalique, Spratling/Los Castillo, Jensen and Ken Cory, and other hand-craftsmen.

According to their website (www.lisaandscottcylinder.com), “they take a no-holds-barred attitude about materials and techniques.” Their work is sure to elicit a smile.

Also a first time participant, Deborah Falls was drawn to the show by the feeling that the preponderance of botanicals in her paintings would be a good fit. The artist, who has experience in textile design, paints with colored dyes on hand-woven Indian Dupioni silk. Self-taught in this medium, she is inspired by her own garden.

For her flower-inspired work, Ms. Falls uses fiber reactive dyes that are imported from a small company in France and specially formulated for silk. “Rather than paint on the surface of the fabric, the color becomes part of the fiber with which it chemically bonds,” she explained.

The work of these professional artists and artisans will be on display alongside masterful pieces in glass, ceramics, mixed media, and decorative and wearable fiber. All will be offered for sale in gallery-style booths under an enormous tent on the Museum’s great lawn.

Friends of Morven can preview the sale (and get a 10 percent discount on purchases) on Friday, May 2, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Public hours are Saturday May 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden,” begins Friday May 2 with a Preview Garden Party, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are available on Morven’s website or by calling (609) 924-8144 ext.113. Tickets range from $125.

The show then opens to the general public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday Art Tent are available at the door and are $10 per person, $8 for Friends of Morven.

All proceeds help fund the museum’s collections and exhibitions, historic gardens, and educational programs. Morven Museum & Garden is at 55 Stockton Street. For more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

 

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee will host the first annual Princeton Ciclovia on Sunday, May 4, from 1-4 p.m. on Quaker Road in Princeton. The Ciclovia, which is a Spanish term that means “cycleway,” will open the road to community use for participants to walk, push strollers, skate, run, bike, use wheelchairs and walkers, rollerblade, dance, and use the road in creative and active ways. Leashed dogs are also welcome to walk or run. Quaker Road will be closed to automobile traffic.

Sponsored with the support of the town of Princeton, the Princeton Police Department, West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, East Coast Greenway, Greater Mercer TMA, Historical Society of Princeton, Princeton Friends Meeting, Princeton Friends School, Princeton Battlefield Society, Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County Bike Exchange, Princeton Freewheelers, D&R Canal Watch, and Sustainable Princeton, this free event is designed to promote active living for the community and to increase the awareness of biking, walking, and other non-motorized forms of transportation.

A Ciclovia has no start or finish line; it is not a race. Between 1 and 4 p.m. on May 4, participants can join the Ciclovia where convenient and can ride, walk, skate, etc., in either direction. Participants are encouraged to walk, run or ride to Quaker Road. An easy paced ride will be led from Princeton Shopping Center at 12:15 p.m.

Cyclists can also park and ride the tow path from any D&R Canal parking area. If riding or walking from the Institute Woods, take the Trolley Track Trail or the Pipeline Trail to Princeton Friends Meeting. If arriving via Mercer Road, there is an access path from the Princeton Battlefield parking area that leads to Friends Meeting. Parking will be available in the parking lot of the Friends School at the corner of Mercer Road and Quaker Road in Princeton and in the ‘Babies ‘R Us’ parking lot at the Nassau Park shopping center in West Windsor.

The Princeton Historical Society’s Updike Farm will provide a backdrop for a variety of activities including swing dancing demonstrations and fitness activities. The Updike Farm will be open for tours throughout the afternoon. The D&R Canal Watch will offer two guided walks. At 1:30 p.m, Ted Chase will lead a Bird Walk and at 3 p.m. Doug McCray will lead a History Walk. Both guided walks will step off from the D&R Canal parking lot near Port Mercer and each will take about 30 minutes. At 2:15 p.m, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and other officials will welcome participants at the Updike Farm.

A worldwide movement, with activities throughout the United States as well as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Ciclovias originated in Bogota, Columbia and are popular in Latin America. A Ciclovia is designed to enhance community engagement and expand the concept of vehicle-free public spaces while encouraging people of all ages and abilities to be physically active. The Princeton Ciclovia will take place rain or shine.

