June 27, 2012

It’s 7:30 on Friday night. 9-year-old Jimmy just broke a glass, severely cutting his hand. Blood is flowing.

The University Medical Center at Princeton has moved to its new quarters across Route One to Plainsboro. Fortunately, Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is open and available to patients without appointments. Located in the Village Shopper III, 1378 Route 206 in Skillman, it is accessible to adults and children of all ages, and treats a wide spectrum of conditions.

You bundle Jimmy, now panicking, into the car, and hurry over to Saint Peter’s — just a 15-minute drive, where a staff, including doctors, LPNs, lab and X-ray technicians, are all on-site.

A clinical assistant is waiting at the front desk, and directs you to an examination
room. A nurse or doctor comes in within minutes to examine the wound and determine the best treatment. In this case, a tetanus shot and stitches, after the wound is cleaned, are required.

Filling A Need

Other situations may require X-rays, strep and flu cultures, or blood sugar evaluations, all of which can be performed on-site.

Opened in January, Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is filling a need. With the departure of the University Medical Center at Princeton, many Princeton and area residents will be relieved to know that an urgent care facility is nearby.

“We’re unique in that we are staffed with emergency care doctors, nurses, certified lab and radiology technicians, and lab services are on-site,” explains Heather A. Veltre, director of emergency services at Saint Peter’s. “This is Saint Peter’s first urgent care center. We are the mother ship!’

“This is a different service. We don’t have the pressure of the ER in a hospital. This is very community-based and it’s nice to be able to service the community in this way.”

The center has already seen numerous patients in the short time it has been open. From poison ivy to pains and palpitations, rashes to wrist injuries, asthma attacks to ankle sprains, bruises and bleeding, fevers and flu, and coughs, colds, and cuts, a variety of conditions have been treated.

“We have seen patients with sports injuries, including knee, ankle, and wrist sprains, lacerations, upper respiratory problems, strep throat, abdominal pain, diabetes, asthma attacks (breathing treatments are immediately available), and more, such as injuries from car accidents,” reports facility manager Maria Bello.

Crisis Situation

“If people have severe symptoms, including stroke or heart attack, that require hospitalization, we call 911, and they are transported to the hospital of their choice. If it’s a crisis situation, the EMTs are required to take the patient to the nearest hospital.”

“The local first aid squad has been very supportive. They have a very quick response, and are a great collaborator,” adds Ms. Veltre. “In addition, we always support the primary care physician. When a patient comes here, after they are treated, we refer them back to their physician.

“Saint Peter’s was one of several places approached by the mayor of Skillman to consider opening an urgent care center,” she continues. “When we were contacted, the Saint Peter’s Healthcare System was dedicated to making it happen. We wanted to do community outreach, and we wanted to be the best resource for the people in the community for their urgent care needs.

“We are also very committed to educating the community about health care. We have set up free monthly education sessions on-site. We have had one on skin safety, and on June 21, we will offer another on pediatric asthma. We look forward to being able to provide even more education to the community and support them in whatever healthcare needs they have. That can include specialty health services, such as good nutrition, a heart-healthy life, warning signs for stroke, and summer emergencies.”

Professional Yet Friendly

The facility offers a spacious setting with a professional yet friendly atmosphere. Three examining rooms, nurses’ station, radiology area, community education room, and waiting room area, featuring refreshments, including bottled water, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, are in a convenient setting.

“One examination room is directed toward geriatric patients,” points out Ms. Veltre. “It has a special geriatric chair, which can be raised, lowered, and heated. The geriatric-friendly room also has an automated table that can be raised or lowered to a comfortable height. The whole idea is to make the experience easier for older people.”

Ms. Veltre is very pleased with the response to the center. “People are definitely finding us, and our best experience is patient satisfaction and referral. We are growing all the time and have seen patients from the area, including Princeton, Skillman, East Brunswick, and even New York, when someone was visiting here. We are happy that everything has gone very smoothly and according to plan. Also, the nearby businesses have been very supportive.”

“I went to Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center on a Saturday recently when a piece of metal was stuck in my finger,” says a Princeton resident. “The staff couldn’t have been nicer and more professional. They saw me right away. The nurse examined my finger, a technician took an X-ray, and then the doctor determined the severity of the problem. I had a tetanus shot, and he then directed me to see a hand specialist, because of the location of the metal near tendons and ligaments. The entire experience was very positive. Everything was very thorough, and I was able to be in and out within a half-hour.”

Mild To Serious

“We are very proud of our staff,” emphasizes Ms. Veltre. “Maria does a wonderful job, and we have a full staff. They are cross-trained and very hard-working. The center has seen up to 26 patients in one day, and of course, this varies. The situation can be mild to serious. On a recent Friday, a patient with severe chest pains was transported to the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.”

Ms. Veltre also notes that “It’s only a 26-minute drive from Princeton to Saint Peter’s hospital, right in New Brunswick. This is another option. We are looking forward to a newly constructed pediatric and adult ER at Saint Peter’s Hospital to be started in July.”

Saint Peter’s Urgent Care Center is an important new addition to the area. It takes most insurance plans, and is open 365 days a year. It is certainly reassuring to know that if one is faced with a sudden medical emergency, a nearby facility is available.

“This is what we are trained to do, and we are ready at all times to help the community,” says Ms. Veltre.

Current hours, which are still being evaluated, are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Sunday, and holidays 10 to 6. Patients may also make an appointment.

(609) 497-4597. Website: saintpetershcs.com\urgentcare.


Princeton University vice president and secretary Robert Durkee spoke about strains in town-gown relations at Monday evening’s Township Committee meeting.

The occasion was a Committee vote on proposed state legislation regarding private universities and the zoning process. If passed, Senate Bill 1534 and Assembly Bill A2586 would exempt private universities from land use law; Princeton University, Rider University, and other private educational institutions of higher learning would no longer require approvals from municipalities to launch development projects, enabling them to proceed more quickly with their plans.

Citing the University’s inability “to pull up stakes” like other developers and move elsewhere, Mr. Durkee described the University’s “good history” of working with the Princeton Planning Board. Suggesting that the bill originated in other areas of New Jersey, he noted that even if it becomes law, the University would continue to consult with the Planning Board about future growth.

Later that evening, Township Committee unanimously voted to oppose the legislation.

In his comments, Mr. Durkee thanked Committee members for the opportunity to speak; there had been no chance for public comment before Borough Council’s vote not to endorse the new legislation, he said.

Mr. Durkee referred to recent developments,” that have been “cause for serious concern.” He described the year-long struggle, largely with Borough Council, before the new Arts and Transportation neighborhood could even be proposed, and worried that, despite consolidation, some members of the new governing board will be current members of Borough Council who would continue “to politicize the planning process.”

While agreeing that the Township has enjoyed a positive professional relationship with the University and that the lines of communication should remain open, Mayor Chad Goerner responded to Mr. Durkee’s comments by citing the need for having “checks and balances in place.” Residents, who come to Princeton “for a reason,” don’t pull up stakes, either, he observed.

Area activist Kip Cherry spoke in support of Mr. Goerner’s comments, describing the bill as “a proposed declaration of war against land use planning.”

The Senate bill is sponsored by Senators Paul Sario (D-Passaic) and Robert Singer (R-Monmouth). In the Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Salem) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Passaic). The bills could be voted on as early as the end of June.


What was reported last week as a difference of opinion between the Consolidation Commission (CC) and the Transition Task Force (TTF) about a proposed consolidated Princeton employee benefit package known as “paid time off” (PTO), is, said TTF chair Mark Freda on Friday, “perhaps” just a “miscommunication.”

Consolidation Commission members had expressed concern over what appeared to be the Task Force’s endorsement of the Personnel Subcommittee’s recommendation that non-union employees revert to PTO and be subject to fewer days off.

“The full TTF did not want to see a reduction in the total benefit to staff,” said Mr. Freda. “The TTF asked the two administrators to meet with the non-union staff of the two towns to get their feedback and suggestions around this topic of paid time off. The full Task Force was awaiting the recommendation from the staff and administrators to come back to them,” he added.

Referring to a joint Township-Borough meeting scheduled for June 26 (after press time), Township Administrator Kathryn Monzo confirmed that she and Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi would “present staff recommendations to the joint governing bodies on Tuesday evening.”

Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner reportedly said that he would not vote to support the PTO measure at the June 26 meeting. “We have to keep in mind that we’ve put our staff through a tremendous amount of stress this year, waiting to see what their benefits structure is going to look like, and having that still be incomplete is unacceptable,” he is quoted as saying.

Chairman Anton Lahnston was also planning to attend the Tuesday evening meeting to express the Commission’s concerns.

In other comments responding to issues raised by the Commission, Mr. Freda noted that he “wasn’t told before the[ir] meeting that this would be a topic on the CC agenda, and since I wasn’t there to hear the actual discussion, I can only provide comments based on some assumptions.

