July 10, 2019

Seminary’s Project  on Tennant Campus Would Destroy A Splendid Streetscape

To the Editor:

The Princeton Theological Seminary proposal for expansion at its in-town campus has been pulled back for reconsideration in the face of considerable distress from citizens. I would urge that the Seminary use the summer period back at the drawing board to consider a solution which would satisfy a major concern of unhappy neighbors and of lovers of Princeton open space. It is a solution which in the long run could greatly benefit the Seminary by freeing up considerable land for other appropriate uses.

The beautiful, historic Green on the Tennant Campus has been targeted by the Seminary’s architects for construction of a four story dormitory. I would urge everyone to drive past the Township’s two-story building under construction at Terhune and Route 206 before endorsing the Seminary’s plan for the Green. The monstrosity being built is like some vulture hanging over 206. It is much lower than the Seminary’s proposed edifice on the Green. Its clone on the Green would destroy a splendid streetscape. See the HPC Subcommittee report to the Planning Board of February 4.

The Seminary has extensive acreage devoted to surface parking lots. Were part of that land allocated to the construction of the in-town student residences, the problem leading to destruction of the Green would be eliminated.

If the Seminary were to construct a single multi-story parking facility with one or two stories below grade, it would be able to build the needed structures on what is now parking lot and free up surplus lands all throughout the campus for other uses.

The problem is cost. But we should note that the Seminary has had the very substantial benefit of decades of exemption from real property taxes, which has enabled it to divert the dollars it would have otherwise paid to the community to underwrite its operations and its capital projects and to make lucrative investments. So it would be most unfair to use cost now as a reason to eliminate a community asset of great value to its neighbors and, indeed to all the people of Princeton.

Peter Bienstock
Stockton Street