September 12, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The question of whether or not to hire a construction manager “for a sum not to exceed $129,504” to oversee remaining consolidation operations, and whether or not to approve a professional services agreement with a cap of $107,290 to pay KSS Architects for “Phase II-Task 2” work on consolidation, generated heated discussion at Monday night’s Township Committee meeting.

The professional services agreement was ultimately approved, while the question of hiring a construction manager was tabled until the next joint meeting.

“I’m begging you,” Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi finally said to Township Committee after defending the need for the approval of both motions С particularly the KSS payment. Mr. Bruschi will be the administrator of new single municipality created by consolidation.

Township Mayor Chad Goerner, who was firmly on the side of not hiring a construction manager and had doubts about the KSS contract, pointed out that the two expenditures had not been discussed earlier. He counseled “caution” in moving ahead.

Citing a “tight time frame,” Mr. Bruschi responded that the recommendation had come from the Transition Task Force’s Facilities Subcommittee in the hope that the Borough and the Township would “run with it.”

Acknowledging that a conversation at an earlier meeting seemed to point toward not hiring a construction manager, Mr. Bruschi noted that the extent of the work that remains to be done was not known at that point. “It’s not something that we have the capability of doing in-house,” he observed. Township Engineer Bob Kiser concurred, saying that a construction manager with the right contacts is needed “if we’re going to fast track this project.”

Mr. Goerner said that he was “not convinced that we need to fast track” consolidation. He described the costs in question as “high,” and suggested that the work might not be complete by January 1, 2013, anyway. Mr. Bruschi agreed that consolidation would not be completed by that date, but suggested that that didn’t preclude “doing the project correctly” and expediting it as much as possible in order to minimize disruption. He pointed out that “$120,000” was not that significant in the context of an operation that will cost an estimated $60 million, and that “savings will only come if we have the right design.”

“I’ve never met a delay that saved us money,” observed Councilwoman Sue Nemeth, expressing concern about services like police, administration, and Corner House, that might be impacted “if we did delay.”

“We need to be cognizant” of what transition-related expenditures are costing, responded Mr. Goerner. He suggested keeping “an eye on individual expenditures” that may be occurring without the approval of the two governing bodies, and proposed that the decision be tabled until the next joint meeting. Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert suggested that in the future, potential expenditures should be presented first to the Finance Committee.

Facilities subcommittee chair Bernie Miller, who said that he has also continued to work informally with staff preparing for consolidation, emphasized that the two motions in question related to “two very distinct tasks.”

He pointed out that KSS is being asked to develop detailed drawings and specifications, while a construction manager would “coordinate the movement of many people in many departments with minimal disruption,” working, for example, on evenings and weekends. Mr. Miller’s motion to approve the resolution for outside construction management was not seconded.

Acting Township Administrator Kathy Monzo, who will be the CFO of the new municipality said that she “was surprised” at the contract amounts, but recognized that “this isn’t a simple move. Nothing is extravagant in there; they’re really just functional changes.” When Township Engineer Bob Kiser pointed out that the governing bodies do not have cost estimates for the conceptual plans, Ms. Monzo wondered why this couldn’t be done in-house, as it would be done for any other project.

Mr. Goerner cast the only “no” in the final vote to approve the professional services agreement with KSS Architects.

There was unanimity, however, in Township’s approval of a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Decision, giving “personhood” to corporations, allowing them to donate to political campaigns as individuals.

At its meeting on September 5, Princeton Borough’s Historic Preservation Review Committee (HPRC) voted to recommend to Borough Council that a portion of Princeton’s western section, known as the Morven Tract, be designated a historic district. But the committee also opted to advise Council to hold off on acting on the recommendation until after consolidation takes effect.

“It was a judicious compromise,” said committee member Cecelia Tazelaar in a conversation this week. “We voted in favor of the historic designation report, saying it met the criteria for designation as a local historic district. But, given the fact that consolidation is only a few months away, we thought it would be advisable for Council to delay acting on it, because the two commissions will be merged and the ordinances are being merged. We felt it would be unfair to the public to push through something without their knowledge of the new ordinance.”

Currently, the HPRC represents the interests of Princeton Borough, while the Historic Preservation Comission covers preservation issues in the Township. Once consolidation takes effect January 1, a combined commission will be formed with a new ordinance in place. The new ordinance, which is based on New Jersey municipal land use law, won’t be much different from the existing two, according to Ms. Tazelaar. “But it seems fair to let everybody see what the new ordinance is before continuing with a discussion,” she said.

The Friends of the Western District have been actively lobbying since 2006 to establish a new historic district in an area roughly bounded by portions of Library Place, Hodge Road, and Bayard Lane, while encompassing Morven Place and Boudinot Street. The proposed district directly abuts the Mercer Hill historic district, which is one of four in Princeton. The others are Jugtown, Bank Street, and the Central historic districts.

Those in favor of the designation say it will help maintain the area’s unique architectural character and prevent tear-downs. Those opposed say designation would create too many restrictions, which could in turn affect property values.

In 2009, the Friends group engaged Hunter Research to prepare a document entitled Morven Trust Historic District Historical and Architectural Documentation. The report says of the proposed district, “It is significant in American history and architecture and possesses integrity of design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of Princeton’s past and embodies the distinctive characteristics of a period.”

At the September 5 meeting, the HPRC also recommended to Council that residents of the proposed district be polled on the divisive issue.

Nearly a decade ago, there was considerable debate among Princeton residents about whether the Princeton Public Library should rebuild on its Witherspoon Street corner site or relocate to Princeton Shopping Center. Betty Wold Johnson, one of the library’s most generous supporters, was all for the latter option.

“I didn’t want it in Princeton at all,” Mrs. Johnson recalled last week during a telephone conversation. “In the shopping center, [where the library relocated during its rebuild] I could go to the library and do my shopping at the same time. I thought it would have been just great.”

The library stayed on its corner footprint, replacing its 1966 structure with a state-of-the-art building that has become one of the busiest public libraries in New Jersey. And Mrs. Johnson soon came around to the idea. Starting with a $1 million gift for the capital campaign, she has since donated challenge grants for the endowment campaign of $2 million. Her latest is another $1 million in challenge grant funds, to build a new endowment for maintenance and upkeep of the building, now eight years old.

“The most important thing about Betty Johnson is that she is quietly philanthropic, in a way that has significantly changed not just Princeton Public Library, but many organizations,” said Leslie Burger, PPL’s director. “She is very unassuming. She asks incredibly smart questions. What she has done has been quietly transformational.”

In recognition of her staunch support, Mrs. Johnson is the honorary chair of “Beyond Words,” this year’s fundraiser for Friends of the Princeton Public Library. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides is the featured speaker at the Saturday, September 29 event, which begins with his talk at Richardson Auditorium and follows with a cocktail reception, silent auction, and dinner in the library.

The widow of Johnson & Johnson heir Robert Wood Johnson III [and later Douglas Bushnell], Mrs. Johnson first began contributing to the library in the early 1990’s. “She started in 1991 to support the attempt to keep the library open during Sundays and some holidays,” Mr. Burger said. “She provided that support for many years.”

Ms. Burger isn’t sure just how, when, or why Mrs. Johnson became an advocate for rebuilding the library on its existing footprint. But once she made the switch, she was firmly committed.

“Betty was a doubter,” Ms. Burger said. “She wanted the library to stay at the shopping center. But for whatever reason, she was here the day we were moving the books in. I put a hard hat on her and said, ‘Here, let’s get to work.’ And she jumped right in.”

Mrs. Johnson remembers the day well. “I happened to be there that first day that the books came in,” she said. “Leslie handed me a dust rag and we got to work. That’s also the day I found out she baked cookies, because she had brought them in for everyone.