“There should be no immediate concern that any benefit will be reduced,” he added. “I would be surprised if the administrators and staff come back with a recommendation that they would feel harms them in any way.”

Another point of contention that is expected to come up on Tuesday night is whether or not a “blended” open space tax of 1.7 cents should be adopted by the new municipality. Borough residents currently pay an open space tax of one cent on every $100 of assessed property value, while Township residents pay two cents on the same assessment.

The consolidation plan was developed by the ten-member Commission, which consists of Township and Borough representatives, with assistance from the Center for Governmental Research (CGR), a nonprofit management consulting organization with expertise in government management and municipal consolidation processes. The Transition Task Force, which has been charged with implementing the plan, consists of 12 members: five voting members each from the Borough and Township, and one alternate each. The Task Force also includes both the Borough and Township administrators. CGR Vice President Joseph Stefko, who has been a point person for both the Consolidation Commission and the Task Force, was unable to publicly comment on the apparent misunderstanding about proposed benefits.


The Route 1 jughandle trial postponed from last March is scheduled to begin on August 6, it was confirmed this week. James Simpson, State Department of Transportation Commissioner, said at a meeting of the Central Jersey Transportation Forum on Monday that the project, an experiment that will block off the Route 1 jughandles at Washington Road and Harrison Street, will last about 12 weeks unless it there are early indications of its ineffectiveness. The goal of the experiment is to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion.

Members of the Princeton Merchants Association, who met with transportation department officials last February to express their concerns about the project’s impact on local business, plan to hold a special meeting tomorrow, June 28, to make sure they are prepared for any changes the trial might bring.

“We’re going to reconvene and strategize on how we can monitor and assist with management from the business community,” said Kevin Wilkes, a member of Borough Council and architect at Princeton Design Guild. “I’m eagerly anxious to see what happens with this. Everyone is full of predictions. The test, from everything I hear, is going to be well managed.”

The project’s announcement last February drew protests from area residents as well as business owners. Among their worries was the possible increase in traffic after the May opening of the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, which is located just north of Harrison Street on Route 1. Officials stressed that while they understood concerns, the traffic problems needed to be addressed. To allow for the opening of the hospital, the DOT agreed to put off the experiment until August.

“I certainly haven’t heard any complaints about hospital traffic since it opened,” said David Newton, of Palmer Square Management. Mr. Newton was among those most concerned about the impact of the jughandle trial last spring. He is cautiously optimistic that the project will not cause problems.

“We will have to wait and see until the trial commences,” he said. “We did have an understanding with the DOT that they will monitor the situation carefully, and they demonstrated their ability to work with us since the hospital moved. Like everything else, one has to be positive on these things. If it’s the wrong thing, knowing Princeton there will be a huge chorus and outcry. And if it’s the right thing, nobody will be nice enough to tell them that.”

Drivers going north on Route 1 during the trial will no longer be able to make a U-turn or a left turn into Princeton using the jughandles. Alternatively, they will need to turn off at Alexander Road or proceed north to Scudders Mill Road and double back. Motorists will also be prevented from turning right onto Varsity Avenue so that the street is not used as a shortcut. U-turns, but not left turns, will be allowed on Fisher Place.

Temporary barriers will be used to put the project in place. The DOT is collecting traffic volume information throughout the Borough and Township, as well as in West Windsor and Plainsboro prior to and during the trial period. Traffic data is also being measured by Princeton University.

Officials at the DOT said that if the restrictions do not reduce congestion, or make the traffic worse, the trial will be terminated. For details and diagrams of the changes that will be made under the trial, go to www.nj.gov/transportation” and click on the blue button near the top of the page labeled “NJcommuter.com and select “Construction Updates” from the drop-down menu and click on “Route 1 Pilot Project.”


An Oliver Twist moment at the jaZams block party on Palmer Square West Friday, which abounded in food, crafts, fun, and music, plus a showing of “The Princess Bride.” From her expression, this princess is definitely asking for more. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

 

June 20, 2012

CHAMPIONS OF PLASMA PHYSICS: A recent gathering at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to mark passage by the House of Representatives of a bill to restore future funding included (from left): Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen; Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman; Representative Rush Holt; Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu; and PPPL Director Stewart Prager. (Photo by Elle Starkman, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory)

The U.S. House of Representatives’ recent vote to restore $76 million for fusion energy research was the occasion of a visit by Congressmen Rush Holt (D-12) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL).

President Obama’s budget request for FY2013 of $398 million sought to reduce funding for domestic and international fusion efforts. Mr. Holt, a former assistant director of the PPPL, led 48 bipartisan members of Congress in writing to House leaders, including Mr. Frelinghuysen, who is chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, to request that funding be restored.

“Clean energy is an area in which our government can ill-afford to fall behind,” the bipartisan coalition wrote in their letter. “We will cede further advantage to countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union, all of which are pursuing substantially more aggressive fusion programs than our own.”

The House’s vote on final passage of the bill that was created in response to the letter was 266 to 165. The bill will now go to the Senate. Mr. Holt and Mr. Frelinghuysen have called upon the Senate to act to ensure that these research funds are signed into law.

“Fusion research is key to America’s energy future, and we are proud to have this important work in New Jersey,” said Mr. Holt at the event, which was hosted by PPPL director Stewart Prager and Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman, and attended by many PPPL staff members. It took place at the construction site of the National Spherical Torus Experiment Test Cell (NSTX), which is undergoing regular upgrades.

The NSTX, which began operation in 1999, is a major element in the U.S. Fusion Energy Sciences Program. Designed and built jointly by PPPL, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Columbia University, and the University of Washington, Seattle, it is, according to Mr. Prager, “the best of its kind in the world.”

In addition to advancing this country’s understanding of plasma physics, PPPL’s work is integral to the work of ITER (“the way”), an international collaboration of scientists and engineers. ITER is expected to eventually produce 500 million watts of fusion power.

Without the funding, PPPL will face severe cutbacks on crucial research projects and staff reductions of as many as 100 persons, including scientists, engineers, and lab technicians. “It is ironic that this laboratory continues to struggle for funding when the promise and progress of fusion energy research is as great as it has been at any time,” observed Mr. Holt.

“If you look around us today, you’ll see workers in lab coats, workers in suits, and workers in jeans and hardhats — in other words, a broad cross-section of the New Jersey workforce. All of these jobs, and all of their crucial research, are placed at risk by efforts to cut basic research.”

“Faced with unsustainable budget deficits, we are making difficult funding decisions,” Mr. Frelinghuysen said. “But I will be working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that the PPPL’s cutting-edge research to create alternative sources of energy moves forward.” Asked when the Senate might act on the bill, however, Mr. Frelinghuysen commented that “it’s always a mystery to me how the Senate takes up its priorities.” Responding to a question about the source of the restored funds, he said that he didn’t “think the money came out of some other program.”

“Fusion energy is an investment the country must make in the future,” said Ms. Tilghman. “We are enormously proud of this laboratory.”

“We are delighted to host Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen and Rush Holt at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory,” said Mr. Prager. “They are remarkable champions of science and possess a profound understanding of science and its enormous benefits to society. The funding bill they both fought for is exceedingly important for the advancement of fusion energy, paving the way for new pathways for the U.S. I can’t overstate our gratitude.”

Just a few days after the event, Mr. Holt accepted the Legislator of the Year Award from the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars, the New Jersey branch of one of America’s largest organizations of combat veterans.


With consolidation of the two Princetons looming, the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee held a reorganization meeting last week. The gathering, at which officers were elected and bylaws adopted, was the first since the Princeton Borough Democratic Municipal Committee and the Princeton Township Democratic Municipal Committee were combined into one new entity.

“It’s historic,” said Peter Wolanin, the new Municipal Chair and the former chair of the Borough committee, this week. “The recent primary was effectively our first consolidated Princeton election. So here is really concrete evidence that consolidation is happening.”

The committee met on June 11. It consists of members of the Mercer County Democratic Committee who were elected in Princeton’s new consolidated voting districts on the primary ballot. Each voting district has one male and one female committee seat. The committee recruits and supports Democratic candidates, makes endorsements in the primary, and is the official Democratic Party organization in Princeton.

The committee is separate from the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), which is a club that any registered Democrat can join. “The average person doesn’t always understand what the roles of the two are,” said Mr. Wolanin. “Just for historical reference, at one point in Princeton’s history there were two Democratic clubs. The club doesn’t have any exclusive rights, it is just a social club. It is the municipal and county committee that have a state mandated role.”

At the reorganization meeting, 22 committee members were present. In addition to electing officers and adopting bylaws, the committee authorized the officers to conduct business including setting up a new political party committee under the regulations of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. Jon Durbin, who chaired the Township Democratic Municipal Committee since 2010, was elected first vice-chair of the new body. Doreen Blanc-Rockstrom was elected second vice-chair.

