May 15, 2019

CELEBRATING INCLUSION: At Community Options’ recent ceremony honoring Jovani Rodriguez, Patricia Pavlovsky, and Allen Reigert, those on hand were, from left: Paula Nessler, director of supported employment, Community Options; Assemblyman Dan Benson; Rodriguez, senior food service worker, Aramark; Pavlovsky, assistant program manager, Community Options; Reigert, director of food services, Aramark; Richard Freeman, president and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton; Hamilton Township Council President Jeff Martin; Scott Crass, constituent services director for Senator Linda Greenstein; and Svetlana Repic-Qira, regional vice president, Community Options.

Community Options, Inc. presented three awards to individuals for outstanding achievements and for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Jovani Rodriguez, Allen Reigert, and Patricia Pavlovsky received awards during a ceremony at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton.

Rodriguez had been a volunteer at the RWJ Hospital in Hamilton for three years through the Community Options STEP21 program. His consistent work ethic and dedication as a volunteer was recognized by Reigert, director of food services for Aramark at RWJ Hamilton.

He recruited Rodriguez to come work for him once he completed STEP21. Working alongside job coach Pavlovsky, Reigert went the extra mile to hold the position for Rodriguez. Both he and Pavlovsky worked to ensure that everything was set up for him to begin working as soon as possible. Today, Rodriguez is a senior food service worker and continues to make great strides towards his independence. more

May 8, 2019

MUSEUM IN THE MAKING: A group of residents and artists hope to turn Highland Farm, the former home of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and currently a bed and breakfast, into a museum of his work. An art exhibit and fundraiser at the Doylestown, Pa., property is May 16-18. (Photo courtesy of

By Anne Levin

In the Bucks County, Pa., farmhouse where Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics for musical theater classics Oklahoma, South Pacific, and The King and I, plans are underway to establish a museum and education center devoted to Broadway history, Hammerstein’s career, and his years entertaining such fellow notables as James Michener, Richard Rodgers, George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and Stephen Sondheim.

But making the museum a reality takes money. To help raise the $2 million needed to purchase the property, the Arts and Cultural Council of Bucks County and the nonprofit Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theatre Education Center will hold three events at the farm, May 16-18. “The Art for Oscar” is an exhibit by 50 artists, showcasing works in various media inspired by Hammerstein’s life and work. On May 18, the property will be open to the public from 12-4 p.m. more

May 1, 2019

EVERY BED TELLS A STORY: At the Garden State History Garden opening Sunday, May 19 at the Historical Society of Princeton’s Updike Farmstead, Princeton’s agricultural history is being reinterpreted, bed by bed. An app, which visitors can listen to while wandering the garden, tells its stories.

By Anne Levin

On a 520-square-foot site where a chicken coop used to be, the Historical Society of Princeton (HSP) is about to unveil a newly-designed garden that interprets the area’s important agricultural history. The Garden State History Garden opens officially on Sunday, May 19, and the public is invited.

The HSP just happens to be headquartered at the Updike Farmstead, a former working farm on Quaker Road. The interpretive garden is a natural for the site, which was already producing organic fruits and vegetables as the Sipprelle Unity Garden, donated when the HSP first renovated the site in 2012.

“We have this gorgeous, 21-bed organic garden with raised beds that produce quite a bounty each year that we donate to Cornerstone Community Kitchen,” said Izzy Kasdin, the HSP’s executive director. “We have had it for awhile, but it didn’t feel like a heritage-rich thing.”

During the recent installation of interpretive signage at the farm, Kasdin and her colleagues decided to take the concept further. “We were interested in transforming the farmstead into a history campus museum, with historical context inside and out,” she said. “We thought that instead of planting a reproduced kitchen garden from the past, we would create something a little more metaphorical, if you will. Each bed will grow a crop that will be the launching pad for a story, and those stories will be accessible on our app.” more

April 24, 2019

KEEPING IT GREEN: Sustainable Princeton is stepping up sustainable efforts for this year’s Communiversity. Representatives from Sustainable Princeton will be present at five ‘Waste Center’ tents strategically placed throughout the event to ensure attendee waste is properly disposed. Refillable water stations will be placed at five of the downtown stages for visitors to refill their reusable water bottles. Residents are encouraged to arrive in a sustainable way — there will be two bike valets sponsored by Princeton Bike Advisory Committee. As part of the effort to make Communiversity greener, participating merchants were asked not to use Styrofoam, plastic straws, balloons and limit the use of plastic bags for purchases.