“This is how I’ve come to know Leslie,” Mrs. Johnson continued during a phone interview, proceeding to read something she had written about Ms. Burger. “When Leslie Burger came to Princeton to our library, we didn’t know what we were getting. It wasn’t long before we discovered we had hired a cleaning lady who baked cookies for workers, an arranger of books and a mover of furniture, and an accountant who notices when the water bill goes up. She’s our CEO and beloved librarian.”

Donations from Mrs. Johnson to the library come from two sources: the Robert Wood Johnson 1962 Charitable Trust, and the Williard T.C. Johnson Foundation Inc. There are three areas of the library named for Mrs. Johnson: the Teen Center, the Terrace Garden, and the Afterschool Study Center.

“Her gifts to the centennial campaign were instrumental in helping us reach our goal of $10 million,” said Ms. Burger. “She is a huge library supporter. We couldn’t be where we are without her.”

Herman Parish is signing a copy of Amelia Bedelia’s latest adventure at Saturday’s Children’s Book Festival on Hinds Plaza. The character first created by his Aunt Peggy Parish in 1963 has been all his for 27 volumes. Sales number 35 million. See this week’s Town Talk for comments by other authors. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

September 5, 2012

Do school administrators have the right to require that students take a breath test prior to being admitted to a school event? What are the parameters of police jurisdiction on a public school campus?

“Students don’t leave their rights behind once they step on the school bus,” observed a recent message from the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU-NJ). Rights and responsibilities on campus and in the classroom are not always clear cut, and school administrators don’t always know where students’ rights begin and end, they say.

In an effort to articulate what students (and teachers, administrators, and parents) can and cannot do, there is a new edition of the Students‘ Rights Handbook, created by the ACLU-NJ and sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Foundation.

The Handbook says, for example, that “the short answer” to the question of whether drug tests can be required is yes; “school administrators can require a student to take a drug test if there is a reasonable suspicion that the student is under the influence of drugs, and they can have a policy that requires suspicionless drug testing for students participating in extracurricular activities or who park on campus.”

Is the message on that t-shirt objectionable and can a school teacher tell a student that it cannot be worn in school? “No,” advises the Handbook. “Clothing that expresses a political message generally cannot be censored but schools can prohibit profanity, references to illegal substances, and messages that are likely to cause a material disruption.”

And foreign students should know that all New Jersey students have a right to public education in New Jersey, regardless of their immigration status.

Other topics covered in the Handbook include homeless students; freedom from discrimination; sexual harassment; married, pregnant, and parenting students; and non-English speaking students. There are chapters on students with educational disabilities; bullying; immunizations; HIV and AIDS; freedom of speech and expression; religion; search and seizure; and sexual health and education.

At 46 pages and including some 224 footnotes, the Handbook is substantial, but may not address every possible inquiry. Any unanswered questions may be sent directly to the ACLU-NJ.

To obtain free copies of the Handbook, write to the N.J. State Bar Foundation, One Constitution Square, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901-1520; call (800) FREE-LAW; or visit The ACLU-NJ may be contacted at P.O. Box 32259, Newark, N.J. 07102, by email at; or by visiting www.aclu-nj-org.

Offering classes that range from professional level instruction on “How to Patent and Profit from your Invention, to the “ABCs of Investment” for beginners, the Princeton Adult School is offering a wide range of classes this fall.

The diverse course listing for the upcoming semester includes 17 lecture and discussion courses; 28 language courses; 18 creative arts workshops; 40 exercise, fitness, and recreation activities; eight studio music classes; eleven cooking courses; nine business and professional courses; and 16 computer and technology courses.

In addition to over 200 regular classes, students can register for more than 100 non-credit online courses ranging from web page design to genealogy basics.

Classes will begin on October 2. Most of them will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Princeton High School (PHS).

In-person registration, which is required for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), will be held at PHS on Thursday September 20, from 7 to 8 p.m. Foreign language students who are unsure about their class level are also invited to register that evening.

Other Adult School highlights this semester include “The Special Collections at the Princeton University Library,” and a course that focuses on the performance of two new plays at McCarter Theatre. Students can focus on George Gershwin’s music, or learn about “The Many Faces of Islam,” which will be taught by faculty from Princeton, Rutgers, and New York Universities.

Other options include “Exploring Indian Cuisine,” “Understanding Contemporary Art,” “Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas”, and a class about orchid growing.

Registration forms and the entire catalog are available on the adult school web site, Students can also mail the printed registration forms available in the back of the Adult School catalog. Those who have not received a catalog in the mail can obtain a copy at any area public library.

Princeton Adult School has been offering classes for some 75 years. During this time, courses have ranged from bird watching and gourmet cooking, to lectures by leading astrophysicists. PAS teachers, who are professionals in their fields and often are nationally noted authorities, include faculty from Princeton and Rutgers Universities. Hayden Planetarium Director Neil Tyson; Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian James McPherson; and the authors Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Morrison have been among recent speakers.

Course listings also include such “old favorites” as computer courses, photography courses, Hatha and Spanda yoga, ballroom dancing, guitar, and writing workshops.

“Every year we aim for the proverbial something for everybody,” said Princeton Adult School President Mark Branon. “I think we’re closer than ever. We have more than a dozen new courses ranging from cerebral to recreational.

“We are especially pleased with the public’s response to the adult school,” he added. “Last year’s enrollment was very gratifying. In fact, enrollment has recently been so strong that there are always several courses that fill the first week.”

For more information on the Princeton Adult School, call (609) 683-1101.

On Saturday, September 15, residents of Princeton, regardless of party affiliation, are invited to a Community Barbecue hosted by the “Friends of Princeton Republicans.”

The event will take place from 3-6 p.m. at the Johnson Education Center, (D&R Greenway Meadows Land Trust), on the Ellsworth Terrace at 1 Preservation Place, across from the entrance to the Johnson Park Elementary School on Rosedale Road.

The TEMPOraries band, with lead singer and guitarist Jonathan Savage, will perform. Volunteers will grill and serve hamburgers and hot dogs. Roast pig and a variety of salads will complete the smorgasbord. Beer and wine will be provided for adults.

The barbecue is open to the community at no charge. In the event of rain, festivities will move to the second-story party room in the Johnson Education Center. For additional information, call (609) 497-0740 or visit

Despite stories questioning the health of the industry, newspaper executives find some reason to be optimistic, according to a new study of media executives conducted by Princeton-based American Opinion Research.

One in four newspaper executives say the industry will be more relevant to consumers five years from now than they are today, a third higher than the percentage saying newspapers will be less relevant. About half say there will be no difference.

Executives say they are working to stay relevant by focusing more on local news and events in their communities, information many consumers can’t get elsewhere. They are also focusing more on digital content to keep pace in our changing media environment.

These are some of the findings of a study of daily and weekly newspaper executives in North America, conducted for Newspaper Association Managers, Inc. (NAM) by American Opinion Research.

“The survey’s guidance to my and the other press associations will be helpful in allocation of resources,” said NAM President Dean Ridings. “However, it is also a call to action to provide increased leadership in promoting the industry.”

This study is based on interviews with 386 daily and weekly newspaper executives from all 50 states and in Canada. Interviews were conducted between June 18 and July 6.

The research also found that concerns about advertising revenues top executives’ list of industry issues, followed by the need to retain readership; however, a significant percentage of industry leaders are also concerned about the negative public image of newspapers and their lack of effective self promotion. Although executives give their state press associations high satisfaction ratings overall and for providing a variety of specific services, they also urge associations to be aggressive advocates in promoting the image and value of newspapers.

