November 10, 2021

Council Votes in Favor Of Resolution For Liquor License Transfer

By Anne Levin

At a meeting Monday night, Princeton Council voted in favor of a resolution allowing Claridge Wine and Liquor to transfer its liquor license from its current location in Princeton Shopping Center to 102 Nassau Street, formerly the site of Landau’s, where it plans to relocate.

Carried over from the previous meeting, the resolution has been opposed by some businesses and members of the community who cited concerns over delivery trucks and traffic congestion. But several customers of the store spoke in favor of the move. Councilmembers voted 5-1 for the transfer, with Michelle Pirone Lambros casting the only opposing vote.

The meeting also included updates on the Witherspoon Street improvement project and plans for demolition and construction related to the Graduate Hotel at 20 Nassau Street. The governing body approved the $8.9 million bond ordinance allowing the acquisition of the 150-acre Lanwin property, and voted in favor of an agreement with Rider University allowing the town to rent parking spaces at the former location of Westminster Choir College.

A presentation was made informing Council about efforts to create a dog park in Princeton.

Councilmembers gave the go-ahead to a task force to continue its efforts, and were especially interested in the idea of creating small parks in different neighborhoods rather than one large park, creating accessibility to those who don’t have cars.

The dog park topic first came up in 2013. A task force was formed in August 2019, and a petition was put together, gathering more than 350 signatures. Efforts to pursue the issue were slowed by the pandemic, but have resumed.

Calvin Chin, of the task force, delivered a power point presentation, saying dog parks promote community among neighbors, and socialization among dogs. While dog parks exist in Rocky Hill and other nearby towns, there are none in Princeton.

Installing small, neighborhood parks would simply involve installing a fence, Chin said, estimating the price tag at just over $10,000. The task force has looked at rules of dog parks in other locations

regarding keeping the animals safe, vaccination requirements for the dogs, and other issues. Several potential sites were suggested, including the historic overlook by the Washington Oaks development, the Gulick Preserve at Herrontown and River roads, Quarry Park, Greenway Meadows, Community Park, Barbara Smoyer Park, Harrison Park, and Grover Park.

In her update on the Witherspoon Street improvement project, Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton told Council that some design issues that were in question have been resolved. The intersection with Nassau Street is now set at 22 feet, and a curb extension at the midblock crosswalk at Tulane Yard has been replaced with a raised crosswalk.

A proposal to locate a traffic controller box on the Princeton University side of Nassau Street at Witherspoon has been turned down by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Stockton said. The updated plan proposes removing the kiosk on the north side and installing the controller box in its place. A stop sign is proposed at the intersection of Witherspoon and Spring streets. A six-foot-wide strip of greenery has been replaced with rows of trees on both sides of the street, with each tree situated in a six-by-ten-foot planted area.

Lily Krauss, vice chair of the town’s Shade Tree Commission, read a statement saying the Bradford pear trees that line both sides of Witherspoon Street are at the end of their lives, and should be removed. In any case, she said, the work that is necessary for underground utilities would damage their root system.

Alexander Craig of Hunter Roberts Construction Group told Council that the first phase of work on the Graduate Hotel project at 20 Nassau Street is scheduled to begin the middle or end of this month, and last till mid-February. The work involves interior demolition abatement, “all within the walls of the project,” he said. “Some hazardous materials have to be abated.”

Demolition of the building on Chambers Street, where a five-story structure will be built to connect with 20 Nassau Street, will follow and last till mid-April. Lane closures on Chambers Street will depend on the work being done. Craig said a safe staging area will be established for construction vehicles. Metered parking will be removed for the length of the construction. “There will be days when a full closure is required, but they will be intermittent,” he said.

Environmental controls planned include dust, vibration, and noise monitoring, including misting during demolition. A third-party monitoring company hired through the hotel company is required. Tony Nelessen, owner of the houses at 11 and 13 Bank Street, said he feels there is concern for businesses adjacent to the project, but not for the residents. He is especially worried about dust. “Nobody has contacted us,” he said, asking Jill Lekstutis of Red Hospitality Consulting, who was on the call, “Will you be responsible for any damage?”

Lekstutis said yes. “Protection is a very important part of our process.” Pablo David, a vice president of Graduate, is in the process of reaching out to neighbors, she said. The entire project is targeted for completion by December 2023, Craig said.