By Donald Gilpin

Leading the effort to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and build a climate-resilient community through careful, thorough planning and preparation, Sustainable Princeton (SP) has released a 62-page draft of Princeton’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), which proposes a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2010 levels by 2050.

The coordinated effort of 53 Princeton community members working over the past 18 months and funded by a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CAP draft is available online, with Princeton residents encouraged to review and comment via direct link: by May 31.

SP has been engaging the community in several outreach events to introduce the CAP draft and to encourage responses by the May 31 deadline. The final plan is expected to be completed by mid-June 2019, and numerous stakeholder groups will be responsible for implementation. more

By Anne Levin

Just days after the town of Princeton released a draft of its Climate Action Plan, Princeton University has announced its own Sustainability Action Plan. Among the goals of the initiative, which was released Monday, April 22, is zero emissions by 2046. That year is the University’s 300th anniversary.

The plan builds on efforts in the past decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, design energy efficient buildings, encourage alternatives to single occupancy vehicles, and practice sustainable dining, construction, and other operations.

“Our global environment faces challenges of unprecedented scope and complexity,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a press release. “Princeton can play a leadership role not only by developing innovative solutions through teaching and research, but also by establishing best practices in our campus operations and community behaviors that serve as models for the world. This plan sets out ambitious but attainable goals that will guide us toward a more sustainable future.”

Among the aims outlined in the plan is reducing water usage. The 2046 goal is a 26 percent reduction in annual campus water usage from 2008. The management of storm water  will be expanded. Waste will be reduced through reuse and recycling. While the University has modestly decreased its overall campus landfill waste, its recycling rates have declined “due to behavioral, market, and programmatic challenges,” the release reads. “Princeton will redouble its efforts to study successful strategies on campus and develop ambitious targets.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council voted unanimously Monday evening to delay deciding on an ordinance that would eliminate Floor Area Ratio (FAR) bonuses allowing for larger buildings on undersized lots. This is the second time the governing body has opted to put the ordinance aside in favor of obtaining more data and focusing on matters considered more important.

Originally proposed in 2015, the measure was meant to help maintain neighborhood character by discouraging teardowns. But it became controversial when it was pointed out by numerous members of the public that the ordinance could prohibit additions and require a zoning variance for any exterior modifications. FAR is the total area of a building divided by the area of the lot it occupies, expressed as a percentage.

The possibility of “unintended consequences” in the ordinance led the governing body to put it aside in order to focus on more pressing matters such as harmonizing the land use code of the former borough and township, which were consolidated six years ago. “When this was originally brought forward, we thought it was going to be an easy lift,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “But it has gotten more complicated. We want more data before moving forward.” more

February 6, 2019

SCIENCE FOR EVERYBODY: At the January 19 Science on Saturdays lecture at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL), the topic was “Magnetic Universe.” PPPL Director Professor Steve Cowley and Science Education Physicist Dr. Arturo Dominguez had assistance from a youthful member of the audience. (Photo by Elle Starkman)

By Anne Levin

At the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s (PPPL) Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturdays Lecture Series, audience members might be as young as 9 and as old as 90. The popular talks on a range of scientific subjects have been attracting people curious about all aspects of science for more than three decades.

“The fact that we average nearly 300 a lecture is a testament to the community,” said Andrew Zwicker, who heads PPPL’s communications and public outreach (and is also a Democratic assemblyman for the 16th district). “Last year a gentleman celebrated his 90th birthday at one of the lectures. And we have a physician who gave a lecture  a week and a half ago on the science of joint replacement (Dr. Christina Gutowski of Cooper University Healthcare), who went to Science on Saturday when she was a little girl.”