“It’s going to be a busy year,” Mr. Wolanin said. “We have our Democratic candidates for the six council seats and for mayor, so those are important to us. We also have the race in the 16th district, which is not so much on people’s radar. A lot of people don’t realize that in Princeton we are represented by three Republicans in the state legislature. So this is a good chance to win some of those seats. And the presidential election already seems like it’s going to be quite a fight.”


“For large organizations, it may seem unusual that an executive director would attend the funerals of clients, but because of our small size and the highly individualized and personalized way that we serve our clients, I know all of them.” – Carol Olivieri

The Health Care Ministry of Princeton (HCM) is a non-profit organization that provides transportation, food, shopping, visits, and caregiver support to the elderly. It was was founded in 1984 by Princeton Council 636 of the Knights of Columbus, and Sister Ancilla of the Sisters of Mercy. They believed that providing simple, supportive services to the elderly would enable them to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. In 1989, the Health Care Ministry was incorporated as the Health Care Ministry of St. Paul’s, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. In 2006 it adopted the name Health Care Ministry of Princeton (HCM), to reflect the area it serves, which includes Princeton and the bordering communities of West Windsor, Plainsboro, Kingston, Rocky Hill, and the Village of Lawrence. 

—Ellen Gilbert

The day may start with a message letting us know about the death of one of our clients. Dealing with people who are 85 or 95 years old means that death can never be far away, but sometimes it comes unexpectedly. Later in the day, I will call this client’s family. We will reminisce about their parent’s life, and talk about the funeral arrangements.

There are always routine tasks to be done: check the email, record the messages, check the ride calendar. Is this the week for payroll? There’s a great benefit to coming in early, before anyone will call and before other agencies are open. Later, so many activities will be punctuated by the ringing of the phone. There are calls that can be quickly dispatched as when a client may just want to make sure we have a volunteer coming to take them to their appointment. Other times there is the call that comes out of the gray fog of dementia. It is cruel to rush these callers off the phone. What am I here for if not to give them my attention, to offer my reassurance, or to lead them to a somewhat clearer place?

Our transportation program is one of our busiest. We provide free rides to all types of health- and medical-related appointments and we are the last resort for many people who cannot utilize other programs because of their health, who cannot afford even low-cost transportation, or who cannot access health care because of the limitations of senior transportation. It can be hard to make others understand the needs and limitations of the frail elderly who make up our client group. A van service that makes a series of stops throughout the neighborhood just doesn’t work when it’s 90 degrees outside, or when chronic arthritis makes it unbearable to stand for 20 minutes at the van stop.

We are blessed with a diverse group of volunteers who bring so many different talents to our organization. How can we get more volunteers? Is it more postings on online sites? Is it another flyer displayed at local businesses? Is it one volunteer telling a friend about how much they enjoy volunteering with the HCM and how easy it is? This is a multiple-choice question, and the answer is “All of the above.”

A report on a grant project is due. We have been lucky in the amount of grant funding we’ve received this year. This grant from The Fred C. Rummel Foundation supports our home safety program. Regardless of how much grant funding we receive, the heart of our fundraising lies in the contributions of individuals.

Mary Bliss, our assistant director, arrives. It is time for us to discuss particular client needs, problem solve, match new volunteers with clients, schedule appointments to meet new clients or volunteers, discuss current events that influence care of the elderly. Then we have to move onto our separate activities. No day is quite like another for Mary. While she may have specific things on her calendar each day, she always has to be ready for the unexpected and unplanned. If a driver has an emergency and can’t give a ride to a medical appointment, Mary fills in. If a client realizes the cupboard is bare, and a volunteer isn’t available, Mary gets what’s needed. While we meet, a call comes in that a client has been hospitalized. Mary is our designated hospital visitor. She knows all the clients, so she’s not a stranger coming to their bedsides.

It’s always important to revisit a client’s situation to see if they need something more, or if their health has deteriorated so much that we begin to question their safety. Maybe they have a need that they can only ask us in person. Despite the high-tech lives we may be living outside of the HCM, we definitely have to take a step back when working with clients who are in their 80’s and 90’s. Our clients don’t email. Many are uncomfortable leaving voicemail messages. Some don’t have answering machines.

The phone rings. A client’s daughter is wondering what’s the best thing for her mother. Can she remain at home? If so, how much more help can be brought in? Is it time to consider something like assisted living? Maybe a day program and some extra help at home is enough for now. These calls can be very long and involved. Adult children who live in other states may not know what’s available here. People may not know the difference between assisted living and a nursing home. It can be so painful to watch the gradual diminishment of people who were stronger, more capable, and once able to guide us.

Sometimes the call is from another non-profit that helps the elderly. Many times we collaborate on how to put a number of services in place from different organizations to meet all of a person’s needs. Just as common are the calls that come in because other agencies know that our services are unique and are often the last hope for many who cannot utilize other programs.

No matter what the weather, it’s nice to take a break to get the mail and get a cup of coffee. With our office in Dorothea’s House, we’re just a short walk from the Palmer Square Post Office and a range of options for a coffee break.

I have a few letters to write to donors. Our office support comes entirely from volunteers and there is no Information Technology Department, so many times, I need to be adept at many different tasks. Rather than being tedious, writing these letters is one of the more satisfying things I have to do. What’s nicer than saying “Thank you”? There are very few “form” letters at the HCM.

I get ready to go home, but realize that even though my day at the Health Care Ministry is ending, the work continues somewhere as a volunteer may be doing someone’s food shopping, or making a friendly visit after work.

Princeton Borough Council voted unanimously last week for a resolution expressing their opposition to legislation that would exempt private universities from following local land use laws. Two bills, which have been moving through the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, “would put neighborhoods and entire communities at risk” if passed, said Councilman Roger Martindell.

If the legislation is enacted, Princeton University, Rider University, and other private educational institutions of higher learning would no longer require approvals from Princeton to launch development projects. Councilwoman Heather Howard, who works for Princeton University, abstained from the vote.

“Developments could occur without any reviews from the Planning Board,” Mr. Martindell said. “Princeton University owns somewhere in the range of 40 percent of the land in the Borough. Add the three institutions of higher learning in Princeton together, and this would become a total company town. There would very little we could do to form the kind of community we want. These bills could be a disaster for Princeton.”

The Senate bill is sponsored by Senators Paul Sario (D-Passaic) and Robert Singer (R-Monmouth). In the Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Salem) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Passaic). The bills could be voted on as early as the end of June.

According to the bill in the Senate, private universities and colleges “are subject to local zoning controls by the municipalities in which they are located and must obtain approval from those local authorities for all campus development. The approval process often can be quite time consuming and expensive. This results in the delay of important educational programs and facilities for students attending the institutions as well as the diversion of critical funding away from educational purposes.”

The legislation has also been opposed by the state League of Municipalities.

In other action at the June 12 meeting, attorney Richard Goldman of Drinker Biddle & Reath, which represents Princeton University, spoke in response to comments made at the previous meeting criticizing a request for records in lawsuits related to the move of the Dinky station. Councilman Martindell had spoken out on June 6 about the law firm’s request for more than six years of records from the mayor, staff, members of governing bodies, and others, calling it “outrageous” and “overly broad and burdensome.”

Mr. Goldman spoke during the public comment section of last week’s meeting. “I feel compelled to at least respond in kind,” he said, saying he was surprised that the request had created such a furor because it followed standard procedure. “As lawyers, it is our obligation to find out as much information as we can,” he said. “We haven’t sued anyone. All we’ve done is in the ordinary cause of discovery.”

Mr. Martindell replied that the request was “a fishing expedition casting a very wide net.”

Residents from the neighborhood of Scott Lane and Bainbridge Street expressed varying opinions about the issue of whether to extend sidewalks on Scott Lane. After listening to several opinions, the Council voted 4-2 in favor of an ordinance to build the sidewalks.


A check from Princeton Education Foundation (PEF), representing $113,500 in donated funds to the Princeton Public Schools for improvements in technology, music, and vocal equipment in the elementary schools, was presented to the Board of Education at its most recent meeting.

PEF is a nonprofit that raises money each year to support local public school initiatives. This year’s gift is comprised of contributions from several different sources, including the PowerUp PRS! Technology campaign, which the Princeton Education Foundation is overseeing in concert with the school district; two gifts from district PTOs; and from PEF itself.

Other new technology will be made available next year through an approved New Jersey State contract, providing $453,385 for the purchase of iPad, MacBook, iMac computers and related supplies. The new equipment will enable instruction in specific language arts, math, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in elementary grade pre-kindergarten through grade 1 classrooms; grade 6 through 8 math and science classrooms; and grade 9-12 English, math, science, and world languages classes. Individual teacher-issued technology will also be upgraded where needed.

