January 24, 2018

Griggs Farm Update, Parking Are Focus Of Council Meeting

By Anne Levin

Since the December 27 fire at the Griggs Farm complex that took the life of one resident and displaced 35 others, the local community has responded with food, clothing, and funds. But the needs of the residents, who will be out of their homes for a period estimated at 10 months to a year, continue.

Ed Truscelli, executive director of Princeton Community Housing Development Corporation, which owns and manages the affordable housing section of Griggs Farm, reported to Princeton Council at its Monday, January 22 meeting that while the community’s response has been “overwhelming,” lodging is still needed for those who are still in an extended stay hotel on U.S. 1. 

Monday’s meeting also included a report from the consultant that has been working on a parking study for the town, and an update on the municipal budget, among other matters. Truscelli informed the governing body about the status of Griggs Farm residents who have been displaced since the fire.

“It will take about a year for the building to be restored, led by the Griggs Farm condo association,” he told the governing body. “We are trying to assist displaced residents to find housing for that period. We are building a list of housing opportunities. People want to stay in town if they can.”

Some local homeowners have offered rooms in their homes, but more are needed. The displaced residents also need gift cards and monetary contributions. Approximately $25,000 total raised by Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPP) was apportioned and sent to each of the displaced households via a check about a week ago.  The households can utilize the funds for whatever reason they determine, including to offset costs for moving or storage. Assistance is also welcome in helping residents move the items into storage.

Earlier on Monday, Truscelli said Princeton Community Housing was nearly finished interviewing the people in each household affected by the fire. Of the 35 residents, 17 are still in emergency housing. Some have children, while others are single. Seven of those residents have renters’ insurance, but the others do not.

To donate or help with the efforts, visit princetoncommunityhousing.org.

Also at the meeting, Council members got a final progress report from Tom Brown of Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc., on the “Princeton Parking Study: Inventory, Analysis and Recommendations to Support Economic Growth” project. The Boston-based firm has held public meetings, stakeholder interviews, and done online surveys since beginning the study last March.

Members of the public and Council had several comments and questions for Brown. The discussion is tentatively scheduled to be resumed at the February 26 Council meeting, which will be held at Monument Hall rather than Witherspoon Hall and include a discussion with Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber on town/gown matters.

Meanwhile, the first phase of the parking project is a changeover to smart meters, which will accept credit cards and coins. Municipal engineer Deanna Stockton said the tentative date for installing the new meters is late summer or early fall of this year. While the meter manufacturing company can replace 300 meters a day, making full implementation take approximately one business week, the issue is complicated. The town’s engineering, public works, and police departments are all involved. “So there are multiple entities working through the process,” Stockton said.

Mayor Liz Lempert urged the public to attend upcoming meetings on the parking issue. “The plan is for the first phase to be smart meters and related regulations. Street permits are another important piece, but that will be more complicated because of competing interests and limited space,” she said. “We probably won’t dig into ordinances until after the meters are established … but we want to keep talking about it. We want everybody to be part of the conversation.”

The parking study can be viewed on the municipal website, princetonnj.gov.