Is Communiversity growing too big for Princeton? Is its scheduling this year on a Sunday part of a trend to have events on what was once a “day of rest” and churchgoing?

These were the questions hovering over a brief discussion of the annual free Town and Gown arts festival, which attracted between 35,000 and 40,000 residents and visitors to downtown Princeton on Sunday, April 27.

The discussion was initiated by former Mayor Jim Floyd when he spoke during the public comment period of Monday’s Princeton Council meeting. “Yesterday was a nightmare,” he said, referring to Communiversity’s impact on members of the African American community intent on attending church Sunday. “Our church members had no place to park,” he said, referring to one of the four black churches serving the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood. “I want to know who is responsible for deciding when Communiversity takes place,” said Mr. Floyd.

Mayor Liz Lempert explained that the event was a collaboration between the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), Princeton University and the municipality. “I know that,” said Mr. Floyd. “What I want to know is, who is responsible for approving the date; who has the ultimate power to set the date for Communiversity?”

Ms. Lempert described a decision process involving the ACP, the University and the municipality that takes into account inconveniences to merchants if a Saturday is chosen for the event and to churches if a Sunday is chosen.

Town Administrator Bob Bruschi weighed in with remarks that the municipality provided policing and that there were ways in which it could exercise authority over the event but that this was not the way things were usually done.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller conceded that the Council had the ultimate power as regards the date. Describing the event, with respect to parking, as “worse this year and might even be worse next year,” she suggested that the municipality should hear from the organizers of next year’s event earlier in the year.

Council President Bernie Miller noted that Communiversity was not the only event taking place last Sunday. An afternoon performance at McCarter had contributed to traffic problems. “Careful consideration must be given before we approve the next event,” he said, adding that it was a “grand event” but that it had the potential to “turn into a nightmare.”

Councilman Lance Liverman asked whether there was a trend developing to have events on Sundays. He, too, reported that several people he knew of had been unable to attend church that day because of parking problems associated with the influx of crowds to Princeton.

Councilwoman Jo Butler asked if it might be possible to cordon off parking spaces for the sole use of churchgoers, if the event was to be held on a Sunday. “Yes, we could do that,” said Mr. Bruschi, “but we must recognize that this is a popular event spearheaded by lots of non-profits that are growing in size every year.”

Noting that the municipality and the University had formed an agreement (see page 1 story) that included the gift of a parking lot on Franklin Street, Mr. Floyd suggested that this might be made available to a community that had been significantly inconvenienced.

 

The town of Princeton and Princeton University have produced a seven year agreement under which the University will make voluntary unrestricted financial contributions to the municipality totaling $21.72 million, as well as one-time contributions valued at $2.59 million to several identified municipal projects.

The agreement was voted on at Monday’s public meeting after brief discussion and public comment. Mayor Lempert and Councilwoman Heather Howard recused themselves from the discussion and vote because of a conflict of interest; both of their spouses are employed by Princeton University.

Council President Bernie Miller summarized the agreement and the process by which it had been achieved since last fall. He described it as “unique” and “groundbreaking” for three reasons: it is for seven years; contributions increase annually; and the University will make one-time contributions to projects that were agreed to be of mutual benefit to the University and the town.

In a press release from the University last week, Mr. Miller described the seven year duration as important for “fiscal stability.” The annual amounts paid by the University will increase at a rate greater than permitted for the municipal property tax under New Jersey State law. In addition, the University has agreed to donate to the municipality for its use the University-owned parking lot on Franklin Street that has been valued in the range of $1 million.

In the same press release, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber is quoted: “We are very pleased to be able to make these contributions to the town of Princeton, and in doing so to reaffirm both our desire to help sustain the vitality and well-being of our home community and our deep appreciation for the many aspirations and interests we share.”