In response to proposals received by district health benefits broker Connor Strong Buckelew, the Board approved the appointment of Express Scripts/Medco as the prescription benefits carrier, effective July 1, 2012, replacing BeneCard, whose contract will terminate effective June 30, 2012. The change was made in response to a perceived “need to control rising health care costs, and in an effort to save money for the district and the staff paying contributions towards coverage.”

Incoming staff include Princeton High School (PHS) Spanish teacher Maria Benedetto; John Witherspoon Middle School Science teacher Janet Gaudino; Caitlin O’Connor, a new fourth grade teacher at Littlebrook Elementary School; and PHS Social Studies teacher Patricia Manhart. All of their appointments are effective September 1.

Last week’s meeting also included recognition of retiring staff members for their many “years of service to Princeton children.”

The Board of Education will meet again Wednesday, June 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Valley Road Administrative Building. They will discuss personnel issues and contract ratification, and participate in a workshop about their work in the coming school year. The meeting is open to the public.

The Princeton Public Schools’ website is www.prs.k12.nj.us.

For more information about the Princeton Education Foundation, visit www.pefnj.org.


Once Princeton voters approved consolidation last November, Anton Lahnston began thinking about how to document the process of combining two communities into one. The chairman of the Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission, Mr. Lahnston knew that the joining of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough, through the efforts of the Transition Task Force created for the job, presented a unique opportunity.

“In November and December, people were saying that Princeton is breaking new ground,” he recalled this week. “So I said, here is an opportunity С really more of an obligation С that the community has to tell this story.”

From experience, Mr. Lahnston felt strongly that waiting to tell that story until the process was over was not the way to proceed. So he took measures to get the job done “in real time,” he said. He first approached the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for funding. While they applauded his idea, they were not able to provide financing.

So Mr. Lahnston began to look around for alternatives. What he found, eventually, was a group of students from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The five-member group of interns, headed by Princeton native Logan Clark, has been on the job ever since, attending meetings of the Task Force and keeping records of the complex process. They are volunteering their time and receiving no course credit.

The students are currently scattered across the country during the University’s summer break, working on various internships, and will pick up the story when they return in the fall. For Mr. Clark, who is interning at the State Department in Washington, the process so far has been informative, though the group is still in the information-gathering phase of the project. “We’re really trying to suspend judgement for the immediate future,” he said. “We’re keeping open minds, trying to soak up as much information as we can while it is still fresh in the minds of the people involved.”

Advising the students is Heather Howard, a Borough Council member and a lecturer in Public Affairs and director, State Health Reform Assistance Network, at the Woodrow Wilson School. “For the students, this is an exciting way to see government at work,” Ms. Howard said. “All eyes are on Princeton now. This may be the closest they actually get to government in action, and I think it’s been really interesting for them.”

The students are tracking the key subcommittees of the Transition Task Force. They have met with the DCA as well as with State representatives about how to shape their work. They have also talked with a consultant from CGR (the Center for Governmental Research Inc.). “The State wants to make sure this gets written up in a way that will be helpful to other communities,” Ms. Howard added. “We hope our story helps other communities thinking about taking on consolidation.”

Mr. Clark was appointed chair of the community service and pro bono consulting group of the graduate student government at the Woodrow Wilson School in January. Through family friends in Princeton, he met Borough Council member Barbara Trelstad and Mr. Lahnston, who told him about the need for documenting the consolidation process. Interested, Mr. Clark put together a team. They have been meeting regularly since last April.

The project has provided a rare opportunity to view municipal government at work. “Sitting in on meetings and combing through the various minutes posted on line, it can be a bit perplexing,” Mr. Clark said. “I don’t have a whole lot of experience in local government, but I think I could say that given the magnitude of the endeavor and the degree of difficulty, they are doing a fairly good job. A lot of them are professionals in other fields, volunteering their time. They are proceeding, actually, at a fairly quick rate. In many cases, Princeton is an exemplary town. We’re trying to extract the lessons and best practices that can be gleaned.”

While the group isn’t able to take on every issue involved in the Transition Task Force process, they are documenting the major issues. “It won’t take into account every detail, but it is something that will stand them in good stead in terms of their own learning,” said Mr. Lahnston. “This is complex, there is no question about it. There are a lot of moving parts, a ton of individuals involved, and a lot of egos and political agendas, and you’ve got to work through all of that. It’s a great opportunity for them.”

The students hope to make their documentation something that appeals to a wide audience by weaving in some narrative and story lines as they go along. “Ultimately, we want this to become something people want to read,” said Mr. Clark. “It shouldn’t be just for some esoteric audience. We want other citizens to be able to read this and have something that is engaging in format. We want it to be approachable for people of any professional background.”


Summer beauty on Hinds Plaza, music’s playing, three kids are dancing, one girl’s looking on, tempted to take a turn. Will she or won’t she join the dance? How could she resist? (Photo by Emily Reeves)

June 13, 2012

MARKING THE SPOT: Lawyer Bruce Afran, who represents the Princeton Battlefield Society, spoke at last week’s press conference announcing that the National Trust for Historic Preservation had named the Battlefield to its list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.”

The Institute for Advanced Study’s case for building faculty housing on an undeveloped parcel of land adjacent to the Princeton Battlefield took a hit last week with the announcement that The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Princeton Battlefield to its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list “spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural, and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.”

“As proposed, the project would radically alter the integrity of the historic landscape, which has never been built upon, burying or destroying potential archeological resources and dramatically changing the topography of the terrain — an important element of the battle and essential to interpreting the battle today,” said a statement released by the National Trust. “Local preservationists, led by the Princeton Battlefield Society, are working to prevent construction of housing on this significant portion of the Princeton Battlefield and permanently protect the site from future development.”

“We cannot comment on the basis for the designation of the Battlefield site by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, although we are familiar with the various arguments advanced by the Princeton Battlefield Society,” said a statement released by the Institute for Advanced Study in response to the announcement. “Those arguments were fully aired before the Regional Planning Board, which approved the Institute’s Faculty Housing Project unanimously.” An article about the Planning Board’s decision, detailing the plan and amendments to it “that resulted from the Institute’s discussions with prominent historians,” can be viewed at www.ias.edu/news/press-releases/2012/03/02/faculty-housing.

“The Battle of Princeton transformed prospects for the American Revolution and proved to be a major turning point in the war,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The story of our country’s fight for independence is incomplete without a fully preserved Princeton Battlefield.”

At a press conference announcing the names on this year’s “endangered” list, speakers included representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Princeton Battlefield Society, and local officials. Describing the campaigns to save them, Philadelphia National Trust Field Director Walter W. Gallas spoke of investing in these places “for as long as it takes.” Mr. Gallas and others speakers also took note of the location of the press conference, immediately in front of the Princeton Battle Monument at Princeton Borough. “It’s a sign of the community’s appreciation and respect for its history,” observed Mr. Gallas.

Borough Mayor Yina Moore said that preserving the Battlefield “should be a high priority in our community.” While local “institutions of higher learning” are highly appreciated, she added, “we should not overlook the significance of the Battlefield.”

Kip Cherry, first vice president of the Princeton Battlefield Society, also spoke, setting the historic scene at what is known as “Maxwell’s Field. It was, she said, one of Washington’s first military successes and is believed by some to have altered the course of the war. “The stakes were enormous, morale was low, and the army was losing commissions.”

In addition to “radically altering the landscape,” objections to the Institute’s plan include the belief that filling in the site and building on it would bury yet-to-be found artifacts. The development, said Society President Jerry Hurwitz, is “dead center of the British line.” He described the plan to build on it as “a desecration,” and maintained that the current archeological protocol “is not enough.”

“This is hallowed ground. The search needs to be done in a slow, methodical way,” he observed. Another argument against the Institute’s plan, he added, is the fact that the proposed site is on wetlands with poor drainage. Lawyer Bruce Afran suggested that the Institute had concealed the existence of the wetlands in its application for permission to build on the site. Mr. Afran also described the site as an early location of a Native American settlement.

“The project provides for a 200-foot buffer zone alongside the Princeton Battlefield State Park, with an additional 10 acres adjacent to the Park scheduled to be conserved permanently as open space,” declared the Institute’s statement. “The plan has been carefully developed to respect and enhance the historic setting while ensuring that the Institute will retain its essential character as a residential community of scholars of the highest quality. The Institute remains committed to our plan to build housing for our faculty.”

The announcement of the Battlefield’s place on the endangered list took the Institute by surprise, said a spokesperson, who cited ongoing Institute efforts to protect the Battlefield and to comply with regulations.

“America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” has “identified more than 230 threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures” since 1988 that are “threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development, or insensitive public policy,” and report that “only a handful of listed sites have been lost.”

