February 6, 2013

The Number One Priority on Wish List For Use of Hospital Site Is Fewer Units

To the Editor:

We have all contributed in many ways to help make Princeton what it is today. We all have a stake in its future. It is a wonderful town. I wish everyone could live here, but since that is not possible, we have to make choices and decisions, and the time is now.

Do we want to concentrate all new growth in a monstrously large development ONLY because it would render 56 affordable units? We should take the long view and realize that there are several sites that are ideal for apartments and will likely be built within a reasonable time, and that they would include affordable units as well.

The hospital was always considered an inherently beneficial use and was granted zoning variances time and again. Our neighborhood lost out every time as houses disappeared and the hospital kept growing, along with the traffic. Must we continue to pay forever, for having our neighborhood degraded and for having lost part of it? This condition is now being perpetuated because of the artful deal that the hospital struck with the town. We are once again at risk.

Yes, that is how many of us in our quiet neighborhoods surrounding the hospital feel. We live quite away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Princeton. 280 units built on the site would bring more than 500 persons to the neighborhood and would be severely out of balance for the surroundings. We have never considered our houses to be in the central district of town; only an outsider would describe our area as such.

I really hope that the Task Force will do what the Planning Board charged them with, revising the zoning at the site. The Task Force should not be hobbled at the outset with demands from Council, such as the requirement for 56 affordable units. The resounding rejection of the Avalon plan makes it clear that the spot zoning of the site is severely flawed. It needs revising to be in harmony with the surroundings — urgently.

Why was a task force appointed if they are to be told what their conclusions should be? Are all their meetings and efforts on behalf of a better Princeton in vain? It is up to us to make sure that whatever is built at the site blends in with the surroundings and is a credit to our town. This is the time and this is our chance to make it happen. We will have to live with the results. My wish list: Number one priority is fewer units. The buildings should be of reasonable size and separated, not running along a whole block. Stepped back from the sidewalk would be nice and a plaza which all residents and the public can use. Walking and biking paths should cross the area from road to road. No pool. All building should be done with approved green methods. A small convenience store would be nice so tenants could pick up a few items without getting into their cars.

Berit Marshall

Jefferson Road