PPPL is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory managed by Princeton University. The lecture series was started 34 years ago by PPPL physicists. “They wanted to have representatives from all branches of science, who are at the cutting-edge of research, present their results to the interested public,” said Zwicker. “They started with just a couple of lectures, and now there are nine every year, on Saturday mornings. They are very popular.” more

January 30, 2019

By Anne Levin

In the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. Zodiac signs play an important role in Chinese culture, and can be used to determine fortune for the year, marriage compatibility, career fit, and even the best times to have a baby.

Predictions aside, the annual celebration of Chinese Lunar New Year is a chance for sampling food, games, music, martial arts, and colorful pageantry related to Chinese heritage. The official start of the year is February 5, but local and regional celebrations of the holiday start on February 1 and run through February 17.

Princeton High School’s Mandarin class and the school’s Chinese club will host a celebration at Princeton Public Library on Saturday, February 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. Open to all, the party includes activities for all ages including traditional music and instruments, martial arts, calligraphy, painting, dance, origami, and crafts. more

January 23, 2019

IMMERSION ACTIVITY: Kindergarten Spanish partner teacher Abril Retana works with her students in the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at Community Park Elementary School. DLI, currently for kindergarten through fourth grade, will be expanded to fifth graders next year. (Photo by Elizabeth Collier, Princeton Public Schools)

By Donald Gilpin

The Spanish-English Dual-Language Immersion (DLI) program at Princeton Public Schools (PPS) is ready to expand to include kindergarten through fifth grade next year at Community Park Elementary School (CPS).

Launched in 2015, the DLI program, in which students spend half of their day learning in Spanish and the other half in English, currently spans kindergarten through fourth grade and is now open to all PPS students entering kindergarten or first grade.

Last year was the first year that families from all Princeton elementary schools were eligible to apply for the kindergarten DLI classes at CPS. Students from Johnson Park, Littlebrook, or Riverside Elementary schools who apply and are accepted for DLI will be offered transportation to CPS if they do not live within walking distance.  more

January 16, 2019

LEADER OF THE PACK: Aaron Burt is co-director of a camp for local children in the summers — a change of pace from his main job teaching math to third, fourth, and fifth graders, and coaching cross country, girls’ basketball, and girls’ lacrosse at Princeton Charter School.  (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burt)

By Donald Gilpin

Among the driving forces in the life of Princeton Charter School (PCS) math teacher and coach Aaron Burt are his passions for math, coaching, working with elementary and middle school kids, and his hometown of Princeton. 

“I’ve always enjoyed the energy that kids have,” he said. “I enjoy working with that energy. I always thought I’d like to be a teacher. Especially at the elementary level, the kids’ love of learning, their eagerness to be at school, to be with friends, to be with teachers, is great. It’s so much work, but the energy and excitement make every day exciting and fun. I wake up every morning and I’m excited for another day.” more

January 11, 2019

The Princeton Police have issued a statement prior to an expected march by a white supremacist group this Saturday at noon in Palmer Square. Princeton Police remind the public that groups taking part in planned protests need to obtain a permit. Princeton Police also plan to close several streets in and around the Palmer Square area on Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.

Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter is urging groups to obtain a permit. The purpose of the permit is to give Princeton Police the opportunity to assist people in safely organizing peaceful protests. Protestors may carry signs that are not attached to poles or sticks. No weapons of any kind, glass, or plastic water bottles will be allowed in designated protest areas on Palmer Square.

Palmer Square and Hulfish Street will be closed to all motor vehicle traffic beginning at 5 a.m. on Saturday. Nassau Street will be shut down between University Place and Witherspoon Street at 10 a.m.

December 5, 2018

Courtney’s Carolers entertained visitors and shoppers around Palmer Square in downtown Princeton on Saturday afternoon. Strolling Holiday Music is featured every Saturday and Sunday in December leading up to Christmas. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Donald Gilpin

Voters will face just one question, requiring a “yes’ or “no” response, on December 11, when they vote on the Princeton Public Schools’ proposal for a $26.9 million bond referendum. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. next Tuesday, with just four consolidated polling locations at the elementary schools: Community Park, Riverside, Johnson Park, and Littlebrook. 