At Monday’s meeting, Mr. Miller went on to thank Mr. Eisgruber, who participated in the initial town/gown meeting last fall, for setting a positive tone for the negotiations that recognized the interests of both the University and the municipality in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

He gave special thanks to the town’s administrator Bob Bruschi and Councilman Patrick Simon, who served with him on the negotiating team and he thanked Council members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller and Lance Liverman for their input.

“It will serve Princeton well and be a model for other towns where town and gown share common goals,” Mr. Miller  said after listing highlights that include the following:

In calendar year 2014 the University’s voluntary unrestricted contribution will be $2.75 million, an increase of more than 10 percent over its 2013 contribution; in each subsequent year through 2020, the University will increase its contribution by 4 percent per year; in 2014 the University will contribute an additional $90,000 for the purchase of a new Free-B vehicle.

Over the course of the agreement, the University will also make the following one-time contributions: $250,000 toward construction of a new storage facility for the town’s Department of Public Works equipment; $500,000 toward construction of a new Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad facility on municipal land; $250,000 toward the expansion of the Witherspoon Fire Station (in addition to $300,000 already committed to this project under a prior agreement); and $500,000 toward the purchase of fire-fighting apparatus.

Patrick Simon expressed his pleasure at the agreement and for having “turned a page” in the relationship between the municipality and the University. He thanked Council members Lance Liverman, Jenny Crumiller, and Jo Butler, who met regularly with the municipal negotiators, and volunteer Brad Middlekauff for invaluable assistance.

University representatives Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary, and Kristen Appelget, director of community and regional affairs, who were at the meeting, were praised for their efforts; both had worked on the agreement.

Public Comment

Several members of the public, including Mary Clurman, Kip Cherry and Paul Driscoll, rose in public comment to question the amount that the University has committed to the town.

In 2011, a group of local residents sued the University on the grounds that it should pay property taxes on nearly 20 buildings not directly related to classroom or educational activities, such as Princeton University Press, Alexander Hall, Prospect House, Dillon Gym and Stephens fitness center, McCarter Theatre, the Frist Center, and McCosh Infirmary.

“They [the University] should be paying more, given the amount of property they own and the percentage they are contributing to the town’s budget,” said Ms. Cherry. She then went on to question the contributions promised by the University to projects that have not yet been discussed or approved by the citizens of Princeton. “These are projects that the town hasn’t decided upon and yet they appear on the budget.”

Mr. Bruschi replied that the funds could go to other projects, a point reiterated by Mr. Miller who explained the projects as candidates for funding by the University; projects that would be of mutual benefit to both. “If any or all of these projects do not come about we can sit down again with the University and discuss others, and if this or a future council changes plans, we can work with the University to redirect the funds.”

But Ms. Cherry was not sufficiently assured. Ms. Butler commented that while she understood Ms. Cherry’s concerns, it was important to find projects of mutual interest.

It was pointed out that in addition to the contributions described in the agreement, the University makes additional voluntary contributions each year through a longstanding practice of leaving certain properties, such as non-dormitory graduate student housing, on the tax rolls even though they could qualify for exemption from property taxes under New Jersey law.

According to the new agreement, the University intends to continue this practice and that if the practice is modified, it will make additional voluntary payments to the municipality and the schools at the levels they would have received if the properties had remained on the tax rolls.

The University’s property taxes are expected to increase significantly in future years with the completion of its Lakeside graduate student housing and Merwick/Stanworth faculty/staff housing projects.

Following Ms. Cherry’s remarks, Mr. Driscoll expressed his dissatisfaction with the transparency of decision-making in the town. From the public’s perspective, he said: “it feels like powerful groups in the University come in and trump our needs. No matter how many times we come in and talk, we feel powerless.” There was no response to his comment from members of Council.

Mr. Durkee was then invited to speak. Addressing the council, he said: “We appreciate the opportunity to provide the community an unrestricted contribution which you decide how to spend and to provide funding for projects that you have described.” He endorsed Mr. Miller’s earlier remark that the agreement represents an effective model for other university towns on how to work together.

The agreement, which can be viewed on the University’s website www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S39/83/46G77/index.xml) passed unanimously.