Training also remains an important role for press associations, according to newspaper executives. They are particularly interested in programs related to advertising sales training, digital strategies, and social media strategies. Almost two in three executives (63 percent) said they would send staff if press associations cooperated to provide affordable, in-person, regional training programs.

Newspaper Association Managers, Inc. (NAM) is a professional organization of executives of state, regional, national and international newspaper associations headquartered in the United States and Canada. NAM fosters communication and sharing of ideas and information among its members for the benefit of newspaper associations.

American Opinion Research (AOR) is a full-service international market research company headquartered in Princeton. AOR has conducted research for companies in 46 states, the District of Columbia and more than 30 other countries.

With the formal openings of local campaign headquarters for both parties within days of each other, more attention is being drawn to the upcoming November elections.

Labor Day morning saw the opening of “Woodbridge for Mayor” headquarters at 162 Nassau Street. Princeton Democratic Campaign Headquarters will open nearby at 217 Nassau Street (rear building) on Sunday, September 9, from 5 to 7 p.m.

In addition to mayoral hopeful Richard Woodbridge, the single Republican candidate for Council, Geoff Aton, was present at the Monday event. News of the opening had gone out just a day before, and Mr. Woodbridge estimated that between 80 and 90 people showed up. “Not bad for a last minute event,” he observed. Orange balloons with the candidates’ names marked the entrance to the headquarters, where area Republicans posed for photographs and offered some informal comments. Upstairs, banks of telephones were at the ready.

Mr. Woodbridge emphasized the “non-partisan” nature of his campaign, a theme picked up by Irv Urken who noted the “mixed bag of people” in attendance. “We’re working together,” he observed. “It’s not about Republicans and Democrats.”

“Our special interest is you,” added District 16 Assemblywoman Donna Simon, indicating those who were there listening, referring, perhaps, to an earlier message in which she cited “Trenton Democrats and well-funded special interest groups [who] have already targeted me for defeat.

“These groups have promised to spend whatever is necessary to take our Republican seat away and upend Governor Christie’s hard-fought victories to make New Jersey a better, more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family,” she added.

Asked later to comment about the recent Republican convention, Mr. Woodbridge suggested that “the national election is not generally relevant to potholes and local issues.” He added, however, that “how Congress deals with the ‘fiscal cliff’ could be highly relevant at the local level because it may affect money the state gets and the towns and the institutions also get.”

“I am certain that after both conventions are finished I will still feel the same way; I am not a huge fan of either candidate,” commented Mr. Aton. “I pride myself on being very centered and moderate when it comes to politics. When leaders move toward the far left or right I believe the focus becomes more about ideals and grandstanding than about simply serving the people who elected them.

“This is exactly what I will bring to Princeton Council,” he added. “I want to serve a town I love for the benefit of our entire community with no hidden agenda.”

In a separate conversation, Mercer County Republican Committee Chair Rich Levesque spoke of the Republican convention as providing “a great week for Republicans throughout the country.” Mr. Levesque lauded Governor Christie’s convention speech, noting that it “focused on leadership … and made a tremendous push to elect Governor Mitt Romney to be our next president.”

Democratic mayoral candidate Liz Lempert and Council candidates Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller, Heather Howard, Lance Liverman, Bernie Miller, and Patrick Simon will kick off their campaign this coming weekend. On Saturday, September 8, Representative Rush Holt will join them for a wine and cheese reception at the home of Lisa Fischetti from 4 to 6 p.m., with campaign headquarters opening the following day.

“Democrats pursued consolidation and are implementing a smooth transition,” Mr. Miller noted recently. “We’re well prepared to manage the new Princeton.”

For details on the Saturday reception, email campaign or call (609) 301-0842.

Last year, the tenth anniversary of 9-11 was marked with numerous commemorative events, locally and across the country. Observing the eleventh anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center is proving to be a quieter affair. But two upcoming programs at Mercer County Community College promise to pay moving tribute to those who died that day.

First, on Tuesday, September 11 at 11 a.m., a ceremony at the Student Center Memorial Garden on the campus in West Windsor will include Sergeant Michael Yeh of the Lawrence Township Police Department, who is also a volunteer firefighter in Princeton Junction. Mr. Yeh will speak about his experiences at Ground Zero as part of the New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Team. Student vocalist Alison Varra will perform as part of the ceremony.

Then on Thursday, September 13 from noon to 2:30 p.m., a panel discussion will include historians, a journalist who covered 9-11, a survivor of the attacks, and two New Jersey residents who lost family members and have devoted their energies since to works that honor their memories. The discussion is the first in a series of programs organized by the New Jersey State Museum to go along with its exhibition, “9/11: Reflections and Memories from New Jersey” currently on extended view at the museum’s main building on West State Street in Trenton.

“The really important speakers in this event are the survivors and the people who lost folks,” said Craig Coenen, a professor of history at MCCC and one of the historians who will take part (the other is Drexel University’s Scott Knowles). “We’ll have Brian Clark, who was working on the 84th floor of the south tower, talking about his remarkable escape. He was a hero, because he rescued someone trapped under the rubble.

“Mike Kelly is a reporter for the Bergen Record, and he’ll talk about his coverage of the attacks. Edie Lutnick, whose brothers worked for Cantor Fitzgerald — one of them died that day; the other was taking his son to his first day of school so wasn’t there when the planes hit — will speak. So will Herb Ouida, whose son Todd, a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, died. Herb has created Todd Ouida’s Children’s Foundation in his memory.”

Mr. Coenen will speak briefly about putting events in a historical context. “I’ll talk about major events in American history like Pearl Harbor and the Spanish American War, and their impact in shaping our country and shaping our lives,” he said. Mr. Knowles will discuss how 9/11 might be remembered in the year 2051.

A lawyer until turning her attention to the 9/11 community, Ms. Lutnick is the author of a book, An Unbroken Bond. Her parents died young, so Ms. Lutnick raised her younger brother Gary, who was killed in the attack. Her surviving brother Howard is chairman and CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, the company that lost all 658 of its employees who were present in 1 World Trade Center when the plane hit. Since a few days after 9/11, Ms. Lutnick has led The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, which has raised and distributed more than 180 million dollars to more than 800 families of the victims. She serves on several 9/11 advisory boards and is a frequent speaker at events related to the attacks.

Herb Ouida was the last person in his family to see his son Todd alive. Both father and son worked at the World Trade Center, but the elder Mr. Ouida, who was on the 77th floor of Tower One, was able to escape. Todd, on floor 105 with the others at Cantor Fitzgerald, was not. Mr. Ouida established the Ouida foundation to honor his son, who overcame crippling anxiety as a child to graduate from the University of Michigan and embark on a successful career.

The corresponding exhibit at the State Museum is the first comprehensive show to tell the story of September 11 from the New Jersey perspective. This month, new artifacts on loan from the National September 11 Memorial Museum, along with recently produced videos and digital materials, will be rotated into the exhibit, which runs through next July.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Participants will be able to ask questions of the panelists following the discussion. “We’ll be looking at their stories, and at the bigger picture as well, from a historian’s perspective,” said Mr. Coenen. “Fifty years from now, what will be the real meaning of 9-11? I hope there is something we’ve learned, so that we can make something positive out of a terrible time.”

A report on the Princeton Public Schools that sparked criticism from Republican mayoral nominee Richard Woodbridge concerning the fate of the Valley Road School building was among the topics at last week’s meeting of Princeton Borough Council. Also part of the discussion were resolutions regarding a right-of-way use agreement along the Dinky corridor, a transit study and traffic study, and a pending Assembly bill that would exempt New Jersey’s private colleges and universities from municipal land use oversight.

