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Vol. LXII, No. 2
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
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Affordable Housing, Downtown Development Seen as Challenges in Trotman’s New Term

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Borough’s downtown development will take priority this year, as the municipality looks to finalize tricky negotiations with developers, complete zoning for other developments, and remain “optimistic” about the prospects of getting long-awaited projects completed, Mayor Mildred Trotman said Sunday.

Elected in November to her first full, four-year term as mayor after filling out the remaining portion of a term left vacant by the late Mayor Joe O’Neill, Ms. Trotman expressed guarded optimism for her coming term, pointing to past achievements and challenges that lie ahead, particularly in the first year of her term.

The oath of office was administered by 15th District Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman at the Borough’s annual reorganization meeting at Borough Hall. Her swearing-in preceded oaths of office taken by Democratic Council members Roger Martindell and Andrew Koontz, who both won re-election in November.

The new Council also voted Sunday to appoint Princeton Hook & Ladder Chief Dan Tomalin as the newest chief of the Princeton Fire Department. Chief Tomalin takes over for interim chief Rick McKee, who filled in for a vacancy created by former Chief Jamie Alkhateeb, who moved to Florida in September. The Borough also named Truestar Urian, of Mercer Engine Co. #3, and Roy James, of Princeton Engine Co. #1, as deputy chiefs.

In her state-of-the-borough address, Ms. Trotman pointed to some of the hardships facing the municipality in coming years, particularly with the state-imposed four-percent tax cap on all state municipalities, as well as the need to comply with affordable housing mandates proposed by the state’s Council on Affordable Housing’s latest growth share formula.

Ms. Trotman also pointed to the as yet completed second portion of the municipal downtown development project consisting of a five-story residential and commercial building slated for development on the Tulane Street parking lot. The project has been stalled, most recently over fiscal disagreements with the developer, Nassau HKT.

However, a bright spot in development came when the mayor announced that the long-awaited groundbreaking for Palmer Square’s 97-unit development along Paul Robeson Place could occur as early as this month. “There is every reason to be optimistic that all projects will take place sometime during the beginning of this year,” Ms. Trotman said.

The mayor also praised the Borough’s two-man increase in the Borough Police Department that will be used, in part, to re-launch the department’s Community Services Unit. According to the mayor, the unit will increase the levels of bike and pedestrian patrols, traffic enforcement, and community youth outreach “in an effort to help prevent illegal gang activities in our community,”

The Borough’s 2007 accomplishments were also underlined, with the mayor pointing to the naming of the library plaza after longtime resident Albert E. Hinds, and the staving off, for now, of efforts by the private eating club, the University Cottage Club, from becoming tax exempt. Tax exemption for the club would have resulted in Borough’s payment of roughly $300,000 in back taxes. While the state Legislature re-tooled the tax-exempt mandates for historic sites, the mayor warned that the new legislation could be challenged by the club, saying “stay tuned.”

Ms. Trotman also acknowledged the lighting of the Princeton Battle Monument, a multi-year effort spearheaded by the Princeton Parks Alliance, the Sustainable Princeton initiative, and the adoption of the Princeton Borough Crosswalk Improvement Plan, as high points of 2007.

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