Other sites on this year’s endangered list include Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Joe Frazier’s Gym in Philadelphia; the Malcolm X-Ella Little-Collins House in Boston; Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles; Texas courthouses; Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch in Billings County, North Dakota; and the Village of Zoar in Ohio.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization. For more information visit www.PreservationNation.org.


A man who may be connected to a series of recent burglaries in Princeton and surrounding communities has been arrested by the New Brunswick Police. Walter Lee Hastings, 50, was taken into custody Friday, June 8 at a Howard Johnson Express hotel on Route 1 in New Brunswick, and is being held in the Middlesex County Correctional Facility.

The thefts, some as recent as last week, took place at night in homes and cars where a door or window was unlocked. Mr. Hastings is being charged in connection with five burglaries that took place in South Brunswick, Piscataway, and New Brunswick over the past three months. Whether he stole from homes in Princeton Borough and Township remains under investigation, but authorities regard him as a possible suspect.

“I can’t officially say we’re going to charge him with anything, but we are reviewing the case load to see if we can tie him in and will certainly charge him accordingly if we can,” said Sergeant Mike Cifelli of the Princeton Township Police on Monday. “Over the next week we will most certainly be reviewing this.”

The area of Route 27 near Dodds Lane has been the scene of several burglaries since just before last Christmas. “Generally, entry was done through an open door,” Mr. Cifelli said. “We have seen very few incidents of forced entry.”

The arrest of Mr. Hastings came after a collaborative effort by several police departments in Mercer and Middlesex counties, and the Mercer and Middlesex County Prosecutors’ offices. This inter-county task force included Princeton Township and Borough, Franklin Township, New Brunswick and South Brunswick, Mr. Cifelli said.

“Everybody compared notes, and we were able to develop a suspect. There was enough commonality that we were able to come to the conclusion that it was the same person or group of persons doing this,” he added. “We were seeing a pattern.”

Police have urged residents in recent months to lock doors and windows, since entry in many of the home burglaries appears to have been gained through sliding glass doors. The most recently reported local burglaries took place in the 700 and 900 blocks of Princeton-Kingston Road. Both involved jewelry; one also included electronics and cash.

“While we can’t tie this suspect to either case, the time frame in which they occurred was before the arrest, so it is indeed possible that he could have been involved,” Mr. Cifelli said. “We’ll have more information as the investigation continues.”


Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, who is a mayoral hopeful for the consolidated Princeton, and Committeewoman Sue Nemeth, will be the Township’s representatives on the Transition Task Force’s Personnel Selection Committee. The Committee will oversee the selection and placement of municipal employees after consolidation. It consists of members of both current governing bodies.

The names were announced at Monday evening’s Township Committee Meeting.

Acting on a recommendation from the Transition Task Force, Township Committee also approved the appointment of Barbara A. Lee, a former Rutgers University dean of the school of management and labor relations, as facilitator for the Selection Committee. Ms. Nemeth described Ms. Lee as “highly qualified” and “very much interested” in the position. Ms. Lempert cited the candidate’s years of residence in Princeton, and long-standing interest in serving the community.

In anticipation of consolidation, a proposal to reconcile the different levels of Open Space Tax currently collected by the municipalities was also approved on Monday. The rate, which was studied by the Joint Finance Committee, among other groups, recommends a blended rate of 1.7 cents per every $100 of assessed property value.

The Township currently collects 2 cents on every $100 of assessed property value; the Borough receives 1 cent. A reciprocal motion recommending the “neutral” rate will be presented to Borough Council for approval.

Attorney Ed Schmierer and Administrator Kathy Monzo led the discussion, noting that time is of some concern in order to get a referendum question about the Open Space Tax on the November ballot. On Committeeman Bernie Miller’s suggestion, it was agreed that there will be a brief explanation under the ballot listing to make it clear that this is not a “new” tax.

Ms. Monzo noted that revenue from the Open Space Tax not only enables the acquisition of properties, it provides for their preservation, development into parks and recreational areas, and improves debt service options.

Ms. Nemeth emphasized the importance of continuing to collect an Open Space Tax without a “lapse” that would endanger preservation and future acquisitions. She noted that on a recent Recreation Department survey, residents indicated that parks and trails were high on their list of this area’s assets.

Open Space President Wendy Mager lauded the proposal and cited the importance of giving voters opportunity the opportunity to participate in the decision.


AvalonBay, the developer under contract to build a rental community at the site of the now-empty University Medical Center of Princeton, has filed a site plan with the Regional Planning Board. Details of the plan, which was revised after meetings of an ad hoc subcommittee made up of representatives of local government, the developer, and a citizen representative, were the topic of often heated discussion at a meeting of Borough Council last week.

Ron Ladell, senior vice president of the AvalonBay company, told those gathered that while he knew it would not please everyone, he hoped that the changes to the plan would be acceptable to most. The company filed the site plan last Friday, two days after the meeting.

Residents of the neighborhood have expressed repeated concerns about scale, access, sustainability, and other issues related to the 280-unit community targeted for the site, which was vacated by the hospital for a new building in Plainsboro last month.

The ad hoc design committee, which included Mr. Ladell, Borough Mayor Yina Moore, Council members Jenny Crumiller and Kevin Wilkes, resident Joseph Weiss, Princeton Environmental Commission member Heidi Fichtenbaum, and Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) member Bill Wolfe, have met during recent weeks to try to address residents’ concerns. “We’ve come to some point of progress,” Mayor Moore said at the meeting. “We continue to seek the kinds of improvements that would make for a better community, if this developer seeks to continue with the application.”

Now that the application has been filed, the zoning is locked in under the “time of application” rule that exempts it from any further changes.

“The zoning is in place. We are not going to change it,” Mr. Ladell said. “We expect to file a conforming site plan imminently, and we look forward to site plan hearings at the Planning Board as soon as possible so that the empty hospital building will not have to remain and we can start our work as soon as possible. We appreciate the time and effort put forth by the ad hoc committee over the past many weeks and we look forward to our full site plan presentation and further input from the community.”

There was plenty of input at the meeting. Numerous neighborhood residents lined up to ask questions and offer comments about the amendments to the plan, from how demolition of the current building would proceed to whether asbestos would be properly removed.

Changes to the design of the complex to rise in the hospital’s place include a lower building height and reduction of the mass of the building, as well as the addition of an archway to be built at the front of the complex on Witherspoon Street. While a few people expressed support for the revised plan, most continued to voice opposition, saying the changes were not enough.

One particular sticking point was AvalonBay’s intention to build a pool in the courtyard. When one person suggested putting in a community garden instead of a pool, especially in light of the fact that the newly renovated Princeton Community Pool is blocks away, Mr. Ladell responded that all AvalonBay communities have pools. “It is very valued, it is very prized, and people expect it,” he said.

In response to complaints that the property will be a gated community, without access to the surrounding neighborhood and in conflict with Borough code, the ad hoc committee added the 20-foot-high, 25-feet-wide archway and opened up an interior courtyard to the public while reserving a second area for residents of the complex. The height of the building was reduced in some areas by two stories and other areas by one. Those heights make the building similar in scale to Lambert House, which is currently on the site. The developers are allowed seven stories, with up to 67.5 feet in height. The plan calls for heights ranging from 32.5 to 48 feet. The existing hospital building is 119 feet high.

Architect Jonathan Metz of Perkins Eastman Architects said nothing on Henry Street, including the parking garage, will change as part of the plan. The Witherspoon Street and Franklin Terrace first floor units will have front porches, and be accessible directly without entering the main building. Those apartments located on the side will have terraces or decks, also providing direct access to residents. All of the street facades will have sidewalks and green plantings.

The building’s facades will vary in style, according to suggestions made by the ad hoc committee. The massing will be different due to varied heights, architectural elements, and stairwells.

Resident Mary Clurman asked Mr. Ladell not only about why there is a plan for a pool, but also why Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are not being used in the complex. As he has said in the past, Mr. Ladell replied that the company uses the less-stringent but common standards known as Energy Star, and that will not change. Current zoning guidelines do not require LEED.

Other residents expressed dissatisfaction with the revised courtyard design, saying it only provides one way in and out and that neighborhood residents should be able to walk through.

Sandra Persichetti, executive director of Princeton Community Housing, praised the project for its inclusion of 20 percent affordable housing units. “I have 500 people on a waiting list for affordable units. Instead of worrying about the color of siding or the width of an archway, think about those 500 people without homes,” she said.

Resident Daniel Harris, a member of Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods, responded that no one in the room was opposed to affordable housing. He added that the group wants a list of sustainable elements to be submitted to the Planning Board not later than three weeks after AvalonBay files its site plan.

The revisions do not change the status of the homes on Harris Road that are included in the AvalonBay deal, Mr. Ladell said.The buildings at 281 and 277 Witherspoon Street were retained by the hospital and will remain.