Princeton Public Schools Superintendent Judy Wilson told Council members that Princeton High School was opening on September 4 with a record high enrollment of 1,444 students, 375 of whom are freshmen. The numbers are also up, from 35 to about 55, for pre-kindergarten students.

“We thought 340 was our peak last year, and only seven years ago we had 300,” Ms. Wilson said of the high school enrollment. The school district is opening two additional sections of pre-kindergarten to accommodate the growth. While enrollment is down at Riverside Elementary School, it has risen at Johnson Park Elementary School, she added. Princeton University’s shuffling of its faculty housing is the reason for the enrollment figures at the elementary schools, she said. The jump at the high school and Pre-K is due to the fact that more people are moving to Princeton. “There are more Institute families,” Ms. Wilson said, referring to the Institute for Advanced Study. “Children are leaving private schools because of the economy. But there is no single reason.”

Ms. Wilson was asked whether the school board had made progress on deciding the fate of the Valley Road School building. She replied that the Board’s commitment was to not address the issue until after consolidation goes into effect in January. She then left to attend a Board of Education meeting, and Mr. Woodbridge approached the microphone to take issue with comments Ms. Wilson made in a Town Topics story (“New Name, New Look, New Website; Princeton Public Schools Ready to Go” ; August 22) saying that the building was “well maintained.”

“I’m rather baffled by the superintendent’s comments about the state of the school,” said Mr. Woodbridge, who went to the building on July 29 to take pictures. “It’s in terrible shape. I would like to request that the Board do at least minimal maintenance. The maintenance is terrible and I would give it an ‘F.’” Mr. Woodbridge added that if the $10.9 million public bond referendum to be voted on by citizens on September 24 passed “before January 1, there won’t be any money for it.” [the Valley Road building].

In a statement, School Board President Tim Quinn responded yesterday, “The current bond referendum is strictly for facilities being used for the education of our students. Plans for projects covered by the referendum have been approved by the state Department of Education, and these plans did not include the Witherspoon portion of the Valley Road School, which has not been an instructional space for several decades. While the board has not made a final decision on the future of the Witherspoon portion of the Valley Road Building, we have stated unequivocally that we are not willing to commit public funds to the maintenance of buildings not being used for the education of our students.”

In other discussions related to education, Borough Mayor Yina Moore reported that she and Hoboken Mayor Don Zimmer were drafting a letter opposing the bill that the state Legislature is considering that would allow universities and colleges to bypass municipal zoning codes. Public universities are already exempt. The Senate passed its version of the bill last June, and the Assembly’s version is still with the Higher Education Committee.

Borough Council has already passed a resolution opposing the bill, and has encouraged the public to sign a petition against the measure. Ms. Moore said she hoped the Township would join in signing the letter. Councilman Roger Martindell suggested joining with Township Committee and possibly the Regional Planning Board in opposition to the bill, as well as asking area colleges and universities to formally express their positions on the issue.

A resolution to approve a shared services agreement with Princeton Township for a transit study from URS Corporation was tabled by the Council following extensive discussion. Council will ask URS to attend a future meeting so that they and the public can be better informed about the transit study, which was part of the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the governing bodies and Princeton University regarding the University’s proposed Arts and Transit neighborhood. Princeton Township has already approved the resolution for the study.

The Alexander Street/University Place Transit Task Force interviewed five transit consultants and recommended URS, which would charge $100,000. The task force also recommended AECOM of Newark to perform a traffic study, at $72,980. The traffic study would examine the developments at the former Merwick site currently under redevelopment, the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton, Princeton University’s Hibben Magie site, Hulfish North at Palmer Square, and the redevelopment of the YM/YWCA, along with several intersections.

GREEN DAY: At the outset of the new school year, Princeton University students line up around Cannon Green.
(Photo by Emily Reeves)

At the outset of the new school year, Princeton University students line up around Cannon Green.

August 29, 2012

LAUNCHING A NEW SEASON: McCarter Theatre’s second annual block party last week featured food, prizes, activities for kids, and music by the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra. In this week’s Town Talk, some participants talk about their favorite McCarter productions. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

PNC Bank has plans to build a 4,020 square-foot new location on the site of its current, drive-through bank in Princeton Shopping Center. The new branch, which still needs approvals, is targeted to open in late 2013.

Currently, PNC has a storefront bank branch within the North Harrison Street shopping center as well as the drive-through location at the other end of the complex. The new construction would replace the freestanding drive-through site, and the branch within the shopping center would be moved to the new location.

According to PNC spokesman Fred Solomon, the new building will be “green” construction. “The expectation is that the new branch, like all recently built free-standing PNC branches, will be in our signature style, which is all LEED-certified,” he said. “PNC committed a number of years ago to all-green construction.”

The new location would have three drive-through lanes. The current building would be demolished to make way for the new construction. The architect for the project is listed on the plans as Gensler, who has designed all of PNC’s signature branch buildings as well as its large plaza in Pittsburgh and another building in Washington, D.C. But local architects sometimes consult on construction, Mr. Solomon said.

PNC’s preliminary plans for the building have been reviewed once, but more information is necessary before the formal approval process begins. Once resubmitted with the required information, the proposal would go before Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) and Regional Planning Board, and a public hearing would be held.

PNC is headquartered in Pittsburgh. The bank has numerous branches in New Jersey. The newest is located in Yardville. “New branches are constantly under construction,” said Mr. Solomon, “as we consolidate old branches and open in locations where we see greater growth.”

Dave Haggerty has been devoted to the game of tennis as far back as he can remember. Currently first vice president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the Pennington resident spent his childhood trying to keep up with his older brother and their father, who was the director of tennis at Trenton’s Cadwalader Park for 17 years.

“I could barely see over the net,” Mr. Haggerty recalls. “But I knew I wanted to be a professional tennis player.”

Mr. Haggerty won’t be taking on Roger Federer, Novak Djokovich, or any other tennis superstars at the U.S. Open this week and next. But he is on the scene at the complex in Queens. Since retiring from a business career that included top positions with the sports gear companies Prince, Dunlop, and Head USA/Penn Racquet Sports two years ago, Mr. Haggerty has been volunteering his unique combination of tennis knowledge and business expertise to the USTA.

His position has provided Mr. Haggerty the thrill of hitting with some of tennis’ greatest names, including Andre Agassi, Mr. Djokovich, and Jim Courier. He was recently inducted into the Middle States Hall of Fame, which cited his “relentless pursuit of continued excellence in the tennis world and the immeasurable impact he has had on the game.”

“I love it,” he said during a recent conversation at Small World Coffee. “I travel to all the Grand Slam events. I go to meetings and exchange views with people on my favorite subject.”

Mr. Haggerty, a 55-year-old father of five, grew up in Morrisville, Pa., just across the river from Trenton. He played tennis at Pennsbury High School, losing only three matches in four years and becoming a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He attended George Washington University on a tennis scholarship, earning a business degree. Five years ago, he was inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame. After graduation, Mr. Haggerty went to Europe and played on the Dutch Satellite Circuits for a few months. Though he picked up his first world ranking, he knew it was time to make other plans.

“I knew I was good, but I realized that there was so much talent out there,” he said. “I was at the top of my possibilities, but it wasn’t enough.”

Mr. Haggerty came home and took the job as director of tennis at Hamilton Tennis Club, managing six pros, operating the tennis shop, and overseeing 18 indoor and outdoor courts. Among his clients was Jack Murray, who happened to be president of Prince. One day, after a morning session, Mr. Murray pulled Mr. Haggerty aside.

“He said, ‘If you ever get tired of what you’re doing, give me a call,’” Mr. Haggerty recalled. “So I waited until noon — it was a 6 a.m. lesson — and I called.”

