February 14, 2018

Ongoing Issues at Griggs Farm Are Among Council Topics

By Anne Levin

The continuing efforts to aid victims of the December 27, 2017 fire at Griggs Farm were the subject of some discussion at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night, February 12.

The governing body also held a brief work session on the 2018 budget, and passed a resolution regarding the renovation of the Mary Moss Playground. A public hearing and Council vote regarding McCaffrey’s Supermarket’s plan to purchase the liquor license owned by the now-closed CoolVines store was postponed until March 12.

A local resident who has been helping people displaced by the Griggs Farm fire suggested that Council create a special fund that would kick in immediately should another disaster occur. Such a fund, which would be nonprofit, would ensure that guidelines would be in place and relief would be provided more quickly.

While numerous individuals and organizations have contributed time, money, and supplies to help those made homeless by the fire, the response could have been better coordinated, according to Lawrence resident Martha Friend, who also spoke.

“Taking nothing away from Princeton Community Housing and Princeton Human Services and their 24/7 work, there was a problem and balls were dropped,” she said. “We have to do this better. There are still people in incredible crisis. There have been some very generous people, but we still need some more generous donors.”

Ms. Friend, whom Councilman Lance Liverman commended for her efforts to help the victims, thanked local businesses including Ace Hardware, Hoagie Haven, and LiLLiPiES for their contributions. Residents, some of whom are still being housed by Princeton Community Housing in an extended stay hotel, have to get everything out of their apartments, even if their units were not directly affected by fire, smoke, and water. Finding a place to house their belongings while the building is reconstructed remains a challenge.

Councilman David Cohen, liaison to the Emergency Preparedness Committee, suggested there should be some sort of insurance for the municipality to help cover those who are not insured. “There are lots of natural disasters that are predictable and increasing in frequency,” he said.

Council voted unanimously to make a vacant unit at the Waxwood apartments on Quarry Street available for one of the Griggs Farm residents, for about a year or until the building is rebuilt. Under normal circumstances, the Waxwood units are given priority to people who meet the neighborhood preference qualification. But that requirement is waived in this situation.

Council voted to award a construction contract to the Edison firm V&K Construction for work on the Mary Moss Playground at the corner of John and Lytle streets. Municipal engineer Deanna Stockton said construction can start once contracts are signed. The projected completion date is June 14, in time for the summer season.

The governing body will hold a work session on the 2018 budget on Wednesday morning, February 21, in the Community Room of 400 Witherspoon Street. The meeting is open to the public. On February 26, Council meets at 7 p.m. at Monument Hall. Regular business will be conducted until 8 p.m., when Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber joins members for an annual conversation about town/gown matters.