A request for copies of more than six years of records by lawyers representing Princeton University in lawsuits related to the Dinky has angered at least one member of Borough Council. At the governing body’s meeting last week, Councilman Roger Martindell called Drinker Biddle & Reath’s request “outrageous,” and said that he, for one, did not intend to comply.

“This request is overly broad and burdensome, and it violates a first amendment right to communicate with constituents,” he said, to applause from some members of the audience. “Every single person, mayor and employee would have to spend hundreds of hours going through material going back to January 2006. It is totally outrageous.”

The law firm has asked for copies of all records of correspondence between the mayor, members of Council and Borough staff, consultants, and members of the citizen group Save the Dinky between January 2006 and the present. “Copies of any communications, including but not limited to meetings, discussions, conversations, telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, instant messaging, memoranda, letters, notes, telecopies, telexes, conferences, etc.” are mentioned in the filing.

“They want all communications that were ever made in writing in any form whatsoever, between the mayor, and then-Council people and Borough employees and any representative of Save the Dinky, Inc. from January 2006 to now,” Mr. Martindell said this week. “This would take literally hundreds of hours of people going through their emails and files, to comply with that request. It is going to paralyze municipal government. And it is overly broad, because it doesn’t even identify who the representatives of Save the Dinky are. It names a few people, but for all I know Save the Dinky has hundreds of members. And who is representing them? Am I supposed to guess?”

Named in the request are “any member or representative of Save the Dinky, including but not limited to Kip Cherry, Anita Garoniak, Anne Waldron Neumann, Peter Marks, Rodney Fisk, Walter Neumann, Christopher Hedges, Zafina Hosein, Rachel Koehn, and or Dorothy Koehn.”

At the Council meeting, Councilman Kevin Wilkes agreed with Mr. Martindell that the request was too broad. “Do we have a list of their memberships?” he asked, regarding Save the Dinky. Councilwoman Jo Butler said that it would be impossible to meet the request for records within the seven days granted under the state law. Bob Bruschi, the Borough Administrator, said the Borough would need at least 30 days to provide the documents required.

There are two lawsuits currently pending related to the move of the Dinky station from its current location opposite McCarter Theatre to a site 460 feet south. One of the suits has to do with the zoning ordinance approved by Borough Council, which allows the project to move forward. The other has to do with the contract between Princeton University and NJ Transit related to the relocation.

Mr. Martindell said he will not comply with the request for records “absent a written memo saying we must.” He also suggested that Borough police not comply either. “Because until we get some specific guidance on the issues, we could spend hundreds of hours on this,” he said. “We shouldn’t be just jumping to disclose information that takes so much time to get. From my point of view, until we get guidance from our attorney, we shouldn’t be doing anything.”


At Sunday’s Princeton Kids Marathon Race Day hundreds of children from kindergartners to 8th graders were off and running. Joining the kids were former Giants offensive lineman Bart Oats (looming on the left) and (not shown) former Giant Stephen Baker, the “Touchdown Maker.” The fourth annual Race Day was hosted by Community Connection of Princeton HealthCare. Besides promoting health and fitness for children, the event raises money for the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro’s Outpatient Pediatric Clinic. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

June 6, 2012

The results of a “social climate inventory” administered in October, 2011, to Princeton Regional School District (PRSD) students, parents, and employees, highlighted district strengths and revealed areas that need improvement.

PRSD received high marks in “rules and norms regarding safety,” which means that students feel they are in an environment that protects them from physical violence, verbal abuse, and harassment. In addition, school environments were rated high overall in terms of mutual respect for individual differences based upon such factors as gender, race, and culture.

“The area that reveals a universal need across all six buildings is social and emotional learning,” reported the district. “This is not a surprise to us as we work with students each day to ensure that they can attain a sense of personal self-confidence and emotional health in their school, social, and family lives.”

Princeton Center for Leadership Training director Daniel Oscar, whose organization was consulted prior to the survey, said that the impetus for it was the district’s desire “to examine how well and how consistently and how comprehensively they were meeting the social and emotional needs of all of its students.” While it was clear that some students were doing “great work,” there wasn’t “a clear understanding if they were reaching every kid at every grade level.” The survey, Mr. Oscar said, “was the best way to take the pulse of where the district is at.”

A school climate survey is said to refer “to the quality of school life, which sets the tone for all learning and teaching done in the school environment.” Areas surveyed fell under five categories, including safety (sense of physical and emotional security); teaching and learning (support for learning and development of civic skills); interpersonal relationships (respect for diversity, support from adults and peers); institutional environment (feelings of connectedness; satisfaction with physical surroundings); and leadership and professional relationships among staff.

“Overall, we were pleased with the outcome,” reported Princeton High School (PHS) Principal Gary Snyder. “Most of the indicators were positive; there was a lot of really good news.” Delving “into it a little more,” he added, schools “found areas to focus on improvement in the future.” In PHS’s case, the aspect described as “social and civic learning” could be beefed up.

“One of the things we’re looking at is at a grade level,” continued Mr. Snyder. “We do a lot in our 9th grade peer group program, and a lot in our health curriculum, but peer group ends when 10th graders take Drivers’ Education. As a result, he said, “we thought we might look for building into existing programs and/or adding on in the 10th grade.”

“Where indicators varied from school to school, some of that variation follows national trends as students age from elementary to high school,” said superintendent Judy Wilson, responding to a question about differences among the Princeton public schools. “Some variation occurred because of strong emphasis in a particular building, e.g., Littlebrook is especially strong on student service for grades K through 5, annually.

“Overall,” she commented, “no indicator for any school fell in the negative range and we were very pleased with the results.”

Mr. Oscar reported that the Princeton Center for Leadership Training is continuing to facilitate meetings “that include the superintendent, certain principals, and other key members of the district staff,” and that counselors are being encouraged “to engage in discussions about the current state of affairs and what steps need to be taken.”

While a future role for the Princeton Center for Leadership Training in PRSD’s efforts to improve school climate is uncertain at this time, it is clear that the schools will be following up on a regular basis. “While we had almost 100 percent of students in grades 3 through 12 take the survey, the percentage of parents and staff taking the survey varied widely and in some schools was low,” said Judy Wilson. “This was the first year of the survey, so I know those numbers will increase next year.”

You think you have a sense of what the climate is and it confirms a lot of what you believe.” observed Mr. Snyder, “It also forces you to analyze and find areas of improvement.”

A summary description of Princeton Public School’s use of the Comprehensive School Climate Survey, including survey results, is available at the website www.prs.k12.nj.us.


Confronted with a still sluggish economy, an increasing number of recent college graduates have had to postpone plans for independent living and move in with their parents. The adjustment can be as challenging for parents as it is for the adult children. Navigating this renewed togetherness is the subject of “The Not So Empty Nest: Living in Harmony With Your Young Adult,” a program being held Monday, June 11 at Volition Wellness Solutions in Skillman.

“The kids are coming back, so you hear all the complaints,” says Jane Martin, a psychotherapist who works with young adults and teenagers. Ms. Martin and fellow therapist Jean Robinson will be presiding over the free event. “I work with these kids and I talk to their parents, so I see and hear from either end,” Ms. Martin adds. “When you’re young and the kids are young, you want to be the authority. When they’re older, you have to move from being the authority to guidance, and that’s something very difficult to negotiate.”

Many of today’s parents grew up in an era when the salary of an entry level job was enough to cover a portion of the rent on a shared, reasonably-sized apartment. But jobs are scarce today, and those lucky enough to find employment have trouble filling the gap between the cost of living and contemporary, entry-level salaries.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center reports that more than three-quarters of young adults ages 25-34 have moved back home with their parents at some point since the recession began. It is a phenomenon that brings up a whole new set of emotions, issues, and guidelines. Parenting skills can be tested in a new way, requiring a certain level of patience, tact, and maintaining boundaries.

The Volition session is designed to help parents move into a respectful relationship with their adult and late-teen children. The workshop is the first in a Monday night Open House series focusing on mind and body wellness. Volition offers counseling, acupuncture and herbal medicine, breathwork and hypnotherapy, integral medicine and nutrition, and body therapy in an “integral approach” to health care “which starts with the individual and addresses the entire system: family career, and community,” according to the website www.volition
wellness.com.

The workshop will be be a step-by-step, conflict resolution process. “You’ll express your individual needs,” Ms. Martin says. “So a parent is not coming from a place of authority, but of being a human being. The child is expected to rise to the level of being an adult, taking responsibility for his or her own needs. They work together to brainstorm and come to a solution.”

Ms. Martin often holds retreats for teenagers and spends a lot of time talking to their parents. She has been struck by the difference between our culture and others in the passage to adulthood. “In our society, kids don’t learn how to grow up the way they do in other societies,” she says. “There are rites of passage from childhood to adulthood that we don’t have.”

