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'Improvements' to Borough's Western Section Should Not Supersede Historic Significance

ANN MUHLHAUSER
Library Place

Future Generations Would Not Benefit From a Municipal Rule of 'One Standard'

KIM PIMLEY
Library Place

Looking for 'Market Rate' Senior Housing? It's Just Beyond the Town Boundaries

KENNETH BARNHART II
Princeton Windrows

Another Argument for Town Consolidation Could Result in Effective Emergency Management

LAURA H. KAHN
Member, Princeton Regional Health Commission

Handling Princeton on a Fixed Income Needs to Be Part of the Housing Equation

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Loss of Two-Hour Free Library Parking Could Spell Trouble for Princetons

JILL WEINER
Terhune Road


'Improvements' to Borough's Western Section Should Not Supersede Historic Significance

Editor's Note: The following letter was also submitted to the Princeton Borough Mayor and Council.

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of designating Princeton Borough's Western Section as a historic neighborhood.

I have lived in two homes which were both located in national historic districts, one in Ohio and the other in Massachusetts, and I can honestly say that it has been a positive experience in both cases. Our insurance rates were never affected, and our property values in both instances were definitely higher that the surrounding areas.

We are all very fortunate to be able to live in such a lovely and tranquil neighborhood with a genuine stateliness all of its own. We have all bought our homes at different times and for different reasons: whether it was for the investment, the location, the resale opportunity, or for the love of an old home in a wonderful neighborhood.

But just as we are the current owners, we are also simply passing through and will someday sell and move on. My hope is that new owners, years from now, will have the same appreciation for this neighborhood that most of us seem to have today.

In order for a neighborhood like ours to survive, we need residents who will take into consideration their neighbors before making a big change. I was quite shocked to learn at one of the meetings for the proposed historic district, that there were several vocal residents who were basically of the opinion: "this is my property, and I do not want historic designation to stop me from doing anything I want with it." As everyone knows, one prominent house has already been torn down. That old house will be replaced with what its owners truly feel is an improvement, but this does not alter the fact that a piece of history has vanished forever.

My husband and I bought our home sight unseen when we were out of the country in 2001. We were moving to the area from out of state, and had been shown the greater Princeton area, including the surrounding towns. We immediately fell in love with this area of the Borough and decided to wait it out and hope a house here would come along. We then moved into a hotel with our two cats! We bought the house over the phone, not even being able to picture it. We knew we would be happy here because it was the area as much as the individual house we were buying. We have lived in 12 houses in our 37 years of marriage, and I can honestly say that Princeton Borough is without a doubt my favorite place to live.

I hope you will consider these points — we can't afford to let this area be destroyed bit by bit.

ANN MUHLHAUSER
Library Place

Future Generations Would Not Benefit From a Municipal Rule of 'One Standard'

Editor's Note: A copy of this letter was submitted and read publicly to Princeton Borough Mayor and Council

To the Editor:

I am opposed to designating Princeton Borough's Western Section as a local historic district. In fact, 35 of us vehemently oppose this designation, and you have already read our concerns about the integrity of the process, the waste of Borough resources on this unnecessary designation, and the destruction of property value that it represents.

The proponents of this designation say that it will enhance property value, or at worst have a neutral effect. The impact studies that they reference — representing blighted and declining neighborhoods, neighborhoods with a common architectural style, or neighborhoods of far lesser home value — are not relevant.

The proponents of this designation say that it will help prevent oversized trucks from using Route 206, but it has not stopped these trucks from roaring through other local historic districts.

The proponents of this designation say that it will help prevent buses from using Boudinot Street to enter Morven. Morven representatives only foresee a possible lawnmower — not bus — entrance on Boudinot. Unless a surreptitious plot is afoot, this justification is also meaningless.

The proponents of local historic designation are using property value studies, trucks on 206, buses on Boudinot, and the chimera of inappropriate teardowns as a smokescreen for their one real objective: the imposition of their own "taste" and distrustful perspective onto the rest of the neighborhood.

Their worldview greets new homeowners with suspicion rather than welcome; their worldview declares one standard of taste, rather than embracing diversity; their worldview advocates neighbor controlling, rather than peacefully co-existing with, neighbor. How arrogant. How provincial. How undemocratic. How un-Princeton.

For over 200 years, Princeton has welcomed people from around the world, and yet has remained uniquely Princeton. As I write from Singapore, on my way to Australia, I am greeted by clients and locals who smile knowingly at the mention of Princeton. I am reminded that ours is one of the most famous small towns on earth. It is a place in touch with tradition, energized by innovation, as well as one of big ideas and diverse styles. Not a place where small-minded neighbors impose their view of "correctness" over their neighbor.

The 35 opponents of the local historic designation deeply appreciate that it is an honor to live in the Western Section, and we have all been careful stewards of our homes. We trust that by their very selection of these hallowed homes, and by the zoning laws already in place, that the next generation of owners will continue this same stewardship. We feel no need to impose the shackles of local historic designation onto this future generation. Shackles that would surely drive them away, as well as the renewal, renovation, and tax revenue that would have enriched our town for future generations.