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert noted that most people would not be voting at their usual voting spots because of the reduced number of polling locations, and she urged  everyone to check the sample ballots that were mailed out to all residents for information on voting districts and polling locations. Information is also posted on the Princeton municipal website and on the PPS website.

Lempert also pointed out that in the December 11 referendum vote new voting machines with a verifiable paper trail will be piloted at the Johnson Park polling location. As part of a statewide effort to enhance voter security, the pilot program will use voting machines on loan from Dominion Voting Systems at no cost to the county. The technology allows voters to fill out an oval marking the vote and then feed the ballot into a scanner, with the paper ballot retained for verification. more

By Donald Gilpin

Gary Snyder, Princeton High School (PHS) principal for more than 15 years, has announced that he will retire in June 2019, at the end of this school year.

When Snyder came to PHS in 2003 at the age of 40, the school had been led by seven different principals in the previous decade. “I hope to bring some stability in the leadership position, and to create a vision for what we do,” he said at the time of his hiring, and over the past decade and a half he has displayed that successful staying power.

“This time of year, the steamy days of June are probably only in the thoughts of high school seniors and retiring principals,” he wrote in a letter to PHS students, parents, and community yesterday, “but we will each keep focus on the work and learning before us in the coming months.” more

By Anne Levin

Responding to concerns from the public, Princeton will allow people who have balances on their smart cards to transfer them to the new Park Princeton app after April 30. Mayor Liz Lempert announced the revised plan, part of the municipality’s revamping of the parking system, at the Princeton Council meeting on Monday night, December 3.

“Sometimes Council makes a decision and it’s the wrong decision, and we reverse course,” she said. “That is what happened with this. At one point we said we weren’t going to refund the smart card balances. We changed course when we heard feedback from the community. We are working on a plan to transfer the balances.”

Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton said those with balances on their smart cards are still urged to spend them in the Spring Street Garage, next to Princeton Public Library, by April 30. But those who still have balances on their cards after that date will be permitted to transfer the amount to the new app. A 10 percent administrative fee will be charged. more

As of December 6, Bernadette has been found and is now safe at home.


BREAKING GROUND: The shovels came out November 30 to officially begin construction of new headquarters for Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. From left are Brenda Stewart, Martin Chooljian, Edward Matthews, PFARS Chief Frank Setnicky, PFARS President Mark Freda, Mayor Liz Lempert, Barry Rabner, Betty Wold Johnson, and Campaign Chair Martha Sword. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

After 15 years of planning and fundraising, the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) broke ground Friday, November 30, for its new headquarters on a site bordered by Valley Road, Witherspoon Street, Route 206, and Cherry Hill Road. The land was formerly home to the Princeton Township Public Works facility.

“Today marks the bridge between our past and our future,” said Mark Freda, president of the 78-year-old nonprofit that long ago outgrew its headquarters on Harrison Street. Addressing a crowd of community members, elected officials, and PFARS volunteers past and present, Freda recalled the decision “to solve the problem of our too small, too tight, too old building.” more

AMBASSADORIAL EXCHANGE: Russian Ambassador Anatoly Ivanovich Antonov  defended Russia’s position in Ukraine and on the world scene, responded to sharp questioning from two Princeton panelists, and called for “respectful dialogue” between Russian and U.S. leaders, in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson School’s Arthur Lewis Auditorium of Robertson Hall last Thursday afternoon.

By Donald Gilpin

Speaking to an overflow crowd of about 200 at Woodrow Wilson School’s (WWS) Arthur Lewis Auditorium of Robertson Hall last Thursday, on a day of significant tension in Russian-United States relations, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Ivanovich Antonov called for increased dialogue between the two nations on a range of urgent topics.