Parents can attend the workshop on their own, or together with their teen or young adult offspring. “We’re teaching tools to use, and those tools can come in at either end,” Ms. Martin says. “We’ll do a little bit of theory, but the main thing we want them to have is the tool.”

“The Not So Empty Nest” is Monday, June 11 from 7-9 p.m. Call (609) 688-8300 or email info@volitionwellness.com to register.


Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert will be the Democratic nominee for mayor of the municipality that will be created when the Borough and the Township consolidate on January 1, 2013.

Unofficial vote counts on Tuesday evening indicated that Ms. Lempert received 2,055 votes; her opponent, Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes, received 1,105.

Richard C. Woodbridge, who ran unopposed as the Republican mayoral candidate, received 481 votes, and Geoff Aton, the single Republican candidate for Council, garnered 438 votes.

Democratic winners on Tuesday who will run for Council in the November election included Borough Councilwomen Jenny Crumiller (1,923 votes), Jo Butler (1,755 votes), and Heather Howard (2,187 votes); Township Committeemen Bernie Miller (2,170 votes) and Lance Liverman (2,208 votes); and Consolidation Commission member Patrick Simon (1,941 votes). Other candidates who ran were Borough Councilman Roger Martindell (1,041 votes); Scott Sillars (1,413 votes); and Tamera Matteo (1,326 votes).

Although Sue Nemeth won locally with 2,175 votes to Marie Corfield’s 729, she lost her bid for a seat in the Democratic General Assembly to Ms. Corfield. Donna Simon (463 votes) ran unopposed as Republican nominee.

This was the first time the Borough and the Township voted as a consolidated Princeton, and many area residents found themselves voting in new locations as a result of the newly created 22 voting districts. Previously, the Borough had 10 districts and the Township 14.

The purpose of the primary election, which is held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June, is to nominate party candidates who will run in the general election, and to elect party members of the State and County Committees.


Princeton University’s 265th Commencement Exercises concluded on Tuesday, June 5 with the awarding of degrees to 1,230 undergraduate members of the Class of 2012, five from other classes, and 832 graduate students.

The events began Sunday with the traditional Baccalaureate Ceremony in the University Chapel, and continued Monday with a rain-soaked Class Day event on Cannon Green featuring actor Steve Carell as keynote speaker. Later that day, columnist George Will, a 1968 Princeton graduate, was featured speaker at the Hooding ceremony for graduate students, which was moved inside to McCarter Theatre. Finally on Tuesday, University President Shirley M. Tilghman presided over the graduation of the class of 2012 in front of Nassau Hall.

President Tilghman’s speech at the conclusion of the Commencement exercises stressed the importance of a liberal arts education, even in demanding and depressing economic times. “I reject the notion that a liberal arts degree has suddenly become obsolete,” she said. “No. We are not about to administer the last rites for a liberal education.”

Honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to “queen of soul” singer Aretha Franklin; Hall of Fame coach Peter “Pete” Carril, who led the Princeton University men’s basketball team for 29 seasons; and to Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padron. Also honored were Joan Wallach Scott, the Harold F. Linder Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study; Joseph Taylor Jr., a Nobel laureate and the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics Emeritus at Princeton; and Karen Uhlenbeck, the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics at the University of Texas-Austin.

At Class Day, the Class of 2012 honored John Witherspoon Middle School student Derek DiGregorio and welcomed him to their class. Derek, who suffers from the rare genetic disease Ataxia Telangiectasia, is a gold medalist in Special Olympics bowling despite the limitations of his disease, and is a fixture at Princeton University sports events. “Derek has been a great supporter of the class,” said Class of 2012 vice president Nick Pugliese as he presented Derek with a white Class of 2012 jacket. A non-profit organization, Derek’s Dreams, raises funds to spread awareness about his condition.

In his speech at the Hooding Ceremony, Mr. Will told the graduate students to keep their connections to Princeton while pursuing their careers. “There is a way for you to reciprocate Princeton’s affection for you, and to repay your intellectual debts to it,” he said. “It is by remaining involved with the University here, and with others who have gone forth from the Graduate School to seed the world with trained intelligence … You have the best the world has to offer — a Princeton degree attesting to a Princeton education.”

———

President Tilghman’s Speech

It gives me great pleasure to continue the tradition of serving as the metaphorical bookends to your Princeton education by having the first word at Opening Exercises and the last word at Commencement. Four years ago, I predicted at Opening Exercises that your time at Princeton would fly by at warp speed, and I have heard from many of you over the past few weeks that it did just that. And while you may be experiencing nostalgia for your days at Princeton, I hope that those feelings are leavened with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment mixed with exhilaration and anticipation for what is ahead. After all, today we should focus on the future — your future. Otherwise, we would call this a Termination Exercise, rather than Commencement.

But for a moment, let me look back at the many ways you have left your mark on this institution, just as it has left its mark on you. You filled this campus with the sound of music, the beauty of dance and the power of theater to both enlighten and entertain. On the playing fields you covered yourself with glory, with the men’s squash team, under head coach Bob Callahan ‘77, winning a national championship and the women’s field hockey team claiming its seventh straight Ivy championship. You spoke up for fairness and equality, lobbied for environmental sustainability, kept bees, sustained dialogues on race, watched birds, engaged in entrepreneurship, promoted cheese consumption, solved Rubik’s Cubes, argued for education reform and, last but not least, assisted those who are less fortunate. You showed that it is possible to debate the most pressing issues of the day with civility and an open mind. You dazzled your teachers in classrooms with your commitment to learning, and your theses and dissertations will reside in Mudd Library as a testament to your intellectual gifts. It has been a privilege — and a great deal of fun — to have borne witness to your journey through Princeton.

Four Years Ago

At those Opening Exercises four years ago, I posed a challenge that Adlai Stevenson ’22 presented to the Class of 1954 at its senior banquet: “Before you leave, remember why you came.” I suggested at the time that it is never too early to start thinking about that dictum. Today it is almost too late, but I hope as you do leave you will continue to think about why you came.

In my address I tried to suggest as strongly as I could that you should not be thinking about your Princeton education as preparation for a specific job and even went so far as to suggest that a Princeton education is intended to prepare you not for a single career, but for any career, including ones that have not yet been invented. In a world that is changing as rapidly as ours, developing the capacity to learn new things is as critical as how well you think or how much you know. Your education is intended to be a vaccine against early obsolescence.

That was then. This is now, four years after one of the most significant downturns in U.S. economic history. Unemployment was 6.1 percent in the fall of 2008; today it is between 8.2 percent and 18 percent, depending on how you count those who are underemployed or who have given up looking for work. So you might well be thinking to yourself, “Was this investment of my time and my family’s resources in a liberal arts education a good decision in light of recent events?” And for those of you who have just completed doctoral degrees, you might be wondering whether your preparation for a career in the professoriate will be rewarded with opportunities to teach the liberal arts to the next generation.

If you are asking yourself those questions, you are not alone, for economic hard times always elicit calls for more goal-oriented education. Let me give you some recent examples of this kind of thinking. Last October Florida’s Governor Rick Scott was quoted as saying, “We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. … I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on, those types of degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job.” Last year one of the campuses of the State University of New York eliminated the departments of French, Italian, Russian, classics and theater in an effort to balance the budget, clearly signaling the lower status of the humanities and the arts compared to the revenue-generating sciences. Even former Harvard University President Larry Summers joined in the fray, questioning the continuing validity of General George Marshall’s plea to a Princeton audience in 1947 when he said: “I doubt seriously whether a man can think with full wisdom and deep convictions regarding certain of the basic international issues today who has not at least reviewed in his mind the period of the Peloponnesian War and the Fall of Athens.” Summers suggested in a New York Times op-ed that skills in data analysis would be more valuable to today’s college graduate than learning from history.

It is ironic that these calls for more outcome-oriented education in the U.S. come at precisely the moment when other nations are racing in the opposite direction. They have taken note of the immense creativity of the American economy over the past 50 years, and have concluded that education in the liberal arts promotes in citizens innovation, independent thinking and the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries. From the United Kingdom to Sweden, Australia, India, China and Bangladesh, educators are experimenting with more holistic educational curricula for their students, believing that education that specializes too early and too narrowly produces well-trained technocrats but few innovators.

