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Vol. LXV, No. 50
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
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Opponents of IAS Housing Plan Downplay Finding of Over 700 Agricultural Artifacts

Mark Scheibner
Prospect Avenue

Chris Reeve Nominated for NJ Hall of Fame: Town Topics Readers Can Vote for Him

Barbara L. Johnson
Wilton Street

Borough Council Thanked for Its Attention To Issues Raised by Relocation of the Dinky

Anita Garoniak
Harris Road

Fair Tax Reval: Consolidated Municipalities Deserve Guaranteed Equal Tax Treatment

Jim Floyd
Harris Road


Opponents of IAS Housing Plan Downplay Finding of Over 700 Agricultural Artifacts

To the Editor:

I fully support the Institute for Advanced Study in its plan to expand its faculty housing. It is essential for communities to give proper weight to former fields of battle while balancing remembrance with the requirement to maintain rational and eminently reasonable development.

The Institute needs to provide affordable housing for its unique community of scholars, and I have to believe that all Princeton residents can appreciate the need for affordable housing. The recent demands that Institute land should not be developed because it is “hallowed ground” simply stretch credulity.

Over 234 years have passed since the guns fell silent on the Princeton Battlefield. The hallowed ground is the common grave on State Park land, holding the mortal remains of 15 American and 21 British troops. Much of the battlefield has been preserved — the expansive fields, the common grave, the Clarke House, the Washington Oak, and the young Mercer Oak.

We Princetonians take seriously our charge to be faithful guardians of our heritage for future generations. The current State Park, coupled with efforts of such groups as the Princeton Battlefield Society, Spirit of Princeton, and the Princeton Regional Schools have fully integrated the battle into the life of our community, and in so doing Princeton benefits profoundly.

Opponents to the Institute’s plans highlight the fact that some 52 battle-related artifacts were found in a past survey on the land in question, while downplaying the fact that over 700 agricultural artifacts were also found. After the battle, the fields reverted to their original agricultural use — so much for the “hallowed ground” argument.

In Europe, no stranger to wars, fields are tilled where battles once raged. Cities, once scourged by house to house fighting, now ring with the laughter of children. Battlefields serve as a memento mori and as a cautionary tale, with the enlightened understanding that the human landscape is far more important than the topographic. Princeton Battlefield State Park as currently constituted ably fulfills both duties. 

Communities must have the flexibility to grow, or they run the very real risk of stultification and decline. We must not let our society become a cult of the dead, especially at the expense of the living; nor should we allow our future to be held hostage by distorting the past.

Mark Scheibner
Prospect Avenue

Chris Reeve Nominated for NJ Hall of Fame: Town Topics Readers Can Vote for Him

>To the Editor:

My son Christopher Reeve, the actor and activist who grew up in Princeton, has been nominated for inclusion in the 2012 New Jersey Hall of Fame. He was nominated in the Arts and Entertainment category, which also lists Alan Alda, Michael Douglas, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie and The E-Street Band, all of whom have a connection to New Jersey, as do the other nominees. The other categories with similar lists of well known people with a New Jersey connection are sports, enterprise (i.e. business), historical and general.

Anyone can vote for their favorite candidate in any of the categories using the internet link njhalloffame.org. The deadline is December 31, 2011. Your email address is the mechanism by which they make sure you only vote once for a particular candidate, but you can vote for more than one candidate in a category and for candidates in other categories as well.

Since learning of Chris’s nomination from the Reeve Foundation in October, when the nominations were announced, I have told a few friends about this honor and left it at that. I’m taking this further step of calling attention to it and to the opportunity to vote for Chris because I think many Town Topics readers might want to vote for him and thus assure that he has a good showing from his hometown.

Barbara L. Johnson
Wilton Street

Borough Council Thanked for Its Attention To Issues Raised by Relocation of the Dinky

To the Editor:

On behalf of Save the Princeton Dinky, I would like to thank Borough Council for its thoughtful attention to the community mobility issues raised by the proposed relocation of the Dinky. When it approved the E-5 arts campus zoning at its December 6 hearing, Council sent a clear message that the University’s plan to move the Dinky terminus away from the town center reflects bad public policy.

The E-5 zone approved by Council permits development for the arts, but, as Council has recognized, the new zoning does not require relocation of the Dinky. In fact, no member of the public who spoke on December 6 in favor of passing the zoning now, without immediate protection for the Dinky right of way, argued that moving the Dinky is a good idea. Our community has a strong commitment to the arts but it has an equally strong commitment to sustainable development. It believes that mobility is valuable and worth preserving. The community sentiment is clear: Princeton supports the University’s arts campus. Princeton does not want the University to move the Dinky downhill and away from Nassau Street.

As the process continues, let us hope that the views of the community and of Borough Council will encourage the University to re-imagine its arts campus as one that can go forward by embracing the Dinky, not displacing it.

Anita Garoniak
Harris Road

Fair Tax Reval: Consolidated Municipalities Deserve Guaranteed Equal Tax Treatment

To the Editor:

Now that the vote for consolidation of the Princetons is past us, we must remember that when municipal governments are combined, State law (N.J.S.A. 40A:65-28) provides procedures to ensure that property values be assessed and taxed uniformly, a constitutional requirement. Unfortunately, the systematically flawed revaluation of 2010 does not provide a basis for uniform taxation of a consolidated Princeton. Examination of that revaluation continues and is now in the courts. Consolidation gives us another chance to avoid the same mistakes. With proper citizen scrutiny of the process, we must get it right this time.

Neither the appeals, which changed perhaps three percent of the assessments, nor the assessor’s compliance plans to readjust some districts, gave any significant relief to the flawed revaluation of 2010. It still discriminated against lower and moderate income families and against elderly and minority residents all over town. Meanwhile property tax relief for the wealthy went unchallenged by your elected officials.

As a result, Princeton Fair Tax Revaluation (PFTRG) members will continue to be out in the field for the next two weeks seeking additional plaintiffs for the lawsuit. That suit was filed November 4 to ensure equal taxation of citizens. There is no risk in being a plaintiff. It’s merely standing up for rights guaranteed you by the New Jersey State Constitution. Come join in with us in this special case to show the politicians that the proper collection of taxes is just as important as the spending of your tax dollar. We at PFTRG seem to learn every day how unfair advantage has been taken of those least able to pay their taxes. We want your individual stories in brief for the courts to review. It will help us make the case.

If one of our members contacts you, they may also ask for a contribution. Many have given $100 or more, some $1000, but feel free to join us and give what you can, even if you can only afford less. Virtually all the funding goes to the lawsuit. Our lawyers are donating a significant portion of their time in the public interest. You don’t often get a chance to stand up and be counted like this right in your home town of Princeton.

Grossly unfair assessment increases in the Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood first got the attention of the town. But we all came quickly to understand that the pattern was repeated elsewhere all along the boundary line of the Borough and Township in otherwise homogeneous neighborhoods of similar housing stock. That includes Harris Road-Carnehan, Jefferson-Moore, Linden Lane-Hawthorne, Franklin to Clearview and Hamilton, Snowden Lane-Deerpath, Riverside-Prospect-South Harrison, and all along the lake-front. This is why a revaluation must be done correctly this time. You cannot consolidate municipalities without guaranteeing equal tax treatment. It will take careful scrutiny and not just a gloss over by the elected officials. Make them take notice of you. For more information please feel free to contact myself or Jim Firestone at (609) 647-9802.

Jim Floyd
Harris Road

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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