“Russian-United States relations cannot stay on the decline forever,” said Antonov, combining a demeanor at times conciliatory and at times steely tough. Questioning Antonov on a range of contentious issues were nuclear security expert Bruce Blair of the WWS Program on Science and Global Security, and visiting WWS Lecturer of Public and International Affairs Anna Makanju. more

By Nancy Plum

Venezuela-born conducting wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel is known to audiences in the United States primarily as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he has held for 10 years. However, Dudamel’s reach and effect on musical performance and education worldwide has been much more, and Princeton is now part of this impact through an artist-in-residency collaboration between Dudamel and Princeton University Concerts, as part of the University Concerts’ 125th Anniversary year-long celebration. In a three-part residency entitled “Uniting Our World Through Music,” beginning this past weekend and continuing into the spring of 2019, Dudamel will be in residency at the University, coaching both campus and off-campus ensembles, conducting the University Orchestra and Glee Cub, and participating in panel discussions on the impact of music on social change. The first of these concerts took place this past Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium. more

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In The Luck of the Irish, an African American woman discovers that a transaction, necessitated by racial injustice, may prevent her from owning the house she has inherited from her grandparents. Written by Kirsten Greenidge, this play derives its central conflict from the determination of parents to provide a space — and a future — in which their children belong. more

AN ANNUAL TRADITION: Katie Welsh ends her Fall Cabaret Series at the Arts Council of Princeton with a special program on December 8.

Singer Katie Welsh will end her Fall Cabaret Series at the Arts Council of Princeton with “Happy Holidays! From Broadway & Hollywood” on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Welsh’s “informative cabaret” approach provides some insights between songs. As she describes it, “So many great seasonal songs, from ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to ‘Silver Bells’ became famous as standalone standards but originated in musicals on stage and screen. This concert is a fun opportunity to not only enjoy your favorite holiday tunes, but also learn a bit more about their original contexts and backstories.” more

November 28, 2018

Friday evening’s annual tree lighting on Palmer Square Green featured music by Swingadelic and the Princeton High School Choir, a special performance by the American Repertory Ballet’s Nutcracker and Clara, and a visit from Santa. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

The Princeton Health Department has achieved national accreditation, the municipality announced Monday. The ranking comes through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB)  and puts Princeton in a category with about 200 local health departments across the nation.

“It’s a pretty huge deal,” said Jeffrey Grosser, Princeton’s health officer. “It basically says we’re a top performer and we’re meeting the public’s health needs as effectively as possible. It also demonstrates accountability to everybody.” more

By Anne Levin

Sayu Bhojwani

In her book People Like Us: The New Wave of Candidates Knocking at Democracy’s Door, author Sayu Bhojwani recounts stories of immigrants who serve in American politics and the stumbling blocks they have had to overcome in their governmental careers.

Princeton Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, who is of Mexican descent, can relate to these stories. She read the recently published book after agreeing to engage Bhojwani in a discussion of the book at an Author Talk at Princeton Public Library tonight, Wednesday, November 28, at 6:30 p.m.

“It resonated with me immediately,” said Fraga, who was sworn in last January as the first Latin American to serve on Princeton Council and is the former chair of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Reading it was almost empowering, because I could see that it wasn’t just me who had been having this experience.” more

TEN CRUCIAL DAYS: Princeton Battlefield Society will be hosting three different events relating to the Battle of Princeton beginning on Sunday, December 2 with presentations at Morven Museum and Garden by four Revolutionary War historians, continuing on December 8 with Young Patriot’s Day at Princeton Friends School, and culminating on December 30 with a Battle of Princeton real time tour. (Photo courtesy of the Princeton Battlefield Society)

By Donald Gilpin

“Soldiers and Civilians in Princeton During the Ten Crucial Days: Winter 1776-1777” will be the subject for four Revolutionary War historians on Sunday, December 2 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Morven Museum and Garden on Stockton Street.

Sponsored by Morven and the Princeton Battlefield Society, the four authors, whose books will be for sale during the event, will discuss the people and the military actions of Princeton during a pivotal time in America’s War for Independence. more