He joined Prince and stayed 14 years, working his way up from integrating new products to become vice president of marketing and sales and general manager. Next, Mr. Haggerty worked for Dunlop, spending five years as president of Dunlop Maxfli Slazenger Sports; then moved on to become chairman, CEO and president of Head USA/Penn Racquet Sports.

A few years ago, Mr. Haggerty read an article about the National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton’s (NJTLT) plans to revamp the tennis courts in Cadwalader Park, the same courts on which he had learned the game. Having recently begun volunteering for the organization, he immediately started talking to officials with the organization about how he could help. “They said they needed someone to open doors,” he says. “And I knew just where to start — with Albert Stark.”

Mr. Stark, the attorney, had been a client of Mr. Haggerty’s when he was the pro at Hamilton Tennis Club. Mr. Haggerty contacted his old friend, and together they came up with a fundraising plan for the Cadwalader courts. The City of Trenton kicked in a substantial share. Before long, six courts had been resurfaced.

“We ended up with the largest junior tennis facility in the country,” Mr. Haggerty said with obvious pride. “It has fourteen 36-foot courts, which is more than anywhere in the U.S. The other seven can be used for adults as well. And the 36-foot courts will also be used, eventually, for senior citizens. So it’s a great multi-generational facility, which works so well because many of the caregivers for the kids are their grandparents. They’ll be able to hit with them on these courts.”

Many champions began their tennis careers playing in public parks, a fact that Mr. Haggerty regards as significant. “Tennis is looked at as an elitist sport, but it really isn’t,” he said. “That’s why Cadwalader Park is so important. It can attract a more diverse audience. We want tennis to look like America.”

The NJTLT will honor Mr. Haggerty at its spring gala event next March for his efforts in getting the Cadwalader Park courts back into shape. While he is clearly enthused about his work for the USTA and the opportunities it provides to hobnob with tennis greats, he is equally energized by the impact that volunteering for the Trenton organization has had.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” Mr. Haggerty said. “But many of my management techniques evolved from sports, especially tennis. You learn life skills, honesty, and integrity. You follow your own lines.”

ABOVE THE FRAY: Author/Illustrator Peter Brown’s design for this year’s Princeton Children Book Festival poster shows how reading can lift you out of life’s “storms.”

“This year we are bigger and better!” exclaimed Princeton Children’s Book Festival coordinator Allison Santos of the Saturday, September 8 event. A resounding success for the last six years, this year’s even greater event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library and the Albert E. Hinds Memorial Plaza, rain or shine.

“We have 74 authors and illustrators from all over the country participating; last year we had 60,” reported Ms. Santos, a Youth Services librarian who has coordinated the free event each year. Participants include Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners, as well as “new and up and coming talent who are poised to take the kids’ book world by storm.”

“At this point, the Princeton Children’s Book Festival has arrived on the ‘literary’ map as a place where publishers, authors and illustrators want to be to showcase their works and connect with their fans,” she added. “The book festival is recognized as one of the most respected and noted children’s literature events in the country.”

Authors and illustrators at the festival come from all over the country with a large representation from New Jersey and New York, Ms. Santos noted. “Brooklyn plays a large part. Apparently major talent resides there.” From the several dozen authors and illustrators who are participating, 28 have been selected as “presenters.” They have 10 minutes each (a schedule of appearances can be found on the library’s website) to talk.

“The presentations are always difficult,” said Ms. Santos of making the selection. “Everyone wants to present and they should, but time is so limited. We use a random name drawing for the time slots, entering everyone’s name who wants to present, then letting it select 28. I wish I had the time to allow everyone the opportunity to present. Each one is interesting and each person has something so important to say.”

Among the presenters is the creator of this year’s festival poster, author/illustrator Peter Brown (Children Make Terrible Pets). Mr. Brown, who has participated in the festival twice before and whose time slot this year is 1 to 1:10 p.m., was on the road in the South promoting his new book, Creepy Carrots, but took time out “at this hotel bar in Memphis,” to offer some insights (“sent telepathically from PB’s iBrain”) about his work.

“I was a bit of a reluctant reader growing up,” he reported. “I must have been 17 or 18 before I really fell in love with books and reading. I can’t help feeling like I missed out on some very important reading years, and so I try to make books that will help prevent future generations of reluctant readers.”

Mr. Brown reports that he reads “voraciously” nowadays, and firmly believes “that books are the answer to everything.” His poster, depicting a young reader perched high among some sunlit clouds above a stormy forest, speaks to his belief that “books can teach us how to prevent, or escape, or mitigate the ‘storms’ of life.”

Other authors and illustrators participating in this year’s event include Wendy Mass (A Mango-Shaped Space and 13 Gifts); Nick Bruel of Bad Kitty fame; Patrick McDonnell, cartoonist of Mutts and author of Me, Jane, a 2012 Caldecott Honor winner; Herman Parish (Amelia Bedelia); Alyssa Capucilli (Biscuit and the Katy Duck series); and Debbie Dadey (The Bailey School Kids).

Princeton Public Library Youth Services Staff who, along with Ms. Santos, make the festival possible include Lucia Acosta, Courtney Bayne, Beth Bouwman, Susan Conlon, Pamela Groves, Hanna Lee, Martha Perry-Liu, Aaron Pickett, Suzanne Savidge, and Ann Woodrow. Development Director Lindsey Forden and Public Information Director Tim Quinn are also instrumental in ensuring the day’s success.

As they did last year, jaZam’s of Palmer Square will coordinate the book sales for the event, donating 20 percent of their proceeds to the library.

“I am excited about all the talented individuals we have joining us,” said Ms. Santos. “I am also looking forward to planning next year’s event. I am already deep in the throes and can’t wait to see who our illustrator will be.”

While acknowledging that there have been some unhappy voices responding to the restriction of left turns on U.S. Route 1 at Washington Road and Harrison Street, the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) believes that their pilot program is going reasonably well.

“There’s been a number of comments from people, but I have to say, in general, that the trial got off to a fairly smooth start,” said spokesman Joe Dee. “There have been some concerns raised by residents, and we’re seeking to address them” (see Mailbox on page 9).

Representatives of the Princeton Medical Center at Plainsboro and the emergency medical technicians (EMTS) who drive ambulances there were among the complainants, Mr. Dee reported. While ambulances have the ability to change a red light to a green one in order to get across Route 1, the process is not instantaneous. When Harrison Street is heavily trafficked, EMTS drivers may shift into what is an oncoming lane of traffic for southbound motorists turning right off Route 1 who cannot see them. Mr. Dee said that the DOT hoped to address the situation by “cutting some vegetation” to improve the sightline for motorists, and installing a new sign that will alert southbound traffic that an ambulance driver has activated control of the signal, and right turns on a red light are prohibited.

Another “one of the larger issues” that has become apparent is motorists’  practice of making U-turns and K-turns in nearby residential driveways and streets as a way of coping with the changes. Mr. Dee said that the DOT is “looking into a way to enforce no K-turns and no U-turns “to help provide some relief to those residents.” The DOT is also aware of nearby gas station owners’ concerns, he said.

Both Mr. Dee and Township Engineer Robert Kiser agreed that a real test of the changes will come as students return to school and vacationers come home during the coming weeks. “The last two weeks of August have the lightest traffic,” said Mr. Kiser. “We’re interested to see how the test works in September.”

Mr. Kiser and Mr. Dee also agreed that the recent closing of Quaker Road for repairs is not significant in assessing the Route 1 pilot, and that, on the whole, traffic has been light. “We’ve seen good traffic flow on Route 1 and we’ve seen good traffic flow coming south off the Scudders Mill interchange,” commented Mr. Dee. “The only thing that I’ve been hearing is that the traffic is light,” concurred Mr. Kiser.