I ask the Borough Council not to endorse the provincial and distrustful perspective that says we should fear the newcomer, fetter our neighbor, and arbitrate taste. Instead, please endorse the status quo that emblematizes the welcoming, innovative, and democratic Princeton that the entire world loves.

KIM PIMLEY
Library Place

Looking for 'Market Rate' Senior Housing? It's Just Beyond the Town Boundaries

To the Editor:

Scarcely a week goes by that I don't read of valiant, but to date, unsuccessful efforts to site "market rate" senior housing in Princeton. Lying on the eastern side of Lake Carnegie and just 4.7 short, road miles from Palmer Square is the Princeton Windrows operated by its not-for-profit, non-sectarian Princeton Windrows Condominium Association with a present membership of 197 seniors.

I am told that "market rate" means an apartment priced around $400,000. Princeton Windrows has 192 apartments priced from $195,000 to $465,000 plus 102 villas and townhouses, all in an over-55, very affordable condominium. It has no debt and cash reserves approaching $3,000,000. Come and see if it doesn't have what you like.

KENNETH BARNHART II
Princeton Windrows

Another Argument for Town Consolidation Could Result in Effective Emergency Management

To the Editor:

Princeton Borough and Princeton Township need to consolidate if we are to be adequately prepared for future emergencies, such as severe hurricanes or influenza pandemics.

As the current situation stands, we do not know who would be in charge and make the necessary decisions for our community. The Princeton Regional Health Commission brought the issue of the lack of unified leadership during a community-wide crisis to the attention of our local governments and to the public several times in the last few years.

Our current governmental infrastructure of duplication and redundancy sets us up for disaster. We have two mayors, two governing bodies and two police departments. How would they work together during a severe crisis? Which mayor or police chief would be in charge in a crisis that involved both municipalities when there are differing opinions on how to proceed?

I consider our governmental redundancy and ambiguous leadership as comparable to the defective levee system in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. We have two options: spend the funds to hire a joint emergency coordinator, or save tax dollars by consolidating our Borough and Township governments to provide us with unified leadership. It is important that Princeton-area residents urge their local governing bodies to step up to the plate on these issues and not wait to lament the lack of action should a community-wide emergency occur.

LAURA H. KAHN
Member, Princeton Regional Health Commission

Handling Princeton on a Fixed Income Needs to Be Part of the Housing Equation

To the Editor:

It is very encouraging to see our creative and caring community addressing the needs of the senior citizens, who we love so much, and who don't want to be forced to leave the area.

The housing needs are being addressed in several geographical locations that show much promise, and could help us find the accommodations that are needed.

At the same time, it would be very meaningful if the subject of taxes could be addressed. A senior citizen here faces a frightening experience trying to handle Princeton taxes on a fixed income. In many instances, that challenge is much greater than the challenge of finding suitable housing.

It would seem that both issues could be addressed, in order to allow senior citizens to remain in Princeton.

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Loss of Two-Hour Free Library Parking Could Spell Trouble for Princetons

To the Editor:

I just read the Abram Gabriel letter to the editor (Town Topics, March 7, "Cancellation of Free Library Parking Violates a Former Mayor's Promise"), and agreed with everything it said, and I was surprised more people didn't voice themselves.

It's hard to believe that the whole concept of a free public library that is open to the use of everyone equally, is a concept that does not exist in a town like Princeton where education is paramount. The whole idea that the majority of Princeton residents who live in the Township will have to pay for parking in order to use the library is really infuriating. Should we start charging Borough residents and their children for using the public schools that are on Township property? I think the fair thing to do is to build a Township library, separate in use and funding from the Borough, where people can park (and, incidentally, get in and out of the parking lot in a timely fashion without having to wait on line to validate parking), but I know that's not going to happen because of a lack of funding.

Out of principle, and the fact that there was a promise made to keep two hours of free parking for library users, and based on that promise alone, this $19 million library was built, I don't see how this situation could possibly work out, especially since parking fees will only go up in the future. I don't see why Township residents should be the only ones penalized and required to pay because of a dispute between the Township and the Borough. I also don't see the difference between paying to use the library, and paying to park there. Most people go to the library for more than a half hour for use of newspapers, reference materials, computers, meetings, group projects, and student research, and this is not Manhattan where parking spaces should be an issue.

This problem needs to be addressed because the end result is far from ideal. Can anything else be done? How could you give town residents free parking for two hours for three years, and then take it away? This is so wrong if you look at it from any perspective.

The whole planning process that went into the decision to build the library seems to be flawed. Months ago I read that there was talk that the aquarium in the children's department was too expensive to maintain, and recently there was a post mail charge added to library patrons for borrowing books from other libraries that the Princeton Library did not have. What else will they charge for as time goes on? Did anyone think of a budget that could work before expending a huge amount of tax dollars to build this library?

I wish writing these letters to Town Topics could help and I'm completely puzzled how this could happen to our town.

JILL WEINER
Terhune Road

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