Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 49
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
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Canal Road Sewer Land Discussions Could Satisfy Long-Awaited Goal

Matthew Hersh

In 2003, a letter authored by then-Borough Mayor Marvin Reed to Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, indicated that, after 70 years of joint-municipal use of the Princeton Sewer Operating Committee land on River Road, perhaps it was time that the two Princetons maintained joint ownership of the land.

The 127 acres off Canal Road located mostly in Princeton Township is technically owned by Princeton Borough, and currently operated by the Princeton Sewer Operating Committee. The expanse, which houses a rifle range for police as well as a closed landfill, has long spelled opportunity for both Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, as both towns have expressed a need to upgrade their respective public works facilities. And while talks between the two towns regarding a joint deed of the land were slated to begin this week, the subject matter could also, according to several elected officials, address various financial stumbling blocks that have plagued inter-municipal relations for years. So while the Borough and Township were set to hold a joint meeting on the sewer land last night after Town Topics press time, the issue at hand continues to be the fate of what is viewed as much needed land for both towns.

“The land along River Road in your Township for which the Borough holds title for that joint purpose should become jointly titled and clearly recognize our joint responsibility for management,” Mr. Reed wrote in his letter, calling for a meeting of the two governing bodies at the “earliest convenience so that we can reach an understanding as to how together we will carry out that title adjustment and future joint oversight.”

Now, more than four years later, that meeting is finally taking place.

This month, the municipal planning department released a report outlining various site constraints of the Canal Road lands, including the slope of the property, as well as heavy tree canopy. While the report does not refer to any recreational use, like that Mr. Reed points to in his 2003 letter, it does identify public works storage for the Borough and Township, new outdoor storage, a municipal truck and car wash facility, a school transportation office, and a busing storage area. The two towns, Mr. Reed said, “have enough past experience in such joint efforts” to effectively work out a joint ownership deal. “It should not be difficult to effect this change and establish basic understandings for maintaining such a good working relationship for the future,” Mr. Reed wrote.

But times have changed, and the relationship between the Princetons has frayed, leading some members of Borough Council last week to suggest that Tuesday’s meeting could be used as a venue to address other issues that have created a wedge between the two towns, such as those related to Princeton Public Library parking, North Ridge sewer connection fees, and an estimated $2.1 million that Princeton Borough bonded for joint municipal projects that has yet to be reimbursed for by the Township.


For a full report, see the December 12, 2007 edition of Town Topics.

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