“It’s still a learning curve,” observed Mr. Dee. “We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.”

Back when Princeton was a small college town and Princeton University football was its biggest draw, game day visitors often bought their tickets at the two kiosks on Nassau Street. The small windows in the two structures — one at the corner of Vandeventer Street; the other at Witherspoon — have been closed tight in more recent years. The kiosks have served as unofficial bulletin boards, advertising everything from yoga classes and rooms for rent to political meetings and cultural events.

Plans are underway for the kiosks to welcome visitors again. Once a project that is being steered by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau is officially approved, the kiosks, along with a small visitors’ center in the front of the Princeton University Store on Nassau Street, will make the town and the Mercer County region more user-friendly for the busloads of tourists who regularly descend on the area.

“Of course I’d like things to happen immediately, but I’m hoping we are very close to getting final approvals in the month of September,” said Lori Rabon, who chairs the CVB steering committee. “The best thing is the visitors’ center. We have so many visitors and we need to have a spot where they can get maps, information, and everything they need. Right now there is no central area where people can get this information, and that is such a shame. I’m hoping this will drive more people into the U-store and drive business everywhere.”

Tourism has become big business in Princeton. Since starting Princeton Tour Company in 2008, Mimi Omiecinski has watched her business balloon by 75 percent. “I have at least 150 each Saturday in the summer, and then get about 400 in fall and spring,” she said. Tours of town led by the Historical Society of Princeton have also grown in recent years. “It’s been especially busy in the past year,” said Eve Mandel, the HSP’s Curator of Education. “We’ve sold out every Saturday this summer. We’ve had to increase the number of guides and the number of tours we give, because we hate to turn anybody away.”

Ms. Omiecinski used to begin her themed tours outside Starbucks at 100 Nassau Street. Jim Sykes, president of the U-Store a few doors down, asked her if she would like to assemble her tourists inside the store instead. She took him up on the offer, and soon came up with an idea. “I thought, why not a visitors’ center in there? He has bathrooms, a staff, it’s air-conditioned, there’s room for racks of information,” Ms. Omiecinski said. “I asked Jim if he would give up some space in the store, and he was happy to do it.”

Mr. Sykes said the visitors’ center will be on a platform in the front window, by the door that the store does not use. Display terminals will allow visitors to access maps and event schedules, and literature about various attractions will be available.

“We track all the numbers, and at this location we get about 240,000 people a year coming through,” Mr. Sykes said (the U-store’s other location is on Alexander Street). “Some of them are students, but probably one out of every five or six are tourists. The tour groups have picked up a lot in the last three or four years. From my observations, there can be seven or eight buses dropping people off. Many of them come in to buy a souvenir from us and hopefully other spots in town.”

The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce was one of 16 organizations to receive a Destination Marketing Organization Grant from the State of New Jersey’s Travel and Tourism office last January. The $123,000 grant is intended to fund programs not just in Princeton, but in 18 municipalities in Mercer County. “It’s not just about the downtown,” said Ms. Rabon. “It’s taking a more regional approach. There was over a billion dollars in tourism expenditures last year in Mercer County alone. We want to give people a complete exposure to the region. We will have information about the Princeton region, which encompasses a great deal of the county.”

Once discussions got underway about a visitors’ center, the Chamber also began to consider using the kiosks for informational purposes. The hope is to install touch-screens with information in different languages. Notices can still be posted, but with some oversight.

“The idea is that we’ve got these two kiosks which are unmanned, and unmanageable to a degree,” said Peter Crowley, the Chamber’s President and CEO. “We talked to the Borough and told them we wanted to beautify the kiosks and bring them up to date, making them more focused and interactive. They have electricity, so the raw material is already there. We think this will be enhanced material not only for the tourist, but also for the consumer and the person who lives right here.”

Ms. Rabon said the kiosks will have some new uses but not be significantly altered. “They’ll have the same size, and the same feel,” she said. “We’ll utilize four or five different panels. What it’s going to do is clean up the way we put the information out to people. This is where the interactive piece will play a key role. My hope is that we’ll be able to use them both in the same way.”

While the process is still underway, Ms. Rabon is confident that the final product will enhance the tourism experience for visitors and residents alike. The CVB steering committee wants to work with the Princeton Merchants Association and the Princeton Area Arts & Culture Consortium as well, she said.

“What I’m hoping is that this will drive business not just at the U-store, but everywhere in the region,” she said. “This is great exposure for everyone.”

How do you renovate a 430,000 square foot building С most of it underground С without disrupting the essential services it provides to faculty, students, scholars, and others almost every day of the year?

Answer: very slowly.

“This is a saga, not a story,” observed Princeton University Librarian Karin Trainer describing the current renovation of Firestone Library, the largest building on campus. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018. Until then, a team of architects, from both within and outside the University, meets frequently to share plans and sketches of the day. There are often “multiple screens going at the same time,” said Ms. Trainer. The estimated cost of the project is “in the nine figures,” and is being underwritten by the University, “just as they would a new laboratory for scientists.”

It’s very clear to anyone entering Firestone that a renovation is in progress; scaffoldings and drop cloths abound, and there’s a considerable amount of rerouting to various services. There should be no real sense of dislocation, however, thanks to “a promise to ourselves that we would continue to offer all of the normal services we provide; that the library would stay open its regular hours; and we would not dislodge large portions of collection,” said Ms. Trainer. “We’re moving people and books around to keep them out of the contractors’ way; that’s another reason it’s going to take a long time.”

Built in 1948, Firestone Library was the University’s first major academic building constructed after World II. (The vastness of its underground portion occurred out of a desire not to overshadow nearby buildings, including the Chapel.) “The University has maintained it very carefully over the decades,” said Ms. Trainer, “but there comes a point when systems need to be replaced.” The current project includes a complete renovation of the library’s infrastructure, the creation of “modern study spaces” for students and faculty, “more suitable” spaces for students who are using digital resources. and computer upgrades. New electrical outlets are high on the list of must-haves; “staff and students would be lost without them,” said Ms. Trainer.

A great deal of attention during the renovation is being paid to making the building more environmentally responsible. “It’s a very big building that’s open lots of hours, so we feel an extra responsibility to have systems that are as efficient as they can possibly be — especially lighting; all the lighting in the building is being redone.”

Firestone Library currently houses about three million books and is growing. “We still buy almost two miles of books every year and we don’t see that changing very soon,” Ms. Trainer commented. “We also offer ebooks and we loan Kindles to students and faculty, but major research libraries like ours buy more than half of our material from other countries, and digital publishing hasn’t caught on abroad as much as it has here.”

Some recent, more obvious changes to the building include the fact that the main staircase is closed from C floor up past the third floor; a brand new, light-filled open staircase is scheduled to open in January 2013. The Trustee Reading room has been closed for asbestos abatement above the ceiling and at perimeter radiators, and a new “temporary” circulation desk has been constructed. Core work preparing for new bathrooms and service point closets is being done on the B and C levels.

“It’s gone very well so far; students are getting used to seeing workers replacing hardware on the doors,” joked Ms. Trainer, who has been University Librarian since 1996 and is the first woman to hold the post. “I think everybody on campus understands how important this work really is.”

In addition to serving and remaining open to the University community, Firestone will continue to be accessible to Princeton residents who take advantage of the cooperative “museum pass” program with the Princeton Public Library, and to local school teachers and librarians. Public exhibition spaces remain open as well.

