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Vol. LXV, No. 37
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
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Photos, Artifacts, IAS Proposal Focus of Preservation Commission

Ellen Gilbert

Treatment of images taken during a 1991 photo survey; historic artifacts found during the recent Mountain Lakes construction project; and proposed Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) plans to build faculty housing on a seven acre site to the east of the Princeton Battlefield all came under discussion at the Monday meeting of the Township’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).

With money available in its budget, the Commission unanimously approved a project that would turn some 2,900 images of area structures taken in 1991 into black and white prints. The resulting pictures will be used to ensure that current and future structural projects are consistent with the area buildings that existed earlier. It was noted that this is a particularly appropriate project for the HPC, which is charged with reviewing zoning in historic districts for compliance with the zoning and historic preservation ordinances, and promoting the preservation of historic structures and places in the Township. HPC approves plans and additions to structures and land in historic districts and is an advisory board to the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Adjustment for development applications for site plans and subdivisions, and use, density, and bulk variances.

Historic Preservation Officer Christine M. Lewandowski received the Commission’s go-ahead to send a letter of intent to the New Jersey Historical Commission, expressing interest in applying for a grant that would support the restoration of several large metal tools recovered during the recent dredging at Mountain Lakes. A grant would provide three of the six thousand dollars needed to desalinate and preserve these artifacts.

Members of the Commission, along with Township Mayor Chad Goerner, discussed a proposal to install and display the reclaimed items in an empty area adjacent to the Municipal Complex’s Community Room. “This would be an opportunity for the Township to showcase the work done at Mountain Lakes,” noted HSP Chair Julie Capozzoli.

HSP member Avril Moore suggested that it might be more expedient to postpone preservation measures, and simply pack the metal objects in naval jelly to stop their further deterioration.

It was agreed to discuss these options at a later date; in the meantime, Ms. Lewandowski will submit the Commission’s letter of intent.

Princeton Battlefield Society representative Kip Cherry described the current status of an IAS plan to build seven single family houses and eight town houses on land which lies between the Institute’s main campus and Princeton Battlefield State Park, where many believe that a significant part of the Battle of Princeton was fought. The IAS’s proposal was submitted to the Regional Planning Board, which now has 95 days in which to consider it.

“We’re turning over every rock,” said Ms. Cherry of the Society’s hopes to forestall the construction. “We’re in it for the long term.” She suggested that the Institute “did not come clean” on everything they knew about the site in question. “There really was a battle,” she added. “It’s a shame that an intellectual institution isn’t showing more respect for it.”

Ms. Capozzoli reported that she would be contacting her counterpart in the Borough to discuss potential joint projects if Borough and Township consolidation is approved in November.

The Office of Historic Preservation is located in the Township’s Municipal Complex. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The next HSP meeting is scheduled for December 12 in Meeting Room B, at 4 p.m.

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