Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 38
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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Township and Borough Agree to Accept Draft of Recreation Department’s Master Plan

Ellen Gilbert

Both the Princeton Borough Council and the Princeton Township Committee unanimously accepted the final draft of a parks and recreation master plan presented at a Monday evening meeting by the Joint Recreation Board. The plan was amended to include incorporation of sustainability concerns wherever possible.

Project Manager Patrick D. Hoagland and planner Wayne Bain of Brandstetter Carroll Inc., the firm responsible for preparing the master plan, used a power point presentation to walk members of both governing bodies and others attending the meeting through highlights of the 278-page document. Over 18 months in preparation, the plan, which will be posted on both the Borough and Township websites, details usage of area parks and recreation facilities, responses by both participating agencies and the community to specific questionnaires, and areas of responsibility for these facilities. The Joint Recreation Board had already approved the draft at a meeting last week.

Two “big ticket” items in the plan include upgrading the pool complex, and the possible creation of an indoor recreation center. Recreation Department Executive Director Jack Roberts reported on the recent public meeting about pool upgrades at which residents made clear their desire for a cautious approach to changes at the well-used pool. Township Administrator Jim Pascale noted that a current proposal on the future use of the Valley Road Building, to be voted on by Borough Council and the Township Committee, includes plans for an indoor recreational facility.

The master plan reflects Princeton’s remarkable use of its parks and recreation facilities: 90 percent of the households queried said that that they had used them during the past 12 months, with the number rising to 99.1 percent of households with children. It was noted that while ball fields usually figure midway on municipal priority lists, Princetonians put them closer to the bottom, while making “non-paved walking and biking trails” their number one priority.

In responding to the question of how they would allocate $100 in new funding among various types of parks and recreation facilities in Princeton, respondents designated $28 for the acquisition of land for open space/green space; $24 for improvements and maintenance of existing parks, playground, fields, and picnic areas; $22 for the development of walking and biking trails; $10 for the development of new indoor recreation facilities; $6 for the development of new outdoor parks and recreation facilities; $4 for improvements and construction of new game fields; and $6 for “other.”

In response to Councilwoman Barbara Trelstad’s question about how the pool renovation seemed to be a more urgent issue in spite of the community’s expressed interest in trails, Mr. Roberts noted that creation and coordination of trails entailed long-term planning, while failure to address wear-and-tear on the pool might result in its closing.

Members of both governing boards noted that acceptance of the master plan draft did not connote endorsement of all of its recommendations, and sources of money for the proposed changes, which Mr. Roberts foresees as taking “10 to 15 years” are unclear. It was agreed, however, that an “ongoing discussion” had begun.

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