Members of the Princeton High boys’ soccer team go through their paces last week in a training session on the PHS turf field. PHS continued its recent run of success last year, going 20-1-2 and winning the Mercer County Tournament (MCT), the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional title, and the CVC Valley Division crown along the way. PHS gets 2012 regular season play underway when it hosts Hopewell Valley on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

August 22, 2012

ON MR. HINDS’S PLAZA: Diners at Witherspoon Grill were enjoying the fine weather Saturday on Albert Hinds Plaza, which will be a dancer’s dream Friday between 7:30 and 10 p.m. when the Central Jersey Dance Society hosts a dance social. The DJ will be the inimitable Loui B. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

Once word got out last spring about the first-ever Princeton half marathon, which will benefit HI TOPS Health Center, registrations began to pour in. It wasn’t long before the maximum number of 1,000 entrants was reached for the 13.1-mile race, which will wind through town on Sunday, November 4.

Runners who didn’t sign up in time still have an opportunity to take part in a similar event just a few miles away. The Trenton half marathon, which counts HI TOPS as one of the organizations it will benefit, is scheduled for the following Saturday, November 10, in the capital city. Nicknamed “the double cross” because it traverses two bridges, the race will also benefit such charities as Ryan’s Quest, Alexander’s Run, Caroline’s Hope, and the Community Blood Council of New Jersey.

Referring runners to the Trenton event was the idea of Catharine Vaucher, HI TOPS’s director of development and marketing. “We hit our limit in early July,” she said. “And there are many, many people still contacting us who really want to register. The Trenton race has a much larger capacity and they haven’t reached their goals yet, so we asked them and they thought it was a good idea.”

Brian Barry, the Trenton half marathon’s race director, was happy to collaborate. “Some people thought that the Princeton half marathon would be competition for us. But I look at it as an opportunity for us to partner together,” he said. “This is a first for us and a first for them, and it has worked well.”

As of last week, just over 1,200 runners were signed up for the Trenton event. Barry said he hopes to have 2,500 by the time the runners set off just outside the Trenton Thunder stadium on November 10. The course will take participants down Center Street, up Broad Street around the Battle Monument, over the “Trenton Makes” bridge into Morrisville, Pennsylvania, and then back into New Jersey via the Calhoun Street Bridge to Cadwalader Park.

While there have been shorter distance races held in Trenton in recent years, this is the first time for a half marathon. Any trepidation people might have about running through Trenton’s streets is unfounded, Mr. Barry said. “Any distance run in an urban setting is going to run through some nice sections and some less than desirable sections. But overall, this will be a good experience,” he said. “It’s up to us to make sure the course is safe, and we will. It’s a fun thing for people to get out and do. Frankly, we haven’t encountered too many people who have those concerns. They do the Broad Street run in Philadelphia through some of the worst neighborhoods in the city, and it’s fine.”

The run is being organized by BOSS Events, a non-profit organization formed under the auspices of the Road Runners Club of America. The group’s mission is to promote health and wellness throughout Mercer County.

“Running has become the most popular form of exercise in the last ten years, especially during the recession,” said Mr. Barry. “It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to be outside.”

The Trenton half marathon will also include a 10K race and a kids’ run. Organizers plan to make it an annual event. “Our hope and drive is to not only make this something every year, but to do other healthy-type events in the area to get people out and involved in the community,” Mr. Barry said. “We want to grow this. Hopefully next year we’ll have 5,000.”

The Princeton half marathon was designed to give a larger platform to adolescent health. “This year we’re really focusing on the importance of early mental health screening,” said Ms. Vaucher. “We really want to raise awareness.”

The race begins in Palmer Square and includes the Princeton University campus, Princeton Battlefield, Lake Carnegie, and several other areas of town.

Both the Princeton and Trenton half-marathons are certified by the national organization, USA Track & Field (USATF). Anyone who runs in both the events can qualify for a full marathon and receive a Mercer County Marathon medal, Ms. Vaucher said.

In response to the suggestions that using the “Free and Reduced” lunch program for identifying children at risk for state funding is inaccurate and/or abused, Save our Schools (SOS) is taking a stand to the contrary.

In Princeton, about ten percent of the public school population currently qualifies for Free and Reduced lunches.

SOS is a nonpartisan grass roots organization that had over 9,000 members across the state at last count. Its goal, say SOS founders, is to ensure “that all New Jersey children … have access to a high quality education.”

“This is not right,” said Princeton resident and SOS spokesperson Julia Sass Rubin of the proposal to abandon the Free and Reduced lunch system as a measure for funding in New Jersey. “There is no huge abuse of the program; it works very well. There are more kids not getting what they’re supposed to be getting than those who are.”

SOS cites the work of Rutgers University graduate school of education professor Bruce Baker as evidence supporting use of the current formula. Mr. Baker is the author of “Financing Education Systems,” as well as many research articles on state school finance policy, teacher labor markets, school leadership labor markets, and higher education finance and policy. His recent work has focused on measuring cost variations associated with schooling contexts and student population characteristics, such as ways to better design state school finance policies and local district allocation formulas (including Weighted Student Funding) for better meeting the needs of students.

“There is no better alternative,” said Ms. Sass Rubin of the criterion used by Free and Reduced lunch. “The danger for damage — to the most vulnerable kids — is very high.”

School funding is currently being examined by the state’s Education Funding Task Force, a seven-member commission appointed by Governor Christie. Critics believe the state’s goal is to discredit the current formula in order to cut funding to urban school districts.

“This supposed significant abuse is a myth, perpetuated for political reasons, in order to undermine school funding for children living in poverty,” said SOS member Sarah Rappoport speaking at a recent Task Force meeting. She noted that an audit being used as evidence for the formula’s failure did not include 25 percent of the children who participate in the lunch program automatically because their families receive food stamps or welfare. Another oversight was the fact that the audit only looked at three percent of the families whose children receive lunches and who are considered ‘on the margin’ of eligibility.” Families who responded to income report requests and who had an income of $12,001 a year ($1 over the limit) were found to be ineligible. Ms. Rappoport further reported that, based on statistics from the State Auditor’s office, “the majority of people who were found to be ineligible actually consisted of those who did not respond at all to the letter requesting additional documents.” The failure of poorer families to respond to such queries is not uncommon, due to frequent moves and/or homelessness; insecure mailboxes; inability to be speak or read English; fear of doing something wrong; and being “just too busy trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their children’s heads by working three jobs.”

While Ms. Sass Rubin allowed that there may be instances of abuse, the statistics used by the state are “complete bunk. It’s a witch hunt as a way of getting at the funding for low income kids.”

“We are certainly ready to welcome our students back,” said Superintendent Judy Wilson in a recent Princeton Community TV appearance.

Which is not to say that the schools have been idle. Ms. Wilson reported that “hundreds of students were with us this summer,” to take English classes; participate in math and literacy programs; receive special needs instruction, and get help in preparing for college.

The TV spot gave Ms. Wilson an opportunity to provide the latest information about the schools; a new name, a new logo, and a new website were at the top of her list. The new name, Princeton Public Schools, occurs in anticipation of the January 1, 2013, consolidation of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, at which point Princeton will no longer qualify as a regional school district and is legally obligated to change its name.

The new website,, promises to provide “all that’s newsworthy, accurate, and all that’s important to you as a parent,” said Ms. Wilson. With “a new look” and “many more resources,” the site will include “good news” as well as up-to-the minute emergency information.

Princeton Public School athletes, who have already begun to return to school for pre-season training, will be observed more carefully under the schools’ new policies and procedures regarding concussions and their aftermath, said Ms. Wilson. Coaches and nurses will also be “paying attention to new research on sudden cardiac arrest,” and on ensuring that athletes remain hydrated during the hot weather.

“The choice to read is so very powerful in our children’s lives,” said Ms. Wilson in her comments about the required summer reading lists that were posted on the old website and have been transferred to the new one. She encouraged parents and students to visit the public library (“a few visits”) and to engage in “literacy experiences,” like “conversations about books and movies.”

