November 17, 2021

Thoughts on Development, Expansion, Infrastructure Within the Community

To the Editor:

Since it was established, Princeton has never tried to re-invent itself, but has never been afraid to re-shape itself over the years. The success to its longevity has been remaining true to its core, recognizing and celebrating that it is in essence, a wonderful, university town.

Many residents are aware that we are on the precipice of a new re-shaping. Princeton will expand, and with that comes incredible opportunity for us all. Greater diversity of our town, new neighbors to welcome, and the creation of additional establishments to enhance the existing business vitality and build on the ambiance we all enjoy.

It is actually quite hard to gain a complete picture of the approved development and certainly takes time to piece it all together. It appears that there is approval for approximately 1,000 housing units to be built by 2025; a new hotel offering 180 rooms in the center of Princeton; and ongoing construction with new restaurants, most notably the old post office becoming an eatery offering an estimated 200 seats.

It will be exciting to watch the next era of Princeton unfold and take shape. But with the excitement comes an element of trepidation. Princeton, at its heart, is an old town, and that means its infrastructure is old. We experience super storms that cause chaos and overwhelm the storm drainage system. Our schools are exceptional but need modernization to include increasing capacity. Our streets are not built for the traffic volume and patterns that we have created for ourselves. As we consider the new opportunity development brings, as members of our community, we must ask what plans have been made to ensure the foundational infrastructure is ready for the new shape of Princeton.

There is very limited information to calm any concern. However, there is a canary in the coal mine. After two years of discussion the Permit Parking Taskforce is proposing to push commercial parking into residential neighborhoods. This, in itself, is not the solution. But if anything, this songbird signals there are insufficient long-term, sustainable plans. We must think beyond the current state needs, consider the implications of not only the approved development, but also what will be needed in the future.

As it is our community, residents should have easy access to understand the totality of the upcoming changes. Any approved development should make provision for the significant investment in the foundational infrastructure of our town so that our businesses, our families, both established and new, have all that they need to continue our harmonized and successful community.

Kate Owen
Morven Place