Madison at Princeton

It will hopefully come as no surprise to any of you that I reject the notion that a liberal arts degree has suddenly become obsolete. To make my case, I will invoke the story of an early Princeton graduate, as told to me by Hunter Rawlings, Princeton Graduate Class of 1970 and the former president of both the University of Iowa and Cornell. The graduate is James Madison, Princeton Class of 1771, who was, to be sure, no ordinary student. He arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1769 from his home in Virginia. He opted to take the freshman exams immediately — you could think of these as the forerunner of AP exams — and after excelling in them, he began taking courses as a sophomore. For the next two years he immersed himself in Latin and Greek, philosophy, natural science, geography, mathematics, and rhetoric, and actively participated in debate, helping to launch what is now the American Whig-Cliosophic Society. After completing all his requirements in just two years, he found himself at a loss as to what to do next, having no desire to follow the traditional professions of that day, the law or the ministry. So, adopting that time-honored tradition of all Princeton students — procrastination — he persuaded President John Witherspoon to allow him to stay on for a year and continue his studies in Hebrew and political philosophy, thereby becoming Princeton’s first, if unofficial, graduate student. At the end of that year, still not knowing what he wanted to do, he did what any sensible young college graduate does these days — he journeyed from one orange bubble to another in Orange, Virginia, where he lived with his parents for another four years. Now I can’t claim that he lived in the basement, but other than that missing detail, the story certainly sounds like a contemporary one.

Madison to Madison

Eventually, he found his calling — he embraced the patriot cause and became a leader in the crusade to found a free and independent nation. He went on to author a number of the most important documents that guide our nation to this day: the Virginia Plan, the blueprint that became the framework for the U.S. Constitution; some of the most influential Federalist Papers, which were key to the ratification of the Constitution by the states; and the Bill of Rights. But my favorite story about Madison involves George Washington’s first inaugural address in 1789. Washington rejected the 73-page draft prepared by a friend and turned instead to Madison to write the one that he eventually delivered to a joint session of Congress. The speech was such a great success that Congress decided it needed to respond. They asked Madison to draft the response. Washington was so touched by their response that he felt a need to send a thank you note, and, sure enough, you guessed it — he asked Madison to draft it. So these key early exchanges between President and Congress were really Madison talking to Madison in public!

Without taking anything away from Madison’s towering intellect, I would argue that the years he spent at Princeton, engaged in the study of subjects such as mathematics and political philosophy, powerfully prepared him for his life’s work. His studies with Witherspoon gave him the opportunity to grapple with the ideas on which this nation was founded, ideas stretching from ancient Greece to the Scottish enlightenment; they disciplined his ability to marshal and then defend a well-constructed argument; deepened his moral sensibility; and they honed his writing and speaking skills, all of which were critical to his success in public life.

While what constitutes a liberal education today includes areas of study that could not have been imagined in Madison’s time — neuroscience and, yes, anthropology — the qualities of mind and character that a liberal education is intended to impart remain the same. Just as the nascent United States depended upon well-educated individuals who brought historical perspective, political theory and a sympathy for the complexity of human nature to the task of designing a new nation, both this country and the dozens of others represented on this lawn today need thoughtful, open-minded and well-informed citizens to chart their course and influence their future. No, we are not about to administer the last rites for a liberal education.

This is not to say that a liberal arts education is the only valuable form of education. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the great strengths of the U.S. higher education system is its immense diversity, with post-secondary educational institutions of many kinds preparing for meaningful careers everyone from performing artists to nurses to video game designers, teenagers and grandparents, in small classrooms and large online communities. This rich tapestry of opportunity is essential for a well-functioning society.

What I am saying is that to be successful in the 21st century, just as in the 18th century, a society requires citizens who are steeped in history, literature, languages, culture, and scientific and technological ideas from ancient times to the present day. They need to be curious about the world, broadly well-informed, independent of mind, and able to understand and sympathize with what Woodrow Wilson referred to as “the other.” Our colleges and universities need scholars who have dedicated themselves to the life of the mind, to preserving the wisdom of the ages, to generating new knowledge and a deeper understanding of the past, and to passing that knowledge and understanding on to the next generation.

I am also saying that a liberal education is a privilege that brings with it a responsibility to use your education wisely, as much for the benefit of others in your community and nation and the world as for your own private good. So, as you walk, skip or run through the FitzRandolph Gates today, as citizens of this and many other nations, I hope you will carry forward the spirit of Princeton and the liberal education you have received. The future is now in your hands. And I expect you to do as you have done at Princeton — to aim high and be bold!

My warmest wishes go with you all.

THE P-RADE: Every year on the Saturday of Princeton University’s Reunions Weekend, alumni gather to make their traditional march through campus. Led by the 25th Reunion Class and followed by the “Old Guard” classes that are beyond their 65th reunion (some in golf carts), the proud alumni finish their procession when the senior class sprints onto Poe Field, past the reviewing stand. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Despite the recent sale of Princeton Shopping Center and the termination of its manager and some of its maintenance staff, patrons should not expect to see any significant changes to the North Harrison Street complex and its place in the community, according to the new owner. Jodie McLean, president and chief investment officer of Edens, the South Carolina-based real estate firm, said Monday that the shopping center’s schedule of concerts, gatherings, and cultural events will continue.

“We love Princeton. We love the Princeton community. We find it very much in sync with our own corporate values,” Ms. McLean said. “We believe that our role is to enhance community, and that is retail’s role. We have to be more than just a spot where people come for commodity-type transactions. We have to be fully integrated with the community and be a place where people come multiple times per week.”

Edens purchased the complex of retail shops, restaurants, and other businesses from George Comfort & Sons, which has owned the center since 1983, for an undisclosed sum last week. The 46-year-old firm owns open-air shopping centers up and down the east and west coasts and has regional offices in Boston, New York, Atlanta, and Miami. Edens had been eyeing Princeton Shopping Center for a long time when the sale became a possibility.

“It was not widely marketed,” Ms. McLean said. “This was a center we had identified a while ago that if the opportunity ever came up, we would love to be a part of the Princeton community. We kept in very close contact with the owner, and finally the timing was right for them.”

While longtime manager Chris Hanington and three maintenance staff members were let go when the sale went through, Ms. Mclean said assistant property manager Julie Drobits will remain in the property management office “in the same capacity as before. Julie continues to be employed on site, and she will be there on a daily basis and work closely with the Edens’ team.”

Last Friday, Marlene Marlowe of Marlowe’s Jewelry Repair, a shopping center fixture for 23 years, glanced out the shop window at trash that was beginning to pile up outside. “I’m very annoyed that they got rid of everyone,” she said. “We were running very well, there was never any complaint about maintenance. Hopefully they’ll come in and do the right thing.”

T.J. Tindall, owner of The Light Gallery, said he was surprised by the news of the sale and was dismayed to learn that maintenance staff had been let go. “It’s a little bit of a disconcerting way for them to start out,” he said. “But I’m sure they have their own people in place. We’ll just have to wait and see. We’re all curious.”

Ms. McLean said maintenance will continue as usual, but with new people. “We will have some continued on-site personnel, and we will have some continued third party vendors. But the level of service to the community and the retailers should not be affected,” she said.

Asked if a branch of the U.S. Post Office, which was previously located in the center, might re-open there again now that the branch in Palmer Square is scheduled to be closed, Ms. McLean would not say yes or no. “As of now,” she said, “the post office is undetermined. We love the retailers who are there today. But there is an opportunity to bring in some new retailers. There are a few vacancies. But the post office, right now, is not somebody we are engaged with.”

George Smith, owner of Smith’s Ace Hardware, said he worries that the shopping center’s unique sense of community might be affected by the new ownership. “Our concerns would be all of the events that were held here,” he said. “Chris [Hanington] was always there, making sure everything was okay. She was here pretty much every day, and for all the events. This shopping center is so unique. People come here for concerts and things like that, and it’s a nice thing. They advertise themselves as being community-oriented, but what does that mean?”

Ms. McLean said community events such as the Summer Courtyard Concert Series and the Halloween Parade will continue as before. “We will continue to be engaged with the Arts Council,” she said. “Whatever is planned for this summer is still planned for this summer. We’re attracted to how the community engages here, and we want to continue that. If we change anything, it will only be to enhance it. We plan to work with the same partners in the community and we want to dispel any concerns over that.”

 


Actor and comedian Steve Carell, keynote speaker at Class Day on Cannon Green, scolded students for their reliance on texting, tweeting, and technology. In his own college years, he had to actually ask a girl out in person instead of by text. “And when she said ‘No,’ which she always did, I would suffer the humiliation and self-loathing that a young man needs for his, or her, personal growth,” he said, to laughter and applause from his audience of soggy seniors. (Photo by Steve McDonald)

May 30, 2012

Princeton built a new field of dreams and on the first day 2,000 came, on Sunday 1500, and on Monday it was 2700. Shown below doing the honors at the ribbon cutting are (from left) Township Mayor Chad Goerner, Borough Mayor Yina Moore, Project Engineer Deanna Stockton, and Princeon Recreation executive Director Ben Stentz. That’s Clara Burton with her mother, Martha, in the spray of the fountain in the new baby pool. James Petrone is shown with his cousins Jaxson and Travis, representing the third generation of Princeton’s Petrone family. A popular new addition also shown below is the Gerb Family Bay. For reactions to the new complex, see this week’s Town Talk.