Ms. Wilson described the buildings and grounds improvements to all six schools proposed under a recently announced public bond referendum as “projects that just can’t be tackled in day-to-day maintenance and repairs.” Princeton residents will vote on the $10.9 million bond on Monday, September 24, when polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. The work includes “a range of projects from drainage systems to instructional classrooms to fields and courts, but none of it is new construction,” she noted. The improvements are intended to “stop water damage; fight energy costs; replace gym floors; add an ADA-compliant ramp to Princeton High School;” and beef up playground safety at the elementary schools. A new turf field, bleachers, and track used by middle and high school students need to be replaced, said Ms. Wilson, and the John Witherspoon Middle School gym will be “repurposed” to create a media center.

Turning to what she described as “minor projects,” Ms. Wilson noted that “the Valley Road building does not need any attention; it’s been well-maintained and renovated in recent years.” The adjacent playing fields, however, “need attention.”

Ms. Wilson pointed to “high needs, low costs, and low interest rates” as reasons for the upcoming referendum. If it is passed, it will cost the average in Princeton resident $149.

More details on repairs and upgrades, Ms. Wilson noted, will be made available in the coming weeks.

At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee members heard presentations from school Superintendent Judy Wilson and a representative of United Bowhunters of New Jersey, and responded to a question about consolidation implementation.

Ms. Wilson presented an overview of building projects that would be carried out if the referendum bond vote on Monday, September 24 is approved. (See related article on page seven in this issue.)

At a “work session” in which no action was taken, representative Chris Midura described United Bowhunting of New Jersey programs that have been “safely and successfully administered” in Princeton in the past. With the season starting on September 8, Mr. Midura said that he hoped a decision to continue with them would come soon, so that they can “line up” the hunters and do an orientation. The Animal Control Committee, which will make the recommendation, is meeting in early September.

In response to a question from Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert about a “problem” alluded to in a letter, Mr. Midura explained that it had to do with suggestions that members of their organization were conducting “deer drives” (i.e., moving the deer toward hunters). It was determined that this was not occurring “among my people,” and Mr. Miduri said that in a recent conversation with Bob Buchanan, the former police chief indicated that the mayor could contact him if there was still any question about the episode.

Township resident and Transition Task Force IT Subcommittee member Henry Singer, described himself as having been “caught off guard” when, at a recent meeting Transition Task Force Chair Mark Freda said that “things are winding down.” When he asked Mr. Freda about continuity in the process, Mr. Singer said, he was told that the Task Force’s charge is essentially to “recommend and facilitate” by providing a “starting point.”

“It’s not something that will happen by accident,” continued Mr. Singer on Monday evening. He noted the complexity of consolidation and the ongoing analyses and decisions that participants should be referring to as they proceed. In the corporate world, he said, there’s a “play guide,” and detailed coordinated set of plans. “Who’s going to carry the ball across the line?” wondered Mr. Singer at the meeting, citing a need for “project management skills” that would address two of his favorite sayings: “plan the work the work the plan,” and “trust but verify.”

In their responses to Mr. Singer, both Committeewoman Sue Nemeth and Ms. Liz Lempert, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Chad Goerner’s absence, noted that oversight will be in the hands of the governing bodies. “We have experience doing this,” said Ms. Nemeth, pointing to shared services that already exist, and suggesting that combining like departments from each municipality might actually be easier than the management of shared services to date.

Ms. Lempert echoed Ms. Nemeth’s comments, noting that there will be “reports at public sessions” to ensure that everything “should run smoothly. If there’s a problem, we’ll discuss it.”

Mr. Singer also voiced concern about the placement of three transition-related costs under the regular consent agenda at the meeting, suggesting that they be identified separately on future agendas. The costs approved on Monday evening included payments to Vital Communications for tax assessor software (not to exceed $34,000); Comcast Enterprise for internet services (not to exceed $89,100); and Open Systems Integrators, for the integration of Borough security cameras in the new dispatch system (not to exceed $47,900). CFO Kathy Monzo gave a brief explanation for each of them.

Updates on municipal office moves and regulations for the newly united police force were the focus of the most recent meeting of Princeton Borough Council. On August 14, the governing body heard from administrator Bob Bruschi about which offices will be located where and when, and from Borough Police Captain Nick Sutter and consultant Frank Rodgers about how the merging of the Borough and Township police departments is progressing.

The following night, the Transition Task Force (TTF) talked about transition costs while hearing updates from various committees involved in overseeing consolidation, which takes effect January 1, 2013.

Mr. Bruschi reported that the biggest changes in the consolidation of offices will be to the police department and the administrator and clerk’s office in the Township municipal building. “We expect to start shifting municipal offices in September, and hope to have everybody in their final office locations by mid-November at the latest,” he said. “This may exclude the police because we will need to get the [Township] building ready for doubling the employee population. That is KSS’s priority.”

KSS Architects is the firm hired to determine the best use of Borough Hall and the Township Municipal Building in the newly consolidated Princeton. The architecture firm was paid $27,000 for the first phase of the project. The second phase, which involves physical changes inside the two buildings as offices are reorganized, has been approved by Borough Council and Township Committee. KSS is being paid $38,000 for that portion.

Mr. Bruschi said that the affordable housing, historic preservation, and zoning offices might be among the first to be relocated. “The most important thing is to get people moving, both logistically and from an employee morale standpoint,” he said.

Mr. Sutter and Mr. Rodgers, who is with the Rogers Group, discussed the updated rulebook for the newly merged police department. “This is a very important document,” Mr. Sutter said of the rulebook, which is being updated to meet national and state standards. “It will be the foundation of department operations.”

Councilman Roger Martindell questioned the section of the rulebook dealing with the acceptance of gifts and gratuities. Mr. Martindell said the wording was not clear enough in its restrictions of officers accepting any gifts, loans, fees or gratuities. The issue has come up before, when officers were receiving free food from a local restaurant. “There should be a line drawn, and it should be a very bright line,” he said.

Mr. Sutter and Mr. Rodgers said they would look into the wording to possibly make it more specific.

Also at the meeting, Councilwoman Barbara Trelstad reported that a gardener has been hired to clean out the beds at Harrison Street Park. “We have had a considerable loss of plant material and we won’t be replacing it, but we will have a reassessment in the fall,” she said. The gardener, who works four days a week and is employed by the Borough, has done some transplanting and will continue that work in the fall.

At the Transition Task Force meeting, Task Force member Scott Sillars reported that $59,000 of the $149,000 budgeted for consolidation has been spent so far, not including the $38,000 for KSS Architects. A complete overview of the costs will be presented next month, he said. “The taxpayers are going to want to know what the costs are,” said Task Force member Jim Levine.

In discussions of merging the two communities‘ traffic and transportation departments, there was some disagreement on just how to proceed. While some members advocated putting some of the current responsibilities of the traffic safety departments into the newly combined public works department, others did not agree.

“Combining them is a huge mistake,” said Anton Lahnston, who is not on the Transition Task Force but chairs the Consolidation Commission and was in the audience. “Don’t combine the pedestrian bike and traffic and transportation departments, because they serve very different purposes. A lot of people in this community are very passionate about bikeways. I think you’re killing something that’s very important to this community, and you’ll hear about it.”

Transition Task Force member Hendrix Davis also said, repeatedly, that he is not in favor of such an action.

Near the close of the meeting, Borough Mayor Yina Moore reported that she and Township Mayor Chad Goerner are working on a new logo for the town, “rather than hiring a $50,000 branding firm.” The logo is being developed in conjunction with the Arts Council of Princeton.